Short Plays

by Donald E. Baker

(In Alphabetical Order)

Aunt Nellie's Two-Cents' Worth

SYNOPSIS

10-MINUTE TWO-HANDER. Flo’s son has not only rejected his parents’ plans for his future, he just might end up marrying outside his religion. Whether Flo likes it or not, she’ll get Aunt Nellie’s two cents worth of advice on the situation. Written in Hoosier dialect.

CHARACTERS (2)

FLO--Farm woman in her forties.

NELLIE--Flo’s Aunt. Seventies. Aunt is pronounced like the insect.

PLACE

Farmhouse kitchen, summer. All that’s necessary is a table, a couple of chairs, and a wicker laundry basket full of clean towels.

TIME

1950's.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Kim E. Ruyle: The first thing that struck me about Aunt Nellie’s Two Cents Worth is how effectively Baker uses an eye dialect to enhance the naturalistic dialogue and capture the language of 1950 Indiana. More than the language, Baker captures the values and mindset of the times and the region. It’s worth considering how times change, but people not so much. Really well done.”

Rachel Feeny-Williams:  “We had the great privilege of reading this piece as part of our Sunday night play reading and in it, Don offers a fabulous powerhouse of a character in Aunt Nellie as she puts Flo to rights about the decisions in relation to her son's career and relationship. It's a fascinating and emotionally tense family drama but you'll find yourself wishing you yourself had an Aunt Nellie.”

Scott Sickles: “Not having a tight-knit extended family nor one steeped in religion, I'm often taken aback by how much power elder generations wield. Or think they wield. Here, Flo's family is jeopardized by an age-old predicament: a son moving on from the life he was supposed to build on and pass down. Even worse, he's been ensnared by a woman of another faith. Baker steeps familiar tropes in a deeply personal reality, where family history is both weapon and salve. Flo and Aunt Nellie remind us people who live and think like this still exist and are capable of adapting.”

John Busser: “I was impressed by Aunt Nellie's more practical take on the inevitability of progeny never taking the path that is expected by parents. Preserving a way of life becomes the primary goal for some parents, whether the children want it or not. Flo is afraid that way of life is going by the wayside and isn't prepared to let her son do that to her. But thank God Aunt Nellie is there to provide some much needed perspective on the matter. A smart, charming bit of country wisdom by Don Baker goes down as smoothly as Sugar Cream Pie does.”

Jacob Horowitz:  “Aunt Nellie's Two Cents Worth is a brilliant play. The dialect, which almost scared me into not reading the play, is not difficult to understand, and the characters, especially that of Nellie, make the piece. Flo and her son’s dilemma is one that stood out to me as an LGBTQ+ individual from an interfaith family, as timeless, unfortunately. Luckily there are people from all types of life like Nellie, who is humorous as well as wise. This would be a great play to see performed live, as although it is rooted in one place in the world, it is universal.”


Claudia Haas: “’Sometimes I wonder if God cares as much as we think He does,’ and just like that Baker zeroes in on the petty differences that keep people apart. Baker has an ear for family - what’s said and unsaid. His characters may be imperfect but they are capable of thought and change - the things that make us human. Aunt Nellie and Baker know their stuff.“

 

Morey Norkin: Aunt Nellie’s Two Cents Worth is rich in character, homespun wisdom, and Hoosier dialect. As a mother worries she may be losing her son to his fiancée’s family, all the more worrisome because they are of a different faith, in steps Aunt Nellie. The dialogue is comfortable and airy, concerns are expressed and wisdom imparted in just the time it takes to fold a basket of towels. Perfect!“


Jan Probst: “With Aunt Nellie's Two Cents Worth, Baker has captured the very essence of a particular fear - and the prejudice it engenders - that embedded itself in rural Indiana. Aunt Nellie's life story gives her a different perspective, which she does not hesitate to share. A delightful play, sprinkled with Hoosier wisdom and laced with universal truths.”

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Coming Out to Uncle Jake

SYNOPSIS

1-MINUTE TWO-HANDER. Robert tells his mother he has finally had enough of Uncle Jake's Thanksgiving rants about "people like him" and plans to confront him at the next family dinner. There's a bit of a twist at the end.

CHARACTERS (1M, 1W)

MOM--50ish

ROBERT--25ish

PLACE

Mom’s house. Or possibly a telephone conversation.

TIME

A week before Thanksgiving.


PUBLICATION

Fresh Words: An International Literary Magazine: LAAFTRRRRR, An Anthology of One-Minute Comic Plays Volume I (August, 2023)

 

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Ryan Vaughan: “Just when you think you know exactly where this piece is headed, here comes the curve ball. Witty and I love it!”

Glenn Alterman: “An absolutely delightful short play. We immediately get Robert’s relationship to his mother, and quickly learn exactly how he feels about his Uncle Jake. The twist at the end is perfection. A quick and totally enjoyable read. Perfect for one minute play festivals!”

Rachel Feeny-Williams: “So, I love the way Don has taken a sometimes predictable scenario and provided a wonderfully timed twist! There are elements within the piece that are hard to swallow (e.g. the feelings of certain people towards certain races/sexualities/political views) but the piece has been wonderfully interlaced with what I believe to be a key moral about loving your children, no matter what. It's a lovely snapshot of this particular family dynamic but, if the writer was so inclined, that Thanksgiving dinner would make a great one-act or full-length piece. I've no doubt Don would do it justice!”

Vivian Lermond: “There is nothing I like better than a little plot twist, and Baker delivers just that in the short frame of 60 seconds. A perfect addition to any one-minute play festival!”

Philip Middleton Williams: “A familiar scenario turned a bit sideways by building on our expectations and flipping the script to another page. Clever and timely.”


Scott Sickles: “Short, sweet, and funny! A fresh variation on an old joke that works because it’s eternally timely and a conversation that happens all over the country at Thanksgiving. The use of current events works as a sleight of hand and the payoff brought a smile to my face.”

 

Jack Levine: “l found this one-minute piece to be frustrating and satisfying at the same time. I wish those who think they hold the wisdom-of-the-world, in their pea-brain, like Uncle Jake, would keep their mouth full of food and not talk rather than spewing venom. I was completely satisfied with the ending and laughed out loud. I highly recommend Coming Out To Uncle Jake by Donald E. Baker.”

 

Julie Zaffarano: “I laughed out loud at the unexpected twist. Well done.”

 

Vivian Lermond: “A fun one-minute romp, complete with a tasty twist! Perfect for a one-minute play festival!”

 

Cole Hunter Dzubak: “I loved everything about this one-minute piece! Writing an effective story in one minute isn't easy, but Donald E. Baker nails it out of the park with this fantastic piece!”


Christopher Plumridge: “Ha! This is a fun little conversation between mother and son, and Donald completely nails it with his very clever 'little twist at the end'. I would love to see Uncle Jakes' reaction later on!”

 

Claudia Haas: “Gorgeous, twisty, Thanksgiving fun. I’ve had that conversation. It’s a good one. In less than a minute, Baker nails how to confront our divides honestly.”


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Feeling Devilish

SYNOPSIS

5-MINUTE TWO-HANDER. Roger's best friend is very concerned when they discover Roger met a demon on an online dating site. They're even more concerned when the demon turns out to be a personal injury lawyer. Originally written in response to a prompt in the Threshold Theatre (Minneapolis) 30-day writing challenge, 2022.  

CHARACTERS (1M, 1Any)

ROGER--30-ish. Male. Any race or ethnicity.

STEVIE--Roger’s best friend. Any race, ethnicity, or gender expression.

SETTING

An apartment implied by a chair and a door to the outside.

TIME

Whenever.


PUBLICATION

Included in Baker's Dozen: 13 Gay Plays and Monologues (Next Stage Press, 2023).

READING

Feeling Devilish had an online reading by the Literary and Discourse Society Facebook Group on April 30, 2023.


PODCAST

Theatrical Shenanigans, "Mini Shenanigans Episode 5)

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Eric Mansfield: Don Baker has crafted a short-yet-intricate play on words that is sure to make even someone reading it laugh out loud. A date with the devil? Well, if Roger can use Tinder, why not a demon from hell? if you've ever wondered how much fun and creativity you can create in just a few pages, just watch what Don does with these two characters. This would be a show stopper in a short play festival, so take a few minutes and read his amazing work. There will be 'hell to pay' if you don't! lol.”

Rich Helms: “I love it. Brilliant writing. I enjoy short plays and this one tells a whole story with an ending I did not see coming. The jokes on people and professions were fun.”

Nora Louise Syran:  “A little bit nice and a whole lot of naughty. A funny short play sure to bring out the devil in you!”

Morey Norkin: “A very funny short piece about a match made in… someplace! Feeling Devilish introduces the demon lawyer of Tinder. Could a musical be in store? One can only hope! Great fun, packed with laughs!”

Jaxson Mackling: “Well Zippy’s got a lot in store with Roger’s witty humor. A lovely little play about affection, and perhaps the summoning of a demon. Don Baker is a brilliant and profound dramatist! With his work, and “Feeling Devilish” you will not be disappointed. Perfect for competition. Produce and repeat!”

Scott Sickles:  “THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU… to read this delightful dating ditty from Don! More about friendship than sex or romance, we’ve all been the one over the moon about the new great demon, at least when we’re not being the feet-on-the-ground, one-hand-on-hip/other-hand-gripping-our-own-hair calmly asking “are you sure about this?” I hope things go well for Roger. He deserves a little hell raising.”

Charles Scott Jones:  “This is hilarious. I laughed out loud. Don't want to give away any of the gags, but they're a hoot (maybe even more-so if you like the lawyer ads in Better Call Saul). Feeling Devilish rocks, or should I say: hot rocks”

Christopher Plumridge: “Oh dear, the devil is now on tinder, or a rather similar dating website! Thankfully Rogers friend calls in to save the day, but it's one exorcism Roger doesn't need or want, and does he listen to the good advice of his friend, the devil he doesn't! Great fun!”

Rachel Feeny-Williams: “One wonderful thing about Donald's writing is his ability to bring to the service wonderfully unusual situations, which is exactly what he has done here. The world of dating is a minefield at the best of times but to find a demon through it really takes the cake. Donald's wonderful imagination has he presents that situation that Roger has found himself in (the name of the dating website is BRILLIANT by the way). He proceeds to explain this situation to his friend aided by brilliantly witty dialogue that is sure to have you laughing out loud!”

Vivian Lermond: “What a great, fast-paced six-minute run of devilish fun! Loved the conflict, the laughs, and the fact that the demon in question is a lawyer! I enjoyed the hell out of the read!”

Claudia Haas: “There’s a new spin on “the devil made me do it” and Baker is solely responsible for the connection and laughs. If you ever thought mind-numbing tv commercials and wacky billboards were from the devil, read this. And remember, the devil is a master in disguise. He could be hot. Really, really hot.” 

Debra A. Cole: “How fabulous was it to hear this read at a recent weekly playwright's session. Don has such a wonderful and honest voice for his characters. Add to the scene a character that is both demon AND lawyer... and this short piece becomes truly priceless.”


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For a Man Your Age

SYNOPSIS

10-MINUTE TWO-HANDER. Life partners Will and Michael are growing older, Will gracefully, Michael not so much. With their elevator not working, they find themselves trapped in their high-rise condo, discussing aging, flirtatious baristas, and the National Geographic.  

CHARACTERS (2M)

MICHAEL--Older gay male, any race/ethnicity, fighting the aging process

WILL--Even older gay male, any race/ethnicity, happy with who he is

SETTING

An oceanfront condo in a high-rise building.

TIME

Saturday morning. The present.

PUBLICATION

Included in Baker's Dozen: 13 Gay Plays and Monologues (Next Stage Press, 2023).

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

George Sapio: “The Pump and Grind Coffee Shop. Just gonna leave that here. Love both characters here, so natural, so honest (and how often does *that* happen*?) and so naturally gifted with sparkling wit. And yet...the truth about aging is not funny at all. Rage, rage...yes, but be prepared for reality. A wonderful 2-hander for men of a certain age.”

Paul Donnelly: “Michael doesn't want to face the facts of aging. Will is there to patiently and bemusedly lead him back to reality. Their back and forth, while stuck in their apartment by an elevator shut down, is witty and laced with shared history and tenderness. They are such an enjoyable couple that it was almost a shame that the elevator started working again and allowed them to get on with their day.”

Morey Norkin: “This is so delightful! The banter and gentle teasing between these two men shows the familiarity that comes with a long-term relationship, but they’ve certainly lost none of the spark. Don Baker’s word play is hysterical, from the name of the downstairs coffee shop to various gay porn titles. And then there’s the universal theme of growing old(er). Baker handles this with a nice light touch and throws in a zinger at the end. This absolutely needs to be staged!”

Debra A. Cole: “I had the pleasure of hearing this come to life in our weekly playwriting ZOOM group. How Absolutely Delightful is this short play by Donald E. Baker. Aging is tough, and it hits some of us in the gut when we least expect it. I can't wait for my copy of Baker's Dozen to arrive from Next Stage Press!”

 

Rachel Feeny-Williams: “We had the great pleasure of reading this piece as part of our Sunday evening play reading and, once again, Don has the fabulous ability to create believable characters and set them in a brilliantly witty back and forth that a lot of people in relationships will be able to relate to. I loved the line "You like taking care of me just as much as I like being taken care of." Audiences will love this play as it presents a great perspective of age and relationships. It won't fail to put a smile on your face!”

John Kelly: A wonderful two-hander featuring two superb roles for two older - no, make that mature - or better yet, sage - male actors. Michael and Will, a gay couple, are trapped with one another (on a Saturday, of all days!) when their building’s elevator is out of use. It’s thirteen stories to the ground - too far for either of them to travel. Which means... they are joyously trapped with one another. Highly recommended!

 

Everett Robert: “What a delightful play that examines our fear of aging or our willingness to accept it. Full of sweet quiet moments and funny word play and with an ending that is both funny and a touch bittersweet. Highly recommended.”

 

Julie Zaffarano: “A sweet and funny two-hander about accepting or not accepting our inevitable aging. Love this couple and how they care and know each other. Well done!”

 

Charles Scott Jones: In the dry and sweet comedy For a Man Your Age, Michael and Will talk coffee but age like fine wine. An elevator not working alters the Saturday morning of a long married couple and precipitates a conversation about getting old. Will is at ease with his years and quotes Robert Browning, and Michael, still in the thrall of youthful thinking, counters with Dylan Thomas. With this erudite, smile-inducing two-hander, Donald E. Baker offers us a warm vista into a condo window on the fourteenth floor that reminds me of cognac swirling in a snifter. And to take my pills.

 

Scott Sickles: It’s always nice to see good plays about older gay men. (In part because I come from a generation where a lot of gay men didn't get to grow old.) Plays like this, lighthearted yet maritally intense contretemps amongst long-time couples about the hot barista and building maintenance... they’re more than a fun ten-minute comedy; they’re a testament to life and love. Baker achieves all of that here, even if you don’t notice between the smiles, the chuckles, and the zingers. It’s a refreshing play, not unlike an extra-large caramel macchiato with six shots!

 

Philip Middleton Williams: “The set-up is right out of every domestic comedy/drama that ever graced the stage from the classic Greek through countless sitcoms, so we are all familiar with the conceit. But that makes this play all the better because while we may think we've seen it all, the simple truth is that we crave this kind of story as a reassurance that love is eternal. The back-and-forth between Michael and Will does a very good job of telling us that they are deeply in love, and that is always a tale worth telling.”


Sawyer Quinn Brown: “Michael and Will are an adorable, squabbling, old married couple. This short play oozes charm. Loved it!”

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Getting It In

SYNOPSIS

1-MINUTE TWO-HANDER AUDIO PLAY.  2M Two guys try to fit something large into something small

CHARACTERS (2M)

PATRICK--Any age, race, or ethnicity

ADRIAN--Any age, race or ethnicity

SETTING

Indeterminate

TIME

The present

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Morey Norkin: “Omg! Don Baker makes perfect use of the audio format to deliver a great punchline! If I say more I’ll spoil it. Give it a read/listen!”

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Getting to Know You

SYNOPSIS

6-MINUTE TWO-HANDER.  2M A straight(?) man suggests he and a gay co-worker share a hotel room at a business conference so they can “get to know each other a little better.” They may have different ideas about just what that means. 

CHARACTERS (2M)

RAY--40, good-looking, accountant

JUSTIN--25, good-looking, accountant

SETTING

A conference hotel room

TIME

The present

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Glenn Alterman: “Donald E. Baker’s Getting to Know You, gets right to the point in the first few lines. Two co-workers, one gay and one straight are sharing a hotel room at a business conference. An “incident” has occurred and the two attempt to define what it means. The play moves like gangbusters as the two men thrash out what really happened. A quick read, a thought-provoking play.”

Morey Norkin: “Don Baker wastes no time establishing the conflict and comedy as signals between two co-workers are crossed, completely misinterpreted, or not even sent. We are left wondering if Ray doth protest too much. This one could certainly be the talk of any festival!”

George Sapio: “An excellent 2-hander for a night of gay-friendly work. Two real characters, each smartly drawn, working out crossed signals. Could it be a wretched beginning to something more, or is it a one-time mistake? Excellent script for two strong actors.”

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Guilt by Association

SYNOPSIS

20-MINUTE TWO-HANDER. In 1950, a pleasant father-son evening of window shopping for cars turns serious when the son mentions his best friend is considering suicide. The friend is being bullied at school because he’s thought to be “queer.” This triggers a painful memory from the father’s days in the army in World War II. Their conversation results in mutual revelations that change their relationship going forward.  


CHARACTERS (2M)

JIM--Age 35, James’s father

JAMES--Age 15 going on 16, Jim’s son

SETTING

September, 1950. Open back porch of a small house, early evening. 

PUBLICATION

Included in Baker's Dozen: 13 Gay Plays and Monologues (Next Stage Press, 2023).

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Rachel Feeny-Williams: “We had the privilege of reading this play as part of our Sunday evening play reading and its a wonderfully powerful piece that won't fail to touch an audience. Sexuality is a complicated issue, even now, but in the 50s it was so much more. That's what Don explores in this piece as father and son discuss the complex and heartbreaking issues that can come with sexual discovery. Having read many of Don's pieces its apparent he has a gift for writing powerful scenes and I think this would be a gift to two performers.”

Scott Sickles: “You can practically see the Norman Rockwell color palette. Underneath its jovial tone, a father and son have a serious conversation about friendship, masculinity, and public perception. Baker takes us on an unpredictable journey through territory as familiar today as it was then. The characterizations and dynamics are both timeless and fresh, giving actors a lot to work with. A gently powerful piece.”

Morey Norkin:  “Don Baker has an uncanny knack for transporting readers/audiences to a particular time and place. Here he takes us to 1950 America and, not unusual for the era, a father-son chat about cars, beer, and girls. But as the topic of conversation shifts to the son’s best friend, father and son connect on a deeper level of understanding, perhaps in a way that would not have come easily in that era or even today for that matter. Heartwarming and hopeful, and some of Baker’s best, most beautiful writing. That’s saying something! Please read!”

Bruce Karp:  “Baker has written a play so dense with details, feelings and emotion that I was shocked it was only a five-page play. Excellent character development, tension, and dialogue. The turnaround at the end of the play was surprising and well-earned. Well done!”

Christopher Plumridge:  “I mirror what Morey Norkin says in his recommendation, Baker has a gift for bringing the reader or audience effortlessly into a chosen time, and you can practically see yourself sharing a beer with father and son. As their natural conversation moves along, deeper feelings emerge. This is where I was taken by surprise, I expected father to be dead set against the matter at hand, but no, this playwright is far sharper than that. This is an excellent two hander with real depth.”

Paul Donnelly:  “This particular father-son evening leads to difficult revelations that are ultimately moving and life-affirming. Both father and son are vividly drawn and their situation is compelling.”

Christopher Soucy: “What would we do differently when given a chance? Have we learned enough to pass on the lessons of our own doubt and heartache? Baker gives us a hopeful scenario where a father tries to be there for his son in earnest. There is warmth and hope in this piece, as well as pain and anguish.”

Andrew Martineau: “I love father-son plays that explore a range of emotion, especially when they explore extreme awkwardness due to societal norms that have essentially created unnecessary, unhealthy tension and repression. Don Baker moves from beat to beat in this short play with amazing skill in writing well-crafted dialogue and character motivation. I love Jim's war stories that lead us to see how he can have empathy for his son's boyfriend's desperation, despite his lack of initial understanding of the relationship. Beautiful writing!”

Stephen Redmon-Byrum: “A poignant, but also heartwarming short play. The dynamic between father and son is so healthy and warm, even in the moments when that warmth feels difficult between them. Your heart will break, but you'll also feel the hope that things can be better. All it takes is someone to stand up before it's too late. The characters live and breathe effortlessly. A wonderful work from Donald E. Baker!”

Philip Middleton Williams: “There comes a time in many father-son relationships when it grows beyond parent and child and becomes man-to-man. This play does it with the awkward yet caring feelings that both men have for each other and a respect for their own experiences. Donald E. Baker has shown in his full-length plays that he can give us such strong characters, and now he brings those dimensions to this short but meaningful moment of honesty, love, and learning.”

John Kelly: “A superbly powerful look at an issue from over a half century ago that still is of vital importance today. Gay bullying and gay bashing have, if anything, gotten worse in the years since this encounter is to have occurred. A must read - moving, significant, poignant. The list of descriptors could go on and on. Read this play! Now!”

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I Invited Your Mother for Thanksgiving

SYNOPSIS

10-MINUTE TWO-HANDER. Warren has been estranged from his mother for five years, ever since she discovered he is gay. He is not pleased to find out she and his partner Dale talk on the phone regularly. And that he has invited her to Thanksgiving. And that she will be joining them at the traditional "orphans' feast" where she will be surrounded by all their gay friends. Can Warren be placated by Dale's famous homemade cinnamon rolls? A play about being open to reconciliation when the opportunity presents itself.  

CHARACTERS (2M)

DALE--Gay male age, around 30, any race or ethnicity

WARREN--Gay male, age around 30, any race or ethnicity

SETTING

A kitchen table, late Sunday morning

PRODUCTION

Produced by Chapin Theatre Company, Chapin SC, in Nov. 2022 as part of their Second Annual 10-Minute-ish Play Festival.  

PUBLICATION

Included in Baker's Dozen: 13 Gay Plays and Monologues (Next Stage Press, 2023).  

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Paul Donnelly: “This is a moving story of caring and reconciliation. Dale cares enough to take the risk and Warren ultimately accepts the possibility of reconciliation with his mother. Their communication is tender even when they are in conflict which makes the narrative especially appealing.”

Charles Scott Jones: “Plays by Donald E. Baker have a steady, graceful equilibrium. Not lacking for drama, but one gets the feeling - as in the marvelous I Invited Your Mother For Thanksgiving - that connection is more important than conflict. Personally, I am much more interested in how Dale and Warren work things through with the aroma of homemade cinnamon rolls wafting through the kitchen - than them having a screaming fight. It’s moving and therapeutic and maybe what we need now in this quarrelsome world.”

Adam Richter: “I've often heard it said that there are two kinds of families: the ones we're born with and the ones we choose. Both kinds collide in this tense but heartwarming short drama. Donald E. Baker has a brilliant ear for dialogue and it's on display here. This is a great two-hander for audiences any time of year.”

Morey Norkin: “What a lovely play to read just before Thanksgiving, or any time of year for that matter. Don Baker shows us that family ties, which can become frayed, are still worth trying to mend. Sometimes it just takes a mediator. And cinnamon rolls. Be sure to make this play part of your holiday reading feast!”

Debra A. Cole:  “What a touching piece about second chances, love and acceptance, and growth. Donald E. Baker shows a couple who truly care about one another and their mental and emotional health and happiness.... despite what has happened in the past. Just an absolutely beautiful short play with a message of forgiveness and new beginnings.”

Nora Louise Syran: “What a lovely short play for two male actors. Lovely realistic dialogue, imagery and lessons for us all to learn. You've tugged ever so skillfully on my heart strings yet again, Mr. Baker. Bravo.”

Rachel Feeny-Williams: “We had the great privilege of reading this at our Sunday night play reading and, as Don has done with many of his plays, he's perfectly captured the essence of relationships here. As an audience, you get the privilege of being a fly on the wall when Warren discovers Dale has committed an utter sin (at least in my mind) by inviting his partner's mother to Thanksgiving without consulting him. The play offers wonderful moments of humour and emotion in equal measure and offers a brilliant performance opportunity for two performers.”

Dana Hall: “We are instantly brought into the mix of Dale and Warren's life. Even the title evokes feelings and with that alone we are intrigued. Acts of love surround Warren whether he sees it or not, perhaps he can lean in and find some reconciliation...a hopeful ending to a great holiday play.”

Vivian Lermond : “I love well-crafted holiday plays, and this two-hander sure fits the bill! Baker skips the fluff and gets right to the conflict and the core issue of reconciliation. Distinctive character voices and great pacing! Produce!”

Marj O'Neill-Butler : “This play has such heart. Who could ask for a better partner than one who checks up on, and talks to your estranged mother. Warren is a lucky man.”

Paul Smith: This is a really lovely short play, where the importance of family is the abiding theme. Family disharmony can never eradicate the fact that, despite disagreements and fall-outs, family is still family. We sometimes struggle to make-up, we are stubborn. No one wants to be the first to give in. Sometimes a mediator is needed and here it is done out of love. Donald E Baker’s play is steeped in love and realism. Super writing.

Arthur M. Jolly: “An absolutely wonderful, very short play about a couple, one of whom has been secretly keeping in touch with the other's estranged mother. What could become high drama - or even melodrama - instead is a deft, skillful and nuanced reflection on the importance of family and of the complex relationship between the two characters. This one is as sweet as a home made cinnamon roll.”


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Life Support

SYNOPSIS

10-MINUTE TWO-HANDER. Ben, who never appears in the play, is in the hospital on life support following an accident. His lover of five years, James, and Ben's homophobic sister, Sandra, meet for the first time to discuss what happens next. The encounter does not go well as the two argue about the definition of family, religion, and whether one can "love the sinner but hate the sin."  

CHARACTERS (1M, 1W)

JAMES--Age 30, Ben’s partner, any race/ethnicity

SANDRA--Age 42, Ben’s sister, white

SETTING

A dreary institutional hospital waiting room, where they put people awaiting bad news.

TIME

The present.

PUBLICATION

Included in Baker's Dozen: 13 Gay Plays and Monologues (Next Stage Press, 2023).

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Paul Donnelly: “This play is a powerful example of the pain and betrayal far too many gay lovers suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of homophobic families. At a time when one is already overcome with grief for the death of a lover, it is abhorrent that families of origin can sweep in and exclude one from involvement in the lover's passing and memorial. Sandra's obituary is a real slap in the face of the life James and Ben shared.”

John Kelly: “A wonderfully written, touching two-hander about love and life... hate and reproach... homophobia and religion. So much is included in this fine work. Highly Recommended.”

   Robert Weibezahl: “This short play offers a subtle yet complex look at end of life issues, petty familial resentments, and the lack of acceptance that can corrode the soul. Baker leaves us with much to think about in this heartbreaking two-hander, not least of all the poison served up in some expressions of faith and, ultimately, the true meaning of love.”

   Christopher Plumridge: “I have to say I am in awe of the writer of this piece, so much said, so profoundly. Not only is the time and setting heart wrenching enough, the writer takes us through a troubled family history, exploring a subject I find intolerable now - acceptance, or rather the refusal to accept. This play is so well written it will stay in my mind for a long long time. Life Support is a truly sad play set against a heartbreaking situation. Sad also that Ben's closest family chose to be so distant because of his sexuality. I come from a Christian background where Sandra’s ethics were somewhat deeply installed in me, but I have turned my back on that and now I embrace love in all its forms. Maybe I have rose tinted glasses, but I believe there is a glimmer of hope for a friendship between Sandra and James. The ending is truly chilling. An excellent short play by Mr. Baker.”

