the world premiere by Scott Miller
St. Marcus Theatre, St. Louis, Aug.5-28, 1999
Lillian Theatre, Los Angeles, April 6-May 27, 2001
Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 2002
Strawberry Theatre, London, Feb. 12-March 1, 2003
Purchase the script here.
It's Michael's thirty-fifth birthday, and his friends are coming over to celebrate, for better or worse, as he grieves over his advancing age in a youth-obsessed culture, and also over his inability to find a smart gay comedy with nudity to fill his small theatre company's bank account. And his late-arriving surprise birthday present will just make it all worse. Much worse.
Eddie – Sean Pritchett
Grace – Sarah Laak
Michael – Michael A. Naggi
Chaz – Justin Heinrich
Danny – Michael Deak
Tucker – Michael Bowdern
Willy – Bradley Calise
THE ARTISTIC STAFF
Director – Scott Miller
Set & Costume Designer – Justin Heinrich
Lighting Designer – Tim Lord
Lighting Technician – Amy Schott
Stage Manager – Rebecca Hunter
Box Office Manager – Steve Dohrmann
Graphic Designer – Zachary Lips
Photographer – Robert Stevens
“Bold, sensitive, and brilliantly witty...honest, outrageous, and screamingly funny..." – Edinburgh [Scotland] Evening News
“Miller provides an intelligent and interesting context, genuinely witty and clever lines, and a wholesomeness and honesty both unexpected — under the circumstances — and exhilarating. . . This, besides the verbal brilliance, is where Miller takes Head Games well beyond the genre. His director's program note and the piece in last week's RFT tell the audience in advance what Miller is going to do, but it's like a magician's explaining a trick before he performs it and still amazing his spectators.” – Harry Weber, The Riverfront Times
“The funniest moment in Head Games occurs when a character questions the artistic integrity of a director who plans to stage a play with gratuitous nudity. The irony is that the actor expressing these sentiments is gratuitously nude. . . Miller is an astute critic, and these questions are obviously important to him. . . The arguments about theater and sexuality are thought provoking, balanced and often amusing.” – Gerry Kowarsky, St. Louis Post Dispatch
"Very funny romp, cleverly written...this play makes sure we see a lot, not least that our attitude to nudity is very funny" -- Edinburgh Guide
"Loud, brazen and saucy entertainment for fans of a stage full of naked men, with some clever asides and digs at the genre for those who require their nudity to have some justification." -- RainbowNetwork.com
"It's well worth a go." -- indie London
This play is an evening of fun with no layers to be explored or heavy political message to hammer home. Just sit back and enjoy" -- TheatreWorld
Last summer, two things happened at once.
First, New Line Theatre found itself with a minor debt as our regular season of musical theatre was closing. Second, while I was online one day, I ran into David Dillon, the author of Party, a gay stage comedy with full frontal nudity. Party had been a huge hit in Chicago, then went to off-Broadway and other cities around the U.S. When Dillon found out I ran a theatre company he suggested we produce his play. I told him New Line only did issue-oriented musical theatre, but later, I couldn’t stop thinking about the profits his play would probably earn, easily wiping out our deficit. After some debate, we decided to create an offshoot company, Out of Line Productions, to produce Party. And it made pots of money.
This summer, finding ourselves in another financial crunch, my thoughts again turned toward a gay comedy with nudity to fill our coffers. I went in search of a play to match Party in its wit, its intelligence, and its warmth, but could find nothing. On a lark, I started writing my own. (I had written eight musicals, but no plays.) What I ended up with was a gay comedy called Head Games, a play that addressed the growing genre of gay comedies with nudity, sometimes referred to as “dick plays.” The characters in my play debated the use of nudity and obscenity on stage, the question of what “gay theatre” is or should be, America’s preoccupation with and fear of sexuality, the decision of an artistically “pure” theatre company to do a blatantly commercial work, and other issues. Head Games became not only a “dick play” itself, but also a commentary on and deconstruction of “dick plays.”
The first act of Head Games is a debate on whether or not plays like Head Games should exist and whether or not they are art, with the characters voicing every objection I heard when New Line first produced Party. The second act of Head Games redefines the first act, actually becoming the “dick play” that the first act describes, suggesting finally that all the furor is really over nothing more than depicting events and conversations which are (or could be) a part of real life. And isn’t that what theatre is about – making sense of the world, making order out of the chaos of our lives? And laughing at ourselves?
It's been fun writing Head Games. Not only does it poke fun at me, at New Line, and at itself, it also pokes fun at the audiences who come to see it. Like Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers, Wes Craven’s Scream, and Bob Fosse’s stage musical Chicago, Head Games takes the form of that which it criticizes.