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“The Butterfly Within”

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Kelly, Thomas M. (aka Thomas Michael Kelly, American playwright, theatre owner, set designer, 1940-____), “The Butterfly Within,”

a 55-minute drama in English in five scenes (translated into Yiddish and Korean), set on a rooftop of Lower East Side tenement, New York City, at or before dusk Friday and Saturday, 2004,


; • © 2004 by Thomas M. Kelly; • in Thomas M. Kelly’s The Butterfly Within (Sacramento, California, U.S.A.: The Author, 2004); • script/rights available from Thomas M. Kelly, Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre, 1901 P Street, Sacramento, California 95814, U.S.A., telephone (home) 916-444-8209, fax 1-916-444-6258, e-mail tom@thistle-dew.net. • Cited by Thomas M. Kelly via ftp October 14, 2004; Kelly says,

§ Dramatis Personae Fyvush (m), 73, an elderly Jewish gentleman of the old neighborhood; Mitzi/Sook (f), 17, a young Korean artist.

§ Synopsis Fyvush, after the death of his beloved wife, Zelda, returns to the playground of his youth: the rooftop of a rundown tenement on the Lower East Side of New York City. There he finds Mitzi, a seventeen-year-old Korean girl with spiked red hair, sunglasses, hooked up to a cd player painting sunsets, and demanding that he leave her 'playground.' Fyvush eventually relates stories of his rooftop experiences. The old Jew and young Korean share the rooftop and discover much in common: particularly, each has something to hide. Fyvush, despondent over his wife's suicide, contemplates suicide. Mitzi, apparently rejecting all things Korean and struggling for a place in American society, finds inner peace by secretly dancing traditional Korean mask dances.

§ Comment “The play’s 20 three-room apartments, typical of their kinds, are four to a floor, two in front and two in the rear. They are reached by an unlighted, ventilated wooden staircase that runs through the center of the building. The largest room (11' x 12'6") is referred to an plans as the living room or parlor, but residents called it the ‘front room.’ Behind it are the kitchen and one tiny bedroom. The entire flat, which often has contained households of seven or more people, totals about 325 square feet. Center stage is a skylight. Behind it is a handrail for a fire escape. Stage left is a metal smokestack. Plumbing and vent pipes abound. A capped, low brick wall, not higher than two feet, surrounds the stage: it is the top of the sides of the building. Stage right is a covered staircase with a door for entrances and exits. Scene i, 1939, occurs largely in darkness, with the only light coming from opened doors and uncovered windows; this light fades to darkness by doors being closed and windows being covered. The actors playing Fyvush and Mitzi/Sook also play the two silhouette characters required in Scene i. The remaining scenes are on the rooftop of a Lower East Side tenement. • Fyvush, who speaks with a Yiddish accent, has recently lost his wife to suicide. Mitzi/Sook has a very Americanized appearance: red spiked hair, sunglasses, clothing of her own design and color, constantly hooked up to CD player; she secretly indulges in traditional Korean dances, culture, etc. • Thomas M. Kelly, born and raised in Iowa, is a former member of the United States Marine Corps. He graduated from Orange County Community College, Middletown, New York, and attended the University of California/Davis. He graduated from Lincoln Law School, Sacramento, California. He is the owner, producer and artistic director of the award-winning Thistle Dew Theatre in Sacramento. His first play, 'Too Late to Waken,' was produced by Long Island City, New York Arts Group and subsequently was released as a CD. A monologue from 'Sleeper from Atlanta.' 'Sara,' is included in Young Women's Monologs from Contemporary Plays: Professional Auditions for Aspiring Actresses, by Gerald Lee Ratliff. It was published this year by Meriwether Publishing, Ltd. The musical-comedy, “Frankie and Johnny Were Schweethawts,” was first produced by the Thistle Dew Theatre. Mr. Kelly has written and produced several children’s plays centered around Charlie (Prince Charlemagne de Coquille), a French Briard puppy, and Jay, (Jaida de les Etoiles), a Persian Red Point feline. A screenplay of ‘Fana!’ is available for production, as is a screenplay of 'Sleeper from Atlanta.' Thomas lives with his wife, Eleanor in Sacramento, California. He has two sons by a former marriage.” • “Korean mask dances date back to the court entertainments of the Silla Kingdom, such as Cheoyongmu (the masked dance celebrating the life of Cheoyong) and Hyangak Ogi (Five Masked Entertainments). The latter originated in China and Central Asia. It combines Geumhwan (Ball Game Masked Dance), Woljeon (Mime Farce or Comic Masked Dance), Daemyeon (Talismanic Masked Dance), Sokdok, (Acrobatic Masked Dance), and Sanye (Lion Mask Dance).”—Windows on Asia, http://www.isp.msu.edu/asianstudies/wbwoa/eastasia/SouthKorea/theater.html, accessed October 15, 2004.

§ Themes Hora (Jewish folk dance), Kimch'i (basically a salted, pickled vegetable dish, often presented as a basic side dish in any Korean meal), Knaydelach (Yiddish for dumplings), Korea, Korean mask dances, Lower East Side, motzah ball soup, suicide, tenement, Yiddish.

See also Thomas M. Kelly's

  • "Fana!" a 90-minute drama in English set in a theatre, June 4, 2002, 4m (+ 2f voices)
  • "Sleeper from Atlanta," a 90-minute drama in English, in ten scenes, set in a family kitchen, Atlanta, U.S.A., Friday and Saturday, December 20, 21, 2002, 2m2f (+ 2m voices)
  • "Too Late to Waken," a 35-minute drama in English, in thirty-eight scenes,set in a dining room, home, 1964-1984, 3m1f

This Website continues under construction and welcomes new citations and comments.

Page mounted October 15, 2004, by the Webmaster.

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