Germaine Shames

Germaine Shames

Germaine Shames, recipient of Arizona’s Fellowship in Fiction, is author of the award-winning novels, Between Two Deserts and You, Fascinating You. Writing under the pen name Casper Silk (Hotel Noir, Echo Year), she has been compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Graham Greene and P.D. James “on steroids”.

A returning playwright, Shames majored in Theatre as an under-graduate. Following a successful...
Germaine Shames, recipient of Arizona’s Fellowship in Fiction, is author of the award-winning novels, Between Two Deserts and You, Fascinating You. Writing under the pen name Casper Silk (Hotel Noir, Echo Year), she has been compared to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Graham Greene and P.D. James “on steroids”.

A returning playwright, Shames majored in Theatre as an under-graduate. Following a successful career as a novelist and journalist, she wrote her first suite of short plays, Wars of the Flesh, which was voted into Tucson’s 2014 New Play Festival. Numerous other readings and productions followed in rapid succession. In 2017, the playwright celebrated the New York City premiere of her musical comedy, Anna Karenina Lives! and the selection of her drama-thriller, The Degenerates, for Williams Street Rep’s LAB New Play Series, and in 2018, the reading and subsequent premiere of her protest play, Nasty. Shames' bio-drama, The Higher Love, winner of three national workshop competitions, will premiere in Phoenix as part of Now and Then Creative Company's 2020 season. Her new musicals, If the Spirit Moves and The Manifesto, will premiere at Theatre Elision in 2019 and 2020 respectively, and her opera, Last American Dream, at the University of Costa Rica later this year.

In addition to her original plays, Shames has made a mission of adapting and re-imagining classic 19th and early 20th-century novels for the stage with an emphasis on works either by women or with strong women’s roles and relationships. Her D.H. Lawrence adaptation, The Virgin and the Gypsy, formed part of the 2018 Festival of New American Theatre at Phoenix Theatre and was a finalist in the Liz Smith Reading Series. A second Lawrence adaptation. The Lost Girl, won Starlight Theater’s 2019 Playwriting Contest. Her Emile Zola re-imagining of The Masterpiece was recently a finalist for the Trustus Playwright Award. To date, the playwright has also adapted multiple works by Edith Wharton, Aldous Huxley and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Katherine Monberg, Literary Manager of Arizona Theatre Company (LORT-B), Arizona's state theatre, has written of Shames, "Germaine is a playwright of both depth and innovation, able to craft layered and complex characters amidst dramatic structures that both celebrate and defy traditional literary approaches. One of the most compelling things about Germaine and her writing is her ability to give voice to the important conversations of our contemporary world in a unique yet accessible context, embracing and exploring the intangible, compelling spark that makes stories and characters come alive."

As a librettist and lyricist, Shames writes with award-winning composers in musical theatre, opera, choral and popular music. Her songs have been performed in New York, Paris and Chicago cabarets.

Shames holds a Master’s degree in Intercultural Studies. Her writing reflects the breadth of her worldview and fascination with the interplay of cultures, often drawing on events and settings from her sojourns abroad. 

Her work has earned her residencies at the Fundacion Valparaiso, Wildacres Retreat and Yellow Bird Artscape, three professional development grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and a scholarship to the Writers Center at the University of Arizona. She is proud to mentor teen playwrights at her state theatre.

Website: http://germainewrites.com
Reviews of Note: https://youtu.be/qJ19KgDOIdA
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/germainewrites

Plays

  • NAKED
    When a second-tier American art museum unexpectedly receives Manet's Le Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe on loan for a landmark exhibition, the curator's wife learns a lesson in art history, l'amour, and the necessity of following one's dreams.

    A troubled marriage. A burned-out artist finding her way back to wonder. Long-dead artist models stepping out from their paintings into a...
    When a second-tier American art museum unexpectedly receives Manet's Le Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe on loan for a landmark exhibition, the curator's wife learns a lesson in art history, l'amour, and the necessity of following one's dreams.

    A troubled marriage. A burned-out artist finding her way back to wonder. Long-dead artist models stepping out from their paintings into a world changed beyond recognition. Magic and mischief conspire to make the opening of a landmark exhibition a life-changing renaissance.

    Naked brings nineteenth-century Paris to the doorstep of a Midwestern museum and lays bare the hypocrisy of a patriarchal art world that disadvantages female artists while using female bodies for their own ends. With music, humor and love, Naked reminds us that no woman should have to be naked to be notable.

    Visit Naked's Website: https://germainewrites.wixsite.com/naked
  • THE HIGHER LOVE
    Whole generations have read the global bestseller, The Prophet, but how much do they know about its enigmatic author, Kahlil Gibran? Less known still is the woman responsible for his fame, Mary Haskell, a Southern social reformer decades ahead of her time.

    Two impressionable actors, Salim and Lucy, land the roles of a lifetime: Khalil Gibran and Mary Haskell. As rehearsals progress, the actors...
    Whole generations have read the global bestseller, The Prophet, but how much do they know about its enigmatic author, Kahlil Gibran? Less known still is the woman responsible for his fame, Mary Haskell, a Southern social reformer decades ahead of her time.

