Sherlock Holmes and the First Baker Street Irregular Opens Fall 2015

When reading plays for the 2014-15 season at the Omaha Theater Company, the artistic director Matt Guttschick was looking for an adventurous story for upper elementary school students and middle school students that would appeal to boys and girls. He was interested in producing a play about Sherlock Holmes for this slot, but was struggling to find an adaptation that had a strong young protagonist. Being a HUGE mystery fan, I immediately said that Sherlock Holmes used street kids in London as a spy network to help with some of his cases. If one of those kids told the story of Sherlock Holmes, it would solve the challenge of how to engage young audiences into these classic stories.
So that began one of the most fun research periods I have had in preparing a new play. How cool is it that I got to reread so many original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as part of my job? I took copious notes about the characters, the appearances by the Baker Street Irregulars, and which cases might be a good fit for our stage. We did a few script development sessions with the company in the fall of 2014. I even taught a drama class on Sherlock Holmes in the winter of 2015 to explore these stories and some of the early pages with upper elementary drama students.
This adaptation includes the mysteries of The Blue Carbuncle and The Red Headed League and moments from A Study in Scarlet and the Sign of Four. I am very excited about this new adaptation. We open in November of 2015!

The Grocer’s Goblin and The Little Mermaid: New Production and Regional Conference

I am very excited about the recent production of my adaptation of two Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales:  The Grocer’s Goblin and The Little Mermaid.   This multi-media puppetry centered performance was created in collaboration with my friend Stephanie Jacobson, a director and puppeteer.  The production used found object puppets, Bunraku style puppets, shadow puppets, and projections to bring these stories to life for our mainstage and school field trips.  The production opens January 31!

The Grocer’s Goblin starts to read The Little Mermaid

The Rose Theater hosted a regional conference on new play development for young audiences on February 8th featuring a performance of The Grocer’s Goblin and The Little Mermaid.  The conference was an exciting day highlighting some exciting projects in the region.  Jeff Church from The Coterie in Kansas City will present out The Coterie Lab for New Family Musicals which helps accomplished Broadway composers develop their musicals for theater for young audiences field.  Gretta Berghammer from the University of Northern Iowa Department of Theatre will present a student devising process for Playful Inventions, a sensory friendly performance piece designed for youth on the autism spectrum.  The Rose will also present the unique development process used to bring The Grocer’s Goblin and The Little Mermaid to the stage after the conference attendees see the production.

Brian wins Lin Wright Award from AATE

I was incredibly honored to win the Lin Wright Award from American Alliance for Theater and Education this past summer which honors those in the field who establish special programs, developed experimental work, made a distinctive educational contribution or provided meritorious service thus furthering theatre and drama for young people. The American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) is one of the most prominent organizations nationally who connect and inspire a growing collective of theatre artists, educators, and scholars committed to transforming young people and communities through the theatre arts.

My parents and I at the AATE Awards Ceremony

This award honored my work as a playwright for young audiences, my work at the Omaha Theater Company, and the establishment and leadership with my Pride Players teen theater group. A humongous thank you to my friend Kati Koerner who nominated me for this award and gathered all the materials necessary for the process. It was such a treat to share the moment with my partner Michael, my graduate school friends Kati and Lynne, and my parents who came to D.C. for the awards ceremony.

THE MISFITS garners national attention

The high school cast for the PIOS residency in Park City

My adaptation of James Howe’s amazing book The Misfits continues to garner awards and notice. The story focuses on four seventh graders (who are misfits) stand up to bullying in their school by running for student government on a No Name Calling platform. It was named one of the top 10 productions in Omaha for 2011 by the Omaha World Herald.   AND it was one of two plays selected by AATE’s Playwrights in Our Schools program.  I went to Park City Utah (where the paper called me a renowned playwright) in March 2012 to do a play development residency with the high school and their great director D’acry Benicosa (I expanded the script to work for a large youth cast).

The Misfits was also featured in TCG’s American Theater Magazine in an article called The Defenders which focused on how theater is used to make a difference about bullying.  The play was also featured at the 2011 summer American Alliance for Theater and Education conference at a session about new play development with high schools.

The 2011 professional production at the Omaha Theater Company

PRIDE PLAYERS featured performance at AATE!

Pride Players (recently honored by the Omaha Arts and Entertainment Awards for best production for young audiences) was selected to be a special event performance at the national American Alliance for Theater and Education Conference this August in Lexington, KY.  Eight alums (Nik, Colleen, Brandi Lynne, Dan, Amanda, Maggie, Annah, and Steph) are joining Amanda and I to present at the end of the Dramatic Change pre-conference to kick off the conference.