David L. Meth

 
 
 

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TO THE DEATH OF MY OWN FAMILY

A Full-Length Drama


TO THE DEATH OF MY OWN FAMILY is an intensely dramatic nonlinear play about an Afghan-American woman who returns to Afghanistan to help her father escape, only to witness the carnage of her entire family. Upon her return to the U.S., she is detained, interrogated, and forced to justify her journey in order to reclaim her citizenship. We then learn about a deeper, darker secret that has haunted the family for many years, but which they do not want to confront until they are forced to confront each other in the face of death.  It is a one-woman show with 18 characters, but it is not a monologue; rather, time is suspended and no one in the audience knows how long they have been in the theater. In actual time, it runs about 60+ minutes in 23 pages, but you would never know it. It has been directed in New York City and in India by Peter Ratray, veteran of Broadway, Off Broadway, TV and Film. Please click on the photo for more information.


“Haunting and heart-wrenching ...” Marissa Wolf, Crowded Fired Theater, San Francisco, after seeing the play at the SF Theater Festival - July, 2009.

Yes, I did do a one-person show in LA called “To The Death Of My Own Family” for The Lonestar Ensemble. It was a very intense experience…to go inside the true story of the soul of this woman who basically recounts the death of all of her family members in an effort to get out of a holding room by the U.S. Government (who suspects her to be a terrorist). It was brutal/exhilarating to go that “place” emotionally every Friday and Saturday night for weeks. It was an honor to be true to the playwright in portraying this strong woman’s story and it was a powerful piece that I hoped touched the lives of those who saw it. I truly believe that art is one of the many ways to spread knowledge in hopes that the knowledge will slowly abolish hatred and inspire peace in this world.” Sonal Shah

9/12

A Full-Length Drama

(with a one-act version)


9/12 begins with a family celebration: an anniversary and the announcement of a young woman’s engagement to be married. It is followed the next day by the unexpected death of that same young woman, Bayan Daoud, a Middle Eastern graduate student whose life exemplifies the dreams of every immigrant, but now portends the disintegration of the U.S. constitution and redefines what it means to be American. When Naomi Leonard, the student’s mentor and a professor at a prestigious New York City university, learns of Bayan’s death, she is unnerved. It can’t be true. Neither can she get any specific information about how it occurred. And as the parent of two college-age children, friends of Bayan, Naomi doesn’t know what to think or say. So her husband Larry, a writer born and raised in Brooklyn, wants to take immediate action and go directly to the dean of her department. Instead, Naomi talks him out of it and tells him to go finish his latest novel at the library. On his way, however, Larry chooses to stop at one of his usual haunts to play pool and where he often works out the plot lines of his fiction. Thus begins a journey that never quite gets Larry to his destination. Because of certain books in his backpack on the infrastructure of New York City, which he is using for research on how terrorists could use the internet to destroy the city, Larry Leonard is detained in some abandoned room not far from the subway platform. He is then interrogated about his extensive travels and teaching in countries in various parts of the world, especially in Asia when he was in the Peace Corps.  And Naomi, who was born and raised in Japan, but is a naturalized American with a personal history that does not exactly conform to the pattern of the usual immigrant, is also taken into custody. Within moments, they become the subjects of an intense and secret investigation in the bowels of the New York City subway system where they are cut off from the outside world.  Then their lives are completely torn apart: their daughter Mariko, an undergraduate at Brown, and their son, David, a graduate student at Yale, are also whisked away from their studies and brought in for questioning. As a result, the privacy and civil liberties of the Leonard family are decimated in the name of Homeland Security because of circumstances both past and present which, under normal conditions, would not raise questions in a free society, but which now threaten to destroy everything the Leonard family has lived and worked for, and no one in the Leonard family will give in. But also isolated are the interrogators: a senior male agent who spent time, perhaps too much time, fighting in and out of Vietnam; and a black female agent who cannot escape a heritage that she despises. Thus, as the lives of the characters begin to unravel, the layered nuances of a multi-ethnic society reveal a seething unrest that rises to the surface under the false pretenses of a very real threat, and now American citizens are forced to prove they are who they say they are and not traitors.


5 CURRIES

A Full-Length Dramatic Comedy


5 CURRIES is a dramatic comedy that takes place in India and the United States. It is about an American man who will die without a kidney transplant, but the waiting list is too long for him to receive one in the United States. Lonely and burdened with a decision that divides his family, he goes to India where the sale of kidneys is easy to arrange on the black market, and there is no responsibility on his part other than to pay for it. Of course, it is not until he actually arrives in India that he realizes he is in a country and culture so completely alien to him that if anything goes wrong there is no accountability. But he is there and there is no turning back. Neither can he turn his back on his past, as his life becomes a series of frames in flashbacks: all the mistakes he has made, all the opportunities he has missed, all the reasons that could have prevented going to what he considers a “third world country” to look for new life. Now he finds himself not quite stranded, and not quite alone, but questioning his life in India, a country of enormous poverty and dramatic contradictions, where the kidney he gets might come from a man or woman so desperate that the choice is between selling a child and selling a body organ. Should he care?


Six months later he is at home and fully recovered when there is a knock on the door. A young Indian couple stands before him and claims that her husband has donated the kidney. Or is it the wife? It becomes clear that they both have sold parts of their bodies. Of course, Irv, the American man, denies knowing anything about it; but when the Indian couple provides more details, Irv gives in. But how does he know it is actually one of them, despite the large scars they show him to prove it? Thus, the central theme of the play arises: What difference does it make who gave him the kidney? He went to India on the verge of death and returned with a new life. The Indian couple, desperate for a new life, has sold more than they have to sell and borrowed more than they can pay back in order to come to America. How can he refuse? Through this play I hope to dramatize the decisions and conflicts between Americans who have the wealth and luxury to afford medical care, but cannot get it in the United States, and poverty stricken Indians who must sell their own flesh and blood just to live another day. And when seeking or offering help to those in dire need, is it important to know who the donor and the recipient are? When giving blood to a blood bank, is it necessary to know who will receive it? Must the donor receive personal thanks from the recipient?