    Two impressionable actors, Salim and Lucy, land the roles of a lifetime: Khalil Gibran and Mary Haskell. As rehearsals progress, the actors grapple with their unpredictable characters, the meaning of love, and the stage kiss to end all. Offstage, a tragedy strikes the play’s director, casting into doubt Gibran’s and Haskell’s lofty, if unrealized, ideals. From infatuation to heartache to conviction, each character is tested in his/her quest to seize the higher love.

    These parallel love stories, separated by a century, underscore the timelessness of humankind's search for intimacy and transcendence, and suggest that, despite Gibran’s and others’ countless musings and odes on the subject, love remains the ultimate mystery.

    Winner of three workshop competitions, The Higher Love has been called “an impressive literary sleight of hand and heart” by novelist Isabella Ides. “The double dramatization/intersection of the actors and their characters was a sublime and deep metaphor mirroring the way lovers mythologize themselves.” Tania Sammons, former curator of the Gibran Collection, writes, “Germaine Shames captures the essence of Mary and Kahlil and brings depth to their story in her wonderful new play.”

    Note: Gibran's seminal work, THE PROPHET, entered the public domain in 2019. Both a straight play and musical version of this story are available, the former workshopped and slated for a 2020 premiere, and the latter in development.
  • THE DEGENERATES
    When Adolf Hitler declares war on Europe’s avant-garde, a jaded Paris art dealer and a high-minded Berlin art student play a deadly game of bait-and-switch to save the life of a condemned Jewish artist.

    A high-stakes drama-thriller of art looting, art forging, and the struggle of a courageous group of banned artists to remain true to their visions.


    Full script available...
    When Adolf Hitler declares war on Europe’s avant-garde, a jaded Paris art dealer and a high-minded Berlin art student play a deadly game of bait-and-switch to save the life of a condemned Jewish artist.

    A high-stakes drama-thriller of art looting, art forging, and the struggle of a courageous group of banned artists to remain true to their visions.


    Full script available upon request. Recently selected for the Lab New Play Series at Williams Street Rep.

  • THE ABSTRACT LIFE
    A widowed French artist emotionally scarred by WWII follows the epicenter of the art world from Paris to New York City, remarries, and brings over his seven-year old daughter. Foreseeing trouble, the ghost of his first wife comes along.

    The Abstract Life chronicles a decade of repressed, if radical, social change through the life of one new immigrant whose love-hate relationship with his art and...
    A widowed French artist emotionally scarred by WWII follows the epicenter of the art world from Paris to New York City, remarries, and brings over his seven-year old daughter. Foreseeing trouble, the ghost of his first wife comes along.

    The Abstract Life chronicles a decade of repressed, if radical, social change through the life of one new immigrant whose love-hate relationship with his art and his adopted country threatens to stymie his dreams.


    Please see Letter of Recommendation (under Script Sample).
  • THE VIRGIN AND THE GYPSY
    In the wake of war, Yvette Saywell returns home from finishing school. Trapped in a claustrophobic household, oppressed by her deaf, toad-like grandmother and cowardly, conventional clergyman father, Yvette seems doomed to suppression. But meeting a gypsy awakens unfamiliar emotions in her, making her challenge the family’s fiercely held morality. As she wavers between conformity and rebellion, a flash flood...
    In the wake of war, Yvette Saywell returns home from finishing school. Trapped in a claustrophobic household, oppressed by her deaf, toad-like grandmother and cowardly, conventional clergyman father, Yvette seems doomed to suppression. But meeting a gypsy awakens unfamiliar emotions in her, making her challenge the family’s fiercely held morality. As she wavers between conformity and rebellion, a flash flood threatens her home, her world and her life.

    Adapted from the eponymous novel by D. H. Lawrence. A coming-of-age classic by turns satirical and heart-wrenching, this Bechdel-compliant adaptation showcases all the major themes of sexuality and identity that made Lawrence one of the most original and influential writers of the 20th century. Added to this already potent mix is a powerful indictment of social divisions and ethnic discrimination.

    Both a straight and a musical version of this play are available.
  • THE SCARLET LETTER (Bible Belt, 1965)
    Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel re-imagined.

    When Hester Prynne is seen kissing a mysterious woman after Bible study, the congregation sends her to “The Program,” a remote ministry dedicated to sexual conversion therapy—only to discover more skeletons than homosexuals in their church’s closet.

    A timeless story of forbidden love set in the Deep South of the embattled mid-1960s...
    Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel re-imagined.

    When Hester Prynne is seen kissing a mysterious woman after Bible study, the congregation sends her to “The Program,” a remote ministry dedicated to sexual conversion therapy—only to discover more skeletons than homosexuals in their church’s closet.

    A timeless story of forbidden love set in the Deep South of the embattled mid-1960s, THE SCARLET LETTER (Bible Belt, 1965) brings back the unforgettable heroine, Hester Prynne. Caught between her mother’s new-found evangelism and the Age of Aquarius, and determined to hide the identity of her clandestine lover, Hester stands her ground against Pastor Dimmesdale, whose fire and brimstone mask libidinous ulterior motives. Will she wear her scarlet letter with her namesake’s dignity and forbearance or fall prey to The Program’s relentless indoctrination? Will love triumph over dogma?

    Video trailer: https://youtu.be/hK0H6tR-kLQ
  • CAPRI
    Capri, a musical of family, loss and the places only love can take us, has drawn comparisons to West Side Story and In the Heights, Italian-style.

    A schoolteacher desperate to save his dying wife is drawn into a conspiracy to scam a family of recent Italian immigrants—the same family into which his only son hopes to marry.

    Fraught with moral dilemmas and illumined by grace,...
    Capri, a musical of family, loss and the places only love can take us, has drawn comparisons to West Side Story and In the Heights, Italian-style.

    A schoolteacher desperate to save his dying wife is drawn into a conspiracy to scam a family of recent Italian immigrants—the same family into which his only son hopes to marry.

    Fraught with moral dilemmas and illumined by grace, Capri reminds us that the best time to be alive is always NOW.

    Book and Lyrics by Germaine Shames
    Music by Paul Scherer

    To hear songs, visit Capri's website: https://germainewrites.wixsite.com/capri

  • IF THE SPIRIT MOVES
    A disillusioned expat Dadaist artist returns Stateside in the wake of World War I, and needing to earn a livelihood, sets out to impersonate a spirit medium—only to discover that she is the real deal.

    The crème of New York society—a shell-shocked war hero, a charity matron mourning her daughter, and a young war widow—flock to the reluctant medium and are spontaneously healed. A wealthy male...
    A disillusioned expat Dadaist artist returns Stateside in the wake of World War I, and needing to earn a livelihood, sets out to impersonate a spirit medium—only to discover that she is the real deal.

    The crème of New York society—a shell-shocked war hero, a charity matron mourning her daughter, and a young war widow—flock to the reluctant medium and are spontaneously healed. A wealthy male client falls in love with her. When her former life comes courting in the form of a directionless Dada poet, she must choose, not only between two men, but two radically different outlooks on reality.

    If The Spirit Moves is a tender tale of recovery and healing in which rich and poor, living and dead, transcend their differences through laughter, tears, and hope in a brighter tomorrow.

    Book and Lyrics by Germaine Shames
    Music by Erin Murray Quinlan

    (A finalist in the University of California's Ground and Field Festival, the show will premiere at Theatre Elision, MN, September 2019.)
  • VIRGINITY (adapted from Aldous Huxley's 1921 novel, Crome Yellow)
    A shy young poet, Denis Stone, goes to a house party at Crome hellbent on wooing his hosts' niece, only to find that a dashing, if jaded, painter has arrived first. Spurned by the woman he ardently pursues, Denis grapples with the fickleness of desire and discovers that one’s true soulmate may be hiding in clear view.

    (Libretto complete, score in progress)
  • THE LOST GIRL
    Adapted from the eponymous novel by D.H. Lawrence, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

    Alvina Houghton, the headstrong daughter of a widowed Midlands draper, comes of age just as her father’s business is failing. In a desperate attempt to regain his fortune and secure his daughter’s proper place in society, James Houghton buys a theater. Among the traveling performers he employs is...
    Adapted from the eponymous novel by D.H. Lawrence, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

    Alvina Houghton, the headstrong daughter of a widowed Midlands draper, comes of age just as her father’s business is failing. In a desperate attempt to regain his fortune and secure his daughter’s proper place in society, James Houghton buys a theater. Among the traveling performers he employs is Ciccio, a sensual Italian who immediately captures Alvina’s attention.

    When her father dies, Alvina must choose between her safe, if stifling, world and the unknown, between respectability and sexual desire.

    Lawrence’s The Lost Girl is a celebration of freedom, however fleeting, and a testament to the power of the imagination to transform even the most mundane life.

    Video trailer: https://youtu.be/ctP06kbknQg

    —script available upon request
  • ANNA KARENINA LIVES!
    Defying patriarchy’s grip on nineteenth century literature, Sophia Tolstoy abandons her deathbed to join forces with young Mae West on a mission impossible: to save the life of Anna Karenina. Can Mae and Sophia re-plot a classic of world literature in time to save Anna? Will the fatalistic Anna allow herself to be saved?

    Odd couple Mae and Sophia pit sisterhood against social convention to turn...
    Defying patriarchy’s grip on nineteenth century literature, Sophia Tolstoy abandons her deathbed to join forces with young Mae West on a mission impossible: to save the life of Anna Karenina. Can Mae and Sophia re-plot a classic of world literature in time to save Anna? Will the fatalistic Anna allow herself to be saved?

    Odd couple Mae and Sophia pit sisterhood against social convention to turn a tale of infidelity and self-destruction into a celebration of love and redemption.

    Video trailer: https://youtu.be/n4J1hCF3fVs


    Note: This is a play with vintage songs. The Mae West character would ideally be an actor-singer.
  • THE THWARTED LOVE OF LISE MEITNER
    It is hard to imagine a more dramatic life in science, nor one more rife with moral dilemmas, than that of Lise Meitner; a more troubling, if long-lived, scientific partnership than that of Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn; or a more tarnished chapter in the history of the Nobel Prize than the (repeated) dismissal of Lise Meitner’s groundbreaking contributions to Physics.

    Lise Meitner, often called “...
    It is hard to imagine a more dramatic life in science, nor one more rife with moral dilemmas, than that of Lise Meitner; a more troubling, if long-lived, scientific partnership than that of Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn; or a more tarnished chapter in the history of the Nobel Prize than the (repeated) dismissal of Lise Meitner’s groundbreaking contributions to Physics.

    Lise Meitner, often called “The Mother of the Atomic Bomb,” worked in Germany for over 30 years. When she arrived in Berlin from her native Vienna in 1907, she was among the first women to seek a place in science; when she fled for her life in 1938, she was one of the last (converted) Jewish academics not yet expelled.

    THE THWARTED LOVE OF LISE MEITNER probes Science's darkest years and reveals how one remarkable female physicist rose to exceptional prominence, only to end her career a prominent exception.

    Video trailer: https://youtu.be/sHo8886aA0Q

    —script available upon request
  • THE MASTERPIECE
    The Masterpiece, Emile Zola’s semi-autobiographical novel, tells the story of artistic and political rebellion among a group of aspiring young artists and writers in 19th century Paris. Accepted leader of the Bohemian group is the brilliant painter, Claude Lantier, who is haunted by the need to create a masterpiece.

    Falling in love with an innocent young woman, Christine, he takes her as his...
    The Masterpiece, Emile Zola’s semi-autobiographical novel, tells the story of artistic and political rebellion among a group of aspiring young artists and writers in 19th century Paris. Accepted leader of the Bohemian group is the brilliant painter, Claude Lantier, who is haunted by the need to create a masterpiece.

    Falling in love with an innocent young woman, Christine, he takes her as his common-law wife and they begin their relationship in blissful romance. As Claude struggles to create his masterpiece, Christine fights a losing battle with Art, her rival for Claude's affections. As the initial passion between Claude and Christine cools, Claude becomes obsessed with the nude woman he grapples to paint but can never quite capture and slips into madness.

    Finally realizing that he can never satisfy his own manias, Claude resolves to hang himself in front of his mutilated canvas, but called back from the brink by his wife’s passionate entreaties, hangs his painted nemesis instead.

    Germaine Shames’ tender re-imagining of Zola’s story gives voice to its female characters and pits love against compulsion to turn a futile tragedy into a triumph of the human spirit.

    Video trailer: https://youtu.be/b4XXEhRKUQg

    —script available upon request—
  • GLIMPSES OF THE MOON
    Adapted from the eponymous novel by Edith Wharton.

    Susy Branch and Nick Lansing, of socially prominent but no longer wealthy New York families, marry and enjoy a prolonged honeymoon through the beneficence of friends who provide luxury homes and money for a time. In keeping with their social aspirations, the couple agreed before their marriage that either one is free to divorce if he or she gets...
    Adapted from the eponymous novel by Edith Wharton.

    Susy Branch and Nick Lansing, of socially prominent but no longer wealthy New York families, marry and enjoy a prolonged honeymoon through the beneficence of friends who provide luxury homes and money for a time. In keeping with their social aspirations, the couple agreed before their marriage that either one is free to divorce if he or she gets a "better chance.” As Susy grows jealous of her husband's attentions to a brainy young heiress and Nick becomes increasingly disgruntled by the moral compromises arising from his wife's social negotiations, their conditional marriage begins to falter.

    A timeless portrait of a couple seduced by the trappings of privilege, tested by separation, and redeemed by the self-sacrifice demanded of a higher love.

    Video trailer: https://youtu.be/C5GHeZ-t0mY
  • LAST AMERICAN DREAM: A Docurequiem for Bill Cosby
    Who will ever forget the sight of Bill Cosby, "America’s Dad," being marched off to prison in handcuffs? Last American Dream: A Docurequiem for Bill Cosby, recounts the fall of a beloved icon through the eyes of a grandmother hard-pressed to explain Trump-era social ruptures to a new breed of girl born in their wake.

    *Libretto completed, Score in-progress
  • THE MANIFESTO
    A musical revolution in 15 minutes. The Communist Manifesto has been called "the most influential book after the bible." Yet, in 1848, Marx and Engels were two scrappy, unknown pamphleteers speculating about a new form of society whose character and reach could barely be fathomed. Written out of the story was Marx's wife, Jenny, a Baroness by birth, and a rebel by nature.

    —Script...
    A musical revolution in 15 minutes. The Communist Manifesto has been called "the most influential book after the bible." Yet, in 1848, Marx and Engels were two scrappy, unknown pamphleteers speculating about a new form of society whose character and reach could barely be fathomed. Written out of the story was Marx's wife, Jenny, a Baroness by birth, and a rebel by nature.

    —Script, score and mp3 available upon request.

