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About Mary Miller
Mary Miller is an award-winning playwright. Best known for her play FERRIS WHEEL, Mary was recognized by Random House as one of America’s “finest playwrights” winning more than a dozen national awards including the NETC John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award (IN THE KITCHEN) and the Dayton FutureFest (I WITNESS & WAITING FOR OPRAH) as well as a finalist at the National Repertory Theatre Foundation (A MATTER OF GRACE) and the Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival (FERRIS WHEEL). In addition her play FERRIS WHEEL was included in the anthology "Take Ten: New Ten Minute Plays" published by Vintage Books/Random House and "Mia’s Monologue" from WAITING FOR OPRAH was published in the "Audition Monologues for Young Women: Contemporary Audition Pieces for Aspiring Actresses" collected by Gerald Lee Ratliff. Mary continues to write and see her work produced around the world. For more information: www.marymillerproductions.com
Mary was born and raised in Atlanta, GA, and graduated with honors from Westminster High Schools. She received her B.A. at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA, after having studied at the University of London in London, England, and Davidson College in Davidson, NC. She gained her theatrical experience from years of work in New York City, first as an actress and then as a playwright.
As an actress she appeared both on stage (Off-Off Broadway) as well as on television. For two years she worked on the daytime soap opera "All My Children." Preferring writing to acting Mary turned her attention to plays. She made her New York debut as a playwright with the production of LIGHT BURGERS WALTZING THROUGH THE GARDEN WITH JOE. She went on to win the Dayton Playhouse FutureFest first with I WITNESS and then again with WAITING FOR OPRAH. After the publication of her short play FERRIS WHEEL in the anthology TAKE TEN by Vintage Books/Random House, her work began to receive international attention.
After living in New York City, Mary moved to St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia, where she continues to write and see her work produced. On St. Simons Island, she became involved in radio and worked for WMOG hosting the "Open Mike" show, a live morning call-in program. From radio she moved into television working for WBSG-TV. There she wrote, produced, and served as anchor on the half-hour television series "Close-Up 21".
Having gained success as a playwright, Mary turned her hand to novels and has subsequently written "A CHRISTMAS HOUSE" and "A MATTER OF GRACE."
She has also created a Health & Wellness program called ACTING HEALTHY. Acting Healthy is a new approach to wellness using tips and techniques she first learned as an actress and then embraced as a writer to help people play a bigger, happier, thinner, younger, healthier part in their own lives! Her book ACTING HEALTHY - DIRECTORS NOTES FOR A BETTER LIFE is a daily journal designed to give the reader the directions they need to live that better life ... day after day. www.actinghealthy.com
Most recently she wrote a Children's Book revolving around the actual events of the Blizzard of 2016 that hit New York City and its effect on the Brunswick Actors' Theatre (BAT) Troupe that suddenly found themselves stranded in a city that was 'closed' for the weekend!?! "BAT WINGS in NYC: Blizzard of 2016" is a children's book for any adult who has ever longed to be a kid again ... if only for a moment!
For more information about her books, plays, and wellness programs you can visit her website at: www.marymillerwriter.com or www.marymillerproductions.com
Funny and touching, the play is the unlikely love story of two lonely people who are forced to ride together on an old country Ferris wheel. She’s afraid of heights. He’s afraid to give up smoking. They are both afraid of each other.
FERRIS WHEEL is currently being used as an educational tool for hospitals and communities alike. It is part of Mary Miller's Acting Healthy program focusing on Fears and Phobias.
AWARDS & NOTICES First place winner of the New England Theatre Conference (NETC) John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award for best play of 2016. In the Kitchen was by far the best of this year’s finalists. David Frieze, Committee Chairman.
ABOUT THE PLAY When Kate’s mother leaves the gas stove burning all night, it sets in motion a chain of events and family confrontations over the nature of aging and what to do if you’re lucky enough to get old. IN THE KITCHEN will touch anyone who has ever wrestled with an aging parent, come to grips with teenage children, been confused as to what to wear as an adult, and have both lost and found: love, work, money, and happiness all while sitting at the kitchen table trying to keep the family together. Why the kitchen? Because that’s where life unfolds … in the kitchen!
