John Patrick Bray

John Patrick Bray

John Patrick Bray has written plays under grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Louisiana, and has earned commissions from theatre companies and arts agencies around the country. He has been a Semifinalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Semifinalist for the Ashland New Play Festival, and Semifinalist for the Princess Grace Foundation...
John Patrick Bray has written plays under grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Louisiana, and has earned commissions from theatre companies and arts agencies around the country. He has been a Semifinalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Semifinalist for the Ashland New Play Festival, and Semifinalist for the Princess Grace Foundation Playwriting Award; a Finalist for the Kernodle Playwright Prize; and Winner of the Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights (for Friendly’s Fire, which led to its premiere at Barter Theatre). His plays have been developed at The Actors Studio, the Last Frontier Theatre Conference, The Word at the Road Theatre, Epic Rep. at The Players’ Club in NYC, Athens Playwrights’ Workshop, The New School for Drama’s Alumni Play Project, the SF Olympians Festival at EXIT Stage Left, The Greenhouse Ensemble's Playwriting Group, and have been produced around the US (including productions with the Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Festival, FRIGID NY, and Planet Connections Theatre Festivity all in NYC), and in Canada. His plays and monologues are published with Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, Smith and Kraus, Original Works Publishing, Next Stage Press, JAC Publishing, Heartland Plays; and in The Coachella Review and Masque and Spectacle. A collection of his shorts, Cart Before the Horse, has been published by Polychoron Press. Bray is also the co-screenwriter of the BEA Award-Winning indie feature Liner Notes (based on his stage play) which was an official selection of the Woodstock Film Festival and Hoboken International Film Festival (finalist, Audience Choice Award). Bray co-edited The Best American Short Plays 2015-2016 with William Demastes and edited The Best Plays from American Theatre Festivals 2015 for Applause Theatre and Cinema Books. Bray served as a Dramatists Guild Atlanta Region Ambassador in 2019, and he is the co-founder of Athens Playwrights' Workshop. He earned an MFA in Playwriting from The Actors Studio Drama School at The New School and PhD in Theatre from Louisiana State University. He teaches in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at the University of Georgia.

Plays

  • Tracks
    It's 1998, and pill-popping siblings Jennie and Simian have a problem. Their favorite spot by the Hudson River is about to be closed off by AmTrain, which is planning a bullet train from NYC to Albany closing off access to the water for residents east of the Hudson. Lucky for them, Dapper Dan, the straight-edged kid in their group, will do anything for Jennie – inspire a letter writing campaign, get her...
    It's 1998, and pill-popping siblings Jennie and Simian have a problem. Their favorite spot by the Hudson River is about to be closed off by AmTrain, which is planning a bullet train from NYC to Albany closing off access to the water for residents east of the Hudson. Lucky for them, Dapper Dan, the straight-edged kid in their group, will do anything for Jennie – inspire a letter writing campaign, get her drugs, anything. As they plan, anthropomorphic manifestations appear around them – the Headless Horseman who must now wear an old computer monitor on his shoulders; Johnny Appleseed, who fills a candy machine near the tracks with Apple Jim Jims; the Voice of The Boy That Died; etc.; - however, these manifestations remain unseen until tragedy strikes, as the misfits attempt to disrupt an oncoming train by any means necessary. Tracks reminds us that we all become myth to those who look through the windows of a speeding passenger train as they imagine what life must be like under a Catskill moon.

