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The Orange Person
by Brian Rady, Jeremy Bloom and Laura Dunn

Production photo

A scene from The Orange Person | James Matthew Daniel

Author: Brian Rady, Jeremy Bloom and Laura Dunn

Description: At last, the story of The Orange Person, told from the perspective of the people who actually experienced it - a celebration of existence, of difference, and of song. From within both sides of a duplex in Terlingua, a rural town in the south Texan desert, a family confronts a medical marvel: an orange baby is born.

Year Written/Copyrighted: 2011
Date Added: 9/6/2012
Content Advisory: NA
Keywords: Characters are Mostly Children/Students · Characters are Mostly Young Adults · Civil Rights · Dysfunctional Families · Families · Fantasy · Folklore and Legends · Large Cast Size · Musical · Pop Culture · Rock and Roll · Single Set · Social Issues · Westerns
1 Act, 70 Minutes
5 Females, 5 Males

NOTE: The Orange Person 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 radyandbloom@gmail.com.

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From the Author:

If nothing else, The Orange Person is a celebration of individuality and identity, and not just of The Orange Person himself, but of each character within the mysterious small town that we created for this piece. Each performer should be as different as possible in terms of background, age, look and feel. This piece was developed with the cast in a very supportive and teamwork-type-of-atmosphere and the story and the performances should reflect this. Even though the "other" (Sam, the orange person) runs away, he does so willingly, he reflects fondly—and the entire mythic town of Terlingua is ultimately a strange and grand system of love and support that reaches across time and space.

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Original Production Information

The Orange Person was originally presented by Rady&Bloom Collective Playmaking at the Gene Frankel Theater, New York City, supported by the first Planet Connections Artist Grant award, with the following cast and credits:

Robert Lavenstein (San Antonio)
Jose Paz (Billy)
Joe White (Dink/ Electric Guitar)
Ellen O'Meara (Chick O'Reilly/ Flute/ Glockenspiel)
Ashley Biel (Amy)
Catherine Brookman (Jan) Dana Kaplan-Angle (Trudy)
Madalyn McKay (Aunt Joan)
Kirk Siee (Rodge)
Brian Rady (Sam, the orange person)

Directed by Jeremy Bloom
With designs by Chris Morris (set), Olga Mill (costumes), and Christopher Weston (lighting)
Stage managed by Erika Bracy

Review by Martin Denton

There's something quintessentially American about The Orange Person, a celebration of individuality, small town life, and joyful story-telling created by Jeremy Bloom, Laura Dunn, and Brian Rady. Structurally it reminded me a lot of Once (which it pre-dates, by the way), using a gathering of minstrels and musicians as a framework to unfold its imaginative, singular story: the simple informality of the piece reinforces its themes and never feels false or ingenuous or precious. Bloom, who directs, informs us at the beginning that the company is doing this show for fun, and there was never a moment when I doubted him. (Though it's to be hoped that this remarkable work can bring these artists some more tangible rewards as well!)

The story is about a boy, Sam, whose skin is a bright, glowing orange. This is how he has always been, since birth, though no one knows why. He grows up in a remote West Texas town in a desert whose sunbaked landscape provides a kind of camouflage; but his otherness is always (literally) right on the surface. His mother, Jan, saves up all the money she can to pay for an operation that may make him "normal." His Aunt Joan, who owns the house where he and his family live, urges him to stay indoors until he's "cured." A nosy neighbor kid, Billy, stares at him through his binoculars (which he also uses to spy on a trio of sunbathing sisters).

Sam's tale could easily devolve into heavy-handed sermonizing or allegory, but Bloom, Dunn, and Rady never take it in either of those directions. Instead, they place Sam at the center of a larger story about the whole town and its mythic way of life. Most of the story is told in song—country-inflected ballads with titles like "The Land of What Can't Be Explained," "Pumpkin Pie," and "In the Desert Night" that capture the characters' feelings and the Texas landscape with lyrical beauty and poetic precision.

Bloom's direction is masterful and filled with lovely imagery; he keeps the piece fluid and dynamic while letting the music breathe and dominate as it must. Several of the performers double as singers and musicians: co-authors Rady (as Sam) and Dunn (who plays Sam's friend Kay) play guitar and banjo, respectively; Kirk Siee (bass), Joe White (electric guitar), and Ellen O'Meara (flute, gloc) have smaller roles while anchoring the onstage band. Ashley Biel, Dana Kaplan-Angle, and Robert Gadol Lavenstein play important people in Sam's life. Madalyn McKay and Jose Paz are delightfully ingratiating and lively as Aunt Joan and Billy. Catherine Brookman is appropriately ephemeral as Jan, who dies while Sam is still a boy.

The Orange Person is joyous and touching and full of life, love, and hope. It's very much the kind of show Americans need these days to remind us who we are and what we value. Even though the denizens of this show are sometimes small-minded and backward, the way they care for one another and help one another feels grand. And the infectious high spirits that this company brings to sharing this story with their audience are downright inspirational.

review of the 2012 New York City production

Excerpt from The Orange Person

SAN ANTONIO

Oh my god. What happened to you?

SAM

I’m fine.

SAN ANTONIO

You’re orange.

SAM

I know. It’s a big thing. Everyone knows. For miles. Everyone knows. Even if they haven’t seen me they’ve heard of me.

SAN ANTONIO

Perfect. Oh my god. Ha ha! That’s perfect!

SAM

What?

SAN ANTONIO

It’s just such a relief! Ha ha!

[he embraces Sam]

SAM

Ha ha. Yeah.
What do you mean?

SAN ANTONIO

I thought there was something really going on with my mind, like-
I thought I was like so far out there that I was almost gone- like out there- like Nova Scotia
But that’s just how you are?

SAM

Yeah.

SAN ANTONIO

Your whole life?

SAM

You haven’t heard of the orange person? I’ve never met anybody who didn’t already know.

SAN ANTONIO

All I know is, I still got a head that’s still sittin’ on top of my shoulders and- [celebratory] ah!

SAM

What?

SAN ANTONIO

It’s a glorious realization isn’t it?

SAM

You saw me coming...

SAN ANTONIO

From about ten miles away.
You were a shadow, an animal, then a man, then an orange boy.
Impressive how slow and steady - more so than a monk.
What’s on your mind? Do you know where you’re going?

SAM

No. Just trying to get away.

SAN ANTONIO

That’s a dangerous game.

SAM

Are you on your way somewhere? Can I hitch a ride?

SAN ANTONIO

Where you looking to go?

SAM

Not sure, really. Maybe Dallas, Houston? Depending on how much gas you’ve got in your tank. I don’t really care, anything - I can make due, get by - anywhere there’s work.

SAN ANTONIO

Slow down.
There’s no hurry…
Get in the car, we’ll get you some place.