Bob Bartlett

Bob Bartlett

Bob Bartlett is a Washington, DC based playwright whose plays include The Orbit of Mercury, Swimming with Whales, happiness (and other reasons to die), The Accident Bear, Falwell, Kuchu Uganda, and Kansas. Swimming With Whales will have its world premiere this June at 1st Stage Theatre in Tysons, VA. His work has also been seen at The Welders, Iron Crow Theatre, The Kennedy Center’s Page-to-Stage Festival, and...
Bob Bartlett is a Washington, DC based playwright whose plays include The Orbit of Mercury, Swimming with Whales, happiness (and other reasons to die), The Accident Bear, Falwell, Kuchu Uganda, and Kansas. Swimming With Whales will have its world premiere this June at 1st Stage Theatre in Tysons, VA. His work has also been seen at The Welders, Iron Crow Theatre, The Kennedy Center’s Page-to-Stage Festival, and The Capital and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, and developed at Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, Theater Alliance, Spooky Action Theatre, Rep Stage, and Alliance Theatre. His play Bareback Ink, a queer reimaging of the Ganymede myth, recently had a run at NYC's Hard Sparks, directed by Obie-winner David Drake. The Accident Bear will have its world premiere this fall at The Laundromat on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis, and happiness (and other reasons to die), which premiered in 2015 at The Welders, will have its Texas premiere this summer at Houston’s Obsidian Theatre. He is the 2018 Playwright-in-Residence at New Voices for the Theater, an affiliated artist with the National New Play Network, a member of The Dramatists Guild of America, and a member of the faculty at Bowie State University in Maryland, where he teaches playwriting, directing, and devising. Bartlett earned his MFA in Playwriting at Catholic University of America, lives in Davidsonville, MD, in a 150-year-old farmhouse, and is a founding member of The Welders, a DC-based, producing playwrights collective. (bob-bartlett.com)

Plays

  • The Orbit of Mercury
    "A derelict city diner becomes a portal to the past - and the future."

    Mercury's future is bright. He's the star player on his prep school basketball team and is being recruited by the best colleges in the country as much for his ball handling skills and blazing speed as for his talent in the sciences and passion for astronomy.

    But lately Mercury's orbit is...
    "A derelict city diner becomes a portal to the past - and the future."

    Mercury's future is bright. He's the star player on his prep school basketball team and is being recruited by the best colleges in the country as much for his ball handling skills and blazing speed as for his talent in the sciences and passion for astronomy.

    But lately Mercury's orbit is behaving oddly, and sometimes it even feels as if he's moving backwards. He's come home to a place he doesn't remember, a girl who remembers everything about his past that he's forgotten, and a changing relationship with the man who raised him, a retired cop who does everything he can to help a forgotten Baltimore neighborhood, even buying and restoring an historic corner diner.

    And then he dies. And sees the universe for what it is.
  • Swimming with Whales
    While visiting his family’s secluded cottage on Nantucket Island, Owen, a typically urban fifteen-year-old boy, and his fisherman father clash until an unlikely and healing communion with an injured whale awakens in Owen a forgotten boyhood and connection with the sea.

    "Affecting and inventive ... the play spins an almost novelistic narrative about loss, healing and courage in the face of...
    While visiting his family’s secluded cottage on Nantucket Island, Owen, a typically urban fifteen-year-old boy, and his fisherman father clash until an unlikely and healing communion with an injured whale awakens in Owen a forgotten boyhood and connection with the sea.

    "Affecting and inventive ... the play spins an almost novelistic narrative about loss, healing and courage in the face of death ... " - Celia Wren, The Washington Post

    "Bartlett has a light touch as a writer. His descriptions of loss are captivating and ring true to life because they are drawn from his own deeply personal experience of love and loss. Despite its preoccupation with death, Swimming with Whales is joyful, funny, and surprising in all the ways that life everyday can be." - Jenny Munich, Broadway World

    "Dramatic issues of abandonment, illness, loss, and grief are countered in the play by love, humor, support, and redemption. The play reestablishes to the characters, and to the audience, the comforting power of nature." - Chuck Leonard, DCMetroTheaterArts

    "As the blood family heals and the intentional family regrows its roots along the sands of Nantucket, we see a poignant, at times hilarious, journey of healing and reconciliation. Bartlett weaves a whale of a tale; one that is worth sharing." - Jeffrey Walker, DC Theatre Scene

    "A mixture of magical realism, laughter and healing from heartbreak with an unlikely wellspring propelling the story into a spiritual parable." - David Siegel, The Connection
  • happiness (and other reasons to die)
    Ella wrecks a perfectly good suicide pact by jumping the gun, leaving her three pact-mates to deal with a lifetime of hoarded belongings, Bob Dylan memorabilia, and an immortal dog. An unlikely comedy about living, dying, and trying to find really good reasons for both.

    "Planning a decent demise turns out to be more than a little tricky in “happiness (and other reasons to die),” a...
    Ella wrecks a perfectly good suicide pact by jumping the gun, leaving her three pact-mates to deal with a lifetime of hoarded belongings, Bob Dylan memorabilia, and an immortal dog. An unlikely comedy about living, dying, and trying to find really good reasons for both.

