Paul K Smith

Paul K Smith

What is LITERATURE? I asked Günter Grass one night, showing him my work.

“Paul,” he said, " 'Literature' is just story-telling.”

In the stories I share onstage, desire is at the core, wherever my characters find themselves.

Desire, not conflict.

Desire feeds every choice, every action, every shift in power.

...
What is LITERATURE? I asked Günter Grass one night, showing him my work.

“Paul,” he said, " 'Literature' is just story-telling.”

In the stories I share onstage, desire is at the core, wherever my characters find themselves.

Desire, not conflict.

Desire feeds every choice, every action, every shift in power.

For my people, it is not their answers that define them: but their questions. Just as it is our own questions – our questings – that define us.

Milton’s simple, moral touchstone is my guide: good is what creates and nurtures, evil is what enervates and destroys.

Because Descartes had it wrong: it is not “I think, therefore I am,” but “I act, therefore I am.” So ours is not a world of correct and incorrect: but of right and wrong.

My work celebrates the healers, not the technicians; the nurturers, not the exploiters; the ravenous, not the swine. Welcome to my plays, welcome to my “literature”.

Plays

  • Love-- or Sartre: The Passions of Simone de Beauvoir
    The ideas, work, inspiration, life, loves, and travels of the twentieth century's most influential feminist.
  • THE WOMEN OF PARIS: The Secrets of Mata Hari
    Myths we live by, Secrets and Social Roles, what is forbidden to Ever say -- and how Mata Hari responded to turning 40. Theatrically: utilizes tripartition of acting where an actor plays a character who in turn performs multiple roles. In Paris, 1917: with Mata Hari, Coco Chanel, Colette, Marie Curie, Djuna Barnes, Isadora Duncan: The women who made Paris, Paris.
  • SWEETMEAT AND ROTGUT (or, "TWO WOMEN IN THE LAND OF PURE DELIGHT") , (a "sweeping, magical tale" of the New Old West -Williamstown Festival)
    Set in the Hill Country. The time is 1959, a turning point in America: as the nation became more urban than rural. Like that Buddhist tale of the death of the last saint at the hands of the world’s first philosopher— here the battle between the two main characters – Betty and Karen – parallels the beginning of the death of the Country at the hands of the City.

    “When a man needs a woman to...
    Set in the Hill Country. The time is 1959, a turning point in America: as the nation became more urban than rural. Like that Buddhist tale of the death of the last saint at the hands of the world’s first philosopher— here the battle between the two main characters – Betty and Karen – parallels the beginning of the death of the Country at the hands of the City.

    “When a man needs a woman to make him feel young, it is hard on a woman to grow older,” Betty says when we first meet her.

    Then after her Two Act, 15-round prizefight with Karen, she says,

    “My heart’s like land that’s all played out. Nothing new is going to grow in it, now.”

    And between those poles, there is Preston. (" I don't plant my seed, and then just walk away.")

    This play is their story.
  • MOONSCAPE or PABLO'S KISSES, a full-length love story
    A man of ideals comes to another man’s home to execute him. The wife welcomes him, convinced it is her old lover from many years ago come to see her, romance her, and woo her away. Written so the same actor can portray both the target and the assassin: both the husband – and her first love, that so haunts her. At the beginning, the woman -- whose language is Art -- is mute. But with her shocking choices,...
    A man of ideals comes to another man’s home to execute him. The wife welcomes him, convinced it is her old lover from many years ago come to see her, romance her, and woo her away. Written so the same actor can portray both the target and the assassin: both the husband – and her first love, that so haunts her. At the beginning, the woman -- whose language is Art -- is mute. But with her shocking choices, she reawakens.

    Two settings: 1) Tranquility Base, The Moon. 2) Little Havana, Miami.
  • COUNTDOWN!
    A one-act where the Predator becomes the Prey.

    On Trust, Compulsions, Taboos, and Obsessions.

    Late at night in the City. . . a deadly encounter with a twist.
  • A DAY OF PROMISE
    A young woman falls in love with a young man and his kisses -- at the World Trade Center, the morning of 9/11.
  • CITY HAWKS (full-length)
    Full Production at 7 Stages Theatre, Atlanta. Well-reviewed. Full houses throughout the run. A Russian Camelot. Set in a time when politics were wonderful, business was ennobling and exciting, and love was magical and fulfilling.

