Carol Lashof

Carol Lashof

Carol S. Lashof is a playwright, educator, and theater producer. Her work has been broadcast on BET (“Gap,” dir. Ryan Coogler) and NPR (“The Story,” dir. Martin Esslin) and staged on five continents from The Magic Theatre of San Francisco to Peking University in Beijing. Lashof’s most recent full-length plays are The Melting Pot (Everyday Inferno Theatre, NYC, 2018); Witch Hunt (Those Women Productions,...
Carol S. Lashof is a playwright, educator, and theater producer. Her work has been broadcast on BET (“Gap,” dir. Ryan Coogler) and NPR (“The Story,” dir. Martin Esslin) and staged on five continents from The Magic Theatre of San Francisco to Peking University in Beijing. Lashof’s most recent full-length plays are The Melting Pot (Everyday Inferno Theatre, NYC, 2018); Witch Hunt (Those Women Productions, Berkeley, 2019); and Doing School. Her work has been performed in numerous festivals of short plays and has been widely anthologized in collections from Applause Books, Smith & Kraus, and Theatre Communications Group, among others. Lashof’s Medusa’s Tale, originally published in Plays in One Act (Ecco Press), is now available for licensing from YouthPLAYS; other titles available from YouthPLAYS include The Minotaur, Options, and Persephone Underground. Lashof holds a PhD from Stanford University and is Professor Emerita at Saint Mary’s College of California where she taught for twenty-five years in the Department of English & Drama and helped to establish the Creative Writing MFA Program. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Honor Roll!, the International Centre of Women Playwrights, and the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco. On International Women’s Day, 2014, Lashof cofounded Those Women Productions in Berkeley, California, with a mission to explore hidden truths of gender and power; she serves as its Executive Director.

Plays

  • DOING SCHOOL
    Gladly would they learn and gladly teach, if only they were not so damned busy doing school.

    Spring 2019 at a high school near you: the students are stressed and chugging Dayquil. Or they’ve withdrawn in the face of stereotypes and prejudices. The teachers? Pretty much the same. DOING SCHOOL (formerly titled GAP) tells the stories of three high school juniors and their teachers, affected in...
    Gladly would they learn and gladly teach, if only they were not so damned busy doing school.

    Spring 2019 at a high school near you: the students are stressed and chugging Dayquil. Or they’ve withdrawn in the face of stereotypes and prejudices. The teachers? Pretty much the same. DOING SCHOOL (formerly titled GAP) tells the stories of three high school juniors and their teachers, affected in different ways by their class, race, and gender. They are going through the motions at a diverse public high school in a progressive American city, a microcosm of the speeded-up world beyond the school bounds. Interrupted by bells and buffeted by competing demands on their time, they strive to live up to – or sometimes down to – the expectations of others. As they navigate an uneven playing field, they risk losing themselves. What will save them? Better “Time Management”! … Or maybe not. Maybe there’s another way to close the gap between who they wish they were and who they have time to be. Maybe there's a way to rescue each other?

    Set one year before the COVID pandemic, DOING SCHOOL reveals the fissures which will gape even wider when education moves online and scarce resources become even scarcer.

    A scene and two monologues from this play (under the title GAP) are published in the Applause Books anthologies DUO and ONE ON ONE. The published scene served as the screenplay for a short film, also called GAP, directed by Ryan Coogler; the film won the Jack Nicholson Award at USC and was a finalist in BET's Lens on Talent competition.

    Two additional monologues will be published in anthologies forthcoming from Applause Books and Smith & Kraus in 2020-2021.
  • WITCH HUNT
    "Telling stories to children -- is that witchcraft?"

    February 1692. Salem Village, Massachusetts. Tituba, her husband John, and their infant daughter live uneasily as enslaved Indians in the Puritan household of the Reverend Samuel Parris. It’s the coldest New England winter in memory, the minister’s salary has not been paid, and firewood is in short supply. To comfort herself and nine-...
    "Telling stories to children -- is that witchcraft?"

