Tag Archives: ucal shillingford

Full Stage Play Reading – BEYOND THE GLASS by Francis DiClemente

Watch the Spring 2016 Winning Stage Play Reading.

BEYOND THE GLASS Stage Play Table Reading:


Beyond the Glass is a two-act dramatization of Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks. It is a conceptual, philosophical work driven by one of the diner’s customers, Ray, who wrestles with an existence he abhors but cannot alter.


ED – Ucal Shillingford
CAROL – Alicia Payne
RAY – Kari-Michael Helava
JAMES – Rob Notman

Get to know writer Francis DiClemente:

1. What is your stage play about?

The play is about a man—the lead character Ray—who rails against an existence he despises. Locked inside the diner, Ray strives to find an exit; but he fails and he must come to terms with his fate.

2. Why should this play be produced?

I think that’s a question someone else will need to decide, if the work is worthy of production. The story interests me because I think people can relate to Ray’s struggle. Who hasn’t felt stuck in a life situation before, e.g. a low-income job, a failing relationship, etc.?

3. How would you describe this play in two words?


4. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

It’s a Wonderful Life

5. How long have you been working on this play?

The kernel of the idea formed in the late 1990s. I started one version and then shelved it around 2006. I put the project on the back burner and picked it up again a couple of years ago. It took me about a year to write the updated draft (since I work full-time as a video producer and write in my off hours), and then a few more months to do multiple revisions.

6. How many stories have you written?

I’ve written many poems, essays, stories and a few screenplays and stage plays.

7. What motivated you to write this play?

Initially, Hopper’s image drew me in—the four figures suspended in the warm yellow light of an urban diner at night. I love the time period, the 1940s, and the painting seemed like it could have been a scene from a film noir movie. Many people also see the work as a metaphor for urban loneliness. The more I looked at the painting, though, I felt drawn to the figure seated next to the woman. This figure—the character Ray in the play—seemed filled with angst and I wondered what was going on with him. Much has been made about the fact that Hopper never painted a door to the diner. So I started exploring the idea, “What if they can never leave?” And the fixed, locked location and limited characters made the story seem well suited for the stage.

8. What obstacles did you face to finish this play?

My first draft in the early 2000s did not work at all because I tried to make it so Ray could leave the diner. So I thought about what would happen to him in the outside world, where he would go, how he would survive, etc. He ended up coming out of the painting in the Art Institute of Chicago and then roaming the streets of the city. It seemed artificial and forced to me. When I picked up the play again a couple of years ago, I decided that he would never get out of the diner. That was my breakthrough because from that point on, Ray kept trying to get out but all of his attempts failed. I think it made the drama more simple and direct.

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Sports, especially hockey (go Rangers), movies, music, art, news, etc.

10. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I entered the festival because I had worked on the play for a long time and I wanted to get some feedback, to see if the story made sense to anyone else and what areas would need improvement. The feedback was helpful, and I worked to streamline the text. I still see the play as being in development and a work in progress.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

I don’t really feel qualified to give advice. But the only thing I would say is write the story you want to write—the project you feel most passionate about—even if other people tell you it won’t work. Also, when you’re in the first draft stage, resist the urge to self-edit. Let it all come out in the first draft and then make sense and order out of the piece when you revise it.



Francis DiClemente lives in Syracuse, New York, where he works as a video producer. He writes in his spare time and is the author of three poetry chapbooks. His blog can be found at francisdiclemente.wordpress.com and he’s on Twitter @FranDiClem.

Director/Producer – Matthew Toffolo
Casting Director – Sean Ballantyne
Editor – John Johnson

Short Screenplay Reading – LEROY’S DREAM by Diarra McCormick

March 2016 Winning Short Screenplay

Watch LEROY’S DREAM Table Reading:


LEROY – Ucal Shillingford
DARYL – Rob Notman
SONYA – Alicia Payne

Get to know writer Diarra McCormick:

1. What is your short screenplay about?

My screenplay is about a disgruntled hardworking father struggling to communicate with his combative alcoholic wife who must find the strength to pursue his true passion of becoming a world renowned painter.

2. Why should this screenplay be made into a film?

This screenplay should be made into a film because this story needs to be told. It’s universal and inspirational. Everyone has a dream that they would like to come into fruition, whatever that dream may be. This story not only displays the harsh realities and struggle to get there, but also the satisfaction of making progress. It also continues to shed light on the struggles of living in New Orleans.

3. This story has a lot going for it. How would you describe this script in two words?

Triumphant struggle

4. What movie have you seen the most times in your life?


5. This is a very tight, emotionally engaging and fun screenplay. How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I worked on this screenplay for a month.

6. How many stories have you written?


7. What motivated you to write this screenplay?

New Orleans has a lot of talented visual artists who are stuck working two and three low-paying jobs just to pay the exceptionally high rent that has skyrocketed since Hurricane Katrina. These artists motivated me to shed light on this situation from their perspective and the fact that some communities still haven’t been rebuilt.

8. What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I was very indecisive about the ending, until I realized that simpler was better.

9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Acting, dancing, modeling, and inspiring others.

10. What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

What influenced me to enter the festival was my desire to take a chance on myself and share my story with others. What better way to do it than to enter a festival? I’m glad I did because I have a chance to be heard. My feelings on the initial feedback was that it was a good interpretation of the summary of my story.

11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Don’t be afraid to take a chance on yourself. Rejection is the worst feeling ever, no matter what it is you’re pursuing in life. For writers, it’s important for people to see it and get feedback, so submit your work to festivals. Festivals can become expensive, so make sure you share your writing with different people from all walks of life who don’t mind reading it. You’ll be glad you did.


Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson