Jonathan Josephson

Jonathan Josephson

Forty-five of Jonathan's plays have been produced at site-specific locations, schools, and theatres around the world including Actors Theatre of Louisville (Humana Festival), Milwaukee Rep (RepLab), the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Play Festival (Festival Winner), Alternative Theatre Company (Altered Minds, Off-Broadway), San Jose Rep (SJREAL), Warner Theatre (International Play Festival), Chance Theater...
Forty-five of Jonathan's plays have been produced at site-specific locations, schools, and theatres around the world including Actors Theatre of Louisville (Humana Festival), Milwaukee Rep (RepLab), the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Play Festival (Festival Winner), Alternative Theatre Company (Altered Minds, Off-Broadway), San Jose Rep (SJREAL), Warner Theatre (International Play Festival), Chance Theater, and Short+Sweet: Hollywood (CA) and Dublin (Ireland).

Jonathan is the Artistic Director of Unbound Productions in Los Angeles and is one of the creators of the multi-award-winning immersive theatre events Wicked Lit, History Lit, and Mystery Lit which have welcomed over 30,000 patrons to site-specific locations throughout Southern California. Plays written for Unbound include The New Catacomb, Las Lloronas, The Grove of Rashomon, Anansi and the Demons (Mountain View Mausoleum and Cemetery); The Garden Party and The Girl Who Owned a Bear (Pasadena Museum History); and Holmes, Sherlock, and The Consulting Detective (Los Angeles County Arboretum). Jonathan has received two Individual Artist Awards from the Pasadena Arts Council, is a five-time Finalist for Actors Theatre of Louisville's Heideman Award and has been named a Finalist for both the O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and the City Theatre National Short Play Award. His work has been recognized by the CTG/Humanitas Prize (Semi-Finalist), NuVoices at Actors Theatre of Charlotte (Semi-Finalist), Wordsmyth Theatre Company (Semi-Finalist), the William Inge Theatre Festival (Short Play Lab), the Great Plains Theatre Conference (Short Play Lab), the Heartland New Play Festival (Festival Winner), Force of Nature Productions (Best of Rush), and Playground-LA (Best of Playground-LA).

Fifteen of Jonathan’s plays are published by Steele Spring Stage Rights, Samuel French, YouthPLAYS, PlayScripts, Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, Stage It!, and Original Works Publishing. He is a proud member of Playground-LA’s Writer’s Pool, the Antaeus Playwrights Lab, the Dramatists Guild of American and a Lifetime Member of the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights. B.A. in Theatre: Playwriting from UCSD. [jonathanjosephson.com]

Plays

  • These Violent Delights
    It's three days after the demise of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers; Verona is in mourning, Benvolio and Rosaline are heart-broken... but the two schemers have a plan. They've independently procured magical elixirs from Apothecary with hopes of bringing their beloveds back to life. But when they accidentally double-up their dosage, something goes wrong... horribly, deliciously wrong. Now it’s...
    It's three days after the demise of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers; Verona is in mourning, Benvolio and Rosaline are heart-broken... but the two schemers have a plan. They've independently procured magical elixirs from Apothecary with hopes of bringing their beloveds back to life. But when they accidentally double-up their dosage, something goes wrong... horribly, deliciously wrong. Now it’s up to Friar Laurence, Juliet’s Nurse, Shylock of "The Merchant of Venice," and Beatrice of "Much Ado About Nothing," and a whole lot of Balthasars to right the world again.
  • Big Ed, the King of Swatsville (a classic baseball play)
    Before 1903, Edward "Big Ed" Delahanty was on top of the world. He was an elite ballplayer in the rapidly growing Major Leagues, he was a Batting Champ, a family man who was beloved by his teammates and his fans alike. Then - something happened. His swing slowed down a little bit, be began to drink a little more, and his world began to unravel. In July of 1903, Big Ed's body was found at the base...
    Before 1903, Edward "Big Ed" Delahanty was on top of the world. He was an elite ballplayer in the rapidly growing Major Leagues, he was a Batting Champ, a family man who was beloved by his teammates and his fans alike. Then - something happened. His swing slowed down a little bit, be began to drink a little more, and his world began to unravel. In July of 1903, Big Ed's body was found at the base of Niagara Falls gorge - all but naked, missing a leg. He had been thrown off a train crossing over the Falls 10 days earlier for "drunk and disorderly conduct" including an assault of a sleeping woman and threatening train passengers with a straight razor. But was Big Ed's death the result of an accident, a suicide, or a murder? This play-with-music, presented as fractured early-20th Century vaudeville act, measures the facts of Big Ed's incredible life while grappling with his inexplicable death within a whirlwind of celebrity worship, mental illness, alcoholism, and fear.
  • Cupcake (an MMA Fighter Play)
    Chris Maple, Jr. is an MMA fighter with golden fists and a heart of pure iron. She will stop at nothing to ascend to the top of her sport, and she's good enough to be a star... but when tragedy strikes inside the ring, can Chris bring herself to ride the wave of notoriety all the way to the top? Or will he newfound infamy tear her apart?
  • Holmes, Sherlock, and The Consulting Detective (A Mystery Mash-up)
    A mash-up of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s delightful “A Scandal in Bohemia,” “The Red-Headed League,” and “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.

