Peter Ullian

Peter Ullian

Peter Ullian's work for the stage has been produced off-Broadway, regionally, and internationally, and includes The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway, which he wrote and directed for the Forward Phoenix New Play Project, as well as Waiting for Marcel, which premiered in Cape Town as part of the Book Wings South Africa theatre festival. Other plays include Black Fire White Fire, presented by Jewish...
Peter Ullian's work for the stage has been produced off-Broadway, regionally, and internationally, and includes The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway, which he wrote and directed for the Forward Phoenix New Play Project, as well as Waiting for Marcel, which premiered in Cape Town as part of the Book Wings South Africa theatre festival. Other plays include Black Fire White Fire, presented by Jewish Plays Project at OPEN: the Festival of New Jewish Plays, and New American Century, developed at 4th Wall at the Beacon and the Lark Play Development Center. His published work includes the plays Big Bossman and The Triumphant Return of Blackbird Flynt, both originally produced by the Cleveland Public Theatre and both available from Broadway Play Publishing. He has written the libretto for the musicals Eliot Ness, produced at the Denver Theatre Center and the Cleveland Playhouse; Signs of Life, produced off-Broadway, at the Village Theatre, and at Chicago's Victory Gardens; and Flight of the Lawnchair Man, produced at the Prince Music Theatre, the Ahmanson Theatre, 37 Arts, and Goodspeed Musicals, and licensed by Theatrical Rights Worldwide. He has written screenplays for major and independent movie studios, and his short fiction has been published in Cemetery Dance, Hardboiled, and the DAW Books anthology Star Colonies. Critics have proclaimed his work "daring," "ambitious," "provocative and witty," "pulsing, power-packed, vital and visionary," "crazy and charming," and "a cross between David Mamet and the Marx Brothers." His awards for dramatic writing include a Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center/Fund for New American Plays, two Gilman & Gonzalez-Falla Musical Theatre Foundation Commendation awards, and two National Endowment for the Arts production grants. He has been a visiting professor, lecturer, or guest artist at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, SUNY Old Westbury, Western Michigan University, Juniata College, and the Hollins University MFA Playwrights Lab. He lives in New York's Hudson Valley with his wife and two sons.

Plays

  • Falstaff Rex
    John Falstaff has been elected leader of a divided nation, but is plagued by an investigation conducted by the nation’s lead law enforcement officer, the Chief Justice. Hallie is torn between her affection for her old friend, Falstaff, and her guilt for betraying her mother, Henrietta, an ambitious politician and Falstaff's opponent in the election. Meanwhile, military veteran Persephone Tottenham (“...
    John Falstaff has been elected leader of a divided nation, but is plagued by an investigation conducted by the nation’s lead law enforcement officer, the Chief Justice. Hallie is torn between her affection for her old friend, Falstaff, and her guilt for betraying her mother, Henrietta, an ambitious politician and Falstaff's opponent in the election. Meanwhile, military veteran Persephone Tottenham (“Percy”) has discovered a document that connects Falstaff’s government to a conspiracy to steal the last election, and probably the next one. And the only person who can get the document into the right hands is her old army buddy . . . Hallie. "Falstaff Rex" is inspired by, and freely adapts, borrows from, re-works, updates, ignores, improvises off of, and departs from "Henry IV, Part Two," mashed-up with a bit of"Part One," just a touch of "Pere Ubu" by Alfred Jarry, and a fair amount of past and recent history.
  • Multitudinous Malefactors
    Drought. Crop failures. Coastal flooding. Raging wildfires. A massive refugee crisis. A punishing heatwave. Fuel supplies exhausted. The power grid down. The collapse of central authority. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and an isolated rural valley may be the last outpost of civilization. In the last electrified house in the valley, two sisters, Ingrid and Kim, mourn their father and try to...
    Drought. Crop failures. Coastal flooding. Raging wildfires. A massive refugee crisis. A punishing heatwave. Fuel supplies exhausted. The power grid down. The collapse of central authority. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and an isolated rural valley may be the last outpost of civilization. In the last electrified house in the valley, two sisters, Ingrid and Kim, mourn their father and try to negotiate their place in the new world order.
  • Fair City
    It's 1988, and in Dublin’s fair city, the Millennium Celebration is underway. Rory, a Jewish American student, falls hard for Caitlin, an Irish Catholic barmaid. Eventually, Caitlin falls for Rory, too. But Caitlin has secrets, and some of them won’t stay hidden for long.
  • Pan-American
    It's 1988 at Oberlin College, and four best friends are faced with decisions for the future as graduation looms. Ben is love is Zara who is in love with her best friend, Aya, who loves her boyfriend, Zev, and wants him to hitch-hike with her down the Pan-American highway to Nicaragua and help her organize a coffee collective. Zev loves Aya -- so much that he wants her to stay away from dangerous places...
    It's 1988 at Oberlin College, and four best friends are faced with decisions for the future as graduation looms. Ben is love is Zara who is in love with her best friend, Aya, who loves her boyfriend, Zev, and wants him to hitch-hike with her down the Pan-American highway to Nicaragua and help her organize a coffee collective. Zev loves Aya -- so much that he wants her to stay away from dangerous places like Nicaragua and go with him to Northwestern where he intends to study law.

