About the Playwright
L. Don Swartz holds a BA in Theatre Education from Concordia University Chicago, and a MAH in Theatre and English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Founder and Artistic Director of the Ghostlight Theatre Company since 1982, he has directed over 140 productions. As a playwright he has over thirty published titles that have been produced in 48 states, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India and Greece. His publishers include; Samuel French, Eldridge Publishing, Big Dog/Norman Maine Publishers, Heartland Plays and Dramatic Publishing Company. His published plays are listed below.
All Through the Night
A dramatic comedy by L. Don Swartz.
5m, 4w, 3 boys, 4 girls, 1 interior
All Through The Night tells the story of how seven travelers become snowbound in a rural train station on Christmas Eve and how their lives are forever changed when they have a strange encounter with children who are stranded in a nearby church.
"Highest Recommendation. A charming Twilight-Zone style fantasy." - Stage Directions Magazine.
"It is homey and warm, but still bittersweet. There are hearty belly laughs and moments of introspection. Easily one of the finest original productions around, one which rightfully deserves to become a holiday tradition in the vein of It's A Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street." - Niagara Gazette
"A powerful new drama. It is drama with many elements of comedy, surprises and a spirit that goes well beyond the holiday season." - Tonawanda News
The Birds that Stay
Drama by L. Don Swartz.
It is the summer of 1969, Vietnam, drugs, and a Helter Skelter killing spree. In a world seemingly out of control, five young friends struggle desperately with personal demons. Kyle tries to keep a dead man's promise; Chance is being driven closer to a deadly encounter; Kelly fights to hold together her disintegrating family; Angie tries to escape from her world of silence; and Dylan is terrorized by his dead grandmother. The children turn to a mysterious gravedigger who teaches them how to live. Exterior unit set.
- "Clever and witty dialogue, good pacing, and characters rich enough to leave a lasting impression upon the heart and mind." - The Niagara Gazetteo
Forest of the Dead, The
Horror by L. Don Swartz.
A cold-blooded killer stalks the dark woods surrounding Chestnut Hollow. As the body count rises, three families drawn into the Sheriff's investigation refuse to accept the possibility that the murderer is one of their own. A group of young friends, abandoned by the rational-thinking adults, are left alone to confront Chestnut Hollow's most sinister secret. "The Forest of the Dead" tells its suspenseful tale with Hitchcockian touches and a dash of dark humor. Unit set.
Fright Night: Three Tales of Terror
Classic horror. Written and adapted by L. Don Swartz.
9m, 9w, extras, doubling possible
Here are three updated tales of horror. "The Monkey's Paw," by W.W. Jacobs, tells the story of a family destroyed by a grisly talisman that promises to grant three wishes. When a college-aged daughter is crushed while chiseling a huge marble tombstone, her parents wish her alive at first. "The Tell-Tale Heart," by Edgar Allan Poe, is set in a contemporary prison where clinical experts delve deep into a killer's scarred psyche, only to discover that the motiveless murder is anything by. "Midnight Wax," by L. Don Swartz, is the story of an ambitious reporter who agrees to spend the night alone in a wax museum to write a Halloween piece. However, she is not the only one in the museum with a secret. Single, interior set for each play.
"Top-shelf fear!" - Niagara Falls Gazette.
6m, 5w, extras, 1 interior
Here is all the fun of a haunted house on Halloween night with tricks, treats and surprises enough to keep the audience guessing to the very end. When a theatre group in Chestnut Hollow agrees to transform the community center's basement into a Halloween spook house, little do they know that the basement is already haunted! Phantom laughter, flying skulls, ghostly photographs and other worldly voices are just some of the clues that help the troupers unearth the grisly secret that has been buried in the basement for over 200 years. Other troubles also beset them: A self-righteous (and accident-prone) busybody who will stop at nothing to destroy the Halloween fun, a sinister janitor who knows more about the basement's history than he's telling, a mysterious girl in white and an axe-wielding escapee from the local asylum who takes refuge in the tunnels under the community center. In the last scene of the Halloween to be remembered, when the pranksters are all pranked-out and the masks removed, the theatre group has a moving and unforgettable face-to-face encounter with real ghostly visitors.
