Bruce Bonafede

Bruce Bonafede

Bruce Bonafede’s first produced play, ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS, won the Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1985. A full-length version was subsequently produced at the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays in 1986, directed by Carol Rocamora. The play is published and licensed by Samuel French.

His newest full-length play, EYELESS IN COLONUS, was produced in Joshua Tree,...
Bruce Bonafede’s first produced play, ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS, won the Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville in 1985. A full-length version was subsequently produced at the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays in 1986, directed by Carol Rocamora. The play is published and licensed by Samuel French.

His newest full-length play, EYELESS IN COLONUS, was produced in Joshua Tree, California in 2021, directed by Howard Shangraw, and was awarded “Best Play” by the Broadway World Regional Awards. Another full-length, CRUSADE, was produced at the Baltimore Playwrights Festival in 2019, directed by Timoth David Copney.

Staged readings of other full-lengths and one-acts have included ELLIE by the Baltimore Playwrights Festival in 2021, NORTH by Santa Fe Playhouse in 2018, and THE DESERT OF LOVE by Coachella Valley Repertory in 2018.

His 10-minute plays have been produced nationwide. MANIFESTO won “Best Zoom Theatre Film” at the Manhattan Repertory Film Festival in 2021 as well as "Best Dark Comedy" at the Washington DC International Cinema Festival. GREATER THAN NINA and HAVE GUN, WON’T TRAVEL were both produced by the New Short Play Festival in New York; MOONLESS NIGHT by the Group Rep at Lonny Chapman Theatre in L.A.

His short plays have been included four times (1986, 2019, 2020, 2021) in annual “Best of” anthologies published by Applause Books and Smith & Kraus.

Bonafede is a Lifetime Member of the Dramatists Guild.

Downloading any of the plays below constitutes your acknowledgement that Bruce Bonafede is the sole copyright owner of the play. None of these plays may be produced, reproduced, or recorded in whole or in part in any way without the express written permission of Bruce Bonafede or his designated agents.

Plays

  • Eyeless in Colonus
    FULL-LENGTH. 90 minutes, no intermission.
    A play in dramatic verse and an original work—not an adaptation—EYELESS IN COLONUS examines fate and free will through a reimagining of the death of Oedipus.

    After twenty years in exile, Oedipus, now a blind old beggar, and his protector Theseus, the king of Athens, enter the deepest part of the sacred grove of Colonus where Oedipus is destined to...
    FULL-LENGTH. 90 minutes, no intermission.
    A play in dramatic verse and an original work—not an adaptation—EYELESS IN COLONUS examines fate and free will through a reimagining of the death of Oedipus.

    After twenty years in exile, Oedipus, now a blind old beggar, and his protector Theseus, the king of Athens, enter the deepest part of the sacred grove of Colonus where Oedipus is destined to die. But there they stumble upon a young girl named Clio who was not mentioned in the oracle’s prophecy and is not supposed to be there.

    Oedipus, the great solver of riddles—of both the Sphinx and his own identity—sets out to unravel the mystery of why she is there. And in the end we learn who Clio will become, why Theseus is a great king, and how Oedipus, through an act of justice that transcends both the law and custom, finally breaks free of his predetermined destiny and comes to terms with his tragic fate.

    THESEUS
    Is it time?

    OEDIPUS
    It is.
    And Zeus himself is coming
    To show he is displeased
    I did something not foretold,
    Something he didn’t expect—
    Something of my own,
    That sprang from my own mind,
    The way the river springs
    From the distant mountains
    And the source no one can find.

    EYELESS IN COLONUS was initially produced in August 2021 as part of the “Theatre Under the Stars” series in Joshua Tree, California. The production was directed by Howard Shangraw and won Best Play in the Broadway World Regional Theatre Awards, 2021.

    A 10-page sample is available for download. Full play not available for general readership. For potential production opportunities, please contact the Author directly at bruce@bonafedecommunications.com
  • Advice to the Players
    FULL LENGTH. 90 minutes, no intermission.
    The short version of ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS received the Heideman Award at the Humana Festival in 1985. Bonafede expanded the play to a 90-minute no-intermission full-length, which was produced at the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays in 1986 and is available through Samuel French.

