Gadzooks and Ophelia
Other Plays by Cheryl Ann Costa
Costa, Cheryl (aka Cheryl Ann Costa, American playwright, producer, multi-disciplined media artist, airman, submarine sailor, talk radio host, Buddhist nun, security engineer, April 23, 1952-____), “Gadzooks and Ophelia,”
a 40-minute comedy in American English set in Valhalla and a small apartment in Texas, Valhalla Time and July 1961,
© 1996 by Cheryl Ann Costa;
• in Cheryl Ann Costa’s Gadzooks and Ophelia (Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.: The Author, 1996);
• script/rights available from Cheryl Ann Costa, 1220 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910, U.S.A., e-mail TSPrincess@aol.com, email@example.com, http://www.cherylcosta.com, telephone 301- 290-2664, 607-426-7080 cell-personal, 607-426-9781 cell-corporate (best).
• Cited by Cheryl Ann Costa, via e-mail, March 26, 1996; Costa says,
Odin (m), God of the Norse; Gadzooks (m), a demigod, mentor to young warriors; Ophelia/Pearl (f), a Texas teenager.
“Odin is upset because Gadzooks has been tipping one too many tankards of mead in the hall. As punishment and for Odin’s amusement, Gadzooks is ordered to Earth to mentor a mortal artist in muse-like manner. Gadzooks ends up in 1961, in a little Texas town, in the middle of the night, with a drunken eighteen-year-old female named Ophelia/Pearl, who’s flunking art school. After who ‘he is’ and ‘she is’ gets sorted, Pearl shares her desire to drop out of art school and become a blues singer. Gadzooks convinces her to adopt all the self-destructive qualities of a warrior, qualities that describe the warrior queen of the blues. Gadzooks invokes a mighty warrior’s blessing upon Pearl in a blaze of wind and lightning. The next day, Pearl wakes up thinking it was a drunken dream. She telephones her art college and drops out to pursue a life as a blues singer: Janis Joplin.
“As of April 11, 1997, ‘Gadzooks and Ophelia’ has been cast and is slated for production this August ’97 under the direction of the author. Though the production company is in question, two groups have requested debut status. The details will be worked out mid-May.
• “Odin is known as the Norse All-Father. He sits astride his 8-legged horse, Sleipnir, who carries souls to the unseen realms. The spear named Gar, when thrown would always return. Through ritual self-sacrifice, Odin discovered the Runes while handing from the Yggdrasill, or world tree. A patron of warriors, he was skilled in magic and a master of primal forces. Also known as the One eyed God, Odin sacrificed his eye to gain wisdom from the fountain of Mimir.”—Odin, http://www.broomcloset.com/odin.html, accessed August 3, 1998.
• Cheryl Ann Costa is one of five known transgendered playwrights in the United States.”
• “Cheryl Ann Costa is in a word, unique! Cheryl has been an airman, a submarine sailor, a talk radio host and a Buddhist nun. Professionally, she is a security engineer for a top Fortune 500 company, vocationally she’s an ordained Tibetan Buddhist Yogi and avocationally she’s a producer-playwright. Cheryl’s theater experience started when she was 15 years old –1967–, and mostly on the technical side of stagecraft for nearly 22 years. Then in 1992 she started concentrating on character acting, directing and most of all being a playwright. Since 1993, she has authored over fifteen plays, debuting many of them in the Washington, DC metropolitan and suburban Maryland. Some plays have been produced internationally and translated into other languages. The unique topic matters of her work have been the basis for many high school and college level term papers internationally.” —Offical Website of Playwright Cheryl Ann Costa, http://www.cherylcosta.com/pages/2/index.htm, accessed January 7, 2007.
