Tag: dark comedy
A quick post to let you know Boneyards tix are now onsale. 3 shows only, get ‘em while they’re hot. Only 20 seats per show.
Happy New Year,
Come wake the dead. BONEYARDS returns for 2 final shows this Saturday and Sunday 11/2 and 11/3 in Philadelphia. Times and tickets.
Meanwhile please enjoy my latest article in today’s Washington Post about my theatrical experiments in contacting the dead as performance art over the past two years. Thank you for your support and patronage, and Happy Halloween.
Supernatural Skeptics Don’t Know What They’re Missing
by Jeffrey Stanley
I try contacting the spirit world before live audiences to keep an element of hope simmering on the back burner of my mind.
I like Ouija boards. I’ve used them since I was a teenager. More recently I’ve messed around with electric spirit boxes, also known as Frank’s boxes after their inventor Frank Sumption. They’re radio receivers which allow you to listen to and record voices of the dead, also known as EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) or Raudive voices, after one of their early discoverers. Over the past two years I have frequently used Ouija boards and spirit boxes in my performance art, attempting to conjure up the dead as my co-stars before a live audience. At one of the universities where I teach playwriting and screenwriting part-time I am also the faculty adviser for a student-led paranormal investigation club. Friends and fans assume I am a true believer but the truth is that I am not. I am a healthy skeptic. And that’s depressing for me because it means that on some level I feel certain there’s nothing out there. I try contacting the spirit world before live audiences to keep an element of hope simmering on the back burner of my mind. CONT’D>>
And also out today from Drexel University a story about the PIG of which I’m the proud faculty adviser…
Drexel Paranormal Investigators Haunted by the Unknown
by Alissa Falcone
…It doesn’t hurt that the group’s faculty adviser also has an interest with the undead: By day, Jeffrey Stanley teaches classes in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design’s Screenwriting and Playwriting Department, but at night he transforms into undead residents of cemeteries from all over the world during “Boneyards,” his performance that imagines supernatural comic monologues.CONT’D at drexel.edu>>
Boneyards Reopens 10/17/13
Press Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
10/14/13 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Philadelphia, PA –A real seance with real ghosts. But we don’t need to tell you that, you’ve already seen it. There are lots of Halloween events being promoted right now, especially of the big budget “haunted” house/prison/hayride/forest/valley variety with a cast of dozens of monsters/zombies/vampires/murder victims and we love those and patronize them as much as the next guy and gal every year, but why not consider something different for you or your friends eager to freak themselves out while also being profoundly moved on a spooky October night?
Transcripts and videos from previous shows are online for you and your colleagues’ perusal. We recommend you start here . You might also want to check out the first EVP recording made in the 118-year-old synagogue that is the show’s location when New York City playwright and Drexel University Performing Arts faculty Jeffrey Stanley held the world’s first ghost auditions. Stanley, who often writes about religion for the Washington Post, will be discussing seance as performance art in that publication later this month.
Performance dates are 10/17, 10/20, 11/2 and 11/3. Thanks for your consideration and for supporting independent theatre in Philly.
Press Contact: email@example.com
10/7/13 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Philadelphia, PA – The ongoing seance-as-theatre experiment continues. After a successful run in the 2013 Philly Fringe BONEYARDS is back from the dead to rock your underworld just in time for Halloween. Same autobiographical, spooky show, same mouldering location, same real ghosts. 4 dates: 10/17, 10/20, 11/2 and 11/3. Tickets $10, seating is limited to 20.
The hilarious, eloquent and haunting follow-up to Stanley’s 2011 hit “Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead,” this true to life romp resurrects the cadaverous–from Philly’s Laurel Hill Cemetery to a British colonial graveyard in India to ancient Greek tomb worshippers. Paranormal activity guaranteed.
Times, tickets, photos, press, playbill, and real voices from the dead here.
About Your Destination
Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and beyond crowded South Philadelphia in the 1880s. They pushed south from the original “Jewish Quarter” near South Street, opening Jewish schools, hospitals and some 140 synagogues along the way. Hard to believe today, eh? In 1909 (continue reading…)
BONEYARDS is back from the dead to rock your underworld just in time for Halloween. Shiva3 is proud to announce the return of Jeffrey Stanley’s solo show BONEYARDS which was a hit in the 2013 Philly Fringe. The 80-minute show will again be performed in the dark, dank coal cellar of the century-old storefront Shivtei Yeshuron Ezras-Israel Synagogue, also known as “the little shul” (part of the June 2013 Hidden City Festival) at 2015 South 4th Street in South Philly near Snyder Avenue for 4 performances. Stanley’s solo show is a followup to his 2011 Fringe hit BEAUTIFUL ZION: A BOOK OF THE DEAD. Stanley is also a dramatic writing faculty at New York University Tisch School of the Arts and at Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design. He is a religion blogger for the Washington Post.