    The games are afoot! Audiences will follow 25 characters through a literary labyrinth of mysterious clues and misdirection in a story that features Sherlockian mainstays, new characters, and a host of theatrical surprises! Inspired by three classic stories by...
    A mash-up of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s delightful “A Scandal in Bohemia,” “The Red-Headed League,” and “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.

    The games are afoot! Audiences will follow 25 characters through a literary labyrinth of mysterious clues and misdirection in a story that features Sherlockian mainstays, new characters, and a host of theatrical surprises! Inspired by three classic stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes, Sherlock and The Consulting Detective will delight newbies to the mystery genre as well as Sherlock Holmes super-fans.
  • 27 Ways I Didn't Say "Hi" to Laurence Fishburne
    One of Jonathan's favorite actors is sitting right over there. Just sitting there. He'd love to speak to him, but will he be able to build up the nerve? This "hilarious" uber-theatrical comedy was called a "2013 Humana Festival Hit."
  • Bridesmaid; or, The Sequel To "27 Ways I Didn't Say 'Hi' To Laurence Fishburne"
    Set 8 years after the "2013 Humana Festival Hit" play "27 Ways I Didn't Say 'Hi' To Laurence Fishburne," this self-deprecating comedy features a phone call from Mr. Fishburne to one of his biggest fans... but the fan doesn't believe that it's him. Awkward hilarity ensues.
  • The Giant and The Pixie (a fantasy drama set in a shopping mall)
    With giants mopping floors and trolls patrolling the roof, Northside Plaza is not your typical shopping mall. Arthur is a conscientious giant who works by day as a janitor – trying to win the heart of Cipriana, an executive, who also works in the mall. Sebastian – the hotheaded knight – is not happy with this and wants to get rid of Arthur, but Arthur’s buddy Gregory (the “troll with a soul”) won’t have...
    With giants mopping floors and trolls patrolling the roof, Northside Plaza is not your typical shopping mall. Arthur is a conscientious giant who works by day as a janitor – trying to win the heart of Cipriana, an executive, who also works in the mall. Sebastian – the hotheaded knight – is not happy with this and wants to get rid of Arthur, but Arthur’s buddy Gregory (the “troll with a soul”) won’t have anything of it. All the while Cipriana’s father, the magician, watches from a distance with an agenda of his own.
  • Phone Friend
    Returning to the light after descending to the depths of personal tragedy can be a dark, difficult chore… but, when a chance wrong number links two complete strangers in the middle of the night, their common humanity may just help them survive their personal demons.
  • Dr. Soulslayer, Mistress Mindtheif, and The Captor Raptor Have a Zoom
    Supervillains convene to develop revised plans for world domination amidst the global pandemic.
  • Bear Cops
    A big city police chief is willing to consider a extreme change in police procedure in order to protect his community, and save his job.
  • Tacoma, Trains, and Toothpaste (a short radio play)
    February 1st, 1966 - it's the Opening Night of the new Broadway smash Tacoma, Trains, and Toothpaste and radio host Jimmy Swallow is guiding the ladies and gentlemen listening at home through the bustling Who's Who after party. When the unthinkable happens, can the audacity of theatre people ensure that the show does go on?

    Note - an ensemble of sound engineers, party-goers, and...
    February 1st, 1966 - it's the Opening Night of the new Broadway smash Tacoma, Trains, and Toothpaste and radio host Jimmy Swallow is guiding the ladies and gentlemen listening at home through the bustling Who's Who after party. When the unthinkable happens, can the audacity of theatre people ensure that the show does go on?

