Eric Pfeffinger

Eric Pfeffinger

Eric Pfeffinger is a playwright in Ohio who grew up in Indiana and likes to work in Chicago. He enjoys a robust Midwestern humility.

Eric’s work has been produced by Actors Theater of Louisville's Humana Festival, the Denver Theatre Center, the Geva Theater Center, the Phoenix Theatre, and the Bloomington Playwrights Project. His plays include Accidental Rapture, Hunting High, Some Other...
Eric Pfeffinger is a playwright in Ohio who grew up in Indiana and likes to work in Chicago. He enjoys a robust Midwestern humility.

Eric’s work has been produced by Actors Theater of Louisville's Humana Festival, the Denver Theatre Center, the Geva Theater Center, the Phoenix Theatre, and the Bloomington Playwrights Project. His plays include Accidental Rapture, Hunting High, Some Other Kind of Person, Barrenness, Assholes and Aureoles, Malignance, and the plays for young audiences Lost and Foundling, The Day John Henry Came to School, and Pink Think.

He’s written new plays on commissions from the InterAct, Imagination Stage and the Signature and developed scripts through workshops and readings at PlayPenn, Page 73 Productions, the Rattlestick, the New Jersey Rep, Chicago Dramatists, and available light. He’s collaborated on pieces with the Internationalists and the New York Neo-Futurists.

His plays have been published by Dramatic Publishing and Dramatics magazine, and he’s written articles for American Theatre magazine. He’s co-author of the novel The High-Impact Infidelity Diet, available on finer remainder tables everywhere.

Plays

  • Human Error
    Madelyn and Keenan are NPR-listening, latte-sipping blue-staters who are planning a family. Or they were, anyway, until the fertility clinic screwed up and accidentally implanted their fertilized embryo in another uterus — a uterus belonging to a small-government churchgoing NRA cardholder. Can these ideologically hostile couples make it together through nine months of gestation without killing each other?
  • Melto Man and Lady Mantis
    TEN-MINUTE: One office suite. Two unnatural fiends. Because even monsters have meetings, and these taxes aren't going to file themselves.

    Produced by Actors Theatre of Louisville as part of the Humana Festival of New American Plays, 2017.