   Andrew Martineau: There is so much love in this play, and sadly, the physical love has ended for James, who is left with only the memories. A reckless driver and a heartless family end the love that should live on, and now closure will need to happen without even a memorial service. Donald Baker has crafted a play of sharply written contrasts, of close-mindedness vs. acceptance, of unconditional love vs. shallow rule-following. 


Debra A. Cole: “A real tragedy. A family missing out of the best part of a son - his true self. Donald E. Baker has written a thoughtful short piece that sadly… still needs to be written and performed.”


John Busser: “The real tragedy here is the death of Ben's family connection, killed by hatred and fear. This play by Don Baker seems all too real in our world, with those who can't "love the sinner while hating the sin." But really, where was the sin. Ben and Jamie truly loved each other, and even though we never see Ben in this, his presence fills the play. This was heartbreaking yet I wanted more than what was shown in just a few short pages. A wonderful script that would play extremely well in front of an audience.”


Bruce Karp: “Donald has written a chilling and all-too-real account of a broken family situation, fueled on one side by Sandra's sincere, if misguided beliefs that her brother Ben has sinned simply by loving another man, and torturous for Jamie, Ben's lover, who only wants his relationship to be acknowledged for what it is (and soon will be “was.”) The ending is heartbreaking, though not surprising, given Sandra's intractability. It’s a well-written play that should be seen by people who would likely not want to be reminded that they agree with Sandra. Hope it gets produced.”

 

Rachel Feeny-Williams: “Donald has done a masterful job of depicting, what is the complexity of family relationships. As an audience member, you can't help but feel for both James as he meets with his boyfriend's sister at the worst possible time. It’s easy to just dismiss Sandra but the more you read about her upbringing and the fact that she lived under her brother's shadow, the more you realize that this is a horribly hard day for both Sandra and James. Don has provided you with the most complicated of family relationships coupled with an emotional roller coaster, all beautifully presented.”

 

Scott Sickles: “James is a lot more patient than I am. But this is not a fight with an asshole family member. James can be patient because he’s already won. He’s no longer a soldier, he’s a representative, and he executes his duties with dignity. Baker wisely refuses to make Sandra a two-dimensional monster. He gives her a history making her a fully realized, horrifically misguided, three-dimensional monster. What’s especially powerful is she knows what she’s lost. The tragedy is she knows she’s right… or will convince herself she is. 'No… There are no other survivors.'”


Philip Middleton Williams: “I sincerely hope the time will come when the heartbreaking story that Don Baker tells us in "Life Support" is a period piece and a reminder of times long past when family members clung to their faith and practice of loathing and intolerance more for their own inability to see love than their capacity for compassion. Sandra has so little room for hope -- not just for her dying brother but for her own claustrophobic world built on the clay of fear and insecurity -- that she is the abomination, not Ben. I hope others see this as that lesson.”

 

Morey Norkin: “Don Baker’s heartbreaking story packs an emotional punch because the outcome could have been so different. An accident that perhaps could have been avoided sets the scene. A sister’s unwillingness to accept her brother’s true self and his partner is the real tragedy. The role of the sister presents an acting challenge in trying to make an unlikeable character at least understandable. A powerful drama that should be staged often.”



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The Long and Short of It

SYNOPSIS

10-MINUTE TWO-HANDER. Gina and Dick discuss their son’s—and Dick’s—anxiety about not measuring up “down there.” Does size really matter?

CHARACTERS (1M, 1W)

GINA LONGMAN PETTIGREW--Dickie’s mom, age 35-40, any race or ethnicity

RICHARD "DICK" PETTIGREW--Dickie’s dad, age 35-40, any race or ethnicity

SETTING

The living room of the Pettigrew home, implied by easy chairs. 

TIME

The present.

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Paul Donnelly: Donald Baker has such fun with double entendres in this very funny ... ah ... short, and the audience will, too. He tackles a rarely spoken of, frequently thought of, topic with engaging humor.

Debra A. Cole: Priceless and cheeky! This short play by Donald E. Baker would make audiences giggle... and blush just the right amount too.”

Rachel Feeny-Williams: “We had the great privilege of reading this piece at our Sunday night play reading and I'll have to admit, I did blush a little. Don has created a wonderfully funny and intimate conversation between a very real couple who aren't ashamed to have a VERY real conversation! It is sure to have audiences giggling and it will be a challenge for the actors to keep a straight face!”

Morey Norkin: “The names alone had me in hysterics! This short two-hander (how is that even possible?) will leave audiences wanting more and also rushing to Google to find the derivation of their surnames. If you need a laugh, here it is!”

John Busser: “Well that certainly made me laugh! Don Baker has a fun-filled, pun-filled piece (I was talking about his play here. Get your minds out of the gutter!) Size matters to some, and even though this is a short play (only 6 pages) the laughs are long and hard. God, it's tough doing this without resorting to dick jokes. Thankfully, Don has things well in hand here (dammit, did it again). The names are oh-so-appropriate, the issue is all-too-real, and I haven't thought about this type of thing since right before my honeymoon. Could be why I'm divorced...”

