by Alan David Perkins
Copyright © 1993
Don Gormanly and Ted Frank from
Beari Productions' presentation of "Standard Deviation."
Dr. Eli Kronenberg is a biochemist who has discovered a way to raise
anyone's I.Q. by fifteen points, or one standard deviation. In an effort to
carve his name in history he contaminates the water supply of a small,
unsuspecting town in rural Alabama in order to study the effects on an
entire city. But, as the play begins, he gets caught trespassing, gets
thrown in jail and now has to answer to the town's Sheriff, who reigns over
the tiny town with an iron fist and is now forced to deal with everyone in
his town suddenly getting a little bit smarter.
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DEPUTY CHIP TURNER - Male, early 20's. Stillman's Corner's Deputy.
Chip isn't the brightest bulb in the ocean. Sure, he means well and he
has a big heart, but he's a follower and, if it weren't for the string of
events that occur during this play, he'd be a follower his while life.
DR. ELI KRONENBERG - Male, 30's. A sharp, edgy, angry, sarcastic,
very brilliant biochemist from Columbia University. Eli has a lot of
passion about what he does, which, of course, makes him give little regard
for anyone who stands in his way. He does, however, have a huge ego,
which allows him to brag and give away important secrets to anyone who
MOZELLE HUTTO - Female, 40's+ (or roughly the same age as the
Sheriff). The Sheriff's wife. Alluring, forceful and practical
but a big flirt as well. Mozelle is possibly the only human alive who
is an equal match for the Sheriff. With the right mindset she could
run for President. The problem is, she has been raised to NOT have
that mind set, thus making Mozelle her own worst enemy.
SHERIFF WAYNE HUTTO - Male, 40's+. The Sheriff of Stillman=s Corner. Very broad caricature - large
and loud. Sheriff Hutto (pronounced HUT-toe) is bigger than life in
both size and stature, and he likes that. He's a control freak who saw
the opportunity to foster his mania. Everything always goes his way
and if it doesn=t, he=s not beneath using force. He
knows the law and uses it to his advantage whenever he can.
NITA-KAY ZIRLOTT - Female, 19. The Deputy=s fiancé. Mousey, quiet and naíve,
Nita-Kay is what Mozelle was raised to be. She believes that her
purpose in life is to raise children and do whatever her husband tells her
to. Unfortunately, Nita-Kay is a dreamer and wants desperately to know
what's happening beyond the end of her own nose. Either due to her
sweet nature or the fact that she is on the path Mozelle felt she should
have been, the Sheriff has a huge soft spot for her.
DR. JOANNE KING - Female, 30's. Psychologist/biochemist who has
been studying Eli=s findings.
Joanne is a little on the effected side, feeling a touch superior as she
enjoys being an Academic. She's a bit of a snob, though pleasant
enough in her own way. Still, she looks at the people of Stillman's
Corner as nothing more than "subjects" in this experiment.
BILLY LADNIER - Male, mid- to late 40's. Manager of the wire plant in
Stillman's Corner. Billy Ladnier doesn't look comfortable in a tie,
but he has to fit the role of someone corporate. He's a bit of a
nervous wreck, but a true representation of the local flavor. He works
hard and is a respected person in the community (and a close, personal
friend of the Sheriff as well).
110 - 120 minutes.
The play takes place in the Sheriff's office in the fictional town of
Stillman's Corner -- a tiny rural community in West Central Alabama. The
office is small, cluttered and dusty; almost comically clichéd -- with a
desk, a small jail cell and front door.
The play is in two acts, the first taking place in the Sheriff's office
in Stillman's Corner on a fall morning, and the second taking place the next
day. Act 2 is divided into two scenes.
Rene Bendana and Don Gormanly from
Beari Productions' presentation of "Standard Deviation."
I lived a majority of my life in Alabama. On a recent visit, I began
to appreciate the differences between living in a tiny, rural town versus,
well, New York City.
My wife and I would frequently play with the fact that our I.Q.'s were
tested as being 3 points apart (mine was higher) and this was the source of
much ribbing between us, though we knew it meant nothing. Somehow I came up
with this idea of bringing the two together with this story (also, watching
some episodes of "Cops" helped).
The original title was "3 Points," but after a suggestion of my friend
and colleague, Jordan Auslander, and some studying up on I.Q.s and the
testing of such, I went with "Standard Deviation" -- which also has cultural
ramifications as well. Though the characters are drawn with extremely broad
brush strokes, this play became one of my most solid comedies.
CONTACTING THE PLAYWRIGHT:
The entire script of
Standard Deviation is available upon request
from the playwright. No
production of this play can take place without permission from the
from the Pasadena Star News
A gem at Theatre Americana
by Frances Baum Nicholson
Theatre Americana in Altadena has spent the last three quarters of a
century or thereabouts, producing untried plays. It's quite an adventure.
Even after narrowing down the scripts from 200 to the four they actually
produce each year, the results are often a rather mixed bag. Then, every
once in a while, one discovers a true gem.
"Standard Deviation" by Alan David Perkins is such a jewel. The idea is a
kick, the actors range from passable to quite good, and the evening proves
quite entertaining. More importantly, director Lisa Covell has managed to
give the piece a pacing and a style that show off the best of what Theatre
Americana can do.
It's an entertaining concept. A scientist has come up with an additive
that he believes can be used to significantly increase people's
intelligence. In a strictly illegal experiment, he dumps the stuff into the
water supply of the tiny town of Stillman's Corner, Alabama, and waits to
see what effect it will have. However, in doing so he trespasses, and ends
up in the town jail, seeing the effects of his experiments only as people
come in and out of the jail house door.
