Bruce Bonafede

Bruce Bonafede

Bruce Bonafede is a reemerging playwright, if there is such a thing. After some early critical success, he took a long break from playwriting, and only returned to writing for live theatre in 2016.

His first produced play, ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS, won the Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival in 1985, and was published in “The Best Short Plays—1986.” The full-length...
Bruce Bonafede is a reemerging playwright, if there is such a thing. After some early critical success, he took a long break from playwriting, and only returned to writing for live theatre in 2016.

His first produced play, ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS, won the Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Humana Festival in 1985, and was published in “The Best Short Plays—1986.” The full-length version of ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS premiered at the Philadelphia Festival Theatre of New Plays in 1986. (It was published by Samuel French in 2015.)

Bonafede then took a 30-year hiatus from playwriting. Since returning to it in 2016, every play he’s written has been produced, had a staged reading, or won an award, including:

CRUSADE (full length), staged reading, Baltimore Playwrights Festival, 2019. Premiere production scheduled for August 2019.
THE DESERT OF LOVE (full length), staged reading, Coachella Valley Repertory, 2018
NORTH (one-act), staged reading, Santa Fe Playhouse, 2018
QUARANTINE (one-act), Third place, Little Theatre of Alexandria, one-act competition, 2017
SAY GOODBYE TO HOLLYWOOD (10 minutes), production, North Park Playwrights Festival, 2018, also listed in “Best Ten Minute Plays of 2019”
THE SHORT CHRISTMAS DINNER (10 minutes), production, Out of Box Theatre, 2018
A DEATH IN THE WOODS (10 minutes), production, Chain Reaction Theatre Project, 2019
TWO IDIOTS IN A BAR (10 minutes), production, Little Fish Theatre, 2019
MOM (10 minutes), staged reading, Coachella Valley Repertory, 2019

Bonafede is originally from Long Island--the real Long Island, not New York--and Washington, DC, where he had the good fortune to study at New Playwrights Theatre. He now lives in Palm Springs, California and spends part of the year in Maryland. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and has been since 1981.

Plays

  • Advice to the Players
    FULL LENGTH. Run-time 90 minutes, no intermission.
    A shorter version of ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS received the Heideman Award at the Humana Festival in 1985. This NMNI version premiered at Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays a year later and is now available through Samuel French for the first time. The play is a fictionalized account of an actual event, telling the story of two celebrated black...
    FULL LENGTH. Run-time 90 minutes, no intermission.
    A shorter version of ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS received the Heideman Award at the Humana Festival in 1985. This NMNI version premiered at Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays a year later and is now available through Samuel French for the first time. The play is a fictionalized account of an actual event, telling the story of two celebrated black South African actors who have traveled to America to perform but are caught up in the world's boycott of their country's apartheid system--a system they have struggled all their lives to overcome.

    A short except of ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS is available here on NPX. For the full script, please visit https://www.samuelfrench.com/s/1072/advice-to-the-players

    Of this full-length version, the Philadelphia Inquirer said: "…a play of remarkable distinction…rare among American dramas in that it boldly brings up a moral issue for examination in strong theatrical terms. This is not a little play about little people leading lives of no importance…Succeeds in making it all emotionally engrossing as well as intellectually stimulating…the drama is 90 intense minutes…that brooks neither an intermission nor a resolution…"
  • Crusade
    FULL LENGTH. Cast: 5M, 1F, + 1M voice only.
    CRUSADE will have its world premiere at the Baltimore Playwrights Festival in August 2019.

    It is the near-future. America is at war both in the Middle East but with itself. As civil war rages, an Army patrol fighting in the Rocky Mountains is caught between its mission and difficult moral decisions.
  • The Desert of Love
    FULL LENGTH. Cast: 4M, 1F + 1F voice only.
    Garrison is straight, Philip is gay, and they have been best friends for 25 years. Garrison has let his obsession with women ruin his life. Philip has finally found love and is celebrating one year of marriage to his husband Trey, a young actor who isn’t very good at pretending to be happy. Their friend Steve is going through the divorce from hell. And Candace...
    FULL LENGTH. Cast: 4M, 1F + 1F voice only.
    Garrison is straight, Philip is gay, and they have been best friends for 25 years. Garrison has let his obsession with women ruin his life. Philip has finally found love and is celebrating one year of marriage to his husband Trey, a young actor who isn’t very good at pretending to be happy. Their friend Steve is going through the divorce from hell. And Candace is in love with a man she can never be with but can’t give up.