    Note - an ensemble of sound engineers, party-goers, and policeman can be added to support a larger ensemble cast if needs be,
  • Jorge Hosts Chanukah
    Family quarrels come to a head in this sweet comedy that is equal parts schmaltz and chicharrones.
  • Flash Gordon: The Musical - The Play
    These poor actors, They're in a terrible production of "Flash Gordon: The Musical" (music by Queen), and for Draven - it's personal. The 1980 movie that is the basis for this unstageable drek is the reason he became an actor... now he's a dancing leaf. But hope springs eternal when producer shenanigans and golden showers rear their ugly heads.
  • The Legend(s) of Sleepy Hollow, the REAL Story of Ichanod Crane - from the Horse's Mouth
    The story of Ichabod Crane is well known - the schoolteacher falls for the blooming lass Katrina Van Tassel, and he would have won her heart too, had he not been run out of town by the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. But what really happened on the faithful night in the woods, and what is the true story behind Brom Bones' knowing looks? This new adaptation of the classic ghost story tells Washington...
    The story of Ichabod Crane is well known - the schoolteacher falls for the blooming lass Katrina Van Tassel, and he would have won her heart too, had he not been run out of town by the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. But what really happened on the faithful night in the woods, and what is the true story behind Brom Bones' knowing looks? This new adaptation of the classic ghost story tells Washington Irving's tale as it is widely known in act one, but then follows up with the REAL story of Ichabod and the Horseman as retold by Gunpowder, Ichabod Crane's faithful horse.
  • Grandpa and the Gay Rabbi
    Grandpa Abe just found out that the gregarious, insightful young Rabbi of his synagogue is gay – and he’s not taking it well. While his Rabbi had been helping him through the mourning period of his late wife, old biases die-hard. This is a heartfelt play about coming together, patience and above all things – grace.
  • This Hungry Churchyard; an Act VI, Scene I of "Romeo & Juliet"
    It's three days after the demise of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers; the city is in mourning, Benvolio and Rosaline are heart-broken... but the two schemers have a plan. They've independently procured magical elixirs from the apothecary with hopes of bringing their beloveds back to life. But when they accidentally double-up their dosage, something goes wrong... horribly, deliciously wrong.
  • Runed (a spoof of M.R. James' "Casting the Runes")
    Bunning is an occult writer who has recently been cursed by a set of evil runes. If this situation doesn't change he will surely be ripped to a million bloody pieces by an inter-dimensional beastie. Can Bunning and his hapless sidekicks survive the dire jinx by pulling off a fast one on a crazed literary rival? This madcap riff on the M.R. James horror short "Casting the Runes" is full of zany mischief and misfiring magic.
  • The Tale of Dakota Dawson
    Wilbur Wyoming is perturbed. His agency has been getting blasted all over social media for unfair business practices, and he's gunnin' for the no good ad man whose responsible... who happens to be Dakota Dawson, and she's not exactly gun shy. Enjoy this modern day Western-spoof set in a San Francisco ad agency.

    NOTE: This is a tall tale set in present day with the look and feel and...
    Wilbur Wyoming is perturbed. His agency has been getting blasted all over social media for unfair business practices, and he's gunnin' for the no good ad man whose responsible... who happens to be Dakota Dawson, and she's not exactly gun shy. Enjoy this modern day Western-spoof set in a San Francisco ad agency.

    NOTE: This is a tall tale set in present day with the look and feel and language of frontier Western. Lean in when it gets ridiculous or technical. I wouldn't suggest the characters being too self-aware unless otherwise noted.

    This is the retellin' of the myth of the urban legend of what actually could have happened on the day the real Wilbur Wyoming confronted the real Dakota Dawson. SFX: spitoon.
  • Dave's Epic 40th Birthday Party
    Is revenge a dish best served cold? Or is it that much worse when it's steaming hot? Get to know Will and Dave -- two "friends" are linked by two truly awful birthday celebrations.
  • The Cautionary Tale of "Big Ed" Delahanty (a short baseball tragedy)
    Edward "Big Ed" Delahanty was baseball player in the 1880s and '90s - he was handsome, successful, and on his way to Hall of Fame career. His story was tragically - and mysteriously - cut short at the age of 35 when his body was discovered at the base of Niagara Falls, seven days after he was kicked off a train bound for New York. First-hand accounts state that he was removed for "drunken...
    Edward "Big Ed" Delahanty was baseball player in the 1880s and '90s - he was handsome, successful, and on his way to Hall of Fame career. His story was tragically - and mysteriously - cut short at the age of 35 when his body was discovered at the base of Niagara Falls, seven days after he was kicked off a train bound for New York. First-hand accounts state that he was removed for "drunken and disorderly behavior" - allegedly he had been threatening train passengers with a straight razor. But - was his death a suicide, a murder or an accident? We'll never know for sure, but her's a "what-if" that endeavors to give some clarity to this fascinating, unexplained, true mystery.
  • Dostoevsky
    Two bros-turned-frenemies get hostile when sexual proclivities are revealed at the workplace.
  • Tupperware
    Zeke’s girlfriend has left him, but she wasn’t nearly as clear in her communications as she could have been. Now his friends know, they can read the signs, but he has no idea. Worst poker night ever.
  • Beluga Room
    Andrea’s husband just left her and she is in her funk. To try and shake her out of it, her best friend Tawny convinces her to break into Sea World to perform and “ancient” ritual that is supposed to bring her good fortune.
  • Chubby Bunny (quite possibly the greatest marshmallow comedy ever written)
    Life can be hard when you’re a marshmallow, but Buddy and Piper don’t know that yet. As they find each other, fall for each other, break up and reconnect all in a matter of minutes, their lives together as sentient confectionery could only be described as…bliss. But will that all change when grizzled marshmallow survivalist Jet introduces them to the realities of the campfire? Enjoy this highly theatrical and...
    Life can be hard when you’re a marshmallow, but Buddy and Piper don’t know that yet. As they find each other, fall for each other, break up and reconnect all in a matter of minutes, their lives together as sentient confectionery could only be described as…bliss. But will that all change when grizzled marshmallow survivalist Jet introduces them to the realities of the campfire? Enjoy this highly theatrical and abundantly sweet comedy about the universal quest for true love.
  • Of Love and Shampoo
    Life is pretty awful when you’ve accidentally locked yourself in the bathroom, especially on the night you're supposed to meet your girlfriend’s parents. Enjoy this madcap comedy about four friends, one very important date, and the locked door that brings them together
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
    A lyrical reimaging of the beloved tale of the good-hearted schoolmaster Ichabod Crane who falls for the blooming lass Katrina Van Tassel and his deadly encounter with the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

