Several plays touched on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. SpeakEasy Stage selected "Game On" by Gary Garrison, an astute, as well as touching and funny, examination of prejudices within the gay community. In his personal ads, Ted (Grant MacDermott) takes care to specify "tall" and "straight acting"; Donnie (hilarious Connor Christiansen) falls short on both counts, though his penchant for extreme emotion often boosts him to his full height, on near-pointe. Someone is due for a comeuppance, and this sly jab at looksist mores is right on target.
The Boston Globe
STORM ON STORM
Like the caveman in Johnny Hart's "B.C." comic strip, Norton -- a furniture salesman from Summit, N.J., in Gary Garrison's inventive, achingly funny and deeply affecting one-act play, Storm on Storm," part of Stageworks/Hudson's Play By Play: Choices!? -- walks around under a tick, black, stormy cloud ... literally.
Bad weather tracks him like a bloodhound on a mission. He's been struck trice by lightning; he's lost his job, hib body is in disarray from the lighting strikes, and his daughter doesn't want him at her wedding for fear he will rain on her parade... Enveloped in his misery, Nordon has secluded himself emotionally from his wife, Chicky, who has been battling cancer.
It's a delicate negotiation...that is as outrageously funny as it is heart-rending.
Jeffrey Borak, Berkshire Eagle Staff
RUG STORE COWBOY
Garrison has fun exploding stereotypes here, giving us a randy, self-assured, very masculine cowboy who is entirely comfortable with his sexuality. It goes where you expect it to, but it gets there with honesty and wit.
Martin Denton, nytheatre.com
Rug Store Cowboy is a farcical and unserious delight.
David Mackler, Off Off Broadway Review
The flawed but charming Georgette has a strong sister in Lonni D, the lone character of Gary Garrison's "Cherry Reds." Lonnie D (the snappy Lorna Ventura) is ready to leave her man, and she's packing her many, many shoes, arranged in an enchanting arc around the stage: high heels, disco boots, work boots, sandals, sneakers, ruby slippers and especially the title footwear.
Slipping on her "cherry reds," Lonnie D leaves her packing behind and recalls her high school days—in particular, questions of identity after she fielded a sexual advance from her same-gender best friend.
The memory affirms Lonnie D because of its link not to sexual identification but to gender celebration. "Women are fierce. We're like, the fierce gender," she says, popping her lipstick with a smack.
Mr. Garrison's material is witty and wise.
David DeWitt, NY Times
There is a moment in "Gawk" by Gary Garrison, part of StageWorks' fourth annual "Ten by Ten" festival of one-act plays, in which a fourth grade teacher tells a 62-year-old black grandmother that she was teaching her 10-year-old grandson how to close his p's. The boy has been killed in a drive-by shooting. The teacher has come to deliver a bloodied letter the boy was about to mail when his life was brutally cut short.
"Gawk," is the powerful communication between a grandmother living in the projects of Chicago, who has lost he 10-year-old grandson to street violence, and the teacher who witnessed the heinous act. Two women, one filled with rage, one with disbelief, struggle to answer the question, "Who is going to own this…" in this gripping drama.
Jeffrey Borak, The Berkshire Eagle
Playwright Gary Garrison’s Perfect 10 is a refreshing, albeit brief, primer examining the process of writing ten-minute plays and the practicalities of producing them. Garrison advises playwrights and producers, interviews professionals who have helped create and nurture the national ten-minute play phenomenon, and samples scripts and commentary from renowned dramatists of this short play format. Do not let the title deceive, though. Garrison makes it clear he cannot get anyone to write a perfect drama. Rather he aims to “perfect [the reader’s] writing a ten-minute play.” Garrison begins by relating his experiences seeing and reading ten-minute plays. His observations are straightforward, offering opinions on what subject matter is appropriate with respect to the format and its limitations. He then discusses fundamental play construction with sound comments about creating compelling characters, conflict, structure, dialogue, theatricality, specificity, and avoiding sabotaging pitfalls. His sensible and astute suggestions are based on empirical observation.
