In 1999, I wrote a one-act play based on a real life event. At the time I started writing it, I had no idea it would lead to a completed script, let alone a full production in Boston. None of the characters in the play are based on real people, nor is the plot based on what actually happened. Thus, The Jubjub Birds — a treatise on personal censorship and the thought police — was born. This play followed on the heels of The Gull's Lament.

The Jubjub Birds in the title of the show are never explained in the script, except by reference to Lewis Carol's poem. In the poem, the birds are mentioned once, as a curious but dangerous thing to be avoided, never described but only whispered about. The women in the play are intended to be analogues of that unnamed something to be avoided, a danger never fully described, until it's too late. Implicit in this interpretation is that no one has ever survived the encounter to describe the danger that awaits.

The setting is a backyard garden. Four ladies, Doris, Irene, Marsha, and Helen, invite a famous local author, Nathan, to thier garden for a little tea and a roundtable. But Nathan has no idea what's in store for him. While the four appear innocent enough, each uses thier unique skills as a member of thier elite club to tear the author down. He is roasted and, through a series of twisted literary games, is forced to give the ladies access to his latest manuscript, which is thn litterally torn apart in front of his eyes. But they get ther comeuppances in a surprise ending.


The script of The Jubjub Birds can be found here in its entirety.


The play was produced in Boston in 1999 by Ubiquity Stage at the Tower Aditorium of the Massachusetts College of Art under a double bill with Beirut by Alan Bowne. It ran 9 performances over 3 weekends in July of that year. The actors cast in the roles of the ladies were Olivia Doran, Katherine Holland, Marion Myszkowski, and Rebecca Starzick. The role of the author was played by Paul Stern.

Here are a few notes about the production itself. Prior to the house being opened for the audience, several walkways were lit in garden colors and sprayed with various flower fragrances. The Ladies circulated through the audience prior to curtain giving out cucumber sandwiches and chatting up the audience.

Below are a few photos from the production.

   Program Cover

Jubjub Birds Photo 1

Olivia, Katherine, Marion, and Rebecca as the Ladies.

Jubjub Birds Photo 2

A really nice shot of Olivia.

   Jubjub Birds Photo 3

Rebecca and Katherine as Doris and Helen.

Jubjub Birds Photo 4

Olivia as Marsha.

   Jubjub Birds Photo 5

Paul as Nathaniel.


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