    Had to search history pretty hard to find a time like that.
  • WHITE WIDOW (also presented as "The Woman who Braided the Rings of Saturn," a full-length drama)
    Reflecting my experience as a professional strategist for corporate CEOs and self-made overseas billionaires, occasionally the corporate prince emerges as a character in my work for the theatre.

    In this script, I use the framework of the 21st century corporate family -(meaning the people at "Corporate") to dramatize events at the court of the King of France: Louis III, after he’s...
    Reflecting my experience as a professional strategist for corporate CEOs and self-made overseas billionaires, occasionally the corporate prince emerges as a character in my work for the theatre.

    In this script, I use the framework of the 21st century corporate family -(meaning the people at "Corporate") to dramatize events at the court of the King of France: Louis III, after he’s been two decades under the influence of that Kissinger/Machiavelli of his time, Cardinal Richelieu.

    Historians document that Richelieu had influence over the King of France by supplying him with women who became his mistresses. While remaining the cardinal’s spies.

    Then one day, (history recounts), Richelieu replaced the string of women with a boy.

    And the boy began to dominate the king. You have the King of France in the Royal Bed, historians write (we’re talking primary sources) – you have King Louis weeping and kissing the new favorite’s hands, begging the boy not to abandon him.

    Within the framework of a contemporary corporate family, this script portrays what began to happen—beginning with the King’s own wife falling for the boy as well. The King presents his wife with an impossible choice.

    Development history:

    Read: as “The Woman who Braided the Rings of Saturn,” at 7 Stages Theatre, Atlanta.

    Workshopped: as “White Widow” at the Genesis Space of the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta.

    With an underlying love story of an astrologer and a would-be astronomer: if he can just explain the baffling mystery of the Rings, with this one achievement he could redeem himself for selling out – to her husband, the CEO of the corporation which employs him as a pseudo-scientist.
  • ARMS OF DESIRE (full-length drama)
    The love story of Ivan the Terrible and Queen Elizabeth I. A play about the differing expectations two people in a romance can have of each other, and how it colors their worlds forever. And a powerful woman blacksmith who forges the magical Excaliburs of her age. Excerpts presented at Huckleberry Theatre, Vancouver. (A sequel to Wild Bess produced at Cafe Picasso.) Based on true events.
  • MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN (or, COUNTDOWN! [the 5-Minute version])
    One person lets nothing stand between himself and the object of his desire.

    The other person lets nothing stand in the way of completing his obsessive compulsion.

    One night, at midnight, their paths cross.

    A play about life in the city. A play with a switch. An actors' play.

    Based on true events.
  • OTHELLA the Woman in the 21st Century, a ten-minute, one-act play
    Othello confesses to the Police. In 2017. In a city, at the Police Station. And Othello is a woman, a literate woman, who quotes Beckett and Faulkner -- and Shakespeare.

    And confesses to killing her wife -- "Desdee" (Desdemona).

    A ten-minute, one-act romp.
  • The First Time I Saw Sarah
    Checking-Out.

    Presented Off-Broadway by Theatre Studio.
  • Wild Bess (full-length drama)
    Produced like a Brechtian epic, at a cabaret venue, Café Picasso. One reviewer described it as "a fairy tale princess being thrust into history." Elizabeth I as the Moses of her people. The sound palette incorporates poly-rhythmic music, including the music off Tibet as the Armada approaches; the music mirrors the woman at three ages. Dramatizes the birth of core geopolitical ideas (500 years later,...
    Produced like a Brechtian epic, at a cabaret venue, Café Picasso. One reviewer described it as "a fairy tale princess being thrust into history." Elizabeth I as the Moses of her people. The sound palette incorporates poly-rhythmic music, including the music off Tibet as the Armada approaches; the music mirrors the woman at three ages. Dramatizes the birth of core geopolitical ideas (500 years later, our conceptual constructs like “balance of powers”).
  • Mata Hari Turning Forty
    The title says it all.
    A play celebrating the most fascinating creature in the world: a woman of forty.
  • Till the Last Dog’s Hung (full-length, an angry comedy)
    (A full-length, angry comedy) Script-in-hand, directed reading by the Southeastern New Play Project. Set in a lumber camp in the American Colony of the Philippines (1930's). Over the top. Audience favorite was "Slanting Anny," gun-toting Lovely Lydia's sister.

