David M. White
playwright. director. scholar.
Dance on Bones
a theatre experience for actors and jazz musicians
by Dave White
Directed by Yury Urnov
Chesapeake Arts Center, Brooklyn Park, Maryland
March 8, 2015
Sea levels are rising, trees are being ravaged, and jazz may be the only thing that can save our humanity from the Man of Steel. Dance On Bones is inspired by and structured around jazz music, riffing off of the folklore of the jazz scenes in St. Petersburg, Russia and New Orleans, Louisiana; creation myths; flooding cities; and the current environmental circumstances washing away our shores.
- Full length poetic drama for actors and jazz musicians
- Actors: Ren Marie, Kelsey Painter, Elizabeth Scollan
- Musicians: Victoria Banos (trumpet), Mel Brown (saxaphone)
- Workshop Production, Ilkhom Theater of Mark Weil, Tashkent, Uzbekistan (April/May 2014). Featuring actors from The Seagull Project and Uzbek jazz quartet Jazzirama. Directed by Tyler Polumsky and Gavin Reub
- Towson Theatre Lab Readings (November 2013 & March 2014)
- Generous Company Readings (October 2013)
Fellowships and Support
- Generous Company/Dramatists Guild Fund Grant (June 2013)
- Cultural Fellowships in Russia, a program of the Likhachev Foundation, funded by The Foundation of the First President of Russia Boris N. Yeltsin and the Committee of External Relations of St. Petersburg (May 2013)
Dave White (Playwright) lives in Baltimore, Maryland and is an Associate Professor at Towson University. His work has taken him on several fellowships to Slovakia, Poland, and Russia with the Center for International Theatre Development (dir. Philip Arnoult) and a Likhachev Cultural Fellowship in St. Petersburg, Russia for Dance On Bones. Dave’s plays have been presented by theaters in Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia; ArtFaq in Moscow, Russia; and the Ilkhom Theatre in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Yury Urnov (Director) Born in Moscow, Russia, Yury graduated from the Russian Academy of Theater Art (GITIS) in 2000, and has directed over 40 productions in his home country, Europe, and Africa. Yury translated plays of Martin McDonagh, Sarah Ruhl, and Edward Albee into Russian, as well as contemporary Russian plays into English. Since 2002, he has worked closely with the Center for International Theater Development (dir. Philip Arnoult) on a number of Russia – US cultural projects. In 2009-2011 he was a Fulbright Scholar in Residence at Towson University. His recent directing credits in the US include Ubu Roi at Cutting Ball Theater in San Francisco, Marie Antoinette and You for Me for You at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company in DC, of which Yury is a member.
Ren Marie (Actor) is a performer and technician in Baltimore, Maryland. Graduate of Towson University. Recent work includes Kaspar (Acme Corporation), Where the Whangdoodle Sings and The Beholder’s Share (Generous Company), Herculine and Lola (WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory), The Goat or Who is Sylvia? and The Glass Menagerie (Towson University).
Kelsey Painter (Actor) is pleased to be working on Dance on Bones. A company member at Chesapeake Shakespeare, previous productions include the 2014 and 2011 productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, and Our Town. Kelsey has also worked locally with Pumpkin Theatre, Live Action Theatre, Stillpointe Theatre Initiative, Pallas Theatre, Venus Theatre, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Towson University’s Theatre Department.
Elizabeth Scollan (Actor) has a BFA in acting from Towson University. Some of her favorite roles include the titular characters in both Lysistrata at Towson University and Small Batch’s production of Lucretia Borgia; Ella in Towson University’s Curse of the Starving Class and an ensemble member in Machinal. Elizabeth is a full time yoga instructor in Baltimore. She is thrilled to be working with the talented people who are making Dance on Bones possible.
Victoria Banos (Musician) is a trumpet player from Odenton, Maryland. She has been playing for nine years. Victoria has toured Canada with the Maryland Youth Orchestra in 2012, and performed with the Peabody Youth Orchestra in 2013. She is currently studying under jazz trumpeter Dave Ballou and is attending Towson University to pursue a degree in Jazz Performance.
