Richard Zinober


Richard Zinober's drama, Heretics, winner of the Theatre du Mississippi New Play Competition, was produced in March 2017 by the Owl and Cat Theatre in Melbourne, Australia.  A radio version of the play was broadcast the following year by Sundog Theater.   The play is published by Playwrights Publishing at  Seekers of the Light, chosen from among 500 submissions, won First Prize in the Ann White New Playwrights contest and was produced in 1990 by the Ann White Theatre in Ft. Lauderdale. The House at the Edge of the World took First Prize in the Southeastern Theatre Conference New Play Project and received a staged reading at the SETC convention in Orlando in 1992. Published by Playscripts, Inc., Seekers of the Light has also been produced by AmeriStage in Arlington, Texas, TASCUS in Leeds, England, and Pepperdine University in California. Scenes from Seekers of the Light and The House at the Edge of the World were awarded First Prize (Playwriting) in the Oakland Review Literary Competition and appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of the journal, and a monologue from House appeared in the 2005 Audition Arsenal for Men in Their Twenties, published by Smith and Kraus. Adventures in Space was produced by the Red Octopus Theatre Company at the Newport Performing Arts Center in Oregon in 1993.

A one-act play, “Once Loved,” won First Prize (Playwriting) in the 2004 Porter Fleming Literary Competition. It was given a reading at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival in August 2004 and a staged reading at the Muddy Creek Players Festival of New Plays in Monroe, NY, in October 2004.

His fiction has appeared in The Literary Review, Sundog, Inscape, New Voices and Intro 11.


Heretics (Owl and Cat) – theatre review

March 26, 2017March 25, 2017Editor


     Cults, brainwashing and exploitation seem to go hand-in-glove. So it is that a young woman, Lisa – played convincingly by Hayley Worsley – a tried and true member of a sect with Eastern leanings, practising spiritualism and free love, finds herself in the hands of a deprogrammer, Mel (Tim Ferris) in Heretics.

Lisa agrees to attend a session just so that her mother will stop worrying. Little does she know she will be kept there under lock and key, against her will, until the work is done. Mel is hard core, a war veteran who took to drugs to dull the pain and then went through his own private hell. In fact, the impression we gain is that he is far from through it, although now his opiate of choice appears to be booze from a hip flask, while dishing the dirt to those who have gone off the rails, like Lisa. Talking of vulnerable, arguably the most pliable of the characters is Jerry (Luke George Styles), a security guard who seems relatively easy prey to women with designs.

     He lost his last job because he was gullible and now Lisa is spinning him a tale of how he can reach nirvana by connecting with the 19 members of her sect. Suddenly, though, the tables are turned on the chief protagonist when a former cult member, Wendy (Hayley Brown), appears out of the blue. Lisa is at first delighted and tells her there will be no ramifications if Wendy chooses to return to the fold. But then Wendy drops a bombshell that leaves Lisa reeling.

     The simple but attractive set, in which the action unfolds, is made up of a double bed, behind which sits a modern art painting, while to the right there is a chair and small writing table, with a rather dull painting on the wall. Intense and affecting, Heretics is like a jigsaw puzzle in which we – the audience – gradually piece together the narrative. The performances are strong, save for a couple of scenes in which yelling is called for. While loud, I felt it was overdone. In other words, I wasn’t convinced of its authenticity.

     In fact, that is one of the strengths of the writing by American playwright Professor Richard Zinober and direction from Manoela Amaral, namely that for large tracts the play felt “real”. The ending is up to us to interpret … to a point. Suffice to say that an action that Lisa took in that locked room may have consequences.

I took away from all of this the following thoughts. The tighter the knot is tied, the harder it is to undo. It takes time and, more often than not, it is an uphill battle, but persistence and the right triggers can do the trick. Conversely, a charismatic appeal to the disaffected and the vulnerable can draw them in mighty quickly. Suffice to say, I was involved from the get go and so, too, will you. Heretics is playing at The Owl and Cat Theatre, 34 Swan Street, Richmond until 31 March 2017.

Alex First