J.Stephen Brantley

J.Stephen Brantley

J.Stephen Brantley’s work has been commissioned by Performance Space 122, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, and East Hampton’s Guild Hall. His plays include Billy Baal, Blood Grass, Break, The Emilies, Furbelow, The Jamb, and Shiny Pair Of Complications. Theatre 167's production of his play Pirira was named Outstanding Premiere Production at the 2014 New York Innovative Theatre Awards. Brantley has also...
J.Stephen Brantley’s work has been commissioned by Performance Space 122, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, and East Hampton’s Guild Hall. His plays include Billy Baal, Blood Grass, Break, The Emilies, Furbelow, The Jamb, and Shiny Pair Of Complications. Theatre 167's production of his play Pirira was named Outstanding Premiere Production at the 2014 New York Innovative Theatre Awards. Brantley has also written in collaboration with Theatre 167 on The Jackson Heights Trilogy plays and The Church Of Why Not. His Eightythree Down, winner of the Georgia Theatre Conference award, was nominated for six NYIT Awards and is included in Indie Theatre Now's Best of 2011 collection. Brantley's acclaimed one-man autobiographical 'recovery cabaret' Chicken-Fried Ciccone: A Twangy True Tale Of Transformation played to audiences in New York, Dublin, Provincetown, and East Hampton. He is an eight-time NYIT nominee and a member of the Indie Theatre Hall Of Fame, and recipient of the Doric Wilson Independent Playwright Award.

Plays

  • The Jamb
    Gay punks Tuffer and Roderick are turning forty. Neither wants to face it. While Tuffer continues to smoke, snort, and screw his way through Manhattan’s collegiate male population, Roderick’s gone straightedge, embracing activism and martial arts. With the arrival of Tuffer’s latest boy toy, Brandon, Roderick can take no more. After a disastrous quasi-intervention, Tuffer agrees to a sobering-up at Roderick’s...
    Gay punks Tuffer and Roderick are turning forty. Neither wants to face it. While Tuffer continues to smoke, snort, and screw his way through Manhattan’s collegiate male population, Roderick’s gone straightedge, embracing activism and martial arts. With the arrival of Tuffer’s latest boy toy, Brandon, Roderick can take no more. After a disastrous quasi-intervention, Tuffer agrees to a sobering-up at Roderick’s mother’s house in rural New Mexico.

    But when Roderick’s mother Abigail, a formerly successful folk singer, throws the guys a very organic birthday party, twenty years of tension comes to a head. They must confront one another, and themselves, in a kind of spiritual exile on the high desert. Each is on the verge of something new, almost somewhere, in the jamb.

    The Jamb is a queer coming-of-middle-age story set in 2008. J.Stephen Brantley’s punk rock rom-com on crystal meth examines how addiction, politics and pop culture have impacted the lives of gay American men who grew up post-Stonewall, pre-Will And Grace. The award-winning 2016 production was directed by Obie-winner David Drake (The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me). Mature audiences only.


    TUFFER is a very charming thirty-nine, but can pass for much younger in a bar at closing time. He’s a trust fund baby and ivy league flunker who continues to party like it’s nineteen ninety-nine.

    RODERICK is Tuffer’s best friend. After years of reckless behavior, Roderick did a three-sixty in preparation for his fortieth. Now he’s taken up the challenge of reforming Tuffer too.

    BRANDON is a twenty-year-old college student and part-time go-go boy. He may not be entirely innocent but he is certainly still green enough to be a romantic.

    ABIGAIL is Roderick’s mother. Once a successful singer-songwriter, she has mostly retired to a hilltop in rural New Mexico.

