Captain Spaulding on Skull Island

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Raven Theatre, where I’m lucky enough to be employed, is currently doing The House of Blue Leaves by John Guare.  I’ve long enjoyed Guare’s work, so I wrote up an appreciation of him for a Raven e-blast.  We weren’t able to use my musings, but I thought I might share them here.

So here it is.

Really, Really, Really Funny Darkness: An Appreciation of John Guare

I’ve always been a fan of dark comedy.  Whether reading novels by Kurt Vonnegut or Neil Gaiman, or watching movies like Barton Fink, Brazil or Arsenic and Old Lace, stories that make me laugh but also make me wonder if I’m supposed to be laughing have always been my cup of tea.

My first exposure to the work of John Guare was in college when I stage managed a production of his short play A Day For Surprises.  In the play, one of the stone lions in front of New York’s Public Library comes to life and eats one of the lady librarians.

What a revelation!  This short, absurd play about love and grief and the unpredictability of life and was both so funny and so dark at the same time that I had to track down more of this playwright’s work, all of which had that same duality that I found so wonderful.

Oddly enough, The House of Blue Leaves was not one of Guare’s plays that I read in that initial frenzy. A few years later, I was lucky enough to see a production. Everything I loved about A Day For Surprises was in The House of Blue Leaves a thousand fold – so many moments of laugh-out-loud humor, but underneath it all darkness bubbling right below the surface.  The ending left me shocked, but with a sense that it was, really, the only ending that worked for these desperate characters.

The following year I had my first play produced, Dr. Goat: Goat Doctor.  Although I didn’t realize it at the time, The House of Blue Leaves had a major influence on my script.  Dr. Goat had that same sense of bizarre wackiness, yet ended on a very, very sinister note. The majority of my plays since then have had that absurd, darkly comic tone.

In its own way, darkness sheds light on the travails all of us face in life.  Unlike Guare’s protagonist Artie Shaughnessy, we may not have a wife who acts like a dog, or a mischievous son who’s gone AWOL from the army, or party-crashing nuns that won’t leave our apartment – but we all have moments where we feel our life should be a little bit more.

And isn’t laughing at that a good thing?

JOHN WEAGLY’s short plays have received over 100 productions by theaters around the world.  His collection of shorts Tales of the Twinkling Twilight was seen on Raven’s stage in 2012 and he co-adapted Raven’s holiday hit Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose with Artistic Director Michael Menendian. He can be found online at www.johnweagly.com.

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Chicago Cottonmouth

May 19th, 2016

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Opening tonight – my short play “Chicago Cottonmouth”

Directed by Brad Bartolo

Featuring Bobbie O’Connor, Tricia Rogers and Morgan Crouch

Part of Dandelion Theatre’s The Hot Dog Stand

Friday 5/20 at 7:30

Saturday 5/21 at 7:30

Sunday 5/22 at 3:00 and 7:30

At The Den Theatre – 1333 N. Milwaukee in Chicago

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Ava Takes Up Aviation

May 16th, 2016

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Opening tonight – my short play “Ava Takes Up Aviation”

Ava’s friends have their hands full when they find her up a tree, in this heartbreak- and cocaine- fueled comedy.

Directed by Crystal Hartford

Featuring Cat Davidson, Erin K. O’Brien & Danielle Rennalls

Part of Indie Boots Theatre Festival 2016: The Ava Plays

Monday 5/16 at 7:30

Tuesday 5/17 at 7:30

Wednesday 5/18 at 7:30

At Stage 773 – 1225 W. Belmont in Chicago

I was lucky enough to have my play “Olivia Names Her Octopus” in Indie Boots Theatre Festival 2014: The Olivia Plays.  They did a great job!  I’m sure “Ava Takes Up Aviation” will be just as good!

“Tower for Two” Reading

April 11th, 2016

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Tomorrow come see (and maybe participate in) a reading of my Rapunzel & Rumpelstiltskin steampunk fairy tale play “Tower for Two.”  It’s part of The Make Ready, which is done every other month by the good people at Dandelion Theatre.

Here are the details:

Tuesday, April 12

7:00

The Make Ready

Featuring “Tower for Two” by John Weagly and six other short scripts by other talented playwrights.

The Galway Arms

2442 N. Clark in Chicago

Presented by Dandelion Theatre.