    February 1692. Salem Village, Massachusetts. Tituba, her husband John, and their infant daughter live uneasily as enslaved Indians in the Puritan household of the Reverend Samuel Parris. It’s the coldest New England winter in memory, the minister’s salary has not been paid, and firewood is in short supply. To comfort herself and nine-year old Betty Parris, Tituba tells stories from her childhood, magical stories to offer an escape from the present. But Betty’s mother, Elizabeth, forbids the telling of these “ridiculous heathen stories,” and so Tituba tells Betty something true: how, as a child, she was kidnapped from her South American home by English merchants and sold into slavery on Barbados. Soon thereafter, John overhears Elizabeth urging Samuel to sell Tituba – they desperately need cash to get through the winter, and the Indian woman, she argues, is an unchristian influence on the children. Fearful that she will be torn away from him and their child, John begs Tituba to keep her distance from Betty.

    In the meantime, fighting between colonists and Indians in nearby Maine is worsening; reports of Christians massacred by “savages” are spread from neighbor to neighbor. Already there are refugees from earlier Indian wars living in Salem Village, including Betty’s eleven-year-old cousin Abigail, who suffers from night terrors and a racking cough. Now, Betty begins to show the same symptoms. Deprived of Tituba’s comforting stories, she seeks refuge in her imagination. When neighbor Mary Sibley visits to share chores and gossip, she observes Betty behaving strangely and muttering gibberish. Surely, Betty is possessed, Abigail too. At Mistress Sibley’s urging, the Reverend and Mistress Parris consult a respected doctor, who confirms their worst fears: the girls’ illness is “the work of the Evil Hand.” And where the devil is at work, so must be the devil’s servants.

    On March 1, Tituba and two other women of Salem Village are arrested under suspicion of witchcraft. The first to be examined is Sarah Good, a beggar woman who is widely disliked. She denies that she is in league with the devil, but she accuses Goodwife Osborne, a widow whose remarriage to a handsome younger man has aroused suspicion in the village. In response to the judges’ leading questions, Goody Osborne says, yes, she’s seen the devil. He is like an Indian, she reports, looking directly at John, “all black like an Indian.” Next Tituba is examined. At first, she denies any knowledge of the devil, but when confronted with a report of Osborne’s claims, Tituba chooses to “confess.” The devil looks like “a fine man from Boston.” She signed her mark in his book, she says. What’s more, she claims to have seen the marks of at least nine other witches in the devil’s book. Some of the witches live in Boston, “and some, they live right now right here in this village.”
    Tituba’s false testimony sets the members of the Puritan community against one another. The accusations multiply, the jail cells fill, and the condemned are sent to the gallows. Ultimately, before the fury burns itself out, twenty women and men are executed for witchcraft, and several more die in jail. Looking back, Tituba questions her conscience: “Are all these deaths to be laid to my account?” At the height of the panic, 150 people were packed into the jail with her. Now, in the spring of 1693, only she remains, because no one has yet paid her jail fees. “Telling stories to children – is that witchcraft?” she wonders. And what if it’s true? What if she is a witch as everyone supposes? “Then,” she realizes, “I can conjure whatever ending I want to this story.”
  • THE MELTING POT
    THE MELTING POT
    (Variations on a theme by Israel Zangwill)
    A remix for the stage

    The Melting Pot tells an American love story: boy meets girl, and Nation meets Metaphor.

    A century ago, the United States was embroiled in a bitter dispute over immigration. Nativists warned that a flood of new immigrants—Russian, Italian, and most dangerous of all, Jewish—posed an...
    THE MELTING POT
    (Variations on a theme by Israel Zangwill)
    A remix for the stage

    The Melting Pot tells an American love story: boy meets girl, and Nation meets Metaphor.

