Kelsey Austin

Kelsey Austin

Kelsey Austin is a writer based in Southern New Jersey. In addition to short pieces, she has several full-length works including BLOW-OUT, OUTSIDE JOB, THE ESSENTIALS, and CRACKED WALLS. As an Arts and Humanities instructor at Rowan College of South Jersey, Kelsey taught a number of literature, theatre, and speech courses. She also has experience in acting, directing, choreography, scenic design and painting,...
Kelsey Austin is a writer based in Southern New Jersey. In addition to short pieces, she has several full-length works including BLOW-OUT, OUTSIDE JOB, THE ESSENTIALS, and CRACKED WALLS. As an Arts and Humanities instructor at Rowan College of South Jersey, Kelsey taught a number of literature, theatre, and speech courses. She also has experience in acting, directing, choreography, scenic design and painting, and stage managing. Kelsey is a graduate of Rowan University with a bachelor's degree in Theatre. She studied at Essex University in Colchester, England where she earned a master's degree with merit in Literature: Theatre and Drama. While at Essex, Kelsey studied playwriting under Jonathan Lichtenstein. She wrote several plays with Joe Udall for the San Diego Fringe Festival and dinner theatre. Kelsey is a Chicago Dramatists Network Playwright and a member of The Dramatists Guild of America.

Plays

  • Outside Job
    In a county where there seems to be no escape and in a community where men refuse to take responsibility for themselves and their families, mother Alice has the double burden of surviving while keeping her family intact. Personal safety and happiness are unattainable luxuries. But daughter Nicole is too foolish to realize this and cannot be resigned to mere survival. She attempts a new identity as someone who...
    In a county where there seems to be no escape and in a community where men refuse to take responsibility for themselves and their families, mother Alice has the double burden of surviving while keeping her family intact. Personal safety and happiness are unattainable luxuries. But daughter Nicole is too foolish to realize this and cannot be resigned to mere survival. She attempts a new identity as someone who is happy and loved only to have her dreams dismantled by the cynicism of her sister Tabitha and the actions of their father Jerry. The voiceless heater repairman Guy becomes a target of fantasies, ignorance, and hate as the house is under surveillance by legal authorities. Alice tries to smooth out conflict as Jerry spirals out of control in this dark tale of family dysfunction.
    This play received a reading Chicago in the summer of 2017. It was recommended by Kitchen Dog Theater as a finalist for its 2019 New Works Festival in Dallas, Texas.
  • Blow-out
    Suburban blight—the endless cycle of degeneracy and dysfunction—within four walls. It’s the hopeless situation of living among the self-absorbed where boundaries are murky, and cruelty is family fun. The Whitakers share their cramped life in southern New Jersey. As Rick prepares for his annual trek to Alaska, his addict wife Sheila keeps quiet about family secrets until the unforgivable happens. Daughter Missy...
    Suburban blight—the endless cycle of degeneracy and dysfunction—within four walls. It’s the hopeless situation of living among the self-absorbed where boundaries are murky, and cruelty is family fun. The Whitakers share their cramped life in southern New Jersey. As Rick prepares for his annual trek to Alaska, his addict wife Sheila keeps quiet about family secrets until the unforgivable happens. Daughter Missy had been supporting the family on convenience store paychecks, and younger sister Barbara dreamt of adulting with boyfriend Jimmy. But all comes to a halt when narcissism breeds disaster.
    BLOW-OUT received a table reading through Chicago Dramatists with Chicago-based actors in December of 2020. The play then had a staged reading with Chicago Dramatists on May 26, 2021.
  • Raindrop Clean
    Family, Fresh, and Free is the motto for the Raindrop Clean pyramid scheme. Well-meaning new consultant ShayAnn is a young mom who hopes sales will lead to the company’s annual Christmas party and a life beyond her boyfriend’s grandmother’s social security checks. But big shocker, pricey air purifiers, fresheners, and vacuums are the last products people want.
    Boyfriend Lenox hatches a plan to generate...
