Paul Donnelly

Paul Donnelly

My life as a “trailing spouse” has included stops in Washington DC, Atlanta, Honolulu, and now Tallahassee. My work has won the Source Theatre Company National 10-Minute Play Contest, the Larry Neal Writers Award for Drama, the Virginia Playwriting Prize, and twice been nominated for a Helen Hayes Award. I had pieces in the 2015-2017 Atlanta One-Minute Play Festivals and my romantic comedy, Falling Off the Edge...
My life as a “trailing spouse” has included stops in Washington DC, Atlanta, Honolulu, and now Tallahassee. My work has won the Source Theatre Company National 10-Minute Play Contest, the Larry Neal Writers Award for Drama, the Virginia Playwriting Prize, and twice been nominated for a Helen Hayes Award. I had pieces in the 2015-2017 Atlanta One-Minute Play Festivals and my romantic comedy, Falling Off the Edge, was produced in Atlanta in January 2018. My full-length play, Memorial Day, was read in Kumu Kahua Theatre’s Dark Nights series in Honolulu in March 2018, was named a Finalist (one of eight out of 1,243 entries) in the first Moss and Kitty Carlisle Hart New Play Initiative in June 2018, and was included in the 2021 Unexpected Play Festival, a collaboration between Atlanta's Theatrical Outfit and Working Title Playwrights. My 10-minute play, The New Client, was published in The Best Ten Minute Plays of 2019! (Smith & Kraus). My ten minute play, Family Visitation, was produced in Theatre Odyssey's Ten-Minute Play Festival in May 2019 in Sarasota, FL and by Bergen County Academies in June 2022. 'tis True, Ma was included in the Buffalo United Artists Takes Ten: Stonewall Edition in June 2019. The Pity Mourner was presented twice in June 2022, at the Seaside Players Community Theatre in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, FL and at the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop in Monticello, NY. I am a member of the Dramatists Guild, Klunch, New Play Exchange, Playwrights’ Center, Tallahassee Writers Association, and Working Title Playwrights.

Plays

  • After Another (Full Length)
    A glimpse into some aspects of intimacy, modeled on La Ronde.
  • Memorial Day (Full Length)
    Memorial Day explores the disorientation and despair of the early days of the AIDS crisis through the experience of a physician struggling with feelings of helplessness and inadequacy in the face of the relentless virus.
  • [Shakespeare reference] (Full Length)
    [Shakespeare reference] follows the unpredictable couplings and uncouplings, across generations and genders, among the bride's family at a Virginia hunt country wedding. Think "The Philadelphia Story" meets "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
  • Falling Off the Edge (Full Length)
    A Mormon swimmer who is afraid of the ocean meets two recovering alcoholics taking their first sober vacation at a beach resort in Costa Rica. One of the women falls for him, while he falls for the other. No one gets what they want, but at least one gets what she needs.

  • The Taste of Fire (Full Length)
    The Taste of Fire explores the effects of a fatal drunk driving collision on two families, the driver's and his victim's. Roger Cusak, the driver, is an essentially decent man who has made a terrible error in judgment with irrevocable consequences. David Nicholson, his victim, is an abusive lout whose memory is transformed by the cause of his death.

    Roger’s wife and daughter must...
    The Taste of Fire explores the effects of a fatal drunk driving collision on two families, the driver's and his victim's. Roger Cusak, the driver, is an essentially decent man who has made a terrible error in judgment with irrevocable consequences. David Nicholson, his victim, is an abusive lout whose memory is transformed by the cause of his death.

    Roger’s wife and daughter must each come to terms with how his action changes her view of him. Susan, his wife, is initially horrified and recoils and withdraws, while Larissa, his daughter, leaps to her father's defense. As the reality of his action and its consequences register, their responses grow more complicated. Larissa becomes more judgmental and rejecting, while Susan finds herself able to make a distinction between who Roger is and what he has done.

    Carla Nicholson comes to revel in the role of grieving widow, while her son Ethan finds it progressively more difficult to reconcile the beatification of his father's memory with the lifetime of abuse he experienced. After a bitter confrontation over Carla's attempts to coerce him into participating in her revisions of their family history, Ethan comes to the beginning of an ability to move beyond that history.
  • Whole Against the Sky (Full Length)
    Whole Against the Sky was inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s observation: “Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” The resulting play follows a man who returns home for...
    Whole Against the Sky was inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s observation: “Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole against the sky.” The resulting play follows a man who returns home for his mother’s wedding only to find her incapable of accepting consolation when her fiancé dies suddenly the night before. He then finds himself incapable of accepting her overtures of reconciliation two years later. This central narrative is punctuated with confessions at odds with characters’ observed behavior and scenes of the man and his sister struggling with partners to find the distance to see and be seen “whole against the sky.”
  • Trees Don't Mourn the Autumn (Full Length)
    Trees Don’t Mourn The Autumn tells the story the effects of breast cancer on a Chinese-American woman’s life. While it illuminates Emily’s experiences, both positive and not, with medical caregivers, the play also explores her need to seek reconciliation in other aspect of her life. She seeks out the daughter she gave up for adoption as an infant and becomes able to forgive herself and her parents for their...
    Trees Don’t Mourn The Autumn tells the story the effects of breast cancer on a Chinese-American woman’s life. While it illuminates Emily’s experiences, both positive and not, with medical caregivers, the play also explores her need to seek reconciliation in other aspect of her life. She seeks out the daughter she gave up for adoption as an infant and becomes able to forgive herself and her parents for their shortcomings. She ultimately comes to embrace the possibility of unexpected joy and rejuvenating miracles in middle age.

