Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Roman Calendar and Entering the Breech

A few odds and ends...A NUMBER ON THE ROMAN CALENDAR, which was read at the Players Club in September, will be published by Applause Theatrebooks in their Best American Short Plays series next year. Thanks to Carter Jackson and Sarah Kate Jackson at d.i.r.t company, which produced the reading as part of their inaugural event. Also thanks to Jonna McElrath, Jim Ireland and Tom Lyons who are all so damn funny.

AND. First up event at American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettists Development Program. OK, that was long, what does that mean? My first work for opera, publicly presented; Freshly Brewed - The Art of the Aria, a Master Class with Mark Adamo. It's on Sunday, December 18, 1 PM at Opera America, 330 7th Avenue at 29th Street. I'm working with a wildly talented young composer, Theo Popov, and we'll be presenting an aria written for soprano Katherine Jolly. The whole thing is quite scary and exciting. Twenty bucks in advance, and ALT will throw in brunch.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Oh. My. God. The New Yorker has unearthed an unpublished Eugene O'Neill play from 1920. Staged in 1920, it looks like O'Neill destroyed all the copies he thought existed to placate his father. Found in some screenwriter's papers, a copy - the gift of one of O'Neill's wives, Agnes Boulton. So. Cool. Life is good.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Heavy Petting Below Houston

Next up, my beloved pals at Blue Coyote Theater Group take over Playwrights for Pets with HEAVY PETTING.

This evening of short plays will feature Matthew Freeman's "The White Swallow" (a sick and satisfying little piece) and also an excerpt from my upcoming full-length, "Coney." Casting is pending, but the running time of approximately one hour. It's down at the Access Theater (natch) on Thursday, October 27 and Friday, October 28 at 8:00 pm.

Important How-to-Get-There-And-Get-Tickets-Stuff: the Access Theater is at 380 Broadway, 2 blocks south of Canal Street. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased through SmartTix. You can call: (212) 868-4444 or visit this link on the website, which will take you directly to the HEAVY PETTING page.

Good Giving-Back-to-the-Community-Stuff: All ticket proceeds will be donated to Glen Wild Animal Rescue. Please visit their website to discover the wonderful work they do.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mad World

They're in previews now, but I just have to dash off a quick love letter for one of my favorite actors (and human beings) - Vince Gatton, who is currently playing King John at the Access Gallery downtown.

Vince and I have worked together many times -Candy & Dorothy, Busted Jesus Comix - and more readings of other works than I could remember or count. He's a consistently surprising, inventive and soulful actor. His toolbox is full and he's crafty as hell.

In the title role, he's petulant, needy, manipulative, vindictive and vulnerable; a would-be Richard the Third undone by his own incompetence and bad luck. You want to strangle him and you feel for him. John's a lousy rotten prick and he still doesn't deserve the damnation that crushes him. (Shakespeare gets his cake and eats it, too. Jerk.)

It's an early Shakespeare, but it's a fascinating study in political machinations and collateral damage. People form alliances, double-cross each other, make threats, make nice, all the while the country goes down the tubes. Ross Williams directs and it's strong and sharp. They use multi-media but it doesn't feel like a gimmick; it actually adds to the storytelling in interesting and creative ways. The set design is the best use of the Access Gallery I've ever seen. Get tickets soon for this - it's filling up in previews and it closes Oct. 2.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Number on the Roman Calendar, at the Players Club

Here are all the details.

On Monday, September 12th, d.i.r.t. company invites you to experience DIRTy SHORTs - our original short play staged-reading series to be held at The Players Club on historic Gramercy Square.

7 pm for cocktails and banter, followed by 3 original short plays.

This Mon September 12, short plays by Eric Fallen, David Johnston and Megan Mostyn-Brown.

After the readings, all are invited – encouraged, even - to stay and drink with the writers and cast, mixing and mingling conversations and friends till we close the place down.

A NUMBER ON THE ROMAN CALENDAR by David Johnston, features Jonna McElrath, Jim Ireleand and Tom Lyons.

Players Club address is 16 Gramercy Park South, which is E. 20th St between Park Ave South and 3rd Ave.

No reservations needed, and the reading is free.

Dress code is nice casual - jackets/ties, while welcome, are not required.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

You're Just Cheap Uptown Dirt

From my friends, Carter and Sarah:

"On Monday, September 12th, d.i.r.t. company invites you to experience DIRTy SHORTs - our original short play staged-reading series to be held at The Players Club on historic Gramercy Square. One night a month - from September through December – we welcome you to join us at 7 pm for cocktails and banter, followed by 3-4 original short plays written by our favorite playwrights and read by our favorite actors. After the readings, all are invited – encouraged, even - to stay and drink with the writers and cast, mixing and mingling conversations and friends till we close the place down. The inaugural DIRTy SHORTs features pieces by Eric Fallen, David Johnston and Megan Mostyn-Brown."