    Family, Fresh, and Free is the motto for the Raindrop Clean pyramid scheme. Well-meaning new consultant ShayAnn is a young mom who hopes sales will lead to the company’s annual Christmas party and a life beyond her boyfriend’s grandmother’s social security checks. But big shocker, pricey air purifiers, fresheners, and vacuums are the last products people want.
    Boyfriend Lenox hatches a plan to generate more income, but the result is deadly and worse.
    ShayAnn finds herself on the opposite end of Family, Fresh, and Free.
  • The Essentials
    With her husband Peter involved in video games and Sasquatch hunting, homemaker and devoted daughter Meredith takes interest in essential oils and creates a small online business from her home. Her mother Joyce, a retired schoolteacher, does not share in Meredith's new-found interest nor does she understand it or her daughter's new-found independence. She worries the oils will ultimately ruin to the...
    With her husband Peter involved in video games and Sasquatch hunting, homemaker and devoted daughter Meredith takes interest in essential oils and creates a small online business from her home. Her mother Joyce, a retired schoolteacher, does not share in Meredith's new-found interest nor does she understand it or her daughter's new-found independence. She worries the oils will ultimately ruin to the family name and distract Meredith from her "true calling." Milton, Meredith's father, is indifferent and only desires peace from his reading chair. Ultimately, the essential oils overtake, and Meredith chooses her own path, her own community, and her own voice.
  • It's Me, Curtis
    Curtis, an employee for a cardboard sign shop, believes his true mission is to defeat imagined robots that have infiltrated the planet and threaten to wipe out the human race. He must find a mate and create an army of offspring. Through a dating website, Curtis goes on a series of failed dates until he finds the one that may be just the right mix of strange. His vacant mother Eileen’s presence is a comfort...
    Curtis, an employee for a cardboard sign shop, believes his true mission is to defeat imagined robots that have infiltrated the planet and threaten to wipe out the human race. He must find a mate and create an army of offspring. Through a dating website, Curtis goes on a series of failed dates until he finds the one that may be just the right mix of strange. His vacant mother Eileen’s presence is a comfort unless she’s been interacting with the male neighbor Daschull. Voice, the detached part of Curtis's mind, observes Curtis seemingly reluctantly. Once a secret is revealed, Curtis spirals out and becomes ill enough to hallucinate. Fiction overrides reality.
  • Cracked Walls
    In a crumbling, old Colonial farmhouse set on the Delaware Bay, a family struggles with discontentment, boundaries, and misunderstanding. Dave—husband, father, and homeowner—attempts to keep his small world as is, but fails miserably to appease wife Yvette, the mother of his two children Brad and Chloe. Brad, the son whose skills surpass that of his father, is the lone content family member. But he is soon...
    In a crumbling, old Colonial farmhouse set on the Delaware Bay, a family struggles with discontentment, boundaries, and misunderstanding. Dave—husband, father, and homeowner—attempts to keep his small world as is, but fails miserably to appease wife Yvette, the mother of his two children Brad and Chloe. Brad, the son whose skills surpass that of his father, is the lone content family member. But he is soon preyed upon and his weakness exposed, making him forever bound. Chloe, the daughter who questions and pushes, finds companionship in Herbie, the older and world-wiser Mexican migrant worker, whose past is larger and more complicated than that of her own. The small produce stand they both work at becomes a haven as Chloe manages to extract true thought and feelings from Herbie despite his extreme loneliness in the States and personal loss back home. Yvette, discouraged by the lack of communication from her husband, turns stubbornly towards forbidden romance and pursues it until both parties are consumed. Jealousy grows in Dave and he becomes increasingly aggressive with the people he once loved. Keeping the house and its occupants in-tact proves too difficult for one overcome by the pain of rejection. This is a tale—a warning perhaps—about those who move through cracked walls with selfishness and hate. A single member finds safety and freedom, but only by courage, love, and acceptance.
  • Cockfight
    In the Delaware Bay area of Southern New Jersey business left long ago. The inhabitants make ends
    meet by stitching together odd-jobs and low-paid, part-time work. When Randy acquires chickens to
    raise for profit, instigator Storm advises Randy to start an illegal cockfighting ring. Randy enlists the help
    of feeble-minded Buster and borrows money from his grieving addict mother Roberta....
