Richard Strand

Richard Strand

Richard Strand wrote his first play in 1976, a one act entitled Harry and Sylvia. That play won two national awards, was published by Hunter Press and a full length version of that same play, entitled Clown, premiered at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. Since that time he has had premieres at GeVa Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Performance Network, New Jersey Repertory Company, Detroit Repertory Theatre, The...
Richard Strand wrote his first play in 1976, a one act entitled Harry and Sylvia. That play won two national awards, was published by Hunter Press and a full length version of that same play, entitled Clown, premiered at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. Since that time he has had premieres at GeVa Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Performance Network, New Jersey Repertory Company, Detroit Repertory Theatre, The Z Collective and a number of other venues. His plays are published by Samuel French, Dramatists Play Service and Applause Books. Two of his plays, The Bug and The Death of Zukasky premiered at The Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville. The Bug has been translated into German, Italian, French, Greek, and Spanish. His more recent play Butler premiered at New Jersey Repertory and opened off-Broadway at 59E59. Mr. Strand currently lives in California with his wife, Mary Lynn. He is a professor, technical director and set designer at Mt. San Antonio College where he teaches Stagecraft, History of Theater and Playwriting.

Plays

  • Annabella in July
    To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Vanessa and Brian take a road trip in hopes of reinvigorating a flagging marriage. Lost in the California mountains, they arrive at the restaurant of a ski lodge in the middle of July. The restaurant is open for business although Vanessa and Brian appear to be its only customers. Three locals encountered by the couple – the owner of the lodge, a teenage waitress, and a...
    To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Vanessa and Brian take a road trip in hopes of reinvigorating a flagging marriage. Lost in the California mountains, they arrive at the restaurant of a ski lodge in the middle of July. The restaurant is open for business although Vanessa and Brian appear to be its only customers. Three locals encountered by the couple – the owner of the lodge, a teenage waitress, and a resident ski-bum with a French accent – recognize Vanessa as their very dear friend Annabella, even though Vanessa’s shy, mousy personality is nothing like the descriptions of the amazing, vivacious and magical Annabella. However, in trying to assert that she is in no way like Annabella, Vanessa discovers her own magical powers – powers that could either save or destroy her twenty-year marriage.

    Annabella in July is a fantasy requiring a single set, some quick changes, and a few not-very-complicated magic tricks. There are two men and three women in the cast. It is unoptioned and unproduced.

  • The Bug
    Dennis Post, an assembler at Jericho, Inc., pays a visit to the executive floor because he's afraid the company intends to transfer him to Saint Louis. His inquiry quickly reveals some weaknesses in the corporate structure when he explains the reason he has bypassed his immediate supervisor: he's never actually seen the man. It appears that Mr. Post's supervisor has been collecting a middle-...
    Dennis Post, an assembler at Jericho, Inc., pays a visit to the executive floor because he's afraid the company intends to transfer him to Saint Louis. His inquiry quickly reveals some weaknesses in the corporate structure when he explains the reason he has bypassed his immediate supervisor: he's never actually seen the man. It appears that Mr. Post's supervisor has been collecting a middle-manager’s salary without setting foot in the building. With each new executive Dennis meets, it becomes increasingly apparent that Dennis’ paranoia is both profound and contagious. Together, Dennis and the executives he encounters begin to imagine they work for a corporation that may be involved in financing global assassination plots. When Dennis is finally convinced that he will not be transferred to St. Louis, he returns to the assembly area, leaving behind corporate executives who are now unsure if some of that paranoia was based in reality; his delusions now seem disturbingly plausible.
  • Buzz
    Synopsis for Buzz
    A two-act play by Richard Strand

    Ryan Hutchings, the C.E.O. of Hutchings Enterprises, is accused of assaulting a female employee, Shirley Greenberg. Ms. Greenberg has been severely injured as a result of a fall. In addition to physical injuries, her mental faculties have been impaired. She is uncertain enough about her own story that she asks a member of the board of...
    Synopsis for Buzz
    A two-act play by Richard Strand