Very witty (with) well written characters (and) snappy dialogue. A chiller! - Niagara Gazette, NY
"Great fun! Don't miss this show! A wonderfully charming production! All the elements make for a scary Halloween! - Tonawanda News
Here We Sit
Here is an outrageous comedy for community theatres that puts the audience on the hot seat! A series of sixteen, quick-paced scenes illuminate the joys and tribulations of the modern theatre-going experience. In “An Audience of One,” a single theatre patron delivers an impassioned monologue to convince the actors to perform the show just for her. The scene, “What the Crowd Is Thinking,” allows us to hear the real thoughts of an audience sitting through an uninspired performance. In “Uber Ushers,” a band of ushers, driven to the brink of madness by the boorish behavior of an audience, stages a ferocious uprising to reclaim their theatre. The scenes are propelled by two feisty old ladies, Lottie and Bernice, who keep popping up to express their contempt for the theatre. Having been given free tickets, the two outrageous seniors turn the theatre upside-down with their constant talking and their non-stop snacking from enormous purses stuffed with groceries and candy, wrapped in crinkling paper, of course! The comedy’s ultimate conclusion is that the actors and audience desperately need one another and that this timeless dance we do, as crazy as it can be sometimes, will go on.
Adapted by L. Don Swartz, from the novel by Louisa May Alcott.
7 w, 3 m
This poignantly-drawn play chronicles the life-changing events of the March family during a turbulent period of the Civil War. Marmee, the loving mother, and Hannah, the loyal housekeeper, steer the family through troubled waters while Father is away ministering. The four March daughters include Meg, the oldest who's determined to acquire the finer things in life; Jo, tomboyish yet passionate about her writing; Beth, a quiet musician; and Amy, the youngest, an artist who tends to put on airs. Their joys, sorrows, loves and losses are played against the backdrop of a divided country. Through it all, the sisters endure with a healthy dose of faith and the March family legendary sense of humor. Along the way, the girls learn the value of family and friendship. All the most familiar episodes from the beloved novel are here as well as less familiar material, including Amy and Laurie's courtship and Aunt March's eleventh-hour reconciliation with the family. Male roles include Laurie, a close neighbor; John Brooke, a teacher and Meg's suitor; and Professor Bhaer, a German scholar who falls in love with Jo. A beautiful, timeless drama.
Mystery by L. Don Swartz.
3m, 3w, 6 flexible, extras
Terry Barker, an ambitious newspaper reporter, agrees to spend the night alone in a wax museum to write a Halloween feature. The small, family-owned museum is facing tough competition for tourist's dollars, so this publicity is critical. But the next morning, there is a dead body and an unusual list of suspects. Could the murderer be the owner himself or his brother, who never speaks because he has a "condition"? Perhaps the two over-zealous young employees are guilty. Everyone, it seems, has a secret . . . perhaps even one of the wax figures
Monkey's Paw, The
Adapted by L. Don Swartz from the original by W. W. Jacobs.
A mysterious storyteller leaves a grisly talisman with a Midwestern farm family, assuring them that it will grant them three wishes, but warning them to pitch the monkey's paw on the fire, as it will bring them nothing but death. The father makes the first wish, but even good is twisted into evil as the family's lives spiral hopelessly out of control.
Night We Knocked the Critic Dead (And Had to Hide the Body), The
Comedy by L. Don Swartz.
5 m, 6 w
Mickey Chigger, a nasty newspaper critic, turns up dead at the Chestnut Hollow Little Theatre's final dress rehearsal of their latest play. The actors, desperate for a box office success, will go to any lengths to avoid a scandal. And that means - yes! - moving the critic's body from the rest room where he died to the parking lot. That way the late Mr. Chigger will keep his dignity, even though he doesn't really deserve it, but even more importantly, the theatre won't get bad press. Can't you see the headlines? asks one. "The play was so bad it killed him!" But just when they think they might squeak by, a detective arrives on the scene to declare that Chiggers has been murdered! To add to their troubles, Editor Blather of the local paper insists that the Little Theatre host a memorial service for the late critic, a decision she soon regrets with the ever-wailing widow and inappropriate bathroom sound effects blaring from the sound booth. Does the critic's laptop computer with his final review hold the clue to the identity of the murderer? And what in the detective's mysterious past makes him seem so familiar? Here's a spoof just for (and about) community theatres that will knock'em dead with laughter.
