The Writer's Nightmare

Take some writers. Give them 10 minutes to fill. Add in some TERRIBLE rules that they have to follow.


Pulp Stage's challenging series of original plays written by company playwrights following the torturous precepts suggested by the audience.

See what the poor, misbegotten scribes make out of three NIGHTMARISH prompts! See the new Nightmares as they come out both at online shows and at in person performances. AND, many Nightmares that can be found in The Pulp Podcast

February 2024: Monsters and Farts

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: Monsters and Farts

Virtual Show
February 8, 2024

Rules: Writers must include  "Literal Brain Farts " and "Meeting the Monster Under the Bed"

Gone Rogue by Nikki Lu
Nightlight by John Marks
Rehoming by William Thomas Berk
Staff Meeting of All Fears by Greg Lam
We'll Make Great Pets by Jeff Soesbe

November 2023: Bingo! Edition

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: Bingo! Edition

Virtual Show
November 30, 2023

Writers must tackle the prompts on our cursed Bingo Card

K’Plekh Rranmawr Demands Your Attention by Greg Lam
Platform Decay by William Thomas Berk
Just Another Day in 2123 by Nikki Lu
Hungry by John Marks
North Pole Revolution by Jeff Soesbe

Director
Jonathan Hernandez

Cast
Falynn Burton
Racheal Erickson
John Marks
Katie Mortemore

September 2023: It Came from the Public Domain!

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: It Came from the Public Domain!

Virtual Show
September 21, 2023

Be afraid. Be very afraid of what our writers have done to the following classic stories:

Oedipus Rex by Greg Lam
Romeo & Juliet by William Thomas Berk
Crime and Punishment by Nikki Lu
Dracula by John Marks

Director
John Marks

Cast
Shuhe Anderson
Katie Mortemore
Danielle Pecoff
Chrissy Sukboriboom

August 2023: Best of Writer's Nightmare

Best of WRITER'S NIGHTMARE

Live Show at Sip D'Vine
August 4, 2023

Favorite pieces chosen for each of The Writer's Nightmare writes written during the pandemic writer's workshop.

Eternity 5, by Madison Mondeaux
PBJ Time, by John McDonald
This Year, by Greg Lam
Social Media Challenge, by William Thomas Berk
Mr. Sniffles, by John Marks
Two Hitmen in an Ice Cream Van, by Jonathan Hernandez
In the Deep Dark, by Jeff Soesbe

Director
John Marks

Cast
Jacquelle Davis
J.R. Jackson
Kaia Maarja-Hillier
Molly Gregerson

May 2023: Rusty Boat Nails and Natural History Museum

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: Rusty Boat Nails and Natural History Museum

Virtual Show
May 25, 2023

Rule: Shows must include the prompts "Rusty Boal Nails" and "Natural History Museum"

Anno Automata by William Thomas Berk
Nothing Happens on the Night Shift by John Marks
The Ruins by Greg Lam

Director
John Marks

Cast
Kim Bogus
Maria Mogavero
Chrissy Sukboriboom

November 2022: English Lit Gone Bonkers

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: ENGLISH LIT GONE BONKERS

Virtual Show
November 17, 2022
This time we give the writers one big challenge: Do a 10 minute play which also summarizes a classic piece of literature. Do you remember your Frankenstein? Your Iliad? Your Jekyll and Hyde? Grab your Cliffs Notes and pull up a chair.

Desert Island Book Club by William Thomas Berk
Ten Minute Odyssey by Jeff Soesbe
It Came From The Public Domain by Greg Lam 

Host
Matt Haynes

Director
John Marks

Cast

Madeleine Delaplane
Racheal Erickson
Katie Mortemore

October 2022: Tiny Theatre Spooky Collaboration

tiny_Halloween Collaboration

Virtual Show
October 26, 2022
A collaboration between The Pulp Stage Writer's Nightmare and Tiny Theatre in which we are challenged to write plays based on prompts provided by Tiny Theatre that they performed as part of their reading series.

