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plays by Leon Martell

Leon Martell: Full-Length Plays

Bea[u]tiful In The Extreme


Colony Theatre Production

Character Breakdown: 10 Either male or female

Set/Technical: Simple Unit Set
Running Time: 2 hours

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Reviews:

"This land we saw will never be the same, no matter what we do..." Playwright Leon Martell boldly harnesses that sentiment in a spellbinding exploration of Lewis and Clark’s 1804–1806 expedition — and Lewis’ own tormented personal odyssey... Martell seamlessly melds flashbacks and dream sequences, from President Thomas Jefferson’s (Kenneth Martines) tapping Lewis to lead the mission to heroic, hilarious and heart-rending events along the trail."

L.A. WEEKLY., Martín Hernández

"... The playwright makes effective use of Lewis's journals... Martell's taut script takes advantage of its opportunities for humor and their very sparseness and simplicity, appropriate to the spare pioneering style, gives director David Rose a chance to enhance them, which he does with astute timing. "

CurtainUp - The Internet Theater Magazine, Laura Hitchcock

"..Leon Martell's epic world-premiere narrative... sticks with us in a deep, complicated way... Martell has found and heightened a recognizable archetype: the lone American dreamer whose ambitions always outdo his achievements... Lewis didn't just make history--he unleashed it on an unsuspecting continent, and he quickly grew to hate what he'd done. ---Martell deftly weaves strands of back story, exposition, dates and names, longitudes and latitudes. This kind of time-splicing infotainment is a lot tougher than it looks, and Martell-- --pulls it off surpassingly well, skimping on neither the info nor the entertainment. ... The second act's rousing, climactic descent down the Columbia River to the Pacific Coast could not be simpler, more primal, or more exhilarating. In the end... We are all of us in that same tilted boat with Lewis and his crew."

Backstage West, Rob Kendt

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STEEL

John Henry and the Shaker

Character Breakdown: 9M, 3F

Set/Technical: Single unit set 4 musicians. (some actors can double as musicians.) - Piano, guitar, bass, percussion, and recorded "industrial track." • 14 songs and underscored work and contest scenes. • Suggest multiracial cast. At least some characters should be African American.
Running Time: 2 hours

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"The Legend of John Henry, the steel driving man who gave up his life in a titanic clash of man and machine, would seem a natural for a musical... Leon Martell opts for an appropriate heroic interpretation of the legend... Martell understands the importance of those archetypes. His John Henry... is a legend incarnate- noble, sage, larger than life. Yet Martell wisely balances the legendary with a gripping coming of age story. that of young Willy, John Henry's "shaker," i.e. the young man who performed the perilous task of holding the steel rod steady for John Henry's pounding hammer...

L.A. Times, L.A. Times

"Steel" the Oasis Theater Company's new musical... is more than a fable brought to life. ... "Steel" is a sweaty, pounding chamber piece... a rich and exciting two hours.... The series is called "Hot Properties" and Oasis' "Steel" unquestionably belongs under that rubric.

Los Angeles Daily News, Evan Henerson

This year started out with some fine presentations and this one is sure to make many of the "BEST OF..." lists that always surface at the end of the year...

reviewplays.com

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The History of Fairfax - According to a Sandwich


Cowboy oil magnate E. B. Gilmore and "Gilmore" the lion.

Character Breakdown: 7M, 3F

Set/Technical: Multi-purpose playing area that can be transformed with a few props.
Running Time: 2 hours

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Reviews:

...an excellent model for other neighborhood-themed plays. The Fairfax area might be more colorful than most neighborhoods - but maybe it just seems so because of the skill of playwright Leon Martell and a chameleonic cast...

Los Angeles Times, Don Shirley

While eating at Canter’s Deli, playwright Leon Martell noticed a menu item called the Billy Gray sandwich, named after the ‘50s standup who ran the Band Box on Fairfax Avenue. As a character points out in Martell’s artfully panoramic history play ..., the late headliner is now chopped liver. Martell uses the wisecracking Gray as a narrator who, with nine other actors playing multiple roles, re-enacts scenes that range from a mastodon getting stuck in the Tar Pits, to A.F. Gilmore’s discovery of oil on his cattle ranch at Third and Fairfax. Veronica Lake and Lou Costello also put in appearances, as does the L.A. Free Clinic in its violent, fledgling years during the late ‘60s... ...when you walk out onto Fairfax after the play, you can feel how Martell has enriched our appreciation of it with his ghost stories.

L.A. Weekly, Steven Leigh Morris

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Mooncalf

Character Breakdown: 4M, 2F

Set/Technical: Multi-purpose/unit set serving primarily as foctory.
Running Time: 2 hours

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Reviews:

Leon Martell doesn't play it safe... It's a bold attempt to merge John Steinbeck's naturalism with David Lynch's magic realism. ... When "Mooncalf" plunges under the surface of working-class routine, the writing and acting erupt with potent theatrical effects. Apparitions emerge from steaming vats of toxic waste. A pet calf becomes symbolic of polluted nature.

L.A. Times, Richard Stayton

"As it is repeatedly suggested during the course of Leon Martell's stark drama... viewers may feel the urge to "wash off" after it's all done. For Martell's quasi-autobiographical play is definitely not afraid to get down and dirty ... and some of the grime and grit remains.

Drama-Logue, Elias Stimac

...riveting and poignant...I highly recommend "Mooncalf."

Entertainment File - KCLA - KLAS, KPRO, Gerri Garner

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Hard-hat Area

Character Breakdown: 3M, 3F

Set/Technical: Multi-purpose palying area.
Running Time: 1hr. 45 min.

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Leon Martell's latest play is exceptionally imaginative and often as explosive as the plutonium carried by Hank, the central figure.

Drama-Logue, Bruce Feld

With chilling results, playwright Leon Martell delivers a well-written and surreal black comedy, exposing the dark side of science's efforts to benefit global corporatism under the guise of aiding the world...

L. A. Weekly, Martin Hernandez

Leon Martell knows droll...

Los Angeles Times., Kathleen Folley

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Leon Martell: One-Act Plays

Feed Them Dogs

Character Breakdown: 4M, 2F

Set/Technical: Single set - trailer/shack and surroundings
Running Time: 45 minutes

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In "Feed Them Dogs" playwright-director Leon Martell leads a precise ensemble in a poetic, excruciatingly funny elegy to a lost American Past. On a break from electronics school, John pays a squirming courtesy call to his rural Vermont mountain cousins. There he is held hostage to the suffocating hospitality of his matriarch aunt, her chortling husband, and their inbred offspring. John eventually tears himself away, but not before recoiling in the horror and guilt of recognizing in this strange brood an essential, half forgotten part of himself. In the process, Martell underlines the deeper tragedy of an eccentric mountain family whose anachronistic embrace of Revolutionary American values, (the primacy of family, the sanctity of land)has left them grotesque caricatures, tragically out of step in a post industrial semiconductor culture.

L.A. Weekly, Bill Raden

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Hoss Drawin'

Character Breakdown: 1M, 1F

Set/Technical: A card table, a clip board, a bull horn and a bungie cord... some plastic pennants would be nice.
Running Time: 35 minutes

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Leon Martell: Ten-Minute Plays

Gingersnap and Scissors Face

Character Breakdown: 1M, 1F

Set/Technical: Simple playing area. Perhaps a fence.
Running Time: 12 Minutes

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Bleeding Sergeants

Character Breakdown: 2M, 1F

Set/Technical: A cafe table and chairs.

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