  • St. John of Suburbia
    Set over the course of one evening in 1996.
    Fraternal twins Alvin and Satan Dan have been producing a monster-erotica Zine said to be the writings of a mystic that uses the alias St. John of God. Alvin has been studying religion and VCR repair at the community college and would rather remain anonymous. Satan Dan could spoil that. Or Alvin could blurt it out.
    A mix of fantasy and reality, St. John...
    Set over the course of one evening in 1996.
    Fraternal twins Alvin and Satan Dan have been producing a monster-erotica Zine said to be the writings of a mystic that uses the alias St. John of God. Alvin has been studying religion and VCR repair at the community college and would rather remain anonymous. Satan Dan could spoil that. Or Alvin could blurt it out.
    A mix of fantasy and reality, St. John of Suburbia (or, Lycanthrope Limbo) reminds us that those who choose to spend time with us, despite what we write, are more than enough in this fleeting life.
  • Friendly's Fire (or, Guy Friendly Meets the Saint of Thieves)
    Guy Friendly has a problem. He’s left his cabin in Alaska for the first time in quite some time. He picks up a tourist for casual sex, but it goes terribly wrong as she turns out to be a tooth collector, sending him into a fevered dream that blends his memories of his deceased brother and his ex-wife with life-size Man-Man (nod to He-Man) action figures manifesting all around the cabin. Luckily, his friend Todd...
    Guy Friendly has a problem. He’s left his cabin in Alaska for the first time in quite some time. He picks up a tourist for casual sex, but it goes terribly wrong as she turns out to be a tooth collector, sending him into a fevered dream that blends his memories of his deceased brother and his ex-wife with life-size Man-Man (nod to He-Man) action figures manifesting all around the cabin. Luckily, his friend Todd has just entered when Friendly decides it’s time to get in the tub and head to the North Pole to have a reckoning with Santa, the Saint of Thieves. Friendly’s Fire is the story of friendship, demonstrating the lengths of what people will go through to preserve each other’s sanity.

    "...incredibly moving in story and almost psychedelic in atmosphere. [...] All around, “Friendly’s Fire” was an adventure. I walked out of the theatre with a feeling that I couldn’t quite place. A feeling that a great change had happened but I wasn’t sure what exactly. It kept me engaged. It moved me. It left me with plenty of questions and desperate for more. And isn’t that what we all hope to get from good theatre?" - Onstage Blog

    "It's a fabulous, open-hearted ride that fans of Terry Gilliam will surely enjoy." - Theatre is Easy

    "A surrealistic fantasia depicting the picaresque travails of a disaffected Gulf War vet that’s well played, technically accomplished and perhaps profound." - TheatreScene.net

    "Expect some theatrical work the like of which you have probably never seen." - Bristol County Herald
  • Seal Island
    Three friends venture to an Island on the South Coast of Maine in order to salvage their friendship...what they find instead is a mystery of mythical proportions....
  • Ashes of the Revolution
    DeeDee and Amelia will fend off Russians and Aliens from their backyard. Someone has to do it while Mom and Dad are asleep.
  • Buckle
    Two young women break into their teacher's classroom in order to steal the "big test" out of their teacher's desk drawer. In the process of negotiating over a poem, the two learn the meaning of socioeconomic status and honesty.
  • A Johnnie Walker Blue Christmas
    Stoge enters a local liquor store only to discover Randy, someone he bullied in high school, is behind the counter about to enjoy a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue (a Christmas present from his boss). Will Randy forgive Stoge enough to let him partake? Or is he going to sell it to the lonely saxophone player outside? Decisions, decisions...but on Christmas, maybe there is a third option. #monthtoplay December
  • Goodnight Lovin' Trail
    Mr. Coffee and Cigarettes has a problem: he got to drinking earlier, and he swears he left his special guitar behind at an-but-forgotten truck stop diner near the mythic Goodnight-Loving Trail. Lee, a waitress there, has an even bigger problem she keeps secret, buried deep. The play explores raw human emotions and consequences while these two desperate characters navigate and come to terms with the choices they...
    Mr. Coffee and Cigarettes has a problem: he got to drinking earlier, and he swears he left his special guitar behind at an-but-forgotten truck stop diner near the mythic Goodnight-Loving Trail. Lee, a waitress there, has an even bigger problem she keeps secret, buried deep. The play explores raw human emotions and consequences while these two desperate characters navigate and come to terms with the choices they've made on the road of life.
  • Capstone
    Jessica and Gillian are bullied twin girls who have been cast to play the Twin Towers in their uncle’s pageant at Rome High. They decide to make a statement by disrupting the event with self-inflicted wounds. A look into the life of twins, Capstone reminds us that we all follow the beat of our own (not necessarily patriotic) drum.