Garrison discusses complications to expect and ways to avoid disaster when producing a bill of ten-minute plays. Many of his warnings are often overlooked common sense. Garrison then lets others speak. People like Michael Bigelow Dixon (literary manager, Actors Theatre of Louisville), Gregg Henry (artistic director, Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival), and Judith Royer Playwright’s Program of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education and Regional Chair of the New Plays Program for KC/ACTF) discuss the ten-minute format from both artistic and practical perspectives. Their insights are invaluable.
The last half of Perfect 10 moves away from commentary and toward the exploitable. Garrison provides a list of places seeking short plays and criteria for submissions. Perhaps most useful are the scripts by five produced playwrights of the ten minute format. Each drama illustrates the previous discussions with concrete examples, followed by questions for critical thought and some of the authors’ views about their works. Finally, Garrison helps the reader write a draft of a ten-minute play by laying out the process in ten matter-of-fact, stimulating, and fun steps. Garrison’s style is engaging, energetic, direct, and exudes a sense of humor without lessening the intensity and passion he has for the topic. While no book can guarantee success, this guide will certainly inspire effort.
Robin Stone, Theatre Journal
PERFECT 10: Writing and Producing the 10-Minute Play
I just finished your book. Wow. Wow ! Your book is smart, pragmatic, hilarious, full of love...your profound generosity, the way in which you bare yourself, use your own highs and lows and hard-fought wisdom to instruct and encourage - what a great gift you've given playwrights.
Gary Sunshine, playwright
A lot of things I've read have changed my outlook on life-”All My Sons,” “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” “Invisible Man,” to name a few. I'm writing, first and foremost to thank you for adding “The Playwright's Survival Guide” to that list. Your book is filled with so much wisdom, so much good advice and so many helpful observations it's impossible not to change the way I think about playwriting and being a playwright.
R. Eric Thomas, playwright
I read the book and loved it - such a highly original approach to BEING a writer, in addition to exploring the art of writing itself.
Mead Hunter, former literary manager, Portland Stage
I read your wonderful book about writing. It's a great read, and so good for writers. It underlined everything I've always felt about writing, but never put into words. But you did. Bravo.
Kate Snodgrass, Artistic Director, Boston Playwrights
...Your honesty and your humor are making me laugh out loud with tears of joy and pain streaming down my face. I want to give it to everyone I know - it's such a life lesson.
Carolyn J. Griffin, Managing Director, Metro Stage
Your sections on self-promotion, dealing with criticism, and working with directors have really been invaluable to me, I read them over and over. I also recommend your book to any other playwright who will hold still long enough, but I won't loan out my copy, they have to buy their own.
Debra Neff Nathans, playwright
Just finished your book, man. Really inspiring and some great info. Also laugh out loud funny, very human. Just a great book that I would and will recommend to any creative artist. Real life lessons there.
Gino DiIorio, playwright
My god, what a book. I am going to teach from it tonight, and every night...require it as reading. As should every scriptwriting teacher in the land.
Lee Gundersheimer, acting, playwriting teacher
(Your Book is) WONDERFUL, and it taught me more of what I need to know in the one sitting I took to finish it than the last year and a half of graduate school. I love you for writing it and for caring enough about us to write it.
Rebecca Basham, playwright
I am a teacher of drama and playwriting at a private school in the midwest and we are on Spring Break right now. I decided that I was going to sit still and read a book and your book was it... What an incredible breath of fresh air! And inspirational too. I got up one day and finally put down on paper (rather, computer screen...) a play that had been rattling around in my head for awhile. Thank you for sharing your journey... Thank you for saying right out loud that we can be nice to each other in theatre.
Maureen Brady Johnson, playwright, teacher
The fundamental value of this book (The Playwrights Survival Guide) is that it outs the playwright as a vulnerable human, living in the messy and dirty real world. It totally eschews the view of the playwright as a creative genius in a garret and embraces him or her as part of a complex ecology. The tone is chatty, not analytical, more Ethel Merman than Antonin Artaud. The book is good company.
Mike Kenny, Research in Education