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The Bard Goes Western – Again!

The Western Tale re-released by BIG DOG PLAYS

I have very exciting news to share. My stage play THE WESTERN TALE, has just been republished by BIG DOG PLAYS.

First, some history.

I wrote the play back in 2007, inspired by Shakespeare’s THE WINTER’S TALE. For those who don’t know, The Winter’s Tale is a dark comedy about succumbing to rumors and taking revenge. It does end happily – which is why it’s classed as a comedy – but it does contain some darker elements. It also contains one of Shakespeare’s most famous production notes: “Exit pursued by a bear.” I’d never written (or produced) a western up to that point and I got thinking about the possibilities… Instead of two kings, what if the rivals were wealthy ranch owners? The plot fell easily into place after that.

My Watson Lake Secondary School drama club performed the play later that year. Honestly, it was one of my favourite plays to see come to life. I did receive criticism from one audience member who objected to the harsh treatment of the main female character when her husband decides her baby isn’t his and he orders her imprisoned and the baby killed. (Of course, the latter doesn’t happen, but his decision is central to the entire plot and is what moves the play forward.) I kindly told her to take it up with Shakespeare!

A few years later, I pitched the play to JAC Publishing, a play publishing house in the USA with whom I had several other plays and it was published in 2012. The play enjoyed several good years of performances across the US & Canada and my own high school group in Tumbler Ridge, the “KodiActs’, performed it in 2018.

It was the final play I produced in my capacity as a Drama teacher since I retired from the public system at the end of that school year. Something happened at the very end of our final performance, which I will never forget. A huge BOOM sounded right at the end of the show (literally right at the final line!) and all the lights went out. (Turns out it was an electrical storm.) The cast was hovering backstage waiting for the curtain call, but with no lights and music, they were unsure what to do. Then, someone from the audience held up their phone as a light. Soon, everyone followed and the cast was able to come out and take their final bow amidst resounding applause. It was a memorable end to the performance and to my final production after twenty years as a high school drama teacher. You can read more about the experience in “Out With a Bang!” 

Unfortunately, JAC Pub closed its doors in 2019 and the rights to all my plays were reverted back to me. This included The Western Tale. I wasn’t sure what to do. Realistically, I’m not well equipped to market to theatre groups. These plays would likely just die a quiet death. After letting things rest for a while, I started pitching them to other play publishing houses. I had the right to do so now that the copyright was reverted back to me.

Which brings me to the present!

I signed a contract with Big Dog Plays back in 2022 for THE WESTERN TALE, (along with Dorothy’s Road Trip and another original play called Snow White and the Dwarf’s Revenge. These will be coming out later this year) and the play was just released this weekend!

Here is the synopsis from Big Dog’s website:

Tragi-comedy. Loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale.” Set in the Wild West, Big Leo, a wealthy rancher, has “gone madder than a dog” with jealousy. Big Leo thinks his best friend, Doc Xavier, has stolen his wife’s heart. Not wanting to be the laughingstock of the county, Big Leo publically accuses his pregnant wife of adultery and takes her to court, where she collapses, apparently dead. Big Leo then orders his newborn baby girl to be abandoned in the Badlands, but his loyal ranch hand secretly saves the child, who is raised by some local squatters. Fast forward 16 years and Big Leo’s deserted daughter and Doc Xavier’s son meet and fall in love. Can what starts as a sad, gloomy winter’s tale blossom into a happy one? With Western flair, this adaptation includes Shakespeare’s famous bear scene, and Father Time has been transformed into a traveling snake oil salesman, who functions as the narrator. Audiences will love this Wild West version of the Shakespeare classic complete with mistaken identities, a spring festival, comedic twists, and even a little romance.

You can purchase the play directly from Big Dog. (Performance rights apply.)

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