    Published in THE BEST TEN-MINUTE PLAYS 2018 and HUMANA FESTIVAL 2017.
  • Tiny Baby
    TEN-MINUTE: Susan's trying as hard as she can to have fun at her class reunion, which she's attending with her husband and her baby. Her tiny baby. Her really, really, really really tiny baby. Are all these people judging the size of her tiny baby?
  • The Continued Adventures of Super Dan and Super Kelli
    TEN-MINUTE: When Dan was a kid, he drew fantastical comics about himself and his peers-- most notably his crush, Kelli. Now they're grownups, and they seem to be inside one of Dan's old comics, and it's all really weird but Kelli has got things she's got to do.
  • Accidental Rapture
    A lot has happened in the ten years since Amy, Paul and Richard were in grad school together. Amy and Paul got married and became academics; Richard also found a wife, a new job selling Christian merchandise, and a new life serving God. So Amy's not really looking forward to spending an awkward weekend at Richard's house. Will Richard's born-again wife object to Amy's feminism? Will Amy...
    A lot has happened in the ten years since Amy, Paul and Richard were in grad school together. Amy and Paul got married and became academics; Richard also found a wife, a new job selling Christian merchandise, and a new life serving God. So Amy's not really looking forward to spending an awkward weekend at Richard's house. Will Richard's born-again wife object to Amy's feminism? Will Amy and Paul's daughter get brainwashed by their God-fearing hosts? And can Amy keep herself from cursing for forty-eight hours?
    And things just get worse when the world ends.
    It turns out that Amy and Paul's visit happens to coincide with the night of the apocalypse, and thanks to a scriptural loophole they've been swept along with the saved. Worldly cities are destroyed, fire rains from the skies, lifelong friendships are tested, awkward silences are endured. Hilarity ensues.
    Thrust together into the kingdom of God, the couples grapple with some big questions. Is there any room for overlap between Christian fundamentalists and liberal humanists, between red-state and blue-state America? Can friends stay friends when they share everything in common except for the pesky matter of an underlying belief system? Is eternal life and knowledge of God's love everything it's cracked up to be? And what happens to a person's faith when it's proven right?
  • Some Other Kind of Person
    Bill is a passive, unreflective middle-management guy who travels the world for his employer but never leaves his hotel. Until, one night in Phnom Penh, he does, and stumbles into a room full of underage sex slaves. Inspired to do something selfless for the first time ever, he decides to liberate one young prostitute from her life of misery by purchasing her. But it’s hard to attend to your business trip...
    Bill is a passive, unreflective middle-management guy who travels the world for his employer but never leaves his hotel. Until, one night in Phnom Penh, he does, and stumbles into a room full of underage sex slaves. Inspired to do something selfless for the first time ever, he decides to liberate one young prostitute from her life of misery by purchasing her. But it’s hard to attend to your business trip when you're the owner of a new child prostitute, and there’s no line item on the expense account for that kind of thing, and it all gets really aggravating when she keeps not doing what you tell her.
    SOME OTHER KIND OF PERSON is an unlikely comedy about the commodification of humans and Americans’ misguided stabs at charity abroad.
  • Barrenness
    In scene 1 of BARRENNESS, an unlikely comedy about trauma and resilience, a youngish couple is rocked by an early miscarriage that derails their long-awaited pregnancy. In the play that briskly follows, their marriage fractures under the weight of grief. Beth's inclined to dwell on their loss; Greg wants to pretend it never happened. (Beth's also starting to talk in nonsense syllables, and Greg...
    In scene 1 of BARRENNESS, an unlikely comedy about trauma and resilience, a youngish couple is rocked by an early miscarriage that derails their long-awaited pregnancy. In the play that briskly follows, their marriage fractures under the weight of grief. Beth's inclined to dwell on their loss; Greg wants to pretend it never happened. (Beth's also starting to talk in nonsense syllables, and Greg seems to have impure purposes for the maternity catalogs flooding their mailbox. So they've got a lot going on.) Each finds solace in an unlikely confidant: Beth connects with their nurse, an evangelical Christian who's increasingly convinced that Beth is gifted by God; and Greg pursues his wishful infatuation with their very pregnant obstetrician, who in her spare time is also a Holocaust denier.
    Taking place over the course of one short week, BARRENNESS takes a comic and character-centered approach to dramatizing four different approaches to the problem of suffering.
  • Be Good
    TEN-MINUTE: Aidan's a good boy, really he is. But he's so much better when he's threatened with consequences from Santa Claus and other fantastical creations.

    Produced by Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2010.
  • The Truth About Tiny Tim
    TEN-MINUTE: A man with a business proposal arrives at the door of Charles Dickens, and together they decide to pretty much invent Christmas.

    The Washington Post called it "funny," "foulmouthed," "invigorating" and "off-center."
  • Who is Kris Kringle
    TEN-MINUTE: It ain't easy being a mall Santa. Especially when there's an angry mob on an anti-socialism kick.
  • The Things They Merried
    TEN-MINUTE: The war on Christmas wasn't all mistletoe and gingerbread. A grizzled veteran of those merry Yuletide trenches tells his grandkid what life on the front lines was really like.
  • The Occupier's Tragedy
    TEN-MINUTE: Seth is one of the 99%, a political activist who wants to highlight economic inequality. But that’s easier said than done when it’s the 17th century, your fellow insurgents are running late and the economic elites all have pointy swords. The Occupier’s Tragedy is a Jacobean comedy of good intentions thwarted.
  • Doctor, There's a Government in My Uterus
    TEN-MINUTE: Before we discuss terminating your pregnancy, there are just a few new government rules we need to go over.
  • Too Like the Lightning
    TEN-MINUTE: In fair Verona, Ramona and Juliet visit the apothecary to secure some potions, fatal and not-quite, as part of a scheme to retaliate against the local bakers and florists who refuse to supply a same-sex wedding. It's not a great plan, really, but they're young.
  • Hunting High, or Glory Hallelujah!
    Reconnecting with a dark man of mystery at a class reunion seems like a romantic way to
    add excitement and companionship to one's life. But if that man is very possibly a fugitive
    abortion-clinic bomber who didn't even go to your high school in the first place—well, let's just
    say it's possible Kathy's not making the best choices at this particular point in her life...
    Reconnecting with a dark man of mystery at a class reunion seems like a romantic way to
    add excitement and companionship to one's life. But if that man is very possibly a fugitive
    abortion-clinic bomber who didn't even go to your high school in the first place—well, let's just
    say it's possible Kathy's not making the best choices at this particular point in her life.

    Kathy—frustrated ex-dancer, lonely cafeteria manager, and desperate ray of sunshine—
    assumes her new beau isn't a domestic terrorist but a struggling artist. Tomayto, tomahto. Her
    new best friend Melinda has her suspicions but is preoccupied with winning the attention of her
    own husband James, a beleaguered federal agent who's spent three years in the Carolina woods
    searching for the bomber and has recently formally declared war on God.

    Haunted by the enlightened brutality of anti-slavery terrorist John Brown, HUNTING
    HIGH explores the obligations of belief, the banality of evil as a blank canvas for
    wishful fantasies, and the bizarre ease with which political violence can start to seem like a valid
    lifestyle choice.
  • Lost and Foundling
    A play for young audiences. Unusual things don't usually happen at Price Mart, but at this Mega Price Mart a mega-unusual thing happened once: a little girl was born. Or left. Or got lost in the aisles and her parents never found her. Whatever it was that happened, it was her destiny to be discovered between Truck Mirrors and Oil Filters by some Price Mart associates. They name her Pryce and raise her....
    A play for young audiences. Unusual things don't usually happen at Price Mart, but at this Mega Price Mart a mega-unusual thing happened once: a little girl was born. Or left. Or got lost in the aisles and her parents never found her. Whatever it was that happened, it was her destiny to be discovered between Truck Mirrors and Oil Filters by some Price Mart associates. They name her Pryce and raise her. Her first word is "affordable."

    It's a good life at Price Mart, all things considered: clean, well-lit. But her discovery one day that there's a place called Lost and Found all the way on the other side of the store sparks restlessness and curiosity about where she came from. What follows is an epic journey of hilarious proportions. Armed with only her wits and a celebrity magazine, will Pryce manage to evade dangerous pitfalls like the Demanding Shopper and the Neverending Line? And even if she does find the Lost and Found counter, will she ever uncover the truth about her real family?

    A comic and contemporary myth set in the recognizable world of changing rooms, free samples, and incandescent lights that never turn off, Lost and Foundling is a modern retail fairy tale about growing up, self-reliance, and big big savings.