  • MERMAID ISLAND, a Buddhist fantasy
    Dramatizes the Buddhist tale of the death of the world's last saint at the hands of the world’s first philosopher.
  • Port Desire (a play whose setting is out of this world)
    Set in a Racinian palace on Triton, the moon that orbits Neptune. A spacecraft is seen in the sky, coming towards them, fro the third planet (= Earth) . One faction at court says they are coming to attack them. The other faction says they are coming to liberate them from this frozen Hell. {The spacecraft features 3 singing astronauts and a beer-swilling pit bull.} The language is drawn from 14th-century...
    Set in a Racinian palace on Triton, the moon that orbits Neptune. A spacecraft is seen in the sky, coming towards them, fro the third planet (= Earth) . One faction at court says they are coming to attack them. The other faction says they are coming to liberate them from this frozen Hell. {The spacecraft features 3 singing astronauts and a beer-swilling pit bull.} The language is drawn from 14th-century Persian love poetry -- and yet -- the consensus at the first reading was that this is one of my most naturalistic works(!). Go figure.)
  • Bringing Back the Chair
    A play about Old Sparky. A vaudeville about the death penalty. The interesting thing is, in performance, those in the audience who support the death penalty felt the play opposes the death penalty.

    Those who oppose the death penalty felt that this play supports it (it doesn't).

    26 executions (and distinct personality responses), 1 paternalistic warden. Although farcical (...
    A play about Old Sparky. A vaudeville about the death penalty. The interesting thing is, in performance, those in the audience who support the death penalty felt the play opposes the death penalty.

    Those who oppose the death penalty felt that this play supports it (it doesn't).

    26 executions (and distinct personality responses), 1 paternalistic warden. Although farcical (Not sardonic) -- it is based on true events at Sing Sing.
  • The Night She Wrote Frankenstein
    Spurned Lover Stalks Byron Across Europe.
    And Mary Shelly finds her Monster.
  • A City Suite
    For the many who do not live life in hotel suites, but on the streets: a city suite.

    From Noon to Midnight, 12 Hours in the life of the city.

    Opens with God and Ms. God in their hotel room checkout time

    Closes in a convenience store with a double race-against-time.
  • Daddy's Girl { a 10-minute angry comedy of social content }
    Synopsis: When a developer with absurd but dangerous political aspirations treats his third wife and eldest daughter as co-actors – and audience, he learns that they may be silenced – but not conquered.
  • COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS!
    "Piece" on Earth.
    On Christmas Eve, a predator becomes the prey.
    Two speaking roles, any age, any heritage, any gender. Simple set.
    Requires one clock, two revolvers.
    Stage duration is flexible -- from ten minutes to twenty.
    Cast size: flexible, the more people the more menace as they exit, "abandoning" the protagonist.
  • The Women of Paris
    Paris. 1917.
    We meet Mata Hari. Marie Curie. Colette.
    We meet them as women reclaiming dreams they've shelved.
    Reawakening hidden selves. Breaking free. Finding their wings to fly.

    Marie Curie harnesses science to save wounded young soldiers.
    Sarah Bernhardt gives acting lessons to a courtesan.
    Isadora Duncan creates modern dance.
    Coco Chanel...
    Paris. 1917.
    We meet Mata Hari. Marie Curie. Colette.
    We meet them as women reclaiming dreams they've shelved.
    Reawakening hidden selves. Breaking free. Finding their wings to fly.

    Marie Curie harnesses science to save wounded young soldiers.
    Sarah Bernhardt gives acting lessons to a courtesan.
    Isadora Duncan creates modern dance.
    Coco Chanel invents the little black dress.
    Each woman creates separate social roles. Roles at war with each other.

    Breaking free of convention brings down the wrath of society:
    One woman is shot for doing forbidden things.
    Yet they survive. They prevail.
    Along the way, these women also create Paris.