dog ear

plays by Wayne Peter Liebman

Wayne Peter Liebman: Full-Length Plays

Transference

Transference tells the story of Sabina Spielrein, an enigmatic Russian girl who arrived in Zurich in 1904 to become Carl Jung's first patient. Buried under the avalanche of her florid psychosis was a profoundly original and inventive mind, if only the young doctor could set it free. Jung succeeded all too well. Sabina became his lover, inspired his theories, fled to Vienna where she captivated Sigmund Freud, finally returning to Russia and disappearing from history. Trampled under the clay feet of giants, she remains the shadowy ur-woman of psychoanalytic imagination, giving light to the strange alchemy born of desire, psychosis and creativity.

Character Breakdown: 2M, 1F

Set/Technical: Minimal set--2 or 3 chairs.
Running Time: 2 hours

Awards:

Winner, 2003 Maxim Mazumdar Playwrighting Competition

Production History:

Alleyway Theatre, Buffalo, 2004

Reviews:

A more simplistic account might have depicted Sabina on the verge of mental illness, or subjugated by society, or ignored by history. Transference does not even mention her death when the Nazis invaded Russia in 1942. However, Liebman’s telling of her story—and the canny way in which it is told—is distinctive, acclaiming her efforts without martyring her. Sabina is presented entirely as an equal of the play’s two, more well-known historic figures.

Buffalo Examiner (feature), Thomas Dooney

Development:

2004 National Playwrights Conference, O'Neill Theatre Center

2004 Kitchen Dog New Play Festival

2003 BTU Unbound Festival

2003 Ensemble Studio Theatre (LA Project) Winterfest

Honors:

Finalist, Bay Area Playwrights Festival

Finalist, 2003 SWTA (Southwest Theatre Association) New Play Contest


 

Better Angels

In the fall of 2005, in an episode thought unprecedented in American history, the war-bereaved Cindy Sheehan kept vigil outside George W. Bush's Texas ranch to confront the president about his Iraq war. The cold shoulder treatment Mrs. Sheehan got is well-known; what is less known is that the incident was not unprecedented. 142 years earlier, in the fall of 1863, a war-widow named Cordelia Harvey advanced on the White House to argue, cajole and remonstrate with Abraham Lincoln about his war. Unlike Bush, Lincoln met his angel of history head on. He spoke with her day after day for six days, in the process demonstrating exquisite mindfulness and making a ruthless inquiry into his own motives. The private Lincoln is a man with soul stripped bare – "writhing, elusive, tormented by his burdens, lighted with awkward humors." "If you grant my petition you will be glad as long as you live," she told him. "I shall never be glad anymore," he answered. Better Angels dramatizes Mrs. Harvey's written account, which gives a singular look at history writ small, and shows Lincoln becoming large by leaving room for his own doubts.

Character Breakdown: 2M, 1F

Running Time: 90 minutes

Awards:

2008 Trustus Playwrights' Prize

Production History:

World premiere, Trustus Theatre, Columbia, SC, 2008 Colony Theatre, 2009

Reviews:

In his drama "Better Angels," Wayne Peter Liebman combines imagination with the historical record and actually-uttered words to create a life-like image of the 16th president. While the material - a woman trying to persuade Abraham Lincoln to open military hospitals in the North - may sound dry, Liebman makes it work, giving us a Lincoln full of self-doubts, strong convictions and even a decent sense of humor. This certainly isn't the first dramatic attempt to paint a picture of the man behind the face on the penny, but it is a fine one.... The play moves toward Lincoln's Gettysburg address, but the playwright is wise not to have it spoken in the play.... One of the most intriguing aspects of the play is the subtle flirtation between Lincoln and Harvey, which the playwright explores in a surprising and beautiful manner as a coda.

The South Carolina State, Jeffrey Day

A little-known slice of American history is interwoven with the creative imagination of playwright Wayne Peter Liebman in this colorful portrait of the 16th U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln. Liebman blends a series of documented events in 1863 with a dramatization of torturous decisions faced by the chief executive during his term of office, as the Civil War ravaged the nation. Director Dan Bonnell's intimate staging of this three-person play yields an entertaining view of our political heritage, offering resonant reflections on modern times. The production is graced with simple and tasteful design elements, suiting the low-key charm of this sweet play, a refreshing change from self-important docudramas.

Backstage West, Les Spindle

Development:

Broad Stage, American Voices Series, staged reading with Dustin Hoffman, James Cromwell, Amy Ryan, 2008

Angel's Gate Cultural Center, 2007 Playreading Series.

Last Frontier Conference, 2007


 

Brimful of Push

A man, a plan, a tunnel—Comstock! Welcome to Samuel Clemens’ Virginia City, home to gamblers, dreamers, and one dangerous goddess. To get rich, merely sweet talk her and conquer her mountain of gold—its depth, heat, gas, floods, fires, cave-ins. In 1861, Adolph Sutro arrived with a scheme: dig a four-mile rail tunnel 1200 feet beneath the mine to drain floods, guarantee ventilation, and provide miners an emergency escape. Opposed by the corrupt Bank of California, Sutro triumphed after an epic eighteen-year battle—just as the mines were exhausted. A true American tale of rapacity, heroism and divine irony.

Character Breakdown: 3M, 6F

Running Time: 2 hours

Awards:

2002 U.S. History Play Competition (Sprenger Lang Foundation), 2nd Place

Development:

Greenway Court Theatre, Los Angeles (Greenway Reads program, staged reading 2003)

Colony Theatre Company, Burbank, Barbara Beckley producer (Staged reading, 2003)

Stages Theatre, Los Angeles, Arye Gross producer (Public reading, 2002)


 

The Sun Maiden

In a collision of Native Californian and European worlds, a young Gabrielino medicine woman called Toypurina leads an attack against the newly built San Gabriel Mission. A thirteen-year-old Indian girl living as a mission convert watches Toypurina's imprisonment and conversion to Christianity, and must come to grips with the power of language and her own emerging sexuality.

Character Breakdown: 5M, 3F

Running Time: 100 minutes

Production History:

EdgeFest 2004—The LA History Project production at the Autry National Museum, October 2004.


 

Rowing to Canaan

What is the righteous response to evil? In 1934 Warsaw, Goebbels is about to arrive bearing Hitler’s treaty of friendship. In a nearby mountain cabin, six young Poles—Jews trying to get to Palestine—are rehearsing the play which may just win them a chance. But what play? Bontsha the Silent, a story of mystical connection to God? Or The Golem, a story of reaction and revenge? While the company argue, strategize, rehearse and make love, they grapple with a dark, sustaining secret: that every human act contains its own opposite.

Character Breakdown: 3M, 3F

Awards:

New Play Commission grant (National Foundation for Jewish Culture

Development:

A.S.K. Theater Projects (First Stage reading)

Colony Theatre Company, Barbara Beckley producer, (staged reading, 2003)

Stages Theatre, Arye Gross producer (public reading)

Honors:

Finalist, Dorothy Silver Playwriting Competition (Halle Theatre)

Finalist, Ensemble Studio Theatre—the L.A. Project, First Looks


 

Vita & Violet

Vita loves Violet. Violet loves Vita, especially when Vita becomes Julian. It's 1920 and two notorious women are reinventing the world; the only problem is their husbands. Vita is Vita Sackville-West--poet, author, lover of Virginia Woolf, hero of Virginia's literary valentine, the novel Orlando; Violet is Violet Keppel Trefusis (1894-1973), novelist, femme fatale, daughter of the notorious Alice Keppel, the mistress of Edward VII. When the women pack off to France to make a clean break with their past, their husbands follow in a rented airplane. Chaos reigns in a hotel love nest. A true, fly-on-the-wall account of scandalous romance.

