The threat of a staged reading

There is nothing like the “threat” of a staged reading for a new play, to clarify the mind, and show me that the play’s not quite ready. Brenda Jean Foley was kind of enough to consider my new play for the Mesa Encore Theatre’s Second Sunday Play Reading series. Fortunately, she was busy preparing for her lead role in Carousel, now at the Mesa Arts Center, and various other involvements, including motherhood, to read the play right away.

I went from waiting impatiently for her response, what was taking so long? To reflecting on the play, to realizing that in fact, there was more work to be done.

I find there’s really no substitute for the passage of time and fresh eyes and ears, for clarifying scene, theme and character. It could be a night, it could be a week, it could be a month or more.

My instincts are good, but I don’t always have the patience to follow my instincts. My gut told me that structurally the play wasn’t quite there. I didn’t know the answer, I just knew an answer was wanting. The good news is I’ve come to my senses in time to take the play back, and that Brenda had not read it through yet.

It’s not that a play has to be perfect for a staged reading – the staged reading might very well reveal more improvements. But even a staged reading is an audition of sorts, and it’s never a good idea to approach an audition unprepared.

Opening scene of SEEING MAYA


Danny rushes in. Spotting Maya within the bustling lunch crowd, he’s stopped in his tracks.


I saw her before she saw me, and something made me stop and just watch, how people, especially women, looked at her, not with envy, but with the spontaneity of discovery. And I knew exactly why, even if they didn’t. The pure aliveness that poured through her, like some kind of body-generated light, was plainly visible to me, the way some people see auras. I knew then I had a gift for seeing Maya, which changed both of us, because we both became clear in this seeing, as if without it — though we’d lived that way all our lives until now — we were always somehow blurred. I realized I had something serious to lose in her, and it scared me, and I knew at that moment I needed to either love her from then on, or turn around and leave, and not see her anymore. But before I had time to consider this, she saw me and waved me over. 

Does the past define the future of love?

Seeing Maya

a screenplay by Joe Bardin

Danny, 25, American, goes to Israel (where he had lived as a child) to escape the trauma of a car accident, which killed his girlfriend. When the Gulf War breaks out, he’s invited to stay with a friend, whose divorced mother, Maya, 50, he becomes romantically involved with. The war ends, but Maya and Danny’s secret affair doesn’t. With her hard-earned independence threatened by this love, Maya breaks it off, only to discover she’s empty without him. When Maya wants them to come out, it’s Danny’s turn to run. Each must face their intimidations, and surrender to the depth of their love, in order to find happiness and each other.


Movies and timing and waiting and waiting

Almost every week, it seems, there is a new headline about the dark web, Internet fraud, and major international banks admitting to their culpability in some financial malfeasance,  usually in the billions of dollars range. These are three central elements in Detection, the movie I’ve written with Ori Eisen, leaving me quite impatient. Detection has gained the enthusiastic support of producer Warren Weideman. However, we are still waiting to hear on financial backing for the project and it has been many, many months.

But as Warren has reminded me, it took Spielberg 10 years to get Lincoln made, so what am I whining about?

The best way to be free of  waiting  is to be busy writing. To that end, I have been working on a new play, which I am quite excited about, as it directly engages the fascinating topic of radical life extension and physical immortality. As science starts to seriously challenge the axiom of a limited human lifespan, the arts need to help explore the implications in a passionate, progressive and thoughtful manner. Death is so intimately woven into the human identity that the human who doesn’t die is clearly something entirely distinct and worthy of our profound imaginative consideration. Put another way: who are we when we don’t die?



Love Disorder on Youtube

This is the play in its entirety, shot with two camera’s and the sound is pretty damn good.

Do we lose our individuality in love or do we gain it? Are we doomed to reenact our parents’ less than inspiring domesticities, or can we break free of the past to set our own course of the heart? These and other profound questions are just barely touched upon, as we follow Laura&Percy, RobnKiki and JustinErica through the passions, conflicts, delusions and resolutions of their love disorders.

Check it out on YouTube

Great review from Kerry Lengel, AZ Republic

Nice to get this strong review from Arizona Republic theater critic Kerry Lengel.

To say that “Love Disorder” feels like a sitcom on the stage is not meant as an insult. This world-premiere comedy from iTheatre Collaborative — the first full-length play by Valley writer Joe Bardin — is snappy, clever and irreverent. If you’re a fan of “How I Met Your Mother,” you’re sure to get a kick out of it.

The best thing is that while Bardin (rhymes with “sardine”) plays around with some familiar Mars-vs.-Venus stereotypes, he adds enough twists to create unique, compelling characters. And under the guidance of director Mike Traylor, iTheatre’s cast is convincing and eminently watchable.

Read on at:

Collaboration at Hooters

Great meeting with director Mike Traylor last night to hash out some aspects of the production, which premiers Nov. 14th at Kax Stage, Herberger. We met at Hooters of all places, which is perhaps appropriate to discuss a play entitled Love Disorder. On the other hand, Hooters is never really appropriate.

Mike is intense and passionate and deeply engaged with the play and I’m excited about the level of commitment and quality he is bringing. Having said that, we disagreed on some significant matters right off the bat, without any rancor or malice. But never the less, we disagreed. This produced out of Mike the best line of the night: “That’s what I like about doing Shakespeare, he’s been dead for hundreds of years, so I don’t have to worry about his opinions.”

I love the fact that Mike cares enough to be bothered by my wanting something different than what he envisioned. This is clear evidence that he has a vision. In the end, I think we both felt like we conceded quite a bit, perhaps more than the other fella. I’m pretty sure, though, that I really did … even though Mike seems to think that he really did.

Which is to say this show is going to get the care and attention it deserves, and I’m looking forward to the first cast reading on October 13.

Love Disorder — defining the condition



Director Mike Traylor requested I provide a definition of Love Disorder to accompany the play:


Relationship Disorder, or “Love Disorder”, as it is commonly known, is an anxiety disorder in which the authentic desire for human intimacy clashes with the survival impulse to control, producing an emotional fog that clouds the nervous system, causing perfectly intelligent people to behave absurdly.


Symptoms may include:

  • The inability to say what you mean
  • The inability to act on what you say
  • The inability to ever resolve anything
  • The acute prolonging of clearly unsatisfying partnerships
  • The blind overlooking of potentially satisfying ones
  • The dominating urge to fulfill gender-based roles:

o   the female role of “domesticator”

o   the male role of “protector”

  • The propensity to re-enact one’s parents’ relationship even as one heartily disapproves of it.


Risk factors include:

  • First dates
  • Getting to know each other
  • Sex
  • Cohabitation
  • Marriage
  • Separation
  • Love




There is as yet no proven treatment for Love Disorder.

Jazzed about my collaborators



Its great when the company that’s going to produce your play does work that definitively doesn’t suck. That’s what I found out on Saturday night at iTheatre Collaborative’s performance of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, a complex and challenging play that they staged with great confidence and coherence, under the evidently excellent direction of Charles St. Clair. Vera Stark is written by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage.

Nicole Belit, who played Vera Stark, was tremendous, as was Brenda Jean Foley and Todd Michael Isaac, and Tom Koelbel, all of whom will be performing in Love Disorder, which bodes very well in terms of talent.

I also got the chance to chat with Mike Traylor, hilarious in his role as Herb Forrester in Vera Stark, who will direct Love Disorder. The fact that he was funny as hell on stage, playing a sort of wildly effeminate culture talk show host, was quite encouraging.

Chris Haines, who along with his wife Rose, are the directors of iTheatre Collaborative, was gracious enough to announce Love Disorder, and that I was in attendance. One women down the row, clearly a patron of the arts, promised to come opening night November 14th, and to bring many friends, if I gave her a birthday kiss. Being the entrepreneurially minded artists that I am, I quickly agreed, holding off on delivery until she, and her friends, actually show up for the show at the Herberger’s Kax stage.

I am jazzed to be collaborating with iTheatre Collaborative, and look forward to sitting down with Mike and Chris sometime next week to talk about the look and feel of Love Disorder.