Plays & Screenplays

All written sample materials on this page are copyrighted by the playwright Jonathan Libman.

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Full Length

 

Please Leave the Light On  (6 M, 3 W - 90 minutes)

 

Joshua Davidow, a seemingly nice young man,  makes one mistake that puts him in a proverbial shit storm of mythic proportions.  When Joshua shows up at school one day, he is removed from his class, taken to the principal’s office and accused of a criminal act. Shuttled through criminal court, a damaging interpretation of evidence has the judge order him to spend ten to fifteen years at the Gun Hill Correctional Facility for a crime Joshua is not sure he committed.  

 

At Gun Hill, Joshua must contend with the daily dehumanization of incarceration and fend off a variety of life threatening circumstances.  After a harrowing visit to the prison’s clinical psychologist, he returns to his cell and is approached by his roommate Kareem.  Apparently the jail's administration has a sense of humor and is conducting sociological experiments on its inmates.  Since open interaction in prison between blacks and whites is almost unheard of, they both take a substantial risk when they start an unlikely friendship.  This a coming of age story like no other though only one of them will make it out of Gun Hill...

 

  • Bay Area Playwright's Semi-Finalist.

  • Seven Devils Playwriting Conference Finalist.

  • Segment presented at Cherry Lane Theatre.

Special thanks to Jesse Eisenberg, Sarah Schulman of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, Stephen Hill for the courage and conviction. Dedicated to all the victims of sexual assault and the criminal justice system that try as it may lets too many slip through the cracks.

Accidents Waiting to Happen (4 M, 3 W - 100 minutes)

 

Accidents Waiting to Happen is the story of Ernesto - a teenager who works in a local supermarket near you in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in full phase out mode.

Changes in the neighborhood aside he has more immediate concerns; not flunking out of high school and embracing the responsibilities (financial and otherwise) of being a father.  ​

 

His younger teenage pregnant girlfriend Eunice is one of the prettier girls of the neighborhood and rightfully demands his emotional availability “I want Breyers Ice Cream - not the welfare kind”.  Her parents won’t help con nada. “You break it, you buy it - plus he’s Dominican...” Ernesto comes from a broken home and lives with his grandmother who is blind in one eye.

His willingness to do his best, put his head down and power through is admirable but the pressure is mounting.  What if his best isn’t good enough?  

 

Kwanita, a cashier who works closely with Ernesto is supportive of him but she has history with Eunice and clouds matters. She is a true friend willing to risk her job by slipping him money from the register.  For the record Kwanita is a lesbian but there is chemistry. 

Ernesto genuinely loves Eunice and knows he’ll never get another girl like her.  He doesn’t love the side deal that he has been forced into with Eunice’s Cousin Muerto, a wiry insecure drug dealer/user with a pitbull and a business plan.  Muerto keeps a watchful eye over Ernesto and the rest of the neighborhood but his days are numbered. 

 

With seemingly no other place to turn Ernesto enters into an escalating risky arrangement with an obviously rich and gay customer, Glendon.  Their interaction is loaded with more than either of them expected.  Now what was complicated has entered into what could be downright explosive when Glendon decides to enter into Eunice and Ernesto's apartment and make a proposition.

People are often ignored and overlooked, while going through their most critical junctures of their lives.  This story depicts the diverse collision of people in a gentrifying neighborhood with humor, force, wonder, and compassion.

  • Workshop at IRT Theater 

  • Finalist for Kitchen Dog Theater's New Works Festival.

  • Staged Reading at Cherry Lane Theatre, directed by Francisco Solorzano.

  • Television pilot (currently in development)

 

God bless the working man and woman.  Dedicated to those who tried to help and those who did not get help in time.

The Men Upstairs (4 characters can be gender flexible - 50 minutes)

We drop into a world where men are sharpening their skills in a particularly unforgiving occupation. 

A man is tied to a chair and being prodded because of his beliefs (or lack of beliefs), yet all the while he seems to have a certain degree of power over his inquisitors.  When things reach a boil the Master Observer has to step in and s/he sheds light on the proper method of coercive technique.

It appears that we have just been witnessing a training session, or acting seminar, but then things turn for the worst when we realize what we've seen is real and that anyone can wind up in the chair.

  • Developed at (E.S.T.) Ensemble Studio Theater

Special thanks to Luca, Gabe, Rock Kohli, Charlotte Cohn and Steve Rosen

for slicing the apple.

Life Drawing and the Human Body (2 M, 2 W - 85 minutes)

Getting involved with the wrong girl in high school is common.  But how do you know which one is the wrong girl?  Life Drawing and the Human Body tracks the tumultuous journey of a talented young man's choice, which inversely effects his life and all those in his inner circle.

 

  • NYU Thesis Project - mentored by Leslie Lee

  • Staged Reading at New Dramatists

 

Special thanks to Daniel Pino, Michaela Conlin, Steve Rosen, and Kelly Karbacz.

ONE ACTS

The Metro Section (2 M, 1 W - 30 minutes)

Jean is finally out on parole. His wife, Sarah, swears she's been faithful, but when an unepexted visitor knocks on the door, the couple's world is turned upside down.

  • Produced at The American Theater of Actors in a dual billing with James Jennings Together Again.

  • Developed at The Provincetown Playhouse as part of a Eugene O’Neill Festival.

Special thanks to Luca Pierucci, Henry Vick, Jules Hartley, Ava Paloma, PJ Sosko and Jenna Devine and the wholesalers on 28th and Broadway for the daily panty package.

Self Generated Friction (1 M, 1 W - 10 to 15 minutes)

American Globe’s 15 Minute Play Festival directed by Domenica Cameron-Scorsese.

Special thanks to Domenica, Michael Kevin Darnall, Dayci and JD Brookshire

Fabric Softener (Helps Prevent Static Cling)  (2 M, 2 W - 10 minutes)

Presented by Fresh Ground Pepper in the "Isms" Festival

Special thanks to Cory Kosel, Chelsea Gonzalez, Django Palty, and Lisa Jill Anderson

The Coffin Maker (1 M, 1 W - 10 minutes)

Staged reading at Pulse Ensemble Theater on Theatre Row.

Special merit in Chicago Lit Theater - Art of Adaptation - play based on Anton Chekhov story.

Leather Interior (2 M - 10 minutes)

Reggie Jackson and Ray Negron, Yankee Good Luck charm and bat boy with the team are in a hotel room close by to Yankee Stadium. The night of June 17th 1977 - a horrible one. Full media circus. 

This the same night that Reggie Jackson got into a physical skirmish with Billy Martin the Yankees manager in the dugout and all was caught on camera for the world to see. 

This is a speculation on what happened between them that night.

Behind the Counter (3 M, 1 W - 10 to 15 minutes)

is about two teens who work at a local supermarket, Pedro and Willie, who profoundly feel the unfairness of an unfeeling world for people like them.  Can it ever get better? 

The problem is how they decide to do something about it.

Special thanks to Joshua Gonzalez, Luis Arzu, and Patti DeMatteo

The Haitian Sensation (2 M, 1 W - 15 minutes)

Ever wonder what growing up in the New York City Public School System where being White didn't afford you any privilege? We experience a unique friendship between an ordinary boy and an extraordinary Haitian girl who paved the way for him to be a young man.

Special thanks to Marki Michelle, Arthur Kriklivy and Tomike Lee Ogugua

The Nitty Gritty (2 M, 1 W - 15 minutes)

What happened in jail is a secret that complicates a good man's marriage.

The brotherhood that saved Tony could be the same thing that destroys him.

AC-DC  (3 M, 1 W - 50 minutes)

Staged Reading at NYU’s Rita and Golderg Theater

Special Thanks to Maggie Lally

Doors that Open and Close (2 M, 2 W - 40 minutes)

Awarded Certificate of Merit for Excellence in Playwriting by the Young Playwrights Festival Committee Stephen Sondheim

Staged Reading presented by the LaGuardia High School of the Arts Drama Department

Special Thanks to Sarah Goldstein

 

 

            Screenplays and Television Pilots

Human Resources

This is a real Nuyorican story about Angel and Stephanie, two sophomores in high school who live in low income housing on the Lower East Side.  When their mother doesn't come home because she's been busted for seeling marijuana in Washington Square, it's the perfect opportunity for their estranged father (who's been sleeping under the Williamsburg Bridge) to shimmy his way back in to a rent stabilized apartment and try and be some kind of father. 

 

 

Two in the Stomach

John is a mild-mannered man in his thirties who still lives at home with his parents and can’t seem to stick with the same job for too long. His traditional Christian family gladly supports him though...so long as he goes out every now and then and kills one of New York’s “Evildoers”. The trouble is, John has been having anxiety attacks and his health has started to suffer.   When he encounters Melissa, and aspiring actress, will she help or prevent him from tending to the family business?

 

 

Shall I Fetch the Apparatus?

A highly provocative film about the pleasures and dangers of going home with a stranger. Based on a compilation of true stories from New York City’s 8th Avenue.