Kenneth Jones

Kenneth Jones

Kenneth Jones is a playwright, librettist and lyricist. His breakout play "Alabama Story" — a 2014 Finalist in the National Playwrights Conference of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and a 2016 nominee for the ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award — received its world premiere in January 2015 at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, UT, where artistic director Karen Azenberg directed. By spring...
Kenneth Jones is a playwright, librettist and lyricist. His breakout play "Alabama Story" — a 2014 Finalist in the National Playwrights Conference of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and a 2016 nominee for the ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award — received its world premiere in January 2015 at Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, UT, where artistic director Karen Azenberg directed. By spring 2022, it will have been produced by more than 40 theaters around the country. It is published by Dramatists Play Service (dramatists.com). "Alabama Story" was developed by Pioneer Theatre Company (Play By Play New Play Series), Alabama Shakespeare Festival (Southern Writers' Project) and Off-Broadway's TACT/The Actors Company Theatre (NewTACTics Festival of New Plays). His play "Last Call at the Old Slave Quarters Lounge" was commissioned in 2020 by Florida Studio Theatre, where he is part of the Playwrights Collective. His three-character play "Two Henrys" was a Semi-Finalist in the 2015 and 2016 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and was developed Pioneer's February 2016 Play-By-Play reading series. It had a developmental full staging by the Co-Op of Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice, CA, in fall 2016, and enjoyed a development by Hudson Stage Company in Westchester, NY; Red Mountain Theatre Company in Birmingham, AL; TACT; Florida Studio Theatre; Cape May Stage; Third Avenue Playhouse; Actors Theatre of Indiana. His six-actor play "Hollywood, Nebraska" was read in the 2016 NewTACTics Festival Off-Broadway and enjoyed a popular workshop staging by Wyoming Theater Festival in Sheridan, WY, in September 2017 and later a reading by Actors Theatre of Indiana. His six-actor play "Circa 1976, or Somewhere in the Suburbs of a Swing State Shaped Like a Mitten," set in suburban Michigan during the 2016 presidential election cycle, was a 2018 Semi-Finalist in the O'Neill NPC. He co-conceived the holiday revue "It Happened One Christmas," which premiered at Pioneer in December 2015. His darkly comic musical "Naughty/Nice" (with composer Gerald Stockstill) was a semi-finalist in the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's Festival of New Musicals and has been seen in Manhattan concerts at Ars Nova, The Players Theatre and Caroline's On Broadway. It is published by stagerights.com. His O. Henry-inspired musical "Voice of the City" (with composer Elaine Chelton) was seen in York Theatre Company's Developmental Reading Series Off-Broadway and in Human Race Theatre Company's Festival of New Musicals in Ohio. He has written songs with Roger Anderson, Elaine Chelton, Marek Norman, Brad Ross, Gerald Stockstill, Mary-Mitchell Campbell and others. Award: With composer Gerald Stockstill - 2010 Dottie Burman Songwriting Award from Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC). Publication: "2015 Best Men's Stage Monologues" (Smith & Kraus). He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, BMI, Florida Studio Theatre's Playwrights Collective, 72nd Street Gang Playwrights Collective and the Advanced BMI-Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop. He was born in suburban Philadelphia, was raised in suburban Detroit, and lives in Queens, NY. Visit ByKennethJones.com.

Plays

  • Ten Minutes on a Bench
    Ah, look at all the lonely people! Some of them — as many as 22 characters, in 11 unconnected scenes — are hoping to find romance on the latest dating app, “Ten Minutes on a Bench,” which invites hopeful singles to a brief encounter on a park bench. Their time together may be short, but there is no limit to the variety of quirky, heartbreaking, funny and sophisticated people looking for love. Fall head over...
    Ah, look at all the lonely people! Some of them — as many as 22 characters, in 11 unconnected scenes — are hoping to find romance on the latest dating app, “Ten Minutes on a Bench,” which invites hopeful singles to a brief encounter on a park bench. Their time together may be short, but there is no limit to the variety of quirky, heartbreaking, funny and sophisticated people looking for love. Fall head over heels for a refreshing new comedy about conversation, compatibility and connection. Sometimes, it only takes ten minutes to find your match.

    *

    Perfect fit for a company looking for humane comedies in the tradition of Neil Simon and "Almost Maine."

    Suitable for a large cast (up to 22), or adaptable for a quick-change cast as small as 2M/2W.

    Set requirement: Blank stage with a park bench.

    Available for streaming rights.

  • Alabama Story
    A gentle children's book with an apparent hidden message stirs the passions of a segregationist State Senator and a no-nonsense State Librarian in 1959 Montgomery, Alabama, just as the civil rights movement is flowering. A contrasting story of childhood friends — an African-American man and a woman of white privilege, reunited in adulthood in Montgomery that same year — provides private counterpoint to the...
    A gentle children's book with an apparent hidden message stirs the passions of a segregationist State Senator and a no-nonsense State Librarian in 1959 Montgomery, Alabama, just as the civil rights movement is flowering. A contrasting story of childhood friends — an African-American man and a woman of white privilege, reunited in adulthood in Montgomery that same year — provides private counterpoint to the public events of the play.