    This play is licensed by Dramatic Publishing. More information here: http://www.dramaticpublishing.com/p1823/Lost-and-Foundling/product_info.html
  • The Day John Henry Came to School
    A play for young audiences. Johnny, the great-great-great-great-grandson of American folk legend John Henry, is an email-addicted, text-messaging, video-gaming technophile. He’s also, though he would never admit it, a little lonely. So it seems like a stroke of luck when, the night before parents’ day at school, Johnny’s great-great-great-great-grandfather magically shows up at the front door. But is it? Being...
    A play for young audiences. Johnny, the great-great-great-great-grandson of American folk legend John Henry, is an email-addicted, text-messaging, video-gaming technophile. He’s also, though he would never admit it, a little lonely. So it seems like a stroke of luck when, the night before parents’ day at school, Johnny’s great-great-great-great-grandfather magically shows up at the front door. But is it? Being a steel-drivin’ man isn’t as useful or as cool as it used to be, and no one likes a guy who’d rather smash a video game with his hammer than play it.
  • Pink Think: a play for young audiences (IN DEVELOPMENT)
    IN DEVELOPMENT: Griselda has never thought very much about color in general, or pink in particular—something she got from her mom, whose indifference to color borders on sublimated hostility. But when her new pink shoes catch the eye of Pinky, a girl at school, Griselda gets swept up in an all-encompassing, evangelistic pro-pink movement she never knew existed. The validation she gets from Pinky is dizzying...
    IN DEVELOPMENT: Griselda has never thought very much about color in general, or pink in particular—something she got from her mom, whose indifference to color borders on sublimated hostility. But when her new pink shoes catch the eye of Pinky, a girl at school, Griselda gets swept up in an all-encompassing, evangelistic pro-pink movement she never knew existed. The validation she gets from Pinky is dizzying and intoxicating, but by the time Griselda is attending a pink reeducation camp and rejecting perfectly thoughtful gifts because they’re the wrong hue, she finds she needs to make a choice: join Pinky in drowning the world in pink? Join her mother in dismissing all things colorful? Or carve out a new middle path just for herself?
  • This Meeting Will Change Your Life
    TEN-MINUTE: Margot's an editor at a big publishing company who could use a career boost. So when the slick literary agent Nate walks in with a new client hawking a bold new novel about 9/11, it could be the start of a new chapter. Or it could be the end of everything.
  • Assholes and Aureoles
    2 Women, 14 Characters, 11 Taboos, and several dozen laughs you’ll feel guilty about tomorrow. This comic tour de force for two performers was the best-attended show at the Indianapolis Fringe Festival and an award-winner at the Midtown International Theatre Festival.

    "If comedy shows had encores, I’d still be at the theater.”
    — Indiana Business Journal

    “Assholes was...
    2 Women, 14 Characters, 11 Taboos, and several dozen laughs you’ll feel guilty about tomorrow. This comic tour de force for two performers was the best-attended show at the Indianapolis Fringe Festival and an award-winner at the Midtown International Theatre Festival.

    "If comedy shows had encores, I’d still be at the theater.”
    — Indiana Business Journal

    “Assholes was funny. But, more than that, it was smart. Like really smart."
    — Cincinnati CityBeat
  • The Here and Now Plays: Toledo
    Commissioned by HowlRound, these three short plays offer tonally diverse snapshots of contemporary rust belt life in northwest Ohio.

    In "Deal," a woman helps her husband practice to apply for a casino job he's never going to get.

    In "Ditch," beleaguered Toledo barely puts up with his troubled bromance with his even more beleaguered neighbor Detroit....
    Commissioned by HowlRound, these three short plays offer tonally diverse snapshots of contemporary rust belt life in northwest Ohio.

    In "Deal," a woman helps her husband practice to apply for a casino job he's never going to get.

    In "Ditch," beleaguered Toledo barely puts up with his troubled bromance with his even more beleaguered neighbor Detroit.

    And in the semi-poetic "Divide," library patrons are sick to death of internet captchas and they're not going to take it any more. Except they probably are going to continue to take it, because what are you gonna do.

