Dead Men Grinning at the Moon and Other Plays

Five Plays by Don Nigro

Dead Men Grinning At The Moon. Long one act/short full length. (1f , 2m). Unit set. Darkly comic drama. Late in his career, William Shakespeare, chief playwright at the Globe Theatre in London, is spending more and more time drinking at the Inn of George Wilkins, a fairly disreputable and lecherous scoundrel who has aspirations to be a great playwright. Wilkins is convinced that the only reason Shakespeare comes to drink at his Inn is that he’s in love with the young married waitress, Mary, and finds a way to use this insight to blackmail Shakespeare into collaborating with him on a not very promising play called Pericles, Prince Of Tyre. Shakespeare is decidedly not interested, hates collaborating, and doesn’t like Wilkins at all, but when Wilkins threatens to fire Mary and throw her and her husband out on the street for non-payment of rent, Shakespeare reluctantly agrees to read Wilkins’ first draft, and ultimately to collaborate with him on the revision. To Shakespeare’s surprise, he actually begins to get interested in the play, and gradually takes over the project, turning a rather dull and clumsy script into something rather haunting, and not unrelated to the actual relationship between himself and Mary. In the course of their stormy collaboration, Wilkins becomes more and more frustrated and resentful that Shakespeare is really so much better at this than he is, and one drunken night has a chance to take out his anger on Mary, with consequences that surprise even him. A darkly funny play about talent confronted with genius, the horrors of collaboration, and the mysterious lost daughters who haunt Shakespeare’s last plays. Another in a series of Nigro’s Shakespeare plays, which includes Loves Labours Wonne, The Bohemian Seacoast, Boar’s Head, The Girlhood Of Shakespeare’s Heroines, and others. 

Inside. One act. Simple set. (1f,1m). Dark comedy. The first of a group of four short Alice and Bob plays (with Touched, Holes and Cleanliness) in which Alice and Bob, trapped inside in a plague lockdown, investigate the relative virtues of being inside as opposed to being outside, and which is more likely to drive one insane.

Touched. One minute play. Simple set. (1f, 1m). Dark comedy. The second of a group of four short Alice and Bob plays (with Inside, Holes and Cleanliness), in which Bob begins to drive Alice berserk, trapped in their apartment in a plague lockdown, by his complete inability to stop touching his nose. 

Holes. One act. Simple set. (1f, 1m). Dark comedy. The third of a group of four short Alice and Bob plays (with Inside, Touched and Cleanliness), in which Bob, beginning to lose his sense of reality while trapped in their apartment with Alice, becomes obsessed with a theory that there are portals in space all around them which are the entrances to other dimensions. 

Cleanliness. One act. Simple set. (1f, 1m). Dark comedy. The last of a group of four short Alice and Bob plays (with Inside, Touched, and Holes) in which Alice, who has pretty much reached her breaking point after being trapped with Bob in their apartment for what seems like centuries during a plague lockdown, attempts to clean everything in sight over and over again until nothing is left but a little pile of bones.  

Running Time: Variable

Royalty Rate: $75 per performance (Contact for individual plays)

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About the Playwright

Among the most frequently published and widely produced playwrights in the world, Don Nigro has continued to build a deeply inter-related but diverse body of dramatic literature, work that is often mysterious and unclassifiable, employing a wide variety of dramatic conventions and styles of presentation. He has written monologues and epics, spare realistic dramas and surreal homicidal puppet farces, plays with music and verse plays. He continues to build the long cycle of Pendragon County plays, which traces the history of America through the lives of several east Ohio families from the eighteenth century to the present, and features many characters whose lives are followed from youth through middle age to old age in a number of plays designed to be presented in a variety of different combinations. He has also written a long cycle of plays about Russian writers and artists that includes Pushkin, Onegin And Tatyana In Odessa, Dostoyevsky, An Angler In The Lake Of Darkness, Emotion Memory and Nights At The Stray Dog Café.

