Recommended by John Patrick Bray

  • Marianas Trench (Part One of The Second World Trilogy)
    4 Apr. 2021
    Middle school was terrifying. I could empathize with Teddy entirely. In Sickles's play, there is also plenty to fear about the newly formed Confederacy, but the liberal haven of the North is not truly safe, either, for the two boys who have found friendship and love via a series of vulnerable letters. This play is a beautiful, heart-rending look at two boys trying to find love from two deceptively different worlds that would never allow it their love to happen. The visual poetry and dialogue are gorgeously woven together by the sure hands of a truly gifted playwright. Bravo, Scott!
  • Spark
    3 Apr. 2021
    A touching, resonate look at the transformations we undergo during our teenage years as we try to figure out how we fit into our world while keeping our individuality. Paige’s (a human) final discussion with Ember (the mother dragon) about her new friend Sparks (Ember’s daughter - a dragon who has transformed herself into a human) is a gorgeous and hopeful view of humanity and one I believe we all need to hear.
  • All Things Bright
    17 Aug. 2020
    All Things Bright moves back and forth in time between 2008 and 2016, demonstrating the concerns of a small, middle-class, Republican-voting family as they deal with external crises (such as the bank bailout), and internal crises (drug abuse, family members dealing to family members, deteriorating health, etc.). These crises (personal and political) exist side-by-side, allowing the reader to see how the one has a deep impact on the other; thanks to the talent and care of Jill Maynard the piece never falls into a kind of "writer editorializing" or melodrama. This is an excellent example of 21st Century Domestic Realism.
  • A-R
    9 Nov. 2019
    The bleak future presented in this play feels very present given our political climate and the overwhelming feeling that there is no end in sight. I would love to see this produced in an evening with Rachel Carnes’s “Egg and Spoon.”
  • And Know They Love You
    9 Nov. 2019
    This piece turns the old PSA on its head: children who use drugs have parents that use drugs. The set-up is familiar: parents raided their returned-to-home daughter’s room and found her works. However, how they handle the problem, to better understand what she is going through, is both hilarious and heart-breaking. I highly recommend reading this play - I would love to see it produced.
  • The Rapping
    9 Oct. 2019
    I am a huge fan of 1950s/1960s, B-movie horror: Roger Corman kind of stuff (Bucket of Blood in particular), I Was a Teenage Werewolf, etc. This play follows the teen-horror genre so nicely, and it's an absolute joy that someone has been able to write a work like this for the stage! I would love to experience it live - I highly recommend any theatre company that produces an evening of horror to add this play to their program.
  • Inevitable
    4 Oct. 2019
    I love all of the possibilities for staging with this play - where I teach, we have a Dramatic Media area of emphasis, and so much could be done with video walls, holograms, etc. But truthfully, the play would stand well without the addition of media, as evidenced by the sensational reading at the Midwest Dramatists Conference. This play is so much fun, and I very much feel like Bethany was inside my twenty-five year old head while writing it!
  • Whisper into the Ground
    4 Oct. 2019
    I love theatre that remembers to be theatrical, embracing the artifice without sacrificing emotional truth. Haller's play is gorgeous and haunting. Furthermore, Haller does not judge her characters; she allows them to find forgiveness, even when their sins weight heavy.
  • VALERIE: A COSPLAY MONOLOGUE
    4 Oct. 2019
    I was fortunate enough to see this monologue performed at the Midwest Dramatists Conference. It was absolutely haunting (expertly performed by Alice Pollack). Someone else called it a visceral experience, and they are one-hundred percent correct. Highly recommended!
  • Turtles and Bulldogs
    6 Feb. 2019
    Full disclosure: I co-edited an anthology for Applause and selected this play for inclusion. Something I love about Sickles's writing is his ability to give us a slice of life, warts and all, without imposing judgement. It would be easy to judge a bully for their deeds. Sickles doesn't. Rather, Sickles allows for growth, and presents a nuanced understanding of youth and those moments we were at our worst (and oh, those missed opportunities) from the other end of the telescope. A wonderful play for festivals and just for the joy of reading.

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