Themes: A women's scream, famous horror movie lines, a prop bat

A Housewarming in Horrowton by Greg Lam
Lovers of the Bat by Jeff Soesbe

Cast
Rachael Burttram Powers
Brendan Powers
Daryl Lisa Fazio

Video Link

July 2022: Writer's Nightmare Goes Noir

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: NOIR

July 21, 2022

Rule 1: The play must include the theme of Noir.
Rule 2: The play must begin with ‘Who are you, and why are you banging on my garbage can?’ The play must have ‘I’ve got a surprise for you’ in the middle, and must end with ‘This is gonna get ugly.’

Fire Escape by William Thomas Berk
Corpses Don't Have an Angle by John Marks
The Alleyway of Broken Dreams by Jeff Soesbe
The Street Has I's by Greg Lam

Host
Matt Haynes

Director
John Marks

May 2022: Spring Fever and Pirates

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: SPRING FEVER AND PIRATES

Virtual Show
May 26, 2022

Rule 1: The play must include pirates
Rule 2: The play must include the theme of "Spring Fever"!

The Last Voyage of the H.M.S. Godspeed by William Thomas Berk
Reunion on the Starfish by Greg Lam
Marooned by John Marks
Lost, Then Found by Jeff Soesbe

Director
Jonathan Hernandez

March 2022: Wordle and Hydration

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE

Virtual Show

Rule 1: The play must include Wordle
Rule 2: The play must include hydration

Flirtle by Greg Lam
Lunch by John Marks
Dam by William Thomas Berk
In the Deep Dark by Jeff Soesbe

Director
Jonathan Hernandez


Cast

Falynn Burton

J.R. Jackson
Colleen Socha

November 2021: Where's the Beef, Calgon?

WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: WHERE'S THE BEEF, CALGON?

Virtual Show
November 11, 2021


Rule 1: Must contain the words "Where's the Beef?"
Rule 2: Must contain the words "Calgon, Take Me Away!"


The Search for Dinner by Greg Lam
Ideality by William Thomas Berk
My Child And Heir by Jeff Soesbe
Where is the Beef? by John Marks


Director

Molly Gregerson

September 2021: Five Word Phrases & Infomericals

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE


Virtual Show
September 9, 2021

Rule 1: Must contain the theme "Five Word Phrases"
Rule 2: Must contain "Infomercials"

This Product is For Sale by Greg Lam
Five Minutes by William Thomas Berk
Now, A Message From Earth by Jeff Soesbe

July 2021: Awkward First Dates & Exercise Machines

Virtual Show
July 8, 2021

Rule 1: Awkward First Dates Between Different Species
Rule 2: Torturous Exercise Equipment

Chair and Bike Make a Date by Greg Lam
Lycan Subscribe by William Thomas Berk
Hookup at Space Prison Z9 by Jeff Soesbe

Director
Jonathan Hernandez

May 2021: Emotional Sharks

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE

Virtual Show
May, 2021

Rule 1: Poisonous Plants
Rule 2: Emotional Sharks

It's Personal by Greg Lam
Remember Them? by John McDonald
The Pirate's Wife by William Thomas Berk
Superhero Divorce Court by Jess Soesbe

Director
Molly Greegrson

Additional Direction by
John Marks

May 2021: Emotional Sharks

Virtual Show
May, 2021 

Rule 1: Poisonous Plants
Rule 2: Emotional Sharks

It's Personal by Greg Lam
Remember Them? by John McDonald
The Pirate's Wife by William Thomas Berk
Superhero Divorce Court by Jeff Soesbe

Directed by Molly Gregerson
Additional Direction by John Marks

March 2021: Hungry Traffic in LA

Virtual Show
March 4, 2021

Rule 1: Each play has to involve the theme "dangerously hungry"
Rule 2: Each play has to involve being stuck in L.A. Traffic.

Offering by William Thomas Berk
Hungry and Dangerous by Jonathan Hernandez
Hungry, Hungry Traffic by John McDonald
Waiting for the Werewolf by Jeff Soesbe
This Year by Greg Lam

Director
Jonathan Hernandez

Assistant Director

Molly Gregerson

January 2021: Tea and Hindsight

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: TEA AND HINDSIGHT

Virtual Show
January 7, 2021

RULE 1: The play has to involve a tea-making device.
RULE 2: The play also must also involve a character realizing, in hindsight, the perfect thing they could have said.