Nigro’s plays have been produced in every state, including the McCarter Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Circle Rep Lab, Capital Repertory Company, the People’s Light and Theatre Company, the WPA Theatre, Manhattan Class Company, the Hudson Guild Theatre, Hypothetical Theatre, the Berkeley Stage Company, Milwaukee Rep, the Planet Connections Festival in NYC, Gravity and Glass Productions, the Strain Theatre Company, the Apothecary Theatre Company, the Secret Rose Theatre, Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre, and many others. His work is often done in New York by Nylon Fusion Theatre Company, including award winning productions of A Snowfall In Berlin, The Chaplin Plays, Marina and Mata Hari. Many of his New York productions have been written for and featured actress Tatyana Kot and producer/performer/director Ivette Dumeng. 

Internationally, his plays have been produced in London, Athens, Moscow, St Petersburg, Barcelona, Prague, Vienna, Munich, France, Ireland, Wales, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, Iran, Mexico, Argentina, Ukraine, Armenia, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Finland, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Slovenia, Moldova, Hungary, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing, and toured in Delhi and Calcutta, India. SpielArt, based in Munich, has toured his plays in Germany. His work has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Polish, Greek, Russian, Slovenian, Dutch, Persian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Chinese. 

John Clancy’s production of Nigro’s Cincinnati, featuring Nancy Walsh, won Fringe First and Spirit of the Fringe awards at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Best of Fringe at the Adelaide Fringe Festival in Australia, and later toured in England, Ireland and Wales. Cincinnati was also produced in London, featuring Mia Tagano, with directorial assistance from John Barton. Seascape With Sharks And Dancer has been in the repertory of Teatr Syrena in Warsaw, and Lucia Mad was produced at Teatr Julius Slowakie in Krakow. Teatro del Fantasma in Mexico City has presented a Spanish translation of The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s HeroinesSeascape With Sharks And Dancer, translated into Spanish by Tato Alexander, and featuring her and Bruno Bichir, was produced in Mexico City and toured in Mexico, and Alexander also appeared in A History Of The Devil, in her Spanish translation, which toured in Mexico, and in English in New York. Grotesque Lovesongs was translated and produced on Polish television, and the film The Manor, with Peter O’Toole, is based on his play Ravenscroft. 

In recent years Victor Weber’s Russian translations of many of Nigro’s plays have been produced all over Russia and in other eastern European countries. Among these are a notable production of Nigro’s play Mandelstam at the Roman Victyuk Theatre in Moscow, which has toured to Theatre Celestins in Lyon, France, Henry and Ellen and Don Giovanni, and Ravenscroft in Moscow, Ravenscroft in Minsk, Belarus, Gorgons in St Petersburg, Moscow and in Kiev, Ukraine, Iphigenia in Kiev, Maddalena in Chisnau, Moldova, and Animal Tales at Theatre Fontanka in St Petersburg and all over Russia, and in Helsinki, Finland, Nebuchadnezzar in Estonia, and various plays in many other Russian theatres.

Nigro has a BA in English from The Ohio State University and an MFA in Dramatic Arts from the Playwrights Workshop at the University of Iowa. He has taught Comparative Literature, Dramatic Literature and Playwriting at the Ohio State University, the University of Iowa, Kent State University, Indiana State University, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Nigro has twice been a finalist for the National Repertory Theatre Foundation’s National Play Award, and has won a Playwriting Fellowship Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Mary Roberts Rinehart Foundation. He has twice been James Thurber Writer in Residence at the Thurber House in Columbus. The Don Nigro Collection at the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute at the Ohio State University contains a growing repository for his manuscripts and other materials.

Nigro is the author of 468 plays, 194 of which have been published by Samuel French in 57 volumes. His work has also been published by Theatre Communications Group in their Plays In Process series, and by Applause Books and Smith & Kraus in many of Lawrence Harbison’s yearly Best Ten Minute PlaysBest Monologues, and other collections.  Labyrinth: The Plays Of Don Nigro and Labyrinth 2: Plays By Don Nigro 2001-2011, both by Jim McGhee, chronicle Nigro’s work over several decades.

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