Selected Plays

by Marcia Cebulska

Marica Cebulska with Darren Canady on set 1a 250px.jpg

For four decades, Marcia Cebulska has enjoyed a critically acclaimed international career in writing for the stage and screen. Her award-winning scripts have been performed from Topeka to Turkmenistan, from rural classrooms to 2,000-seat theatres, from store fronts to the National Constitution Center.

 

Marcia sustained a particularly long relationship with The Phoenix Theatre, a professional theatre in Indianapolis which produced five of her plays.  She also worked closely with The William Inge Center for the Arts, where Marcia was playwright-in-residence, and which commissioned her to write three plays.

She has collaborated with prominent artists such as Ronald Markman and Kelley Wade Hunt.  Marcia has received the Dorothy Silver Award, the Jane Chambers International Award, and Master Artist Fellowships from both the Indiana and Kansas Arts Commissions, as well as many other honors.

 

Each play below is listed with production needs and history as well as brief quotes from reviews. 

 

*Please inquire with Marcia to seek rights for production or to obtain a copy of a script.

 

Full-length Plays

...and when the bough breaks

How much are you willing to do for someone you love? A woman asks her sister to bear a child for her. The premiere production received stunning reviews.
 

  • Length: 90 minutes; one intermission.

  • Cast: 2 females, 2 males; in their 30s.

  • Production requirements: single set.

  • Premiered at the Phoenix Theatre, other full productions at Bloomington Playwrights Project, Repertory People of Evansville, and Frontera at Hyde Park

And When the Bough Breaks - written by Marcia Cebulska, ...and when the bough breaks - Actors Marika Blades & Deb Sargent 1a 450px.png

Following the play’s premiere, the headline of The Indianapolis Star article read: “Cebulska play Phoenix's best ever.” Reviewer Corbin Patrick continued, “It's the brightest and best of the new works the Phoenix has presented in all its five seasons... It's a beautifully crafted play."

 

Charles Staff of The Indianapolis News also raved, “Ms. Cebulska understands the theater and its needs and how to fill these needs... Ms. Cebulska may well be on her way to becoming a theatrical commodity, a 'name.'"

 

The Bones of Butterflies

 

Zoe lives in the world of butterflies. She measures their wings and the height of their flight. A scientist, she follows them to Mexico. A daughter, she is on a journey to find her missing father. When Zoe kisses a stranger in the rain, secrets unfurl, and butterflies fall from the sky.

 

There are incidental songs by Cebulska and her musical collaborator, Kelley Hunt, in this humorous, moving, and ecologically evocative play.

The Bones of Butterflies - photo related to the play written by Marcia Cebulska 3a 300px.j
  • Length: 90 minutes; one intermission.

  • Cast: 3 females, 2 males, 1 male non-speaking musician.

  • Production requirements: falling butterflies; two settings.

  • Readings at the William Inge Center for the Arts, the Purple Rose Theater PlaySlam, and by Martin Tanner Productions at the Dia de los Muertos Festival at the Topeka and Shawnee County Library, and Californos (Kansas City). Play development by the Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis. 

Centaurs

The last cowboy and the last nun struggle with life and death issues in this tale of endangered species and love.
 

  • Length: 90 minutes.

  • Cast: 1 male, 1 female plus some very small parts and a voice-over.

  • Production requirements: single set, scrim recommended.

  • Developmental reading at Victory Gardens, premiered at the Phoenix Theatre

Centaurs - Centaurs - Actors Rich Komenich & Deb Sargent, photo the play written by Marcia Cebulska 1a 300px.png

Christin Neiditch wrote in Steppin’ Out Indianapolis: “Fine moments of solemnity and grandeur...resonantly beautiful."

Dear John

 

This drama focuses on the letters from the heart of a gay man and the woman he loves.

This play is easy to produce and marked by lots of humor and moving moments, and continues to be a favorite from its inception to the present.
 

  • Length: 85 minutes, one intermission.

  • Cast: 1 male, 1 female.

  • Production requirements: can be performed on a bare stage, on Zoom, or more elaborately.

Dear John - Actors Bill Simmons & Diane Kondrat, from the play written by Marcia Cebulska 1a 300px.png
  • Notable: Received the Jane Chambers Award, won the Broad Ripple Playhouse playwriting competition.

  • Readings: Playwrights Center of San Francisco, Meridian Theatre (New York), New York Theatre's Playworks Festival - Open Gate Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, Fellowship International at Indiana Repertory Theatre, Brondia Productions (Toronto), Moving Arts - Los Angeles Theatre Center.

  • Full productions: Broad Ripple Playhouse, Phoenix Theatre, Bloomington Playwrights Project, Tottering Biped Theatre (Toronto) Theatre Building (Chicago, RDM Productions), Oasis Productions (Bloomington & Indianapolis, IN), Fremont Centre Theatre ((South Pasadena).

Albert Williams wrote enthusiastically in Gay Life: “Dear John is a standout - moving and funny and provocative..." 

 

Backstage West proclaimed it "Engaging, sensitive work."

 

Betsy Light of The Indianapolis News wrote, “Cebulska has created dialogue that is witty, racy, touching, and warm."

Florida

 

This realistic drama, in the tradition of Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, explores the Floridian dreams and exploding passions of a family in the 1950s.  Florida is a favorite of theatre professionals and audiences alike.

  • Length: 93 minutes, one intermission.

  • Cast: 3 males; 3 females, various ages.

  • Production requirements: Single set.

  • Notable: Chosen by Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and Sundance Playlab, developed at O'Neill Conference.

  • Full productions at The Georgia Repertory Theatre and the Phoenix Theatre.

  • Scenes from this play appear in: Jacobs, Martha. A Meisner Legacy (Players Press, 2012).

Florida - photo related to the play written by Marcia Cebulska 1b 250px.png

Marion Garmel of The Indianapolis Star wrote: “This is serious theater, seriously done, and it has the power to make you change the way you see life."

 

George Walker in his radio commentary on WFIU said, “Florida is a powerful piece of theatre. A drama of family values that amazes, delights, surprises, shocks, and ultimately satisfies."

 

Cynthia Wolfe of Indianapolis’ Nuvo noted, “Excelling as a work of craftsmanship... It's a must-see..."

Now Let Me Fly

Commissioned for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Supreme Court decision, Now Let Me Fly is the story of the unsung heroes and heroines behind the struggle to end legalized segregation in America.

 

  • Length: 90 minutes, no intermission.

  • Cast: 7 or more actors. Two main African American characters run throughout the play. The other parts can be distributed among 5 or more other actors.

  • Production Requirements: single set, projection equipment.

Now Let Me Fly, a play by Marcia Cebulska - rehearsal for premiere, cast included James Mc
  • Premiere at Topeka Performing Arts Center; thousands of performances world wide.
     

  • Version Note: in addition to the full version, a youth version recommended for middle and high school students (running approximately 45 minutes) and an easier youth version suitable for elementary school audiences, special education classes, classroom readings with young student actors, and those needing an abbreviated version (running approximately 25-30 minutes) are available. The Full Version is available from Playscripts. The Youth and Easier Youth versions can be requested at nowletmefly.org

 

Reviewer Bill Blankenship wrote in the Topeka Capital-Journal: "Uplifting...eloquent and emotional...a moving climax to Topeka's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Court ruling."

Eileen Umbehr of The Prairie Post, wrote, “I attended the powerful production of 'Now Let My Fly' at the Topeka Performing Arts Center... Ordinary people - just like you and me - changed the way an entire class of people would be treated... Those few who took the risk and fought for what they believed in made a huge difference - not just for their children, but for black children everywhere.”

 

Barbara Boling, President of the Indiana NAACP commented, “Powerful and compelling.”

Rooted

 

Commissioned through a National Endowment for the Arts grant and produced through a collaboration of the William Inge Center for the Arts, Cornerstone Theater Company of Los Angeles, and the Greensburg Arts Center, Rooted tells the story of Greensburg, Kansas, its devastating tornado, and its rebuilding as a model ecological city. Written as an adaptation of the Odyssey, the text is based on personal interviews and community story circles and underscored with music by Kelley Hunt. This is a humorous and moving play. 