About the Show
A funeral for the living. A coming-of-age embalming. A suicidal decapitation by coal train. A cross-dressing hillbilly named Doodlebug. This metatheatrical, taphophilic, true-to-life monologue resurrects and converses with the cadaverous– (continue reading…)
Aside from premiering my solo show BONEYARDS in the Philly Fringe starting in 2 weeks I’m honored to also have my work included in Philly Improv Theater (PHIT)’s Page One fringe show opening 9/5. From their site: A unique collaboration between Philly’s most talented improvisers and local playwrights, each performance begins with the opening pages of a different script which is then completed by the cast. The playwright for September 5 is Jeffrey Stanley, author of Tesla’s Letters, Medicine, Man and other plays.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could all pinpoint our personal demons and make money on them? My very short play written just for this show, “Entrepreneurial Spirit,” is a dark comedy about a possessed person trying to strike up a business partnership with her demon, which in this case is a real demon, Pazuzu, a Sumerian god whom you might recognize from one of my favorite films, The Exorcist.
The power of cash compels you.
Full details at https://www.facebook.com/events/189880277852073/
For all of you who enjoy paying for things with pounds (or have to) please enjoy a really inexpensive download of my award-winning 2006 short Lady in a Box in one more new location online. It features the likes of Luke Rosen and John Lordan along with Indian star Sarita Choudhury and featuring the ambient trance hit “Sweet Lassi Dub.” Check it out at MiShorts.
At the intersection of sex and religion a frantic hipster and his goldfish take the ultimate leap of faith.
Please join me on Tuesday, 3/27/12 at 7pm at Plays & Players Theatre in Philadelphia for a reading of my unproduced play UFOs Over Brooklyn presented by the outstanding Drexel Players, Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design‘s student-run theatre company. The reading of this work-in-progress will be followed by a brief Q&A.
This is my 3rd play reading in as many months, and is connected to my residency as one of 3 current PDC@Plays&Players playwrights-in-residence.
This particular play has had so many near-misses for production in New York and so many stellar actors reading the roles in public presentations it makes my head spin (Naked Angels tuesdays@nine, Urban Stages, The Collective, the now-defunct Lightning Strikes Theatre Company, et al) Over the past several years it took on a life of its own as a favorite for developmental readings (aka “development hell” in theatre parlance) , and also at Amherst College where an early draft was presented while I was a Copeland Fellow there in 2001.
This marks the first time the play has been presented in Philadelphia, and I welcome your feedback. It’s a very dark, very sexy romantic comedy about two couples and a UFO suicide cult. See you there.
WHAT: UFOs Over Brooklyn
WHEN: Tuesday 3/27/12 @7:00pm
WHERE: Plays & Players, 3rd floor Skinner Studio; 1714 Delancey Place, Philadelphia
COST: FREE but please RSVP to Dan Student at firstname.lastname@example.org .
I was delighted last night to hear again from spirit MALA during our Ouija session that was part of my Plays & Players playwright-in-residence presentation. I began with a little shtick I wrote just for the occasion, then called for volunteers, BZ:ABOTD-style, and moved us all across the threshold from the Skinner Studio stage into Quig’s Pub where we all stood around a table watching the two volunteers try their hands at my antique William Fuld original Ouija board. Our goal was to contact one of the theatre’s 3 resident ghosts.
At first, lots of jibberish despite multiple partners and switch-offs and trying to get the board warmed up. There were a few early highlights, like my asking, “Look, is there anyone there who just wants to cut the jibberish and talk to us in plain English using simple words?”
The response was a swift NO.
At one point it blurted out OZ which got lots of oohs and aahs. Later one of the volunteers emailed me that she got home and flipped on the TV only to see that The Wizard of Oz was indeed on that night.
But whenever it was my turn to switch in with a partner it shot back and forth from M to A to L to A to M to A, sweeping a wide arc back and forth across the board nonstop. It wouldn’t answer any other questions. It was, like, in this catatonic state. I’d get up and let a new partner take over, but 10 minutes later when it was my turn again it’d shoot back to M A L A M A L A. As obvious as it seems now (duh) I kept guessing at names…”Are you Mama?…Alam? … Lala?”
Thankfully someone chimed in, “My guess is it’s a child.”
“Are you a child?” I asked the board. At that she finally stopped the chant and went to YES.
“You’ve been trying to talk to me all night. Do you know me?”
“Have we met before?”
“What’s your name?”
“Oh! You’re Mala. From my show!”
“You’re the little girl.”
(to the crowd) “This is a little girl I met during my show. She was killed by her mother. (to Mala) You followed me here from the Blue Grotto to Plays & Players?”
