Poetry onstage

RUTH-Final-webWay back in 1992, the year all for One was founded, a friend of mine suggested that I should write a play based on the book of Ruth. I had previously written a one-man show about Martin Luther and the Reformation, and some very short dramas for church. I loved the idea of a play about Ruth, and since I’d been toying with the idea of a blank-verse play, I decided to write the Ruth script in that meter.  The Redemption of Ruth is written in unrhymed iambic pentameter, and employs imagery from harvesting as well as refinement of precious metals. It also uses extensive allusion to other parts of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures.

A word about poetry, for those who don’t recall their high school English class: Continue reading

Designing two shows on one stage

RUTH-Final-webTwo separate plays on one bill:  two separate casts, two separate directors. But one costumer, one lighting designer, and–most importantly–one stage, which must quickly convert from ancient Israel to a department store in 1945.

When Megan Arnold and I (Lauren Nichols) began talking about the stage design for our two versions of Ruth, we were hunting for a motif which would carry over from one play to the other, some visual element which would silently tie the two plays together.  Eventually we landed on the idea of trees.  After all, the opening line of The Redemption of Ruth references trees: Continue reading

One great love story. Two versions.


Our entry in the “romantic comedy” category, in honor of February, is a pair of short plays which designed to both entertain and inspire.  Ruth2 is two one-act  adaptations of the story found in the Hebrew scriptures, of a foreign woman who marries into the ancestral line of King David.

The synopses

In The Redemption of Ruth, we meet Naomi, a bitter Israeli widow living in exile in Moab. After losing her husband and both adult sons (we are not told how any of them die), she decides to go back to her husband’s home in Bethlehem. She tells her widowed daughters-in-law to go back to their own families. One of them does, but the other, Ruth, refuses to abandon her mother-in-law. Continue reading

The Play’s Afoot! Our Season Opener–

HOLMES-FINAL-web-1-240x300Sherlock Holmes and the 1st Baker Street Irregular is a new play by Brian Guehring which incorporates several of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories about the famous detective, and weaves in an original story about how Holmes came to employ his “irregulars”–various street urchins who ran errands and gathered information for him.

“Wiggins,” a resourceful young person, is the leader/protector of a gang of London orphans. When the wrong pocket is picked, this gang is brought in contact with none other than Sherlock Holmes. Neither he nor the orphans appreciate at first just how useful their partnership could be.  Expect suspense and lots of laughs as Wiggins becomes Holmes’ apprentice and both of them get more than they bargained for.

Holmes PR photo

l. to r., Josh Hanson, Jack Hanson, Nate Chen, Josette Wilhelm

The play, which runs a brisk 75 minutes with no intermission, is a perfect introduction for young people who are unfamiliar with literature’s most illustrious private detective. The Red-Headed League and The Blue Carbuncle are two of Holme’s quirkiest puzzles, and neither involves a murder, making the play truly appropriate for all ages to enjoy together.

Our cast of 13 includes six juveniles.  Expect to see:

Matthew Williams* as DR. JOHN WATSON
Jen Netting as MRS. HUDSON
Josette Wilhelm* as WIGGINS
Timothy Deal as INSPECTOR LESTRADE (and others)
Dennis Nichols as HENRY BAKER (and others)
Cole Litwiller* as DUNCAN ROSS (and others)
Ruth Fearnow as SPAULDING (and others)


Bella Gilliom*,
Jack Hanson,
Josh Hanson*,
Kaleb Mantle*, and
Kristin Wilder    as THE IRREGULARS.

*denotes actors making their afO main stage debut.

For tickets, call (260) 422-4226 or visit tickets.artstix.org.




Dramaturgy: An Ideal Husband

aih-final-web-240x300I realize this is after-the-fact, but I wanted to include our thoughts on this production here, for the edification of other theaters who may want to produce this work. 

