Shauna Godwin Hamby in a scene from Bumbershoot
Description: A neo-noir amalgam of dark and really dark, weirdo-humor and sudden violence that offers up a meditation on just how banal the banality of evil can be, on how good people—or ordinary, not-so-good people—can do very, very bad things.
First Produced: 2012
Date Added: 10/5/2012
Content Advisory: adult situations, including: sexual situations, strong language, violence
Fight Sequences ·
Gay and Lesbian ·
Single Set ·
Many Locations ·
Social Issues ·
Dysfunctional Families ·
Characters are Mostly Young Adults ·
Mostly Male Characters
2 Acts, 120 Minutes
2 Females, 4 Males
Bumbershoot is fully protected by copyright law and is subject to royalty. All inquiries concerning production, publication, reprinting or use of this play in any form should be addressed to email@example.com.
From the Author:
Three phenomena, distinct and utterly unrelated, intermingled in my head to form the basis for this play—two relatively superficial things and one very important one. First: I have a smart-alecky cousin with an Irish-American father and an Asian mother. He looks just like his mom from Hong Kong, and acts a lot like her, but he used to play penny-whistle in a Celtic band. People listening to the band were notorious for coming up to him and asking why he “liked Irish music.” Well, I thought: That iteration of the new, multicultural American identity really deserves to be in a play. Second: I have long enjoyed that cinematic genre known as Film Noir, and found the challenge of translating a chiefly filmic form to the stage intriguing: something about Noir, with its wine-dark classic themes and damaged people and exquisite Chiaroscuro lighting, seemed a perfect match for the stage.
Finally—and, I believe, most significantly—I have witnessed in this country a strange and horrible cultural excrescence that someone somewhere (not me) has dubbed the “culture of fear.” I have seen a national embrace of this culture since the events of September 11th; I have heard voices on Talk Radio advance its spread; I have noted its dangerous transformation of personal character. People can make fear a habit—fear of chemicals in their food, fear of the other political party, fear of foreigners, fear of new ideas—and can allow their fears to run their lives, make decisions for them, cause them to act with brutality. This horrifying phenomenon—the movement an individual makes from fear to violence—is reenacted, sadly, all over the world every day.
I decided, given the dramatic ingredients described above, that I really should write a play with all of them in it. I did, and I called it Bumbershoot.
This play is not a musical, but it does feature live music. Brett must be able to play a musical instrument. Other cast can double as band members (therefore they would have to be musicians as well). The set design need not be complex or realistic; rather, the entire action can be performed on one simple set with multi-focus areas. There are also blood effects, but one can try different ways to render the blood effects naturalistically, or one can go totally Brechtian and unrealistic.
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Original Production Information
Bumbershoot was first presented on August 10, 2012, as part of the New York International Fringe Festival,
at HERE, with the following cast and credits:
Brett: Phil Estrera
Nicole: Shauna Godwin Hamby
Ricki: David McCall
Jeff: Mike Ostroski
Randy: Nathan Whitmer
Marlo: Molly Winstead
Musician #1: Timothy Russell
Musician #2: Derek Davidson
Director: Derek Davidson
Stage Manager: Erin Haggerty Wallace
Costume Designer: Melissa Owens
Set Designer: Drew Wallace
Producer: Karen Sabo
Fight Choreographer: Teresa Lee
Company Manager: Mindy Leanse
Dramaturg: Jake Scott-Hodes
Julia Lee Barclay
There is a lot to like in Bumbershoot, this In/Visible show out of North Carolina, written and directed by Derek Davidson. The writing is strong, especially Davidson’s ear for the inarticulate in contemporary dialogue. The acting is mixed, but there are some strong performances by Mike Ostroski and Nathan Whitmer as Jeff and Randy, policemen who have more depth than appears on the surface, including one who is married and closeted. Another standout is David McCall who plays Ricki, a gay man who we see mostly in drag and discover has another unexpected side to him. The way McCall plays Ricki as somewhat awkward in drag does not make sense until this other part is revealed. A temptation in playing that role would be to be over the top, but he accomplishes this in an unfussy way.
There is excellent live music throughout provided by an Irish band led by Brett, a half Asian, half Irish fellow, played by Phil Estrera, whose identity confusion creates the fulcrum of the play. As an actor he was excellent with his monologues, but faltered somewhat in dialogue. He seems to be more of a natural stand-up comedian than traditional actor.
If in the description above you are already confused by what this play is about that is because there are multiple story lines running through it, arguably a few too many. I cannot approach a few of them lest I give away crucial plot points revealed in the end.
However, more than plot, the primary confusion was the style of the play, which swung fairly wildly from highly stylized to naturalistic. The only actors who seemed on solid stylistic ground were the two policemen who delivered their lines facing out to the audience in a way that was both convincing but also obviously theatrical. The jarring between this style and the more naturalistic scenes (that were punctuated by overtly theatrical devices) provoked confusion, not only about styles but also the tone of the piece itself, which seemed to both want to be serious and glide on the surface at the same time.
There are very interesting questions of identity, class and politics that emerge in the play and some moments of pure theatrical grace, but these were muddied by a series of plot twists that while knowingly tipping their hat to noir movies ended up seeming more melodramatic than interesting.
However, this is a highly watchable play with some very good writing that, with some more development especially in regard to direction, could be quite interesting indeed.
reviewed at the 2012 New York International Fringe Festival
Shh, this is it, you gotta shoot him again.
Nicole, listen, get your complete and focused shit together here—
What do you mean I have to—
Well, accident or no—
BRETT, you gotta believe me—
Okay but it’s IN THE BACK OF THE HEAD. He was gonna commit suicide.
Yes! I came over to talk him out of it—
Obviously that didn’t go over too well—
But it can’t be a suicide if he’s shot. In. The back of the head.
Let’s—(BRETT turns body over:) turn him—oh, god, a clean shot, so—
Oh god oh god oh god—
Ucch, okay, here: see, you gotta shoot him again through this hole—
Brett—don’t make me do this—
IT’S GOT TO LOOK LIKE A SUICIDE. Here—(BRETT takes gun, wipes it:) now put it in Ricki’s—(puts gun into RICKI’S hand:) okay, and pull the, here—
I AM SAVING YOUR LIFE. Do it. DO IT.