Plays written by James Still
THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT
I LOVE TO EAT
LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT’S SHOULDER
THE WIDOW LINCOLN
APRIL 6, 1968
Appoggiatura – (4M 3W) Appoggiatura: uh-poj-uh-toor-uh. From the Italian appoggiare meaning “to lean.” In music, appoggiatura is a note of long or short duration sometimes creating a dissonance before resolving into a main note. And so it is with the play: what begins on a rainy night inside an old-world hotel room in Venice ends on a bright sunny day outside on its streets and campos. An old woman who knows this might be her last trip to Italy. Her granddaughter who has just graduated from college and has no idea what comes next. A middle-aged man who doesn’t know how to mend his broken heart. Their young Italian tour guide who makes up any history he doesn’t know. And a drunken street musician who seems to be following them wherever they go. Appoggiatura is a play about an American family finding itself by completely losing itself. Italy is a good place to do that…
The House That Jack Built – (2M 3W) A rambling Thanksgiving get-together in Vermont where friendship and family are intertwined and memories of the past have a place at the table. A funny and affecting visit with three women, their significant others and their not insignificant desire to recapture what they once shared.
I Love To Eat – (1M) Before Julia Child, before today’s proliferation of cooking shows and networks, there was James Beard, the first TV chef. He brought fine cooking to the small screen in 1946 and helped establish an American cuisine. But, as is often the case with pioneers, his early efforts on screen have been lost. He went on to become America’s first “foodie,” and the award bearing his name is still the prize most coveted by chefs. Playwright James Still invites you to meet the man described as “the face and belly of American gastronomy” in this play that recreates an evening at Beard’s New York home.
Looking Over the President’s Shoulder – (1M) When Alonzo Fields accepted a job as a butler at the White House in 1931, his plan was to work there for the winter. That winter lasted 21 years. Based on the real-life story of the grandson of a freed slave who grew up in an all-black town in southern Indiana, Fields is forced by the Depression to give up his dreams of becoming an opera singer and accept the job at the White House where he quickly was appointed Chief Butler. Set on the eve of his last day on the job, Fields reflects on his 21 years of service to his country with humor and pride. He was a man with a story to tell and this tour-de-force for one actor gives Fields the chance to tell it.
The Widow Lincoln – (8W) Ridiculed for her elaborate White House redecorations and extravagant expenditures, Mary Todd Lincoln sparked more controversy than any First Lady before or since. Set during the weeks following Abraham Lincoln’s murder at Ford’s Theatre, The Widow Lincoln portrays a very human Mary in the aftermath of her husband’s death as she mourns the post-war life they will never share.
Miranda – (2M 3W) An intense, almost spy thriller set in Yemen.
James Still’s award-winning plays have been produced at theatres throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, China and Australia. He is the playwright-in-residence at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, artistic affiliate with American Blues in Chicago, a winner of the William Inge Festival’s Otis Guernsey New Voices in American Theatre Award, the Medallion for Sustained Achievement from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America and the Charlotte B. Chorpenning Playwright Award for Distinguished Body of Work. He is an elected member of the National Theatre Conference and a member in the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. Three of Still’s plays have received the Distinguished Play Award from the American Alliance for Theatre & Education. His work has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His plays have been developed and workshopped at the Sundance Playwrights Lab, the New Harmony Project, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, the Lark Play Development Center, Telluride Playwrights Festival, the Bonderman Playwriting for Youth National Competition & Symposium and New Visions/New Voices at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Still’s plays featured by Dramatic Publishing include The Heavens are Hung in Black, The Velvet Rut, Iron Kisses, Searching for Eden: the diaries of adam and eve, A Long Bridge Over Deep Waters, Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, He Held Me Grand, And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank, A Village Fable, Hush: An Interview With America, The Gentleman From Indiana and The Velocity of Gary. His new plays include I Love to Eat, The House that Jack Built and Illegal Use of Hands. In addition to his work in theatre, Still also works in television and film. He has been nominated for five Emmy awards and an award from the Television Critics Association. He was also twice a finalist for the Humanitas Prize. Still was a producer and head writer for the Discovery Kids series Paz, head writer of the television series Frog & Friends for Amsterdam-based Telescreen and writer for the children’s film Miffy. For Nickelodeon, he was a writer and story editor for Maurice Sendak’s long-running Little Bear and the Bill Cosby series Little Bill. He wrote The Little Bear Movie and the feature film, The Velocity of Gary. Still grew up in a small town in Kansas, graduated from the University of Kansas and lives on the West Coast.