Block & Tackle Productions

Innovative Productions of Dramatic Narratives

This is the list of the stage plays of Michael Bettencourt (full-length, one act, and short) and screenplays. Each script is downloadable as a PDF and is offered under the Creative Commons Share-Alike License.

Full-Lengths

  • A Question of Color: A white man, a black woman, interracial marriage, 1907 = illegal.
  • Ain't Ethiopia: An African-American man goes to Spain in 1937 to fight Franco.
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death: A man arrested for painting “hope” in large letters across a street is at the center of a story about betrayal, revenge and love.
  • Bright Gold Promise: A story of betrayal prompted by a thirst for real estate.
  • Dancing at the Revolution: Emma Goldman, exiled in France, feels exiled from her own life.
  • Delicate Body: An aging actor wants to play Lear before he dies. Madness on the heath ensues.
  • Esquina: A police officer is charged with murdering 17-year old Jose Aral, and the Aral family is never the same.
  • Hardball: In 1922, semi-pro Jewish pitching phenom Henry Kaner gets an offer from the St. Louis Browns - if he'll play on Shabbos.
  • The Happy City: Based on The Plague by Albert Camus, a port city in 1932 suffers the plague.
  • In The Name Of: Personal freedom challenges the PATRIOT Act - and the government hits back. Hard.
  • Light. Fantastic.: What is the answer to "what is the point?" Clu Martin tries to find out.
  • The Measure of All Things: Two Frenchmen measure the world to set the meter, measuring more than their science would admit.
  • Meet John Doe: A stage version of the 1941 movie directed by Frank Capra with a screenplay by Robert Riskin. (There is also a radio play version.)
  • NEA High: A high school senior paints a painting that criticizes her school's policy on sex education. They pull it from an exhibition.
  • On The Nature Of The Dark Matter That Dominates The Present Mean Mass Density Of The Universe: A white law professor with black ancestors is challenged about her identity.
  • Pictures At An Exhibition: A mother accused of child abuse for taking nude photos of her son takes jail time rather than admit any wrong-doing.
  • Prisoner A-7: Alexander Berkman, the life-long companion of Emma Goldman, and his anarchist fight for a better world.
  • Seven Ladies Macbeth: Before and after Lady Macbeth became Lady Macbeth. (Inspired by Howard Barker's Seven Lears.)
  • Shea Man: An anthropologist plants the "missing link" on his family's farm to generate hype and cash. It does that, and more.
  • Time Laps: A Fugue of Sorts: Interconnected stories that show how Adam and Eve got from one end of life to the other.
  • When The Phones Came To Liberty Creek: In 1999, Liberty Creek, a rural "unincorporated territory," gets phone service, and change is wrought by a dial tone.

One-Acts

  • A Senior Moment: Jewel, Darcy, Salvia, and Seeromanie, all in their sixties, wonder why Chantelle, also in her sixties, is looking good these days - too good.
  • Another Seascape: A riff on Edward Albee's Seascape.
  • Click (long version): When Marlin reveals to Pinto what he did in the park, it changes their moral universe.
  • The First Day of the Seventh Month: A healthy man decides he has six months left and lives as if that were true.
  • Homeward Bound: At the intersection of domestic violence and immigration, escape or die.
  • Let Down The Rains: A cab ride from New York to Vermont is really not that far off.
  • Macbeth's Children: So many children die. Why? (There is also a version for older child actors.)
  • Melts In Air: A middle-aged man loses his job, and he and his wife decide to fight back.
  • Mine Eyes: A PR flack work for the American white militia struggles to re-join a world he's done much to damage.
  • The Most Dangerous Woman in America: A one-actor piece based on the anarchist Emma Goldman.
  • The Patron Saint of Geeks: Bobby and Chad, tormented as "geeks," contemplate equalizing the situation with their tormentors.
  • Poly X: Polyxena was the last sacrifice of the Trojan War - a play about the anger, mayhem, and sport of war.
  • The Real Temple: All of life is a journey through a slightly wacky King Arthur-world - bet you didn't know that.
  • A Round of Slaughter: An exiled playwright returns when her government turns democratic, but a former slaughterhouse doesn't change overnight.
  • Samaritan: The parable's question—"And who is my neighbor?"—gets an answer.
  • The Sin Eater: A mother accused of child abuse for taking nude photos of her son takes jail time rather than admit any wrongdoing. (There is also a radio play version
  • Still Small Voice: A writer, Robert Walser, comes to the end of his latest literary production.
  • Stimulus: Survivalists kidnap their political representative to buy him out so that he'll work for them directly.
  • Termagant: What's a Quaker superhero to do when evil comes to town? (There is also a radio play version.
  • To...Or Not...: A pro-lifer and pro-choicer have some things to say as they cool their heels in a police van.
  • Translation: A linguist-for-hire translates a journal for a woman written to her by another woman. Yes, woman to woman.
  • When The Military Bares Its Breast, The Eagle Finds Its True Devotion: Carver returns to the land she defended doing her tours. It is not a place that has a place for her.
  • When The Phones Came To Liberty Creek: In 1999, Liberty Creek, a rural "unincorporated territory," gets phone service, and change is wrought by a dial tone.

Short Plays

Printed volumes of these can also be purchased in the Bookstore.

  • The Adulterous Woman: Staring out across the desert, in a country not her own, Janine finds a perfection that she had not anticipated and does not yet know if it will accept her. (Inspired by the story by Albert Camus.) (1 male, 1 female)
  • An Affair of State: The Senator from the great state of [fill in the blank] has something to say to the Ethics Committee. (1 female)
  • The Alamo: A mouthy panhandler and a sophomore at a prestigious university have very different philosophies about life. (1 older female, 1 male)
  • The Bête Goes Noire: Charon the Boatman will show up in the strangest places these days. (1 female, 2 males)
  • Bintl Briv: Abraham Cahan, editor of the Jewish Forward, meets Lola Ridge in 1906 -- and their relationship is very much like the letters to the editor, the "bintl briv," of complaints, temptations, and possibilities. (1 male, 1 female)
  • Biog: Capella Secrest, famed author of biographies, meets her match in the secrets business in her assistant, Nigel Hamilton -- and she's not above using a little firepower to help win the struggle. (1 female, 1 male)
  • The Body Electric: During the Civil War, Walt Whitman volunteered his time as a nurse. Always close to those he helped, he finds his spirit drawn to Henry Smith, who refuses to let the doctors take his leg. (2 males)
  • Booger: Paul, a former Catholic altar boy, recalls a moment when true religious faith was as plain as the nose on his face. (1 male)
  • Breast of Show: Felice Gallagher-Jimenez runs Breast of Show, which offers information and products for breastfeeding mothers, out of her street-level unit in a very exclusive residential building. Suckling is not allowed. (2 females)
  • Burning Issues: Love is politics by another name when it comes to burning sacred books. (1 male, 1 female)
  • But Her Heart Is Warm: A police officer asks a homeowner to put some clothes on the nude snow sculpture she makes - and the sculpture has something to say about this. (1 male, 2 females)
  • Catalog: When everything can be bought from home or online, even death will have its own market share. (2 males or 1 male/1 female)
  • The City of Mosques: The knock upon the door, the knife-edged news given by an Armed Services officer -- and where, again, is Fallujah, and why is it called the city of mosques? (2 males, 1 female - all Nigerian)
  • Click: When Marlin reveals to Pinto what he did in the park that night, it changes the whole nature of the moral universe they inhabit. (2 males)
  • Combover: Dual McKenzie confesses to his barber, Clay Harrison, that he is a little worried about what his wife will think about the "thinning thatch" on his head, especially since she seems to be pursuing life with a gusto that unnerves him. (2 males)
  • Courier Mercury: Jukie di Gamba is a bicycle courier extraordinaire who sees the journey through the city streets as the modern-day version of Mercury delivering messages for the gods. (1 male or 1 female)
  • DOT ORG: A hapless computer user envisions God as a sophisticated (though not error-free) software and the rest of us as hapless lines of code in various stages of debugging. (2 males or 2 females)
  • Downsize: When Hannah inadvertently pours water on the boss and melts him away, she and her three co-workers are momentarily terrified and excited: what can you do when you don't have a boss? (2 males, 2 females)
  • Ear Buds: When we love our devices, and they love us back. (any combination)
  • Electricity: An America newcomer to the town of El Bolsón expects certain amenties to be available. They are, but in ways that The Engineer has to demonstrate. (2 males)
