PFP Names 11 Semi-Finalists in the Great Gay Play and Musical Contest

(L to R) Paul Elliott, Donna Hoke, Gary Jaffe, Stephen deGhelder

(L to R) Paul Elliott, Donna Hoke, Gary Jaffe, Stephen deGhelder

A slate of 11 vibrant and kinetic new LGBTQ+ plays and musicals have emerged as Semi-Finalists in Pride Films and Plays’ 2016 Great Gay Play and Musical Contest. They come from writers across the United States, and were selected by a reading team from across the country doing blind readings of the manuscripts.

The semi-finalists are:

  • All-American Boy by Donald Gecewicz
  • Another Horatio Alger Story by Jason Jacobs
  • Book of Hours by Thomas Klocke
  • Five Husbands by B.V. Marshall
  • Open and Shut by Donna Hoke
  • Song to the Moon by Gary Jaffe
  • Spectacular Brown by Brian Pracht
  • TBD (To Be Determined) by Paul Elliott
  • Terror Incognito by Larry A. Reed
  • tran-si-tions by Steve Fogelman
  • A Woman Onstage, book and lyrics by Stephen deGhelder, music by Brad Simmons

A final round of readings commences now, and five finalists will be named at the end of this month. Those five scripts will be performed as Enhanced Staged Readings at the Center On Halsted’s Hoover-Leppen, 3540 N Halsted, the weekend of April 22 to 24, 2016.  Tickets for the event are pay-what-you-can (suggested $10).

Find more information at www.pridefilmsandplays.com or 1 800 737 0984.

Synopses of the plays and bios of the playwrights: 

All American Boy by Donald Gecewicz

Piero just published a new book, but his public life as a gadfly journalist is sidetracked by big trouble for his boyfriend, Sinan, with the Immigration Service. Someone tampered with Sinan’s application. Set against politics of unchecked power, endless war, and high-stakes political games, All-American Boy portrays our interior insecurities and the possibilities for tenderness in this time of dislocation and discontent.

Donald Gecewicz lives, and writes, in Chicago. He and Kristina Schramm co-wrote and produced The Romans, a four-episode comedy. Magic Lantern was showcased in DCASE’s playwrights residency program. Caffeine Theater produced Like the Moon behind the Clouds. And poetically, Red Bird Chapbooks will publish his epigrams, Rosehill, this summer.

Another Horatio Alger Story by Jason Jacobs

An idealistic teacher and his at-risk student make an imaginary journey to Gilded Age New York, where author Horatio Alger writes a tale that will define the American dream.  Below its innocent surface, Alger’s work and personal life reveal the influence of sex, power, and privilege in narratives of success.  Can any American still pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and was this ever really the true story?  

Jason Jacobs is a New York-based theatre maker, director, and playwright.  Favorite projects include Bald Diva! and After The Chairs (queer spins on Ionesco), Lavender Songs (Backstage Bistro award), and devised projects with LGBTQA youth.  He teaches for Roundabout Theatre, and is a graduate of Columbia MFA.   www.Jason-Jacobs.com.

Book Of Hours by Thomas Klocke

Book Of Hours moves freely between current day urban life, the Middle Ages, and even Biblical times to pick up the child abuse stories of Abraham and his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, appearing here as Zak and Izzie.  It presents all the varied connotations of “MARGINAL.”  Central to the play is the marginalization of Zak and Fugitive Green, two gay New York hustlers and models for the 14th century manuscript Illuminator, painting marginalia.

Thomas Klocke is originally from Kansas.  He began creating performance art with another MFA student at Indiana University.  Moving to NYC he studied Advanced Playwriting at Playwright’s Horizon.  He returned to Lawrence, Kansas, its arts epicenter.  In July 2015, Book was one of six finalists at Dayton Playhouse’s 25th FutureFest.

Five Husbands by B.V. Marshall

In Five Husbands, Oliver looks for love with the wrong men, despite being successful in other areas of his life. All of his romantic partners are married. He commiserates with this best friend Sally, a college friend who is equally free -wheeling. When someone from their past returns, it sets in motion a series of events that forces Oliver to examine his fear of commitment to marriage, the men in his life and himself.

B. V. Marshall’s plays, including The Red Train Café (a previous PFP finalist) have been produced by HBO New Writers’ Project, WBEZ in Chicago, Interact Theatre in Philadelphia among other theatres around the country.   A Dramatists Guild member, as well as a poet and essayist, he has received fellowships from the NJ State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation NEH and the VCCA. 

Open and Shut by Donna Hoke

In Open and Shut, Ellen knows her husband might be cheating on her. Son Bill knows she might know he’s gay. But not even Herculean efforts to neither ask nor tell can stop the worst-kept secrets from forcing mother and son to relationship crossroads, where there’s no escaping their real fears and nowhere to get but OUT! 

Donna Hoke, WNY regional rep Dramatists Guild and three-time “Buffalo’s Best Writer,” has been produced in 35 states and on five continents. Plays include The Couple Next Door (Princess Grace semi-finalist), Safe (winner Todd McNerney, Naatak, and Great Gay Play and Musical Contests), and Brilliant Works of Art (winner Firehouse Festival of New American Plays, Woodward/Newman finalist). donnahoke.com

Song to the Moon by Gary Jaffe

After ending the relationship five years prior, Gabriel Ochoa tries to win Benjamin Hoang back with front-row tickets to Rusalka at the Met. Ben, however, has a long-distance boyfriend… and serious doubts that past wounds can truly heal. With the three acts of the opera serving as flashbacks to their shared past, Gabriel and Ben must find a way to heal and move forward by night’s end, but will that mean rekindling the relationship or separating forever? Or something in between?

Gary Jaffe is a Brooklyn-based playwright/director whose work has been seen in New York, Austin and San Francisco. His full-length play Diaspora was a finalist in the Jewish Plays Project 2015 National Contest; his full-length Love in Pine premiered in Austin in 2012. www.garyjaffe.net

Spectacular Browne by Brian Pracht 

Spectacular Browne is a family drama about two brothers who clash while struggling to live in a small-minded town.  It’s 1990, and young Charlie wants to be accepted as his true self: a lady.  But no one else in town wants him to, especially his brother, Maurice.  Ridiculed all his life, Charlie feels if he can just sing to them as a woman, they’ll begin to accept him, but Maurice will stop at nothing to make sure this does not happen. 

Brian Pracht’s prize-winning short plays have been selected to many festivals across the country.  His full-length play, Un Plugged In, premiered at the Lion Theatre in New York City, and his work has been developed at Primary Stages, Naked Angels, Flux Theatre Ensemble, and Axial Theatre.  

TBD-To Be Determined by Paul Elliott

The Hamilton sisters have always lived in isolated contentment.  All of that changes when the Sheriff drops a battered teen on their front porch. They are even less inclined to take on the role of savior when they find out the truth about the youth and the events in town.

Paul Elliott is an accomplished director, producer and published playwright with over 30 years experience in writing for the stage, television and film including working for Disney Live Entertainment, Universal and Landmark Entertainment. His first comedy, Ledge, Ledger & the Legend was recently voted one of the most highly produced one acts in the past twenty years. His play Gentle Passage, was voted a Hollywood Fringe winner in 2013 and won PFP’s Great Gay Play Contest in 2014.

Terror Incognito by Larry A. Reed 

In Terror Incognito, Maddie, an American aid worker in the Middle East is kidnapped. Rescue efforts are undertaken by her diplomat father and her new love journalist Raquel, and her kidnapper Saif argues his case and Maddie’s life story is revealed by her mother, her co-workers and Raquel. And Three Prophets in white robes come and go, observing, bickering, kibitzing and lamenting the present state of world affairs, helpless as blood is shed.