(Specifically, this one is the new-ish one-act, A NUMBER ON THE ROMAN CALENDAR. Should be fun. More info soon as I get it.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Opera and American Lyric Theater

Very happy to make this announcement, which I've had to keep mum for a month. I've been chosen as one of the eight new resident artists for the American Lyric Theater's Composer Librettist Development Program. This will start in September and go until next June, with presentations at some cool places (like Symphony Space) and workshops with some amazing opera and theater people. Press release is here.

The roster of current Resident Artists - including those for 2011-12 - is here.

UPDATE: A nice write up from Rochelle at NYTE, and also an update on Tony Ansaro, who completed the ALT program and has been commissioned by them to write a new opera.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Puritanism - the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." - H.L. Mencken

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Candy & Dorothy" Closes

I was able to get to Rockville this weekend and see the Saturday matinee and evening performances of "Candy & Dorothy" at Unexpected Stage. A big congrats to my terrific cast, director Chris Goodrich and producer Rachel Stroud-Goodrich, the designers I got to meet at the talkback and crew. Excellent jobs all around. Press was excellent, too - here and here. Talkback had a very interesting and engaged audience.

I'll be honest - I had no idea the play would work with two tables, two chairs, less than a dozen lighting instruments and an air mattress. Happy to see it did.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Chris Goodrich and Rachel Stroud-Goodrich on "Candy & Dorothy"

A lovely interview with the husband-wife director-producer team of "Candy & Dorothy" at Unexpected Stage, Rockville, MD. From the Washington Examiner.

Friday, July 8, 2011

"I Say, Let 'Em Dig Their Own Gardens. Dig Their Own Gardens. It's a Common Expression."

(Robert Sheire, right, as the iconic Andy Warhol superstar Candy Darling and Jean Hudson Miller as Catholic Worker Movement co-founder Dorothy Day in Unexpected Stage Company's Washington-area premiere of David Johnston's award-winning play ‘Candy and Dorothy.’ Photo by Chris Goodrich; courtesy Unexpected Stage Company)

Performances start next Tues at Unexpected Stage, Rockville, MD for the DC-area premiere of "Candy & Dorothy." Got your tickets yet?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Episcopal Bishop of New York Does Not Feel "Oppressed," Thanks Very Much

One of the most odious arguments against same sex marriage was that if civil marriages are recognized for gays and lesbians, it somehow "oppresses" the religious freedom of others.

I was pleased to receive this letter from Mark Sisk, the Episcopal Bishop of New York, and good guy:


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It was with thanksgiving and joy that I received the news of the New York State legislature's affirmative action on the Marriage Equality legislation that it had been debating with such intensity.

The legislation, as enacted, appears to be closely aligned with the long standing views of this Diocese that the civil rights of all people should be respected equally before the law. In terms of the issue of marriage rights for gay and lesbian people that position was made most explicit in the resolution enacted at our 2009 Diocesan Convention.

The legislature's action in broadening the definition of marriage to include same sex unions has to do with civil law, as it properly should. It does not determine Church teaching about the nature of sacraments. That is our continuing work. However, nothing in the unfinished nature of that work should cause us to hesitate to give our most profound thanks for the step that has been taken in affording equal civil rights for our brothers and sisters.


Simple, isn't it?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"A Lesson" from Smith & Kraus

"A Lesson," part of "Standards of Decency 3: 300 Vaginas Before Breakfast," will be published by Smith & Kraus in THE BEST 10-MINUTE PLAYS 2012. Coming in December 2012.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jon Sobel at Blogcritics on SoD3

"Another fine performance, and a dangerous one, comes from Jim Ireland as a volcanic, Svengali-like voice teacher in the mysterious A Lesson by David Johnston, whose Conversations on Russian Literature was such a success at Blue Coyote two years ago. Though we never find out what the teacher and his companion, played by the excellent Sarah Ireland, mean to do with (or to?) the young singing hopeful in the next room, the wild, character-driven story is transfixing." A very nice write up for the evening from Jon Sobel at Blogcritics.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Seventy-Five Years Ago, A Murder

Seventy-five years ago, a state trooper was shot and killed during a bank robbery in Fork Union, VA. It happened at the Fluvanna County Bank. The bank job was done by three men; Spoon, Daugherty, and Mills. John Daugherty received the death penalty for the shooting. The trooper's name was Thompson.

The assistant bank teller at the time of the robbery and killing was Iva Loving White. She died in 1982, forty-six years after she witnessed this murder. She was my grandmother.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More on 300 Vaginas

Blue Coyote Theater Group and Access Theater are proud to announce the full roster of short plays for their upcoming STANDARDS OF DECENCY 3: 300 VAGINAS BEFORE BREAKFAST. Each play runs approximately 10 minutes.