    2m, 2w.
  • New American Century
    Steve Rogers works for the CIA. On September 10, 2001 he’s given an assignment he deplores: destabilize the Venezuelan economy and assist in the removal of Hugo Chávez. Meanwhile, Sarah Rogers, his pregnant wife, is suffering from schizophrenic hallucinations and trying to hold on her to her sanity while hiding her mental illness from her husband. Unbeknownst to Sarah, her best friend, Trinidad Ibáñez, is...
    Steve Rogers works for the CIA. On September 10, 2001 he’s given an assignment he deplores: destabilize the Venezuelan economy and assist in the removal of Hugo Chávez. Meanwhile, Sarah Rogers, his pregnant wife, is suffering from schizophrenic hallucinations and trying to hold on her to her sanity while hiding her mental illness from her husband. Unbeknownst to Sarah, her best friend, Trinidad Ibáñez, is secretly in love with Steve, and Commander Marcos Pérez Kronen, an anti-Chávez conspirator, is falling hard for Sarah.

    Back in Langley, a power struggle is underway between Horace Moore, an old guard CIA administrator, and Marianne Reed, a political appointee who wants the intelligence agency to serve the new administration’s political agenda.

    New American Century presents an imaginative and theatrical look behind the historical events that culminated in a coup attempt against Hugo Chávez in 2002.
  • Black Fire White Fire (The Barrier Island Cycle Part One)
    In the weeks leading up to the election of 2000, Waylon Cruz returns to his hometown, Calusa Island, a Florida Gulf Coast barrier island, following the death of both his parents in a boating accident.  There, he falls in love with Kingsley Shakespeare, a pot-smoking, Jewish Jamaican-American schoolteacher, who is unfortunately already dating Teddy Junior, Waylon’s boyhood friend and the outrageously foul-...
    In the weeks leading up to the election of 2000, Waylon Cruz returns to his hometown, Calusa Island, a Florida Gulf Coast barrier island, following the death of both his parents in a boating accident.  There, he falls in love with Kingsley Shakespeare, a pot-smoking, Jewish Jamaican-American schoolteacher, who is unfortunately already dating Teddy Junior, Waylon’s boyhood friend and the outrageously foul-mouthed son of the Island’s police chief, Big Ted.  Big Ted is stocking up on vegetable seeds and fishing nets in case of an unspecified millennial natural or man-made disaster, and pressuring Kingsley to give a passing grade to a high school basketball star who never attended a single one of her classes.  Meanwhile, Big Ted’s young new wife, Eudora, fears her husband’s affections are wandering, and asks help from Teddy Junior.  Teddy Junior agrees, but soon finds himself growing increasingly obsessed with his younger stepmother.  Then Waylon starts to wonder if the accident that killed his parents perhaps wasn’t quite so accidental after all.  
  • Evacuation Route (The Barrier Island Cycle Part Two)
    During the early days of the invasion of Iraq, Steve and Sarah Rogers move to a Florida Barrier Island. When a local woman is murdered, Police Chief Waylon Cruz quickly narrows the suspects down to two: a neighborhood drug dealer . . . or Steve Rogers. Meanwhile, Sarah Rogers becomes the drug dealer’s number one customer, and Waylon wonders if his wife, Kingsley, is having an affair with Steve. Then the...
    During the early days of the invasion of Iraq, Steve and Sarah Rogers move to a Florida Barrier Island. When a local woman is murdered, Police Chief Waylon Cruz quickly narrows the suspects down to two: a neighborhood drug dealer . . . or Steve Rogers. Meanwhile, Sarah Rogers becomes the drug dealer’s number one customer, and Waylon wonders if his wife, Kingsley, is having an affair with Steve. Then the murdered woman’s identical twin sister shows up. As well as a ghost, a hallucination, an assassin, and a drug that allows people to enter one another's dreams. Evacuation Route is murder mystery, a ghost story, and a love story about madness, infidelity, violence, and desire.
  • Spirit in the Sky (The Barrier Island Cycle Part Three)
    It's December, 2003, and on Calusa Island, a Florida Gulf Coast barrier island, Waylon and Kingsley Cruz are set to celebrate Hanukkah with their two infant daughters, and a son on the way.  But beneath the surface, there's tension in the Cruz household.  One of their daughters resulted from an affair Waylon had with a neighbor, and neither of them is sure that Waylon is the father of baby gestating...
    It's December, 2003, and on Calusa Island, a Florida Gulf Coast barrier island, Waylon and Kingsley Cruz are set to celebrate Hanukkah with their two infant daughters, and a son on the way.  But beneath the surface, there's tension in the Cruz household.  One of their daughters resulted from an affair Waylon had with a neighbor, and neither of them is sure that Waylon is the father of baby gestating inside of Kingsley.  When their friends, Eudora and Teddy Junior arrive, things only get more complicated.  Eudora, herself pregnant, has left her abusive husband, Big Ted, and is now with Teddy Junior, Big Ted's son from his first marriage.  They want to move in -- temporarily -- with Waylon and Kingsley.  They also want to convert to Judaism, which leads to something of a crisis of faith for Waylon.  Meanwhile, Kingsley, president of the local synagogue, learns that the shul is partly built on the neighboring property -- which is now owned by Big Ted.
  • Shooting Back
    Holly is a poet and college professor, married to Tanner, a photographer and art professor. Jagger is Holly’s star student. Autumn is Tanner’s. Jagger is writing a paper on Melville. Autumn is working on a series of nudes, with Jagger as her model. Tanner and Holly are happily married, settled in their careers. Until Jagger declares his love for Holly. Then, suddenly, all bets are off.
  • The Big Conspiracy
    It’s the early 1990s, and Richard Ryder III is a Gulf War veteran, working as a security guard, who goes to the funeral of a fellow veteran, Mitch, who died under mysterious circumstances. At the funeral home, he meets Clara, Mitch’s widow, and begins to fall in love with her. Clara is convinced that Mitch was killed because he was about to uncover a massive world-wide conspiracy that links political and...
    It’s the early 1990s, and Richard Ryder III is a Gulf War veteran, working as a security guard, who goes to the funeral of a fellow veteran, Mitch, who died under mysterious circumstances. At the funeral home, he meets Clara, Mitch’s widow, and begins to fall in love with her. Clara is convinced that Mitch was killed because he was about to uncover a massive world-wide conspiracy that links political and military events from the Second World War to the present. Ryder is unconvinced, but agrees to help her track down Mitch’s suspicions. This leads Ryder on a picaresque journey of arms merchants, neo-Nazis, DEA agents, televangelists, CIA operatives, and, eventually, the truth about Clara’s identity – and his own.
  • How I Got a Golem -- A Love Story
    A one person show about violent mosh pits, love, and how to make a golem.
  • Tale of the Truck
    It's December 21st, 2012, and amid talk of a Mayan-predicted apocalypse, a seasonal helper for a major delivery service discovers that Hudson Highlands Estates is infested with zombie-like individuals.
  • The Triumphant Return of Blackbird Flynt
    "Cleveland Public Theatre appears to have uncorked a real talent: Peter Ullian … Ullian demonstrates he has three things every good playwright needs—a flair for language, a sense of the theatrical and a willingness to take on important questions. The question this plays asks is, `What do you do when the revolution is over?’ Or, to put it another way, `How can you be a hero and a failure?’ There isn’t any...
    "Cleveland Public Theatre appears to have uncorked a real talent: Peter Ullian … Ullian demonstrates he has three things every good playwright needs—a flair for language, a sense of the theatrical and a willingness to take on important questions. The question this plays asks is, `What do you do when the revolution is over?’ Or, to put it another way, `How can you be a hero and a failure?’ There isn’t any real answer… But along the way, there’s a lot of provocative and witty stuff. Ullian gives us a nervous gang of four, all that remain of `The Movement’ after a disastrous attempt to rob a bank, waiting in their bunker headquarters for their charismatic leader, Blackbird Flynt … Ullian borrows widely from everywhere for the play —gangster movies, Sam Shepard, all kinds of familiar cultural icons. But the mix is his own brand of desperate comedy, a little indisciplined, but arresting … the talent is unmistakable." -- Marianne Evett, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • Big Bossman
    "A cross between David Mamet and the Marx Brothers…Ullian’s comedy flirts with all kinds of allegorical possibilities…a suitably flaky style, an oddball naturalism that plays against the absurdities in the dialogue…bland spoofery, improbable dialogue laced with specific detail and monologues like verbal jazz riffs … Ullian has a distinctive voice." -- Marianne Evett, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • Hester Street Hideaway -- A Lower East Side Love Story
    He’s one of Lansky and Siegel’s schtarkes, and he’s made off with $60,000 of their bootleg cash. His best friend is dead and his best girl is gone. Outside the 1920s are roaring. Inside his Hester Street hideaway, he’s got nothing to do but wait for the retribution he knows is coming, while he goes back over his life and his mistakes. And ventures out to tie up a few loose ends.
  • The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway
    'Brother, is UWGB’s “Sisterhood” different . . . mostly, it’s fascinating. “The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway” seems to have an inexhaustible supply of surprises . . . you can’t nod off because some new twist, albeit weird, is about to happen. It could be about bear meat stew, sexual proclivities, the worth/unworth of Taylor Swift, the undead, spontaneous poetry or making an iPhone-driven...
    'Brother, is UWGB’s “Sisterhood” different . . . mostly, it’s fascinating. “The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway” seems to have an inexhaustible supply of surprises . . . you can’t nod off because some new twist, albeit weird, is about to happen. It could be about bear meat stew, sexual proclivities, the worth/unworth of Taylor Swift, the undead, spontaneous poetry or making an iPhone-driven movie with a nonexistent budget with an impromptu script and lots and lots and lots of nude scenes and varietal sex . . . and that’s what makes it fun. Each character comes with a distinct identity that’s sometimes over the top, sometimes off the wall and always figured out. This is an ensemble play with unique parts . . . the play takes place on July 3 and July 4 at a getaway place on Lake Pawtuckaway in an unnamed state where same-sex marriage is legal. The “Sisterhood” is gathering to remember a compatriot on an anniversary. That’s the simple stuff. From there, “The Collegiate Sisterhood of Lake Pawtuckaway” pretty much runs wild.' – WeAreGreenBay.