  • IN VENICE: An Opera About the Pursuit of Love and Inspiration (not necessarily in that order)
    Based on the Edith Wharton short stories, "The Muse’s
    Tragedy" and "The Touchstone"

    The young biographer of a renowned poet chances upon the
    poet’s much talked-about Muse during a sojourn in Venice....
    Based on the Edith Wharton short stories, "The Muse’s
    Tragedy" and "The Touchstone"

    The young biographer of a renowned poet chances upon the
    poet’s much talked-about Muse during a sojourn in Venice.
    They spend a week together — ostensibly, to collaborate on
    a volume of verse. Instead, romance blossoms. Ten years
    later, the biographer returns to Venice with his young
    socialite wife, having sold his Muse’s love letters to pay
    for the honeymoon.

    Can a Muse inspire the most sublime sonnets in the history
    of poetry and yet not be loved?

    Video trailer: https://youtu.be/015BuN_A7Pw

  • VAMPIRESA, the Cabaret Opera
    Vampiresa, an enigmatic outsider bears a terrible secret. Newly arrived in New York, she attracts the attention of a lonely young painter. Vampire and human fall in love. Vampiresa, desperate to overcome her innate bloodlust, seeks a cure—to no avail.


    To what extent are we the masters of our desires, acts and lives? Can love and lust, light and darkness, co-exist? Is love all-powerful?...
    Vampiresa, an enigmatic outsider bears a terrible secret. Newly arrived in New York, she attracts the attention of a lonely young painter. Vampire and human fall in love. Vampiresa, desperate to overcome her innate bloodlust, seeks a cure—to no avail.


    To what extent are we the masters of our desires, acts and lives? Can love and lust, light and darkness, co-exist? Is love all-powerful?




    (libretto complete, score in-progress)
  • NOT YOUR TYPICAL MURDER MYSTERY
    A mysterious playwright writing from a remote island withholds the final scene of a murder mystery, driving the play's producer, director and cast to murderous thoughts and desperate acts. Which is more terrifying — life or death?
  • NASTY: The Lives of Peggy Guggenheim, Annemarie Schwarzenbach and Nancy Cunard
    Three dark, if epic, life stories. What can we learn today from the unlikely example of these defiant, determined and damaged heiresses?

    NASTY's website: https://germainewrites.wixsite.com/nasty
  • THE ENGLISH LESSON (SUITE)
    A SUITE OF 3 THEMATICALLY AND GEOGRAPHICALLY-LINKED ONE-ACTS:

    GABROVO
    A 28-year old copywriter in the throes of a premature life crisis takes a leave of absence, abandons his artist girlfriend, and journeys to Gabrovo, Bulgaria in the central Balkans to teach English to aspiring young capitalists. Will proud, remote Gabrovo be his salvation or his undoing? Ask his star pupil, that man-...
    A SUITE OF 3 THEMATICALLY AND GEOGRAPHICALLY-LINKED ONE-ACTS:

    GABROVO
    A 28-year old copywriter in the throes of a premature life crisis takes a leave of absence, abandons his artist girlfriend, and journeys to Gabrovo, Bulgaria in the central Balkans to teach English to aspiring young capitalists. Will proud, remote Gabrovo be his salvation or his undoing? Ask his star pupil, that man-killer in the black stiletto boots…

    A ZILLION PIECES
    When a young English teacher sojourning in Moldova receives an unexpected visit from his bipolar, menopausal mother, romance and grammar collide with the force of a meteorite crashing to Earth.

    THE ENGLISH LESSON
    When an aspiring Romanian actress and a recycled Shakespeare show up for an English lesson at the same time, their smug young teacher learns a lesson in art, love, and what endures.
  • SHORT PLAYS THAT HAVE WON ENTRY INTO FESTIVALS
    "GREATNESS, or Why I Re-Read Oblomov Each Election Year"

    When a famous Russian author censors the debut novel of an obscure female wannabe, an American World Lit’ teacher learns a lesson in semantics, pragmatism, and the eloquence of a tango.

    "The English Lesson"

    When an aspiring Romanian actress and a recycled Shakespeare
    show up for an...
    "GREATNESS, or Why I Re-Read Oblomov Each Election Year"

    When a famous Russian author censors the debut novel of an obscure female wannabe, an American World Lit’ teacher learns a lesson in semantics, pragmatism, and the eloquence of a tango.

    "The English Lesson"

    When an aspiring Romanian actress and a recycled Shakespeare
    show up for an English lesson at the same time, their smug young teacher learns a lesson in art, love, and what endures.

    "Margaret Mead Dreams in Samoan"

    The famous anthropologist, delirious with fever, confronts the specter of an angry Samoan adolescent bent on exposing her. Is the uninvited informant Mead's nemesis or the key to her ultimate fulfillment? A phantasmagoric look at a brilliant, if tormented, mind turning on itself.

    "Tea With Ali"

    A rookie American journalist in pursuit of her first big story lands an interview with a Palestinian bomber convicted of the most notorious terrorist act of its time. Which one of them is more dangerous?

    "The Betrothal"
    While searching through the rubble of a recently demolished home, an abandoned Palestinian girl weaves an elaborate fairytale into which a rookie American journalist is irresistibly drawn.

    "Rescue Mission"

    A divorced middle-aged academic journeys to the wilds of Uganda to win back a childhood sweetheart more interested in apes than in men. Which one of them needs rescuing?

    "Counter-Indications of Trance on the Male Libido"

    Eavesdrop on a hypnotherapy session turned seduction as a flakey therapist and her Type-A patient escape to the carnal Eden of their subconscious minds.

    "End Products"

    A dying German philosopher and his young American wife complete their life’s work amid a barrage of clashing ideals and dismembered cats.

    "One Soul, or The End of Life as We Know It"

    An old woman and a young woman, one soul, spar their way toward the Apocalypse. How will the world end? Neither with a bang nor a whimper, but with fallen stars and amphibious angels.

    "The Eternal Wife"

    Honeymooning in the Eternal City, a bored newlywed learns a lesson in lust, longevity and the power of a sweet tooth from a Gypsy fortune-teller.

    "What Never Was"

    Tristan and Alexa, two twenty-somethings in love, have climbed a hundred peaks together. But when Tristan proposes marriage, Alexa reveals a lifelong dream that threatens to land them both in the abyss.

    "The Nightlife of Cats"

    When a lonely male window cleaner adopts a restless female cat, the line between domesticated and feral blurs. For one full-moon night, master and pet throw off the shackles of their respective roles and revel in primal abandon. *note: both stage and radio versions are available

    "The Broken Heart of Lise Meitner"

    It is hard to imagine a more dramatic life in Science, nor one more rife with moral dilemmas, than that of Lise Meitner. "The Broken Heart of Lise Meitner" probes Science’s darkest years through the story of one remarkable female physicist.

    "The Manifesto"

    A musical revolution in fifteen minutes. The Communist Manifesto has been called "the most
    influential book after the bible." Yet, in 1848, Marx and Engels were two scrappy, unknown pamphleteers speculating about a new form of society whose character and reach could barely be fathomed. In their shadow were Jenny Marx, a Baroness, and the Marx’s peasant housekeeper, Helene Demuth, whose contribution history has conveniently overlooked—until now.

    "Santa Bernie"

    When Bernie Sanders takes time off from the campaign trail to moonlight as Santa Claus, a single mom and her daughter get a brand new take on Christmas -- and a second chance to make the holiday their own.
  • MARGARET MEAD DREAMS IN SAMOAN, the Musical
    Young Margaret Mead journeys to Samoa to study adolescence among unmarried females—only to find herself entangled in the illicit love affair between a Samoan princess and a Hippie time-traveler.

    Fearing the exposure of her own clandestine affair with professor Ruth Benedict and determined to complete her field work under the exacting tutelage of mentor Franz Boas, Mead grapples with malarial...
    Young Margaret Mead journeys to Samoa to study adolescence among unmarried females—only to find herself entangled in the illicit love affair between a Samoan princess and a Hippie time-traveler.

    Fearing the exposure of her own clandestine affair with professor Ruth Benedict and determined to complete her field work under the exacting tutelage of mentor Franz Boas, Mead grapples with malarial fever, an inscrutable village chief, and a startling preview of her own future. With the stakes mounting and her grip on reality dubious, the young anthropologist learns a lesson in who is primitive, and who civilized, and leaves her island “paradise” forever changed.

    Equal parts biography, fantasy and travelogue, Margaret Mead Dreams in Samoan accompanies one of the most respected and well-loved female scientists of all time on the maiden voyage that catapulted her to fame.

    (libretto complete, score in progress)
  • TOTO's OZ
    A short musical re-telling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from the point-of-view of Toto.

    —The libretto is complete, and the score in-progress.

  • BETWEEN TWO DESERTS (duo)
    "Between Two Deserts" explores the plight of ordinary people caught in the crossfire of the first Palestinian Uprising of the late 1980s.

    Loosely adapted from the eponymous award-winning novel, "Between Two Deserts" is a tension-filled 50-minute one-act. Performed together with its companion piece, A Day in Jerusalem, the duo turns a wide-angle lens on the intricate human...
    "Between Two Deserts" explores the plight of ordinary people caught in the crossfire of the first Palestinian Uprising of the late 1980s.

    Loosely adapted from the eponymous award-winning novel, "Between Two Deserts" is a tension-filled 50-minute one-act. Performed together with its companion piece, A Day in Jerusalem, the duo turns a wide-angle lens on the intricate human mosaic behind the media headlines. Each play may also stand alone.

    "Between Two Deserts"
    Coming to Jerusalem to fulfill her grandfather's dying wish, American Eve Cavell finds herself poised on the fault line of three worlds—Muslim, Christian, and Jewish. A young Palestinian of noble birth and questionable motives fills her nights with passion, but lurking in the shadows, an Israeli detective gathers evidence that could land them both in prison.


    Script available upon request.
  • UNKNOWN EDITH WHARTON
    Paired one-act plays adapted from the eponymous novella and short story by Edith Wharton.

    The Touchstone

    A mediocre lawyer desperately needs money so that he may marry his beautiful socialite fiancé. Having once been pursued by a famous and recently deceased author, he still has her passionate love...
    Paired one-act plays adapted from the eponymous novella and short story by Edith Wharton.

    The Touchstone

    A mediocre lawyer desperately needs money so that he may marry his beautiful socialite fiancé. Having once been pursued by a famous and recently deceased author, he still has her passionate love letters. Overcoming his scruples, he removes his name from the letters and sells them for publication, making a fortune and building a marriage based on the betrayal of another.

    Will his mounting shame and guilty conscience destroy the one love that can redeem him?

    The Muse's Tragedy

    The young disciple of a renowned poet chances upon the poet’s much talked-about Muse during a sojourn in Venice. They spend a week together—ostensibly, to collaborate on a biography. Instead, romance blossoms, only to be cut short by a startling confession.

    Can a Muse inspire the most sublime sonnets in the history of poetry and yet not be loved?

    —script available upon request-
  • A DAY in JERUSALEM: Intifada Stories You Won't Hear on the Evening News (duo)
    "A Day in Jerusalem" explores the plight of ordinary people caught in the crossfire of the first Palestinian Uprising of the late 1980s. Loosely adapted from the playwright's award-winning novel, "A Day in Jerusalem is a gritty 45-minute one-act. Performed together with its companion piece "Between Two Deserts", the duo turns a wide-angle lens on the intricate human mosaic behind...
    "A Day in Jerusalem" explores the plight of ordinary people caught in the crossfire of the first Palestinian Uprising of the late 1980s. Loosely adapted from the playwright's award-winning novel, "A Day in Jerusalem is a gritty 45-minute one-act. Performed together with its companion piece "Between Two Deserts", the duo turns a wide-angle lens on the intricate human mosaic behind the media headlines. Each play may also stand alone.

    —script available upon request
  • THE BIRD LADY opera
    An eccentric young woman known as the Bird Lady lives a life of timeless simplicity in a well-tended garden with only her equally eccentric old gardener for human company — until a brash young man determined to build his dream home buys the adjoining lot. When the Bird Lady and her new neighbor clash over the felling of a tree planted squarely on the property line, sparks fly. A universal story about opposites...
    An eccentric young woman known as the Bird Lady lives a life of timeless simplicity in a well-tended garden with only her equally eccentric old gardener for human company — until a brash young man determined to build his dream home buys the adjoining lot. When the Bird Lady and her new neighbor clash over the felling of a tree planted squarely on the property line, sparks fly. A universal story about opposites, self-sacrifice and the struggle to protect what one loves.

    (Libretto complete, score in progress.)
  • HER SOUL FLEW THROUGH THE CLOUDS Opera
    Composer Diana Cotoman and I seek a commission for HER SOUL FLEW THROUGH THE CLOUDS. Our proposal follows:

    Overview

    It is hard to imagine a more examined life, nor one that better illustrates the driving desire to be of service, than that of Jeanne Deckers, aka “The Singing Nun,” aka “Soeur Sourire.”

    Best known for her hit song “Dominique,” which in 1964, against...
    Composer Diana Cotoman and I seek a commission for HER SOUL FLEW THROUGH THE CLOUDS. Our proposal follows:

    Overview

    It is hard to imagine a more examined life, nor one that better illustrates the driving desire to be of service, than that of Jeanne Deckers, aka “The Singing Nun,” aka “Soeur Sourire.”

    Best known for her hit song “Dominique,” which in 1964, against all odds, placed at #1 on the U.S. Hit Parade (edging out the Beatles and other Pop idols). Two years later, Debbie Reynolds starred as Jeanne in the Hollywood film, The Singing Nun—the same year that Jeanne, disillusioned with Church politics and considered a “bad influence” by her Mother Superior, left the convent forever. Jeanne’s stated reason for leaving was “to be closer to the people.”

    She paid a cruel price for this act of conscience: 1) the convent forbade her fellow nuns to have any further contact with her, and 2) she lost the right to use the name “Sister Sourire,” the only name by which her European fans knew her. She would later reflect that leaving the convent caused her to see life differently: “Life is a struggle. And I struggle.”

    The opera Diana Cotoman and I envision begins with Jeanne leaving the convent. Working title: “Her Soul Flew Through the Clouds.” We currently conceive the work as an all-female opera with four characters: Jeanne, Annie, her longtime friend and ultimate romantic partner; the Mother Superior of Jeanne’s convent; and a young autistic woman, Esperance, educated by Jeanne and Annie. The latter serves as the story’s narrator. Jeanne was not the first nun to have a difficult adjustment to life outside the convent, yet her journey is unique. Having tasted international celebrity, when the convent doors closed behind her, she emerged into a world rocked by rebellion, loud music and women’s liberation.

    Background

    To understand “Sister Smile,” one must know something of her childhood: Jeanne’s loveless parents ran a bakery, alternately neglecting Jeanne and her younger sister and physically and emotionally abusing them (there is some evidence to suggest that Jeanne was also sexually abused by her father). The girls survived by singing. Early in life, Jeanne had a premonition that she would become a nun, but first, despite learning disabilities, she completed art school and taught sculpture for three years. It was during this time, while teaching at a summer camp, that she met young Annie Pécher.

    In 1959, Jeanne entered the Fichermont convent. While in the convent, she wrote, sang and casually performed her own songs, which were so well received by her fellow nuns and visitors that her religious superiors encouraged her to record an album, which visitors and retreatants at the convent would be able to purchase. In 1961, the album was recorded in Brussels at Philips; the single "Dominique" became an international hit, and in 1962 her album sold nearly two million copies. Jeanne became an international celebrity, taking the stage name “Soeur Sourire.” She gave several live concerts and, in 1964, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, U.S. prime time television. "Dominique" was the first, and remains the only, Belgian song to be a number one hit single in the United States.

    Far less known to the public is Jeanne’s history after the Hollywood release of The Singing Nun. After Jeanne left the convent, she continued to adhere as closely as she could to the disciplines of the cloistered life, still considering herself a nun, praying several times daily, and maintaining a simple and chaste lifestyle. Denied the right to her stage names, ”Sœur Sourire" and "The Singing Nun,” she attempted to continue her musical career under the name "Luc Dominique” and, in 1967, released a song defending the use of contraception, "Glory be to God for the Golden Pill”. This led to an intervention by the Catholic church, which in turn precipitated the cancellation of concerts and exodus of fans. She then turned to missionary work and wrote a book of inspirational verse (that failed to reach an audience). She went on to release an album entitled I Am Not a Star in Heaven, but her career again failed to prosper. When a second (prophetic) single "Sister Smile Is Dead" also failed, she embarked on teaching disabled youngsters, and eventually she and Annie opened their own school for autistic children.

    Conflict and Denouement

    While Jeanne labored to improve the lives of her autistic students, her own began to unravel. In the late 1970s, the Federal Public Service Finance of Belgium alleged that Jeanne owed $63,000 in back taxes—despite the fact that her recording royalties had been given to her convent. Desperate, she appealed for help to the convent and Philips record company; the convent offered her a modest sum, and Philips nothing at all. In a misguided attempt to fight the government in court, she incurred legal costs that sunk her in even greater debt. By 1982, she lost her last court battle and had no further recourse. The final blow came soon after: Jeanne and Annie, their meager income garnished by the Belgian government, were forced to close their school.

    With one last burst of hope, Jeanne, once again Sœur Sourire, released a disco synthesizer version of “Dominique." A music video accompanying the song shows Jeanne in middle age, looking tired and expressionless. Not surprisingly, the record failed.

    Jeanne, by this time, was no stranger to alcohol and downers. For three more years, she and Annie clung to life until on a bleak day in March, 1985, they committed suicide together, leaving this note: “We go to eternity in peace. We trust that God will welcome us in heaven.”

    The couple were buried side-by-side in Cheremont Cemetery. Upon their grave is this epitaph from Jeanne’s song “Luc Dominique”: “I saw her soul fly through the clouds.”

    The Music

    “Her Soul Flew Through the Clouds” will be an accessible classical opera with a structure containing an overture, recitatives, arias and duets, and leitmotivs for each of the four main characters (Jeanne, Annie, Mother Superior and the young autistic woman) that will evolve throughout the piece in perpetual dialogue with the instrumental accompaniment: violin, violoncello and piano.
    As some of the composer’s main influences in composition are Italian Bel canto and French Romantic Grand Opera, the opera will have a melodic style, accessible from the first hearing without the need of any prior explanation. In addition, the composer’s Masters’ studies in Film Scoring will lend complementary tools and a 21st-century perspective.
    The opera will unfold in one act, of a duration of 60 minutes, with an estimated 20 musical numbers. There will be four female voices and three instruments: the voices two sopranos, a mezzo-soprano and a contralto (for the Mother Superior); the instrumentation piano, violin and violoncello.
    As Jeanne played guitar, a plucked string instrument, the opera will stay in the strings’ family and use bowed strings (violin and cello) and struck strings (piano). As a professional violinist, the composer is very familiar with bowed strings’ techniques and extended techniques and intends to use them to obtain a rich color palette with enough timbral nuances to depict Jeanne’s journey and struggle as well as the story’s varied settings (convent, concert hall, the school for autistic children…). The composer will write playable parts for the three instruments, with col legno, ponticello, harmonics, glissandos for the bowed strings and some elements of piano in the box for the piano, mainly glissandos, flageolets and plucking the strings directly in the box. The violin and cello’s pizzicato will be used to imitate Jeanne’s guitar.
    The three sketches submitted are from different parts of the opera: “Leaving the Convent” at the beginning; “Song with Guitar” later, as a nod to Jeanne’s hit “Dominique”; and “Anguish” towards the end once our protagonists are caught in the downward spiral that will lead to their suicide. On the third sketch, the violin recalls a motif from “Leaving the convent”, as leitmotifs will be a cornerstone for this opera.
    Why this story now?

    Today, in this country and elsewhere, there exists widespread social malaise, and with it waning hope in our shared future. An exemplary, if embattled, life such as Jeanne’s raises universal questions regarding society, values and the worth of each individual. Does capitalism discourage people from doing good? How can an ordinary person act in accordance with conscience and yet toe the line of social convention? What keeps the examined life livable? Jeanne, despite her personal martyring, continued to the end to look out at the world through fresh eyes and to make a difference in the lives of others. Surely hers is a life worth singing about.