CHARACTERS:The ages of the main characters can vary, as long as their ages are suitable for a mother who is considering (or should be considering) life in a retirement community.
MOTHER (60 +) – The mother of three daughters, she is a vivacious, energetic woman who suddenly finds herself facing her own mortality. Wrestling with the trials and tribulations that come with old age, she is forced to weigh the limitations age has put on her and come to grips with what she can no longer do.
KATE (the eldest) – The oldest of the three daughters, she is responsible and reliable almost to a fault. Single and unencumbered with children, she has taken care of her aging parents for years, often sacrificing her own happiness to ensure theirs.
LARA (the middle child) – The middle daughter, she is determined and self-assured. She sees her mother’s age as a problem that needs to be solved sooner rather than later. She is married with children, and that colors all her decisions.
AMY (the baby) – The youngest of the three daughters, she left home shortly after college and consequently has a more detached view of the family. Married and divorced a number of times, she is actually the linchpin that holds the family together, more often than not.
VOICES: – Independent voices sharing similar experiences and representing different ages, races, and genders.
SETTING:IN THE KITCHEN is a full-length, two-act, multimedia play. It is designed to be performed on a black box stage with pictures projected (from time to time) against the back wall. These postcard-like images are used to depict various locations, memories, and events. The movement between scenes and monologues should flow seamlessly allowing the actors to speak directly to the audience and then back to one another. The action should be choreographed like a dance. Actors that are not in a scene can remain on stage until needed to react a story or move the play forward. Props should be mimed by the actors especially when reenacting scenes from the past. The postcard-like memory pictures coincide with each character’s individual stories.
ACTING HEALTHY is a new take on wellness using acting tips and techniques to help you play a bigger, happier, thinner, younger, healthier part in your own life! After all the first step to being happy, thin, young, and healthy is acting happy, thin, young, and healthy every day.
Directors Notes for a Better Life are daily insights into theatre and life that will help you begin to make a change. In theatre director’s notes are those notes given to actors after a rehearsal to help make a better play. Why not use them here to help make a better life?
ACTING HEALTHY: DIRECTORS NOTES FOR A BETTER LIFE is a daily journal. A mixture of theatre and self-help designed to entertain as well as give you the acting tools you need to make a difference in your life. Each day starts with a new thought ... that thought is explored ... and then brought to life by an except from a play.
I read where a schoolboy once wrote that Socrates used to go around giving advice so they poisoned him! So, I'm well aware of the danger of giving advice. But I have been writing plays that have changed people's lives for years. I have watched the effect of what I have written move an audience to laughter and tears. I’ve won awards for every play I have written. I've seen my work produced across the United States and around the world. I know the research and care that went into writing each story. I know that theatre can change your life. My goal is to help people understand they do have a choice and theatre can lead the way!
LIGHTS! CAMERA!! ACTION!!!
Born on Christmas Day, Abigail Addison was turning sixty this year. Even though she didn't look old, every now and then she felt old. So, when Fred her husband of thirty-five years invites the family down to spend Christmas together in the house he’s been building on an island off the coast of Georgia, she decides to surprise him by selling their old home and embracing a life together at the beach.
It's Abigail, however, who is surprised when she gets there to discover Fred’s beautiful red brick house with white columns is somewhat lacking inside … lacking paint, lacking plaster, lacking walls!
As each member of the family arrives they see a different house. Fred sees it for what it will be. Abigail sees it for the unfinished mess it is. Their three grown daughters, Margaret, Babs, and Lizbeth (eight months pregnant!) recognize it as an exact replica of the house they grew up in and reminisce about growing up in an unfinished home.
But it's Abigail who sets everything in motion. Unable to tell anyone what she has done, she refuses to stay in the house for even one night and insists on finding a hotel room on Christmas Eve. As in the original Christmas story there are no rooms to be found. So it's up to the others at the height of the chaos, as Lizbeth goes into labor, to figure out a way to make a house with no walls ... a home.
ADDITIONAL FEATURES: PROLOGUE, EPILOGUE, and NOTES FOR DISCUSSIONS - BOOK CLUB Q&A
THOUGHTS FROM THE AUTHOR
In 1989 my father finally decided to build his dream house on an island off the coast of Georgia. He had talked about building this house all our lives. As kids, my sisters and I, thought it’d be something he’d finish while we were still children. Mother thought it’d be something he’d finish while she was still young! But by 1989 both my sisters and I were well out of the house and mother had turned sixty. Born on Christmas day, age never bothered her before, but that year, with her husband away and the children gone, she suddenly felt old and alone. When someone feels old and alone, especially at sixty, they are apt to do something drastic to change their life.
This is that story, a mixture of truth and fiction tempered with love and understanding and a healthy dose of humor because, after all, the names have been changed to protect the guilty!
ABOUT THE PLAY
The time is the summer of 1991. Jackson an African-American man in his late 30's is frustrated with his job and his life. He impulsively spends his wife Ruth's savings on a video camera and inadvertently records the brutal killing of an African-American man by the local police. Trapped in the dilemma as to whether to sell the tape or not the family must first face one another and re-evaluate their own lives.
In I WITNESS the camera ultimately turns back on the lives of this small African-American family and exposes their hidden secrets and lost dreams.
The play takes place in an apartment on the upper floor of an old pre-war walk-up apartment building in 1991. Forty years ago when the building was new it was in a nice neighborhood, but over the years the neighborhood has deteriorated as well as the building.
The apartment (stage) consists of an old kitchen/dining room/ living room area.
The kitchen area (upstage right) consists of a kitchen table, a few chairs, an old refrigerator, chipped white metal cabinets and an old porcelain sink. All the fixtures are aged and worn.
Directly across from the kitchen, on the fourth wall (down-stage right), is a large picture window; a free flying window frame through which the characters often look through and refer to the activity outside. This window should be a simple thin frame window such as not to block the view of the audience but define the dimensions and limitations of the small apartment.
Off from the kitchen is the living room area (center stage), which consists of an old rocker, coffee table, sofa and a metal oscillating fan.
From the living room area there are two doors leading to two separate bedrooms (stage left), one for Pearl and the other for Ruth and Jackson. Between the bedroom doors hangs a mirror. (It is preferable to have this wall angled to such a degree that the mirror does not reflect straight out into the audience.)
Nothing in the apartment is new; however, there are attempts to brighten the place with material swatches used to cover worn spots in the sofa. Although things are old, it is well cared for and clean.
RUTH: Mid thirties, black woman. Ruth is married to Jackson. She works 9 to 5 as a secretary in an office.
PEARL: Sixty plus years old, black woman. Pearl is Jackson's mother. She owns the apartment and has been living there for years. She no longer works but made a living as domestic help.
JACKSON: Late thirties early forties, black man. He works whenever he can in any capacity he can but times are hard and keeping a good job isn’t easy.
The play takes place in an urban city during the summer of 1991.
In the award-winning play AT 3:00 O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING ... what goes around finally comes around.
Originally produced with two women, the play works equally well with two men playing the roles.
ABOUT THE PLAY
In a quest for immortality, a young actor, living on the second floor of an old New York apartment building, decides to break the Guinness Book of World Records for walking continually without ever taking into account the effect walking around in circles will have on the neighbor living below. Finally at 3:00 o’clock in the morning this downstairs neighbor, unable to sleep and driven slightly insane by the rhythmic pounding from above decides to personally confront the "fool" living upstairs.
Until the door is opened and they face one another … little do they know how much they have in common and how much they will need each other.
AT THREE O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING is currently being used as an educational tool for hospitals and communities alike. It is part of Mary Miller’s Acting Healthy program focusing on HIV/AIDS.
In addition, given the nature of HIV/AIDS and the fact that it infects both men and women the play works equally well with an all male cast as well as an all female cast. The uniqueness of the play is in its universality.