    As relevant today as when it was first produced. Art...
    FULL LENGTH. 90 minutes, no intermission.
    The short version of ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS received the Heideman Award at the Humana Festival in 1985. Bonafede expanded the play to a 90-minute no-intermission full-length, which was produced at the Philadelphia Festival Theatre for New Plays in 1986 and is available through Samuel French.

    As relevant today as when it was first produced. Art and politics collide in this 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.
    The published script is available here: https://www.samuelfrench.com/s/1072/advice-to-the-players

    Or contact the author regarding production opportunities.
  • Crusade
    FULL LENGTH. Cast: 4M, 2F, + 1M voice only.
    CRUSADE had its first production as part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival in August 2019. A Rapid Lemon Production at the Theatre Project.

    It is the near-future. Christian fundamentalists have won complete control of the federal government, banned all other religions as well as free thought, and rewritten the Constitution, doing away with...
    FULL LENGTH. Cast: 4M, 2F, + 1M voice only.
    CRUSADE had its first production as part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival in August 2019. A Rapid Lemon Production at the Theatre Project.

    It is the near-future. Christian fundamentalists have won complete control of the federal government, banned all other religions as well as free thought, and rewritten the Constitution, doing away with the Bill of Rights. As a result, some units of the US military are in revolt. America is at war both in the Middle East and with itself. As civil war rages, an Army patrol fighting in the Rocky Mountains is forced to take refuge in a remote cabin now owned by a former college professor who wants only to be left alone. The capture of a Christian soldier causes the patrol to be caught between its mission and difficult moral decisions.

    Intended as an ensemble piece, CRUSADE features a wide variety of characters meant to reflect modern American society. The patrol's lieutenant is from a White military family with a long record of serving America. He is surrounded by a Jewish radioman whose parents died in a Christian camp, a Latino sergeant (now busted to private) who is still the rock on whom everybody depends, a college professor who moved with her wife into the mountains to escape both anti-gay and anti-intellectual persecution, a Christian army soldier who deserted because he's a real Christian and refuses to kill, and the patrol's sniper, a young woman on a mission of revenge intent on killing a specific number of Christians for a specific reason. NOTE: ADULT LANGUAGE, PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. The Author advises theaters warn audiences there will be GUNFIRE.

    Reviews:
    https://baltimorefishbowl.com/stories/in-crusade-a-battle-over-the-future-of-the-u-s-may-already-be-lost/
    http://www.theatrebloom.com/2019/08/crusade-at-rapid-lemon-productions/
    https://dcmetrotheaterarts.com/2019/08/12/review-crusade-by-rapid-lemon-productions/
    https://backstagebaltimore.com/tag/crusade/

  • Ellie
    FULL-LENGTH. 2 Acts.
    Cast: 2M

    ELLIE centers on two older men—brothers—who are grieving the death of one of their wives. Their mourning sparks a confrontation that lays bare their life-long love/hate relationship, and leads to shocking actions that change their lives forever. A play about crime, punishment, and how men kill the thing they love.

    History: ELLIE was developed...
    FULL-LENGTH. 2 Acts.
    Cast: 2M

    ELLIE centers on two older men—brothers—who are grieving the death of one of their wives. Their mourning sparks a confrontation that lays bare their life-long love/hate relationship, and leads to shocking actions that change their lives forever. A play about crime, punishment, and how men kill the thing they love.

    History: ELLIE was developed through private readings with two professional actors culminating in a (free) public reading held locally and directed by Howard Shangraw. It was further developed through a Zoom reading in June 2021 as part of the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, directed by Timoth David Copney.
  • The Desert of Love
    FULL-LENGTH. 2 Acts.
    Two straight men, two gay men, a young straight woman and a 12 year-old girl. During a single night in a backyard in Palm Springs, this ensemble of six characters dramatize love in its many forms. A dark comedy with equal parts humor and heartache. Run-time is 90 minutes plus intermission.