As it turns out, there are as many down sides to becoming more
intelligent as there are advantages. Andy Forrest is Eli, the unfortunate
scientist. Of the entire cast, he is the most "by the book" portrayal.
Though it works well enough for the comedy to continue, one never believes
he is a Jewish, judgmental New Yorker. If one could, the laughter would flow
even more freely.
It's the cast around Forrest that keeps this from really bothering
anyone. Paul Anderson makes an attractively practical sheriff, settled well
into a job he truly enjoys. Todd Kraus has a field day as the somewhat dopey
Lisa Natale seems sometimes a bit exaggerated as the sheriff's
hot-to-trot wife, but has several fun moments. Virginia Speckman becomes the
soul of innocence as the deputy's girl, and Billy Ferguson brings a
practical likeability to the criminal who is also the sheriff's best friend.
Elizabeth Finn shows truly well-honed comic timing as the fellow scientist
who comes to aid Eli in his work.
Yet, the true star is the script, at least as Covell has presented it.
Often playing against stereotype, it offers real comedy as well as certain
insight on the human condition. The characters have a sense of realness to
them, which is often quite engaging. You like these people. You care about
how they react to being changed.
"Standard Deviation" might not be ready for Broadway yet, but it offers
charm, freshness and even a little wisdom along the way.
Go see this diamond in the rough.
from the Queens Courier
Prolific Playwright Presents 'Standard Deviation'
by Cliff Kasden
Don Gormanly, Dolores Voyer and
Rene Bendana from Beari Productions' presentation of "Standard Deviation."
What if you were suddenly smarter than the average person? What if your
entire town's IQ jumped 15 points (one standard deviation)? That's the
wickedly wry premise behind playwright Alan David Perkins' original comedy.
Though not originally from Queens, playwright Perkins has used his life
experiences in New York, Alabama and New England to amass an exceptionally
prolific portfolio. It includes 17 full length plays, eight one-act
plays, TV and video credits, cabaret and sketch comedy, two screenplays and
experience as a producer/director. Perkins is also an accomplished
French horn player and high school band director. However, his most
challenging role is as playwright for his wife Miriam's 5th graders.
He has written more than a half dozen original works for as many as 70
elementary school kids and their drama club.
Perkins' energy is not restricted to the keyboard. He is a founding
member of Theatre on a Limb and Developmental Stages in New York. His
accolades include honors from 21 national playwriting competitions.
Perkins will occasionally perform on stage as well. I recently chatted
with Alan, who shared some additional feelings on his writing life.
Miriam P. Denu from Beari
Productions' presentation of "Standard Deviation."
In the current stage production of "Standard Deviation," the setting is a
small town in Alabama, Stillman's Corner. "No Freudian slips here," he
quips. "The name is a variation of Tillman's Corner, a small town
right outside Mobile." Raised in the south, Perkins writes what he
knows. "I went for authenticity in both the culture and the
vernacular. I relied on what I refer to as shortsightedness -- there's
not a vast grasp of the whole world. But everything is isolated in
their own community."
The play unfolds entirely in the sheriff's office of the small southern
hamlet. "The office is small, cluttered and dusty; almost comically
clichéd." The use of just one main set is a recurrent technique for
Perkins. "The easier a play is to produce, the more likely someone
will produce it!" He has used this strategy to great success in his
popular comedy, "Nobody Knows I'm a Dog" in which Internet relationships are
Perkins shares some insights into the psyche of a playwright. In
his comedy "Wedded Blitz" he purges a personally bad relationship. In
"A Dish of Food," the author indulges in some emotional house cleaning.
"It works for Neil Simon! Later, I learned to disguise my
housecleaning better with plays like 'Rubber Duckies in a Row' and 'Second
Bananas' [which was performed by Queens' Parkside Players]." He adds,
"Everything can't be a one set/seven character drawing room farce. As
an author, I do feel an obligation to teach some sort of message."
Stevens Dramatic Society - November 11, 12 & 13, 2004
The Stevens Dramatic Society is a student-run theatrical organization sponsored by the Student Government Association of Stevens Institute of Technology.
The Society was founded in 1910 and is the oldest continuously operating student group on campus. Their ever-changing troupe generally produced one show per
semester, a dramatic play during the month of November and a musical production during the month of April.
The show was produced at DeBaun Auditorium on the Stevens campus.
The November 12th performance featured a Q&A after the show with the author,
director and cast.
Producer was Joshua Zawislak, Production Manager was Paul Bennett, Stage Manager was Nicole Young. The play was directed by Christina Cass.
DEPUTY CHIP...................Gus Rath
SHERIFF HUTTO.............Andrew Keane
BILLY LADNIER..........Deagle McNamara
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Beari Productions - October 2003
in Middle Village, Queens, will frequently feature original works.
This production, directed by the playwright, featured Beari co-owner
Rene Bendana and was produced by their other co-owner, Debbie
This production marked the East Coast premiere of
Though the stage was relatively small, use was made of authentic
Alabama flavor. All studied authentic Western Rural Alabama
accents for uniformity. The stage was strategically littered with
artifacts from the University of Alabama and George Wallace.
The set was designed by Abe Ber and Jimmy O'Neal. Stage Manager was
Natalie Candella. Berny Bosio supplied the firearms and John O'Hare
painted the Stillman's Corner backdrop. The play was directed by the author and the cast was
Beari Productions' cast of
L-R: Sylvia Vinall, Donald Gormanly, Dolores Voyer, Rene Bendana,
Bob Acerno, Ted Frank, Miriam P. Denu.
DEPUTY CHIP............Donald Gormanly
SHERIFF HUTTO.............Rene Bendana
JOANNE..................Miriam P. Denu
BILLY LADNIER...............Bob Acerno
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