• “Biography Comments from Cheryl Ann- The Real Story I hate short bios like the ones above, it will tell you next to nothing about me except that since I was 15 years old, I’ve focused some portion of my life on theater. If I confessed to you that I’ve had three significant others and one lover in my life, that wouldn’t scratch the surface. If I told you I used to be good catholic boy who wanted to someday grow up to become a Catholic priest but rather through convoluted circumstances became Buddhist nun instead that that wouldn’t be the half of it. If I told you that I’ve been an Air Force Airman with Vietnam service and a Navy Nuclear Submariner during the cold war, I would only be getting warmed up. Taking all of this into account, I thought I would break a few publishing tradition rules and write a short autobiography to help those of you who are struggling with a term paper, late on some school night in the future. First let me dispel the notion that I’m an old lady cooped up in a big house someplace with thirty cats. As of this writing –Feb 2004– I’m a fifty-one-year-old human being who’s not really showing her age and I’m living an active life in Historic Corning, New York. Though if my books and plays are successful, I reserve the right to own that big house and have a draft choice on those thirty cats. What follows is a detailed accounting of my life from 50,000 feet; I hope you find it enlightening. Growing Up I was born of blue-collar stock in the little mill town of Corning, New York in the United States. I was your less than classic kid, I wanted to be a Navy fighter pilot, a Catholic Priest and oh yes, a Girl! My role models were Alan Shepard, St. Frances of Assisi and most certainly entertainer Doris Day. My youthful ability for telling big whoppers was noted by the Sisters of Mercy in Catholic grade school and it was a talent that won me much recognition with them and considerable time in the rear corner of the classroom. My most noted youthful verse was the five hundred-line sonnet, 'I will not tell stories any more.' Which was a punishment project commissioned by the Catholic nuns of St. Vincent de Paul grade school. All through grade school and in junior high school most of my English teachers save one thought that I wouldn’t amount to much in terms of English and Literature. I think they based their opinion on the fact that I had terrible grammar and atrocious spelling. My eighth grade English teacher did cut me some slack after I wrote a couple of decent papers on scientific topics. She later would encourage me to write what I knew. In high school it was more of the same dismal treatment by my English teachers. What stories I did write didn’t impress them very much. Senior high English classes were tough for me and the reading and writing tougher, it wouldn’t be until I got in the Air Force would I find out that I suffered from mild dyslexia. In high school I was a pocket protector wearing geek. I was one of the whiz kids in the electronics shop. Not really being the all American 'boy' athlete, I tended to hang out with the drama club. Of course I wasn’t one of the kids who got big parts in plays, I always managed to end up on crew. But my drama teacher at Corning-Painted Post East High in 1967 was a guy by the named of Roger Ochs. Roger had that special touch that could make a high school production shine like an off Broadway show. Roger took theater seriously. It was from Roger, that I learned to love theater and take to it seriously as well. I became very deeply involved in high school theater from that point on and was eventually inducted into the International Thespian Society in my senior year. A bitter point with me for years was that I had enough Thespian points to join in the beginning of my junior year, but I was most likely voted not 'cool enough' after all I was a tech geek! Then late in my senior year, I had this falling out with the Catholic Church, after I had a serious argument with one of the parish priests. Shortly after that it quickly became evident that I wasn’t going to be recommended for seminary in order to become a Catholic Priest. A few months later, I graduated from high school in the class of 1970. Since I wasn’t going to be a priest, I got very depressed and I promptly enlisted in the United States Air Force and about a year later I volunteered for service overseas, specifically in Southeast Asia, namely Vietnam, where I worked as a telephone cable splicer; so much for becoming an ace fighter pilot. In 1972 my hometown was rather devastated by hurricane Agnes that caused the Great Flood of ’72. In order to help my family I applied for and received a hardship discharge in September of that year and became a civilian once again. During the next two years I would help my family repair their house and I would manage to work on several community theater shows. Which is where I got reacquainted with ‘The Diva’; she was a singing theater chick from the competitor school West High, which I had met while doing summer stock when I was a junior. Here we were a few years out of high school and she was home from college and jeepers we clicked to the point where we decided to get married. Sometime later the joke with our theater friends was, we met during My Fair Lady, courted during Crystal City Showcase and did our honeymoon during a production of Once Upon a Mattress. — pardon the pun— A year later when the economy got soft in my hometown, I was about to get laid off from my job so I tried to return to the Air Force, the Vietnam war was nearly over and the USAF was seriously over staffed, so I jumped on an opportunity with the United States Navy and initially went into the nuclear propulsion program. During my schooling in the nuke program in Bainbridge, MD [Maryland, U.S.A.], I became seriously ill with a case of the shingles and mononucleosis. That coupled with marginal math scores turned out to be cause enough to for me to be transferred out of the nuke program and into the submarine navigation advanced electronics program. For the next five years The Diva and I participated heavily with Community Theater both on and off the Submarine Base at New London, Connecticut. In 1979, I won a breach of contract dispute with the Navy and was honorably discharged where I promptly took a job with Pitney Bowes in Stanford, CT [Connecticut, U.S.A.]. In 1980, I took a night job with IBM Federal Systems in upstate New York and also began attending Binghamton University during the day. My area of study was split between Theater arts and Cinema arts. Yes cinema, while in high school I had developed a taste for art films. Sort of developed an aspiration to be an independent filmmaker. While at Binghamton I made several student films: Sailor and the Geisha, Comm. Station III and Angels. During a student festival at the university my student feature, Comm. Station III came to the attention of Broadway playwright and Black Historian, Loften Mitchell who also taught at the school. He encouraged me to join his playwrights program. For the next two years I creatively flourished, it was about that same time that I got drafted into becoming an industrial filmmaker for IBM for the next five years. The late eighties and early nineties were hard years for me, my internal drives to change my gender became too much to bear and so I finally faced the issue head on. Of course the change process had all the charm of catastrophic medical event in my life and did result in the loss of my 18-year marriage to The Diva. All of this was followed by a serious deep depression and nearly total despair. In 1990, I met another woman who filled my heart, a lady we’ll call ‘The Iron Maiden.’ The Iron Maiden was one tough lovable lady. When I didn’t have the strength of heart to do something she often did. For the next three years she would share her young daughters with me and together we would care and provide for them. In the 1992 after the Iron Maiden and myself parted ways, I re-embraced my theater craft after a five-year hiatus. To be honest with you I re-embraced it as refuge from the pain of my personal life, like lots of artists have done. As of this writing, the girls are developing into very lovely and talented young women and I’m very proud of them. The Iron Maiden and I chat nearly every morning over coffee via instant messenger. In 1993, I met this great writer by the name of Richard Rashke, he turned out to be an American author and screenwriter. I assisted Richard with research on a project he was currently working at the time. During our professional association he encouraged me to start writing stage plays again and coached me in the fine art of marketing the plays to regional theater companies. It was about this time that I began conceiving A Princess in Training. In 1994, I landed this goofy gig on a wacky talk radio program here in Metro DC [District of Columbia, U.S.A.]. You see, there were these two fat, white and Catholic radio guys named Don & Mike™ and they did this wacky light shock radio program in afternoon drive time. I auditioned to be part of their 'regulars' entourage on their show one Friday afternoon in March of ’94. First they talked to me on the phone but because of my deep voice didn’t believe that I was a gal. A little later they remarked on the air, that they wouldn’t believe I was a gal unless I proved it to them. So I drove down to the radio station and once in the studio with them, I pulled up my tee shirt and flashed my bare breasts at them. That had the effect of shocking them and everybody in the studio. For the next ninety minutes I was their shocking witty guest. After my shocking and rowdy appearance I was invited to be part of their regulars entourage. My on-air name was Lady Cassandra. Over the next few months they kept fixing me up with all these jerks that listened to the radio program as joke dates. Well one day one of the dates they fixed me up with was this Gothic Chick whom we’ll call ‘Snow White!’ Low and behold, her and I clicked out right and our eight hour date turned into a thirty eight hour date! Some months later we decided to form a 'union' and become a couple. Don & Mike™ found out and asked if they could marry us on the radio. The radio guys were a nationally syndicated radio program and wanted to host the first ever on-air Lesbian wedding, we agreed. On 23 July 1994 the brides were married in a huge parking lot behind the radio station that was filled with fans and friends, including representatives from my employer. The brides wore 2nd Generation Star Fleet uniforms, as did the rest of the wedding party and were bonded in rites on the radio by Don in a network broadcast on the Unistar radio network™. I was later told that the on-air wedding was among the highest rated radio day parts in DC radio history. —Blush— Snow White and I would be an item for the next four years, and it was her awesome sense of humor and sparkle that would inspired me to write most of the plays in this book. It was also my writing and dedication to the writing that among other things would end our relationship. In the fall of 1994 a few months some months after moving in with Snow White, I had this profoundly significant spiritual experience in the high desert of New Mexico. Two months later I performed A Princess in Training at Washington, DC’s National Theater. The momentum from that debut encouraged me to get very serious about both my writing and my marketing. One of the first things I did was start getting together with various community theater directors and pitch them ideas for plays. As they showed interest in various concepts, I tended to concentrate my time on those projects. Later in 1994 in the aftermath of my desert spiritual experience I began exploring the general topic of Eastern thought. By the fall of 1996, I managed to get connected with Tibetan Buddhism, in particular the orthodox Nyingmapa tradition. A year later in November of 1997, I adopted the temporary robes of a Tibetan Buddhist nun and more or less did a test-drive of monastic life, as an Ani. Tibetan nuns are frequently called Ani. (Pronounced On-e) I spent the next nine months in essence as a novice Buddhist nun. Unfortunately I was a bit too exuberant, wild and down right weird for my monastic peer’s tastes. It was petty obvious to the casual observer that my monastic elders thought that I was a pretty poor excuse for a novice Ani and about a month before ordination I was turned down for ordination by the local ordination board. In essence they rejected me from the program for a wide variety of very justified reasons. A few days before ordination day I was encouraged to give it one last ditch effort and speak to our senior Khenpo (head master) and His Holiness. I did speak to them and petitioned them for ordination consideration being very honest about the reasons I was rejected and explaining why many people viewed me as a 'crack pot.' I got the impression that His Holiness had a place in his heart for a 'crack pot' now and then. With much buzz and gossip, I was ordained a permanent Tibetan tradition Buddhist nun: (8/8/1998). For once in my life, especially since I changed genders it was really nice to look into Holiness’s eyes and see a look of pure love and joy for what I was committing to. I’m told there were monastics predicting that I would drop my drops within six months to a year at the outside, because as it was said, I just didn’t have ‘the stuff!’ When I wrote this bio in November 2002 just before the publishing of my book I was very much a Buddhist nun. In fact I maintained my vows and monastic posture for just shy of seven years in robes, until July 2004 when I was given permission to drop my nun's robes and re-embrace the posture of a Ngakma or Buddhist Yogi. To be honest with you, a lot of people never expected me to maintain monastic posture as long as I did. But as a very honored Buddhist Guru told me in 2001, my energy was wrong for being a monk or nun. This past winter I finally figured out what that all meant. So becoming a Yogi again was my first best destiny. As a Yogi, I'm allowed to have a spouse. So since a wonderful woman came out of the rank of my platonic friends and wanted to make a life with me, we joined our lives together. Is it a same sex relationship? Sure we're both middle ages broads but the 'Heart does as the Heart does.' So as of March 31st 2006, The Adventure Continues! CAC.“—Offical Website of Playwright Cheryl Ann Costa, http://www.cherylcosta.com/pages/3/index.htm, accessed January 7, 2007.
1961, alcoholism, amusement, art, blues, dream, drop out, elements, Joplin (Janis Lyn Joplin, blues rock singer, 1943-1970), mentoring, midnight, mortal, Odin, punishment, scholarship, school, Texas, town, warrioring.