LIGHT BURGERS WALTZING THROUGH THE GARDEN WITH JOE is pure comedy, with a pinch of poignancy, and a dash of eeriness thrown in the mix. Winner of Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress awards at the annual Georgia Theatre Conference in Augusta, GA, LIGHT BURGERS explores the mystery of what can happen when five ordinary people experience something extraordinary.
ABOUT THE PLAY
A mysterious light is not the only thing that has suddenly appeared in Dillard County, GA. Mason’s unexpected return from New York City after fifteen years has created a stir all its own particularly for everyone at Dunford’s Diner. L.E., the diner’s only waitress and Mason’s old high school girlfriend, has refused to look at him or the ‘light.’ George, the owner of the diner has decided to take Mason’s advice and has re-named and re-marketed the diner in honor of the coming of the ‘light.’ Merrillee, a high school beauty queen, is thrilled at George’s announcement that Tonight-Is-The-Night for the landing of the ‘light.’ She appears at the diner with her suitcase in hand, anxiously awaiting its arrival and ready to go with it. While Frank, a tired and frustrated policeman, has come to the diner to take a much-needed break from a very busy day of chasing bogus ‘light’ sightings all over town.
Tonight Mason, L.E., George, Merrillee, and Frank will experience something none of them will ever forget.
A local diner in Dillard, Ga, a small town located a couple hours north of Atlanta, GA, during the summer of 1992.
GEORGE: Owns Dunford’s Diner, a roadside diner that he inherited after his father died. George has always worked for his father but now that he owns the diner he has decided to test his wings under Mason’s tutelage. Mason and George went to high school together. George is a few years younger and he holds Mason in the highest esteem.
L.E.: A waitress at Dunford’s diner, she went to high school with Mason and they were an item before they graduated and he left to go to New York. L.E. is the quiet, stable, reasonable person in the group. She has never left Dillard except for a brief stay in Tupelo after graduation. She refuses to get swept up in the furor of the ‘light’ and has never tried to look up to see if she could see it. Her real name is Lenora Elaine but the only person who calls her that is her mother.
FRANK: A Dillard County policeman, Frank was best friends with George’s father. Frank has been a fixture in the community and the diner forever. Married to Geraldine they have no children of their own so he looks on those in the diner like a surrogate father. Dillard County was a quiet peaceful little town until the ‘light’ started shining and they put him in charge. Frank has come to the diner tonight to take a much needed break.
MASON: A hometown success story, he moved to New York City shortly after graduating from high school and made a name for himself in advertising. Mason has just recently returned to Dillard to the surprise of everyone especially L.E. Much like the prodigal son in the Bible, Mason has come back to see if he can fit in again.
MERRILLEE: The prettiest girl in high school, Merrillee was then and still is the envy of all the girls in town. As pretty as she is, there is a naive innocence about Merrillee that is childlike and sincere.
Called “Brilliant” by the Ft. Myers, FL, Island Sun Newspaper and “Breathtaking” by The Naples Daily News, Naples, FL; the award-winning play is worthy of both production and discussion.
Amazingly funny and poignant VIRGIN TEARS is about anger, fear, pain, and hope as seen through the eyes of three estranged sisters.
ABOUT THE PLAY
When Mattie summons her older sister Chandler to come home because their oldest sister Adele has seen the statue of the Holy Virgin Mary crying real tears in their backyard, Chandler returns to Wyoming Avenue to find more than a statue crying in the backyard. She returns to find that she must face the hopes, the dreams, the fears and the failures she thought she had left behind years ago when she abruptly left town moments before their father's funeral.
The reunion between these three sisters is anything but “holy.” Adele's anger and frustration at Chandler for abandoning the family is something she cannot forgive or forget. Mattie's seemingly endless desire to please, coupled with her adoration for Chandler, places her in direct conflict with Adele and herself, ultimately leaving her incapable of doing the one thing that would solve the family crisis, if not forever, at least for the moment.