    Ryan Hutchings, the C.E.O. of Hutchings Enterprises, is accused of assaulting a female employee, Shirley Greenberg. Ms. Greenberg has been severely injured as a result of a fall. In addition to physical injuries, her mental faculties have been impaired. She is uncertain enough about her own story that she asks a member of the board of directors, Alyson Shrum, to investigate the incident. Hutchings, declaring that he was not even present when Ms. Greenberg fell from the loading dock, is unable to find a witness to back his story. He bribes a stock clerk named Buzz to back his story. By having Buzz wear a special pair of glasses, Hutchings is able to hear the questions Shrum will ask Buzz and provide Buzz with answers that bolster his own version of the events that led to Shirley Greenberg’s accident.

    In two practice sessions, Buzz and Hutchings discover serious flaws in their plan to skew the inquiry. Their fundamental antipathy toward each other makes it difficult if not impossible for them to cooperate. However, they decide to go forward as planned.

    During the actual interview with Alyson Shrum, technical difficulties and their inability to work together threaten to expose the scheme. Things get more complicated when, during a break in the questioning, Buzz reveals to Hutchings that he actually did witness the accident. The two men do not discuss what Buzz might have seen that night and agree that the interview will continue with Buzz answering questions as instructed by Hutchings.

    In the final phase of the interview, is a surprise to both Buzz and Hutchings, Shirley Greenberg is present. Unable to speak, Ms. Greenberg communicates exclusively by writing short notes to Alyson. Buzz finds it much more difficult to repeat Hutchings answers with Ms. Greenberg in the room, but he continues to follow Hutchings' plan, giving only Hutchings’ answers to the questions he is asked.. The final blow to that plan comes when Ms. Greenberg asks a question by means of writing it on a white board in the room. The question she asks is: “Why are you lying?” Hutchings, unable to see the question, but also unwilling to trust Buzz to answer without coaching, tries to improvise an answer by speaking in general terms and agreeing to answer more fully at a later date. While the answer is ridiculous, neither Ms. Shrum nor Ms. Greenberg can fathom why Buzz' answers are so peculiar. They conclude that, in any event, Buzz will not be a useful witness for Ms. Greenberg.

    In the final scene, Buzz and Hutchings blame each other for the mistakes made in the interview. During those recriminations, Buzz leads Hutchings into implicitly acknowledging, for the first time, that he did assault Shirley Greenberg. Once stated, Buzz reveals that he has been recording all his conversations with Hutchings in hopes of capturing just such a confession. In fact, Buzz did not witness the incident and, in fact, his name is not Buzz. With his confession about to become public and with no useful information about the man who entrapped him, Hutchings is left alone as Buzz disappears from his life.
  • Can You Hear Me, Mr. Szczepanski?
    Five clowns, desperate for work, are compelled to spend a day waiting in the office of a high-powered Chicago talent agent.
  • Charlie in the Present Tense
    A police detective attempts to control the recollections of a murder suspect.
  • Clown
    Bingo the Clown, in preparing to perform his act for a charity group, is confronted by the agent, director and ex-wife who can't stand him, and the prop kid who adores him. His encounters with each bridge the gap between his onstage and offstage life.

    Clown was premiered by the Victory Gardens Theater in 1981. It has had several subsequent productions.
    [2 acts; 4 men, 1 woman; single set]
  • The Death of Zukasky
    Zukasky is dead. His body is still sitting behind the desk in his Chicago loop office. He is still smiling.

    The three corporate salesmen who worked under him, gathering for their usual eight o'clock meeting, are broken out of their normal routine by the discovery of their boss's corpse. Using the skills and techniques they have acquired in corporate America, they work quickly to...
    Zukasky is dead. His body is still sitting behind the desk in his Chicago loop office. He is still smiling.

    The three corporate salesmen who worked under him, gathering for their usual eight o'clock meeting, are broken out of their normal routine by the discovery of their boss's corpse. Using the skills and techniques they have acquired in corporate America, they work quickly to figure out what to do with his body and, more importantly, how to get his job, office and nameplate.

