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Plays

Duet

Duet is a one-act play by Otho Eskin about the great French actress Sarah Bernhardt and her archrival, the Italian diva Eleonora Duse. The ghost of Sarah Bernhardt appears in Eleonora’s dressing room in a theater in Pittsburgh in 1923 just before the last performance of Eleonora’s life. The two great actresses clash as each relives the events that shaped their lives. They recall their first experiences in acting and their love affairs. Most importantly, they return to their tumultuous encounter when Eleonora appears in Paris to challenge Sarah directly and Sarah betrays Eleonora—in art and in love. In the end, each woman comes to terms with her life and with each other.

  • First performed as a staged reading at the Italian Cultural Institute, Washington, DC, on March 8, 1993 with Kerry Waters, Kathryn Kelley and Kryztov Lindquist. Directed by Robert McNamara.
  • Won First Prize in 1993 for Dramatic Writing in the Larry Neal Writers’ Award sponsored by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
  • Performed at the Elizabethan Theatre, co-produced by the Folger Shakespeare Library and SCENA Theatre in Washington, DC, November-December 1994 with Kerry Waters, Jennifer Mendenhall and Kryztov Lindquist. Directed by Robert McNamara.
  • Performed at the Beckett Theatre, Melbourne, Australia in October 1994 with Tammy McCarthy, Andrea Swifte and Philip Parslow. Directed by Malcolm Robertson.
  • Performed in Croatia and Slovenia on an international tour by SCENA Theatre in 1995.
  • Performed on Croatian National Radio in 1997.
  • Produced in Italy with Ileana Ghione, Fiorenza Marchegiana and Gabriele Villa. Directed by Pier Antonio Barbieri. See Italian Connection for program notes for this production.
  • An Italian translation of Duet was published in the Italian theater journal, Prima Fila, January 1998 issue.
  • Produced at the Greenwich Street Theatre in New York City from December 4, 2003 to January 20, 2004 with Laura Esterman, Pamela Payton-Wright and Robert Emmet Lunney. Directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser.
  • Produced by Scena Theater in Vienna, Austria, December 12, 2004, (German language) directed by Robert McNamara featuring Anna Richert, Edith Stauer-Wierl and Paul Wimberger
  • Produced by The Red Thread Collective at El Museo Cultural in Sante Fe, NM, February 22 through March 9, 2008, directed by Francesca Ursone featuring Cynthia Straus, Rima Miller, Paul Blott, Jason Adam and Boril Radoykov.
  • Produced by the Staryj Dom Theatre in Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia. In repertoire beginning October 29, 2008.
  • In repertory at the Dailes Theatre of Riga, Latvia.
  • Produced at the International Theater Festival “SLAVIA 2011” in Belgrade, Serbia March 2011

Sarah Bernhardt

Eleonora Duse

Kerry Waters, Kryztov Lindquist and Jennifer Mendenhall

Final Analysis

1910—the end of the old world; the beginning of a new world. Vienna is a crossroad of civilization: of art, music, science, and politics. Beneath its façade of frivolity and pleasure, the city is rotting at its core, sickened by moral corruption, anti-Semitism, and an obsession with death. Against this background, Gustav Mahler, the great Austrian composer and conductor, falls in love with the beautiful, charismatic and restless Alma Schindler. Joseph Stalin, passing through Vienna, dreams of world revolution and meets a dangerous young man over a game of chess. Ludwig Wittgenstein, destined to become a dominant force in world philosophy, turns to an old schoolmate with unpleasant consequences. Mahler’s young wife, Alma, looks for love in all the wrong places and threatens to leave Gustav. Mahler asks Sigmund Freud, who created a science of the mind, to help him save his failing marriage. And a lost young man with no name, destined to become the dictator of Germany and architect of the Holocaust—the bringer of death—stands alone on the banks of the Danube River. Freud encounters this desperate young man and, fearing he plans to commit suicide, agrees to an impromptu consultation and talks him out of killing himself. And with this act of compassion, Freud condemns the world to suffering, ruin and horror.

Produced at the Midtown International Theatre Festival July 17-August 4, 2012 at the June Havoc Theatre. With Ezra Barnes, Stephen Bradbury, Michael Goldsmith, Elizabeth Jasicki, Jeremiah Reynolds, Gannon McHale, Tony Naumovski. Directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser. Winner of seven awards: Outstanding Production of a Play, Outstanding New Script of a Full Production, Outstanding Direction of a Full Production (Ludovica Villar-Hauser), Outstanding Costume Design for a Full Production, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play (Michael Goldsmith), Outstanding Supporting Actor (Stephen Bradbury), Producer’s Award.

Produced at The Alice Griffen Jewel Box Theatre, The Pershing Square Signature Center, August 8-October 5, 2013 with Ezra Barnes. Stephen Bradbury, Ryan Garbayo, Elizebeth Jasicki, Gannon McHale, Tony Naumovski and Micheal Satow. Directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser.

Elizabeth Jasicki as “Alma Maria”

Gannon McHale and Tony Naumovski

Season In Hell

At the end of a turbulent life, Arthur Rimbaud, the brilliant, perverse, self-destructive French poet is dying in a hospital in Marseilles after years of self imposed exile in Africa. In his fever dreams he relives his life—as a young rebel in the French Ardennes, his life-changing experiences in the uprising of the Paris Commune in 1871, his invention of his own, personal poetry that leads him to Parnassus, the summit of the French literary world, his turbulent and destructive love affair with the French poet Paul Verlaine, and Verlaine’s attempt to kill Rimbaud, and the end of his demonic, frenzied search for ultimate truth through art, drugs, alcohol and alchemy.

Produced by Scena Theatre with Kryztov Lindquist as Arthur Rimbaud, Robert McNamara, director. May 4, 1994 at La Maison Française, The Embassy of France, and at the Warehouse Theatre, Washington. DC. September-October, 1998.

Kryztov Lindquist as Arthur Rimbaud

Julie

An adaptation of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie.

Set in the Deep South in the 1920’s, Julie, the daughter of a Southern patrician family lives in ‘the big house’ on a former plantation. Also living in the house is Ransom, the family’s Black chauffeur, and Cora, the Black family cook. Julie, a bored, neurotic White woman, seeks escape through sex with her father’s Black chauffeur, violating the most profound taboos of her society—sex and the rigid cultural and racial divisions. Ransom in turn seeks escape by leaving this racist world, never far from the Klan, and joining The Great Migration North where he dreams of playing jazz in a club in Chicago. Both dreams fail tragically.

With Deidra LaWan Starnes, David Lamont Wilson, and Christine Rebecca Herzog. Directed by Robert McNamara. At the Warehouse Theatre, May 2002.

David Lamont Wilson
and Christine Rebecca Herzog

Murder As a Fine Art

Murder As A Fine Art is a murder mystery set in the high-stakes world of art collectors, dealers and critics. Denys St. Ives, an art expert, has been summoned to the estate of Simon de Winter, ostensibly to catalogue De Winter’s world-famous art collection. Simon, it turns out, is blind and he tells Denys that hr has not been hired to catalogue the collection but to rob it. Others in the house include de Winter’s dangerous secretary; a world famous art critic; de Winter’s wife who tries to seduce Denys; and Alexis, Simon’s security expert and Denys’s former lover. A policeman arrives to inform de Winter that a notorious art thief is planning a spectacular theft of the entire collection. Art keeps disappearing from the walls during the course of the play and De Winter’s wife is murdered, leading to a violent denouement where the real art thief is exposed.

Produced by The Source Theatre as part of the Annual Washington Theatre Festival at the Arts Club of Washington August 2 and 3, 1992, with Dean Avery, Holly Brand, Dennis Fecteau, David Fendig, Roxanne Fournier, Steve Games, Mike Goll, and Ray Reno. Directed by Stephen Jarrett.

Produced at The Source Theatre, Washington DC with Dean Avery, Roxanne Fournier, Ed Johnson, Estralita Jones, David Marsh, and Matt Walker. Directed by Stephen Jarrett.

Act of God

An out-of-work actor tries to sell his soul to the Satan in return for being cast in a Broadway show. He summons Satan but because the actor is inept at this kind of thing and messes up the ritual, Satan finds himself trapped in the apartment and becomes a long-term and very unwelcome houseguest and roommate. In order to escape, Satan must possess someone else’s soul and tries to corrupt the souls of others who visit the apartment, which include a neighbor, an insane psychiatrist, a lawyer and Father Damien, an incompetent exorcist. Satan appears to each of these as their evil alter-egos. Finally, the actor’s girl friend arrives but she is too innocent to recognize Satan in any form.

Produced by the Contemporary Theatre Company of Washington DC, March-April, 1991 with Paul Cunningham, Mitchel Patrick, Gail Frye. Directed by Linda A. Lees.

Gail Frye and Mitchel Patrick

The Plague

A devastating plague appears suddenly in a city, killing many and almost destroying the community. The plague brings out the best and the worst in people. Some citizens behave well, others behave badly and the fabric of society is torn apart. The plague finally disappears but there is the prophecy that the plague will one day return.

Translation and adaptation for the stage of The Plague, the novel by Albert Camus. Performed at the Warehouse Theatre, Washington, DC. April-May, 20008. With C. Travis Atkinson,, Kim Curtis, Rashard Harrison, Joe Lewis, Aaron Lovett, Patrick Martin, Samantha Merrick, Carolyn Myers, Karen O’Connell, Buck O’Leary, Ian Blackwell, Michael Vitaly Sazonov, and Honora Talbot. Directed by Elle Wilhite and Robert McNamara.

The Wilder Shore

The Greek god Dionysus, the synthesis of god and goat, who makes men mad and incites them to savagery and blood lust, appears in a small New England college town in contemporary America, after twenty centuries of banishment; driven from earth by Christianity. Now that the Christian god is dead, the pagan gods return and Dionysus can make his big comeback. Dionysus exposes the animal in each human being—the combination of savage and divine—and wreaks destruction, turning a peaceful community into a raging mob. The god appears as an aging rock star, an evangelist, a radio talk-show host and in each form he represents ecstasy, intoxication, the savage—the primitive, the natural and the instinctual. As people fall under his influence, Dionysus liberates men to live a life of pure instinct. All laws and institutions are dismantled. The god promises infinite rapture, infinite terror and brings social destruction.

Theater arose from the chaos, rapture and ecstasy of the ancient festival of Dionysus celebrating public disorder and mob violence. The Wilder Shore is a contemporary interpretation of Euripides’ The Bachae—and the origins of theatrical drama.

A reading at La maison française. March 22, 1995 with Steve Angus, Nick Olcott, Katrina Van Duyn, Tricia McCally, Buck O’Leary and Carter Jahncke. Directed by Robert McNamara. Music by Steve Jones.

Two-Part Invention

The story of the great anarchist and feminist, Emma Goldman: her arrival in New York alone as a penniless immigrant, her life on the Lower East Side, her engagement with radical and feminist politics, her many love affairs, her involvement in the attempted murder of the American industrialist Henry Clay Frick and, finally her confrontation with the then young bureaucrat, J. Edger Hoover, who had her deported from America.

Performed at The Warehouse Theatre, Washington, DC. August, 1998. With Brian Hemmingsen, Nancy Robinette and Kerry Waters. Directed by Robert McNamara.

Other

The Envoy: by Thomas Hürlimann, translated from the German by Otho Eskin. Performed at the Embassy of Switzerland September 1994.

The Satyr Play

Strange Bedfellows

Short Stories:

The Procurer
State of the Art
Young Adolf

Short One-Act Plays:

First Reading
The Decline, Partial Unending and Ultimate Collapse of Civilization as We Know It
My Son the Messiah
Stand Up Metaphysics
Speak Muse
The New Prometheus

Non-Fiction:

Law of the Sea and the Management of Multilateral Diplomacy published by the Center for Oceans Law and Policy, University of Virginia 1978

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