One action dominoes into the next as the family secrets, carefully locked behind closed doors, come tumbling out along with the family skeletons. Until finally, during a fanciful flight over Wyoming Avenue in a makeshift sailing boat, the sisters see more than the street the way it used to be, they see each other the way they are today.
In 1955, in Atlanta, GA, the line dividing blacks and whites was clearly defined unless you happened to be a nine-year-old white girl struggling to hold on to the only family you had left.
After the sudden death of her parents, a young girl nervously waits for her aunt and uncle to come take her to live with them. What she doesn't understand is why she has to live with relatives she barely knows and can't continue to live with the woman who has practically raised her.
Growing up in the segregated south in 1955 was a difficult time for everyone. But before the end of the day, this young girl will learn how hard it is to cross the color line. A line she never really knew existed before.
Based on a true story, A Christmas House is a funny often poignant love story of one man’s family and the house he built off the coast of Georgia. It will strike a chord with anyone who has ever undertaken the job of bringing their family together at Christmas.
ABOUT THE PLAY
Abigail Addison was born on Christmas Day. Age had never bothered her before, but this year she was turning sixty. Even though she didn't look old, every now and then she felt old. So, when Fred her husband of thirty-five years invites the family down to spend Christmas together in the house he's been building on an island off the coast of Georgia, she decides to surprise him by selling their old home in Atlanta and embrace a life together at the beach...
The stage should suggest a house under construction. The upstage wall is a series of wooden 2x4s spaced 16 inches apart. The doorframes and windows are cut out. Electrical wiring is strung between the 2x4s and various pipes are visible through the openings. The interior is composed of rows of 2x4s acting as rudimentary dividers separating what will be the kitchen from the living room and the dining room. Opposite the living room is a future bathroom with the bathroom fixtures (tub, toilet) in place. Near the bathroom is a stairway that leads offstage. In the center of the dining room is a set of wooden sawhorses with a plywood top doubling as a table. The floor is littered with piles of 2x4s, nail kegs, brick crates, cement mortar bags and other construction items that can be used for sitting.
Note: The stage/house can be as elaborate or as simple as necessary, depending on the constraints of individual theatres. The magic of the play is in the relationships.
ABIGAIL: 60 years old. Practical, assertive, charming, and gracious Abigail is the epitome of a true Southern lady. She has been married to Fred for 35 years and is the mother to their three grown daughters: Margaret, Babs and Lizbeth. For the past 20 years Abigail has worked as a real estate agent and is now considering retiring. She is dressed in an elegant suit and high heels. (Note: She should be a wonderful physical comedic actress.)
FRED: 68 years old. A gentle dreamer with enthusiastic energy and endless patience, Fred is an architect who has the ability to build what he designs. He is a Navy veteran and wears an old seaman’s cap to prove it, along with well worn khaki pants and a sweaty “used to be white” tee shirt. Fred is a Southern gentleman. A man of few words but when he speaks people listen!
MARGARET: The oldest daughter. Margaret is single and all business, practical, pragmatic and sensible. Even though it’s Christmas she’s brought her briefcase to squeeze in a little work. Margaret is dressed in khaki shorts that have been pressed and a white linen shirt with a sweater tied around her neck. The only thing oddly out of place about Margaret is a hat she is wearing that covers her recently straightened hair.
BABS: The middle child. Babs is the polar opposite of Margaret, she is eccentric, creative, impulsive, and spontaneous with bright red curly hair that’s the envy of everyone. Babs is married and still considers herself a newly wed although she’s been married to Doug for over a year. Babs is dressed in tight spandex pants with a brightly colored shirt that shows off her hair.
LIZBETH: The baby sister. Lizbeth is eternally optimistic, religious, and cheery.
In the parking lot outside Patterson’s, an old-fashioned funeral parlor, two high school sweethearts find making amends may require giving the shirt off their backs.
PATTERSON’S is currently being used as an educational tool for hospitals and communities alike. It is part of Mary Miller's Acting Healthy program focusing on Death and Dying.