    In the power struggle, they form awkward alliances, spy on each other and hang from the twenty-second floor window ledge. They also discover the secret of Zukasky's success: selling multi-million dollar systems that don't work.

    The Death of Zukasky is a full-length play in seven scenes; an intermission is optional. It runs 1 hour and 35 minutes. The cast consists of 3 men, 1 woman and a body. All of the action takes place on a single office set.
  • The Lincoln Park Zoo
    Starting in the evening, and working backwards in time to dawn, we see the events that took place in front of a statue in the Lincoln Park Zoo. In seven connected scenes, we meet, one at a time, seven denizens of the zoo who, each in their own way, are responsible for covering up a murder. Some are predators, some are scavengers, one only comes out at night.
  • Lucid
    Florence Bishop dreams that a strange man, dressed as Harlequin from commedia dell’arte, has entered her condominium while she slept. He swears his only objective is to make her happy, but his very existence seems threatening. And, when Flo tries to flee her condominium, the man physically restrains her by covering her mouth until she suffocates.
    When Flo awakens the next day, she is unable to accept...
    Florence Bishop dreams that a strange man, dressed as Harlequin from commedia dell’arte, has entered her condominium while she slept. He swears his only objective is to make her happy, but his very existence seems threatening. And, when Flo tries to flee her condominium, the man physically restrains her by covering her mouth until she suffocates.
    When Flo awakens the next day, she is unable to accept that her bizarre encounter was a dream. She blames her husband, James, for failing to be there when she needed him. James insists that she has had a lucid dream and, if she will just accept that premise, she will be able to take control of any similar dreams, should they materialize. During the course of their argument, James reveals characteristics that are eerily similar to those of the Harlequin in her dream.
    That night, Flo dreams she is visited by the same man, but this time he is dressed as Capitano, another commedia dell’arte character. Unlike his Harlequin persona, Capitano insists that Flo should leave her apartment, with Capitano as her escort. When Flo refuses to leave, the argument devolves into a sword fight, with Flo wielding the sword she steals from Capitano and Capitano wielding the toilet plunger he found while battling an army of Persians in Flo’s bathroom. In the end, he strangles Flo with the handle of the plunger.
    When Flo awakens the next day, she is similarly uncertain that her dream really was a dream. She insists to James that she is not safe and demands that James move with her out of their urban condominium. But James refuses to sell the condo, instead insisting that Flo needs resume her psychiatric care.
    In her third dream, the same stranger is now Pantalone, a gullible old man from commedia. By this time, Flo has become almost blasé about her visits from16th century fictional characters. And, because Pantalone is easier to fool, Flo is able to get the upper hand. But when she orders the man from her home, he reveals that he is unable to leave. Like Flo, he is a prisoner of the urban condominium. With that revelation, Flo becomes aware that nothing is preventing her own departure.
    In the final scene, and in the light of day, Flo is able to set out on a new life, leaving behind a husband who is now only too aware of the shallowness of his own life.

    Lucid is a full-length play in six scenes; an intermission is optional. The cast consists of 2 men, and one woman. All of the action takes place on a single interior set, the bedroom of James and Flo Bishop.


  • The Median Strip
    A woman in her 40’s recalls when she was eight years old and attempted to walk from Michigan to Florida in order to escape an abusive mother and live with her grandmother.

    The Median Strip was produced by Echo Theater in Los Angeles. Many other productions have been mounted around the country, including a reading by Teri Garr.

