BLANKETS AND BEDTIME: 3 RESTLESS PLAYS (2016) / Planet Connections Theatre Festivity / by Erik Champney

In the summer of 2016, my first fully mounted show in New York City. Blankets and Bedtime: 3 Restless Plays was an anthology of one-acts, presented in 80 minutes, at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. I co-produced the production with Janet Bentley, who directed. We were both wearing too many hats, but we survived. An Indiegogo campaign successfully funded us, thanks to the many incredible people out there who believed and wanted to help. A series of intensive auditions delivered a dynamite cast. Janet brought in the designers. Off we went.

The first play, Sparkler, was like catching lightning in a bottle. The high tensions in a Hollywood marriage between a gay movie star and an ambitious young actress in 1964. It was eloquent, bitchy, hilarious, and violent. Those 35 minutes felt like they were part of something bigger, and I was constantly being asked if I was going to expand it.

The second play, The Screens, had already been produced multiple times in short play festivals across the country. What was accomplished here was extremely strong, although there was an important difference from productions past. They played the ending from the start. This is a valid choice and it actually works. I prefer the play being a gradual peeling back of the layers, so the play the audience is watching at the end is not the play they thought they were watching at the beginning. But I also don’t want every production of my work to be a carbon copy. Janet wanted to take it into uncharted territory and I gave her my blessing.

Saitama was the grand finale. This was a one-act I’d been working on for years. A very personal interaction between a Japanese soldier and a Chinese Comfort Woman that jerks from calm to brutal to psychological warfare, and I knew everything about it had to be exactly right. The historical accuracies and nuances, hand in hand with my decision to force the audience to endure watching the hell those girls went through. My good friend, Jeremy Tiang, was my savior as I worked on it. He kept me honest and was never afraid to challenge anything he doubted. To finally see it on its feet. Jesus Christ, that play is a nightmare to watch. I’m proud of it. It does what I wanted it to do. But it’s vicious.

After the final performance, a friend introduced me to a producer, who had fallen in love with Sparkler. We hit it off right away and a collaboration to expand the play into a full-length began.

Blankets and Bedtime: 3 Restless Plays went on to win an Outstanding Actor award for Max Meyers, who was part of Sparkler, an Outstanding Director award for Janet Bentley, which was specific to her work on Sparkler, and the show was awarded Outstanding Overall Production of an Evening of One-Acts.

Originally, one actor representing each of the 3 “restless” plays would be showcased in  Blankets and Bedtime ’s marketing. A scheduling mishap called for a quick replacement for our photo shoot, which did away with the desired concept. Max Meyers (L) and Chad Ryan (R) were co-stars in one piece but neither ever shared the stage with Meggy Hai-Trang.

Originally, one actor representing each of the 3 “restless” plays would be showcased in Blankets and Bedtime’s marketing. A scheduling mishap called for a quick replacement for our photo shoot, which did away with the desired concept. Max Meyers (L) and Chad Ryan (R) were co-stars in one piece but neither ever shared the stage with Meggy Hai-Trang.