Bess Welden

Bess Welden

Bess Welden's work has been developed and performed in New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and California with Portland Stage Company (mainstage world premiere 2018), Celebration Barn Theater, White Plains Performing Arts Center, Commonweal Theater, Mad Horse Theater, Dramatic Repertory Company, Voice & Vision Theater/ENVISION retreat at Bard College, Shakespeare Santa Cruz,...
Bess Welden's work has been developed and performed in New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and California with Portland Stage Company (mainstage world premiere 2018), Celebration Barn Theater, White Plains Performing Arts Center, Commonweal Theater, Mad Horse Theater, Dramatic Repertory Company, Voice & Vision Theater/ENVISION retreat at Bard College, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, several Fringe Festivals, and elsewhere.

She is a four-time Maine Arts Commission grant recipient, received a national grant from the Puffin Foundation, a new show incubation residency from Celebration Barn Theater, and a week-long writing residency at Hewnoaks Artist Colony.

Bess lives and works in Portland, Maine and teaches at Colby College.

Plays

  • Refuge * Malja * ملجأ
    Nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Fiercely independent Jewish-American photojournalist Jamie Winter meets refugee kids all the time, but when Waleed, a shoeless teenager steps off the boat and in front of her lens, she is suddenly forced to confront her own cultural identity, family history, a complicated past relationship, and the undeniable compulsion to become the boy’s rescuer. Written in...
    Nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Fiercely independent Jewish-American photojournalist Jamie Winter meets refugee kids all the time, but when Waleed, a shoeless teenager steps off the boat and in front of her lens, she is suddenly forced to confront her own cultural identity, family history, a complicated past relationship, and the undeniable compulsion to become the boy’s rescuer. Written in English and Arabic, the play explores motherhood, what it means to truly communicate across cultures and inside our own families, and how each of us defines and finds a home. Full productions will feature photographs by award-winning photojournalist Jodi Hilton.
  • Death Wings
    Death Wings unfolds over the last 100 minutes of Grand’s life - her memories, visions, feelings, and questions that help her discover the five sentences that tell her final story. She's dedicated her life to making wings that she believes helps others die, and to raising her granddaughter Rachel, a scientist who is determined to fly. Full of poetry, songs, and a radical re-visioning of the Daedelus/Icarus...
    Death Wings unfolds over the last 100 minutes of Grand’s life - her memories, visions, feelings, and questions that help her discover the five sentences that tell her final story. She's dedicated her life to making wings that she believes helps others die, and to raising her granddaughter Rachel, a scientist who is determined to fly. Full of poetry, songs, and a radical re-visioning of the Daedelus/Icarus myth, Death Wings asks us to marvel at the wonder of flight - real and metaphorical - and the mysteries of human love, connection, loss, and letting go.
  • Mergirl Saves the Waves
    MERGIRL SAVES THE WAVES is a feminist, environmentalist, slightly futuristic, funny re-imagining of Andersen's classic The Little Mermaid. When mergirl Pisces Doris, mostly known as Pi, rescues a human boy from their shared polluted ocean, she not only makes a friend, but also learns what it means to use your voice to make a difference. With three original songs. For youth actors or a multi-generational cast from 10-25+ performers.
  • Madeleines
    A short story for the stage. Debra has returned to her childhood home to care for her declining mother Rose, an exacting baker who supported herself and her daughters with a successful cookie business. When Jennifer, Debra's older sister, arrives for Rose's funeral, shared memories and old sibling grievances boil to the surface. As the sisters confront their loss, a startling secret about their mother...
    A short story for the stage. Debra has returned to her childhood home to care for her declining mother Rose, an exacting baker who supported herself and her daughters with a successful cookie business. When Jennifer, Debra's older sister, arrives for Rose's funeral, shared memories and old sibling grievances boil to the surface. As the sisters confront their loss, a startling secret about their mother’s most-treasured Passover recipe emerges, which changes everything they thought they knew about themselves, each other, and their family.
  • Legbala Is A River
    MT’s husband, an infectious disease doctor, has volunteered to treat Ebola patients in Liberia during the height of the recent outbreak. In his absence, unsettling questions rise to the surface and challenge what MT thinks she knows about herself, her marriage, her kids, and everything in the life she’s constructed for herself. Interwoven with a retelling of a West African folktale, original live music,...
    MT’s husband, an infectious disease doctor, has volunteered to treat Ebola patients in Liberia during the height of the recent outbreak. In his absence, unsettling questions rise to the surface and challenge what MT thinks she knows about herself, her marriage, her kids, and everything in the life she’s constructed for herself. Interwoven with a retelling of a West African folktale, original live music, projected images, and live illustration, the show is performed encircled by the audience to create an intimate and engaging storytelling environment.
  • Magic in the Attic
    Elinor and Leo, a modern American sister and brother, are exiled to clean out their grandmother’s slightly spooky attic and are none too happy about the task. But when Elinor discovers an old notebook written in a foreign language, the kids find themselves plunged into a supernatural world in which their long dead great-great grandmother and a group of elves bring Yiddish language and folktales to life. Full of...
    Elinor and Leo, a modern American sister and brother, are exiled to clean out their grandmother’s slightly spooky attic and are none too happy about the task. But when Elinor discovers an old notebook written in a foreign language, the kids find themselves plunged into a supernatural world in which their long dead great-great grandmother and a group of elves bring Yiddish language and folktales to life. Full of humor and heart, Magic in the Attic is a celebration of the universality of story and the power of connecting with cultural heritage. The play is designed for a youth or intergenerational cast.
  • Big Mouth Thunder Thighs
    A solo vaudeville about body and food that intertwines memoir storytelling with a highly-theatrical, unpredictable, and outrageously entertaining variety show featuring: a trash-talking puppet, stand-up comedy, singing, dancing, spoken word poetry, an ancient folktale plus five "Death-Defying Acts." It's a surprisingly funny one-woman extravaganza about how we deal with our inner critics and what...
    A solo vaudeville about body and food that intertwines memoir storytelling with a highly-theatrical, unpredictable, and outrageously entertaining variety show featuring: a trash-talking puppet, stand-up comedy, singing, dancing, spoken word poetry, an ancient folktale plus five "Death-Defying Acts." It's a surprisingly funny one-woman extravaganza about how we deal with our inner critics and what it takes for us to accept ourselves.
  • The Passion of the Hausfrau: An Illuminated Solo Comedy
    A one-woman show about the hilarious misadventures of a mom who discovers that the roller coaster ride of raising young kids is actually the path to creating her own masterpiece. A live-performance graphic novel with original cartoon illustrations. Co-written with Annette Jolles and Nicole Chaison.