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Pen

ORIGINAL MUSICAL

Pen
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Paul, an advertising executive, is reeling from a recent breakup, so he starts corresponding with Rod, an incarcerated man in another state. While Rod deals with life behind bars and an antagonistic prison guard, Paul tries unsuccessfully to keep his pen pal a secret from his co-workers, one of whom is frantically planning her wedding.

Meanwhile, Paul's ex-boyfriend is trying to win him back. The letters continue and develop into more of a relationship than either man was expecting, and neither knows how to handle the feelings that have blossomed between them.


SYNOPSIS


Act 1 Scene 1
Rod, a prisoner, is replying to a letter from Paul, who is working at an advertising firm in another state. (1. Dear Paul) Paul’s co-workers Lee and Susan arrive and chat with him while Rod writes about his life in prison and asks for more letters from Paul. While he writes, the prison guard Crowley taunts him. At the office, Susan asks Paul how he’s doing following his breakup with Grayson after four years together. Paul deflects, saying he is fine. He is not. (2. Why I Write) Paul writes a letter back to Rod telling him a bit more about himself, and sends it to the printer in his office. Lee approaches Paul about an upcoming meeting, delaying him from getting the letter from the printer. Susan finds the letter and asks Paul about it. Paul avoids the discussion by leaving for the meeting, but Susan warns him that they will discuss it upon his return. Rod asks Crowley (who he has nicknamed Crow) to take a photo that he can send to Paul, but Crowley refuses. Paul returns to find Susan waiting for him to explain the letter. He swears her to secrecy. Meanwhile, Rod continues to write (3. Another Letter from Rod) His letters start to get more and more racy, but Paul enjoys it.

Scene 2
Paul and Susan wait for Lee at the office. She has a “big announcement” and they speculate. Susan asks Paul how his correspondence with Rod is going. Lee arrives to show them her engagement ring. Grayson arrives to return some of Paul’s things to him. Grayson tells Paul that he misses him and regrets the breakup. (4. We Should Hang Out) In an attempt to put Grayson off, Paul says he’s seeing someone else. Susan hears this as she enters and, once Grayson leaves, confronts Paul, asking if his prison pen-pal is keeping him from meeting someone “real.” Paul doesn’t entirely tell Susan the truth about how the letters have been getting more and more personal, saying they are more a hobby than anything. Paul tells her not to be concerned. (5. I Get to Worry) He lets her read a letter.

Scene 3
Rod and Paul continue to write, opening up to each other more and more. Paul writes that Susan now knows about him, and Crowley teases him about this. Rod lashes out at Crowley, who sends him back to his cell.

Scene 4
Paul and Susan drink wine after work and talk about the letters to Rod and the breakup with Grayson, who still wants to get back together. Susan grills Paul about the sexual nature of the letters and Paul gives her a few examples of their fantasies. (6. The Letters) Susan realizes that Paul’s fantasies are more romantic, and she worries.

Scene 5
More letters between Paul and Rod, but now they start fantasizing about meeting in real life, which is next to impossible, given Rod’s prison sentence of 13 years. Crowley warns Rod to stop writing before he hurts Paul, and himself. Meanwhile, the office is buzzing about Paul meeting Grayson at the gym. Paul insists they are not dating again, and that it is a friendly get-together. Susan accidentally slips and tells Lee about Rod. (7. Tell Me) Lee is also concerned, and the two women insist on writing a letter to Rod themselves.

Scene 6
Crowley gives Rod his letters, including the one from Lee and Susan. They threaten him, warning Rod not to hurt their friend Paul. (8. Don’t Piss Off the Girlfriends) Rod angrily writes back to the three of them, saying that his relationship with Paul is none of their business and that they should back off. He asks Paul if he wants to continue or not. The girls apologize to an agitated Paul, who considers how to fix things. Grayson arrives and Paul confronts him about wanting to reunite. Grayson seems noncommittal, so Paul asks him to back off. He writes back to Rod, explaining that Rod’s letters make him happy, and he wants to keep writing. Rod replies, and in that letter confesses his love for Paul. Paul is shocked. (9. Little Words) Paul returns the sentiment. Back at the jail, Crowley tells Rod he has a visitor, claiming to be his wife.