The Music of Erich Zann by H. P. Lovecraft adapted and performed by Steven Barroga
The Telltale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe adapted and performed by Kat Kaplan
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley adapted and performed by Ren Marie
An Occurrence in Carcosa by Ambrose Bierce adapted and performed by JD Sivert
The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe adapted and performed by Dave White
The Raven and the Writing Desk presents selected readings from suspense and horror writers adapted and presented by Baltimore-area theatre artists and directed by Dave White.
The stories will be adapted to be read by candlelight (though no actual candles will be burned).
Stories will be given a soundscape provided by writing implements (typewriter, pen, pencil, pencil sharpener, paper, etc).
Join us at for a dimly lit evening of spooky stories told to leave you on the edge of your seat and ready for Halloween.
Friday, October 24th at 8:00 p.m.
Studio 194 Theatre
Chesapeake Bay Performing Arts Center in Brooklyn Park, MD (http://www.chesapeakearts.org/)
194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park, MD 21225
Pay What You Can
- Steven Barroga is a Baltimore based writer and performer. He is a graduate of Towson University where he studied theater arts. Among his play writing credits is his play Bad Kids, which was produced in 2013 at Towson University. As an actor and divisor, Steve recently toured with White Flag Performance Group in their production of The Bear Loves Honey.
- Kat Kaplan is a Baltimore based director and playwright specializing in DIY theatre and performance art. Her work has been seen at the Annex Theatre’s 10-Minute Play Festival (2013) and the One Minute Play Festival at the EMP Collective (2014). She recently graduated from Towson University’s theatre department where she directed Edward Albee’s The Goat or Who is Sylvia?
- Ren Marie is a performer and technician. Graduate of Towson University and Generous Company member. Recent work includes Kaspar (Acme Corporation), Where the Whangdoodle Sings and The Beholder’s Share (Generous Company), Herculine and Lola (WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory) and The Glass Menagerie (Towson University).
- J.D. Sivert: Director: Where the Whangdoodle Sings (w. K. Frithjof Peterson) at Baltimore Theatre Project in January 2014; The Babel Project (w. Greg Romero and Mike Vernusky) at Towson University in December 2013. Deviser: The Beholder’s Share as part of Generous Company’s GUMBO 2013. Performed in various Baltimore area play festivals and staged readings. Member Generous Company. Alumnus of Towson University and Florida State University.
- Dave White is a playwright, director, scholar, and Associate Professor at Towson University. He is a founding member of Generous Company and was Artistic Director of WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory from 2007-2012. Dave’s plays have been presented in theaters in Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia; ArtFaq in Moscow, Russia; and the Ilkhom Theatre in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Yesterday I spent two hours in the front window of the Drama Book Shop in NYC starting a new play as a part of TheatreSpeak’s Write Out Front NYC. A “playwright happening” in which 125 playwrights will practice their craft in 2 hour shifts at the Drama Book Shop during the month of August.
In preparation for this event, the previous week, I took suggestions on facebook and wound up with “bringing home a dog + a secret,” “two friends long lost friends catching up + tequila,” “thesis paper,” “checks,” and “writing about people watching me through the window.” In addition to these suggestions, I also took along an envelope filled with artifacts that wound up in my parents yard after a tornado that happened 60 miles away from their house (some books scraps, a tattered photo, a bible verse).
After percolating on these ideas for a few days, I spent a bit of the morning on the Highline (the fantastic above ground walkway running near 10th avenue in Chelsea) formulating a plan.
When I arrived at the Drama Book Shop and was welcomed by Micheline, the face and spirit behind Write Out Front 2014, I was ready to go. So I sat down in the window, typed the title page, and dove in. My goal: to write the first scene of a new play, a new comedy.
Two hours and many pages later, I wrapped up my shift energized and inspired. Below you can find what I wrote: warts and all. I have not edited this work, other than the revisions and edits I did at the Drama Book Shop, but I did reformat it to save space. Thanks to those who gave me the ideas, and the friends who dropped by to show support. I will reflect further on this experience via blog, but for now here’s what I worked on:
A new play
Written: August 7, 2014 at Write Out Front, NYC
PLACE: first floor apartment in a city.
TIME: Soon or now
NOTE: a single punctuation mark indicated a look or gesture.
First floor apartment, Window looking out onto the street. Curtains, but occasionally people pass by and look into the room.
The room is a shambles.
LINCOLN is propped up against a door.
There is incessant barking from the other side of the door. SYDNEY stands in the middle of the room in a bathrobe, clearly surprised by the barking)
SYDNEY: Why in the hell did you bring that thing home?
LINCOLN: I saw it in the window and the price was right.
SYDNEY: The price was right? You know that purchasing animals is…there are so many abandoned—
LINCOLN: Not this again. You volunteer for the SPCA for one month two years ago and now you’re holier than—
(A particularly vicious bark from the dog)
LINCOLN: Holy crap!
SYDNEY: Holy crap is right. Why did you bring that goddam animal into our home. The boss said no animals and now you have a seething, snarling, ball of canine terror locked in your room.
LINCOLN: He’s a good boy. He told me with his eyes.
SYDNEY: And he’s telling me something else with his bark.
(The dog quiets down)
LINCOLN: There. See. I told you…it a dog, but it also has a home—
SYDNEY: And also a secret…apparently.
LINCOLN: I read my horoscope today and it said—
SYDNEY: Horoscope? Like signs and visions falling from the sky?
LINCOLN: Yes…and they said that today I would make a new friend.
SYDNEY: And you think that dog is your new friend.
LINCOLN: No one else wanted it.
SYDNEY: And that’s the qualification for a new friend.
LINCOLN: You’ve got a better idea?
SYDNEY: I don’t know why I ever suggested that you come a visit.
LINCOLN: I didn’t have anywhere else to go.
SYDNEY: And now you have a dog, which means that you have even fewer options.
LINCOLN: But I thought you’d like a dog.
SYDNEY: I do like dogs. You might even say I’m a dog person, but I don’t want a dog now…I want a dog later…like when I’m ready to settle down.
LINCOLN: Maybe I am ready to settle down.
SYDNEY: You don’t even have a place to live.
LINCOLN: All the more reason to settle down.
By the way…Dahlia called.
SYDNEY: Dahlia called?
LINCOLN: Yeah…she’s back in town.
SYDNEY: Back in town? But we haven’t talked in…years.
LINCOLN: I know. You missed her wedding. That was not well received.
SYDNEY: You think it was any easier on me?
LINCOLN: You could have at least shown up.
SYDNEY: I was busy.
LINCOLN: You were not. You were making excuses.
SYDNEY: I can’t stand up for something I don’t believe in.
LINCOLN: You didn’t believe in Dahlia?
SYDNEY: I couldn’t see their happiness.
LINCOLN: Did you need to? Isn’t that making it about you?
SYDNEY: You’re a bastard.
LINCOLN: I’m sorry, but we all knew each other for so long…and then you…you went and ruined it my making it all about you.
SYDNEY: I’m trying to be better, I really am.
LINCOLN: I know.
SYDNEY: I let you live here.
LINCOLN: A selfless act if there ever was one.
(Dog snarls and growls through the door)
SYDNEY: And now you’ve brought home a dog.
LINCOLN: I think it’s going to be a good match, besides, we’ve needed someone to complete our trio.
SYDNEY: Our trio?
LINCOLN: You, me, and …we’re always better when we have someone—
SYDNEY: That dog is not a someone—
LINCOLN: Something—to round us out…to balance us out. Like Dahlia used to.
SYDNEY: And now she’s coming to visit.
LINCOLN: She’s back. From Hong Kong.
SYDNEY: Hong Kong?
LINCOLN: You really don’t keep up with facebook.
(The dog begins to bark again. The door shakes as the dog tries to twist the handle and open it)
LINCOLN: Damn dog.
SYDNEY: Is it trying to open the door?
LINCOLN: I think so.
SYDNEY: You think so.
LINCOLN: (holding onto the handle) It’s definitely trying to get out.
SYDNEY: I’ve never seen a dog open a door.
LINCOLN: Neither have I.
