Interview with Rodger Gonzales of LocaltheatreNY.comabout Caldwell’s Bomb for the 2016 Venus/Adonis Festival beginning February 23.
It’s the summer of 2010, and a small Missouri town is dying; hemorrhaging jobs, population, and civility. Many of the people who remain are confused, frightened, and looking for scapegoats to blame for their troubles.
Several of the town’s angriest men have formed the Eagles of Liberty militia to battle those they blame for unemployment, changing demographics, and what they perceive as the conspiracy to destroy traditional American values.
The play opens in Deena Ducey’s modest living room when Jimbo Jolley, the fanatic who leads the militia, comes to visit Earl, Deena’s unemployed, live-in boyfriend. The two are conspiring to assassinate a United States Senator. Earl, a formerly happy-go-lucky man, has become so radicalized by chronic unemployment and his growing dependence on Deena, who works long hours at two low-paying jobs, that he agrees to fire a rocket into the high school gym during the Senator’s upcoming town hall meeting. This plan changes, however, when they learn that Caldwell, Deena’s slow-witted, easy-going, twenty-year-old son, knows how to make a time bomb.
At first glance, Caldwell might seem an ideal co-conspirator. He looks like his father, a vicious racist who died during a prison brawl after receiving a life sentence for murdering three young black men. Caldwell is not like his father, however. Although he inherited his father’s imposing size and physical strength, he abhors violence in any form. He spends his waking hours blissfully repairing small appliances and creating sculptures out of materials he rescues from garbage dumps. His well-known timidity makes him the butt of jokes and the frequent target of bullies. Now, confronted with an order to blow up a gym full of people, he must decide what he values and if anything is worth a fight.
**The Equity Approved Showcase production of Caldwell’s Bomb has been nominated in the BEST PLAY category at the 2016 Venus/Adonis Theater Festival! Director Gerald vanHeerden is a nominee in the BEST DIRECTOR category, and both Michael Gnat* (JIMBO JOLLEY) and Matthew Tyler Horn*(CALDWELL DUCEY) have been nominated in the BEST ACTOR category. http://venusnytheaterfestival.com/venus-adonis-theater-festival-thespis/
The cast of Caldwell’s Bomb for the 2016 Venus/Adonis Festival included: Donna Lee Michaels*, Mark Torres*, Michael Gnat*, and Matthew Tyler Horn*. Gerald vanHeerden directed. Tamra Pica was the Producing Director/Casting Director, Liz Ann Howell* was the Production Stage Manager and Monica Fritcher designed the costumes.
What Mimi Bessette* Broadway performer, singer, actress (Bonnie & Clyde, The Best Little Whorehouse…, Smoke on the Mountain) had to say about the play: “You should be really proud of this piece. It’s original, compelling and the characters are very well written. I thought the cast did a great job and the direction was perfect…”
Martin Tanner Productions presented the world premiere of Caldwell’s Bomb at the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City on the evening of July 22, 2011 as part of the Kansas City Fringe Festival. Herman Johansen directed, Diane Bulan was the assistant director, and R. J. Parish was Stage Manager. Bryan Colley designed the graphics.
Cast: Cheryl Weaver*, Scott Cordes*, Richard Alan Nichols*, Matthew Melson
Martin Tanner Productions presented a reading of the play at the Dramatists Guild of America in New York City on March 1, 2013. Herman Johansen directed and Evan White assisted in the production.
Cast: Trip Plymale*, Roy Brown*, Liz Douglas*, and Tyler Horn.
*Equity Actors appeared with permission of the Actors’ Equity Association
Caldwell’s Bomb was selected by director Gerald vanHeerden, resident director of Break-a-Leg Productions and the Artistic Director of Plays for New York’s Midtown Theatre Festival, for inclusion in Theatre Resources Unlimited’s (TRU) Writer-Director Lab. This Lab, held on April 18, 2015 at the John DeSotelle Studio in New York City, offered ten experienced New York directors the opportunity to select playwrights with whom they might like to collaborate in future productions.
A distinguished panel of theater professionals including Bob Ost, Executive Director of TRU, Broadway producers David Garfinkle (Spiderman) and multi-Tony Award winner Jennifer Manocherian (Spring Awakening among many others) and theatrical attorney and mediator Eric Goldman observed the discussions between writers and directors and offered advice.
Caldwell’s Bomb had three staged readings during the 2015 Midtown International Theater Festival in New York City. The readings were produced and directed by Gerald vanHeerden geraldvanheerden.com It starred Drew Valins* as Caldwell, Eric Kuzmuk as Earl, Trip Plymale* as Jolley, and Donna Lee Michaels as Deena.
*Equity Actors appeared with permission of the Actors’ Equity Association.
Sample pages: A Taste Of Caldwell’s Bomb
What the critics say
“Bill Rogers’ play examines the anger, political paranoia and religious psychosis festering in the vacuum gainful employment and pride used to fill…it gives the characters dignity as it makes them specific and brings them to frustrated, raging life.” Grace Suh, The Pitch, July 28, 2011
“Caldwell’s Bomb is a sincere satire and commentary on the danger posed by domestic extremists…Caldwell’s Bomb with the direction of Herman Johansen and the efforts of an outstanding cast, was certainly a highlight of the Fringe Festival.” Nihan Yesil, KCMETROPOLIS.org, Aug. 3, 2011
“…there’s a fine line between writing people off as nincompoops and trying to get at the roots of their mania. That is the fine line Bil Rogers tries to walk in his dark comedy Caldwell’s Bomb…he writes with incisive wit…” Robert Trussell, The Kansas City Star, July 24, 2011
“…this is one you do not want to miss. The show is dark in theme but still has plenty of laughs, a couple of lines that made audiences groan and even at times when they wanted to boo and hiss. What more can you ask for?” KC FRINGE FESTIVAL REVIEW by timlovestheatre, July 24, 2011
“This is my third year seeing Fringe plays and this play was by far the best!!!” KCStage Review by alanskoalas, July 30, 2011