John McDonald

John McDonald

Currently living in Chicago while attending SAIC for my Writing MFA, you've likely seen one of my shorter works through The Fertile Ground Festival, PDX Playwrights, Tiny Theatre, or The Pulp Stage. My goal is to find the capital and place in order to stage bigger works and ultimately become a luminary akin to Stephen Sondheim or Tennessee Williams.

Many of my plays are overtly queer with...
Currently living in Chicago while attending SAIC for my Writing MFA, you've likely seen one of my shorter works through The Fertile Ground Festival, PDX Playwrights, Tiny Theatre, or The Pulp Stage. My goal is to find the capital and place in order to stage bigger works and ultimately become a luminary akin to Stephen Sondheim or Tennessee Williams.

Many of my plays are overtly queer with queer themes. Though not in a way that would alienate all audiences. That being said, I have found that some notions in the queer world do rattle straight theatergoer cages.

I endeavor to write plays that matter. Be it a queer fairy tale, a bdsm look at monk culture, science fiction dystopian heartbreak, or simply a complicated relationship between two gay men- it's about the wit, the heart, and what is truth (if you can find it). Join me on the journey. Let's learn from each other and become better than we once were.

My most recent works (including old works edited or reformatted) begin here at the top. It's all organized chronologically and eventually, everything will be at the top which was once at the bottom. Isn't that just the way of the world?