    A century ago, the United States was embroiled in a bitter dispute over immigration. Nativists warned that a flood of new immigrants—Russian, Italian, and most dangerous of all, Jewish—posed an existential threat to American identity, while liberals fought to maintain the ideal of America as a haven for all races and cultures. Into the fray leapt “The Melting Pot,” a play by Israel Zangwill. It celebrated the metaphor of its title, and both the play—a wildly popular melodrama—and the metaphor were seized upon as powerful weapons by those fighting to defend open borders. The current play distills the immigrant love story at the heart of the original melodrama and interweaves it with the story of Zangwill’s play itself and its role in America’s early twentieth-century culture wars.

    The Melting Pot is designed to be performed by a diverse ensemble of 8 actors (4 male, 4 female). Set requirements are minimal. Running time is 75-85 minutes.

    Links to reviews of 2018 production at Everyday Inferno Theatre, NYC:

    http://www.theaterpizzazz.com/the-melting-pot/ 
    https://www.onstageblog.com/reviews/2018/3/20/review-the-melting-pot-at-the-access-theatre 

  • DISCLOSURE
    DISCLOSURE probes the boundaries between memory and truth, pleasure and transgression, love and the abuse of power. Where do you draw the line? Who decides? By making absolute distinctions between right and wrong, Maya believes she can close the wounds from a childhood trauma. But every step she takes in pursuit of closure leads her deeper into conflict with her mother and her son, the two people she loves the...
    DISCLOSURE probes the boundaries between memory and truth, pleasure and transgression, love and the abuse of power. Where do you draw the line? Who decides? By making absolute distinctions between right and wrong, Maya believes she can close the wounds from a childhood trauma. But every step she takes in pursuit of closure leads her deeper into conflict with her mother and her son, the two people she loves the most. (3W, 1M. Set in the present in a college town. 80 minutes.)
  • JUST DESERTS
    Since the beginning of time, the three Furies have dedicated their immortal lives to the ancient honorable principle of a slit throat for a slit throat. But when a young man walks into hell seeking help to avenge his father’s death—by killing his mother—they draw the line. And when he ignores their warnings against matricide and then begs for mercy, the order of the universe hangs in the balance.
    ...
    Since the beginning of time, the three Furies have dedicated their immortal lives to the ancient honorable principle of a slit throat for a slit throat. But when a young man walks into hell seeking help to avenge his father’s death—by killing his mother—they draw the line. And when he ignores their warnings against matricide and then begs for mercy, the order of the universe hangs in the balance.

    A dark comedy about the origins of the Western (in)justice system. Is trial by jury an improvement over trial by fury?
  • Medusa's Tale
    Countless would-be-heroes have tried to slay Medusa, the famous monster with snakes for hair, but every one has turned to stone, simply by meeting her gaze. The young Perseus is different, though. The Goddess Athena has given him a sword and shield and told him to beware of Medusa's tricks. But Perseus finds himself suddenly unprepared when Medusa's weapon of choice is a bedtime story—the story of her...
    Countless would-be-heroes have tried to slay Medusa, the famous monster with snakes for hair, but every one has turned to stone, simply by meeting her gaze. The young Perseus is different, though. The Goddess Athena has given him a sword and shield and told him to beware of Medusa's tricks. But Perseus finds himself suddenly unprepared when Medusa's weapon of choice is a bedtime story—the story of her life.