    (75 minute monlogue; 1 woman; minimal set.)
  • Mimi
    A doctor in a futuristic hospital facility works to recover the memory of a female patient known as Amy who has apparently attempted suicide. Amy does not know her real name, or anything about herself. However, she has a strong belief that she has an identical twin sister named Mimi. Although the doctor insists that Mimi does not exist, we soon learn that he is working with Mimi who observes Amy’s treatment...
    A doctor in a futuristic hospital facility works to recover the memory of a female patient known as Amy who has apparently attempted suicide. Amy does not know her real name, or anything about herself. However, she has a strong belief that she has an identical twin sister named Mimi. Although the doctor insists that Mimi does not exist, we soon learn that he is working with Mimi who observes Amy’s treatment through a one-way mirror. When the doctor’s unorthodox and illegal treatments seem to imperil Amy’s life, Mimi, in an attempt to save Amy, reveals herself to be, in fact, a figment of the imagination. The only question is, of whose imagination is she a figment?

    Mimi is a fantasy with elements of farce, very loosely inspired by The Menaechmi by Plautus. It requires a single, austere interior set and a couple set tricks. Video cues are an integral part of the script. The cast consists of one man, one woman (to play both Amy and Mimi) and a body double for the woman.
  • My Funny Jarvik-7
    In order to cope with the upcoming marriage of his ex-girlfriend, Joseph Travers would like to replace his broken heart with a new, artificial, unbreakable heart. However, he has to confront a medical establishment which is either unwilling or too anxious to perform the task.

    My Funny Jarvik-7 has had a workshop production at the University of Iowa in May of 1994. Later that same year, the...
    In order to cope with the upcoming marriage of his ex-girlfriend, Joseph Travers would like to replace his broken heart with a new, artificial, unbreakable heart. However, he has to confront a medical establishment which is either unwilling or too anxious to perform the task.

    My Funny Jarvik-7 has had a workshop production at the University of Iowa in May of 1994. Later that same year, the script was presented as a staged reading by GeVa Theatre in Rochester, New York. It has never had a professional production.

    [7 scenes; 2 women and 4 men, one of the men must play saxophone; unit set.]
  • My Simple City
    Alfhilde Lawrence, having been separated from her three children, must prove her sanity to a doctor at a mental institution. However, the test of her sanity rests on her conceding that she was an unfit mother. While incarcerated, she is visited by the recollections of her mother, her oldest daughter, her friend in India, and the events that led the American courts to assume custody of her children.
    ...
    Alfhilde Lawrence, having been separated from her three children, must prove her sanity to a doctor at a mental institution. However, the test of her sanity rests on her conceding that she was an unfit mother. While incarcerated, she is visited by the recollections of her mother, her oldest daughter, her friend in India, and the events that led the American courts to assume custody of her children.

    My Simple City was premiered by Rivendell Ensemble in Chicago.

    (90 minutes, no intermission; 4 women, 2 men; unit set.)
  • The Realization of Emily Linder
    Emily, a former professor of French, in her late sixties, is depressed by the recent death of her husband, her forced retirement, and her deteriorating mental faculties. In that state, she has a premonition of her imminent death. From her wheelchair, she directs her two adult daughters to perform bizarre tasks – including the recovery of her amputated toes so that she and they can be reunited in heaven – in...
    Emily, a former professor of French, in her late sixties, is depressed by the recent death of her husband, her forced retirement, and her deteriorating mental faculties. In that state, she has a premonition of her imminent death. From her wheelchair, she directs her two adult daughters to perform bizarre tasks – including the recovery of her amputated toes so that she and they can be reunited in heaven – in preparation for her funeral. Also, although the daughters remain unaware of this, Emily has them gather the tools she requires for her suicide. However, her caregiver, a former student she no longer recalls, is able to thwart the suicide and to guide Emily into a different kind of paradise.

    The Realization of Emily Linder is a fundamentally realistic play with a few fanciful side trips. It requires a single interior set. There are four women in the cast.
  • Saguenay
    Synopsis for Sagueny
    A full-length play by Richard Strand

    Saguenay takes place in a library within a palace of Francois I of France in the late 1500’s.

    The explorer Jacques Cartier has kidnapped 11 native Canadians and brought them to France. He hopes to use them to impress his king to finance a return voyage. Donnacona, a chief from a tribe of the Huron Nation, regales...
    Synopsis for Sagueny
    A full-length play by Richard Strand

    Saguenay takes place in a library within a palace of Francois I of France in the late 1500’s.