Plays

  • Stained Glass
    A psychosexual and slightly fantastic work set in an austere monastery - Marishka seems hell bent on punishing Sandy just for being himself. But when there is so much unsaid, can anything really remain hidden where there are so few places to hide it? Imagine the relationship in Whiplash, but with much heavier religious symbolism.
  • Dearest Professor
    A Faustian meditation on gay love triangles in three acts. In a crumbling brownstone, a landlord's daughter grieves while two male expressing figures fight over the body and intellect of "Professor" August Dear. A new musical with a familiar story and a lot of strange, somewhat religious fun.
  • Sit for A Spell
    Gian and Alex loved each other. But when a lover leaves you and you're not allowed at the funeral, how else can you grieve but to find out if they're happy in the afterlife. A queer play about Forbidden Love with a bittersweet twist. I just didn't have time to get it in to Red Bull Theater before the submissions closed.
  • Mermen
    A two male presenting work about sailors that were once mermen and their connection to the land and sea and to their own bodies. Uses a coded language premise glorified by the homosexual double speak of the 40s and 50s in a new way.
  • Headed to Napa
    A dystopian future where two queer people, a drag queen and a masc presenting gay man hide out from footsteps seeking them. As Cassidy puts it - they are the hermit crabs of the universe. Does not have a happy ending.
  • Presently, at the Gloryhole
    Casey lingers after finishing with Jess at the bathhouse. What they discover, human and were creature alike- is so much bigger than the politics of top and bottom. It's almost as big as their loneliness and their satisfactions.
  • Winter's Vanishing: A Tale of Ghosts
    Otherwise entitled Vanishing, this slightly sci-fi and slightly gothic winter's horror melodrama is about the ghosts and skeletons we leave behind in our family homes. Deliberately triple cast, this is a play for the fearless looking for complex female driven roles or a bit of non-traditional winter fare. Think Cat on a Hot Tin Roof- if it were wintertime and Skipper was present the whole play.
  • Cobblestone Kingdom: A Gay Forest Fairy Tale
    Version 3: Uploaded 12/2021. A gay version of the Cinderella mythology, containing most of the important classical elements of the love story. A baker, in this case, who has loved the prince from afar finally gets his attention and a glimpse of magic at the Prince's Birthday Ball. Villains included a pair of sorcerers, an evil knight of the cobblestone kingdom, and internalized self doubt. Lyrics and...
    Version 3: Uploaded 12/2021. A gay version of the Cinderella mythology, containing most of the important classical elements of the love story. A baker, in this case, who has loved the prince from afar finally gets his attention and a glimpse of magic at the Prince's Birthday Ball. Villains included a pair of sorcerers, an evil knight of the cobblestone kingdom, and internalized self doubt. Lyrics and book are done. But the score is yet to be set. Probably more erotic/sensual than any cinderella type story you're used to, but the story honestly is made better by it.
  • Peanut Butter Jelly Time
    A play made to be done in short installments (such as Tik Tok), these five vignettes show the possible descent into madness or maybe the evil phenomena that comes when you invoke your own name in reflective surfaces one too many times.
  • The Nightbloom: A Gay Desert Fairy Tale
    Isaiah is a sweet street urchin who stumbles upon a chalice in a dark cave and meets Whittaker, the djinn within who has grand plans for Isaiah's life. They come to involve marrying the wise Prince Maquin and seducing the stalwart Soldier, captain of the guard. But a fairy tale is not an easy thing to mold. And Whittaker's greed and lust may overtake the true story beneath it all.
  • 3 for 25
    Valerie loves shopping- specifically for candles. Louis doesn't get all the time and money spent. A short play for two actors looking for a little bit of an odd blank canvas to work from, set wise.
  • Backstage
    Two aliens chat and change costumes for their next round of surveillance on Earth. When one threatens to "go native", the other must take drastic action. If only it had been avoidable.
  • Inemity
    Inemity is a soldier whose lover has been killed in battle. Seeking his soul, he asks for intercession from the god of his city. But like most Greek tragedies, this conversation doesn't end well. Using the theme of restoration, watch as a god learns to fear a mortal's inner strength and wrath. Written for the Red Bull Theater competition.
  • Remember Them?
    Anna's once in a lifetime interview of Mandy Doripho, the shark wrangler of Hollywood, doesn't quite go the way she'd planned.
  • Wrath
    An experimental exploration of various types of wrath, this twisting conversation between two characters talks about the first Greek play about wrath and revenge (the Oresteia), cancel culture, Grindr, the Karen phenomenon and Brunch. Much like the collaborative painting and song that helped inspire it during the 2021 Feelings Festival, Wrath is quite irrational and ever changing.
  • Eulogy For A Pirate
    A monologue for a male presenting character, this pirate send-off is imbued with both the power of the joys and sorrows of a non-traditional corporate life, shared. Written for Tiny Theatre's Tiny Wonders March Madness Fest. Enjoy!
  • National Scouts: Troop 274
    Jason Montgomeries feels like a failure at just 18, returning home after losing his place with a prestigious writing group. Aimless and depressed, his best friend Tony ropes him into becoming a co-leader of the scout troop both their brothers attend. But with a pressure to succeed in the wilderness, along with the intense feelings of loneliness brought on by being in the closet - Jason doesn't feel like...
    Jason Montgomeries feels like a failure at just 18, returning home after losing his place with a prestigious writing group. Aimless and depressed, his best friend Tony ropes him into becoming a co-leader of the scout troop both their brothers attend. But with a pressure to succeed in the wilderness, along with the intense feelings of loneliness brought on by being in the closet - Jason doesn't feel like his chances of success are great. But maybe the change of scenery is everything he needs.
  • A Stake in the Flowers
    It's hard being the daughter of a world famous vampire hunter after the world falls to pieces. But it's even harder being the daughter in law. In a world where grocery delivery is the norm not because it's polite but because it's necessary- how do we even say I care for you? With flowers?
  • Mistletoe the Line
    Dracula's child is getting married. Before the wedding, they meet in a christmas themed cafe to acclimate the older vampire to the holiday season most loved by his in-laws.
  • How Are the Meatballs, Matilda?
    A short glimpse of the soap opera life of an overwrought wife Matilda and her stoic if not sardonic husband Harold. With her closest maid Sylvia harboring at least one secret, Matilda is about to learn what happens when they are indeed actually out to get you.
  • New Years Fools
