Playwriting

The Snow Queen

Jane Pfitsch, Tim Homsley, Erin Murman in San Jose Repertory’s Production. photo by Kevin Berne

The Snow Queen

book by Kirsten Brandt and Rick Lombardo
music by Haddon Kime
lyrics by Kirsten Brandt, Haddon Kime and Rick Lombardo
based on the story by Hans Christian Anderson
6 women, 4 men (flexible)
running time: 2 hours (one intermission)

A Friendship Is Tested By The Queen of Snow Herself
Be spirited away by this new musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fantastical coming-of-age adventure that inspired the hit Disney movie Frozen. Join Gerda on a dangerous and whimsical quest to save her best friend Kai before he is trapped forever in the Snow Queen’s palace. Dare to enter a world where flowers sing, animals talk, and riddles yearn to be solved. With an original pop rock score, alluring ballads, urban steam punk flair, and the enigmatic Snow Queen, you’ll soon see this is not your average bedtime story.

Winner of the 2014 Stage Rights/NYMF Publishing Award, a program of The New York Musical Theatre Festival. “A fairy-tale that rocks!” –The New York Times

Commissioned by San Jose Rep, The Snow Queen received it’s world premiere December 2013 and was part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival in July 2014. Please contact Stage Rights for licensing information or visit The Snow Queen Website.  There is a TYA: Theatre for Young Audiences version as well!

The Snow Queen has been produced by Near West Theatre in Cleveland, OH; New Repertory Theater in Watertown, MA; Evansville Civic Theatre in Evansville, IN; Performing Arts San Antonio, TX; The Engeman Theatre (TYA version) at Northport, Northport, NY; Piper Pride Productions in Winnipeg, MB;   Erie Playhouse, Erie, PA; Maricopa Community Theatre, AZ; Vashion Allied Arts (TYA version) in Vashon, WA.

A Doll's House

Gretchen Hall as Nora in the Old Globe Theatre production.    
Photo by Sean Fanning
Gretchen Hall as Nora in the Old Globe Theatre production. Photo by Sean Fanning

A Doll’s House

by Henrik Ibsen

platform translation by Anne-Charlotte Harvey
Adapted by Kirsten Brandt and Anne-Charlotte Harvey
4 women, 3 men
running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes (one intermission)

Nora’s life is on the upswing. Her husband got a promotion, and their financial struggles are over at last. But when a man from her past reappears, bent on bringing a dangerous secret to light, everything changes: her marriage, her family, even her relationship to the world around her. The opening night of A Doll’s House was one of the seminal moments in theatre history. The play’s explosive ending and sly, insinuating tone hit its audience like a thunderbolt.

Commissioned by The Old Globe, A Doll’s House received it’s world premiere March 2013.

… has lost none of its gripping power. Much credit is due to an accessible and fluid new adaption of Ibsen’s script by Brandt and Scholar Anne-Charlotte Hanes Harvey that uses contemporary language and American vernacular to uncover the subtle irony and humor in the play.   -SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE

… The characters in “A Doll’s House” are all victims, rather than villains. It is the outdated conventions in society that are the culprits in this classic. And with the contemporary adaptation, we understand them as never before. -GAY SAN DIEGO

Berzerkergäng

Janet Hayatshahi and Laura Lee Juliano in Sledgehammer Theatre's Production.  Photo:  David Lee Cuthbert
Janet Hayatshahi and Laura Lee Juliano in Sledgehammer Theatre’s Production. Photo: David Lee Cuthbert

Berzerkergäng

by Kirsten Brandt

10+ actors  (running time:  2 hour 15 minutes)

Inspired by Richard Wagner’s opera Der Ring des Nibelungen, Snorri Sturluson’s Poetic & Prose Eddas, The Volsungasaga, and The Nibelungenlied, Berzerkergäng is a contemporary telling of the quest for love and power.  When the dwarf Alberich steals a source of unlimited power – the business world goes berserk.  As Giants and Gods wage corporate warfare, a Valkyrie named Brunhilde must choose between obedience & love, forgiveness & rage, and desire & truth, even if it means her own doom.

Berzerkergäng received its world premiere at Sledgehammer Theatre, February 2003.  

San Diego Playbill Award for “Outstanding New Play” and a KPBS Award for “Outstanding Production.”  