Rooted - photo by Larry Schwarm, Greensburg KS tornado 1a 300px.jpg
  • Length: 90 minutes.

  • Cast: can be performed with a cast from 10 to 40 actors, at least 5 of them female; some singer/actors for chorus.

  • Concert performance at Greensburg 5th anniversary "Tragedy to Triumph" celebration.

TOUCHED:
The Last 2,000 Heartbeats of William Inge

Commissioned for the 25th anniversary of the William Inge Theatre Festival, Touched explores the life of theatre icon William Inge, the most produced playwright of the 1950s. A male actor plays Inge; a female actor plays Hope itself and embodies the characters of Inge’s life, including his mother, Tennessee Williams, Josh Logan and others, as Inge struggles with suicide ideation.

 

There are lovely tinges of humor and beautiful imagery in this story of an artist's life, touched by madness, touched by genius.  An audience of theatre professionals, Inge scholars, and Inge’s hometown folk in Independence, Kansas, gave the play an instant standing ovation.

Touched, William Inge Theatre Festival, photo related to the play written by Marcia Cebulska
  • Length: 85 minutes.

  • Cast: 1 male, 60; 1 female, 35.

  • Production requirements: single set; projection.

  • Full production premiered at the William Inge Theatre Festival, traveled to Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas.

Phil Grecian wrote in the Topeka Capital-Journal, "Cebulska is undeniably deeply talented at the play-writing craft...  I haven't stopped thinking about 'Touched' since I saw it Friday night. It is deeply moving."

Visions of Right

Written as a response to the anti-gay ministry of Rev. Fred Phelps, Visions of Right tells the story of a woman's increasing resistance to a minister who preaches hate and discovers her own darker side.

  • Length: 90 minutes, one intermission.

  • Cast: 1 female; 3 males.

  • Production Requirements: single set, projection equipment.

  • Awards: Winner of the Dorothy Silver Award and the Stage Three Festival of New Plays, cash award - The Pen is a Mighty Sword International New Play Competition
     

Visions of Right  - photo related to the play written by Marcia Cebulska 1a 300px.png
  • Readings: Stage 3 Festival of New Plays, 2000, Midwest Modern Language Association Conference (by Unicorn Theatre, Kansas City), 2000, Phoenix Theatre, 2001,  Halle Theatre, 2001,  Chicago Dramatists Workshop, 2002,  Martin Tanner Productions (Kansas City), 2011, Beth Shalom Temple of Topeka, Kansas,  The Point Annex, Kansas City, Missouri (Martin Tanner Productions, Kansas City, 2011).
     

  • Full Productions: Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble, (Topeka, Kansas), Lawrence Arts Center, 2016 (Lawrence, Kansas),  Texas Lutheran University, 2016, Washburn University, 2017, The Jewish Theatre of Bloomington,  2017 (Bloomington, Indiana).

  • See: Bloom Magazine overview. Listen to: Indiana Public Media interview (5:04 minutes.) Watch: YouTube

Alvin H. Rosenfeld, Director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University, wrote: “At a time when openly expressed hatred against various groups in America has become part of our social reality, this play is urgently needed. Deeply thoughtful and riveting from first scene to last, Visions of Right  confronts viewers with some of the most pressing issues before us and challenges us to deal with them seriously and sympathetically. The play is a considerable artistic and intellectual achievement—a must see.” 

Chicago Dramatists noted: “There is a wonderful sense of transformation in the play, moments of transcendence, of epiphany, of illumination…tremendously strong…terrifically dynamic."

 

The Reverend Fred Phelps (since deceased) of the Westboro Baptist Church wrote: “The playwright is a Jew-loving, fag-enabling Whore of Babylon.”

Short Scripts

Belongings

  

Three homeless women wait in a park. Two of them discuss James Joyce, bubble dancing and food while the other is silent. A man comes to visit. 

 

  • Length: 30 minutes.

  • Cast: 3 females, one male.

  • Production requirements: 2 park benches.

  • Readings: Indiana Theatre Works, Indianapolis, Waldron Arts Center (Bloomington IN), Mill Mountain Theatre (Roanoke VA).

Belongings - photo related to the play written by Marcia Cebulska 2a 300px.jpg
  • Full productions: St. Mary's College, 1988, Bloomington Playwrights Project, 1989, Washburn University Theatre, 1998.

  • Broadcast: Public Television, Fullerton CA.

 

Just One Thing

  

Three actors costumed as gigantic facial features are on their way to perform at an Indian pueblo when they run out of gas in the New Mexican desert. They fall in love, consider cannibalism, and play desert island games while madly trying to get rescued.; a comedy.

 

  • Length: 10 minutes.

  • Cast: 2 male, 1 female, youthful.

  • Production requirements: single desolate set.

  • Reading at MATC conference.

  • Premiered at Fusion Theatre, Albuquerque.

  • Notable: won competition for The Seven at the Fusion Theatre, Albuquerque.

Just One Thing - Photo of giant eye mural by Tom Prasch 1a 300px.

Ken and Barbie Do the Nasty at Larry’s Leather Bar

Kenneth and Barbara try to spice up the romance in their relationship by heading to a leather bar.
 

  • Length: 30 minutes.

  • Cast: 2 male, 1 female.

  • Production requirements: single set, a bar.

  • Workshop: Chicago Dramatists.

  • Reading: Moving Arts (Los Angeles).

  • Full Production: Phoenix Theatre (Indianapolis) & Bloomington Playwrights Project, co-production, The American Living Room Festival, HERE Theatre (NYC), Oasis Productions at the Phoenix Theatre.

Short Play, Ken & Barbie Do The Nasty At Larrys Leather Bar - Actors, Troy Trinkle, Rockland Mers & Diane Kondrat

Tick Tock

 

Tired of waiting in a sterile medical waiting room, the patients start a dance rebellion.

  • Length: 20 minutes.

  • Cast: 4 female; 2 male plus assorted in chorus; includes Hispanic and African-American cast members.

  • Production requirements: single set.

  • Full Production: The Waiting Room Project, Topeka & Shawnee Public Library, Topeka, Kansas.

Tick Tock - image related to the play written by Marcia Cebulska 2b 250px.jpg

Produced Screenplays

Through Martha’s Eyes

Based on historical records, this film tells the story of Martha, a woman illegally enslaved in the Kansas Territory during the Bleeding Kansas era, her interaction with the Native Americans also held on the Johnson ranch, and her romance with a freed man.

 

  • Length: 50 minutes.

  • Notable: Won Best Historical/Western Category at Trail Dance Film Festival, Seattle.

  • Broadcast on PBS.

Through Martha's Eyes - promo related to the screeplay written by Marcia Cebulska 1a 300px
 

Ever Since the Bad Thing Happened

  

This stop-action animated film brings alive the imaginative world of visual artist Ronald Markman who collaborated with Cebulska on this fun and fanciful work of cinematic art.

 

  • Length: 30 minutes.

  • Premiered at Indiana University.

Ever Since the Bad Thing Happened – screen shot related to the screenplay written by Marcia Cebulska

Plays For Families & Young Audiences

Marcia Cebulska began her playwriting career writing plays for families and young audiences. As the resident playwright for Paper Moon Theatre Company, she wrote Pockets and Zippers, The Circus Wish, The Friendly Furry Rhyming Machine, Noodles, Hoopla! and Pyramid and Frisbee. Paper Moon became successful at their home theatre and toured, as well.

Decades later, when Cebulska wrote Now Let Me Fly, commemorating the Brown v. Board decision, educators requested youth versions of the play for school performances and classroom use.  She honored the request and the resulting two youth versions have been performed at thousands of venues worldwide.

Paper Moon Theatre Company, photo by Marcia Cebulska 1a 300px.jpg

The script is available royalty-free for educational purposes at nowletmefly.com.

In response to the youth version, Deborah Barron, a teacher in Tampa, Florida wrote, “The play is perfect... It proved to be an eye-opening, tremendous experience... The students were able to see the progress made in the last 50 years since the decision, yet at the same time recognize that the work is not complete.”

Another teacher, Dennis Hagen-Smith, also wrote, “The play was such a success that the school has decided to commission the construction of a permanent set of wings decorated by student handprints to serve as a permanent reminder of this important occasion. Thank you for making this possible!”