The story unfolds in the front room of John Flynn’s modest farmhouse in Missouri near the Kansas border shortly after the Civil War. Tensions, still boiling from the confused and vicious border war, intensify with the arrival of the grievously wounded Jimmie Conlin. Flynn and Conlin had joined Quantrill’s raiders and later the infamous “Bloody Bill” Anderson to participate in atrocities from the burning of Lawrence to a brutal massacre at Centralia. After the war, Flynn returned to his farm, but Conlin became an outlaw. Now the men are reunited as Pinkerton detectives scour the area for Conlin who is wanted dead or alive.
John’s wife refuses to nurse the dying outlaw. Resentful of Conlin’s destructive influence over her husband and mindful of the consequences of harboring the fugitive, she demands that her husband turn him out. Instead, he asks the former Irish mercenary he has hired to find water on his drought-stricken farm to treat Conlin’s wound.The Irishman tells John that the wound is fatal, and exhorts him to turn away from his dark past in favor of a bright future. There is water just a few feet beneath the surface of the farmer’s parched soil.
Will faith in a brighter future overcome the superstition, paranoia, and distorted sense of justice that keeps John and his family trapped in the violent past, or will darkness prevail?
Tara Lane Productions presented the world premiere of Broken Strings on the evening of August 18, 2007 at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. Patricia McLaughlin directed. Julia Moriarty was the Stage Manager. R. J. Parish created the set, Jack McCord designed the lighting and sound, Nigel Delahoy designed the graphics and choreographed the fight scenes, and Adrian Brantley was the production technician. Photography by Doug McLaughlin.
Cast (in order of appearance)
Trisha Pasdach, David Tyler Horseman, Patrick J. Lawhon, Jack McCord, Nigel Delahoy, Richard Gorell, Dan Roberts
Broken Strings was a finalist in the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild-Julie Harris Playwright Award Competition.
A Few Sample Pages: Broken Strings
What the critics say:
“Rogers has crafted an urgent tale of frontier violence and misguided principle, a story as dedicated to who we are as it is to the way we were.” Alan Scherstuhl, The Pitch, August 23, 2007
“Our history is who we are. Rogers’ script taps into this and holds the potential for greatness.”- David Ollington, eKC August 28, 2007
“The script, intelligent and historically dead-on, was charged with tension between characters battling for power in their relationships.” Linda Friedel, The Johnson County Community College Ledger, September 13, 2007
“Playwright Bill Rogers…finds joy in constructing dialogue that percolates with verbal intricacy.”-Russ Simmons, The wednesday Sun, August 29, 2007