“Are you in the room with us?”
YES NO YES NO YES NO (this indecision was also evident during her previous session with me; the personality and her reluctance or uncertainty with her state seemed consistent, as did her childlike repetitions of “MalaMalaMalaMala” and previously “MomMomMomMom” for emphasis)
“Your mother killed you, right?”
YES NO YES NO YES NO
(In our previous conversation on 9/15/11 her discomfort with discussing the details of her death (stabbed by her mother) and her insistence that she has forgiven her, felt consistent again with her current indecisive answers. Previously her discomfort was indicated by the constant use of the infinity sign when she wasn’t sure how to answer; tonight it was the YES NO YES NO maneuver.)
I got tired of monopolizing the board so I stepped away for a slice of pizza while two others continued the chat. I told them Mala was a lonely little girl who meant no harm and to chat with her for a few minutes. I’m not sure of the outcome but I know their chat with her was brief because the board was soon abandoned. People kept admiring it and discussing it but no one would dare to use it. I offered to use it with someone but no one would take me up on it. Everyone seemed too spooked by the Mala thing.
So, not exactly an earth-shattering session but a good experience overall and I was happy to chat with my otherworldly pal Mala again. Most disappointingly no contact was made by any of Plays & Players’ supposed ghosts. Maybe they’re just a legend…
TO BE CONTINUED.
Egypt and Israel Dominate Talks
The closing night show was so overwhelming it’s taken me an extra day to calm down enough to write about the Ouija session with some clarity. After 7 evenings of supernatural dissatisfaction for me personally during the brief run of the show and having to close every evening using the nuclear option I was about ready to give up on the spirit world as being able to reach out directly to anyone.
M. was an eager audience member in the final show who joined in with audience volunteer S. to person the Ouija board. They were escorted away and left alone for awhile as usual to try their hands at the board, reaching out to the netherworld in the Hell Room before I returned with the rest of the audience to rejoin them and see if they’d tuned into anything. Here is the main highlight that left us all haunted, especially M:
QUESTIONER (M) (to Jeff): I’m really freaked out right now. I have goose bumps and my hair’s standing on end.
JEFF: That’s normal when you’ve brought someone into the room. Something’s here with us. Do you want to quit?
M: No. I’m just letting you know that I’m freaked. My hands are shaking, I’m afraid I’ll mess up with the planchette.
JEFF: Why don’t you stop? I can take your place.
M: No, I want to keep going.
JEFF (to Ouija board): What’s your name?
SPIRIT (or subconscious ideomotor impulse depending on your beliefs): KHEF
JEFF: Khef? I bet that turns out to be Arabic or Hindi (why I thought so). I’ve seen a lot this week so let’s assume it’s a real language and not gibberish. Are you Khef?
JEFF: Oh. Well, do you know what’s taped to the back of the grave photo?
M: Do you know anyone here?
SPIRIT: M—- (spelling out M’s name)
M: Oh wow. Do you want to tell me something?
At that the planchette shot down at breakneck speed to GOODBYE and refused to budge for anyone. Game over. We ended the session and all returned to the Blue Grotto and I wrapped up the show as usual, using the nuclear option — a personal disappointment for me but a fun way to end a show about Ouija boards.
Afterward M. stuck around as I began to strike the set for the last time, eager to talk to me at length about her first mind-blowing experience on a Ouija board this evening. She needed to unburden herself; I’ve been there, I know what that’s like so I stopped my work and listened. She was highly unsettled. She explained to me that she’s Jewish and said that in the Jewish tradition it’s strictly forbidden to contact the dead. I asked why she did it and — bless her heart — she said she did it to help me find the closure that I need. That was selfless of her but I hated that the experience had left her freaked out. In the end it’s only a show and not worth the trauma.
She said she has immediate ancestors who died tortuous deaths in the Holocaust and that she’d always been afraid to think about how they’d perished. Facing their cruel fate is her worst nightmare, and the thought of hearing directly from them about how they suffered has always been more than she could bear.
“Maybe it appeared to let you know they’re there, but went to Goodbye so quickly to avoid having to tell you what it knows you don’t want to hear, ” I suggested, “to spare you the pain.”
M: That’s exactly what it did. That’s what I’m telling you.
Then I get home and find out that KHEF isn’t Arabic, Hindi or even Urdu. It’s Egyptian. It’s the name of an ancient Egyptian hieroglyph that means “to be laid waste or destroyed.” A reference to the Holocaust in our case? And this hieroglyph appears on the Israel Stele of all things, so-called by archaeologists because it’s the only ancient Egyptian document mentioning Israel by name. And if you don’t know, a stele is a monument to the dead… Yeah. You tell me.
Good luck, everyone, with your own nightmares and ghosts, and thank you for your support for Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead.