Kenneth N. Kurtz
- Merde de Canard – A Comedy of Seven Doors and Eight Automatons
The focus is on Jacques de Vaucanson, whose wondrous mechanical creations — especially the famous shitting duck — delighted Parisians of the mid-eighteenth century, and foreshadowed the workings of modern computers. There are mistaken identities, lovelorn chases, sex desired but never obtained, and a randy robot running amuck. A farce-comedy, based on the unflappable yet unpredictable logic of automatons.
Merde de Canard won the second place award in the 2006 Arkansas Rep. Kaufman and Hart New Comedy Competition.
Two-Act: 1 hr. 45 min. – One set. Period costumes (including ladies’ panniers)
2N: mime-puppeteer automatons.
- Lost Portraits
Linked one-acts about the loveliest portraitist of 18th Century France.
– En Grisaille – A study in Gray, 45 min.
Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun is commissioned by Marie Antoinette to paint her as a shepherdess. However, she will only paint her if the queen abandons her elegant costume for the genuine, and repellent, peasant rags the artist provides, thereby experiencing the miseries of her lowest subjects.
– En plaine Air – A study in Nature’s Light, 30 min.
Playwright Beaumarchais and painter Elisabeth Vigée-LeBrun have very different suggestions for newly arrived diplomat, Ben Franklin, on how to seduce France.
Two One-Acts: 1 hr, 15 min. – Bare stage with furniture groupings.
- Chiaroscuro – A Study in Shadow
Caravaggio finds a young man on the streets of Renaissance Rome and hires him to pose for a painting of The Flaying of Marsyas. Here the coercing of proper expression is more extreme. Poetry, memory, torture and lust all come into play. What happens when a model has too little imagination and an artist has too much?
First produced by Chicago’s Bailiwick Rep. on September 24, 2008.
Nudity, simulated sex.
One-Act: 1 hr. 10 min. – One set, a tree. Renaissance period costumes.
In 1905, three men, who never really grew up, find their shades delivered to the perfect purgatory. Oscar Wilde dallies (quite innocently) with a beautiful boy, Lewis Carroll flounders with a young and fetching mermaid, and Paul Gauguin chases after a nubile native princess. They all learn to fear the ticking sound of the crocodile. A romantic comedy.
Two-Act: 1 hr. 30 min. – One set, a luscious tropical island. Edwardian costumes. Fly rigging.
6M: one boy
- Versailles: a Ballet of Baroque Perspective.
Louis XIV spars with the three men who made his dreams come true: painter Charles Le Brun, garden designer Andre Le Notre, and military engineer Sebastien de Vauban, whose wondrous forts protected the frontiers of France. He also spars with the three women who delighted his private life: comely Louise de la Valliere, voluptuous Madame de Montespan, and puritanical Madame de Maintenon. All seven create a glorious edifice, but with dangerous cracks in its foundation. Magic Realism meets the 17th century, utilizing very free verse.
Two-Act: 1 hr. 30 min. – One set with numerous pasteboard cut-outs, period costumes.
Chorus: 6M 3F voices
- A Mammoth Enterprise
An 80-year-old Charles Wilson Peale shows a 12-year-old boy, Phineas Taylor Barnum, through the world’s first public natural history museum. The year is 1822 in Peale’s Museum, Philadelphia, and the two have a lot to teach each other.
Two-Act: One set
3M: 12, any age, 80
1F: any age