    In the far future, the space ship Savant bears some of the children of Earth- seeking a new place to make home. Mars and Kris prepare for the annual tradition of New Years Fool, the unfortunate crew member that has to be the designated captain while everyone else indulges in celebratory vices. A short work written to be played on Zoom or with a bare set.
  • Alegria
    In a corner of a detention center, two older teens observe the life they're currently living. Straight or gay, imprisonment is never right.
  • All Hallows Hotel and Cafe Lounge
    A play script for a serial spoof, All Hallows Hotel and Cafe Lounge is the ongoing story of a hotel staffed by and visited by somewhat familiar monster movie monsters. We peek in on Episode 113 where a gay vampire makes his move, Frankenstein and his Bride try to work through marital issues, and where no secret can be kept for very long. Meant to be playful, lighthearted and witty, but with some heart at its core.
  • Bitter: A Monologue
    Her grandpa died and yes, he left her money but he also left her disfigured beyond imagination. Unlike the rest of the family though- at least she can do something about it. A monologue adaptation, heavily influenced by one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes.
  • Have Another Drink
    Being in the mob is easier than being in a romance. Danny and Joey are finding that out the hard way and so is Allison- the dame that thinks she's gonna have a good night.
  • The Fanatic
    In a dystopian not so distant future, Michelle pays a visit to a junkyard, where childhood "friend" Victory has been exiled in order to complete her government training. Though they speak more of the past than they do of the present, Michelle comes to realize Victory can't be rehabilitated and most frighteningly for Michelle- perhaps never wanted to be in the first place. In a world without any...
    In a dystopian not so distant future, Michelle pays a visit to a junkyard, where childhood "friend" Victory has been exiled in order to complete her government training. Though they speak more of the past than they do of the present, Michelle comes to realize Victory can't be rehabilitated and most frighteningly for Michelle- perhaps never wanted to be in the first place. In a world without any color at all, how can anyone claim it even existed to begin with?
  • Crash Test Donuts
    A quick and yet intimate portrait into the lives of the unsung heroes of the auto industry- the crash test dummies. Surprisingly, they're alive. And although they can't eat things- they can love. Maybe. Done with Theater is the Cure for their weekly worldwide monologue shenanigans.
  • I Am Not Batman
    A monologue written for Theater Is The Cure- an online worldwide event! - This monologue is for a young male actor looking to talk about his affection for comics and his local shops. Haters looking for trade backs need not apply.
  • "Oh So Good!"
    A short play written and rehearsed in 48 hours, this story of two sisters in the mountains ends with somebody's foot in a bear trap (and it's not who you'd expect). An instant classic!
  • Ping Pong, Bro!
    A short play about two bros, one gay and one straight, who communicate their fears and failures in life while beating each other at ping pong.
  • Dance With Death: An Exploration of Grief in Six Scenes
    No matter how healthy you feel, one day there'll be a knock on your door. For the colorful and varied residents of this nursing home, that call comes one day for each of them- in sometimes comforting and sometimes frightening ways. The nursing home residents of this play each represent a phase of grief in their dealings with death and Todd as a semi-closeted queer elder, really gets to greet death as an...
    No matter how healthy you feel, one day there'll be a knock on your door. For the colorful and varied residents of this nursing home, that call comes one day for each of them- in sometimes comforting and sometimes frightening ways. The nursing home residents of this play each represent a phase of grief in their dealings with death and Todd as a semi-closeted queer elder, really gets to greet death as an old friend. The nurses don't recognize death in their midst and they won't- until its their time much later in life.
  • Sons (and Daughters) of the Jet
    A dystopian riff on the idealized future presented by the Jetsons by way of Farenheit 451. The Turbane Family is the ideal nuclear family. A hard working dad, a trophy second wife, a genius son, and a social media mogul daughter. But just underneath that shiny, plastic surface, there might be a few tiny wrenches in the moving gears.
  • The End of Summer
    When Ted returns to their father's home on the island where they grew up, they have to confront the versions of themselves left behind. And with their fiancee Max digging down, there may be no way to escape from a past that won't let "Teddy" be.
  • My Three Favorite Elves
    Terry, a single parent, is trying to give their three kids the perfect christmas. Only, the kids have their own agendas and they don't always align with Terry's Martha Stewart style vision, let alone each other. A little bit of drama, a little bit of humor, and a whole lot of love make for the warmest winter season at the end of it all. The perfect play for a non-traditional and accepting church...
    Terry, a single parent, is trying to give their three kids the perfect christmas. Only, the kids have their own agendas and they don't always align with Terry's Martha Stewart style vision, let alone each other. A little bit of drama, a little bit of humor, and a whole lot of love make for the warmest winter season at the end of it all. The perfect play for a non-traditional and accepting church looking for something original and new for the christmas season!
  • That Ridiculous Huge Pink House At the End of the Street
    This middle schooler summer themed ensemble is a classic friendship tale with a twist! Miller and his baseball buddies meet the ghost that haunts the weird pink house on their block. Tracey is head of a ghost hunting club for girls- not that they've ever caught one just yet and not that everyone is so eager to. Tracey's plan to get close to the ghost in order to exterminate it might have a couple of bugs in it to boot.
  • Liberty Walking - An American Messiah
    This huge passion play about a Jesus like figure is loosely inspired by both Godspell and the gospel of John. There are some mechanical parts and a warehouse feel to it along with an interesting use of the Pharisees and openly, defiantly queer characters such as Peter. The lyrics and story are finished, and the music composition is underway. A second table read is to be scheduled. Easily my most ambitious work to date.
  • Codename: Pink
    A dystopian musical that centers a young trans artist in the lead role. Seriously, halfway through the play- their name changes. There's a whole song about it and everything. Done with some youthfulness and a bit of play but also a critique of the young adult genre that always centers warriors as the leaders of rebellion. No composer yet but the lyrics and story are done. A table read still needs to be done.
  • Triangles, A Gay Musical
    When a weekend long queer centered business and art conference happens, there's always enough drama, yearning, and I told you sos to keep the conference turning. Lyrics are done, no score yet. Still needs a first edit table read.