    Note:
    I am an identical twin and the father of a child with...
    Jessica and Gillian are bullied twin girls who have been cast to play the Twin Towers in their uncle’s pageant at Rome High. They decide to make a statement by disrupting the event with self-inflicted wounds. A look into the life of twins, Capstone reminds us that we all follow the beat of our own (not necessarily patriotic) drum.

    Note:
    I am an identical twin and the father of a child with autism. I found out one night while having an argument with a family member that a number of my teachers and guidance counselors wanted to have me tested for autism spectrum disorder (Aspergers in particular). I was never tested. This play is for those who still don’t know.

    Further Dedication: To Tomax and Xamot and the Hasbro Toy company. To Doublemint Gum and to people who say they “study twins.”
  • Plentitude
    Molly, an ousted academic researcher and newly minted divorcee, is haunted by George Cheyne, on overweight 18th Century Christian and Newtonian Physician, who guides her in her quest to starve her body for God. Her sister Jen, also an academic-researcher and former thief, has ulterior motives for visiting Molly, which may include a heist of one of the most awaited video cassette releases of all time: Batman....
    Molly, an ousted academic researcher and newly minted divorcee, is haunted by George Cheyne, on overweight 18th Century Christian and Newtonian Physician, who guides her in her quest to starve her body for God. Her sister Jen, also an academic-researcher and former thief, has ulterior motives for visiting Molly, which may include a heist of one of the most awaited video cassette releases of all time: Batman. Set in November 1989 (just before the Fall of The Berlin Wall), Plentitude reminds us that personal need often overrule our politics, and familial bonds are only as strong as the last time we burgled together.
  • Green Sound
    What if you went to a coffee shop every day hoping to see someone? Not just someone, but someone you could actually talk to? What if that person stopped going to the coffee shop, and the light over their table just didn’t look…right? This is what happens to Taylor, when he shows up at Molly’s apartment holding a light fixture, wishing to declare his affection...if he only had the words. As a parent of an...
    What if you went to a coffee shop every day hoping to see someone? Not just someone, but someone you could actually talk to? What if that person stopped going to the coffee shop, and the light over their table just didn’t look…right? This is what happens to Taylor, when he shows up at Molly’s apartment holding a light fixture, wishing to declare his affection...if he only had the words. As a parent of an autistic child, this is written with admiration for folks who struggle to communicate, but manage to find ways to be ‘heard.’
  • Fix
    Two recovering addicts try to fix the world’s problems (and each other) after their old pusher shows up at a New Year’s Party.
  • Baby Einstein on the Beach
    Hamlet buries the past. Hamlet digs up the past.
  • Liner Notes
    Alice, the daughter of a deceased rock-and-roll legend, makes a surprise visit to see George, her father's first guitarist and the one man noticeably absent from his funeral. He is also the one man who might make sense out of her father’s larger-than-life past, and his suicide. George, a retired college teacher in the middle of a divorce, left the spotlight many years ago, and will take some convincing to...
    Alice, the daughter of a deceased rock-and-roll legend, makes a surprise visit to see George, her father's first guitarist and the one man noticeably absent from his funeral. He is also the one man who might make sense out of her father’s larger-than-life past, and his suicide. George, a retired college teacher in the middle of a divorce, left the spotlight many years ago, and will take some convincing to join Alice on a journey to visit her father’s grave. With warmth, wit, and compassion, Liner Notes reminds us that the past is only as amazing as the one who writes it down.
  • Dead Movement
    Welcome to the Rosendale Hotel where guests can stay a night, a week, a month, or a lifetime. Enter Patrick, a stranger who meets local characters and inhabitants such as Joe Joe, a mechanic and tow-truck operator with dreams of being a car salesman; and Rachel, the concierge whose only pleasures in life come from watching the various residents torture themselves as if she were watching a reality show. One...
    Welcome to the Rosendale Hotel where guests can stay a night, a week, a month, or a lifetime. Enter Patrick, a stranger who meets local characters and inhabitants such as Joe Joe, a mechanic and tow-truck operator with dreams of being a car salesman; and Rachel, the concierge whose only pleasures in life come from watching the various residents torture themselves as if she were watching a reality show. One night, Joe Joe witnesses Patrick and Rachel dancing close, causing him to feel so jealous that he throws Patrick out a third story window. He then steals Patrick’s suitcase, which is full of loose cash and rawhide “bones” (for dog’s teeth). Patrick’s body disappears, and a wolf starts circling the hotel. Dead Movement is the story of people who want to disappear, and others who want to be seen; both are desperate impulses which, when followed, lead to funny, complicated, uncanny results.