    Cast: 4M, 2F.
    The males are ages 25-45; one female is 26, one is 12 and...
    FULL-LENGTH. 2 Acts.
    Two straight men, two gay men, a young straight woman and a 12 year-old girl. During a single night in a backyard in Palm Springs, this ensemble of six characters dramatize love in its many forms. A dark comedy with equal parts humor and heartache. Run-time is 90 minutes plus intermission.

    Cast: 4M, 2F.
    The males are ages 25-45; one female is 26, one is 12 and can appear or be done voice-only.

    Developed at Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre in Southern California, this play received two fully staged readings there in late 2018 (with props, setting, and the actors mostly off book--it was amazing).

    Broadway World review:
    https://www.broadwayworld.com/palm-springs/article/THE-DESERT-OF-LOVE-Captures-The-Heart-Of-Desert-Theatregoers-20181219
  • South
    ONE-ACT. Cast: 1F, 1M
    Estimated run-time 40-45 minutes.
    BE ADVISED: VERY ADULT CONTENT & PHYSICAL VIOLENCE

    The Southern novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote "You can't go home again." And for some that's fine, it's the last thing they want to do.

    Mona thought she escaped when she ran away from her small Southern town at 15. Now nearing 30, she...
    ONE-ACT. Cast: 1F, 1M
    Estimated run-time 40-45 minutes.
    BE ADVISED: VERY ADULT CONTENT & PHYSICAL VIOLENCE

    The Southern novelist Thomas Wolfe wrote "You can't go home again." And for some that's fine, it's the last thing they want to do.

    Mona thought she escaped when she ran away from her small Southern town at 15. Now nearing 30, she is living her life as best she can in a Southern coastal city. But when her younger brother arrives with news, her past returns with a vengeance to threaten her life on many levels, and she must fight the monster that will never leave her alone.

    SOUTH can be produced alone or as a companion piece--and counterpoint--to my one-act play NORTH. Though both plays use geographical location as part of the theme, and the set is vital to the concept, they're very different in tone and subject matter.
  • North
    ONE-ACT. Cast: 4M, 2F.
    Estimated run-time 55 minutes.
    The author is grateful to Santa Fe Playhouse, where this play received a developmental staged reading in late 2018.

    Inspired by a real-life incident, North is a tragedy, a love story and, in the words of one director, “a mood poem of a piece…very haunting.” Leo, a very old man, refuses to relinquish control of his life in any...
    ONE-ACT. Cast: 4M, 2F.
    Estimated run-time 55 minutes.
    The author is grateful to Santa Fe Playhouse, where this play received a developmental staged reading in late 2018.

    Inspired by a real-life incident, North is a tragedy, a love story and, in the words of one director, “a mood poem of a piece…very haunting.” Leo, a very old man, refuses to relinquish control of his life in any way. He insists on caring for his wife Susan at home even though she is bedridden and suffering from extreme dementia. He sees the efforts of his grandson Michael to lessen his burden as a threat to his self-reliance, his manhood, and his wife’s well-being. But Leo too is suffering from the effects of extreme old age, and is losing his own grip on reality. Confronted by the past through a series of hallucinations that force him to relive the key moments of his life--good and bad--he fails to cope with the present danger of a killing cold in the dead of winter. And when he finally realizes he must accept help, it is too late to save this couple whose love has lasted for nearly 70 years.
  • War Island
    ONE-ACT. Cast: 7M.
    Run-time 30 - 35 minutes.
    The title of this play was changed because of the pandemic. Its original title "Quarantine" was accurate but it was written before the pandemic; now readers assume it's about Covid. It's not. It takes place during the Vietnam War on an island in the western Pacific.

    Based on the legend of the Black Syphilis during...
    ONE-ACT. Cast: 7M.
    Run-time 30 - 35 minutes.
    The title of this play was changed because of the pandemic. Its original title "Quarantine" was accurate but it was written before the pandemic; now readers assume it's about Covid. It's not. It takes place during the Vietnam War on an island in the western Pacific.

