Playing music, for me, is effortless. Writing and perfecting lyrics is hard work. But my mind has always enjoyed sprawling projects that embrace complex ideas, that enabled me to tell epic stories.
I enjoy writing poetry and single songs, but my greatest writing pleasures have been longer novels and musical dramas. My most successful projects have been musicals. I love how surreal musical theatre can be, how songs sung at center stage can become moments of private soliloquy, separated from the movement of time, while remaining connected to both plot and momentum. Musical theatre is a marvelous medium. See MAJOR WORKS for more information on some of my theatrical works.
I've also explored short stories and have written memoirs in a unique way: through dreams. I've provided links to some of my stories and poems below. My novels are all out of print. So many days spent writing madly at the typewriter (my first 3 books where written before I purchased a computer)... and now no one can read them. All that solitary labor returned to solitary boxes. Oh well. Maybe one day my granchildren will discover the pile of drafts and first edition copies in my attic.
Member: ASCAP, Dramatists Guild of America (NYC).
Surreal and disquieting short stories written through an alias, Paige Chomet, make up the short stories I've made available online. As the stories progress, this persona begins to act more like a possessing spirit than a mere pen name. The Short Stories of Paige Chomet is a cycle of psychological stories that, at first, seem unrelated, yet, as the stories build on one another, becomes something more...
The Stories are currently housed on ArtsForge. Please vist the pages below and let me know what you think:
I love writing poetry yet rarely afford myself the space and quiet. The two collections listed below are exceptions: moments in time when I found all other forms of creativity difficult, when poetry was the best outlet for what needed to emerge.
The poems are currently housed on ArtsForge. Please vist the pages below:Ash index page (selected links below) Falling Past Love index page (selected links below)
Del has one of most profound speaking voices I've ever heard. (His singing voice ain't too shabby either.) I invitied him to help develop some of my favorite poems into audio expreriences. As Simple As Soap is the result.
Each poem is slightly different than the original (written many years earlier). Del's unique delivery required I make a few changes. Also, the quality of his performances inspired me to improve the original texts. In addition, the music underscoring adds emotional context and color to each piece.
I plan to record several more poems with Del and hopefully, some day, release the finished CD recording.
Here's what we've done so far:
For more information, see As Simple as Soap.
The Book Of Dreams began as a simple journal of my actual dreams. Intrigued by how these stories related to my waking life, I began to study dreams, dream theory, and what others had discovered about the meaning and usefulness of dreams. I've included much of what I learned into these pages.
This is more than a recounting of dreams. For the dreams to make sense, I needed to explain where certain plot lines come from. This is why I have called the book a "memoir." I've annotated the pages with paintings and photos that are both directly related and intuitively illustrative.
What I confirmed (reconnected with) while writing this book is the fertile space inside my imagination, my "mindspace." Mindspace is not merely an internal stage on which I can test ideas for stories and stage plays, but a space in which I'm able discover ways of being, avenues of courage, new doors to open.
Most of the major moments of my life were all chronicled via dreams. Not the "where" and "when" and "how," but the "why" and "what if not"...
Please see my Book Of Dreams page for more information and for downloads.
I began writing stage plays when I was 14 years old. I recall performing my one-man show, Sebastian, at a college-level theatre workshop held at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. One of the college-aged attendees (I was the only high school kid) came up to me afterwards and said how brave I must be to present a work in progress to the public. It took me many years before I understood what he meant.
I had the good fortune of having teachers and friends that encouraged me. Following my sister's death, I wrote a play that my high school performed - my take on Hamlet's afterlife. In my version, the prince kills himself in order to follow his sister into death and there encounters varied spirits, mostly insane and overburdened. When the strobe light kicked in, hippy friends of mine in the front row went berzerk, throwing coats and scarves into the air, yelling wildly. (My guess is that it had more to do with drug use than inventive script writing, but it was fiercely explosive, nonetheless). The entire audience reacted with shock and awe. A spectacular memory. I've wanted to recreate such an intense audience reaction ever since.
Many years later, I joined the Dramatist Guild of America (1997) when my show Creature performed at the Off-Broadway John Houseman Theatre in Manhattan. Creature had several iterations - I rewrote the show 4 times for different venues and different directors - ranging from a Disneyesque family matinee version (performed at the Thirteenth Street Repertory Company in the West Village) to a sexually-explosive progressive rock opera (starring some of Broadway's best actors). I love each version. Some of those scenes came close to the shock and awe of that high school drama in 1973.
I have enjoyed taking well known stories and turning them on their heads. Rewriting a famous tale, like Frankesntein, Robin Hood, or Merlin the Magician, enables the audience to experience two stories at once. They can't help but contrast what they're seeing against the original story learned as children. Tension is created between expectation and experience. Even "Runners In A Dream", my most recent show, set in the Holocaust, upends one's expectations by placing the upbeat and imaginative fantasies of a young girl against the horrors of life in the concetration camps. The point of theatre is to present new perspectives. I like doing this by retelling old stories in new ways.
Here are the highlights:
Almost by accident, I began writing educational musicals for youths in the middle 1980s. Along with Kim Vanderhyden, I founded CenterStage Productions to market the musicals I was writing. What began as in-class curriculum-based musicals (teaching things like astronomy, economics and anatomy) turned into an international touring theatre troupe with a much wider repertoire. By including classic literature and important social issues, CenterStage Productions became a force that empowered young people around the globe. "To Save the Planet", especially, propelled the company onto the international stage.
CenterStage shows have been performed in dozens of countries. Our troupe traveled to several countries, including wonderful events sponsored by the United Nations. (For example, we performed on the floor of the United Nations in 1992 and at the huge annual UNEP conference in Washington D.C. in 1994) The CenterStage Youth Theatre Troupe was eventually inducted into the United Nations' Global 500 Honor Roll in London.
See my Bio page for awards and information regarding CenterStage. Please visit the CenterStage Productions website. Although I no longer write childrens shows, we still sell the original CSP musicals to schools.
One of the main reasons I started ArtsForge was to have a place to pursue collaborative projects. Aside from the space opera Xianu Override and various music projects, most collaborative projects were never completed. The ones that had the most promise but could never reach fruition were online ilustrated novels with music that would be marketed as eBooks. But the main illustrators landed great contracts elsewhere (using some of the models developed for our stories) before any of the stories could be finished. When my business partner decided not to purchase a targeted eBook company, the team officially fell apart. Still, the first chapters we created together were pretty cool:
Dreamless began as a futuristic rock musical. When it proved too expensive to mount, I continued to develop the story for our ill-fated eBook. Later, I folded the musical ideas into Audiocracy tracks.
Storyline: A young woman escapes from a fetal tissue farm, carrying a child she doesn't want to abort. The child has special bio-engineered connections to the company's computers (and the world wide web). Whatever he thinks or questions is tied into search and answer programs that provide him with whatever information he needs. It's as if he knows everything. He awakens AI "spirits" within the Internet, sparking a revolution of pagan and voodoo followers around the globe, most from dispossessed areas. He becomes a messiah to much of the world's poor, many of whom jump on hijacked tankers and set sail for America. A cataclysmic encounter awaits... You can read the first few chapters here.
The Power of 10 is humorous science fiction paradoy. Lots of naked women, geeking teenage boys and interdimensional action. The main character is a 15 year old nerd modeled after my son, Will. (We actually photographed him from every angle and scanned his image onto 3D models.) The lucky teen gets caught up in a royal interdimensional power struggle, falls in love with a higher being, awakens a bunch of ancient dragons, and discovers that only people on our planet wear clothes (except in battle). You can read the first few chapters here.