Act 2 Scene 1
Lee and Susan ask Paul about how things are progressing, while Crowley warns Rod about keeping secrets from Paul after finding out that Rod was married. (10. Secrets) Lee is planning her upcoming wedding and they talk about marriage.

Scene 2
Susan gives Paul a printout of Lee’s wedding reception seating chart. Lee has Paul sitting with Grayson, and Paul rails at Lee for trying to get them back together. Lee lashes out, telling Paul that he will comply because it’s her wedding day. (11. Happy Fucking Day) Paul writes to Rod about the wedding and the two of them share fantasies that are more romantic than sexual. (12. Someday, Maybe) Grayson stops by to offer Paul a gift, an entire box of his favorite hard-to-find candy bars. Paul is touched and relents, saying he will sit with Grayson at the wedding reception. Rod, fearing that Paul might be drifting away, confesses about the true nature of his crimes and asks Paul to stay in their pen-pal relationship, because he still loves him. Paul is torn (13. I Should Have Stuck With Me) Lee jumps on Paul, saying he needs to figure out what he wants from the relationship with Rod. While Rod reads a letter about Lee’s wedding, we see it play out on stage. Paul and Grayson have had a few drinks at the reception, and Grayson once again pursues Paul. (14. Let’s Dance the Way We Used To) Paul is tempted, and Grayson drops to one knee and proposes to Paul. Rod senses something isn’t right from this letter and gets agitated.

Scene 3
Susan and Lee are at the office; the Monday after Lee returns from her honeymoon. Lee tells her about the trip and mentions that Paul took the day off. Susan wonders why, and they discover a message telling them he went to meet Rod in person, in prison. Grayson comes by the office to see Paul and the women have to tell him that Paul has left town. He tells them about proposing to Paul, to their surprise. After finding out Paul went to meet Rod, Grayson angrily exits. At the prison, Paul and Rod meet face-to-face for the first time. Rod is thrilled that Paul is there, until Paul confronts him about his secret ex-wife. Rod pleads with Paul, professing his love, while Paul debates. Rod begs Paul to stay in the relationship (15. Inside Your Words) Paul is not convinced; between the lies and the length of Rod’s incarceration, he doesn’t see how they can move forward. Rod, seeing he’s about to lose Paul, confesses his last secret. He has a life sentence, and the letters are his only solace. Paul decides to leave, going back home while Rod looks at how the letters have changed his life, for better or worse. (16. Go On)

QUOTE


An intriguing and unusual musical comedy.

–Times Square Chronicles


Characters:

Paul: Works for an ad firm, any race, late 20s.

Rod: The prisoner, Caucasian, early 30s.

Grayson: Paul's ex, any race, mid 20s.

Lee: Paul's coworker, any race, 20s.

Susan: Paul's coworker, any race, 40s.

Crowley: Guard at the prison, African-American, 50s.

Setting: Early 2000s
Split stage, Paul’s World (usually the office) and Rod’s World (the prison)

  1. Dear Paul
  2. Why I Write
  3. Another Letter From Rod
  4. We Should Hang Out
  5. I Get to Worry
  6. The Letters
  7. Tell Me
  8. Don't Piss Off the Girlfriend
  9. Little Words
  10. Secrets
  11. Happy Fucking Day
  12. Someday, Maybe
  13. I Should Have Stuck With Me
  14. Let's Dance the Way We Used To
  15. Inside Your Words
  16. Go On

Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement.

“The entire romance is cultivated through nothing more than written correspondence. In a modern world of texting, snapchat, e-mail, and a plethora of additional electronic communication formats, I found the concept of the handwritten love letters of Pen enthralling.”

–Times Square Chronicles

"An intriguing and unusual musical comedy."

–Times Square Chronicles

Materials: 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.

Required production materials for PEN:

  • Cast Scripts
  • Vocal Books
  • Director's Script
  • Stage Manager's Script
  • Orchestrations
  • Piano/Vocal Score
  • Piano/Conductor score

Orchestrations:

  • Percussion (Drum, Woodblocks, Ratchet, Triangle, Shaker)
  • Violin
  • Cello
  • Reed (Bb Clarinet, Bass Clarinet)

Production resources:

  • Performance Tracks
  • Reference Recording
  • Rehearsal Tracks