    The explorer Jacques Cartier has kidnapped 11 native Canadians and brought them to France. He hopes to use them to impress his king to finance a return voyage. Donnacona, a chief from a tribe of the Huron Nation, regales Francois with fantastic stories about Saguenay, a magical place in Canada containing all things that are treasured by Europeans. He too hopes to persuade Francois to finance a return voyage for Cartier – and safe passage for himself. However, although Cartier and Donnacona have related objectives, they sharply disagree about the best approach for achieving their common goal. Cartier hopes Donnacona will emphasize those things that he thinks will most impress Francois: gold, spices and a passage to India. Donnacona disagrees with Cartier’s judgment and so, instead, he constructs strange narratives about a race of men who can fly and giant snakes that will consume the corpses of humans. But neither man understands what Francois truly wants: the companionship of this strange Canadian chief.

    Saguenay is a full-length play that tries to imagine the conversations between Donnacona and Francois I – conversations that must have occurred although their content is missing from the historical record. It requires a single interior set. There are four men in the cast.

    Cast Breakdown

    DONNACONA The Chief of Stadacona, in his 50's
    DOMAGAYA Donnacona's son, in his late 20's or early 30's
    JACQUES CARTIER An explorer, in his mid 40's
    FRANCOIS I The king of France

  • The Second-Story Man
    Alex, a thief-for-hire, nearing retirement, decides to pull a final caper against his ungrateful employer. His plan is to gain entry to his boss’s apartment by cutting a hole through the ceiling of the apartment below. However, the plan is derailed when his assistant/girlfriend/fiancé Kate determines it is more important to mount a rescue mission for the baby bird trapped outside the window. While Alex...
    Alex, a thief-for-hire, nearing retirement, decides to pull a final caper against his ungrateful employer. His plan is to gain entry to his boss’s apartment by cutting a hole through the ceiling of the apartment below. However, the plan is derailed when his assistant/girlfriend/fiancé Kate determines it is more important to mount a rescue mission for the baby bird trapped outside the window. While Alex struggles on his own, Kate learns to fly.

    The Second-Story Man was developed at the Eugene O’Neill Center, was premiered at The Cricket Theater in Minneapolis and has had a production in Los Angeles, produced by The Interact Theatre Company.

    (2 acts; 1 man, 3 women; single set.)
  • Shoes and Socks
    In two interrelated one-act plays, the residents of an urban neighborhood argue over the rightful possession of footwear.
  • Special Relativity
    Verina Sparkes, who lives with the ghost/memory of her husband, learns that her house has been sold and she will have to find an alternative to living with the adult daughter she hates.

    Special Relativity was premiered by Performance Network in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

    (2 acts; 3 women, 2 men; one set.)
  • Ten Percent of Molly Snyder
    When Molly Snyder tries to correct the address on her driver’s license, a bureaucratic snafu results in her being issued her own death certificate. In an attempt to correct the mistake, she confronts a series of bureaucrats – a newspaper editor, a banker, her agent, the President of The United States and, ultimately, her executioner – each of whom allege a different identity despite the fact that they are...
    When Molly Snyder tries to correct the address on her driver’s license, a bureaucratic snafu results in her being issued her own death certificate. In an attempt to correct the mistake, she confronts a series of bureaucrats – a newspaper editor, a banker, her agent, the President of The United States and, ultimately, her executioner – each of whom allege a different identity despite the fact that they are identical men in identical offices. Each new encounter only makes it more likely that her death on paper will become her death in fact.

    Ten Percent of Molly Snyder premiered at Steppenwolf in Chicago and has since had noteworthy production at Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis and New Jersey Repertory, among others. Some productions have changed the title to Ten Percent of Marta Solano and have performed a version of the script in which many scenes are in Spanish.

    (80 minutes, no intermission; 1 man, 1 woman; single set.)