  • Donkey
    Small town politics served hot! When a corporate coffee shop looks to move into the center of liberal arts college town, will the people band together for the sake of independence? Or will they collapse as each resident struggles to find their own way in a shifting economic landscape?

    “Donkey captures the current American moment about as well as any play I’ve come across in the past few years....
    Small town politics served hot! When a corporate coffee shop looks to move into the center of liberal arts college town, will the people band together for the sake of independence? Or will they collapse as each resident struggles to find their own way in a shifting economic landscape?

    “Donkey captures the current American moment about as well as any play I’ve come across in the past few years. It’s loaded with riveting characters, genuine wisdom about the human condition, unbridled humor, and, when we least expect it, moments of authentic love and understanding that take the breath away. I urge you to experience this extraordinary new play […]. It’s a work that lingers, that breeds discussion, that yields true insight. It’s very funny and awesomely sad…and exquisitely beautiful.” – Martin Denton, Indie Theatre Now
    Available for licensing with Next Stage Press (www.nextstagepress.net)
  • Christmas in the Airwaves
    It’s 1944 and while the boys are off at war, families are curled up by their radio sets to catch an extra special Christmas radio broadcast with WLAG’s New York radio star, Max Tyrone. The cast and producers of the local weekly live radio show, including the lovely Welsh Sisters, are all abuzz as they prepare to present Christmas in the Airwaves. Max is home for the holidays to sell the family farm, before...
    It’s 1944 and while the boys are off at war, families are curled up by their radio sets to catch an extra special Christmas radio broadcast with WLAG’s New York radio star, Max Tyrone. The cast and producers of the local weekly live radio show, including the lovely Welsh Sisters, are all abuzz as they prepare to present Christmas in the Airwaves. Max is home for the holidays to sell the family farm, before heading back to the Big Apple. When news breaks of a major air strike, attention is turned to Europe as Gloria Welsh worries about her fiancé, serving as a pilot overseas. It’s a hometown tale of love, loss, and the things we hold most dear.

    A heartwarming and nostalgic slice of war-time American life, Christmas in the Airwaves is a radio show filled with charming vignettes including The Shade, The Flying Amazement, and Jack Kaster, Private Eye, while telling the story of the people behind the microphone. This world premiere piece written for Lyric Arts by John Patrick Bray is brimming with old time holiday memories and beloved Christmas standards. It’s sure to rekindle feelings of hope and optimism during the holiday season with a look back at a bygone era.
  • Hound
    A surrealist take on The Hound of the Baskervilles, where grieving widower Watson heads out to Dartmoor in the hopes that a Hound of Hell can lead him to his deceased wife.
    “Bray has thrown in some fanciful elements as well—such as dogs that talk whom only Watson can hear—to create not so much a radical reinvention of the famous pair, but rather a thoughtful and well-crafted re- examination that uses,...
    A surrealist take on The Hound of the Baskervilles, where grieving widower Watson heads out to Dartmoor in the hopes that a Hound of Hell can lead him to his deceased wife.
    “Bray has thrown in some fanciful elements as well—such as dogs that talk whom only Watson can hear—to create not so much a radical reinvention of the famous pair, but rather a thoughtful and well-crafted re- examination that uses, but isn't constrained by, preconceived ideas of what a Sherlock Holmes mystery or a period murder mystery is supposed to be.”
    “...great theatrical fun.” - Fred Backus, nytheatre.com

    “Bray’s clever script follows the storyline of Baskerville surprisingly faithfully, yet leads to very different outcomes for its cast of characters at each turn. His philosophical themes are quite intriguing, successfully adding another layer to the familiar Hell Hound tale." - JB Spins

    “I was reminded of an almost Tim Burton-esque world of Sherlock Holmes. It was indeed a treat.” - Dianna Martin, The Fab Marquee

    “The theatrical elements of Bray's play - monologues by secondary characters explaining their backstory, talking dogs that Watson can understand, use of flashback - all combine to create a world that to Watson's eye is completely off-kilter (...) The result is decidedly theatrical and unrealistic, but certainly entertaining.” – Byrne Harrison, stagebuzz.com.