  • Equal. Separate.: Pat, white, and Chris, black, longtime friends and survivors of being "women in the building trades," lose their friendship when, over a shot and a beer, Chris finds out that Pat wouldn't let her daughter date Chris' son. (1 white female, 1 black female)
  • Everything's Jake: When Jane reveals to Jacqui her strong love for Jacqui, she finds that Jacqui is willing to accept it -- but there is the small matter of someone named Jack that Jacqui needs to talk about. (2 females)
  • The Famine Church: God and Mammon clash in this tale of gentrification on the Lower East Side of New York City. (2 males, 1 female)
  • Fare Thee Well: Six women gather for a very special farewell party to one of their own in this celebration about facing and surviving breast cancer. (6 females)
  • The Fever Dream of Captain America: Muslims Muslims everywhere—and barely time to round them all up. A mosque frequented by taxi-cab drivers is the latest threat to American ideals. (2 Egyptian males)
  • Frankie Is Dead: Gina has to suffer the bullying of Frankie because the adult world will not protect her. She has only has one weapon left: to wish for his unequivocal death. (1 female, 1 male, 1 male or female)
  • The Games of Time : Asaf and Jorgelina literally fall into a painting, and then into love. (1 female, 1 male)
  • George Bailey Redivivus: Life goes on for George Bailey after the last reel of It's A Wonderful Life - but not much happens. So Clarence once again has to give him a hand, though with a very different offer this time around. (2 males)
  • Glory Train: The nature and purpose of life can become very immediate as four travelers find out when a disturbed young woman threatens them all with a vial of what she says is anthrax. (2 males, 2 females)
  • Good Tidings: When Roger refuses to give the servants a gratuity at Christmastime, they show him that the servants oftentimes know more about the masters than the masters know about the servants. (1 male, 1 female)
  • The Greed Gene: Genetic counseling may not be a blessing, as Norman and Lauren Drago learn from Dr. Targus, their "Genie of Genes," that their new child will possess the "greed gene." (2 males, 1 female - though the doctor can be played by a female)
  • Hammer: Delia, a construction worker, smacked the 11-year old son of her boyfriend when he told her that he didn't want to learn carpentry from a "girl." Does such violence nip violence in the bud? (2 females)
  • Hannah And The Maccabees: Hannah's stroke leaves her four words -- "yes," "no," "ohjesus," and "whoa" -- to explain to Carol, her social worker, why she tried to slash her wrist on a piece of glass. [NOTE: This play has also been done with a male as the social worker and appropriate changes made in the script.] (2 females)
  • Hold On: Cappy and Ronnie, at the end of their seven-year stretch, suddenly have to keep a car teetering on the edge of the bridge from plunging in. Can they hold on long enough? (1 male, 1 female)
  • Hole In The Pocket: A well-meaning Christian woman, trying to help a man keep money from falling out of a hole in his pocket, faces the devil for her good intentions. (1 male, 1 female)
  • How Do You Like Your Blueeyed Boy...: Lilah Lawton hunts down Dr. Jeremiah Kissov, an active proponent of "dignicides," when she learns he has helped her mother end her life. She is determined to get solace, no matter what it takes. (1 male, 1 female)
  • I Know What I Did Not Know: A worker asks a playwright to write a love letter for her. In writing the letter, he discovers what he should have been writing all along. (1 male, 2 females)
  • If Cleanliness: It is 1894, and young Brigid Yeats, working as a stitcher in a workshop and a maid in the rectory, has a revelation about water, Emma Goldman, and our blessed St. Brigid. (1 male, 3 females)
