David Zarko

David Zarko

I'm pursuing playwrighting late in life. I directed and taught theatre from the mid 1970s with periodic stints as an actor. Occasionally, I helped devise a play (as a director/playwright) or worked to adapt/translate older plays for companies I was involved with. Then in 2011 the Equity theatre I managed suffered a recessionary demise, and feeling liberated, I turned toward writing.

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I'm pursuing playwrighting late in life. I directed and taught theatre from the mid 1970s with periodic stints as an actor. Occasionally, I helped devise a play (as a director/playwright) or worked to adapt/translate older plays for companies I was involved with. Then in 2011 the Equity theatre I managed suffered a recessionary demise, and feeling liberated, I turned toward writing.

Thanks to the generosity of the many actors I know, my scripts have benefitted from numerous readings and discussions in New York, DC, and California. And although I'm facing my sixty-ninth birthday, I feel like a pup.

I am now able to devote a good amount of time to scripts and other writing projects. While all of the scripts listed are advanced drafts, they have not been rehearsed, so of course, remain in-progress. If you see anything here you'd be interested in workshopping or developing in some other way, please let me know.

As a more conventional bio:

David Zarko was producing artistic director of Electric Theatre Company in Scranton, PA from 2001 to 2011. He was also founding artistic director of The Metropolitan Playhouse of New York (1991 - 2000), now on East Fourth Street, and was previously artistic director of Parsifal's Players and The Fabulous Theatre Co., both in California. During his nineteen years in New York City, he worked as director and instructor at American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and Long Island University C.W. Post Campus. In addition, he has over 90 professional directing credits and at least 50 in academic theatre. He is also a produced playwright, an actor, is a member of The Dramatists Guild and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and holds a BFA in Dramatic Production from the University of Arizona, Tucson. As a playwright, he has written, translated, and adapted about twenty scripts, about half of which have been produced in the U.S. He is currently on a self-styled writer's retreat in Orvieto, Italy. A complete resume and CV can be found at www.davidzarko.us

Plays

  • Risotto
    In the spring of 1972, Arduina Rosetti teaches her young neighbor, Alan, to make risotto as prepared in her Italian village before she emigrated to California. As the lesson goes on, Alan defends his mysterious decision not to return to university. It also comes out that Arduina, now 82, has become romantically involved with a 70 year-old man named Henry while Alan was away for his freshman year, and plans to...
    In the spring of 1972, Arduina Rosetti teaches her young neighbor, Alan, to make risotto as prepared in her Italian village before she emigrated to California. As the lesson goes on, Alan defends his mysterious decision not to return to university. It also comes out that Arduina, now 82, has become romantically involved with a 70 year-old man named Henry while Alan was away for his freshman year, and plans to travel with him to meet her family she has not seen since 1917. Alan is excited, and she impulsively invites Henry to share risotto for lunch. Henry and Alan do not find much common ground, and Alan leaves under a cloud.

    Two weeks later. Henry has died of a sudden heart attack, and Arduina has not been seen in public for the several days since his funeral. Alan comes by to offer a casserole his mother prepared, and feels drawn to try to rekindle Arduina's will to live. In the process, they share secrets about the people they love, stories that explain the people they are (and have been), and wisdom about how to approach the next steps in their very different lives. By the end Alan is coming to grips with the personal disappointment in love that caused his desire to discontinue his studies, and Arduina decides to go back to her village alone, so that she can see her sister before she dies.

    An earlier draft of Risotto was chosen as one of 25 finalists for CRT Headwaters Festival 2017.

