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If, When, and Only

by Maryann Lesert

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Sonnet 49: “Against that time, if ever that time come...”

Ensconced in a circle of thought, a husband (Henry) watches as his wife (Mary), aided by their Marriage Counselor’s prompts, bags, and lists, comes to the realization that she is no longer in love.  As Mary toys with the idea of ending the marriage, Henry’s inner struggle (Should he fight for the marriage or assist his wife in dismantling it?) is mounted with the help of two spirited characters: When, escort to the end of love (“Tell me you didn’t see this coming.”) and If, guardian of the possibility of ongoing love (“You can have something that endures. Reach, Henry, Reach!”).  In the end, Henry remains true to Shakespeare’s sense of the moment when he calls a halt to the battle between If and When and steps forward, reminding Mary that we love “If and when and because we want to. That’s all there really is.”

 

Productions:

Whole Art Theatre, Kalamazoo, MI.
Burning Love: An Evening of One Act Plays (2007)

Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles, CA. (2011)


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Bump

by Maryann Lesert

A married couple—HIM and HER­—are driving across the interstate on their way to the airport when they hit something in the road.  She pulls the car over and an argument ensues.  Was it a bump (Jimmy Hoffa’s torso), or a ka-bump (a dog with legs)?  In the process of yelling at each other, they realize the trip they were going to take, a late-night flight to New York City to rekindle passions of the past, is not going to work. 

 

Productions

API Theatre, Kalamazoo, MI. The Car Plays (2008)

Fog City Bandits, Oakland, CA. 
Summer Shorts: An Evening of Short Plays (2011)


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What We Keep...
Long After

by Maryann Lesert

What We Keep…Long After is a full-length play with music adapted from the 1996 American Book Award winning memoir A Woman in Amber, Healing the Trauma of War and Exile, written by Dr. Agate Nesaule, a woman who, as a young girl, survived World War II and the back-and-forth occupations of her native Latvia by German and Russian troops. The play was first commissioned by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, and received a staged reading in January, 2006, as part of the KSO’s celebration of Latvian music entitled “Shield of Songs.”

What We Keep…Long After is a story about the atrocities of war: about the gray cold of starvation, about the barbed-wire fences and frozen mud floors of Displaced Persons camps, about the brutality of rape.  It is testimony to war’s effect on women and girls.  But it is also resistance: women frantically playing the piano to distract soldiers from rape, a minister whistling as he is blindfolded and led away to be shot, a young woman offering her body to save a 12-year-old girl from rape.

At the heart of the play, it is the story of young Agate’s loss of faith in her mother, of a seven-year-old girl being led to her death by a mother who can no longer bear the pain of watching her daughters suffer.  In the end, it is a quest to find healing in acknowledging the deepest pain – of a family divided by war and a mother and daughter estranged by one terrible day of mistrust.  And yet, by giving the memories and the characters of the past their own voice, the play insists on finding the rare burst of color amidst the gray; on attending, in a forward sense, to one woman’s courage to speak out when guided and protected by love.

 

A staged reading by:

Whole Art Theatre, Kalamazoo, MI. (2006)

Kalmazoo Symphony Orchestra Latvian Heritage Celebration. (2006)


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The Music in the Mess

by Maryann Lesert

A spirited comedy about sisterhood and life's more or less tolerable moments.

Three sisters struggle with the death of their not-so-typical mother, while a fourth sister cannot let go of the struggles they faced growing up.  Bobby, Casey, and Anna romanticize their childhood with music and partly-fabricated memories.  Ellen, the oldest, focuses on the mess.  A comedy that works up in pace and power to a dramatic reconciliation with the past.

 

Productions:

API Theatre, Kalamazoo, MI. (2001) 
   Review: "API Production Tells Haunting Story of Sisterhood"
   ~ Gordon Bolar, Kalamazoo Gazette
   Review:  "API's Music in the Mess Pulls Off a Perfect Score"
   ~ Stuey Chisnell, Kalamazoo Express

Wealthy Theatre, Grand Rapids, MI. (2003)

A staged reading by:

The Pleaides Theatre Company, Louisville, KY.
Stars of the Future New Play Project (2004)

Awards:

Honorable Mention, Writer's Digest International Writing Competition, 2000.


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Natural Causes

by Maryann Lesert

Kay and Sarah meet while waiting to see a therapist and decide to counsel each other. Kay leaves her husband because she might be "turning" gay.  Sarah is pregnant and leaves medical school to care for twins.  The play follows the two through thirteen years of secret meetings, a deepening friendship, and confusion: Kay's sexual confusion, Sarah's gender confusion.  In the end they find new direction and move, together, into new lives.

 

Production:

API Theatre, Kalamazoo, MI. (2003)
    Article: "'Natural Causes' Actress Inspired by Playwright"
    ~ Elizabeth Clark, Kalamazoo Gazette
    Review: "'Natural Causes' Features Credible Characters"
    ~ Gordon Bolar, Kalamazoo Gazette

Awards:

Finalist, Princess Grace Foundation's National Playwrights Fellowship, 2001.


Samhain

by Maryann Lesert

A one-hour, one-act play.

Three aging witches, woeful over the disbanding of their coven, retreat to the woods for their annual "Eve of the New Year" Samhain (Halloween) ritual.  They come upon a binge eater, crouched over a pile of stolen bite-sized candy bars, stuffing herself at high speed.  Beckoned by the simple question "You can help me?" the three withces feel spiritually compelled to teach the young binger how to help herself.

Production:

API Theatre, Kalamazoo, MI. (2004)

Awards:

Honorable Mention, Writer's Digest International Writing Competition, 2000.


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Superwoman

by Maryann Lesert

A one-hour, one-act play.

Claire, a technology professor, rids herself of every bit of technology she can gather, stating the technological "splendor" of each item, then preparing it for destruction.  When Hal, her husband, comes home, she announces he must destroy all of his technological tools and escape with her to an underground retreat, "Communicada Nada" for people who think technology has gone too far.

Production:

API Theatre, Kalamazoo, MI. (1998)