A Lesson by David Johnston, directed by Gary Shrader
A dark but funny look at the risks of finding your singing instructor on Facebook.

300 by Adam Szymkowicz, directed by Kyle Ancowitz
A couple comes to terms with their sexual pasts with the aid of three hundred vaginas.

Date Night at Skintastic Dot Com by Mac Rogers, directed by Bob Buckwalter
A workaholic couple's attempt at scheduling quality time together is challenged by the never ending leaks of online celebrity skin--the skin their business depends on for its survival.

The Metaphor by Matthew Freeman, directed by Kyle Ancowitz
A man seeks help for his Internet porn addiction from an unconventional Episcopal priest.

Plato’s Retreat by David Foley, directed by Gary Shrader
Three Greek lads are beguiled by the naughty shadows on the cave's wall. The goddess of Wisdom wants them to see the light.

any one by Jordan Seavey, directed by Bob Buckwalter
The question of what is connection, and how do we achieve it, is explored over the course of one very busy New Yorker's day.

Romance by Jackie Christy, directed by Kyle Ancowitz
After a pornographic homework submission, an awkward parent-teacher conference ensues.

Bits by Bruce Goldstone, directed by Gary Shrader
Even your computer itself, its bits and bytes, has a love/hate relationship with porn.

Camera Four by Cheri Magid, directed by Gary Shrader
A doorman's security camera exposes the city's surprising secret kinks.

STANDARDS OF DECENCY 3: 300 VAGINAS BEFORE BREAKFAST is the latest chapter in Blue Coyote’s downtown cult series Standards of Decency. Taking its title from the profundity of indie rock god John Mayer, STANDARDS OF DECENCY 3: 300 VAGINAS BEFORE BREAKFAST begins performances on Tuesday, May 31 for a limited engagement through Saturday, June 18. The performance schedule is Wednesday – Sunday at 8 PM, with an added performance on Tuesday, May 31 at 8 PM. Press Opening is Thursday, June 2 at 8 PM. Performances are at the Access Theater (380 Broadway, two blocks below Canal, just north of White Street). Tickets are $25 and are available by calling SmartTix at 212-868-4444 or online at's a great article on downtown theater, with an interview with Kyle Ancowitz. (And a nice pic from my short play "Yes Yes Yes" from the previous Standards of Decency.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dorothy Parker's Call Slips

I'm a geek, but I thought this article was fascinating. It's library history, as seen through the call slips of notable researchers and literary personalities, like Dorothy Parker, John Dos Passos, and the guy who invented "ethnomycology" - the history of humanity, as seen through their ingestion of mushrooms and other fungi.

That takes me back.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Continue to Promote Myself

From Plays and Playwrights Blog. More dirty dirty self-promotion. Of my own work. Yes! I am encouraging you to click on links which will take you to MORE information on my upcoming work. Click it. CLICK it damn you!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

300 Vaginas Before Breakfast

Yes, that's the name of the new evening of one-acts at Blue Coyote Theater Group. It's "Standards of Decency 3: 300 Vaginas Before Breakfast." Kind of like "Scream 4." My new piece is entitled "A Lesson." Stay tuned for more information.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Candy & Dorothy" - DC Premiere

CANDY & DOROTHY will have its DC-area premiere this summer, at Unexpected Stage, directed by Christopher Goodrich. I'll post details as production details are confirmed.

Lost Hammett

This is from my friend, Scott. Fifteen lost Dashiell Hammett short stories were found in the literary archives at the University of Texas in Austin. Something of a mystery as to how they ended up there: "(Andrew)Gulli said he had no idea how or why the works were in the Texas archive or when they were written as none are dated. "They could have been written anytime in the 1920s or 1930s or 1940s," he said."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Monodramas" at City Opera

It is not going to be everyone's cuppa joe, but last night I went with pal Matthew Principe to "Monodramas" at New York City Opera, the new production of three one-act modernist operas. (Are you still reading?)

The three pieces have stunning female leads and are designed and directed to within an inch of their lives. One is by John Zorn, inspired by drawings of Artaud. And there's no text! None! It's crazy.

Second is the Schoenberg "Erwartung," and last is Morton Feldman's hour-long setting of eighty-five words by Samuel Beckett. There's lots of projections, mannequins in burkhas, people flying, floating silver boxes. What does it mean? No idea, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. It's an evening at the opera where everyone heads to the bar after to argue, question, scream, weep or rave.

I kept turning to Matthew and murmuring "hell YEAH" and the couple behind me were muttering "oh god when is this over," as they rattled jewelry and canes. That kind of evening. Either a little slice of delicious buttery avant-garde or a good nap ruined, take your pick. What's inarguable, though, is that George Steele has a brass set on him for producing this evening at Lincoln Center. There are three more performances.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Open House New York

My friend Matt turned me onto this group. We took a tour of the restored St. Francis Xavier Church in Chelsea a few weeks ago that Open House New York sponsored. They have a very neat blog with a lot of photos and history of cool buildings in New York.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Santorum on Stools

Rick Santorum, who lost his Senate seat by double digits, is apparently running for President. As President, he wants to make sure no one gets an abortion or gay-married. He also gets angry when people don't understand stools.

"I don't think he understands what conservatism is all about," said Santorum of Daniels. "I don't think he understands that Reagan's three-legged stool is not just that we have three legs of the stool, the social conservative, the fiscal conservative and national security conservatives, but that the material made of all three parts of the stool is the same. And it's a moral and cultural heritage of this country, is what that stool, the material itself that the stool is made of."

I read this and thought, how true. The problem with conservatism is that people do not understand it's a stool. And it's also this country. America - and conservatism - is a stool. Our culture is a stool. Our heritage is a stool. Reagan knew this. Reagan knew stools. Why can't you socialists and homosexuals see that?

Rick Santorum is now and has always been a fucking idiot.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

David Kato

I've been thinking and reading a great deal about David Kato, his murder and the plight of gays and lesbians in Uganda. (Not to mention the role of prominent US Evangelicals in promoting anti-gay policy to Ugandan lawmakers.)

A few days ago, Mark Sisk, the Anglican Bishop of New York, released a statement which I think is worth posting.


Statement on the Murder of David Kato
by the Bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of New York

28 January 2011

Like many around the world, we are horrified to learn of the vicious murder of Ugandan LGBT rights activist David Kato in Mukono, Kampala. Though the circumstances of Mr. Kato's death are still under investigation, we know that he, along with other activists in Uganda have lived under the threat of violence and imprisonment in recent times. Mr. Kato, who was the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda, as well as Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo and many others, was targeted last fall in a Ugandan magazine. All LGBT persons along with their advocates are at risk due to the general hostility toward them in Uganda and, in particular, due to pending legislation which would call for imprisonment or even death.

We call upon all people of good will, and especially the people of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and our sister and brother Anglicans around the world, to stand in solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons, and to resist language, laws and actions which marginalize and even criminalize their relationships. Further, given the current hostile climate in Uganda, we call upon the Anglican church of Uganda to speak up for human rights for all God's children. Further, we call upon the United States government to grant asylum to LGBT persons from Uganda and other nations where the threat of violence is great.

We pray for the repose of the soul of David Kato, for his family and friends as they mourn, and for the LGBT community in Uganda and their allies as they struggle for an end to the fear and violence, which threaten them every day.


The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk
Bishop of New York

Well, Why Didn't Somebody Ask Her?

My review of Brian Friel's "Molly Sweeney," on

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is It a "Gaggle" of Bigots? A "Covey?" What's the Term?

Republicans, who clammed up about their obsession with gay marriage long enough to rack up some seats last fall, are feeling their oats again. Yeah, they say they're all about fiscal discipline, getting the government out of your life, personal responsibility, blah blah blah, but after they're all sworn in, it's thumpin' on the homos season.

Rep. Jim Jordan, some douche from Cleveland with a mug only a mother could love, wants to repeal gay marriage in the District of Columbia. Because - you know - I'm sure that's a concern for everyone in Cleveland who's at home watching "The View" for two years because they can't get a damn job.

True to form, these guys force a vote on health care repeal, try to repeal gay marriage in DC when the Supreme Court already refused to touch it...oh yeah, and reading the Constitution out loud, except for the cringe-y parts about blacks being three-fifth of a human being or something. And why do Republicans do these things?

Because conservative Republicans love cheap, ineffective gestures that will fail. That serve no purpose. That are a waste of time. This proves to the people back home that they're - I don't know - not gay? Who knows.

With any luck, in a few years, this ass end of a dog will be back in Cleveland and out of work, and then maybe he'll have a clue.

Betty AKA Dena Blog

My old summer stock pal Dena has her own blog up, after much drunken hectoring from me. (Russian Vodka Room. Nuff said.) Check it out and let her know what you think.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blessings of Anger and Foolishness

I'd never heard this prayer before, then Vicki Sirota used it at the closing yesterday at St. John's. It's attributed to St. Francis. I think it's appropriate for today, what would have been Martin Luther King's 82nd birthday.

"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done."

This is a Trick. Anyone Can Do It.

Saw this on Saturday night at the Players Theater and loved it. Todd Robbins, an old Coney Island hand, explains serial killers and fake mediums, in a show co-written and directed by Teller, of Penn & Teller fame. Robbins does pulls off a few stomach-churning stunts - one with "sulfuric acid" - and recreates an old seance, a la Mina Crandon or her predecessor, the wicked Eusapia Palladino.

For people who like carnivals and spook shows and crappy horror movies, it's catnip. I've heard rumors Stephen Sondheim is a fan, too. I'm looking forward to going again.