    Co-author: Alice F. Chang
  • Divided Requiem (One Act)
    A gay couple struggles with the differences in each of their approaches to handling the death of their son, Kyle.
  • Cupid Agonistes (One Act)
    A Man. His Wife. His Baby Momma. His autographed Willie Stargell baseball bat. A mess. Cupid Agonistes.
  • Chicken Salad (One Act)
    Chicken Salad follows the final unraveling of a mother-daughter bond on the night following the daughter’s husband’s funeral.

    Available Exclusively from Off the Walls Plays (http://offthewallplays.com/2015/12/05/chicken-salad-one-act-drama-for-two-women/)
  • Oyster Stuffing (One Act)
    An estranged daughter returns for Thanksgiving after a long absence from her family of origin to discover how much she and they have changed. And to find which wounds can be healed and which can't.
  • Seventh Inning Stretch (Ten Minute)
    Brenda and Stuart try to alleviate Max’s despair about a failed marriage proposal that went viral.
  • The Pity Mourner (Ten Minute)
    Archie’s attendance at Margaret’s mother’s wake takes a surprising turn.
  • Home Truth (Ten Minute)
    A hard charging widow is unable to save her sister from an abusive marriage.
  • Tis True, Ma (Ten Minute)
    I was deeply moved seeing photographs of and reading about the openly gay Irish Prime Minister’s visit to the Stonewall Inn on St. Patrick’s Day in 2018. The play looks at the visit’s effect on a gay Irish-American man who is trying to gain acceptance from his mother and lover for different facets of his personality. Their evening at Stonewall moves one, but not the other.
  • Go Knights! (Ten Minute)
    Julie Van Beek must find a way to deal with her hurt and sense of betrayal when her best friend is invited to return to and her husband is invited to join the senior pep squad for a local professional basketball team while she is not invited to return to the squad.
  • Family Visitation (Ten Minute)
    A young man's final visit with his dying lover does not go quite as he expected.
  • The Last Stalker (Ten Minute)
    Two young men come to terms with the presence of AIDS in their lives in Washington, DC, in the mid 1980's.
  • Plated With Gold (Ten Minute)
    A carelessly misdirected email causes a partner to reconsider her values and her place in the firm at which she has worked for thirty years.
  • The New Client (Ten Minute)
    A small town attorney pays a personal price for taking on a controversial client. The New Client depicts two principled women grappling seriously with an ethical and personal dilemma. It has the added advantage of passing the Bechdel test.

    The New Client appears in Best Ten Minute Plays of 2019, available from Smith and Kraus.
  • If Only in My Dreams (Ten Minute)
    Her grandson's holiday visit helps an older mother let go of the guilt that has been literally haunting her since her daughter's death.
  • The Sticking Point (Ten Minute)
    The Sticking Point depicts an anti-vaccine mother’s efforts to persuade a reluctant father to allow his daughter to attend her unvaccinated son’s ninth birthday party.
  • Next Year, Transformers! (Ten Minute)
    A divorced couple struggle to overcome their differences to salvage a disastrous Halloween for their young son.
  • Survivors Include (Ten Minute)
    A high school sophomore prevents his best friend from succumbing to his grief at the death of his adored older brother

    .Available Exclusively from Off the Walls Plays (http://offthewallplays.com/2015/09/09/survivors-include-one-act-teen-drama/)
  • Touch Me in the Morning (Ten Minute)
    Waking up in the wrong bed helps two men, one straight/one gay, to see the virtues in what they have at home.
  • The Morning After (Ten Minute)
    A guess at what might have happened the morning after the evening depicted in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Counter Programming (MONOLOGUE)
    A theater marketing director bemoans having to promote yet another holiday production of Equus.
  • Karlie's Jitters (MONOLOGUE)
    A young woman struggles to keep past trauma from overwhelming present happiness.
  • Potato Salad with Raisins (MONOLOGUE)
    A mother mourns the death of her son in a school shooting.
  • He Said It With Flowers (MONOLOGUE)
    A wife discovers her husband's infidelity when she receives a misdirected Valentine's bouquet.
  • Midnight Mass (MONOLOGUE)
    A street person explains why he killed a priest after midnight mass.
  • Three Husbands (MONOLOGUE)
    A thrice married woman reflects on the end of each of her marriages, two divorces and a widowhood.
  • The Embers of Tara (Full Length)
    (Work in Progress) In this harrowing comedy, Michael, a young African-American man is forced to come to terms with the fact that his adoptive mother, Karen, is first and foremost a white southerner, and to tap into the forces of history to overcome her family of virulent lynching re-enactors. Michael and Karen make their trip to Karen’s family homestead following the death of her mother, but Mee-Maw’s funeral...
    (Work in Progress) In this harrowing comedy, Michael, a young African-American man is forced to come to terms with the fact that his adoptive mother, Karen, is first and foremost a white southerner, and to tap into the forces of history to overcome her family of virulent lynching re-enactors. Michael and Karen make their trip to Karen’s family homestead following the death of her mother, but Mee-Maw’s funeral is nearly Michael’s as well.