Kim E. Ruyle: “Hilarious! The names! Dick, Dickie, Willy, Peter, and Longman. The clever dialogue! Just one example: “In the hierarchy of… Harry’s was the (hands apart) ruler.” In the Long and Short of It, Donald E. Baker courageously tackles a delicate subject with grace and humor. Bravo!”

Sam Heyman: The Long and Short of It is, well, an excellently humorous take on a sensitive subject for many men and boys, approached with great care and cleverness by Donald Baker. This piece is playful and teasing, while also being genuinely affirming - solid work here.”


Bruce Karp: “A delightful play about a touchy subject, that most writers aren't willing to touch. The dialogue between the characters is priceless and I hope, not too racy for theater companies to consider, because it's a lot of fun, as well as providing us all with something to think about, i.e., it's not what you have, it's what you do with it. Enough said.”

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Marvin and the Muses

SYNOPSIS

5-MINUTE PLAY. Struggling playwright Marvin fires his unreliable muse, but her replacement may prove to be more distraction than inspiration.  

CHARACTERS (2M, 1W)

MARVIN--A struggling playwright in his thirties or older. Any race or ethnicity.

YAKOV--An attractive young man in his twenties. He may or may not be real. Any race or ethnicity.

MELPOMENE--The Muse of Tragedy, ageless. The character is Greek, but the actor may be any race or ethnicity.

SETTING

Marvin’s workspace. Desk, chairs, couch, computer/laptop.

TIME

The present.

PUBLICATION

Included in Baker's Dozen: 13 Gay Plays and Monologues (Next Stage Press, 2023).


RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Debra A. Cole: “The best kind of inspiration is the sexy kind. Donald E. Baker has created an playful “morning after” short play that audiences will adore. The humor is snappy, and the scenery… well… inspiring.”

 

Christopher Plumridge: “Most writers get their inspiration from any number of sources, Marvin here gets his from his new, sexy muse. So when the Muse of Tragedy comes along she finds herself somewhat uninvited. This is a fun quip of a play, slightly naughty too, but that's understandable when you chose a young attractive muse over an old hag! Great!”

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Mutual Attraction

SYNOPSIS

1-MINUTE PLAY. Two men meet and flirt in a gay bar.

CHARACTERS (2M, 1W)

VINCE, gay man, Italian descent, age 20-40.

IVAN, gay man, Bulgarian descent, age 20-40. 

SETTING

A gay bar.

TIME

The present.


RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Debra A. Cole: I love a “meet cute,” and this one minute offers that AND SO MUCH MORE. Travel does expand the mind.

Evan Baughfman: An easy-to-stage and very funny one-minute play, with a great final “punchline” of dialogue!

Paul Smith: “Forgive me if I snigger - this is very funny. In one minute Donald E. Baker sets a scene, defines two characters and makes us laugh with some of the most cringy (but not unrealistic) chat-up lines. Crafting tiny pieces like this is never easy and this one more than ticks all the required elements. Tee Hee!!!” 


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What Happened This Time?

SYNOPSIS

2-MINUTE TWO-HANDER. The “Klutz of All Klutzes” explains to their spouse why an attempt to take a box to the trash means a trip to the ER and the pet cemetery.  

CHARACTERS (2)

Two actors, any age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or gender expression

SAM--The klutz of all klutzes

JACKIE--The long-suffering spouse

SETTING

An apartment living room. A chair. A box. A few other items broken or overturned to suggest a room in shambles.


TIME

The present.

PUBLICATIONS

Published in print and on line in Fresh Words Magazine's anthology Contemporary One-Minute Plays--Volume 3, 2022.

Included in Baker's Dozen: 13 Gay Plays and Monologues (Next Stage Press, 2023).

RECOMMENDATIONS FROM READERS ON NEW PLAY EXCHANGE

Kim E. Ruyle: “Pity the furniture and especially the pets in the Jackie and Sam household. In just a couple of minutes, Baker paints a picture of klutziness. Funny stuff!”

Vivian Lermond: “A hilarious romp through “klutzdom”! Two solid minutes of very visual comedy that would be great fun to see on a live stage!”


Ryan Kaminski: “A short funny play that keeps the laughs coming until the final line. This would be perfect for short play festivals as the humor is universal. A lot of fun!”


Rachel Feeny-Williams: “A brilliant giggle inducing piece! You can see the chaos as you read. It’s a wonderful example of physical comedy that escalates and will be sure to have your audience giggling from start to finish.”


Charles Scott Jones: “Terrific dark domestic fun in a James-Thurber kind of way! The image of the cat clawing its way up the drapes is what really gets me. Ha-ha-ha!”