This drama is also a comedy because any time cultures are crossed and different languages are used everything that one has previously learned must be disregarded … and this makes for very funny, sometimes embarrassing situations no matter how serious the intent.


ARTY’S POOLROOM

A Three-Act Dramatic Comedy


The play opens in Arty’s Poolroom, a dark, cavernous stone basement swathed in shadows and bathing in smoke that is lifted in the fluorescent lights of low-hanging lamps over old claw and ball-footed pool tables with leather pockets. In steps Irving Polanski, a “broken down valise”, a high school student indebted to some rather nasty locals for gambling. But Irving carries a heavier burden and introduces one of several overlapping themes in the play: the meaning of life and death/survival and existence—he is the only son of a Holocaust survivor and the last of the bloodline. Should he fail in any way, it is a failure for the generations that died under Hitler, and a failure for generations that he is responsible for bringing into the world.


This is in contrast to the view of the father of “Loose” Larry Leonard, one of Irving’s wise-cracking friends. Ben Leonard died on the operating table while having a blood clot in his leg removed; but he was revived after three or four seconds, and now considers life from a new perspective: he has been given a second chance and is driven to succeed—in business, as he struggles to establish himself on his own; and in family, as he oversees the raising of his three children—while his marriage falls apart in front of the eyes of his eldest son Larry.


Vulnerability is also a theme of the play: Irving is vulnerable with every step he takes. Afraid to go home to face his parents, he rides all night in his friend’s gypsy cab, reducing his father to embarrassing searches in Arty’s, or to sorrowful pleas from the street level stairs. He is bullied by Brute, a massive psychopath who sees himself as a primitive warlord. He is beholden to Jerry, Brute’s older brother and a gambler who preys upon the regulars down at Arty’s, including Irving’s best friend Zimmerman—a 16 year old who can’t get his shoelaces tied right, or his coat buttons lined up. Neither can he keep his mouth closed, no matter how many teeth it costs him; yet, he has the peculiar quality of a visionary who has not yet found his medium.


ARTY’S POOLROOM is alternately a war zone and an escape, but always a place of release, relief and bonding, where the future is being dreamed, and events of change are slowly being acknowledged. Arty is the referee, the soft elderly man and owner of the poolroom who would just like to retire instead of baby-sitting other people’s high school children and delinquents. But he cannot change his course now: he must put up with abuse and snide remarks, or quit and collect unemployment. He is not so old or so soft, however, that he does not fight back. Nor does he lack a sense of humor or wisdom: He admonishes everyone to get out and to stay out—or their lives will turn out to be like his without an education. Only Irving sees him as a success.


ARTY’S POOLROOM is written in fast, lean dialogue—in the quick-talking street language of 60s Brooklyn, where a remark doesn’t go unchallenged and a challenge doesn’t go unanswered. The dialogue is carried on in Arty’s Poolroom by the kids, and in the Old Dutch Diner by the adults. The conversations overlap, like a thought coming to mind during a discussion, but they never seem to take place directly between father and son who read each other’s mind without being able to speak directly to each other about the issues confronting them: the break up of family as it used to be known—Larry’s parents get divorced; the gradual socialization of drugs—Irving overdoses; the Vietnam war—Zimmerman’s brother returns crippled; and the general inequality of life—Brute, the warrior, never gets drafted.


A Beggar’s Smile

A 10-Minute Drama

and a One-Act Drama


A BEGGAR’S SMILE is about two female high school seniors, a Japanese and an Hispanic, who must look at their future: One has the option to return to the land of her heritage; the other must return. It is a brief, but deep window into immigration and appreciation, privilege and necessity. 


Mirror, Rabbi

An Intense 10-Minute Drama


This is a very penetrating story about an indefensible act that separates people from their loved ones and goes deep into their shared, yet conflicted past. It resurrects a never-ending moment between an adult son, his dead father, the father’s second wife, and a rabbi who makes a decision that would be unacceptable in anyone else’s eyes—except for God’s—according to the rabbi.


How I Won the Lottery

(and Stayed Out of Prison for Almost a Year)

A 10-Minute Comedy


A trailer park couple wins the lottery unexpectedly when trying to buy a pack of cigarettes at a convenience store from an Indian immigrant, and get ... confused.


For Rent: 4th Floor Walk-up, Womb for Two

A 10-Minute Comedy


Two very successful long-time friends, heterosexual men who have been sharing a New York City apartment together for many years find themselves in a conflict when one of them wants to become a father, but not get married.


Original Blood

A 10-Minute Drama


ORIGINAL BLOOD presents a confrontation between two young black men: one a street thug from New York who has never had anything; the other from Sudan who has lost everything. One wants to commit a crime which may involve murder. The other has already committed crimes involving murder. Which one will go to jail, and which one will get an ivy league education?


BAGGY’S CONVENIENCE STORE

A Full-length Comedy

(in development)


BAGGY’S CONVENIENCE STORE is a place where various characters of unusual backgrounds come to greet and meet while they buy the daily papers and lottery tickets, offering some unusual revelations about who they are and where they are going.

 

I Never Touched That Boy!

A Full-Length Drama

(in development)


In a case about official misconduct and sexual abuse in a public school, the prosecutor declares that there are “no free crimes in this state.” Except when they are committed by the state prosecutor who misleads and lies to the jury on behalf of illegal aliens out to extort millions of dollars from an innocent and vulnerable educator who would not settle early on.

 
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