    "Planning a decent demise turns out to be more than a little tricky in “happiness (and other reasons to die),” a suspenseful, dark and funny new play by local playwright Bob Bartlett. Now on view in a winningly acted production from the Welders, a collective of D.C.-based playwrights, “happiness” turns what sounds like a gimmicky premise into an absorbing chronicle of unpredictable human behavior." - Celia Wren, The Washington Post
  • The Survivalist
    A prepper is mysteriously trapped in his isolated Montana cabin with a family of refugees during an end-of-days event.
  • The Accident Bear
    Bear has accidents. One a month, every month, without fail. Fender benders, broken ankles, a busted this or that - abrasions, lacerations, punctures, a broken heart. Try as he might, he can’t shake the accident bug until Chance, an unemployed paramedic living in her 1978 Volkswagen Beetle, wanders into his lonely world.

    "Bartlett gives us a funny and provocative show involving three people:...
    Bear has accidents. One a month, every month, without fail. Fender benders, broken ankles, a busted this or that - abrasions, lacerations, punctures, a broken heart. Try as he might, he can’t shake the accident bug until Chance, an unemployed paramedic living in her 1978 Volkswagen Beetle, wanders into his lonely world.

    "Bartlett gives us a funny and provocative show involving three people: the dour, accident-prone Bear who owns the laundromat, Chance, who is either a late-night customer or his lover, or both, and Buddy, the worst best friend ever ... a play (at least in part) about the persistent wrongness of memory." - DC Theatre Scene, Five Stars

    "Bartlett’s script has a technical sophistication. He tells this story in layers, withholding and revealing information with precision and skill, ratcheting up tension with each iteration of the story." - DC Theatre Scene, Five Stars

    “The Accident Bear is an unusual play, staged in an even more unusual location ... a funny, yet touching play about relationships that uses memory in a way reminiscent of Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard. As a bonus, it is performed in the place that inspired it and where it was written, a small space that allows for a powerful intimacy between the actors and the audience." - DC Metro Theatre Arts

    "Bartlett’s play is a comic, quirky and heartfelt paean to quirky, comic, yet ultimately heartwarming people. It is so involving, and so well-acted, that the trappings of the laundromat — the rows of washers and dryers, the old candy machine, the faded signs — soon become part of the story itself, putting the audience front and center emotionally as well as physically." - The Bay Weekly

    "You can smell the lint in the air. You feel the cold air sweep in on the entrances and exits ... using the Laundromat as a theatre is unusual, but not without precedent. From the Greeks congregating on hilltops to medieval troupes who performed from the back of wagons to the concept of the whole theatre developed in the 1970s by Polish director Jerzy Grotowski, who thought the actual theatre should become part of the set, thespians have performed for audiences in many unique settings." - Maryland Theatre Guide
  • Bareback Ink
    "A raging narcissist, drunk on authority, pulls the supernatural strings in Bob Bartlett’s unapologetically queer neo-noir about desire, possession, and the perversion of power."

    The Rape and Abduction of Ganymede - in all its celebrated and problematic forms - has been the subject of artists, writers, and thinkers since antiquity, and remains emblematic of the treatment of generations...
    "A raging narcissist, drunk on authority, pulls the supernatural strings in Bob Bartlett’s unapologetically queer neo-noir about desire, possession, and the perversion of power."

    The Rape and Abduction of Ganymede - in all its celebrated and problematic forms - has been the subject of artists, writers, and thinkers since antiquity, and remains emblematic of the treatment of generations of men and boys at the hands of powerful and sometimes corrupt systems. Commanded by a mysterious patron, a young man enters a noirish, purgatory-like tattoo shop where an isolated and withdrawn artist inks the boy’s back over the course of several months. Both men are prisoners, one stolen as a boy and ascended to the heavens, the other cast out and fallen to earth. In this erotic tale of desire and possession, Bartlett’s modern-day Ganymede - rejected by family, community, and culture - subverts our oldest gay myth by fighting back.
  • Kansas
    An army vet and his thirteen-year-old daughter set out on a drive from our nation’s capital to Wichita to murder an abortionist in this piercing snapshot of radicalized America.
  • Falwell
    It’s been over eight years since Harlan has left his tiny apartment. But when his hateful dog, Falwell, an obese black labrador retriever, unexpectedly expires and twenty-something newlywed interns Stephen and Sarah move in next door, the outside world like never before beckons – and Harlan hears.
  • Kuchu Uganda
    Set in the spring of 2009 and shortly before Uganda’s legislature passed a bill making homosexuality punishable by death, the violence of homophobia destroys two households – one in Kampala and the other in an average American city.
  • The Fourth of April
    In early April of 1968, two hundred and twenty seven Bowie State College undergraduates travel by bus to the State House in Annapolis, Maryland to protest deplorable conditions on campus and the lack of support from state government. Written to commemorate Bowie State University's Sesquicentennial.