    Risotto is first in a series of plays following the life of Alan Cravick. The plays can stand alone, but they are linked by cross references and by Alan's progression as he grows from 19 to 46. The second play is Fried Prawns (set in 1978) and the last is Soup (1998).
  • Fried Prawns
    IN-PROGRESS REVISION: Alan arrives late to the palatial home of Gregory Fisher Franklin Heines and his wife Wex. Gregory is artistic director of Xanadu Cabaret Theatre in Seattle. Alan has been offered the position of Equity stage manager by phone, and has just driven up from Los Angeles to start work on a package production of Plaza Suite featuring the legendary comedienne Hermione Vana and her husband Duke...
    IN-PROGRESS REVISION: Alan arrives late to the palatial home of Gregory Fisher Franklin Heines and his wife Wex. Gregory is artistic director of Xanadu Cabaret Theatre in Seattle. Alan has been offered the position of Equity stage manager by phone, and has just driven up from Los Angeles to start work on a package production of Plaza Suite featuring the legendary comedienne Hermione Vana and her husband Duke Donahue. What he walks into is a cast of characters who drink heavily, lie frequently, scheme without shame, listen to no one, and generally take advantage of his eagerness to please. Among them is an attractive stage carpenter upon whom Alan develops an immediate crush, and his early instincts to flee are put on hold. But as he stays, reality turns surreal, lives turn inside out, and he ends up being given the theatre to do with as he pleases. (The posted draft is being actively revised.)

    Fried Prawns is second in a series of plays following the life of Alan Cravick. The plays can stand alone, but they are linked by small references and by Alan's progression as he grows from 19 to 46. The first play is Risotto (set in 1971) and the third and last is Soup (1998).
  • Soup
    Alan, an intellectual property rights attorney slugging it out for a corporate master, brings his 86 year old mother home from the clinic where she was given strict orders to stay off her fractured foot. They and Fran's best friends Isabel and Ignacio all agree she will need home care. Isabel, always the mover and the shaper, calls her friend Felicity, a woman of Puerto Rican heritage, as a candidate....
    Alan, an intellectual property rights attorney slugging it out for a corporate master, brings his 86 year old mother home from the clinic where she was given strict orders to stay off her fractured foot. They and Fran's best friends Isabel and Ignacio all agree she will need home care. Isabel, always the mover and the shaper, calls her friend Felicity, a woman of Puerto Rican heritage, as a candidate. Fran and Felicity hit it off, but when it comes out that Felicity is homeless and is rumored to have had a history of drugs, sex, and alcohol, opinions heat up and what seemed a simple solution becomes a quandary.

    Before she became homeless, Felicity had been soup chef for a local cafe that Fran was particularly fond of. That and her easy laugh is enough to lead Fran to hire Felicity as caregiver. When Alan objects, Fran contrives to leave the two of them alone so Alan can conduct an interview. As his line of questioning develops, they discover common interests. When the conversation leads to Felicity's former job and Alan discovers that her personal recipes were probably stolen by the chain that bought the cafe's concept, he has a change of heart and decides to file suit on her behalf.

    Soup is last in a series of plays following the life of Alan Cravick. The plays can stand alone, but they are linked by small references and by Alan's progression as he grows from 19 to 46. The first play is Risotto (set in 1971) and the second is Fried Prawns (1978).
  • Colloquia
    MATURE DRAFT: In January, 1944 Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Lersen of the Luftwaffe's Field Division, after having been wounded at Novgorod, is posted as commander of Orvieto, Italy. The Allies are working their way up the peninsula and his orders are defend the city at any cost, and to pursue a scorched earth policy should he need to retreat. As a diplomatic courtesy, Lersen invites Orvieto's bishop...
    MATURE DRAFT: In January, 1944 Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Lersen of the Luftwaffe's Field Division, after having been wounded at Novgorod, is posted as commander of Orvieto, Italy. The Allies are working their way up the peninsula and his orders are defend the city at any cost, and to pursue a scorched earth policy should he need to retreat. As a diplomatic courtesy, Lersen invites Orvieto's bishop, monsignor Francesco Pieri, to a meeting. Both men speak Latin. Translators are not needed. They meet alone and discover things in common, significantly a love of Bach. Pieri organizes organ concerts in the city's magnificent gothic cathedral. Their meetings become regular, a friendship which supersedes political loyalties blossoms, it survives crisis and challenge, and leads to the declaration of Orvieto as an open city, thereby saving it from devastation in the fight that lies ahead.
  • Urban Renewal
    Conor, almost eighteen, lives with his divorced mother, three younger siblings, and stroke-ravaged grandfather, Arthur. A young man without a mission, he discovers a cause when he hears that his fast-talking father, Joey, plans to close a historic emporium in their city's nineteenth century downtown. He organizes a protest and his sister Shana promotes it on social media. The post is shared liberally,...
    Conor, almost eighteen, lives with his divorced mother, three younger siblings, and stroke-ravaged grandfather, Arthur. A young man without a mission, he discovers a cause when he hears that his fast-talking father, Joey, plans to close a historic emporium in their city's nineteenth century downtown. He organizes a protest and his sister Shana promotes it on social media. The post is shared liberally, but few people show. Conor is discouraged, but his family pushes him to follow up with a more produced version of his speech at the rally, and they post it on YouTube. It goes viral. His father, who has been “drafted” to run for mayor, hears about his son's flash of fame, tries to co-opt it to his own political purpose, and to move Conor to his side with declarations of fatherly pride and love. His sisters see what's happening, dig up proof of their father's corrupt activities, and confront Joey with the evidence. After various attempts at politicking, Joey seems to capitulate. Conor and Shana propose to help him publicly announce – instead of a candidacy – a change of direction for his life. Shana takes charge.

    Among the cast are are boys (7 and 17) and girls (13 and 15).
  • Majesty
    One San Francisco day in 1874, Joshua Norton, the self-styled Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, sees, and becomes immediately fascinated by, Addie L. Ballou, activist, poet, Spiritualist, painter, and secretly divorced mother of four. He eventually charms her with his lunatic wit, and she is convinced to paint his first Official Imperial Portrait. His ideas for the portrait and...
    One San Francisco day in 1874, Joshua Norton, the self-styled Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, sees, and becomes immediately fascinated by, Addie L. Ballou, activist, poet, Spiritualist, painter, and secretly divorced mother of four. He eventually charms her with his lunatic wit, and she is convinced to paint his first Official Imperial Portrait. His ideas for the portrait and hers diverge, and when it becomes apparent that his promise of a fee was not based on his actually having it to give her, the project is doomed. But good hearts triumph. (The painting hangs today in the library of San Francisco's Society of California Pioneers.)

