Playwright’s Corner


Let’s go through the building blocks of a play. They consist of theme, setting, characters, plot, conflict, climax and resolution. First of all, you must have a theme. The theme or premise of the story is the reason you want to write the story in the first place. What is there about a certain situation or character that could inspire you to write a story? What would drive a man whose family is feuding with another to pursue a romance with the enemy of his family? What would drive a man to kill in order to gain the throne? Love and greed are the driving forces in these tales. I’m sure you recognized the themes in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “MacBeth.”

When I wrote “‘Tis All a Game of Chance,” a musical that is set in the late 17th century, I was inspired by the title of a children’s story called, “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.” It’s one of Aesop’s Fables. Each mouse visits the other’s domain. Although there is danger in both environments, each mouse has learned how to circumvent the adversaries on his own home turf but finds the unexpected life-threatening dangers on his cousins’ turf overwhelming. Each appreciates his own home more than ever.

However, in “‘Tis All a Game of Chance,” I have one man trying to live a duplicitous life successfully in both town and country. Don Giovanni is a proud Roman merchant who resides in the city of Rome with his spoiled wealthy wife. Henpecked and resentful that his wife is still a daddy’s girl, he finds the admiration and obedience he seeks in his much younger wife, who’s recently inherited her family’s prosperous winery. The story takes place in the span of a day when both the Roman harvest festival and Giovanni’s 15th wedding anniversary will be celebrated. His city wife is distraught that her famous family heirloom that she has planned to wear at the anniversary celebration is missing. Anxious to retrieve the heirloom from his innocent and unsuspecting country wife, Giovanni devises a plan to secure the diamond and have her true love arrested for theft.

But alas! As luck will have it, our anti-hero must tackle an onslaught of hapless obstacles to secure the veil upon which his duplicitous lifestyle is cloaked.

All is fair in love and lies? ‘Tis All a Game of Chance is a comedy set in Renaissance Italy in the sprawling beauteous capital of Rome and the fictitious pastoral setting of the Marcello Vineyard, a place festooned with vegetation, beauty and deception.

A Rotary Club Presentation

Yesterday, on September 29, 2021, I was the guest speaker at the breakfast Rotary Club in Fredericksburg, VA. It was the largest audience I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to so far. I was more nervous the Wednesday before a week ago than I was the day of my appearance.

It was most fortuitous that an invitation was extended to me. Years ago, as an employee of a bank, I became a member of a women’s professional organization. Although, I had been laid off for years, I stayed a member and continued to receive invitations through emails. So, a few months ago, I decided to start attending the get togethers. It would be a wonderful way to meet smart women who have enriched the various entities in the city.

Along with the invitation, we were asked to donate a gift for the door prizes which are a staple of these networking events. Well, I certainly could donate my book. So, I bought a festive gift bag, decorated it with pastel tissue paper, and inserted a tasseled bookmark and my business card inside On the Wings to Freedom.

When it was my turn to present my door prize, I was unprepared to talk about the book. Had I known, I would have read my latest synopsis. Anyway, I quickly described the plot in a few sentences and drew a name out of the box.

Afterwards, a woman approached me and inquired if I would like to be a guest speaker at the Rotary Club’s breakfast meeting. Well, yes, of course! What a wonderful opportunity! As it turned out, Beth was a member of the same church as I. We got together about a week or so afterwards so she could find out what kind of book I wrote and give me the scoop on what to expect as a speaker at the Rotary Club. She hadn’t read the book but had intended to do so.

As it turned out, I was worried for nothing. My presentation went well. I talked of plot, characters and of course the history in which my characters lived. There were about 40 guests, besides those on Zoom. At the end of my lecture, I sang my original song Steal Away Home (to Jesus). It was unexpected which made it a bonus to my listeners.

Needless to say, I was so proud of myself. I feel I’ve reached a milestone. From now on, I don’t think I will feel as nervous as I did this time when I next have a speaking engagement. I’ll simply enjoy myself.


In May of 2021, my dear friend Paula, gave me a garden party to discuss and promote my book. We had planned this event last year before COVID 19 hit but had to postpone it until this year.

Paula is so talented. She arranged tables and chairs in her lovely backyard garden festooned with flowers and an array of lush green foliage. It was a perfect day. The sky was blue, the temperature pleasant, the conversation, stimulating and the food, delicious. She made no less than three cakes along with an assortment of delicacies. Below is my hostess, Paula, the second from the left. She requested guests to wear a hat, optional of course, since the accessory is sort of my trademark. I’m standing with book in hand, grinning like the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland. This was my first public gathering regarding my book. Since everyone who attended had read it except for a few, I opened with a short synopsis of the story. I had prepared questions beforehand but looked forward to hearing what friends had to say about the book.

We had a lively discussion about theme, symbolism, character and plot. It was delicious. Our conversations went beyond the scope of the plot. There were themes in the book which we contrasted with the political dynamics of today.

It was an immensely enjoyable occasion. Thank you, Paula!

Give Us the Vote!

Women’s National Baptist Convention

As an employee of the University of Mary Washington, I answered the campus-wide call to submit ideas to celebrate Women’s History Month. I responded hoping I would get the greenlight to produce “Give Us the Vote,” as a virtual production. Happily, it was accepted. This play was one of three vignettes written to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment.

On February 28th, the cast and production crew met at the private home of Mrs. Blake. A woman of many talents, she has been wardrobe and props mistress, director and producer of past Untold Stories productions which focuses on little-known historical stories of real-life people. This time, she offered her home as our theatrical venue.

Here is a synopsis of the play: Between 1912 and 1916, Virginia suffragists petitioned the General Assembly three times to amend the state constitution to give women the right to vote.

The third time occurred on March 13, 1916, the setting of our play. Suffragists leaders: Kate Waller Barrett, Janetta Fitzhugh, Janie Porter and Adele Clark are preparing to lead members of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia from their Richmond headquarters to the State Capitol to present their petition.

The suffrage movement had many detractors from the halls of government to the church pulpit. The women in the play are about to meet one such adversary, an uninvited guest, and one of the most outspoken and prominent opponents of women’s right to vote.

Brave women, through education and advocation, sometimes sacrificed their jobs, marriages and reputations in order to persuade the all male government to grant women the right to vote. Black women had to fight racism in general and within the national ranks of the suffragist movement whose leaders made it clear their efforts were not wanted. At the first national convention of women at Seneca Falls, New York, the only black person admitted was a man, Frederick Douglass. A host of national black women’s suffragists organizations were refused admittance. After the vote was granted to women in 1920, the white female leaders told black suffragists to march in the back of the parade and not with their individual states. Pride and a determination caused some black women to defy this directive. After all, the victory was theirs, as well. Of course, not all white women were of the same mind. One lady in particular, Adele Clark organized protection for black women at the voting polls.

My play focused on four extraordinary Virginian women, leaders in their communities, who forged ahead, despite the opposition and finally won their right to vote. The Virginia General Assembly didn’t ratify the 19th Amendment until 1952!

I hope you enjoy the play. Here is the link to the YouTube video: