PLAYS

CLEOPATRA'S TOMB
A Musical Play in 2 Acts
Sanctuary Theme - Robert Gans
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Prologue:

In a short prologue set in the year 30 BC, the play begins in the torch lit burial chamber of Cleopatra and Marc Antony.  Two Egyptian priests and two Roman priests are performing  burial rites over the two sarcophagi while the story of the secret burial is narrated by one of the main characters and Sanctuary theme music plays in the background.  This culminates when one high priest proclaims “Let no hand disturb their eternal rest!”  The priests exit the chamber and a heavy stone door rumbles into place resulting in total darkness.

 

Act I:

Act I is set in a well-furnished modern hotel suite in a major American city.  It opens by introducing us to the catalysts of the plot, Theron Thanatos and Nedra Amadi who are ostensibly representatives of the Egyptian government seeking to revive the tourist trade with a sensational discovery.  The play’s principal protagonist, Dr. Rena Harker, an archaeologist arrives and they offer her a job leading an expedition to search for Cleopatra’s tomb.  After a bit of going back and forth, Rena agrees to undertake the project.  The hotel suite is placed at her disposal for purposes of organizing and recruitment and she has in her possession an artifact obtained during an earlier expedition which may give her an edge in finding the tomb.

 

The rest of the scenes in Act I are concerned with the recruitment of Rena’s expedition team members starting with Rena’s former teacher and archaeologist/Egyptologist, Dr. Austin Grey, an archaeological technology expert, Nick Collins, a guide and interpreter, Eddie Jamal and the daily operations coordinator, Heather Harker who is also Rena’s mother.

 

The first act ends with all the expedition members gathering together for the first time to meet and sign a contract presented by Theron and Nedra.

 

Act II:

Act II takes place on and around the expedition vessel, a felucca sailboat on the Nile named the Charmion.  The expedition members gather at the dock in Alexandria for their departure.  Next is a sultry evening of bonding and merriment while moored on the Nile the night before they begin their first serious day of work.  Next day, a surveillance device is discovered aboard the Charmion which causes suspicion and unease.  Rena goes to meet Theron and Nedra in the town of Dendera and is kidnapped.  Eddie and Heather go off to find her as Austin and Nick continue up the river to Edfu as directed by the kidnappers.  They meet Theron and Nedra there who deny having anything to do with Rena’s kidnapping.  Eddie and Heather return with Rena who has been held in captivity without food or drink by tomb robbers who want the artifact she has.  They head upriver to the holy island of Philae where Nick’s technology proves to be useless as Austin and Rena dive to look for the tomb in an underwater cavern.  And the ending?  Well, you wouldn't want me to give it away....

DEBUSSY'S DAUGHTER
A Play in 2 Acts
Clair De Lune - Robert Gans
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Background

In 1918 the great French composer Claude Debussy died at the age of 58.  A year later his beloved 13 year old daughter Chouchou followed him.  This play is a fictionalized account of Chouchou’s life during the year between his death and hers.  It is not a musical, but 

rather a play using incidental music to enhance and propel the narrative.

 

Synopsis

Debussy’s Daughter takes place in Chouchou’s bedroom in Paris during the closing days of World War I.  It is the story of her quest to find peace and overcome the grief she is feeling after the death of her father amid the turmoil of a world war.  Its overarching theme is the ingenuity of her imagination, and the strength of her will in finding the way to her spirit’s ultimate triumph over formidable odds. 

 

Act one focuses on worldly means to achieve this end, and Act two focuses on the transcendent as Chouchou and her three dolls Didi, Andre, and Etienne pursue various panaceas involving play, intoxication, travel, adventure, romance, art and the supernatural in their attempts to alleviate her grief.  As children will do, they remake Chouchou’s bedroom into whatever setting is needed for their explorations.  At various points in the play, the primary cast of Chouchou and her three dolls is visited and augmented by the spiritual presence of Ondine, Debussy’s spirit in the guise of Claude Monet, Ondine in the guise of Isadora Duncan, and finally Debussy’s ghost.

Debussy’s music is incidental to the script and rounds off the cast of characters along with the presence of the toy box which is home to the three dolls.

HAIL MARY
A Musical Play in 2 Acts
Moving On (Again) - Robert Gans
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The musical romance Hail Mary deals with a 10 year period in the life of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots starting in 1558 when she was 16 years old and embarking on her first marriage.  This year is also coincidentally the year of Queen Elizabeth the First’s accession to the throne of England.  The episodes in the play are all derived from historical fact.  Act one covers a period from 1558 to 1564.  Act two covers a period from 1565 to 1568.

 

ACT ONE presents Mary herself as an individual and portrays her gradual transition from a 16 year old newlywed in the French court to a newly arrived Queen in Scotland with powerful enemies to deal with in the persons of Queen Elizabeth’s minister William Cecil and religious evangelist John Knox.  William Cecil considers Mary a threat to Elizabeth and John Knox, a staunch Protestant reformer considers Mary who is tolerant but was raised Catholic to be a most vile and decadent creature.  To add to the complexity she is also dealing with a very fractious group of Scottish Lords who are mostly concerned with selfish interests and are therefore changing sides incessantly.

 

Act 1, scene 1 portrays the night of Mary’s wedding to Francis the Dauphin of France.  Mary has been raised in the French court and is happy with life in France and her marriage to Francis.  But two years after the wedding Francis dies from an illness and Mary finds herself facing the necessity of moving to Scotland to pick up the reins where her father was formerly King.   Act 1, scene 2 presents Mary on the cusp of moving to Scotland and torn both by what she is leaving behind and what lies ahead.  Act 1, scene 3 presents Mary’s arch nemesis William Cecil plotting with the Scottish and English ambassadors.  As a relief, Act 1, scene 4 presents the playful side of Mary with her 2 ladies in waiting (the two Maries) and portrays her love of masquerade and social inversion.   Act 1 Scene 5 introduces the character of David Rizzio (who is murdered in Act 2 on orders from Mary’s second husband) and finally Mary’s confrontation with John Knox.  David Rizzio and John Knox serve as obvious foils for each other in this scene.

 

ACT TWO deals with Mary’s complicated romantic entanglements with her next two husbands Henry Lord Darnley and James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell.  Although Darnley is clearly the worse of the two, both of them end up being false to Mary and betraying her for their own self interests.  Act 2, Scenes 1 - 4 deal with the rise and fall of Mary’s relationship with Darnley culminating in his murder and Mary’s growing interest in Bothwell.  Act 2, scene 5 presents Mary’s abduction by Bothwell resulting in her ultimate surrender to him.  Act 2 scene 6 presents the defeat of Mary and Bothwell’s forces at Carberry Hill culminating in their separation due to Bothwell’s flight and Mary being taken into her first period of captivity.  And the last scene?  That would be giving away the ending.....

 

Above all Hail Mary is the story of Mary’s heart and spirit.  The trials, tribulations and triumphs of these 10 years caused her to have many beginnings and endings in her life.  Hence her themes of the Phoenix rising from the ashes and “in my end is my beginning.”

THE SKYLADDER

A Musical Play in 2 Acts

Prologue - Robert Gans
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The Skyladder is a science fiction-fantasy musical built on archetypal characters and themes.  It is the story of a dark and ancient evil approaching the earth imprisoned in a comet, and the conflict between those who would unleash it, and those who would contain it.  This central conflict transpires in and around an astronomy observatory and alternately serves as the background and foreground for the experiences and relationships of the characters involved.

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