    Together, during a single evening in Garrison’s backyard in the California desert, this ensemble of five characters dramatize love in its many forms—romantic, parental, and philial—with equal parts humor and heartbreak.

    In December 2018, THE DESERT OF LOVE received an elaborately staged reading at Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre (CVRep), an 88-seat professional theatre in Rancho Mirage, California. There were two performances; both sold out. Since the reading was a two-performance showcase there were no media reviews, however audience comments included the following:

    “…the suspenseful writing kept me glued to the action of the play. A rather innocuous backyard gathering of a few friends artfully turns into a drama with much more below the surface. I found myself cheering for some characters and hissing others, but very compassionately involved with them all. It was a great afternoon of theater.”

    “You think you can breathe a sigh of relief once your heart has returned to its normal place, beating as it should, when - rrrrriippppp! It’s ripped right back out of your chest yet again with another moment of anguish.”

    “It was a moving play about relationships good and bad! This play should go places!”

    “…a sad, funny exploration of the bumpy road to romance trod by three couples. It is full of insight, affection and wry humor. Anyone who has been in a relationship with another human being, or who plans to, will find it an engaging, moving, delightful evening of theater.”

    “I thought the play was brilliant…I loved the balance of drama and comedy in this work that covered several timely topics. Simply superb.”

    “…the evening belonged to playwright and his loving (and, sometimes, not so loving) depiction of the loving (and, sometimes, not so loving) interactions of six characters in search of a relationship. While often spiked with wonderful wit, it's a serious and moving piece in which, all too often, these characters are looking for love in all the wrong places when, in the end, love, friendship, and loving friendship may be right there in front of them…our [area] could do with a lot more of such fine theatre and, hopefully, this funny, moving, and eloquent examination of love will soon be fully produced for a much longer run.”
  • North
    ONE-ACT. Cast: 4M, 2F.
    Run-time 50 minutes.

    NORTH received a staged reading in October 2018 as part of the 3rd Annual Different Festival at Santa Fe Playhouse.

    In the dying industrial North, a very old but still strong-willed man fights to retain his dignity and protect the woman he loves the only way he knows how—by relying on an ethos of manhood virtually unrecognizable...
    ONE-ACT. Cast: 4M, 2F.
    Run-time 50 minutes.

    NORTH received a staged reading in October 2018 as part of the 3rd Annual Different Festival at Santa Fe Playhouse.

    In the dying industrial North, a very old but still strong-willed man fights to retain his dignity and protect the woman he loves the only way he knows how—by relying on an ethos of manhood virtually unrecognizable today. But no one can prevail against the erosions of time, and over the course of a single day he is forced to relive the worst—and best—moments of his life, with tragic consequences.
  • Quarantine
    ONE-ACT. Cast: 7M.
    Run-time 30 minutes.
    Based on the legend of the Black Syphilis during Vietnam, this fast-paced, 30-minute drama explores a military coverup and the terrible ambiguities of war. Third Place Winner of the 2017 One-Act Play Competition at the Little Theatre of Alexandria.


  • Greater Than Nina
    10-MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 1M, 1F.
    Moscow. 1925. A young Russian actress is selected to play the role of a lifetime. In more ways than one.
  • Say Goodbye to Hollywood
    10-MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 2M, 1F.
    SAY GOODBYE TO HOLLYWOOD was chosen as a Second Place Winner and was listed in Smith & Kraus's "Best Ten Minute Plays of 2019". In the play, a writer goes to interview a former "B movie" star and learns that in the land of illusion success may not be at all what it seems.
  • Mom
    10-MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 2F, 2M.
    This short play asks two important questions: a) why do we take for granted what's important in life and forget the fragility of human existence? and b) why would the Jets punt on 4th and 1 when they're in Bills territory?
  • Two Idiots in a Bar
    10-MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 2M + 1 any gender.
    Two guys walk into a bar, have a beer, and leave.
    Idiots.
  • The Short Christmas Dinner
    10- MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 2M, 2F.
    The Short family sits down for Christmas dinner. Now, what are they allowed to talk about?
  • A Death in the Woods
    10-MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 3M.
    A man is haunted by the childhood memory of a personal act of violence and a life-changing betrayal.

  • The Human Condition and Other Jokes: A Monologue
    Run-time 4 minutes.
    The Monologist presents variations on a theme from Pascal.