Character Breakdown: 2M, 2F

Set/Technical: One set suggesting a hotel room
Running Time: 2 hours

Honors:

National Playwrights Conference finalist, O'Neill Theater Center

PlayLabs finalist, Minneapolis Playwrights' Center

First Runner-up, Ashland New Play Festival


 

Wayne Peter Liebman: One-Act Plays

The Goose Girl

A golden-haired princess, a faithless maid-in-waiting, a talking horse, a randy gooseherd. Rescue by oven. Death by wheelbarrow. Based on the Grimms' tale.

Character Breakdown: 3M, 4F

Running Time: 25 min

Production History:

MET Theatre production of Grimm, Too.

Reviews:

At Grimm's spectacular best, Wayne Peter Liebman's delectable rendering of The Goosegirl is narrated by the characters Book-It style, fully charged by director L. Flint Esquerra's whimsical staging and seamless storytelling that even melds with its opening and closing blackouts. This is controlled silliness. Visual puns toy with the language, while actors take no step unless it is ripe with life, purpose, and humor.

BackStage West, Dany Margolies


 

Wedding Spell

A dramatization of the classic Arthurian tale wherin life takes a sinister turn for King Arthur when he meets a loathsome hag with romantic designs on one of the Knights of the Round Table. A Dog Ear Witch play for children of all ages.

Character Breakdown: 4M, 2F

Set/Technical: Open and flexible
Running Time: 20 minutes

Production History:

forthcoming as part of The Witching Hour (MET Theatre, Los Angeles)

Development:

Staged reading, Black Dahlia Theatre


 

Wayne Peter Liebman: Ten-Minute Plays

Biblio

Glynda's a librarian wannabe. She's also daddy's girl, and daddy's a real spook, cranking out code for the CIA or NSA or LBJ -- it's all so confusing when the letters disappear. Daddy's mistress is no help either -- way too blonde and packing a wicked syringe: really, it's all a girl can do to keep her dress on straight. 

Character Breakdown: 1M, 2F

Set/Technical: Minimal
Running Time: 10 minutes

Production History:

The Road Theatre Company's production of "Cuts," an evening of ten-minute Dog Ear plays, 2007.

Reviews:

Wayne Liebman's thought-provoking Biblio, directed by Dennis Gersten, features Ann Noble as a girl-woman whose perceptible mental problems invoke an avalanche of images, including Mara Marini's hilarious Marilyn Monroe.

Backstage.com, Dink O'Neill
>Full Review

wry and absurdist humor

L.A. Weekly, Steven Leigh Morris
>Full Review


 

Secret Identity

Two twelve year old girls (played by adults) explore the secret world of boys.

Character Breakdown: 2F

Set/Technical: Minimal. A bed or couch.
Running Time: 10 minutes

Development:

Staged reading, Dog Ear production of "Chatter," 24th Street Theatre.


 

Wayne Peter Liebman: Plays for Young Audiences

Millennium Shock

A scientist bent on experimenting with a bug finds that turnabout is fair play.

Character Breakdown: 1M, 2F

Set/Technical: Simple set with slides, colorforms
Running Time: 10 minutes

Production History:

Virginia Avenue Project commission (UCLA Little Theater production, 1999)


 

Impatience and Her Brother Invention

A self-absorbed girl discovers she has a little brother who never talked until now. Each proves the solution to the other's problems.

Character Breakdown: 1M, 1F

Set/Technical: Bare set with slides, colorforms.
Running Time: 10 minutes

Production History:

Virginia Avenue Project commission. (UCLA Little Theater production, 2003)


 

SuperBelle, Enemy of All Shmuckiness

A troubled teen with superpowers discovers her arch-enemy is her own sister.

Character Breakdown: 2F

Set/Technical: Minimal set, with slides and colorforms.

Production History:

Virginia Avenue Project commission (UCLA Little Theater production, 2001)


 

Reckoning

A struggling writer confronts her old English teacher in Purgatory.

Character Breakdown: 2F, 1 Either male or female

Set/Technical: Minimal, with slides.
Running Time: 10 minutes

Production History:

Virginia Avenue Project commission (24th St. Theatre, 2006)