5 m, 6 w
Ideal comedy for community theatres! Ned is the 30-ish son of Ma and Pa Boodle whose efforts to introduce girlfriends to his family don't turn out very well. His family is somewhat “colorful”—his mother is a June Cleaver type at her homiest; his father is pretty clueless; his grandpa manages a cat (rescue) house; and his sister Lulu is a hypochondriac with an equally germ-o-phobic boyfriend, Luke. Also there’s the ever-helpful Jack, who resides in a cardboard appliance box in the middle of the Boodle living room, and the neighbor, Mrs. Doodah-Doodah. But Ned’s latest introduction of a lady friend to the family is different. Elaine sees what few others see in the family Boodle. Why? Ned was once a close part of this daffy bunch, perhaps even a little daffy himself at one time. But something has changed him. Can Elaine help? Can Ned help his family cross over into his world? With understated humor, the final scenes just might help you view your own crazed flesh and blood with a knowing smile, a kinder eye and an open heart..
Nosferatu: The Legend of Dracula
Horror by L. Don Swartz.
21 characters. 6 to 8 m, 8 to 10 w, 1 flexible, 1 boy, 1 girl
No modern-day monster can equal the chill factor of Dracula, also known as nosferatu, the undead, who must feed on the blood of the living to exist. This adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel is done with a sure and steady hand by frightmeister L. Don Swartz. One of Dracula's first victims at his new feeding grounds near an English asylum is a young woman named Lucy. Her fiance, her friend Mina, a physician and others must conquer their fears to become vampire "hunters" in order to free Miss Lucy's soul. They must destroy her body, and more importantly, the Count's as well. The hunters are lead by Dr. Van Helsing, in a daring character departure portrayed here as a woman. Another departure is a tight, sharp ending focusing on Mina and her role in the vampire's destruction. Rather than a love story which asks us to sympathize with the Count, a 20th century invention, this version remains true to Stoker's thematic core, the power of good over evil.
Silver Lady, The
A comic thriller in two acts.
4m, 7w, one interior, the family room of the Dark Harbor Lighthouse, Maine. Set in the present.
The Dark Harbor Lighthouse, abandoned by Sheriff Wilde after his wife's mysterious disappearance, sat empty for over ten years until the Hanson family moved in. Before long, strange things begin to happen in the Hanson's dream house. Lit candles left in the windows, eerie music from the piano room, moving furniture, and a shadowy figure, who walks the lighthouse tower at midnight. As Raven and next-door-neighbor, Ethan, try to discover what dark secrets Aunt Rosemary is keeping and the true identity of little Penny's imaginary friend, they unknowingly place themselves directly in the path of the recently awakened and vengeful Silver Lady. As deception after deception is revealed, the two friends race against the clock to prevent another grisly murder from occurring at the Dark Harbor Lighthouse.
"Sympathetic and unflinching, 'Silver Lady' has an uncanny ear for adult contradictions and expresses well the fears and language of adolescents. It's really funny." - Niagara Gazette
Tell-Tale Heart, The
Adapted by L. Don Swartz.
Poe's familiar story is updated here, set in the modern American judicial system. As part of a competency hearing to determine the suspect's mental ability to stand trial, the caged murderer faces a panel of legal and psychological experts as his confession is videotaped for all to see. As the experts probe deeper into the killer's psyche, the apparently motiveless murder starts to come into focus and we discover the victim's "evil eye" was just the tip of the iceberg. One interior set.
Voices in the Attic
Horror/mystery by L. Don Swartz.
Large, flexible cast
Six separate stories of the macabre will test your goosebump factor. In "Effigy," members of a high school football team learn a gruesome lesson when school spirit is carried too far. In "Voices in the Attic," a sleepy father tries in vain to assure his kids that the sounds they keep hearing are only in their imagination. But can the boys' imaginations make an attic stair creak or turn a doorknob? In "Night-screamers," why do the children who live in the ancient apartment complex on the edge of town have so many nightmares? One tale makes use of sign language and silence with chilling effects. Chanting refrains in rhyme and lyrical rounds from a Greek chorus are interspersed between tales, making for smooth transitions and an eerie mood.
"Each tale is meticulously spun through subtle script and shadowy symbolism." - The Tonawanda (NY) News