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plays by Steve Totland

Steve Totland: Full-Length Plays

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Roger and Guy have a great life; Roger’s Assistant Manager at Donut World, Guy’s got a steady girl. Plus, Guy’s gonna graduate high school. In June. They go go-carting, eat cold lasagna, and listen to heavy metal. Father and Son; Best Friends Forever. Not perfect; but good enough. Then, things change. In ways Roger and Guy would never expect. Suddenly, good enough no longer makes it. Guy wants more. Roger’s not sure more is even possible. How do you get more, if it means leaving behind everything you know and everyone you love?

Character Breakdown: 3M, 2F

Set/Technical: Two location: one interior, one exterior.
Running Time: 110 minutes



Winner; New Play Competition, Centre Stage Theatre, Greenville, SC



Workshop Production: Center Stage Theatre; Greenville, SC.


Staged reading: Great Plains Theatre Festival; Omaha, NE.

Staged reading: s2s2s; Palm Springs, CA.

Staged reading: The Road Theatre Company; Los Angeles, CA.


Staged reading: Cypress College Theatre Festival; Cypress, CA.



David and Denise have been married for ten years. An unexpected turn of events reveals a deceptive component in David's personality. Denise, anxious to save her marriage, enacts a deception of her own. The resulting situation sets in motion a chain of events that exposes the tenuous nature of David and Denise's happiness and threatens to destroy their relationship.

Focused on what is said in the silences that exist between friends and lovers, Swimming tells the story of a marriage in crisis and the deceptions desperate lovers are willing to engage as they struggle to revitalize their relationship.

Set/Technical: Unit set suggesting multiple locations.

Production History:


The Road Theatre Company; Los Angeles, CA


Repeatedly going against expectations, playwright Steve Totland infuses his play SWIMMING with layer upon layer of surprises. Like peeling a shiny red apple with a rotten core, the play begins with a portrayal of a happy marriage, then gradually exposes the devestating cycle of victimization and betrayal beneath the pretty exterior.

The Los Angeles Times, F. Kathleen Foley

A clever play with crisply effective dialogue and an exceptional ensemble of actors, who must endure a nightly emotionally unraveling, both sincere and heartfelt.

Backstage West, Travis Michael Holder

Steve Totland's sophisticated play examines the way lies and deceit can bring devestation to a relationship that was meant to last forever. Cinematic in flavor, it's a play for grownups that isn't afraid to address troubling themes.

Studio City Sun, Pauline Adamek



Staged Reading: Festival of New North American Writing; London, England


Staged Reading: Fullerton New Play Festival; Fullerton, CA


Finalist: Denver Center Theatre Company US West New Play Festival


Reading: ASK Theatre Projects; Los Angeles, CA


Division Street:America

In the mid-1960s, Studs Terkel sat down with Chicagoans of all ages and asked them about their lives, their hopes, their views on racism, depression and their fears about war. Out of these interviews he crafted Division Street: America, a portrait of the American psyche at the mid-century. This adaptation maintains the fluidity of Terkel's ground-breaking book, while focusing its attention of some of Terkel's youngest interviewees.

Character Breakdown: 4M, 4F

Set/Technical: Unit set; minimal tech.

Production History:


Steppenwolf Theatre


The division of wealth and race the book's title suggests remains with us. The people of that time emerge as real folks for our times too. They are people whose aims and frustrations continue to resonate in the new millennium.

The Chicago Tribune, Richard Christiansen

This may be a time trip, but we always feel we are in the present tense.

The Chicago Reader, Lawrence Bommer

. . .the 70-minute adaptation features an incisive, sophisticated adaptation by Steve Totland. . . . these characters spin out their personal stories, suggesting both the mood of the 60s and what may and may not have changed in the interim.

The Chicago Sun-Times, Hedy Weiss


Home Sick for Rain

Home Sick for Rain takes place in a shabby bungalow in the hills of east Los Angeles. Inside the house, two brothers and their rapidly deteriorating father fight for the right to retain the family's inheritance. Moving seamlessly between the character's present and their past, the story exists as a kind of fevered, drought-induced dream.

Character Breakdown: 5M, 1F

Set/Technical: One set; interior.
Running Time: 100 minutes



Workshop; Ensemble Studio Theatre (LA)


Reading; Resonance Ensemble at The Ohio Theatre, New York City

Reading; Pasadena Playhouse

Reading; Boston Court


Strange Case

A contemporary re-thinking of Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this adaptation focuses on the issue of culpability. Three of Jekyll's friends investigate the limits of their own responsibility as they re-examine the events leading to Jekyll's demise. The play, performed by six men (each of whom plays multiple roles) uses puppets to represent the characters who are victims of Hyde's rage.

Character Breakdown: 6M

Set/Technical: Unit set repreesnting multiple locations. Puppets.

Production History:


Lifeline Theatre


Steve Totland is a sharp, gifted writer whose stage adaptations of literary works have an eccentric bite and an appealingly absurdist sense of humor.

The Chicago Sun-Times, Hedy Weiss

[Totland's] adaptation. . .restores the story's inherent creppiness, rescuing it from the Grand Guignol kitsch of the Broadway musical, more than a dozen films, and one pretty awful early WHO song.

The Chicago Reader, Adam Langer


Steve Totland: One-Act Plays


Is cheddar popcorn kosher? Should a bathroom open onto the kitchen? How do you treat the girl who is having your girlfriend's son's baby; especially since she sees no reason to get married?

Character Breakdown: 2M, 2F

Set/Technical: One set; interior.
Running Time: 20 minutes

Production History:


stageworks/Hudson; Hudson, New York


Steve Totland: Ten-Minute Plays

Face Value

Aaron is afraid he has bumps. His request for Miranda and Robert to tell him what they see throws them into a moral quagmire. Should they tell him the truth? Should they spare his feelings? What, exactly, is the best thing to say to a needy friend?

Character Breakdown: 2M, 1F

Set/Technical: One set; interior; dining room
Running Time: 10 minutes



Nominated by Actors Theatre of Louisville for the Heideman Award.


The Racing Life

When Guy (early teens) learns his favorite band has fired their drummer, he fantasizes that his father (Roger) will be hired as the replacement. Hoping to convince Roger he is up to the task, Guy shares his fantasy of what life will be like for them living on the road with a rock band. Roger, for his part, struggles to make Guy understand he is not up to the job.

Character Breakdown: 2M

Set/Technical: One set; interior; teen boy's bedroom

Production History:


Herring Run Theatre Festival


Virginia Avenue Project


Sympathy for the Devil

Artemis and Hyacinth (both in their late teens) have been friends for as long as they can remember. A civil war finds them fighting on opposing sides. Now, sent by their commanders to broker a secret peace, each must choose between loyal to their past friendship and devotion to a new cause.

Character Breakdown: 2M

Set/Technical: One unit set. No special technical requirements.
Running Time: Twelve minutes

Production History:


Virginia Avenue Project


Steve Totland: Plays for Solo Performer

A Taste for Turkish Coffee

A man tells the story of a woman's desire to understand her son's passion for a woman she finds unlovely.

Character Breakdown: 1M

Set/Technical: Open stage
Running Time: 10 minutes