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was an Irish-born poet, novelist and playwright, best known for his daring psychological thriller/morality tale, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and his hilarious but insubstantial comedy play, The Importance of Being Earnest.
Wilde is widely acknowledged to have had a genius intellect. He spoke and read several languages and took double first class honors at Oxford (roughly equivalent to earning two simultaneous bachelor’s degrees, magna cum laude). He read widely and deeply, and loved the Classics, especially Greek literature. He also exhibited a lifelong fascination with the Catholic Church, read the Bible and St. Augustine while in jail, and requested a priest to administer Last Rites on his death bed. Continue reading

Introducing “Edward Tulane”

MJET-FINAL-web-240x300The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a gorgeous stage adaptation by Dwayne Hartford of Kate DiCamillo’s children’s novel. DiCamillo is the award-winning author of such diverse books as Because of Winn Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux and Flora and Ulysses.

The plot of …Edward Tulane is fairly simple: a china rabbit is separated from his owner, and is found in turn by: a fisherman and his wife, a hobo and his dog, and a poverty-stricken little boy and his dying sister.  The premise of the story is a bit harder to articulate.  Continue reading

An Ideal Husband is ideal comedy

aih-final-web-240x300An Ideal Husband (February 22 – 24 and March 1 – 3, 2019) Oscar Wilde’s warm and witty romantic comedy is the perfect antidote to our cold winter blahs! Sir Robert Chiltern is a paragon of public and private virtue, respected by his peers and adored by both his wife and his sister, Mabel. Why then does the mysterious Mrs. Cheveley want to blackmail him? Meanwhile, family friend Lord Goring politely spars with Mabel and watches Mrs. Cheveley with interest. A clever, suspenseful commentary on relationships and integrity from the author of The Importance of Being Earnest.  Rated PG for subject matter.

Introducing the cast of all for One’s February romantic comedy:

Sir Robert Chiltern, MP   Timothy Deal*
Lady Gertrude Chiltern   Corrie Taylor
Mabel Chiltern, Robert’s sister   Lydia Tomaszewski
Arthur, Lord Goring   Mason Dillon*
Lord Caversham, Arthur’s father  Dennis Nichols
Mrs. Laura Cheveley   Abbey Pfenning*
Lady Markby   Leslie Bryan*
Mason, the Chilterns’ butler  Larry Garver*
Phipps, Lord Goring’s butler  Dennis Meehan*

*denotes first appearance with afO




Young Charles Dickens At the age of 31, Charles Dickens had already lived through several reversals of fortune and circumstance: from an idyllic early childhood, to the trauma of separation from his family, to a tentative career in journalism, to the triumphant reception of his fictional writing, including The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby.

In 1843, now with a wife and four children to support (he and Catherine–nee Hogarth–would eventually have ten), his monthly income threatened to decrease due to lower sales of the magazine in which his current novel (Barnaby Rudge) was being serialized.

movie posterAs well-depicted in the 2017 film, The Man Who Invented Christmas, Dickens was in need of cash. Yet this motivation seems to have created writer’s block rather than fresh enthusiasm for his craft. Meanwhile, other passionate interests continued to distract him, especially issues of social injustice against the poor, specifically children.  Earlier that year, Dickens had toured a mining community and threatened to write a pamphlet on the appalling state of its child laborers. Indeed, ever since his own experience working in a factory as a boy (while his father was in debtor’s prison), he had been passionate for reform of child labor laws and better education to lift them out of poverty.

Fortunately for the world, he changed his mind about the pamphlet. He chose instead to continue his practice of exploring the flaws of the 19th century through the medium of story. Nicholas Nickleby had already spoken strongly to the state of education, and Oliver Twist to the plight of orphans languishing in ill-run workhouses. Now he would turn his attention to the need for philanthropy in order to transform society.

illustration from book

from the 1st edition, illustration by John Leech

“A Christmas Carol in Prose” exceeded his expectations in generating a spirit of generosity among the well-to-do. And it succeeded in elevating the status of Christmas celebrations in general, in ways he likely had not foreseen. Even today, an emphasis on the holiday as a time for family gatherings, feasting, gift-giving and making merry, can be traced back directly to this classic story, the most popular that Charles Dickens ever wrote.

The enduring appeal of A Christmas Carol can be seen in its ubiquitous presence at the holiday season, and in its vast number of adaptations: Wikipedia lists 57 stage versions, 20 film versions, 26 made-for television productions, 20 radio plays, 11 audio recordings, 4 operas, 7 graphic novels and 10 parodies, plus a long list of derivative works. And this list is certainly not exhaustive.

all for One‘s upcoming production was dramatized by Doris Baizley and received its premiere in 1977 at the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles.  For tickets and more information, go to the all for One website.

“A Christmas Carol” is tuning up…

ACC posterIt is a rare theater season in our community that doesn’t find SOME company putting forth an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ season-defining classic, A Christmas Carol.   afO has thus far resisted the temptation to throw its own offering into the ring…until we ran across Doris Baizley’s delightfully clever and fresh retelling, which is tailor-made for the intimacy of the black box theater where we perform.

First presented at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, in 1977, the production proved so popular that it was revived for five subsequent years.

In this version, a down-on-its-luck British travelling troupe is wondering if the show really CAN go on, after discovering that their Tiny Tim has been fired and their Scrooge abandoned them in Budapest. Continue reading

BENTLEY’s playwright, Michael Wilhelm

BENTLEY poster for blog

We are three weeks into our rehearsal process, but it has been several years since Michael first approached me with a draft of this play. afO hosted a first read-through with some of our actor friends in July of 2016. However, I had no idea that the original idea was much older than that.  Here is playwright Michael Wilhelm with a tantalizing look at how Bentley came to be written.

“Many of the things I write have an excruciatingly long gestation period.  Bentley was no different.   The core of this story is a situation that I witnessed many years ago.  (I would go in to more details here but…spoilers…)  So I held on to this idea, often pondering in my idle time how the details would work out, plot-wise.  I didn’t know if it would end up being a movie script, novel or a stage play. I really needed to find the right vehicle to present it.  That proved to be a long search, over many decades, in fact.  Until some years ago I was browsing through a bargain bin of $1 DVD’s and I stumbled across the classic screwball comedy, My Man Godfrey.

At first I had not even considered putting the two together.  I was just thinking of possibly adapting the movie for the stage.  As I tinkered with adapting the film, I found more and more of it fell apart under scrutiny.  Then I got to thinking: why not reformulate the premise of this 80-year-old classic comedy to fit into the popular culture we live in today?  Thus,1930s high society and debutante balls give way to reality television and Twitter.

I would have to strip the original story down to its basic framework.  With a new setting and the elimination of the social satire of the 1930s, I needed to tell a new story.  This is where my original idea, the one I’d been holding onto for so long, came into play.  It could become the new premise of the story. As it turned out, it was a perfect fit.  Unlike the original film, Bentley has a spiritual curve that opens the humanness of its characters to the possibility that they can change their lives and the world around them.

How does this all play out?  Quite profoundly, I think.  You see, Bentley is an experiment.  Something new stuffed into something familiar, then blended together to create a new modern fable of redemption. I hope you’ll come and see it, and tell me what you think.”

Michael & Cindy Wilhelm

Michael with Cindy, his wife of 36 years

Michael Wilhelm (playwright) has been writing as far back as junior high school, where he penned fables from the Kingdom of Swoons. He was a writer on The Riverfront Radio Playhouse back in the late ‘70s over WIPU. He scripted and performed a one- man show based on C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.  Michael also wrote sketches for the Interseeding Ensemble, a Christian drama ministry. He’s authored a trilogy of novelettes chronicling the adventures of an aromatic super hero known as Skunk-Guy. Turtle Soup (2011), his first world premiere play, was produced by all for One, with Michael in the starring role of Gale Harris. (Michael has acted frequently with afO since 2003.) He is currently producing a radio comedy podcast titled The Temp.​ Michael is married to Cindy, and they have a lovely teenage daughter, Josette.