Beth Kander

Beth Kander

Beth Kander lives and writes in Chicago. Her plays have been staged throughout the United States and internationally. Recent premieres include Hazardous Materials at Creede Repertory Theatre, and Blue at BCTC Theatre. Published plays include The Bottle Tree; Scrambled; See Jane Quit; Running Mates (all licensed by Stage Rights). Her short plays have appeared in such anthologies as Stage This! Volume 3 and the...
Beth Kander lives and writes in Chicago. Her plays have been staged throughout the United States and internationally. Recent premieres include Hazardous Materials at Creede Repertory Theatre, and Blue at BCTC Theatre. Published plays include The Bottle Tree; Scrambled; See Jane Quit; Running Mates (all licensed by Stage Rights). Her short plays have appeared in such anthologies as Stage This! Volume 3 and the Protest Plays project. Previous honors/awards include Ashland New Plays Festival, American Theatre Company CORE Residency, Headwaters New Plays Festival, The Kilroys Honorable Mention List, Leapfest, Downstage Left Residency, The Writer’s Room, Charles M. Getchell New Play Award, Eudora Welty New Play Awards, Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Arts Fellowship, Mississippi Theatre Association New Play Award. She is also a novelist and the resident Host Playwright for Ashland New Plays Festival (ANPF). For more: www.bethkander.com

Plays

  • Hazardous Materials
    How much do we bury in a place - and in ourselves? HAZARDOUS MATERIALS takes place in one Chicago apartment, in two different eras. In 2015, new co-workers Hal and Cassie are investigating a sad hoarder mess, where an elderly Jane Doe just died; in 1955, two strangers from different worlds, Esther and Lynley, become tentative friends. In alternating scenes, a mystery gets underway and two stories unfold within...
    How much do we bury in a place - and in ourselves? HAZARDOUS MATERIALS takes place in one Chicago apartment, in two different eras. In 2015, new co-workers Hal and Cassie are investigating a sad hoarder mess, where an elderly Jane Doe just died; in 1955, two strangers from different worlds, Esther and Lynley, become tentative friends. In alternating scenes, a mystery gets underway and two stories unfold within the same walls: As Hal and Cassie pick through the physical wreckage of a stranger’s life while dealing with their own emotional detritus, Lynley and Esther forge a surprising alliance. With each object or truth unearthed or ignored in each era, one small apartment unfurls as home to timeless human longing.
  • The Bottle Tree
    In The Bottle Tree, gun violence in America is explored through the story of a small-town girl with a big, bad family legacy. Years after a tragic shooting at East Maple High, all of Maple County, Mississippi, is still traumatized; perhaps no one more so than shy, sarcastic Alley, the little sister of the infamous shooter. With fragility, tenacity, and a sharp sense of humor, Alley is haunted by past ghosts and...
    In The Bottle Tree, gun violence in America is explored through the story of a small-town girl with a big, bad family legacy. Years after a tragic shooting at East Maple High, all of Maple County, Mississippi, is still traumatized; perhaps no one more so than shy, sarcastic Alley, the little sister of the infamous shooter. With fragility, tenacity, and a sharp sense of humor, Alley is haunted by past ghosts and jolted into new worlds with few easy answers—and as she gradually realizes, so is everyone else. When everyone around you is also a little bit broken, how can anyone begin to piece themselves back together? Young love, old guilt, laughter, and lingering scars all keep the girl, the town, and Alley’s symbolic “bottle tree” on the verge of shattering.

