David Michael Erickson's plays have been produced from coast to coast by theaters such as San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre, the Illusion Theatre, the Playwrights' Center, the CAST Theatre, The Storytalers, The Changing Scene, Barry Productions, Small Change, Dakota Theatre Caravan, as well as universities, colleges, and other venues. He has had staged readings at the Playwrights' Center, New Dramatists, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Phoenix Ensemble, Marcus Productions, the Fairchester Playwrights Series, and various universities and colleges. He is a 7-year Jerome Fellow Playwright-in-Residence and Working Resident Playwright alumnus of the Playwrights' Center (a featured playwright at the Center's 10th Anniversary Season), an alumnus of the Midwest Playwrights Program, and a graduate of the University of Minnesota, summa cum laude, with a degree in playwriting.
The world has shrunk to one room in an abandoned café in the southwestern desert, where hungry local lovers and a starving mercenary take refuge from the howling blizzard outside. Roger retrieves his shotgun to keep the peace, but Brian wrests it away and uses it without hesitation. The firing pin clicks in the empty barrel, however, releasing a hysterical tension but cementing Brian’s authority. Roger plots to regain control, while Adel improvises to keep them alive. But a pattern has been set and they all know it: to survive their tomorrow, not all of them can survive their night.
Danny proposes to his girlfriend while in a balloon piloted, it turns out, by the minister of his wife’s church, Jim. Jim, a troubled man of God, dodged the Vietnam war draft, while his childhood friend Danny, now a reservist, volunteered. On a retirement lark Danny launches a ballooning business, pulling Jim further from the church as his business partner. Danny’s wife Renate, forever dreaming of life as a war widow, seeks vengeance, even if it means destroying her family, her church, and her minister. Will the others float off happily, or will Renate bring them all crashing to earth?
Kelly, taking a gap year before college to live with her sister Elizabeth in New York, falls for Bruce, who is smitten by Nick, who is friends with Elizabeth. Nick is a comic observer of truth, while Bruce is a chronic manipulator of it. And Nick is not well. Bruce is not well, either, but in a very different way: he so emulates Nick that he assumes Nick’s decline. Not out of empathy, however; rather, to bend Kelly to his will. It’s a sticky web that can only unravel in a final reversal of roles and states of being.
Brenda takes the breaking news of her husband Doug’s affair with his campaign manager very hard—it could not have come at a worse time. But is there any truth to it? As the affair unfolds, Brenda’s brother gets caught up in a counterfeit money scheme which turns out to be part of an elaborate FBI sting designed to catch “a public official gone bad,” Doug. Each action sets off another, and in the end pits Brenda and Doug against each other in a general election campaign, each of them on opposite sides in a landscape of shifting ethical boundaries.
Matthew dangles at the end of a rope, broken, in a dim spot of moonlight, calling to his unseen climbing buddy Harvey. He suddenly falls out of the moonlight, his rope trailing after him. Days later Harvey breaks camp, haunted, knowing that to save his own life he had cut the rope holding Matthew. Weeks later Harvey visits Matthew in the hospital—he miraculously survived the accident that he, in fact, had caused. Harvey reverses roles, six stories above the ground, and gives Matthew a chance to cut the rope to save his own life at the expense of Harvey’s.
Who pushed Schoenzimmer down the elevator shaft in the lobby? Sheila or the actress playing her? And who got pushed? Was it Schoenzimmer, the philanthropist sponsor of tonight’s production of Eavesdrop, his real-life double, or the actor playing him? And why? Was it for money, revenge, or to rebalance the world after the tyrannical patriarch’s lifelong abuse of his family, friends, and massive wealth? All questions are answered—mostly—in this start, stop, and restart romp through a troubled performance of an otherwise straightforward comedy about three elderly siblings and their eviction from the rundown home in which they live.
Matthew and Alison heal from a good Himalayan climb gone bad in the high-mountain Colorado residence of Matthew’s former professor and his wife, Basil and Nora. Their new summer-season neighbors, Lisa and Murray—unequipped for air higher than the New Jersey shore—disrupt Matthew’s near monastic recovery, forcing him to confront what he and Alison sought to escape, a fame that Matthew’s recent climb demands. Suddenly snow-bound by an early fall storm while Lisa’s altitude-induced cerebral edema worsens, the three couples find themselves wrestling with conflicting, deeply personal needs, as physical states transition from solid, to liquid, to air.
Flights of the Space Plane are so routine that they barely resonate in the public imagination. Complacency has driven shares of Technocult, a mutual fund based on the stock of difficult technology companies, to new lows. To boost share price and their own bonuses, Technocult executives connive to have a child pilot the next flight as a publicity stunt, and in the process unearth deeply buried information of a design flaw that could cause the plane to explode. Once the plan is in motion, can they—or will they—stop it? How deep is their faith in technology, this time?
Jeffrey and his big brother Edwin have grown apart, but on this day they span distance and time to reconcile, briefly, during a medical emergency. Perhaps it’s the drugs, or perhaps his brother’s presence, but Edwin feels more spry and energetic. Their memories grow physical as they wrestle and belt out the protest songs that rocked their youth, back before a family truth was known to them, a truth later denied then buried. The import of that truth is acknowledged with calm acceptance, as is the import of this particular day when Jeffrey grows older than his big brother.
Three jittery friends lounge at a makeshift lake cabin and debate if Greg, who none have seen in five years, will show up. Boomer schemes a dangerous childhood prank to rekindle the drinking buddy aura of his and Greg’s earlier friendship. When Greg finally arrives, it’s clear none of them have gotten past the death of their mentor, a high-school teacher killed in car accident that Boomer survived five years earlier. In the end Greg cannot escape Boomer’s scheme, so turns the tables instead, exposing the consequences of Boomer’s childhood acts in a manner that threatens them all.
Lucrum Perditio Industries (LPI) just closed a hostile takeover of Arquette that leaves Lenny Rots and Peter Schwarz battling each other for their positions, departments, and people. Peter, from the losing but more ethical Arquette, finds evidence of Lenny’s role in LPI’s shady past that can help him prevail, and he must decide whether to use it, or whether finding it is, in fact, a set up by Lenny. In the end, who wins, Peter or Lenny? And what’s the ethical cost, and the ultimate outcome, of that victory? Who alters who? Is restoration possible after all-out corporate civil war?
Ralph and Pat have finally found in Shelly the right bookkeeper to help manage their riding stable. Shelly has finally found in them the wealthiest mark she will ever con. Caroline, Ralph and Pat’s headstrong teenage daughter, immediately distrusts Shelly. She befriends Brody, Shelly’s wheelchair-bound and heavily medicated husband, and surreptitiously replaces his pills with nutritional supplements. Bit by bit Brody’s fog lifts. He comes to life, and violently takes over the con, forcing Shelly to improvise. Brute force takes the place of finesse as the others, now bound and gagged, reverse the con to save their lives.
Kelly, in crisis at the end of a long slow string of failed relationships, surprises her sister Elizabeth and friend Beau at his Dutchess County retreat as the pandemic takes hold. They all hear a baby that cannot be, but only Kelly can see Nick (the sisters’ friend from years before) and Deb (Beau’s wife), both long dead, who have come to habitate with the three. Nick has arrived to make amends, and Deb has simply been in the way, until memory and events collide in reconciliation. “Every love story is a ghost story.” -David Foster Wallace
A teenage Danny strikes a deal with the possessive dark spirts that consume Missy to take him instead, but at the heavy price of never seeing her again. Daniel, later in life, can’t let go of the pact he made, while Melissa has forgotten the heated imaginings of childhood. Melissa’s estranged and jealous husband Garth, on a desperate spiritual quest, sparks a crisis. The characters, past and present, connect, then switch. Are they permanently lost, or can they switch back? A confrontation with Garth can set things straight and reconstruct their past, but to what end, and at what cost?
Ten, ten-minute, two-character, one-act plays, same characters, different combinations, one story. The Bio Age grinds on; we know only truce in the unending war first waged by our grandparents’ grandparents. The Prime Minister’s emissary makes a deal with an “exporter” to set up a meeting with the enemy’s ancient Secretary of Protocol while two enemy soldiers patrol the border. Everything turns on stopping a great unending biological experiment. There is money to be made, deals to broker, families to honor, love to secure, and a fragile armistice at risk of shattering. Will this truce end in peace, or in war?
Marta cares for her son Jeffrey, home recovering from an emergency appendectomy, and her other son Edwin, who has returned in crisis to talk with his father, Walt. While waiting for Walt to arrive, Marta learns that Edwin’s crisis is eerily reminiscent of one earlier in her own life. The winding path that led Marta from then to now has brought her to Christ, and to demonstrate His higher power, Marta delicately reveals her earlier crises. In doing so, she exposes a fabricated past that has served as the cornerstone truth on which they have built their family.
Sandy has been very successful, destined for greatness by the company he works for; he sees himself, however, as a fraud, mistakenly advanced above his station. He has compartmentalized these two versions of himself, shielding his wife Julie from his successes and failures at work, until Ruth, an executive coach hired by Sandy’s company to conduct an up-or-out assessment of him, upends their lives. Ruth, Julie, and a younger neighbor—three women from three generations—ultimately meet and bond, while Sandy wrestles with his demons and better angels to an inevitable but shocking conclusion.
The beloved Professor Thornton McHattie has recently died. In his last days he added challenges into his final will and testament over which the others compete. While finishing the second challenge, to sail along the Woptecasni Horizon, the boundary in the middle of a very large lake where the sight of land disappears all around, the boat runs aground on a sandbar that occasionally appears in the middle of it. Their efforts to get off the sandbar and to close McHattie’s conditions drive them to confront his residual power over them, and the transactional reality of his generosity.