    This play has been produced around the world at universities, high schools, professional, and community theaters from Fairbanks, Alaska to Beijing, China. Originally published in the widely-read anthology PLAYS IN ONE ACT, it is now newly available in an acting edition from YouthPLAYS.
  • NORA'S DAUGHTER
    It’s the late 1970s. Emmy Helmer is a teenager, living in Berkeley, California with her father and her two brothers. Her mother left the family when Emmy was three. Now Emmy has been assigned to read A Doll’s House in her high school English class and she comes to a realization: she is Nora’s daughter, Ibsen’s Nora, left behind in the middle of a life, trying to figure out what to do, how to live, how to become...
    It’s the late 1970s. Emmy Helmer is a teenager, living in Berkeley, California with her father and her two brothers. Her mother left the family when Emmy was three. Now Emmy has been assigned to read A Doll’s House in her high school English class and she comes to a realization: she is Nora’s daughter, Ibsen’s Nora, left behind in the middle of a life, trying to figure out what to do, how to live, how to become a full human being. Flash forward to the 1990s: Emmy is an aspiring theater director. In spite of her Yale Drama School degree, her career is stalled. She and her husband are expecting their second child. He’s supporting the family and is always at the hospital. She’s always facing a child-care crisis. And then the big job offer comes to direct a mainstage production at The Rep. It’s A Doll’s House.
  • FRAULEIN DORA
    In the fall of 1900, Freud, then fourty-four, a virtually unknown, only moderately successful medical practitioner, analyzed a young woman of eighteen. The girl's father had brought her in, alarmed by the discovery of a letter in which his daughter threated suicide. Morevover, the young woman suffered from chronic asthman and laryngitis; she took no interest in domestic affairs and buried herself in her...
    In the fall of 1900, Freud, then fourty-four, a virtually unknown, only moderately successful medical practitioner, analyzed a young woman of eighteen. The girl's father had brought her in, alarmed by the discovery of a letter in which his daughter threated suicide. Morevover, the young woman suffered from chronic asthman and laryngitis; she took no interest in domestic affairs and buried herself in her studies; she fought with her mother and accused her father of having an affair. The father hoped that Freud would bring his daughter "to reason." In his account of her treatment, "Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria," Freud called his patient "Dora." The play "Fraulein Dora" shifts the perspective to Dora: a bright, curious, intellectually ambitious girl first coming into sexual awareness in an unreflectively patriarchal culture.

    "Fraulein Dora" shines a light on the origins of modern views of female sexuality and on the theoretical foundations that sill underlie our culture's response ("hysterical") when girls and women speak out.

  • Persephone Underground
    What would you do if your daughter ran away with the boyfriend from hell? Literally. If you are Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, you have the power to hold the whole earth hostage. One afternoon, Demeter’s daughter Persephone is gathering flowers in a field with her mortal friends when she hears an otherworldly melody emanating from a cave. That evening, returning alone to seek the source of the music,...
    What would you do if your daughter ran away with the boyfriend from hell? Literally. If you are Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, you have the power to hold the whole earth hostage. One afternoon, Demeter’s daughter Persephone is gathering flowers in a field with her mortal friends when she hears an otherworldly melody emanating from a cave. That evening, returning alone to seek the source of the music, she meets a mysterious young demigod who proves to be the nameless son of Hades, the lord of the dead. Drawn to his tales of a world of endless adventures, she follows him. Meanwhile, Demeter hears rumors that her beloved daughter has been abducted by Hades. She comes in search of her and demands that she return home, now or never. But when Persephone refuses, Demeter likewise refuses to keep the seasons turning, threatening to destroy the mortal world with drought and famine...

    "Carol Lashof's adaptation of the Persephone myth is a lovely rendition of this story. This version nicely combines small-cast scenes and large-ensemble events that make it a great project for young people, both to play and to see." - Jack Young, Head, Graduate Acting and Directing, University of Houston
  • The Minotaur
    Princess Ariadne is heir to the throne of Crete and sister to The Minotaur. She promises her brother that she will not let anyone hurt him. But now, beneath the palace, an elaborate maze is under construction. It will serve as the prison for the fourteen youths and maidens sent every nine years from Athens to Crete as a sacrifice. It is said that in the center of the maze, a terrible monster awaits, half-man,...
    Princess Ariadne is heir to the throne of Crete and sister to The Minotaur. She promises her brother that she will not let anyone hurt him. But now, beneath the palace, an elaborate maze is under construction. It will serve as the prison for the fourteen youths and maidens sent every nine years from Athens to Crete as a sacrifice. It is said that in the center of the maze, a terrible monster awaits, half-man, half-bull, and thirsty for human blood. Hearing these rumors, The Minotaur wants to run away—and he wants Ariadne to come with him. She counsels patience, and then it is too late. The ship from Athens has arrived; on board is the hero Theseus who hopes to slay The Minotaur and free his country from bondage. If Ariadne is to save her brother, she must devise a way to lead him and his would-be slayer out of the maze, and she must convince Theseus that the creature he has come to kill is only a young man like him and not a monster who feasts on human flesh.

