top of page
DPS 6 a.jpg
DPS 6 b.jpg

3/19/2024        From the Bookshelf:   Catching Up With the DPS Broadway Book Club




I have been slacking off in my consumption of new reading scripts -- I’m just now finishing up the fourth quarter 2023 offerings from the Dramatists Play Service Book Club.  And the first quarter 2024 are sitting here by me, waiting to be inhaled.


For those late to the party, script publisher Dramatists Play Service has started a book club, where, once a quarter, they will deliver to your doorstep a box of scripts, curated by an established playwright, brimming with talent and creative life force.  I look forward to every shipment as, to put it bluntly, I love reading scripts, even those for plays I know not and may never see brought to life on stage. 


Rather than a playwright, the last 2023 package was curated by staff members of the company, so there are selections by Licensing Associates, Managers, Marketers, and even two Senior Vice Presidents.  It’s as if they’re giving us a window into the Corporate “mind set” that publishes plays for productions around the country.  But I’m not here to judge that choice, I’m here to comment on the results.


So, forthwith are my thoughts on this sixth seven-script set.  This time, it took far too long to actually pick up some of these scripts, but not long at all to finish each one.  Once I got started!   (For the record, none of these plays have had an Atlanta production – so far as I can discover.)




By Chiara Atik


First Produced by the Echo Theatre Co, Los Angeles CA, October 2022


It may be set in 1211, it may be about Poor St. Clare of Assisi, it may be steeped in Renaissance costumes and hair styles and mores and paradigms and Italiana, but it is also about today’s America and the ever-growing gap between rich and poor, about entitled wealth living alongside abject poverty.  It is, in fact, a very anachronistic view of history and what happens, how we respond when we suffer a sudden spasm of conscience.  Clare is a brilliantly realized character as is that madman Francis who insists on giving away everything.  This was a totally involving read, and I daresay it would play well on any stage, although it would be ironically apropos to stage contrasting big-budget and small-budget productions in repertory.





By Dave Harris


Originally Produced by Playwright’s Horizon,  New York City, 2022 


This is a highly stylized portrait of two fake-ass minstrel characters who turn into real-ass Rap Megastars and (maybe) revolutionaries against whatever is available.  Deriving much of its humor from our expectations – at least the expectations of an affluent white audience – it also pulls out the rug and leaves us wallowing in our own liberal misconceptions.  I have to confess to having a rough time with this one – yes, it plays on the minstrel show stereotypes we’ve come to expect, but it also treats its characters not as living and breathing humans, but as constructs, contrived puppets in the hands of a playwright with an axe to grind.  It is admittedly a fun read – stage directions like “Why won’t the fake-ass tree grow if you give it some real ass water?” can’t NOT amuse.  Maybe I also let my dislike for Rap color my reading of those sequences – anger is so cheap and easy and this is, if nothing else, an angry play.  That being said, it presents many interesting staging challenges that I’d love to see met by our exceptional creative types.  More to the point, I’d like to see the honest responses of my not-as-white-as-I friends and colleagues.





By Bess Wohl


Originally Produced by Hartford Stage,  September 2018

First New York Performance by Second Stage Theatre, New York City, August 2019


We meet four children seemingly abandoned in their attic play space.  We then meet them (more or less) as adults, as they gather for a funeral.  The truth behind their long-past abandonment comes slowly to light as does the effect on their lives.  This is a gripping piece that truly celebrates the survival instincts of children and the lengths to which siblings will go to protect (even save) each other.  Ms. Wohl seems to specialize in plays about “damaged” characters – her Small Mouth Sounds was given a strong performance on the Alliance’s Hertz Stage in 2019.  Like that brilliantly silent play, Make Believe “sneaks” up on you like a child in a ghost sheet and stays with you longer than may be comfortable.  And it turns everything unsaid, every scripted silence, into breathless (even soundless) moments of revelation.





By Brian Watkins


Originally Produced by Druid Theatre Galway, Ireland  July 2019

First American Production Lincoln Center Theatre, New York City June 2022


A “loose” homage to Joyce’s “The Dead,” this is a chronicle of an awkward and mysterious dinner party, ostensibly to celebrate Epiphany.  It is, essentially, a collection of intellectuals trying to impress each other.  They attempt to answer “big questions” like “Are Mysterious and Awkward Dinner Parties really the best venue for discussing Big Questions?”   Of course the alcohol flows and the phones are collected (and hidden) and the host is absent and why are we celebrating Epiphany anyway?  For that matter, what exactly IS Epiphany?  I enjoyed the intellectual game playing going on here as well as the echoes of “The Dead,” but I also have to confess feeling a little empty at the end.  Perhaps seeing it performed live would fill in some of the empathy gaps endemic to live-in-the-head smart folks.  Still, I liked the script enough to want to see a staged production.





By Mark Shanahan


First Produced at New World Stage, New York City, November 2021


This was the most fun script in this bunch, and I encourage any company to schedule it as their Christmas Show.  Ebeneezer Scrooge is dead, perhaps murdered.   A grown-up (Dr.) Timothy Cratchit engages the world’s most famous detective to solve the crime.  But Sherlock Holmes is struggling with existential despair – now that Moriarity is dead does he have any purpose himself?  Holmes out-Scrooges Scrooge as Dickens and Doyle collide in an adventure that is pure joy from start to finish.  Six actors perform all the many roles and staging options can be as simple or complicated as your imagination (and budget) allow.  Not an ounce of Humbug in this one!





By Luis Alfaro


Originally Produced by the Public Theatre, New York City, October 2017


You know the story – it’s one of the oldest in Western Civilization.  Here it is filtered through a Los Angeles barrio lens, as ex-con Oedipus rises to become a crime lord.  Raised (in prison) by his blind guardian, he fulfills his fated life all the while seemingly driven by his own independence and agency.  Like Sophocles’ original play, this one asks us to consider the conflicting roles of fate and free will, doing so with the crackling dialogue and poetic structure of a tyro talent.  We know how it MUST end – the fates are harsh masters – but it celebrates our fervent desire to end it differently. This time.  





By Lindsey Joelle


Originally produced by Theatre J in Washington DC May  2018

West Coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles CA March 2022


Zalmy and Schmuel are Hassidic Teenagers, dipping their toes into the secular world of New York City as they pilot their “Mitzvah Tank” through the bustling and vigorously alive streets.  Jonathan is an older “convert” who wants to totally immerse himself in Hassidic life. This is a funny and engaging “coming of age” story that plays fair with its characters, even as it makes us question the choices forced on them by their community.  We may ask “what is the harm in gifting a friend a mixtape of secular music?”  Why not make one of  “non-trayf” cantor songs and Klezmer?  An intriguing journey into a world few of us recognize, even as its young adventurers interact with what is familiar.




I hope you get a chance to check out any (or all) of these plays and hope you find them as satisfying to read as I did.  Better yet, I hope they create a desire to see them live on stage!   As a preview, here are the titles in to First Quarter 2024 collection:


Curated by Mfoniso Udofia (Her Portmanteau from one of last year’s collections)


            The Trials of Brother Jero   (Wole Soyinka)

            The Brothers Size  (Tarell Alvin McCraney)  (Staged by Actors Express in 2020)

            Marisol  (José Rivera)

            Mojo / String  (Alice Childress)   (Two One-Acts)

            The Homecoming Queen   (Ngozi Anyanwu)

            Love   (Kate Cortesi)

            Sojourners  (Mfoniso Udofia)    


As usual, thank you for indulging my Bibliowallow!   There will be more soon!


    --  Brad Rudy  (



bottom of page