Lullaby by Jonathan Hernandez
A Stake in the Flowers by John MacDonald
When Jesus Drops by for Tea by Greg Lam
In Return by William Thomas Berk
In a Diner in Fresno by Jeff Soesbe
Murder by Leaf by John Marks

December 2020: Tear 2020 to Pieces

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: TEAR 2020 TO PIECES

Virtual Show
December 3, 2020

With a Bang by William Thomas Berk
With Great Power by Greg Lam
Auld Lang Satan by John Marks
New Year's Fools by John McDonald
Home for the Holiday by Jeff Soesbe


CAST
Kathleen Barnebey
Racheal Joy Erickson
Nathan Petts
Michèle M. Tredger

November 2020: Staircase Breakup

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE: NOVEMBER!

Virtual Show
November 5, 2020

Rule 1: The play has to include the audience-given theme, "Breakup"
Rule 2: The plotline has to involve a staircase.


Vera by William Thomas Berk

The Shadow Upon the Stair by John Marks

Neat by John McDonald
Alien Abduction by Jeff Soesbe 

September 2020: Papercuts + Declining Empire

THE PULP WRITER'S NIGHTMARE

Virtual Show
September 3, 2020

Rule 1: Has to include the theme "Declining Empire."
Rule 2: The plotline has to involve papercuts.

Catastrophe Planet by John Marks 
Death by Eleven Million Papercuts by William Thomas Berk
The King Is Dead/Emotional Intelligence by Madison Mondeaux
The War is Over by Jeff Soesbe 

Q&A with former Artistic director Matt Haynes on The Writer's Nightmare

Q: Talk to us about the origins of Writer’s Nightmare. How did this come to be a series?

A: It was basically reframing and branding what we were already doing during the pandemic: Generating lots of new plays and getting them up on Zoom as often as we could in these showcases. The idea that we all came up with was that the audience might get hooked if they knew that they could influence content by offering prompts. Combine that with the other factor of creating a play that can't rely on visuals *or* foley and you've got a wonderfully fun "nightmare" for the playwrights. 


Q: The Pulp Stage workshopping process is pretty specific. Similarly, the Pulp Stage presentation process has specific rules. Can you explain the origins of each?

A: There are some wonderful works out there which only require reading-aloud to come alive. A.R. Gurney's LOVE LETTERS is specifically designed for that. The ancient Greeks and Shakespeare and his peers all lean on dialogue to provide just about everything you need for the story. And what stories those are! So: How could we create these Easy Plays with Easy Enjoyment genres (the summer movie tentpole stuff: Super heroes! Monsters! Robots! Etc.) 


Q: What sort of inputs/prompts have been particularly memorable and surprising for you with The Writer’s Nightmare?

A: Oh golly: The 5-words-per-line challenge. I assured the writers that this prompt could be applied any which way they like. But some made it the *primary theme* of their pieces and Greg Lam even wrote his play so that ALL lines were 5 words. Amazing. 


Q: Pulp Factor serves a different purpose for The Pulp Stage. Can you tell us the story of that series?

A: The Pulp Stage is in the process of honoring the nationwide need of more diverse representation (outside of straight, white, cis-male) in the industry. What we decided was that we would start reaching out to a greater variety of demographics of playwrights and see if they would like to work with us on projects, such as the Writer's Nightmare or even developing their own serials. However it's important that they know what they're getting into so we have the workshop that they go through first, generating a new play in the Pulp Stage format. 


Q: What format is the workshopping in Pulp Factor compared to Writer’s Nightmare?

A: Currently, it's very similar to Writer's Nightmare but it's front-loaded with a lot more explanation of our way of doing things. We've also given the playwrights more leeway in terms of the genres that they want to work in. This feeds into the next question. 


Q: What types of discoveries have been made via Pulp Factor? 

A: Heart... if a playwright isn't working within the tentpole genres but is honoring our format and creating from their heart, the work is going to play. We've had a saying at Pulp Stage, allowing all rules to get thrown out, if needed: "If it plays, it plays." 

Enjoy More Pulp:  That Damned Hotel   The Beaten Path   Treachery Island   THE WRITER'S NIGHTMARE   Pulp Factor   The Pulp Podcast