    "The Minotaur offers young people the chance to explore Greek mythology in an immediate and visceral way. I also recommend it as a dynamic and flexible theater piece with good casting options for large groups and the opportunity to incorporate movement, music and ensemble staging throughout the rehearsal process." - Kate Mendeloff, University of Michigan
  • #yesmeansyes
    Consent is sexy.
  • After the Prologue
    Alison, the five-times widowed gap-toothed pilgrim from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, is thrilled to speak to an audience after 626 years, because she has a story she wants you to hear, the cautionary tale of an errant Knight Errant in King Arthur’s court, who commits a rape. His punishment: answer the question “What do women want?” or face execution.
  • And Tomorrow And Tomorrow ...
    Macbeth’s story has ended in anguish, betrayal, and death, as it always does … or has, so far. Three supernatural beings offer him a chance to try again.
  • The Brisket
    It’s December 24, 2016 – the only time in a generation that Christmas Eve and Hanukkah fall on the same date. In honor of the occasion, Ruth and Adrienne have traveled from distant cities to their sister Lee Anne’s apartment in San Francisco. Now the brisket is in the oven and its enticing aroma induces waves of nostalgia. Ruth and Adrienne anticipate a delicious Hanukkah celebration with extended family, but...
    It’s December 24, 2016 – the only time in a generation that Christmas Eve and Hanukkah fall on the same date. In honor of the occasion, Ruth and Adrienne have traveled from distant cities to their sister Lee Anne’s apartment in San Francisco. Now the brisket is in the oven and its enticing aroma induces waves of nostalgia. Ruth and Adrienne anticipate a delicious Hanukkah celebration with extended family, but Lee Anne has conflicting loyalties. Every year for seventeen years she has made brisket for the annual holiday gathering of all of her best friends in the local queer community – many of them estranged from their families. To complicate matters, there’s a surprise and possibly unwelcome holiday gift yipping in a pet carrier in the bedroom. Can an utterly charming King Charles spaniel mend the rift between the women, or will the puppy suffer collateral damage in the battle of the brisket?