    In the Delaware Bay area of Southern New Jersey business left long ago. The inhabitants make ends
    meet by stitching together odd-jobs and low-paid, part-time work. When Randy acquires chickens to
    raise for profit, instigator Storm advises Randy to start an illegal cockfighting ring. Randy enlists the help
    of feeble-minded Buster and borrows money from his grieving addict mother Roberta. Even his ex-girlfriend Gert is coerced to join the illicit business. Greed and desperation take over, and Randy and his
    ring are thrown into a downward spiral.
  • Church-paint
    A house-painter Anthony and librarian Jen build a life together with their children in the bay area of Southern New Jersey. Anthony’s painting jobs, drinking habits, and acquaintances draw him away from the family, finally frustrating Jen enough to kick Anthony out. After living with a series of friends, Anthony finds himself homeless and in need of work. Pastor Bruce, a local pastor with a thriving substance...
    A house-painter Anthony and librarian Jen build a life together with their children in the bay area of Southern New Jersey. Anthony’s painting jobs, drinking habits, and acquaintances draw him away from the family, finally frustrating Jen enough to kick Anthony out. After living with a series of friends, Anthony finds himself homeless and in need of work. Pastor Bruce, a local pastor with a thriving substance abuse recovery program, takes on Anthony, by sheltering him in the church basement and paying him to paint the interior of the church. Soon, Anthony is aware this program is not as it seems. Saul, Pastor Bruce’s
    son and drug supplier for the program, doesn’t care for Anthony as the distributor but Pastor Bruce insists. Jen finds single-parenting too hard and leaves to experience Anthony’s new life, not knowing she would be stuck too. While Jen immerses herself in the work, Anthony won’t be having it.
  • Coral
    Three couples, one project. Unbeknownst to each other, Ron and Kate, Stacia and Todd,
    Willow and Fred, all extend Christian charity to down and out Coral over a period of a
    few years. As the young woman of supposed poverty and cognitive disability gains
    access to homes, lives, and wallets, cracks form and marriages wobble. But not all is as it
    seems.
  • Just the Driver
    Dolores and Mike lead quiet lives in Southern New Jersey. The aging school bus drivers are often left with their nine year old grandson Skylar to entertain. Daughter Trisha comes and goes, and no one by the chatty neighbor Gladys is aware of Dolores’s cancer diagnosis and failing health. The house grows dark as Dolores isolates and the others assume her space.
  • The Earwackers
    Set in the nineties, but stuck in the Victorian Age, the Earwackers are something out of a Southern Gothic novel. Joan, the mother and manager of the family, lives vicariously through daughters Hilda, Ethel, and Rose. Operating out of pride, vanity, and hypocrisy, Joan pushes the girls to display so-called family talent at church services, suppers, and teas. Sheldon Durge, the pastor’s son, becomes infatuated...
    Set in the nineties, but stuck in the Victorian Age, the Earwackers are something out of a Southern Gothic novel. Joan, the mother and manager of the family, lives vicariously through daughters Hilda, Ethel, and Rose. Operating out of pride, vanity, and hypocrisy, Joan pushes the girls to display so-called family talent at church services, suppers, and teas. Sheldon Durge, the pastor’s son, becomes infatuated with trumpet-playing Rose, and the two create a duo for Sunday special music. Indignant Joan presses on with Ethel and Hilda performing uninvited at the long-awaited Mother-Daughter Luncheon, but the act does not go well. Sheldon asks Allen, Joan’s subservient husband, for Rose’s hand, and the musical pair marry in the church with Joan dreaming of grandchildren to carry on the family’s musical legacy.
  • Yard Sale: Something for Mason
    Brian and Kath are grieving parents. Kath leads them from one yard sale to another searching for something that can’t be found. Jeanie, Brian’s mother, aids in keeping the delusion going despite her doubts. Brian could have a new life, but year after year there’s a child’s birthday party and year after year no one shows up.