Praise for Berzerkergäng 

Sledgehammer Theatre’s season finale is a massive undertaking…  playwright (and artistic director) Kirsten Brandt and her collaborators deliver a mostly cogent and sometimes stunning, evening of theatre.  … there are moments, lingering ones, in which the production comes close to fulfilling Wagner’s ideal of combining of performing arts (music, drama, décor, dance) into a total theatre experience.    -CRITIC’S CHOICE, San Diego Union Tribune

With all her poetic ramblings, wild imaginings and topical references, Brandt  has stayed surprisingly close to the original story. Whether you’re knowledgeable or not, it’s all there: the dwarf, the dragon, the giants, even Valhalla, which has morphed from a mythological hall of heroes into a 98-story office complex. And it all works excellently…the stylized, provocative,  choreographically precise direction of Jessa Watson and Michael Severance has Brandt’s creative energy all over it. This is inventive theater of mythic proportion… brash, bold and courageous.   -KPBS

 

The thinning veil

University of California, Santa Cruz production
University of California, Santa Cruz production

The thinning veil

directed and written by Kirsten Brandt

flexible cast of 5w, 5m (plus three camera operators per venue)/ 90 minutes running time.

Based on The Orestia by Aeschylus, Electra by Sophocles, Electra and Iphigeneia in Aulis by Euripides and The Iliad by Homer.  This is a telematic play that takes place in two venues.

Clytemnestra grieves for her daughter Iphegenia.  Electra grieves for her father Agamemnon and plans to avenge his death with the help of her brother.  Meanwhile, Iphigenia is confronted by the truth about her death while Agamemnon still tries to control his family from beyond the grave.  Based on the myths surrounding the House of Atreus, The Thinning Veil is a visually stunning drama about the damage family can inflict upon themselves and others. 

The Thinning Veil premiered at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2012.  The production took place simultaneously in two venues on campus, Digital Arts Research Center Theatre and the Experimental Space, connected telematically, via the Internet.

The Frankenstein Project

Allison Riley and Laura Lee Juliano in the Sledgehammer Theatre production.  Photo:  David Lee Cuthbert
Allison Riley and Laura Lee Juliano in the Sledgehammer Theatre production. Photo: David Lee Cuthbert

The Frankenstein Project

by Kirsten Brandt

4 women, 3 men;  running time: 90 minutes (no intermission)

Multi-media production

The Frankenstein Project v.2.0 is a modern re-telling of Mary Shelley’s classic tale set against the backdrop of late-breaking developments in science and medicine. Haunted by the death of her mother from a cocktail of weight-loss pharmaceuticals, PhD candidate Mary Frankenstein (Mary #1) strives to create life and, by doing so, conquer death. The “monstrous” creation that is the result of her work is Mary #2, a woman who is plagued by the memories of the seven prostitutes that make up her body. Mary #3, Mary Shelly, floats in and out of her own story as her creations grow beyond her control.

The Frankenstein Project received a workshop production at Sledgehammer Theatre in February 1999 and was subsequently performance at the Network of Ensemble Theatres Conference, San Francisco in September 2000. It received a KPBS Award in 1999 for “Outstanding Direction.”  The Frankenstein Project (version 2.0), an updated version of the original, premiered at Sledgehammer Theatre in October of 2005 and was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Praise for THE FRANKENSTEIN PROJECT (V2.0)

Bold, ambitious, and stirring…Brandt has become a disciplined and inventive theatrical storyteller.fresh theatrical blend of sound, image and movement… It revisits urgent questions of art, religion and science at a time when the specter of Frankenstein’s monster is closer to reality… Line for line Brandt’s script… is provocative, richly allusive stuff. The acting is sharp and sure… the most polished, provocative ensemble work at Sledge in many a season.  -CRITIC’S CHOICE, San Diego Union-Tribune

… the direction is precise, the performances meticulous, and the stage pictures are  often gorgeous… There’s also a deliciously creepy soundscape… … the play will certainly  unnerve and disturb…”        – KPBS                                                                                           

…one of the best-looking shows ever staged at St. Cecilia’s.     – The San Diego Reader

San Jose State University workshop company of Wuthering Heights
San Jose State University workshop company of Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

adapted fromEmily Brontë’s novel by Kirsten Brandt.