  • In The Fort: At school someone calls Pablo's father a "wetback," but Pablo mishears it as "wetvac," which confuses him. Luz, his mom, soothes him but knows differently. (1 male child, 1 female)
  • Ishmael and Ahab Mon Amour: Based on the last chapter and epilogue of Herman Melville's Moby Dick, the Whale sets the most dangerous challenge for Ahab: to seek out the forgiveness of Ishmael, the only survivor of the drowned Pequod. (3 males)
  • Isn't A Date in Eight A Great Idea, Or What?: In eight minutes of "speed dating," expectations can be confounded in many interesting ways. (Watch a performance done by Flush Ink Productions.) (1 male, 1 female)
  • J. De La Vega: Violence in the barrios of New York is not uncommon, and with great sadness but pain-filled love, street artist J. De La Vega does not let these deaths disappear as street-level memorials to the fallen victims of poverty, racism, and simple bad luck bloom on walls, sidewalks, and buildings. (1 male or 1 female)
  • Las Cartas: Friends of the Peruvian poet Juan Ramón Jimínez, to speed his recovery in a sanatorium in Spain, compose "fan" letters from one Georgina Hübner, which have the desired remedial effect. But when Juan decides to travel back to Lima to meet Georgina, the friends decide to let Georgina "pass away" instead of revealing their well-intentioned hoax to their friend. (3 males)
  • Leaf Meal: An experiment to modify humans to make them able to photosynthesize sunlight makes for a very interesting love story. Apologies to O. Henry. (1 male, 1 female)
  • Llorona: A young woman, abandoned by the father of their child when he marries someone else, exacts her revenge for his betrayal. (1 male, 1 female)
  • Location: Highway. Time: Near Dusk: Adam is picked up for causing a disturbance on the highway when she sees the seventh deer hit and left to die. (1 female, 2 males or 2 females or 1 female and one male)
  • Love Letters: When Dale finds a bundle of love letters addressed to her but unsent by her husband Roger, her feelings for him are revived. He has a different response. (1 male, 1 female)
  • Making Light: The Found Letters of Hester Prynne: A spoken word/recitation piece based on my short story Hester (5 women).
  • The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg: An adaptation of the short story by Mark Twain. (2 females, 4 males, but some roles interchangable)
  • Mission Creep: Military technology finds a place in the home. (2 males, 1 female)
  • Mochila Bears the Chrysalis of the World: Derek and Luz, living "pre-apoc" under the highway, have a chance to recreate the universe, enclosed as it is in a backpack full of dark matter. (2 actors, genders interchangable)
  • Moment: When a bank robber fires his gun at Robert, multiple lifetimes play out in the time and distance between muzzleflash and the bullet's destination. (2 males, 1 female, 5 males or females)
  • Mucho Macho: On a simple day on a simple subway ride, two men cannot resist the testosterone urge to do ritual combat. (2 males)
  • Newyorkistan: A chance encounter with a street performer gives two New York City subway riders two very different experiences of what life is about. (3 males)
  • No Great Loss: Emma Newmark's hair is thinning, as is her patience with Awagu Kidane, her hairdresser, whose comments about how trim Emma's husband Spurgeon is looking makes Emma wonder what her hairdresser knows for sure. (2 females, one of which is Ethiopian)
  • Not Here: Jeff Boss sends the President of the United States a podcast. (1 males, 4 others)
  • Only The Dead Know Brooklyn: An adaptation of the 1936 short story of the same name by Thomas Wolfe. The script contains both Wolfe's phonetic idioms of a Brooklyn accent and a "regularized" version. (4 males)