  • Shruti Gupta Can Totally Deal
    Shruti Gupta is a Dreamer, a DACA recipient in her senior year of medical school at CUNY. She lives very efficiently in the apartment above her uncle’s jewelry story on 74th Street in Jackson Heights, and leaves the drama to her brother Raj, the soon-to-be-married prince of the family. But when Irish actor-musician Liam appears in Shruti’s patient communications simulation exam, a cross-cultural romance...
    Shruti Gupta is a Dreamer, a DACA recipient in her senior year of medical school at CUNY. She lives very efficiently in the apartment above her uncle’s jewelry story on 74th Street in Jackson Heights, and leaves the drama to her brother Raj, the soon-to-be-married prince of the family. But when Irish actor-musician Liam appears in Shruti’s patient communications simulation exam, a cross-cultural romance threatens to upend all her very practical plans. As their unlikely romance blossoms in the late summer of 2017, they find themselves having to navigate cultural traditions, DACA tweets and ICE raids, newly unfettered racism, and what it means to be ‘American’.
  • Pirira
    As the tiny African nation of Malawi erupts in riots around them, American aid workers Jack and Ericka take shelter in the storage room of a struggling NGO in downtown Lilongwe. At the same time, half a world away, Malawian student Gilbert and his gay co-worker Chad begin another day in the back room of a Manhattan florist. None of them can imagine how deeply their lives are interconnected.
    While these...
    As the tiny African nation of Malawi erupts in riots around them, American aid workers Jack and Ericka take shelter in the storage room of a struggling NGO in downtown Lilongwe. At the same time, half a world away, Malawian student Gilbert and his gay co-worker Chad begin another day in the back room of a Manhattan florist. None of them can imagine how deeply their lives are interconnected.
    While these two seemingly separate stories take place seven thousand miles apart, all four of the play’s actors share the same intimate physical space. Their dialogue is overlapping and interwoven, and at times incorporates Chichewa as well as English. The two couples pass within inches of one another, sharing the same set pieces and, eventually, a pivotal prop. It is only in the play's final moment that they each and all see one another.
    In Chichewa, the play’s title, Pirira, means ‘endure’ or ‘persevere’. It is not only a theme for the play’s grieving characters, but also the name of the young Malawian girl, a victim of superstition and sexual violence, who connects them all to one another.
    The play is inspired by actual political events that took place on July 20, 2011. It explores the ways in which our lives are inextricably linked across cultures, continents, language, and time.
  • Billy Baal
    In the summer of 1976, Billy Baal and his bandmates gathered to record the follow-up to their smash hit debut album BAAL. What emerged from those sessions was a Grammy-winning classic that would change the face of rock n roll, and a legend of sex, drugs, ego and hedonism to rival any the music industry has ever seen.

    Within a year, Billy’s copious drug use, torrid affairs with both women and men...
    In the summer of 1976, Billy Baal and his bandmates gathered to record the follow-up to their smash hit debut album BAAL. What emerged from those sessions was a Grammy-winning classic that would change the face of rock n roll, and a legend of sex, drugs, ego and hedonism to rival any the music industry has ever seen.

    Within a year, Billy’s copious drug use, torrid affairs with both women and men, his tumultuous relationship with bandmate Sophie Barger, and rumours of his involvement in a tragic drowning had torn the group apart. Nearly four decades later, the mad genius frontman whose band bore his name is all but forgotten, but his impact on American pop culture lives on. This is his story.
  • The Emilies
    Recovering addict and aspiring pop star Avery comes home to his sister Emily’s bedside following her horrific attempt at suicide. Over the course of a night he’ll fight to solve the puzzle of who his brilliant and wild-hearted sister really is – or was – and how she ended up confined to a hospital bed, connected to a ventilator. The Emilies is a story about addiction, and about recovery. Each comes with its own...
    Recovering addict and aspiring pop star Avery comes home to his sister Emily’s bedside following her horrific attempt at suicide. Over the course of a night he’ll fight to solve the puzzle of who his brilliant and wild-hearted sister really is – or was – and how she ended up confined to a hospital bed, connected to a ventilator. The Emilies is a story about addiction, and about recovery. Each comes with its own set of consequences. For Avery and Emily, there may be healing but there is also, inevitably, irreparable harm.


    EMILY (f, 27) is a whip-smart, wild-hearted, alcoholic manager of a record shop who by all accounts should have been so much more. She is in the hospital following a suicide attempt.

    AVERY (m, 30) is Emily's brother. He is a recovering heroin addict and proudly-out aspiring pop star who’s done everything he can to escape the suburbs that so crushingly shaped him.

    THERESA (f, 45) is a cheerfully capable nurse in a sprawling suburban hospital who manages her patients’ pain - and her own - with snickerdoodle cookies and the power of positive thinking.
  • Eightythree Down
    It’s New Year’s Eve 1983 and Martin’s plan for a quiet night in his parents’ basement is thrown into chaos when his old friend Dina and her hooligan roommates arrive with a gun and a bag of stolen books. Having teamed with Tony, a sociopath who sees himself as a craftsman, and Stuart, a bisexual English hedonist, Dina’s life is well out of control. On the run from a Manhattan thug, the reeling trio incurs upon...
    It’s New Year’s Eve 1983 and Martin’s plan for a quiet night in his parents’ basement is thrown into chaos when his old friend Dina and her hooligan roommates arrive with a gun and a bag of stolen books. Having teamed with Tony, a sociopath who sees himself as a craftsman, and Stuart, a bisexual English hedonist, Dina’s life is well out of control. On the run from a Manhattan thug, the reeling trio incurs upon bird-watching Martin’s quiet suburban nest and turns it quite upside down.
  • Furbelow
    Regine the Thirteenth governs her nation as a shining example of despotic panache. But when one of her subjects selflessly offers to take the place of a death-row criminal, Regine is forced to reconsider both her law and her lifestyle. Furbelow is a fable about fame, friendship, and really nice fabrics.

    fur·be·low [fur-buh-loh] –noun 1. a ruffle or flounce, as on a woman's skirt or petticoat...
    Regine the Thirteenth governs her nation as a shining example of despotic panache. But when one of her subjects selflessly offers to take the place of a death-row criminal, Regine is forced to reconsider both her law and her lifestyle. Furbelow is a fable about fame, friendship, and really nice fabrics.

    fur·be·low [fur-buh-loh] –noun 1. a ruffle or flounce, as on a woman's skirt or petticoat. 2. any bit of showy trimming or finery. –verb (used with object) 3. to ornament with or as if with furbelows.