    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 in Virginia.
  • Waitering for Godot
    10-MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 2M, 1 any.
    A short absurdist play that answers the eternal questions: who was Godot and why did he keep Didi and Gogo waiting?

  • Mark Twain Tonight! And Nude!
    Todd is a young playwright with a wildly exaggerated sense of his own talent, and he's performing his new one-man show MARK TWAIN TONIGHT! AND NUDE! at a small venue. Kelly, an actress friend, wants Adam to move Todd's show to the Theatre Centre, where Adam is Artistic Director. But Adam is far more interested in Kelly than in Todd's show. But not to worry--Kelly has a solution!
  • A Death in the Woods
    10-MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 3M.
    This play was developed at Coachella Valley Repertory and was later produced by Chain Reaction Theatre Project in the Twin Cities. It concerns a man haunted by the childhood memory of a personal act of violence and a life-changing betrayal.
  • Endangered Species
    10-MINUTE Play. Cast: 2M, 2F.
    Four people await their fate in wherever you go when your job faces extinction in a changing economy.
  • Greater Than Nina
    10-MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 1M, 1F.
    Moscow. 1925. A young Russian actress is selected to play the role of a lifetime. Literally.

    Published in THE BEST NEW TEN-MINUTE PLAYS 2021 (Applause).
  • Have Gun, Won't Travel
    10-MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 2M, 1F.

    Published in THE BEST TEN-MINUTE PLAYS 2020 (Smith & Kraus)

    In this send-up of the classic TV Western, a young schoolteacher seeks help to save her town, and learns that sometimes we have to be our own heroes.
  • Manifesto
    It's 1848 in Brussels, and Communism is suffering a difficult birth.

    A digital production of MANIFESTO won 'Best Zoom Theatre Film' at the Manhattan Rep 2021 Stories Film Festival, as well as "Best Dark Comedy" at the Washington DC International Cinema Festival. Produced by EDC World, directed by Kae Fujisawa.

    Karl Marx has been assigned by the Communist...
    It's 1848 in Brussels, and Communism is suffering a difficult birth.

    A digital production of MANIFESTO won 'Best Zoom Theatre Film' at the Manhattan Rep 2021 Stories Film Festival, as well as "Best Dark Comedy" at the Washington DC International Cinema Festival. Produced by EDC World, directed by Kae Fujisawa.

    Karl Marx has been assigned by the Communist League to draft a manifesto for the movement. He has, as usual, missed his deadline. Friedrich Engels is trying to get him to focus when they are interrupted by Marx's unhappy mistress Marianne, with whom Engels is in love. And so the founders of Communism, future heroes of the proletariat, find themselves caught up in a typically bourgeois romantic triangle. And being the bumbling intellectuals they are they mess the whole thing up.


  • Mom
    10-MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 2F, 2M.
    A woman receives very bad news. Fortunately she has her loving family around to support her.
  • Moonless Night
    10- MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 1M, 1F.
    Two damaged people come as close to love as either of them ever will.
  • Say Goodbye to Hollywood
    10-MINUTE PLAY. Cast: 2M, 1F.
    SAY GOODBYE TO HOLLYWOOD was initially produced at the North Park Playwrights Festival in San Diego and was listed in Smith and Kraus's "Best Ten Minute Plays of 2019". In the play, a Palm Springs writer goes to interview a former "B movie" star and learns that in the land of illusion even success may not be what it seems.
  • Someone Told Me It's All Happening at the Zoo
    10-MINUTE Play. Cast: 8 (7 humans as animals, 1 human as a human.)
    In this light comedy, as they plot their escape, the animals take on the personalities ascribed to them in Paul Simon's classic song. And it turns out in the debate between freedom v. security, animals can be as conflicted as humans.
  • 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?
  • 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 Human Condition and Other Jokes: A Monologue
    Run-time 4 minutes.
    The Monologist presents variations on a theme from Pascal.