By Richard Balthazar
All these plays are available for free download for whatever purpose you may have in mind. I’d hope, of course, that they might see performance somewhere by someone. If you like it, do it. Email me (rbalthazar at msn.com) and I might even make a trip to see it.
As you will note, two of my plays were inspired by particularly dramatic scenes in (what else?) Russian Literature. I must admit that they almost wrote themselves, and I should only claim them as adaptations. Anyway, both authors are long out of copyright. The others, like the first, third, and fifth in this list, are my very own concoctions.
Soldier-Boys (three-act gay-themed drama set in Civil War-era New Orleans). Originally intended as book for an opera libretto and entitled “Octoroon,” the play was rewritten several times over these 35 years. A version was given a staged reading in 1989 at the Santa Fe Community Theatre, which greatly influenced its evolution. Involving a pair of soldier/lovers, it contains a parade march and a southern soldier song for which I personally “composed” rudimentary melodies for the reading.
Spoils, (one-act drama adapted from Gorky’s short story “Chelkash,” 1990, unproduced). As smugglers, old sailor Chelkash and yokel lad Gavrila sneak through the night harbor of Odessa in a rowboat on their errand and then row ashore to divide the spoils. This would be easily staged, but boring as hell in the dark, unable to see the actors rowing, much less their faces. On stage a lighting designer’s nightmare, I realized—but a great opportunity for atmospheric videography in a maritime setting.
Why Knot, (Four Scenes). The scenes were written sporadically over a long period and are intended for separate or combined performance (in any order). With no specific setting, time, or stage directions other than entrances and exits, the three female and two male actors in various combinations must perform their lines like jazz musicians, and the director has absolute freedom of interpretation. My inspiration was those inscrutable conversations one overhears in a restaurant at the next table or while waiting in a line, where the exchanges are usually dramatic, convoluted, and utterly confusing—because they never come out and name the Devil. These are my contribution to theoretical theatre:
SQUARE KNOT, (Scene for Four Characters), produced 1991, Santa Fe Community Theatre’s program of short plays
SLIP KNOT, (Scene for Three Characters)
HALF HITCH, (Scene for Five Characters)
SHEEP SHANK, (Scene for Four Characters)
The Special Case, (one-act detective drama drawn from Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment,” 1992). In three scenes, young Raskolnikov hides his guilt in a treacherous mind-game with Inspector Porfiry Petrovich. The play had a full production at the Santa Fe Community Theatre (later the Playhouse), and I even have a videotape of it. Though it was well-received, being a dramaturge impressed me mostly with the transitory nature of theater. That’s why it would be so nice for someone to play it again, Sam.