    Industry Quotes for Hound
    "Like the great detective himself, John Bray boldly peers into the darkest corners of the classic Sherlock Holmes story, Hound of the Baskervilles - and comes back with monsters we never knew were lurking on the moor. Not a literal adaptation, Bray's Hound is a playful, eerie and disturbing riff on the shadows gathering in Conan Doyle's soon-to-vanish Edwardian world." - Neal Bell (Obie and Edgar-Award Winning Playwright, Two Small Bodies, Monster)

    "[Hound is] absolutely beguiling. It is clever, funny, moving in unexpected ways, and has a wonderful sense of mischief that (thankfully) never leaves the characters or dramatic situation high and dry, in that self- congratulatory post-modern way. Doyle would bless the project, I'm sure." - George Toles (screenwriter, The Saddest Music in the World).
  • History of S
    A story about a girl and her dragon.
    Originally slated for a performance with the San Francisco Olympians Festival at Exit Stage Left, however, the festival was indefinitely postponed due to COVID.
    The song in this play, Catskill Moon, also appears in my play Tracks (music by Jake and Lexie Hunsbusher).
  • Paper Crowns: An Epiphany
    Mikk and Jessica, friends who live as practical shut-ins, are visited by their neighbor One-Eyed Bill who hopes Jessica will teach him to dance so he can win the affections of a recently relocated academic. In exchange, he’ll help her make her phone bill go away, which has been increasing in fines during her time in jail. Meanwhile, someone has been laying dried conifer against Mikk’s house as a warning: is...
    Mikk and Jessica, friends who live as practical shut-ins, are visited by their neighbor One-Eyed Bill who hopes Jessica will teach him to dance so he can win the affections of a recently relocated academic. In exchange, he’ll help her make her phone bill go away, which has been increasing in fines during her time in jail. Meanwhile, someone has been laying dried conifer against Mikk’s house as a warning: is someone going to try to burn him out for past sins? Paper Crowns: An Epiphany reminds us, regardless of what we have done, we are all are worthy of love and redemption, as we ourselves become kings of what we survive.
  • Green Sound - Zoom/Factime/Online version
    An adaptation of Green Sound for online platforms (Zoom, Facetime, etc.). Two strangers connect online. Despite each having their own struggle with communication, they root for one another, hoping together they can make a green sound.
  • Elvis at Pemberley
    Brian James grew his sideburns long to look more like his hero Mr. Darcy. Too bad everyone thinks he's trying to look like Elvis! After embarrassing himself at the high school bonfire, he retreats to his backyard to try to erase the memory. Erin shows up to find out why in the world he'd declare his love for her in front of everybody like that. And yes, she is wearing his jeans. Elvis at Pemberley is...
    Brian James grew his sideburns long to look more like his hero Mr. Darcy. Too bad everyone thinks he's trying to look like Elvis! After embarrassing himself at the high school bonfire, he retreats to his backyard to try to erase the memory. Erin shows up to find out why in the world he'd declare his love for her in front of everybody like that. And yes, she is wearing his jeans. Elvis at Pemberley is about high school confusions - what does it mean to love someone if you're not ready?

  • God's Madmen
    What if there was a Dracula story in which Dracula…never showed up? What if fear and paranoia drove the residents of Seward’s asylum to perform unspeakable acts – bloodletting; sexual infidelity; gender-confusion; blood infusions with no notion of how different types can create a poison within a person's veins; without ever actually seeing the Prince of Darkness? Using Bram Stoker’s novel as a starting...
    What if there was a Dracula story in which Dracula…never showed up? What if fear and paranoia drove the residents of Seward’s asylum to perform unspeakable acts – bloodletting; sexual infidelity; gender-confusion; blood infusions with no notion of how different types can create a poison within a person's veins; without ever actually seeing the Prince of Darkness? Using Bram Stoker’s novel as a starting point, God’s Madmen examines the ways in which each act of communication contains beginnings and the hope of a happy ending – and the seeds of its ruin.
  • Beacon Beacon
    Judith shows Roscoe a lighthouse. She wants him to buy it. But then she doesn't. It could be haunted. Or they could be haunting it. She has strong arms and is able to row. Beacon Beacon is a meditation on grief.
  • Erik: A Play About a Puppet
    "Those that create you...are your God." ERIK: A PLAY ABOUT A PUPPET is a darkly poetic retelling of Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera as seen through the iron bars of a cage in a carnival freak-show, where our perceived truths about beauty and ugliness are stretched in a funhouse mirror. With puppets more twisted than a melodrama mustache (and twice as greasy), ERIK points and laughs at the real freak show: us.
  • On Top
    Is it really cheating if you’re on top? A couple re-examines the rules of their relationship after accusations of infidelity.
  • Hotel Blanco
    Jim and Carol get away to a small hotel room. It's the only thing they can afford. Maybe they can dream bigger. Maybe it hurt to dream.
    Inspired by the Edward Hopper painting, "Hotel by a Railroad."
  • Sad Slide
    [IN DEVELOPMENT - OPEN TO COMMENTS IF YOU'D LIKE TO EMAIL ME - JOHNPATRICKBRAY@GMAIL.COM]
    “What happens tomorrow?”
    “I don’t know, but today I’m…”

    Three teens in an abandoned playground talk love, politics, and sex while waiting for their old dealer, who has been absent from their lives. The dealer shows, but to everyone’s surprise - she’s clean!

    This is a story...
    [IN DEVELOPMENT - OPEN TO COMMENTS IF YOU'D LIKE TO EMAIL ME - JOHNPATRICKBRAY@GMAIL.COM]
    “What happens tomorrow?”
    “I don’t know, but today I’m…”

    Three teens in an abandoned playground talk love, politics, and sex while waiting for their old dealer, who has been absent from their lives. The dealer shows, but to everyone’s surprise - she’s clean!

    This is a story about having plans for right now, regardless of what may happen tomorrow.

  • A Horse Called Home
    Two young people in the old west (or are they?) grapple with illness and the realities of broken homes while negotiating over a hobby horse.
  • Jukebox Bagels
    28 Plays later.
    Dario, an adjunct instructor of public speaking, is a new baker at Jukebox Bagels, a small mom-and-pop shop in upstate, New York. He works with Windy, a hippie at the counter, and Edua, a baker/manager who needs his medication. Their faith in each other is tested as Windy’s relationship with both men becomes known to the owner. A slice-of-life play about three broken people who are...
    28 Plays later.
    Dario, an adjunct instructor of public speaking, is a new baker at Jukebox Bagels, a small mom-and-pop shop in upstate, New York. He works with Windy, a hippie at the counter, and Edua, a baker/manager who needs his medication. Their faith in each other is tested as Windy’s relationship with both men becomes known to the owner. A slice-of-life play about three broken people who are desperate to learn how to communicate their desires.
  • #ReleaseTheSchumacherCut
    Blueberry takes a journey deep inside a ComicCon to find the elusive Batman Forever Schumacher Cut. But he must deal with trolls, toxic fans, and various incarnations of Batman in order to fulfill his quest. Along the way he realizes he can love the things he loves without apology! This play is a love letter to other fans of Batman Forever. I know you're out there. #28PlaysLater
  • The Demon Lady
    Written for Day 9 of the 28 Plays in 28 Days, this ten-minute play (a work in progress) borrows from the Noh Drama in which two travelers stop at an old woman's home for rest, only to discover that she is a Demon who has been devouring men.
  • Rolling My Own
    Two friends debate what they should do with their mummified friend while sitting around the camp fire. One more hurrah until he is gone forever...or purchased by a local hiker.
  • Gene My Hack, Man
    When the Ghostbusters are busy, who you gonna call? A five-minute pastiche dedicated to those who had Pac-Man Fever.