  • On Your Mark: Louis and Lewis, two brothers, contemplate good reasons not to complete a choreographed suicide. It's a very short, and not altogether convincing, list. (2 males)

  • The Origin of Zoos: Margaret Sanger, Madison Grant, the Lower East Side, American genetic jitters, and a Polish pastry. (1 male, 1 female)
  • Pamplona: The running of the bulls in Pamplona -- and several bulls have some existential questions. (8 actors, any mix)
  • Phlegraean Fields of the Sea of Sicily, or Ferdinandea: Giuseppe Trentino waits for a volcano to erupt off the coast of Sicily while talking to an albatross. (1 male, 1 male or female)
  • Ripped From The Headlines: A meditation on the murder of Matthew Shepard. (5 males, 3 females)
  • Rooted: When Irishman Addison O'Riley buys a cemetery plot for himself, he does not know that it sits next to Minerva O'Riley's, the black groundskeeper for the cemetery. (1 male with light Irish accent, 1 female African-American)
  • Seconds: Sue, a fire fighter and EMT, tries to save the young woman trapped in a wrecked car she drove herself off the road to end her own misery. Sue cannot let the woman die—but the decision is not all in her hands. (2 females)
  • A Senior Moment: Jewel, Darcy, Salvia, and Seeromanie, all in their sixties, wonder why Chantelle, also in her sixties, is looking good these days—too good. (5 females)
  • Slam Quartet: Slam poetry is all the sonic rage, and the final quartet of Jugger, Jukie, Pagan, and Mikey aim to bring the decibel level up a notch or two as they go for the championship of the "Doo-Dah, Doo-Dah Slam Poetry Contest." (2 males, 2 females)
  • The Socialist Book of Love: Yury has refused to surrender to the capitalist onslaught of his small socialist country. But his building is now going condo and the owner, Yalena, wants him out. (1 male, 1 female)
  • Sporting Goods: What can touching "sports-approved flesh" lead to? (2 males)
  • T62 Afghanistan 1988: A Soviet tank crew at the ass-end of the Afghan war is trying to make it home in one piece. (4 males)
  • There Is No Greater Grief Than For A Loss That Is Yet To Come: One man drinks two glasses of wine for him and his far-away friend. Then, one night, there is only one glass on the table. (2 males)
  • Touching Down: Thomas Touch-Fire, old, crippled, exhausted, wants a permanent exit. But son-in-law Lindbergh, remembering the Seneca legends his father-in-law has taught him, offers Thomas another road. (2 males, one Native American: Seneca Nation)
  • Treetop: Julia Jackson Sequoia Sempervirens, a redwood tree-sitter for two years, is coming close to a resolution with the company that will result in the redwood being saved from logging. (1 male, 1 female)
  • Undress Me: Stefan and Laura explore the diphthongs of desires as Laura asks Stefan, in the middle of a crowded bar, to undress her with words in his best mother tongue. (There is also a female same-sex version of the play.) (1 male/ 1 female)
  • Veterans Day Parade: Four veterans, on the advice of their barkeep, choose to defy the town's cancellation of the Veterans Day parade because of budget cuts caused by the globalization of capital. (5 males)
  • When Ayn Rand Walked In L.A.: A trio of LA economic desperates holds Alan Greenspan captive in hopes the capitalist system will reconfigure. (2 females, 2 males)
  • Whispers: The fight over a family inheritance washes past the great-grandmother and her great-grandaughter. (2 females)
  • The Window: One patient in the room had the window; the other didn't but wanted it fiercely. Finally, the first patient has the wish granted. (3 males or 3 females or some combination)
  • Zibn Un Tsvontsik: In 1952, Josef Stalin executed a group of Soviet Jewish intellectuals among whom were counted the best writers in Yiddish to stop a growing movement to create an independent Jewish culture within the Soviet Union. (6 males)

Screenplays

  • Ain't Ethiopia: An African-American man goes to Spain in 1937 to fight Franco.
  • By The River: A white man, a black woman, interracial marriage, 1907 = illegal.
  • Click: When Marlin reveals to Pinto what he did in the park, it changes their moral universe. And then Jonathan shows up.
  • Click: When Hannah inadvertently pours water on the boss and melts him away, she and her three co-workers are momentarily terrified and excited: what can you do when you don't have a boss?
  • Equal. Separate.: Pat, white, and Chris, black, longtime friends and survivors of being "women in the building trades," lose their friendship when, over a shot and a beer, Chris finds out that Pat wouldn't let her daughter date Chris' son.
  • Everything's Jake: When Jane reveals to Jacqui her strong love for Jacqui, she finds that Jacqui is willing to accept it -- but there is the small matter of someone named Jack that Jacqui needs to talk about.
  • Georgia's Miss Baby: Michael Smith loses his mother. It takes Jonatha Newcomb and the Bootids meteor shower to help him find his way back.
  • Georgia's Miss Baby: The nature and purpose of life can become very immediate as four travelers find out when a disturbed young woman threatens them all with a vial of what she says is anthrax.
  • Hold On: Cappy and Ronnie, at the end of their seven-year stretch, suddenly have to keep a car teetering on the edge of the bridge from plunging in. Can they hold on long enough?
  • How Do You Like Your Blueeyed Boy...: Lilah Lawton hunts down Dr. Jeremiah Kissov, an active proponent of "dignicides," when she learns he has helped her mother end her life. She is determined to get solace, no matter what it takes.
  • In The Fort: At school someone calls Pablo's father a "wetback," but Pablo mishears it as "wetvac," which confuses him. Luz, his mom, soothes him but knows differently.
  • Shea Man: An anthropologist plants the "missing link" on his family's farm to generate hype and cash. Oh, does it ever—and more.
  • The Sunlight Dialogues: Based on the 1972 novel by John Gardner.
  • Tips: The down-on-his-luck man at the counter is eying the dollar bill tucked under the plate next to him. The waitress working the counter is eying him.
  • Unveiled: A nun working during Argentina's Dirty War must find a way to justice when no good path exists.