  • By Any Other Name
    When her wife comes out to her as transgender, Jeanette finds the ground shifting beneath her feet. Is her marriage partner still the person she loves?
  • A Certain Slant of Light
    Three sisters, all in their twenties, return home after the sudden death of their father, an influential university professor. Each reacts differently to her father's death and hopes for something different from her reunion with her sisters. Sorting through boxes of their father’s papers and eating still-fresh bread, which he baked before he died, they discover a packet of love letters between their...
    Three sisters, all in their twenties, return home after the sudden death of their father, an influential university professor. Each reacts differently to her father's death and hopes for something different from her reunion with her sisters. Sorting through boxes of their father’s papers and eating still-fresh bread, which he baked before he died, they discover a packet of love letters between their father and a female student. This discovery ignites their grief and anger and prompts an intense reexamination of their shared—and unshared—past.
  • Clay
    Aaron blames homework for ruining his life but still he plugs away, ever hopeful that today will be the day he gets all his assignments done on time, makes his parents happy, and maybe even finds a girlfriend. Zeta cheats. A little. Loaded up with AP and Honors classes, she reasons that no sensible person would write every English paper from scratch or neglect to bring a cheat sheet to a French exam. The only...
    Aaron blames homework for ruining his life but still he plugs away, ever hopeful that today will be the day he gets all his assignments done on time, makes his parents happy, and maybe even finds a girlfriend. Zeta cheats. A little. Loaded up with AP and Honors classes, she reasons that no sensible person would write every English paper from scratch or neglect to bring a cheat sheet to a French exam. The only class she enjoys is art—how could anyone not love the smell of clay? Will, on the other hand, could breeze through school if he chose to. And he always goes to class when there’s a good reason. But usually there’s not, so he’s flunking out. Ordinarily, these three students would never talk to each other, but when a group project for French class brings them together, they're forced to confront their stereotypes and their anxieties—and even more troubling, their wishes and dreams.
  • Come Live with Me
    The marriage of true minds may admit no impediments, but when it comes to moving in together, a low credit score poses a major obstacle.
  • Craving
    Jane is a story-junkie, addicted to the rush of high-stakes dramatic conflict. Today, she's trying to kick her habit. Will you help her?
  • Daughters of Ocean
    The setting is just outside a city by the coast. The time is soon. Three sea nymphs (Hesione, Rhodos, and Admeta) emerge from the ocean and are greeted by Lyris, also a sea nymph, who has been living among the humans. All four are members of the Daughters of Ocean, a radical environmental party. Lyris bears the news that Prometheus, husband of Hesione, is imprisoned in the National TV Studio; robotic eagles are...
    The setting is just outside a city by the coast. The time is soon. Three sea nymphs (Hesione, Rhodos, and Admeta) emerge from the ocean and are greeted by Lyris, also a sea nymph, who has been living among the humans. All four are members of the Daughters of Ocean, a radical environmental party. Lyris bears the news that Prometheus, husband of Hesione, is imprisoned in the National TV Studio; robotic eagles are pecking out his liver, and his torture is to be broadcast to every screen on every device throughout the country. Horrified, Hesione plans a rescue. But Rhodos protests. Humans are despoiling the earth and the sea. If their rule is not overthrown, all are doomed. Wouldn’t The Resistance be better served by the martyrdom of Prometheus than by his escape? The Daughters must decide what sacrifices are worth making for their cause.
  • Free Range
    Advocates of "free-range parenting" hail an embattled mother as a hero. Or not.
  • Gail & Peter
    Gail is a rising star in the art world. Then a miracle occurs. Her statue of a handsome young tennis player, destined to adorn the atrium of an upscale health club, comes miraculously to life. It’s love at first kiss for Gail and Peter—but there’s a big problem. Gail owes a statue to the Pool and Tennis Club. If she fails to deliver, she can’t pay her bills. And her career as an artist is finished. What...
    Gail is a rising star in the art world. Then a miracle occurs. Her statue of a handsome young tennis player, destined to adorn the atrium of an upscale health club, comes miraculously to life. It’s love at first kiss for Gail and Peter—but there’s a big problem. Gail owes a statue to the Pool and Tennis Club. If she fails to deliver, she can’t pay her bills. And her career as an artist is finished. What will she do when the art movers come calling?
  • Having It All, a bedtime story
    JJ wants to have adventures. She wants to slay dragons and read books and become President of the United States. AND she wants to have babies. A fantasy romp through JJ's future reveals how and whether she can Have It All.
  • The Story
    In the beginning there was Eve who gave birth to Adam. Like all children, Adam is curious about how he came to be born, and like any good mother, Eve tells him a story. But Adam remembers things differently. As he grows older, he constructs a new version of events - involving a snake, an apple, and paradise lost. (This is a newly revised version of a script originally performed at The Magic Theatre in 1981.)
  • When Briseis Met Chryseis, Or: Love in a Time of Human Trafficking
    When Briseis meets Chryseis, it’s the tenth year of the Trojan War and both women are “war prizes” held captive by the besieging Greek army. At first their friendship helps them make the best of things and even to feel glad they are still alive, but as plague threatens the Greek camp and the women's friendship deepens into love, it threatens their survival.