    It is published by Dramatists Play Service, which handles its licensing. Visit here: https://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=6254

    Based on true events, "Alabama Story" puts political foes, star-crossed childhood friends, and one feisty children's author on the same page to conjure a uniquely poetic Deep South of the imagination. This love letter to reading, a finalist in the 2014 National Playwrights Conference of the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center and a nominee for the ATCA/Steinberg New Play Award, leaps from pages of history, exploring the moving story that earned librarian Emily Reed international headlines when she defended "The Rabbits' Wedding," a picture book by Garth Williams, best known for his artwork for "Little House on the Prairie" and "Charlotte's Web."
  • Two Henrys
    In the dead of winter, Henry flies from New York to Florida to offer condolences at the funeral of a father figure he never knew. But as the booze flows at the wake, are the surviving widow and her grown daughter ready to raise a glass to the unexpected guest? Set in 2012, somewhere between the dusk of the worst days of the AIDS crisis and the dawn of marriage equality, "Two Henrys" is a humor-laced...
    In the dead of winter, Henry flies from New York to Florida to offer condolences at the funeral of a father figure he never knew. But as the booze flows at the wake, are the surviving widow and her grown daughter ready to raise a glass to the unexpected guest? Set in 2012, somewhere between the dusk of the worst days of the AIDS crisis and the dawn of marriage equality, "Two Henrys" is a humor-laced drama about guilt and grief, perceptions and prejudices and the urge to find family.

    ASK FOR A PERUSAL COPY OF THE RECENTLY REVISED SCRIPT BASED ON MAY 2022 READING AT ACTORS THEATRE OF INDIANA.

    FROM THE PLAYWRIGHT
    Constance has just lost her husband, Mike, after 60 years of marriage. But his sudden death isn’t the only grief inside her as she prepares for his wake at the southwest Florida home that they shared. The sting of losing her son, Henry, to HIV/AIDS 15 years earlier is aroused again with the arrival of a stranger at her home: Henry’s partner, also named Henry, has come to express his condolences — and to make a connection with the mother-in-law he never knew, in a place where he was not previously welcomed. Constance’s daughter, Amy, emboldened by alcohol and threatened by Henry’s appearance, shares memories of her brother but also questions the motives of the outsider, even as she hides a secret about her own family. Henry’s audacious visit is met with an equally audacious invitation. Constance, a drinker herself, asks him to stay the night in the guest room — Henry’s old room — setting the stage for an overdue confrontation about the late Henry’s life and death, the surviving Henry’s guilt and goals, and the staunchly conservative family’s role in the decline of their golden child. The play’s poolside conversations — dark, funny, humane, honest, touching — address prejudices and perceptions, mirroring “coming out” exchanges that still go on today. But following the decades-long delay of addressing the realities of their family tree, is hope still possible for a mother who needs a son, a son who needs a mother and a sister who seems to only need a drink?

    “Two Henrys” is the result of a lot of things that I’ve experienced or heard over the years on the subject of LGBTQ people coming out of the closet. For some, “coming out” might seem like an almost quaint topic, in the age of marriage equality, but the struggle is real for millions of people who grow up in communities that are intolerant and downright hostile about anything that is “different.” The act of telling the truth about the experience of your identity is still a thing. I became interested in a fresh take on the coming-out ritual, through the lens of middle-aged and senior people: I envisioned something about an aging mother who never had “the talk” with her gay son — and never would because he died of illness before HIV/AIDS was treatable. I also knew that I wanted to write a comedy. Like my play “Alabama Story,” I built “Two Henrys” on the foundation of clear opposites: conservative and liberal, gay and straight, brother and sister, parent and child, wellness and illness, spiritual and secular, grief and acceptance, sobriety and addiction, funerals and weddings, silence and communication, tears and laughter. At an earlier reading of the play in Salt Lake City, a gay man and his parents approached me with tears in their eyes. The father said, “We sure have lived some of this story.” I hope you come to fall in love with what’s both specific and universal about “Two Henrys,” and that maybe it inspires communication where before there was only silence.

    This play is a time capsule, a period piece, a remembrance of attitudes, perceptions and prejudices that existed — and still exist. Most everything spoken in the play is based on words spoken directly to me or to my LGBTQ+ friends. This is about silence — and the talk a son and a mother never got to have. They are finally having the talk now, but not with their blood family. This is how the conversation might have gone with their respective family had timing and circumstance allowed it.

    As long as there are forces shoving people into the darkness, coming out stories will be relevant, necessary and alive. And if you think we’re beyond these stories, you only have to look at the alarming attempted suicide statistics in the LGBTQ+ community, particularly among queer youth.


  • Hollywood, Nebraska
    In the panhandle of Nebraska, two actresses of a certain age are making a homecoming in their dying small town. Jane's in from L.A. to check up on her ailing mother, Alma. Andrea's back from New York to bury her father. Will a disappearing dot on the map of the Great Plains provide a second act for each of them? In the quiet of their hometown — and with two local men entering their old stomping ground...
    In the panhandle of Nebraska, two actresses of a certain age are making a homecoming in their dying small town. Jane's in from L.A. to check up on her ailing mother, Alma. Andrea's back from New York to bury her father. Will a disappearing dot on the map of the Great Plains provide a second act for each of them? In the quiet of their hometown — and with two local men entering their old stomping ground — the women are moved to explore feelings about lost parents, thwarted aspirations and what it means to be successful, leading to a showdown between Jane and her plainspoken mother. It's a new rueful comedy about the urge to be creative, the itch to move away and the ache of reconnecting with the family and feelings that you thought you left behind.

    From the Playwright: Unlike my plays TWO HENRYS, ALABAMA STORY. TENNESSEE WILLIAMS DRANK HERE and CIRCA 1976, this one doesn’t have threads of social justice woven into it. It's a sadness-streaked Chekhovian family comedy about show people looking in the mirror and trying to figure out who they are in a time of personal crossroads. One audience member at a talkback asked, "What's at stake for the main character, Jane?" My answer was, "Everything!" An L.A. actress in her forties is often an invisible creature, and Jane is trying to figure out where she fits in the world, professionally, personally, romantically. The past and present collide in her hometown, a place where "dying" things are constantly referenced. It's ultimately a hope-filled play about living — and what it means to live a "creative life."

    *

    A theatergoer at a reading of the play Off-Broadway billed it as THE RAINMAKER, BROADWAY BOUND & STEEL MAGNOLIAS combined. "I wanna call my mom," she said of the bittersweet comedy about parents and children. That sounds about right to me. It's also sexy and funny and warm. Comfort food that makes you think, to mix a metaphor.
  • Tennessee Williams Drank Here
    In the days following Hurricane Katrina, three generations of a family of white restaurateurs gather in their popular restaurant in the Deep South to ponder their reopening. A brainstorming session about repairs reveals ancient layers of racism and bias, unearthing long-buried secrets and laying bare conflicting views on heritage, community and responsibility.

    *
    One set. Three acts. Six...
    In the days following Hurricane Katrina, three generations of a family of white restaurateurs gather in their popular restaurant in the Deep South to ponder their reopening. A brainstorming session about repairs reveals ancient layers of racism and bias, unearthing long-buried secrets and laying bare conflicting views on heritage, community and responsibility.

    *
    One set. Three acts. Six characters. Please ask for a perusal copy. (Act One is downloadable here at NPX.) Darkly comic, ruminative, funny, heartbreaking and hopeful, the play deals specifically with white characters' narcissism and their culpability in systemic racism. Yes, it's a booze-kissed reunion that moves from morning to evening and (purposely) is one of those "long-buried-secrets-are-revealed" play. While the restaurant they work in reveals itself as an allegory for America, the play want to be about finding family — preserving family by examining it and reinventing it.
  • Circa 1976, or Somewhere in the Suburbs of a Swing State Shaped Like a Mitten
    It’s July 4, 2016, and alumni of Evergreen Elementary School’s class of 1976 have gathered for the 40th anniversary of their graduation from sixth grade. A handful of former classmates — a jock, an artist, a cheerleader, a brain and an overachiever, all in their early fifties — find themselves in their old music room, in a suburban school that has been converted to a senior citizens’ community center. Memories...
    It’s July 4, 2016, and alumni of Evergreen Elementary School’s class of 1976 have gathered for the 40th anniversary of their graduation from sixth grade. A handful of former classmates — a jock, an artist, a cheerleader, a brain and an overachiever, all in their early fifties — find themselves in their old music room, in a suburban school that has been converted to a senior citizens’ community center. Memories of past teachers, tensions and traumas are conjured like half-remembered songs. The present concerns of a divided America, in which Donald Trump is battling Hillary Clinton, dovetail with the anxieties of the classmates’ past to spark an unforgettable swing state reunion. The gathering — complete with the surprise appearance of a fury-filled, truth-telling teacher — calls into question the Spirit of 76. Inspired by true events, a humor-laced ensemble drama that will leave you shaken and looking back at your past and forward to a clearer view of the people in your life.

    Ask for a free perusal copy.
  • Naughty/Nice
    Four adult actors play a community of twenty or so misfit kids in the darkly comic musical that brings to life letters to Santa Claus. An original contemporary score is swirled with pastiche to create a unique new musical comedy that blends the heart of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with the caustic humor of "Avenue Q" and the theatricality of "Spelling Bee."

    A...
    Four adult actors play a community of twenty or so misfit kids in the darkly comic musical that brings to life letters to Santa Claus. An original contemporary score is swirled with pastiche to create a unique new musical comedy that blends the heart of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with the caustic humor of "Avenue Q" and the theatricality of "Spelling Bee."

    A perfect antidote to "A Christmas Carol" fatigue, it's suitable as a cabaret-style show (with one piano and four actors) but rich enough to feel at home in a theatre. Built for four triple threats, it would also support cast expansion as a possible to showcase for a wide larger group of performers (hello, universities!). Profane. Satiric. Wildly melodic. Not for kids. Conceived by BMI Workshop alumni collaborators Gerald Stockstill (composer) and Kenneth Jones (lyricist), it was a finalist in the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival of New Musicals. Hear music samples at www.naughtynicethemusical.com.