July 5, 1939. Down-on-his-luck palooka “Punchy” Lane is set to take on undefeated boxing champion Kid Dakota for the middleweight championship of the world. In this exciting new play, we see the unusual circumstances that bring champ and chump together in the ring.
2018 SETC/Stage Rights Ready to Publish Award Finalist.
We are set in New York City. The year is 1939. Punchy Lane is an ex-contender for the middle weight crown who today is reduced to touring in a vaudeville show as the punch-drunk ex-boxer. His manager and co-star, Lydia Ware, takes care of Punchy but obviously cares much more about the money than she does about him. In a conversation after their show one night, Lydia realizes how close Punchy once came to an actual title fight back when he was known as “Lightning” instead of “Punchy.” Dollar signs begin to swim through Lydia’s head and she concocts a scheme to get Punchy back into the ring.
Enlisting the help of a down-on-his-luck ex-champion, Charlie Kayo Nelson, Lydia begins to plot Punchy’s return to the ring. Charlie agrees to take a dive in a return fight against Punchy. Meanwhile Lydia convinces Gloria Farnsworth, the city’s leading sports journalist, to look the other way to what was an obvious set up and help promote the idea of a title shot between the suddenly reborn Punchy and the champion: Kid Dakota
Max Jordan is the manager of Kid Dakota. An honest man who would normally never consider a fight against an opponent who has no business being in the ring, Max reluctantly agrees to the match between the Kid and Punchy. Kid Dakota is such a devastating fighter that possible opponents have become scarce. The match is made, but Punchy wavers in his determination. Lydia, who knows Punchy better than anyone, finally convinces him that this is a chance to earn not only a title, but to get his old nickname back. “Punchy” wants to be “Lightning” again. As he stands in the corner about to hear the bell, Punchy can only hear the beating of his heart. He finally has his title shot.
It is seven years earlier: 1932. Kid Dakota came to New York to be a dancer. A chance run in with Charlie Kayo Nelson ends up with Nelson on the floor from a devastating left hook. This convinces Max Jordan that he has found the perfect fighter in Kid Dakota. But the Kid has a secret and is afraid to embark on a boxing career. Max convinces the Kid that that there is a ton of money to be made boxing, more than enough to fulfill the Kid’s goal of buying a little ranch back home in South Dakota.
The Kid’s rise through the boxing ranks is remarkable. Gloria Farnsworth, who develops romantic feelings towards the Kid, helps the world get to know this shy, reclusive fighter. As the Kid’s popularity swells and a title fight is inevitable, and the Kid hesitates to meet the current champion: Charlie. Pushed by one and all, the Kid finally does meet Charlie again, this time in the ring for all the marbles. Of course the Kid wins. For maybe the first time in his life, Charlie is humble as he turns the championship belt over to the Kid.
As the years roll by and the wins pile up, eventually Kid Dakota begins to run out of opponents. Max and the Kid reluctantly decide to turn to Punchy Lane, a washed-up has-been who is fighting mostly as a publicity gimmick. Back to where Act One ended, Kid Dakota and Punchy Lane finally face one another in the ring. After the fight, older and wiser to the corruption of their sport, the Kid and Punchy disappear together to that little ranch back in South Dakota.
Lydia Ware - Late 30s, a vaudeville comic and entrepreneur
“Punchy” Lane - Early 40s, a punch-drunk ex-middleweight contender
Charley “Kayo” Nelson - Early 40s, the former middleweight champion who has a gambling problem
Gloria Farnsworth - Mid 30s, a sports journalist full of self-importance
Max Jordan - Mid 50s, a boxing manager trying to be honest in a dishonest sport
Mary Thompson - 20, a young dancer from South Dakota trying to hit the big time in New York City
Note: The play jumps back and forth in time, so the ages given for the characters are their ages at their initial appearance.
Setting: The play takes place in various locations in New York City.
Note: The stage should mostly be bare. A few set pieces may be present, but it will probably be better to have them brought onto the set as needed: A desk, a table, some chairs. The scenes must flow directly from one to the next, however, without pause. Perhaps ropes can outline the set to give it a boxing ring feel.
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Materials: your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date and will include everything necessary for your production and can be ordered in Printed or Digital format. Printed Materials are provided on unbound three-hole punched loose-leaf paper while digital Materials are provided via email as downloadable PDF files for you to print in-house. All materials are yours to keep! No deposits, no returns.
The production materials for Kid Dakota include:
Official Logo Pack Now Included! To help you promote your show, Stage Rights now includes a logo pack with your license. The logo pack includes high resolution versions (both color and black and white) of our professionally designed show logo.
Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.