    (NOTE: This is the 30-minute "first act" of the 60-minute "Legend(s) of Sleepy Hollow," also by Jonathan Josephson. Legend(s) tells the "real" story of Ichabod...
    A lyrical reimaging of the beloved tale of the good-hearted schoolmaster Ichabod Crane who falls for the blooming lass Katrina Van Tassel and his deadly encounter with the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

    (NOTE: This is the 30-minute "first act" of the 60-minute "Legend(s) of Sleepy Hollow," also by Jonathan Josephson. Legend(s) tells the "real" story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman told from the perspective of Gunpower, Ichabod's horse)
  • Las Lloronas ("The Weeping Women" - five stories of La Llorona)
    The Mexican legend "La Llorona" tells the story of a scorned woman who drowns her children and then haunts the earth searching for their souls. The play "Las Lloronas" examines this myth as it has evolved through the ages - from the days of La Malinche and the conquest of Mexico through present day events. El Diablo guides us through five unique stories - some literal, some theatrical, some...
    The Mexican legend "La Llorona" tells the story of a scorned woman who drowns her children and then haunts the earth searching for their souls. The play "Las Lloronas" examines this myth as it has evolved through the ages - from the days of La Malinche and the conquest of Mexico through present day events. El Diablo guides us through five unique stories - some literal, some theatrical, some abstract - that reflect the horror and regret embodied by this timeless tale. Freely adapted from the legend "La Llorona" and historical events.
  • Anansi and the Demons
    A British colonial ambassador tries to rid the African village in his charge of a purported demon, but Anansi the trickster and her friends have other ideas.

    Freely adapted from the canon of Anansi stories and Ashanti proverbs.
  • The Grove of Rashomon
    Adapted from “In A Grove” by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

    Masago, a maiden, is missing and her samurai, Takehiko, is dead. As her mother investigates the brutal crime, she encounters numerous versions of what happened on that fateful night in a haunting cedar grove. Set in 12th Century Japan and written as a highly theatrical piece with mask work, dance, and Noh-inspired movement, "The Grove of...
    Adapted from “In A Grove” by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa

    Masago, a maiden, is missing and her samurai, Takehiko, is dead. As her mother investigates the brutal crime, she encounters numerous versions of what happened on that fateful night in a haunting cedar grove. Set in 12th Century Japan and written as a highly theatrical piece with mask work, dance, and Noh-inspired movement, "The Grove of Rashomon" is a reimagining of the iconic short story that inspired the Akira Kurosawa film "Rashomon."
  • A Ghost Story, adapted from the short story of the same name by Mark Twain.
    It's pouring and Vincent, a Brown student, happens upon an abandoned hotel with two flat tires and nowhere else to go. There, he encounters a Ghost with an identity crisis and a bulldog of a Shadow who is determined to banish his soul to hell. Hilarity ensues.
  • The New Catacomb, adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    Berger, the American, and Kennedy, the Brit, are great friends and have been since their days at university. But when Berger makes a life-altering discovery in the depths of a long-forgotten Roman crypt, their friendship may be put to the ultimate test.

    According to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia, this is the only dramatic adaptation (theatre, film, or TV) of this fantastic short story!...
    Berger, the American, and Kennedy, the Brit, are great friends and have been since their days at university. But when Berger makes a life-altering discovery in the depths of a long-forgotten Roman crypt, their friendship may be put to the ultimate test.

    According to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia, this is the only dramatic adaptation (theatre, film, or TV) of this fantastic short story! Ideal for an immersive experience, the play can also be staged in an intimate theatre setting.
  • The Chimes: A Goblin Story, adapted from the novella of the same name by Charles Dickens
    “There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.” – Charles Dickens. The Chimes tells the story of a conflicted father and the goblins that bring him to the brink of death and back again.