Inseparable since childhood, Heathcliff and Cathy believe themselves eternally bound. But when they are brutally torn apart, the resulting course of retribution provides an unflinching look into the cyclical nature of revenge, injustice and the unknowable passions of the heart. Travel across Yorkshire’s stormy moors with one of literature’s darkest antiheroes in this legendary tale of devotion and redemption. Emily Brontë’s epic love story is re-imagined in this gripping adaptation.

Wuthering Heights was workshopped at San Jose State University Department of Theatre, radio, Television.  It received a staged reading at New Fortune Theatre in San Diego.

The Visions of Christine

Christine de Pizan
Christine de Pizan

The Vision of Christine

by Kirsten Brandt
5 women or more; running time: 50 minutes

Lady Fortune spins her Wheel and where in lands is anyones guess.  Widowed at 25 in 1390, Christine de Pizan will take her meals at Fortunes table.  From love poetry to literary debates, dePizan would emerge as France’s “First Women of Letters,” and leave a legacy of challenging misogynistic views of women in literature and history.  The play is inspired by her life and writings.   Christine’s most famous work is The Book Of the City of Ladies. She also has a place setting in Judy Chicago’s art piece “The Dinner Party.”

The Visions of Christine was created while in residence at Castilleja School, Palo Alto California, Fall 2015.  It is part of the 365 Women a Year, a Playwriting Project, 2015.  For more information of 365 click here.

 

The Waves

Walter Murray and Karson St. John in the Southwestern College production.
Walter Murray and Karson St. John in the Southwestern College production.

The Waves

by Kirsten Brandt
2 women, 1 man; running time: 90 minutes

Mary has a dilemma.  She has destroyed her relationship with her father by running off with the love of her life.  Claire wants “free love” but believes others should be monogamous with her.  Claire’s driving force and vitality is the direct opposite of Mary’s richness of mind.  Although the sisters adore one another, when a baby enters the picture, jealousies emerge.  The sisters’ battle of wits triggers something in Mary’s subconscious and what she manifests is more horrific and surprising than she could possibly imagine.  Inspired by the lives of Mary & Percy Shelley, Claire Clairmont and Lord Byron, The Waves is a modern look at relationships, sex and deeply rooted psychological conundrums.

The Waves received a workshop and staged reading at Vox Nova Theatre Company in April 2008 and  a production in conjunction with Southwestern College in July 2009.

..an absorbing drama… clever, perceptive writing.. –  San Diego.com

NU

Janet Hayatshahi and Sara Plaisted in the Sledgehammer Theatre production.  Photo: David Lee Cuthbert
Janet Hayatshahi and Sara Plaisted in the Sledgehammer Theatre production. Photo: David Lee Cuthbert

NU

by Kirsten Brandt

Part I: Mr. Phosphorescence 5+ actors non gender specific; 20 minutes

Part III: Wintering 4 women, 2 men, 30 minutes

Told entirely without words.   In Mr. Phosphorescence, a man awakes to the grotesque absurdity in his mundane world.  In Wintering, inspired by the poetry of Sylvia Plath, haunting images collide with colossal force as a lost soul makes a mortal choice.  

NU received its world premiere, Sledgehammer Theatre November 2003.  The play received a San Diego Playbill Award for “Outstanding Choreography.”

 

 

The Mechanic's Daughter

4 women, 3men, 2 children 

running time: 90 minutes (no intermission)

Based on MEDEA by Euripides, The Mechanic’s Daughter is set in modern day suburbia.  

The Mechanic’s Daughter received a reading at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2005 and is pending publication.

 

The Open Door

5-6 actors (flexible)

running time: 300 minutes (no intermission)

adapted from the short story by Margaret Oliphant (1881)

A young boy has gotten very ill.  He tells his father that someone needs their help – a voice coming from the ruins of a house.  Is it the supernatural?

The Open Door received a reading with Wicked Lit at the Huntington (LA) in August 2015

 

 

Yellow

4 women

running time: 13 minutes

 

Created for the Union Women Actors’ Coalition (UWAC)  “EmpoweringWomen” Play festival to benefit the Contra Costa College Foundation, Sept 2015.  The writing prompt was #yesallwomen.