Joel Drake Johnson

PLAYS:


22 MISTAKES

BOYS ROOM

FOUR PLACES

A QUEER KISS

RASHEEDA SPEAKING

SYNOPSES:

THE BOYS’ ROOM – (2M 2W) When the American Dream is out of reach, what is a man to do? In The Boys Room, ensemble playwright Joel Drake Johnson walks the line exquisitely between laughter and tears. Two middle aged brothers try to escape their responsibilities and race each other back to their boyhood bedroom—that sanctuary where they can dream and scheme without the pressure of the outside world. One is unemployed; the other is making a living but is not sure why he should live. The women in their lives are knocking on the door, filled with questions and, sometimes, love.  (“Johnson’s real strength as a writer floods out — he understands ordinary people in tough situations and treats them with compassion yet holds them to account…. There were tears running down my cheeks.” Recommneded, Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune)

FOUR PLACES – (1M 3W) Sketched together on a deceptively simple frame, this emotionally precise play uses its spare structure to devastating and darkly comic effect. A brother and sister have received word from their parents’ caretaker that their elderly parents may be a danger to each other. The brother breaks his routine to join his sister and mother on their weekly lunch date in hopes that together he and his sister can get a clearer picture of the situation. As the mother confronts the indignities of age and the children stare down a mounting list of losses and disappointments, an image of the family emerges that is true to life. Johnson gives readers an unwavering exploration of the ways that the love and knowledge family members have of one another creates both hurt and comfort. (“Unlike most premiering new works, this fine drama feels fully formed and ready to take its place as a significant new Chicago play.” Highly Recommended, Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune;  “You might want to run from this play, but Johnson–who has pinned reality to the cross here–will not let you hide.” Highly Recommended,  Hedy Weiss, Sun-Times)

RASHEEDA SPEAKING – (1M 3W) Rasheeda Speaking addresses the new wall of suppressed discomfort, fear, and paranoia between different races and cultures that has emerged in the post-racial Obama age, the era of “Yes We Can.”  Winner/GAP Award.

22 MISTAKES– (3M 3W) How are love, maturity, and family really defined? In 22 MISTAKES, an elementary school teacher living in a broken home attempts to save her physical therapist from an abusive husband. But whose life is really broken and who is really being abused? When the husband comes knocking on their door, it becomes evident that there is more to the story than meets the eye.

BIO:


Joel Drake Johnson is a Chicago playwright and teacher who got his start as a writer at Chicago’s critically acclaimed Econo-Art Theater. Four Places, Before My Eyes, A Guide for the Perplexed (featuring Tony Nominee, Kevin Anderson and Jeff Award Winner, Francis Guinan) and The End of the Tour were first produced at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater under the direction of Sandy Shinner. Four Places was subsequently produced in LA by The Rogue Machine Theatre, where it garnered five Ovation Award nominations, four nominations from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, and a Garland Award. It has since been produced at numerous theatres throughout the United States and Germany. Most recently, Rasheeda Speaking premiered at the Rivendell Theatre Ensemble in Chicago and went on to a widely acclaimed production at the New Group, under the direction of Cynthia Nixon.