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Night of the Toad Lickers

March 22nd, 2016

Once upon a time, in the old millennium, I lived with world-renowned playwright Greg Owens in a run-down house that was the first site of Planned Parenthood in Bloomington, Indiana.

During that memorable year, Greg wrote a play about licking toads.

Now, over 20 years later, here is that play recorded by me and a bunch of really talented Chicago actors for Greg’s High Country Drama podcast.

You can also listen to the post-show where Greg and I talk about playwrighting, doing theater in a bus garage and our time living together when we always had hippies passed out on our floor.

Without further adieu, I proudly present, “Night of the Toad Lickers” by Greg Owens.

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My short story “Trash Pick-Up” (published last September at NEAR TO THE KNUCKLE) has been nominated for the Derringer Award for Best Flash Mystery Story of 2015!

The Derringer Awards are given out every year by The Short Mystery Fiction Society to honor outstanding short mystery and crime stories.

This is my 6th Derringer nomination.

To read “Trash Pick-Up,” you can go here.

My 2014 nominee, “Terry Tenderloin and the Pig Thief” can be found at SHOTGUN HONEY.

And you can buy my short story collection VELVET WHISPERS IN THE CROSSFIRE NIGHT at Amazon.  It includes:

Shark Infested Pudding” – a 2003 nominee

In the Shadows of Wrigley Field” – a 2008 winner

Wishing on Whores” – a 2009 nominee

My story “Twilight of the Fireflies,” a 2006 nominee, is currently out of print.

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Favorite Tony Scott Films

February 21st, 2016

Just for the heck of it, here’s a list of my favorite films directed by Tony Scott:

True Romance (1993)
Revenge (1990)
Domino (2005)
Man on Fire (2004)
Crimson Tide (1995)
The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Finally, just as we started the new millennium, BMW made some cool, short films about a Driver played by Clive Owen. Tony Scott’s was the best. It was called “Beat The Devil” and came out in 2002.

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Tonight my play “A Lady Who Collects Spiders Meets A Gentleman Who Collects Snakes” will be a part of Dandelion Theatre’s BE MINE: A FUNDRAISING VARIETY SHOW OF HEARTFELT PROPORTIONS.

Fizz Bar

3220 N. Lincoln in Chicago

7:00

$10.00 Donation

Sketches, music, improv, storytelling, a raffle and my play – Fun!  Fun!  Fun!

Come out and help keep live theater alive.

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Are You Famous, Yet? Podcast

February 8th, 2016

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The wonderful people at the wonderful “Are You Famous, Yet?” podcast were wonderful enough to have me on as a guest.

You can listen to me talk about my writing career and a bunch of other stuff.

You can find the podcast here.

Check it out!

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Books For Sale

February 7th, 2016

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Did you know I have books for sale at Amazon.com?

 

VELVET WHISPERS IN THE CROSSFIRE NIGHT

Men and women. Love and betrayal. Lies and promises. Laughter and tears. When men and women meet, revelation can’t be far behind. And when they go their separate ways, catastrophe is close-at-hand. Sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes indescribable – five stories about men and women by award-winning author John Weagly.

Contents include: Shark Infested Pudding, The Prophecies of Marnie Koob, All for the Love of Outlaw Ladies, Wishing on Whores and Portrait of a Call Girl Outside Wrigley Field.

Three of the stories in this collection were previously published as the e-book “A Bucket of Boobs.”

 

TEN TENTACLES

A friendly monster found in a dark alley. A tavern that exists between the planes of reality. A tentacle under a boardwalk. These are but a few of the oddities you’ll find in this collection of stories, plays and poetry by Derringer Award winning author John Weagly.

Contents Include: Detours on the Road to the Squid Circus, In the Garden Apartment of Madness, Down There, A Trip to Water and Sand, Armageddon Mackerel, Trick or Treating in a Sunken City, Squiggle, The Unspeakable Speakeasy, Tentacle Legs, Intelligent Ooze at the End of the World and A Little Wiggle.

Watch yourself when you go outside, it’s raining squid.

 

TINY FLIGHTS OF FANTASY

13 short and very short plays by John Weagly.

Rock ‘n’ Roll music that opens a rift in time and space.  A weird roadhouse down on the bayou.  An evil cosmic deity running for Alderman of the 14th Ward.  Shakespeare, sea monsters, spacemen, fishmongers and a bit of voodoo.

These are just a few of the subjects covered in this collection of plays about things that don’t happen, but probably should.

 

Buy them today.

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