Selma Burke

Maria Crooks & Caroline Russell-King (2022) Selma Burke

Drama

Full Length – 95 minutes

Casting – 2f, 2m

Awards

Finalist – Sharon Pollock Playwriting Competition 2022

Premise

Based on a true story, Selma Burke is about the remarkable life of the African American sculptress of the same name. Through her exceptional art, she chronicles many of the extraordinary events of the 20th century: lynchings, the Harlem Renaissance, the holocaust, the assassination of MLK. Recognizing that it's aways easier to rip things down than build things up, she champions others' accomplishments through her art in a society that doesn't always acknowledge her talents, a husband who loves her but often destroys her work, the government that steals her art and the FBI that threatens her.

Innovatively actors metamorphize into Selma's sculptures who challenge, support, and bicker with her and each other.

Hook

How does an artist take up arms when all she has is a mallet, a chisel and a block of stone?

Theme

Destruction is the work of an afternoon. Creation is the work of a lifetime. – Kamahl

Production & Development

Selma Burke was workshopped and had a public reading at Theatre Calgary in 2023.

Scheduled to have a production with Theatre Calgary in association with Alberta Theatre Projects in 2024.

Read the Full Script

The Servant

Maria Crooks (2014) The Servant

Drama

Full Length – 60 minutes

Casting – 3f, 2m

Awards

Nominated for a CAT Award 2015, Best Original Script

Premise

The Servant is a play about a Jamaican woman, Juanita, accused by a former employer of stealing a valuable ring. Without a reference, she is unable to obtain employment and seems destined for a downfall. The dream of providing a better life for her children begins to evaporate. Just when all seems lost, a saviour in the form of a pastor's wife comes to her rescue, but the pastor himself has other more nefarious ideas in mind when he meets her. Juanita is caught in a difficult position and believes she must give in to his advances. However, in the end, she finds the strength to fight back and puts her life back on track.

Hook

Female, uneducated, poor, and Black, Juanita must fight to gain her own personal independence.

Theme

A little axe can cut down a big tree. – Jamaican proverb

Production & Development

This play was workshopped in Calgary in 2014 and produced by Urban Stories Theatre the same year at the Motel Theatre in Arts Commons.

Read the Full Script

The Age of Love

Maria Crooks (2015) The Age of Love

Comedy

Full Length – one act, 65 minutes

Casting – 3f, 2m

Premise

Inspired by a true event, The Age of Love is about a peculiarly dysfunctional and eccentric family. Ash, a 21‑year‑old, has incongruously fallen in love with his 77‑year‑old step‑grandmother Olivia, whom he met for the first time at his grand‑father's funeral. The two begin an improbable and secret love affair. The relationship must be kept secret because if his mother were to find out, she would disinherit him.

Hook

Non‑stop hilarity ensues when a free-spirited step‑grandma, a libidinous young man, a jealous mama, a weirdly eccentric German psychologist, and a ruthlessly ambitious talk show host meet on a tabloid TV show.

Theme

The course of true love never did run smooth. – Shakespeare.

Production & Development

This play was workshopped in Calgary in 2015 and produced the same year by Urban Stories Theatre at the Motel Theatre in Arts Commons.

Read the Full Script

La mère, La mer

Maria Crooks (2017) La mère, La mer

Credit: Virginia Crooks

Drama

Full Length – Short play, 15 minutes

Casting – 1f, 1m

Premise

A brilliant African student marries an older French man and has a child. The pressures of marriage, motherhood, and preparing her thesis for a Ph.D. overwhelm her. She has a mental breakdown which leads to a tragic outcome. This play was inspired by a true event which took place in a seaside town in France, in 2013.

Hook

A mother seeks protection for her child in the sea.

Theme

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied. – John Masefield

Production & Development

This play was presented at the Just Acts Play Festival in Calgary in 2017.

Read the Full Script

Dreamboat

Maria Crooks (2016) Dreamboat

Credit: Virginia Crooks

Fantasy Tragicomedy

Full Length – Short play, 20 minutes

Casting – 2f, 1m

Premise

Dreamboat is about a girl, Sam, who so desperately wants to have a boyfriend that like Pygmalion, she fashions one into being.

Hook

Can dreams really come true?

Theme

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream. – Edgar Allan Poe

Production & Development

This play was presented at the Just Acts Play Festival February 2016.

Read the Full Script