    REGINE the Thirteenth (female) is the much revered leader of her land. Iron fist,
    velvet glove, designer shoes.

    JASPER the Vinedresser (male) once a farmer, is now in charge of the Federal vineyards.

    TAMID the Lace Maker (male) is Jasper’s best friend and a craftsperson in the Capitol.

    BOX (male or female) is a member of Regine’s elite guard.

    TENCH (male or female) is also one of Regine’s henchmen.

    COURTIER ONE (male or female) plays PRISONER ONE, a soldier, and
    COUNTESS LORETTA LaROCOCO, a socialite.

    COURTIER TWO (male or female) plays PRISONER TWO, a bricklayer, and SISTER
    LUDMILLA DELFINA JUAREZ, a nun.

    COURTIER THREE (male or female) plays MACKINTOSH, Regine’s decorator and
    confidante, and a PRIEST.

    COURTIER FOUR (male) plays Jasper’s husband CHISULO, a farmer, and the
    EXECUTIONER.

    COURTIER FIVE (female) plays Tamid’s wife KU, an apothecary, and a REPORTER.

    NOTE: While these roles have been written to be played by just ten actors, a cast of fifteen, twenty or more may be used in production.
  • Shiny Pair Of Complications
    Kevin’s wedding is days away and his Dad needs a decent tuxedo. But before making their final purchase at an upscale men’s store, the two have a few things to get straight. So to speak.
    KEVIN KEMP is a thirtysomething television director just days away from marrying a really great guy. Despite his tremendous success, Kevin remains very insecure.
    TOM KEMP is Kevin’s father. Eternally Midwestern,...
    Kevin’s wedding is days away and his Dad needs a decent tuxedo. But before making their final purchase at an upscale men’s store, the two have a few things to get straight. So to speak.
    KEVIN KEMP is a thirtysomething television director just days away from marrying a really great guy. Despite his tremendous success, Kevin remains very insecure.
    TOM KEMP is Kevin’s father. Eternally Midwestern, but doing his level best to embrace his son’s big city lifestyle.
    2010. Just outside the changing room at a high-priced menswear shop.
  • Blood Grass
    When a strange young man with a knife in his gut appears in Mary’s garden on a
    cool autumn night, she is forced to confront her past and admit her part in a
    terrible calamity she’d thought long buried. Sex, murder, the turning of soil.
    MARY is noticeably older than Guy.
    GUY is noticeably younger than Mary.
    Mary’s garden, after midnight, in mid-October. A storm is coming.
  • Break
    During the late hours of a summer night on the coast of Eastern Long Island, a displaced Englishman and the drug addict who breaks into his home confront their differences and, more importantly, discover their secret similarities.

    NIGEL is an Englishman in his forties. He’s escaped to the States in an effort to shed his working-class background, and has done quite well. Ensconced in his country...
    During the late hours of a summer night on the coast of Eastern Long Island, a displaced Englishman and the drug addict who breaks into his home confront their differences and, more importantly, discover their secret similarities.

    NIGEL is an Englishman in his forties. He’s escaped to the States in an effort to shed his working-class background, and has done quite well. Ensconced in his country home, a restored sea captain’s house, and surrounded by expensive antiques, Nigel is unquestionably successful. He’s also very lonely, too ordered, and surely sexually repressed. In moments of stress, when anyone else would be feeling a flood of emotion, the soft-spoken Nigel shuts down. Secretly, however, he craves drama, and is thrilled by Scott’s sudden appearance.

    SCOTT is a homeless heroin addict who’s found respite in a seaside home while its owner is away. For all the difficulty of a life on the streets, Scott seems to have embraced the chaos. So far he’s been comfortably playing society’s victim, and seems to feel entitled to living off others in whatever way he can. Now, nearing thirty, Scott can’t quite acknowledge his need for a more ordered life and his desire for a measure of the comfort he enjoyed as a child. In the throes of withdrawal, Scott returns to his secret get-away without realizing its rightful owner has returned.

    Break takes place in a seaside house on the East End of Long Island, New York, during the summer of 2007.
  • Nevertheless
    After nearly stabbing her husband at the breakfast table, Iris walked out of her Park Avenue apartment bound for Nashville, Tennessee. Returning to the dingy barroom where she misspent her twenties, she hopes to recapture some of the excitement of a bygone era. What Iris finds is Trevor, a washed-up-before-he-started country crooner, the hard truth, and a new start.