    The Here and Now plays are licensed by Indie Theater Now. https://www.indietheaternow.com/Playwright/eric-pfeffinger
  • Malignance
    All her life, Carla has kept neighbors at arm's length—especially now that her neighbors include the boorish white family next door. But now their little girl Eva has an inoperable brain tumor, and Carla increasingly finds herself sucked into their daily lives—hosting grim birthday parties, running disastrous errands, weathering egregious insults. Everyone else in the neighborhood is attracted to the...
    All her life, Carla has kept neighbors at arm's length—especially now that her neighbors include the boorish white family next door. But now their little girl Eva has an inoperable brain tumor, and Carla increasingly finds herself sucked into their daily lives—hosting grim birthday parties, running disastrous errands, weathering egregious insults. Everyone else in the neighborhood is attracted to the seductive power of someone else's grief; only Carla wants to extricate herself from it. The clock's ticking down as Carla has to decide whether or not to play a central role at a ceremonial celebration of the little girl's life. What do parents who are losing everything have the right to demand from Carla, and what will it cost her to give them what they want?
    As the neighborly relationship grows more twisted and compromising through a series of celebrity visits, blind dates, racial slurs and adulterous come-ons, it comes to expose—through awkward comedy and moments of naked ugliness—the prejudices that churn beneath the comforting lies everyone tells one another about race, class, and death.
  • Something This Way Comes
    TEN-MINUTE: Lackey and Gofer are just a coupla working stiffs waiting for their guy to arrive, gossiping about their vile scoundrel of a king, who really does have a pretty good tax plan.
  • That Thing That Time
    TEN-MINUTE: High school was so long ago, and we were so free, and there were no consequences, and remember that one time with the empty house?
  • The Gift of Time
    For all the miseries inflicted on the world by the COVID-19 pandemic, its one grace note has been giving some artists time to work on their art. Which is a gift. Kind of a way that big wooden horse from the Greeks was a gift.
  • Haddocks' Eyes
    What's in a name? Well, when you're naming a virus, sometimes -- racism?

    Written in reaction to the One-Minute Play Festival's call for plays responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Other Desk
    Officemates Thao and Daryl love coming to work every day: they waste time, they goof around, they indulge in shared racial jokes which are okay because they're knowing and ironic about it and because Thao -- well, she's allowed, you know? That all makes it okay, right? Until a third coworker is added to their work cluster and the whole dynamic goes to hell.
  • Your New Bob
    The government announces an exciting new program to achieve reparations for past injustices by assigning Black citizens a white slave for a year. It will fix racism and nothing could possibly go wrong.
  • In the Same Country
    TEN-MINUTE: Two shepherds tending their flocks are about to receive an annunciation from a heavenly figure. Unless they can help it.
  • They Work For Me (IN DEVELOPMENT)
    IN DEVELOPMENT: Savi, Bindi, and Zadie are figures from global folklore who fight crime and save the world together. Like Charlie's Angels, but more empowery. And their latest mission threatens to rupture the very fabric of their reality.
  • Peaches (IN DEVELOPMENT)
    IN DEVELOPMENT: The outrageously wealthy Missy Vanderveer is nominated to be U.S. Secretary of Education, and because of the controversy surrounding her lack of qualifications and overall out-of-touchness she decides to bring a salt-of-the-earth working-class character witness to the hearings. Ana Sofia, the hotel housekeeper she just met, seems like she'd do just fine. Little do either of them know that...
    IN DEVELOPMENT: The outrageously wealthy Missy Vanderveer is nominated to be U.S. Secretary of Education, and because of the controversy surrounding her lack of qualifications and overall out-of-touchness she decides to bring a salt-of-the-earth working-class character witness to the hearings. Ana Sofia, the hotel housekeeper she just met, seems like she'd do just fine. Little do either of them know that this impulsive partnership will lead to the most dramatic confirmation hearing in Senate history, and possibly — if things really go sideways — the violent end of the republic.
  • Joan Henry (IN DEVELOPMENT)
    IN DEVELOPMENT: Joan is a dispirited cubicle drone who has become an indifferent parent to her rebellious daughter and a joyless lover to her sullenly unemployed wife Polly. But when a head injury suddenly causes her, in classic sitcom fashion, to believe that she’s the nineteenth-century steel-driving man John Henry, her work life, sex life, and diction all radically change. That's bad enough. But when...
    IN DEVELOPMENT: Joan is a dispirited cubicle drone who has become an indifferent parent to her rebellious daughter and a joyless lover to her sullenly unemployed wife Polly. But when a head injury suddenly causes her, in classic sitcom fashion, to believe that she’s the nineteenth-century steel-driving man John Henry, her work life, sex life, and diction all radically change. That's bad enough. But when everyone starts traveling backward in time along with her toward that sunny day in 1872 when John Henry worked himself to death, in an accelerating quantum-mechanical anomaly that can only end in spilled blood -- well, that’s when things really start getting weird.