Larry A. Reed is a Cooksville, Wisconsin, playwright who’s had a number of readings and productions of plays performed including Mrs. Fanny Kemble; Farewell, Boo Hoo; The Game; The Reunion of Olives and Daisies; Poetic Justice; and Waters Rising. He received two Shubert Playwriting Fellowships, the New York Dramatists Guild Fund’s Elmer Rice Memorial Playwriting Award, and a National Public Radio Earplay Commission Award.

tran-si-tions by Steve Fogelman

Set in New York at Christmas, this story is a modern star-crossed lovers fable following Ernie, a spiritually-gifted gay death doula-in-training, whose first required vigil is a comatose homeless man in the final stages of AIDS, who awakes to experience true love. Ernie struggles to maintain a professional relationship with this man named Kiel, who turns out to be a lonely male prostitute, as the duo falls in love bonding over military service and shared teenage strife. Ernie’s inability to maintain boundaries over these 24-hours jeopardizes his position before the inevitable end.

Steve Fogelman is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, member of The Dramatists Guild of America and Association of Los Angeles Playwrights. Since transplanting to New York in 2012 he completed four full-length plays, Leg of Lam, Musical Chairs, charrette and tran-si-tions. His one-acts, Breeders Cup and Genius, were produced off-off Broadway through Love Creek Productions.

A Woman Onstage by Stephen deGhelder and Brad Simmons

Kyle Edwards, a delicate student at an all-male Catholic college, finds deep satisfaction when playing beautiful females onstage though it makes him the subject of ridicule and bullying. A Woman Onstage explores what happens when a person’s fragile world crumbles because his sexual identity and self worth are defined by each other.

Stephan deGhelder. (Book and Lyrics). As a playwright, Stephan’s other works have been seen throughout the states, Off-Broadway in NYC, in Canada and as far away as Abu Dhabi.  Chicago audiences might remember A Kiss From Alexander, by the team of Simmons/deGhelder. The team is currently working on a feminist musical. When Jenny Comes Marching Home Again.

Brad Simmons (Composer) has penned the musicals A Kiss From Alexander, A Dickens Of A Carol, A Woman Onstage and When Jennie Comes Marching Home Again with librettist/lyricist Stephan deGhelder, Dreamworld with Cory Krueckeberg, four one-act musicals Reel To Reel, Summer Wind, All For You and Vegas, and the films Gargoyle and Whiskey Neat. On Broadway, he was conductor and musical director for Lysistrata Jones.

About Pride Films and Plays

The mission of Pride Films and Plays is to change lives through the generation of diverse new work (or work that is new to Chicago) with LGBTQ+ characters or themes that is essential viewing for all audiences. We accomplish this mission through fully-staged productions, writing contests and staged readings, film screenings, and special events. We foster long term relationships with artists to create programming that is as diverse, unique, and complex as the community we represent. In 2015, Huffington Post called PFP “A powerful and empowering entity.”

PFP’s current season begins with Ten Dollar House at Piccolo Theatre. It will continue with Raggedy And at Rivendell Theatre from March 10 to April 10, The Boys Upstairs at Mary’s Attic from May 21 to July 2, another new work to be announced, and the world premiere of Resolution at Rivendell October 20 to November 20.

In addition, our script and screenplay development programs continue throughout the year at Center on Halsted, including Gay Play Weekend (April 22-24), LezPlay (October 7-9) featuring plays and screenplays written by women with lesbian characters or themes, and Gay Film Weekend (November 11-13) featuring LGBTQ+ screenplays and screenings.

Other special events include Boys in Briefs: At the Beach! is February 21, March 29, and April 26 at Uptown Underground. LezPlay Film Festival is February 22 and Queer Bits AltReels is April 25 at Public House Theatre. Nominee Night which celebrates all Chicago theater is May 17 at Sidetrack.

Pride Films and Plays is supported by The MacArthur Fund for Arts & Culture at The Richard Driehaus Foundation, The Illinois Arts Council, City of Chicago’s City Arts Fund, the Elliott Fredland Charitable Trust, Proud to Run, and the AmazonSmile Foundation. PFP is a member of the Smart Growth Program of the Chicago Community Trust. Pride Films and Plays is a member of the Chicago Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, The League of Chicago Theaters, and the Central Lakeview Merchants Association.
For more information, visit www.pridefilmsandplays.com or call 1 800 737 0984.