    Majesty seems to have been given consideration as a semi-finalist for the Headwaters New Play Program for 2018.
  • Walter's Story
    A detective for campus security at a mid-sized university is almost inadvertently assigned the investigation of the ritualistic murder of a female student whose body was found in the university's chapel. His work eventually leads him to suspect faculty, but when he begins to reveal specifics, his superior closes the case. He continues to pursue an unauthorized investigation which endangers first career,...
    A detective for campus security at a mid-sized university is almost inadvertently assigned the investigation of the ritualistic murder of a female student whose body was found in the university's chapel. His work eventually leads him to suspect faculty, but when he begins to reveal specifics, his superior closes the case. He continues to pursue an unauthorized investigation which endangers first career, then his personal life, and ultimately his health. Sorting through layers of overlapping interests and motives, he encounters a complex web of money, power, politics, and school loyalty that effectively conspires to conceal a perpetrator.
  • The Loyalist
    SHORT PLAY: The Culper Ring was a spy network ordered by General George Washington, one so secret and so tightly organized that some of its members were not identified until the 1930's. Jemmy Rivington was one of those. A mysterious man who seemed to be on both sides at once, he was flamboyant, aggressive, and irrestistably likeable. This short play explores a part of what is known (and speculated) about Jemmy's story.
  • forgeries
    LONG ONE ACT: Kenneth, a character actor in a prominent regional theatre company, wakes up under a pile of old costumes not able to recall how he got there, or to have any clear idea of what transpired at all the night before. He struggles with this alone, until Sheldon, his artistic director who had fallen asleep under a pile of curtains, also awakes and joins him. They recreate the events of the previous...
    LONG ONE ACT: Kenneth, a character actor in a prominent regional theatre company, wakes up under a pile of old costumes not able to recall how he got there, or to have any clear idea of what transpired at all the night before. He struggles with this alone, until Sheldon, his artistic director who had fallen asleep under a pile of curtains, also awakes and joins him. They recreate the events of the previous evening using scripts, and come to a deeper understanding as to the nature of life.
  • A Penny Saved
    TEN MINUTE PLAY - Morris, a professional corporate mascot, has to train Fred, a newbee who has spent his life up until now as an Olympic gymnast and ballet dancer. It's a challenge, but one that Morris feels he can rise to.
  • Pockets
    TEN MINUTE PLAY - Alan is walking home after dinner when Derek, a young man nicely dressed, asks him for money. Derek claims to be homeless, and is very good at begging. Alan tries to brush him off, but Derek is too engaging, and soon they're having a spirited exchange. Derek eventually all but admits that he's a con, but in the process also intimates that he does more than just pocket his money...
    TEN MINUTE PLAY - Alan is walking home after dinner when Derek, a young man nicely dressed, asks him for money. Derek claims to be homeless, and is very good at begging. Alan tries to brush him off, but Derek is too engaging, and soon they're having a spirited exchange. Derek eventually all but admits that he's a con, but in the process also intimates that he does more than just pocket his money and go home. This is a brief play about the moral ambiguity of just about everything involving money.
  • Going Places
    TEN MINUTE PLAY: Tim has aspirations towards professional tennis. He leaves his hometown, and a good friend Vanessa, to pursue his dreams. In the process he founds a tennis school for endangered kids. It's a challenge he's not sure he can sustain.
  • A Christmas Carol
    This is a "verbatim" adaptation of the Dickens classic. The script uses *all of the text* that Dickens employed for his public readings, plus a few scenes from the book that were not included. The narrative sections are performed, from a first person point of view, by the actor to whose character they apply. The script suggests fluid staging, and a dynamic, active, personified treatment of the text....
    This is a "verbatim" adaptation of the Dickens classic. The script uses *all of the text* that Dickens employed for his public readings, plus a few scenes from the book that were not included. The narrative sections are performed, from a first person point of view, by the actor to whose character they apply. The script suggests fluid staging, and a dynamic, active, personified treatment of the text. This approach brings Dickens' wit and socio-political commentary to life, and the story gains an edge and an urgency that is often lacking in more traditional "cinimatic" adaptations.
  • The Dream of Eternal Youth
    The many and various loves of a diehard romantic named Anatol, who we follow from his college days to marriage (about fifteen years later), and conversations with his sardonic -- and much more grounded -- best friend, Max. Based on the play "Anatol" by Arthur Schnitzler.
  • The Bishop Comes to Visit
    Jones, an amiable scoundrel, wanders into a stodgy household while running away from the police, only to find himself believed by almost everyone to be their long-awaited relative, an Anglican Bishop from Australia. Based on "What Happened to Jones" by George Broadhurst
  • The Servant of Two Masters
    TO BE REVISED: A servant from Bergamo finds himself in Venice serving a woman from Turino who is pretending to be her own brother. A series of even more complicated events makes him also the servant of her lover who doesn't know she is in Venice dressed as her dead brother, whom he killed in Turino. Chaos ensues.

    This is a translation from Goldoni. It sticks close to the original...
    TO BE REVISED: A servant from Bergamo finds himself in Venice serving a woman from Turino who is pretending to be her own brother. A series of even more complicated events makes him also the servant of her lover who doesn't know she is in Venice dressed as her dead brother, whom he killed in Turino. Chaos ensues.

    This is a translation from Goldoni. It sticks close to the original theatrically, but takes some liberties with dialog to achieve a script more accessible to modern audiences.