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Jody Thomas Doesn't Want To Die
by Arthur Meiselman

(Play and Screenplay)

What if a death-row inmate, just before the appointed time of execution, manages to grab a weapon and hostages? What does he have to lose? How do you negotiate with him?

It is the nightmare of every prison official. Here is a young man, a cop-killer, condemned to death, and now commands his own future. He has twisted the system; there is nothing to negotiate except his own survival.

In the death-house cellblock: Jody Thomas barefoot, armed, with three hostages including a Catholic priest. Caught up in the explosive melee, his ACLU attorney, a young woman fighting to save Jody's life in defiance of the rush to capital punishment.

Up above in the control center: the Warden, an experienced professional reluctantly cast in the role of executioner and pressured by his hostile staff. At his back, the Governor, a seasoned, slick-willy politician whose agenda is shaped by his own public image.

Outside: a media circus.

In real time, the countdown begins. There is no way to roust Jody without harming the hostages. A gritty stalemate becomes an uncontrollable horror. Sacrificing the life of a hostage, Jody sets a deadline. A deal is struck: his death sentence will be commuted. The shock of it is... Jody rejects the offer. He knows he won´t get far, yet he wants to escape. He doesn´t want to die by agreement! This young, uneducated loser has discovered his own free will. Another deal -- engineered by the Governor -- sets Jody and his hostages toward escape and the hungry, beckoning media outside. A bizarre dance begins that brings betrayal, madness and destroys Jody. The sweet smell of politics prevails.
 

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Firedance
Part 1 - Awakening
by Arthur Meiselman

 

The year is 1976. A rainy, late Autumn Friday in New York. Five brothers and sisters have gathered for the funeral of their mother. Though this was a typical middle-class Jewish family, the passing-on of the parents has opened up the core of threads that binds them together — and the threads are unraveling. What was typical has become bizarre. What was comfortable has become frightening. What was secure has become unstable and chaotic. Against a backdrop of accumulated disillusionment, the 1960's, the Kennedy assassinations, the Vietnam war, the Nixon fiasco, these five place themselves in confrontation with each other and with the world they live in.

During a 24-hour period, they tear apart the myths they've created about who they are and what they have become. Nothing follows the comfort of tradition. In the morning, solemnity dissolves into a raucous drunken party in which they pledge themselves to a "new order" and dance away old relationships. In the afternoon, the funeral is marred by the refusal of one them to attend. In the evening, the last traditional coming-together ends in another rampage — driven by shredding humor, stinging innuendo, and cast in a dance of voyeuristic picture-taking. The montage explodes!

An unexpected and unfathomable revelation emerges — a love affair between a brother and a sister — a romantic, undaunted, attempt by two of them to capture a dream. What may have been bizarre becomes normal; what was normal remains twisted. And the day ends in a near-tragic series of events that almost results in tabloid headlines
 

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