    NOTE: Script will soon be available through Stage Rights in Los Angeles - www.stagerights.com
  • Will
    When likable finance guy Will is accused of assault, he and his wife Susan are adamant about his innocence. They hire Tova, a quiet, serious lawyer, to make this go away ASAP. Meanwhile, Chrissy’s pursuing justice; above all, she wants to be believed. A fifth actor portrays The Public, embodying various roles from beleaguered public defender to chatty barista. In a nonstop 90 minutes, the audience constantly...
    When likable finance guy Will is accused of assault, he and his wife Susan are adamant about his innocence. They hire Tova, a quiet, serious lawyer, to make this go away ASAP. Meanwhile, Chrissy’s pursuing justice; above all, she wants to be believed. A fifth actor portrays The Public, embodying various roles from beleaguered public defender to chatty barista. In a nonstop 90 minutes, the audience constantly questions whose stories to trust—is anyone guilty? Is everyone?—as the play races toward what might be a cliffhanger, or might be the edge of a very steep cliff.
    (Note: Heavily revised new version with new title uploaded June 2019; former working title of earlier draft was "ACCUSED.")
  • Like a Mother
    Melly and Lou are new parents. They knew things would change, but for Melly, especially, the transition has been harder than she thought - especially because her childless-by-choice best friend Caitlin has completely bailed on her. Bleary-eyed, lonely, and wondering what will come next, Melly is befriended late one night by an unlikely arrival: Florida Man.
    (Note: This play is the first in what will be a...
    Melly and Lou are new parents. They knew things would change, but for Melly, especially, the transition has been harder than she thought - especially because her childless-by-choice best friend Caitlin has completely bailed on her. Bleary-eyed, lonely, and wondering what will come next, Melly is befriended late one night by an unlikely arrival: Florida Man.
    (Note: This play is the first in what will be a three-play-cycle; each will stand alone, although be related; each will be written after the playwright experiences the 'next' phase of parenthood. Conceived to be an 18-year-project.)
  • Blue (formerly The Blue)
    A modern fable about family, fallibility, and finding your way.
    The Alexander sisters have pretty hard knock lives over in Worried Creek, Kentucky, in the late 1980s. Along with their comatose mother, they are all that remain of the Alexander family, a long line of addicts and social pariahs. April is a pregnant prize-fighter, refusing to reveal the identity of the baby's father; May is dead (but...
    A modern fable about family, fallibility, and finding your way.
    The Alexander sisters have pretty hard knock lives over in Worried Creek, Kentucky, in the late 1980s. Along with their comatose mother, they are all that remain of the Alexander family, a long line of addicts and social pariahs. April is a pregnant prize-fighter, refusing to reveal the identity of the baby's father; May is dead (but narrates their strange tale); and June, the book-smart sister, was born with the "family curse": bright blue skin, which marks her as an Alexander and shames her into a hermit-like existence. But June hasn't entirely abandoned hope. She writes daily to a plastic surgeon in Los Angeles she believes can "fix" her-- and when he shows up at their door in Kentucky, all of the Alexander womens' lives (and deaths) take unexpected turns.
  • Dear Anya
    When Molly was in eighth grade, her teacher made her class write to imaginary Russian pen pals in order to foster empathy for their Cold War "enemies." For a year, Molly tells all her hopes and fears and secrets to the entirely fictional Anya Tolstoy. In 2016, Molly gets a Facebook friend request... from her imaginary Russian pen pal Anya.
  • Running Mates (or, The Family Party)
    Sam Storm has been the beloved mayor of Anderson, Georgia for the past twenty years. Loved by the community and his doting wife, Sam’s name is usually the only one on the ballot come election time, but when an embarrassing video of him is leaked his seat in office is threatened. Sam has some real competition when the last person he ever expected to run against him puts her name on the ballot, his wife Sophia....
    Sam Storm has been the beloved mayor of Anderson, Georgia for the past twenty years. Loved by the community and his doting wife, Sam’s name is usually the only one on the ballot come election time, but when an embarrassing video of him is leaked his seat in office is threatened. Sam has some real competition when the last person he ever expected to run against him puts her name on the ballot, his wife Sophia. Now it’s down and dirty as husband and wife duke it out. Can their marriage withstand the political fisticuffs? And what happens when an unexpected third candidate enters the race? This fast-paced political comedy brings new meaning to the phrase “family politics.”
  • Scrambled
    Sara is wisecracking, single, broke, and secular. Neshama is serious, married, infertile, and Orthodox. When fate, God, and Sara's Episcopalian roommate bring these two Jewish women together, each must question what really matters, what they really want-and what they're willing to do to get it. As Sara considers donating her eggs, and Neshama ponders accepting them, both women find themselves...
    Sara is wisecracking, single, broke, and secular. Neshama is serious, married, infertile, and Orthodox. When fate, God, and Sara's Episcopalian roommate bring these two Jewish women together, each must question what really matters, what they really want-and what they're willing to do to get it. As Sara considers donating her eggs, and Neshama ponders accepting them, both women find themselves unexpectedly scrambled.

    For production rights: https://www.stagerights.com/allshows/scrambled/

    "Scrambled is funny, poignant, and relevant to anyone who has ever wondered what they're supposed to be doing with their life. The characters feel familiar, and yet the story feels fresh-a powerful combination." -Denise Halbach, SETC
  • Riders
    Five scenes, five eras. In each, young people in transition are also in transit - riding a train to a new destination. In 1948, recent refugees resettled after the second World War are on their way to a new life in America, seated beside a young war vet returning home. In 1964, proud young idealists from the North are heading to Mississippi for Freedom Summer, but have some of their notions challenged when some...
    Five scenes, five eras. In each, young people in transition are also in transit - riding a train to a new destination. In 1948, recent refugees resettled after the second World War are on their way to a new life in America, seated beside a young war vet returning home. In 1964, proud young idealists from the North are heading to Mississippi for Freedom Summer, but have some of their notions challenged when some actual young Mississippians step aboard. In 1989, a bus ride to San Francisco brings together two young people kicked out of their homes for very different reasons that nonetheless yielded similar results and a surprising connection. In 2019, tensions are high and screens are illuminated - but can a connection still be found between stops? A flash mob might hold the answer. And in the future... where to?
  • Unshelved
    On what - or whom - does your own identity depend? The Hollingsworth family is, at first glance, perfectly normal – maybe a bit more literature-centric and a bit more formal than average, but nothing revolutionary. Audrey is the head librarian at the local library, her husband Bill is an English professor, and their son Rye is trying to make it as a writer. When Audrey is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer...
    On what - or whom - does your own identity depend? The Hollingsworth family is, at first glance, perfectly normal – maybe a bit more literature-centric and a bit more formal than average, but nothing revolutionary. Audrey is the head librarian at the local library, her husband Bill is an English professor, and their son Rye is trying to make it as a writer. When Audrey is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, the calm family picture begins to blur. Before her illness, Audrey had always protected her son and husband; now, as she sinks into the past, she reveals long-buried family secrets.

    For production rights: www.chicagodramaworks.com