The Gary Plays

The History Behind The Gary Plays:
Chapter 1- Meeting Murray Mednick

In 2015 and 2016, we workshopped PARTS I,II, and III of Murray Mednick’s, “The Gary Plays.” Opening on May 4th, at the Atwater Village Theatre, we are pleased to present the entire three-part series in one epic production!
Over the course of the next month, follow along as director, Guy Zimmerman, shares the decade long history that shaped the story of unemployed actor Gary Bean following the random murder of his son in, “The Gary Plays.”

I first met Murray in the early 1990s, after I moved to L.A. from New York. I had been aware of his work Off-Off Broadway and was very happy to encounter the vibrant theatre scene he did so much to sustain through the Padua Hills Festival—for me, and for a lot of people, it was an artistic haven along the lines of Black Mountain College, featuring new works by leading playwrights performed by a loose knit company of fantastic talent. Far from leaving a world in which theatre had relevance—this was my assumption leaving NY—I found an arena of formal experimentation that, as a writer at least, was actually richer than what I was leaving in New York. On the strength of a play produced as part of John Steppling’s “Circus Minimus,” at The Lost Studio on La Brea, Murray asked me to direct a couple of his plays. I also participated in a private writing workshop at his place in Mar Vista. Then, in the late 1990s, I approached him about contributing to a season of new work I was producing as part of a playwright’s collective, and he sent me the first of “The Gary Plays” – “Tirade for Three.” It immediately struck me as a stark and cryptic distillation of the tragic effect. We produced the first version with John Diehl, Hank Bunker and Shannon Holt and I guess Murray liked the results enough to keep exploring that terrain. The rest of “The Gary Plays” began to arrive all the way through the next decade, and we produced them all as independent productions, and sometimes in small groupings. The series is uniquely the product of the L.A. theatre community – it could not have been created anywhere else. And Gary, an unemployed actor struggling with grief and self-recrimination after his son’s murder—is an iconic L.A. character. Colliding vaudeville, Beckett, and classical tragedy in a portrait of L.A. noir, the series showcases the kind of world class quality this creative community has been able to produce. Guy Zimmerman (director of “The Gary Plays”)

Show Schedule (Click to enlarge)

Part 1

Tirade for Three
Overwhelmed with grief and self-recrimination, Gary returns to the urban park where his son Danny was recently murdered by an “unknown assassin.” A pair of mysterious figures join him to review key moments in his life.

Girl on a Bed
Haunted by the tragic death of a young woman named Laura, Gary convenes a group of characters from LA’s criminal underworld to investigate together this mystery. The ghost of his son Danny joins Gary to search for answers.

Part 2

Gary’s Walk
Retrieving his son Danny’s ashes from his ex-wife in the San Fernando Valley, Gary embarks on a long odyssey walking the length of the LA River to scatter the ashes into the Pacific. En route with his inner voices, Gary has a series of transformative encounters, including one with the angel of death.

Out of the Blue
Gary’s mother has been placed on life support and she needs Gary to pull the plug. Her husband makes arrangements for Antonio to take Gary into the underworld to meet Danny’s killer.

Part 3

DaddyO Dies Well
Still haunted by ghosts, Gary joins DaddyO for an ayahuasca ceremony in which he and Gloria finally come to terms with their son Danny’s passing.

Charles Story 
Working now as a performance therapist at a high-end rehab center in Malibu, Gary encounters his ex-agent. Also in attendance is Charles, the mild mannered father of the girl Laura from Girl on a Bed. Using the art of performance, Gary guides Charles through a process of healing for the death of his daughter but the process is cut short by the wild fires raging through the hills of Malibu.