(LINCOLN steps back to let it happen. SYDNEY watches)
SYDNEY: What are you doing?
LINCOLN: How often do we get to see something we’ve never seen before?
SYDNEY: Are you mad?
LINCOLN: No, but if we’ve never…maybe we should. I need your help.
(Dog shakes the door again. Quiet)
SYDNEY: So…when is DAHLIA getting into town?
LINCOLN: Yeah. Soon.
SYDNEY: When did you find out?
LINCOLN: A few weeks ago.
SYDNEY: A few weeks?
LINCOLN: Okay. A month.
SYDNEY: A month! Why didn’t you—
LINCOLN: Because I figured you’d blow town again.
SYDNEY: Blow town?
LINCOLN: Your excuses are abundant.
LINCOLN: Shut up!
SYDNEY: You brought it home.
LINCOLN: For you.
SYDNEY: For you.
LINCOLN: It’s self-preservation. Pure and simple.
LINCOLN: You love the dog. You love me. You keep the dog. Maybe you’ll keep me.
SYDNEY: Keep you? I don’t want to keep you. You are not worth keeping.
LINCOLN: That hurts.
SYDNEY: It’s 8:45 in the morning.
LINCOLN: Yeah…and that hurts.
SYDNEY: Where did you even find a dog at this hour?
LINCOLN: The pet store opened early.
SYDNEY: The pet store?
LINCOLN: Guy on the corner. He told me that he got the dog from a friend.
SYDNEY: And what kind of friends do you think the guy on the corner has?
LINCOLN: Sketchy friends.
SYDNEY: That’s right…sketchy friends.
LINCOLN: But they’re interesting.
SYDNEY: He’s a guy on the corner. Of course he’s interesting…
LINCOLN: And he told me that this dog…this dog was a winner.
SYDNEY: You bought a dog fighting dog!
LINCOLN: I’m not going to fight him. He needs a good home. He needs love.
SYDNEY: You are loyalless and impossible. You are the opposite of this dog.
LINCOLN: The opposite of dog. Is that god?
SYDNEY: Why are you home? Shouldn’t you be at the library?
LINCOLN: Yeah, but I can’t work there anymore. The lights…they hum at a constant b-flat. It’s driving me batty. Why are you up? Shouldn’t people be watching you sleep?
SYDNEY: That’s not funny.
LINCOLN: Last night I was out at this bar…and this woman in an Eskimo Joe’s shirt was dancing with her Marlboro…alone…on the dance floor…Some Ten Years After song is playing and she’s dancing…Red coal her only partner…her connection to reality.
And as I looked at her, I realized that behind her…Just behind her…At a table…Drinking a beer…Was a clown.
And not a clown like a person being silly…A clown with 8 colors of hair and white makeup and overalls and big shoes and too many handkerchiefs and a Budweiser.
And that’s when I lost myself…I wondered, what am I doing in this bar…with this clown?
I brought you a present.
SYDNEY: Besides the dog?
LINCOLN: Oh…the dog. Right. Yes…besides the dog.
(LINCOLN produces a bottle of tequila)
SYDNEY: Tequila? But it’s 8:45 in the—
LINCOLN: Dahlia is going to be here this morning. This is for you two—
SYDNEY: So…let me put all this together: You thought I needed a surprise.
SYDNEY: But you didn’t know how I’d respond to one surprise so you—
LINCOLN: Brought you two.
SYDNEY: I know you probably thought that you were being considerate, but–
LINCOLN: This morning I woke with a start, horrified at what I’d done…hours must have passed, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that clown–
SYDNEY: You were going to bring home a snarling dog,
A bottle of tequila,
And my old friend whom I haven’t talked to since, since she married that, that—
LINCOLN: You can really hold a grudge.
SYDNEY: What were you thinking?
LINCOLN: I was hoping that you would be distracted enough by the dog and the tequila, that perhaps you and Dahlia would forget about the past and start dealing with the present.
SYDNEY: Deal with the present? You come in here before 9:00 in the morning talking about gin-soaked clowns.
LINCOLN: Beer-drenched clowns.
SYDNEY: And you want me to start dealing with the present. How about you start dealing with reality?
LINCOLN: I start to move. Then I stop. We see each other at the same instant.
DHALIA: (from outside the window) Hello!
SYDNEY and LINCOLN: She’s here!
(SYDNEY runs to out of the room)
(LINCOLN answers the front door)
DHALIA: Hi. It’s been a—
LINCOLN: Long time.
DHALIA: Yeah. I…uh—
DHALIA: It’s barely 9 in the morning.
LINCOLN: Just trying to—
DHALIA: Trying to get me drunk?
LINCOLN: No…I just—
DHALIA: Is she here?
(DAHLIA goes to the door)
LINCOLN: Not in there!
(The dog begins to go crazy)
DHALIA: What do you have in—
LINCOLN: I got a dog.
DHALIA: Sounds like a big dog.
LINCOLN: Yeah, and Syd’s not too happy about it.
DHALIA: When did you get it?
LINCOLN: This morning.
DHALIA: This morning?
LINCOLN: I went out to get the tequila, and the guy on the corner—
DHALIA: Nothing’s changed with you.
LINCOLN: That’s not true. I’m working on my Master’s Degree.
DHALIA: By going to buy tequila at 8 o’clock in the morning?
LINCOLN: 7 o’clock. And it was a surprise for Sydney.
DHALIA: I’m sure she loved it.
LINCOLN: You know her as well as ever.
DHALIA: I thought I heard her voice when I—
LINCOLN: Yeah, she had to—
DHALIA: You still making excuses for her?
(VOICE FROM STREET comes in the window)
VOICE FROM STREET: Can you tell me where a bodega—
LINCOLN: Down at the corner—
VOICE FROM STREET: Thanks!
DHALIA: The master of distraction has returned.
LINCOLN: Look, I just wanted us all to get along. How was Hong Kong?
LINCOLN: The photos looked amazing. What were you doing there?
DHALIA: You know, this and that.
LINCOLN: This and that?
DHALIA: Nothing nefarious.
LINCOLN: Did I say nefarious?
DHALIA: No, but you were—
LINCOLN: I was.
DHALIA: I’m not in college anymore.
LINCOLN: Hey, that’s not—
(SYDNEY enters from her room. She is dressed: half-presentable)
DHALIA: Hey. How are—
DAHLIA & SYDNEY: Shut up!
LINCOLN: Ok. Fine.
DHALIA: (simultaneous with SYDNEY ) So are you—
SYDNEY: (simultaneous with DAHLIA) What have—
LINCOLN: Anybody want—
LINCOLN: I’m going to my room…for a minute. Let you two catch up.
(LINCOLN touches the handle and the dog goes crazy)
LINCOLN: Easy. Easy buddy.
(LINCOLN gets pulled into the room. Dog is snarling)
LINCOLN: Easy buddy!
DHALIA: It’s been a long time.
SYDNEY: Yeah. It sure has.
DHALIA: You been–
SYDNEY: You’ve been living in Hong Kong.
SYDNEY: That’s incredible.
DHALIA: It was. And now I’m back.
SYDNEY: Back for what?
DHALIA: Back forever. I think.
SYDNEY: But why?
DHALIA: Parents. Stuff. Unresolved stuff. What’ve you been up to?
SYDNEY: Ya know.
DHALIA: Yeah. You working?
SYDNEY: Yeah, my boss, he—
DHALIA: Are you okay?
SYDNEY: Yeah, my boss, he—
DHALIA: He what?
SYDNEY: Hong Kong must have been incredible.
DHALIA: Yeah. It was. What about your boss?
SYDNEY: I work from home.
DHALIA: That’s great! I dream of working from home!
SYDNEY: Not like this.
DHALIA: What do you mean…
SYDNEY: Talking about it makes it weird.
DHALIA: Weird how?
SYDNEY: I haven’t left the house in three years.
DHALIA: You what?
SYDNEY: This is my job. People watch me live.
DHALIA: And your boss…
SYDNEY: I met him once. When he set up the cameras—
DHALIA: So I’m…
SYDNEY: Being broadcast live.
(Long pause. DAHLIA looks around for cameras)
SYDNEY: What’s wrong?
DHALIA: Nothing…I…uh…didn’t know.
SYDNEY: You’ve been in Hong Kong.
DHALIA: Do people watch you?
SYDNEY: Lots of people. Why?
DHALIA: I need to go.
SYDNEY: But you just got here!
(LINCOLN enters. Scrambling out of the room)
LINCOLN: What’s happening?
DHALIA: I have to go. You should have told me about—
LINCOLN: You can’t go…we’re just catching up…old times and all that…
SYDNEY: If she needs to go, she should go.
LINCOLN: No. I’ve worked hard to make this happen, and now—
DHALIA: We may all be in trouble.
LINCOLN: If you leave…I’ll…I’ll kill the dog.
SYDNEY: You will not.
LINCOLN: I knew you’d change your mind.
VOICE OF THE BOSS:
DHALIA: We take her mighty ideas along quietly so that we may come right.
Last spring, I was approached by a group of former students eager to begin their lives as artists and hungry to make art. I am lucky to work with students whose art I respect and I was honored that they would look at the work of a professor and be eager to make it their own. So during a series of meetings over coffee at the Evergreen Cafe, a plan was hatched to present weekly readings during summer 2014 of several episodes in Last Chance, my theatre serial. Only one hitch…they didn’t have a space. So I did what I thought was the logical thing…I offered them our house.
Our house is a rowhouse in Baltimore (basically three single-wide trailers stacked on top of each other–a basement and two upper floors 14’x40′) with a backyard roughly the same size as the footprint of the house. We often entertain and our home has been featured in an article in What Weekly Magazine and in an article by Moscow critic John Freedman on the Trust for Mutual Understanding website, but this was a weekly commitment to using our home with the potential for invited audience…our central air was out…and it was summer in Baltimore.
A bit of backstory:
Last Chance: tales from a broken heartland is a series of episodes about life in the fictional rural town of Last Chance. I began writing the series in 2001 with the episode “Trash” and every year or so have written additional episodes. There are currently 10 episodes about Last Chance:
- “Ain’t Nothin’ Quik ‘n Easy”*
- “Ninjas & Squirrels”*
- “Cut Once
- “Measure Twice”
- “Trailer” !
- “Tall Buildings”
Each episode looks at a different aspect of the community. In this series, there is no central character, and people have commented that the town is the protagonist in this series. Some episodes (*) stand alone and have been produced at festivals, universities, or community theaters. One episode is new for summer 2014 (!). Only once before, at Generous Company’s Gumbo 2012, had anyone attempted to present more than one or two episodes as an event; at that time seven episodes were presented.
I worked through scribbled notebooks of notes from the 2012 Gumbo event and began to think of this as Last Chance and not a bunch of separate plays.This summer I worked to make these full length plays part of a series; part of a new whole. I worked to give each episode a greater sense of focus and urgency from the plays that had previously seemed a bit meandering.
I learned many things from this process, but here are a few that stand out and reflect the reward for taking the risk:
- The deadlines were great, generating a new play and strong revisions of other plays.
- As a small, but faithful, audience gathered we found our community growing…new friends welcomed into our home to see an evening of theatre.
- The energy and thrill of having a performance in our home must resemble the joy that people hosting house concerts feel, but there’s another energy with theatre: risk and danger… and the heartpounding reality of people fighting in your living room when you have a 90-pound dog.
During their six week residency at our home, the Show and Tell Collective presented seven episodes from Last Chance: Trash, Ain’t Nothin’ Quik ‘n Easy, Loser, Ninjas & Squirrels, Cut Once, Measure Twice, and Trailer. Charlie Herrick also penned an article about the summer called Home Theater, and it captures much of the spirit of the Last Chance experiment in presenting theatre in our home.
As a culminating event to this summer series, the Collective rented Church and Comany, a dynamic and homey space in the Hampden area of Baltimore. A great end to a great summer.
From Building Bridges, an article I contributed to the TCG Crossing Borders online blog/salon:
I can now act and think both globally and locally, creating theatre that is vital to more people because it is theatre that bridges communities, finds connections, and waits for society to catch up.