A Story is a Promise


A Story 
is a Promise

Essays on the Craft of Writing

Plays by Bill Johnson



A photo of Bill Johnson, author of A Story is a Promise and the Spirit of Storytelling.

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My play The Baggage Handler was performed during Diez Minutos, San Miguel’s First Annual 10-Minute Play Festival, in April of 2013. This is the first theater festival of its kind in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

In The Baggage Handler a couple getting ready to be reborn learn something about themselves and each other when they check in the baggage for their next life.


Christine Foster will direct. Christine is the award-winning author of a variety of full length, short plays and television shows produced internationally. Her newest, a black comedy about the Black Death, has been optioned for production in 2013. She has also worked extensively as a director and producer in Canada, Mexico and the UK.

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My play The True Cost of Heavenly Birth Insurance has been performed in the Pick of the Vine Season 11, The Countries Best Short Plays. In the play, a heavenly insurance salesman comes to realize the woman asking about birth insurance (which involves trading in a spouse or child's well-being for the well-being of the beneficiary) comes to realize she is the mother who traded in his health in his last lifetime to have a gilded life as a princess.

I'll attended a performance in Los Angeles.

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My play South of Normal is available on Amazon Kindle . In the play, a young man born with a congenital birth defect -- only one arm -- discovers after his con man father's death that he has brothers and a sister. When he goes to meet them, they are indifferent to him because of his handicap, and they are wildly eccentric. A step sister thinks she is a Star Trek admiral. A step brother promotes himself as a reincarnation of Aleister Crowley. When the young man discovers his nephew is missing and his siblings only want a reward for turning him over to the executor of the will, he goes in search of his nephew to save him from what he believes to be the last con of his dead father.

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My play Betting the Karmic House was performed November 9th - 11th at 7:30 pm at Potomac Falls High School in Sterling, Virginia.

In Betting, a couple in a heavenly casino discover they can use the karma of their next life together to place bets. If they win, they'll have a better life. What the husband is ready to gamble to win a better life (and wife) and what it says about his current wife puts his future marriage at risk.


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The True Cost of Heavenly Birth Insurance was performed in the tenth annual North Park Playwright Festival October 12-14th.

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Martha the Messiah was performed as part of the Willamette Writers conference Actor's Lab. Martha is a female apostle who sees her way to becoming the number one apostle lies in getting rid of Jesus.

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The Deaths of Romeo and Juliet in Heaven was performed at the Willamette Writers conference in August, 2010.

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The Baggage Handler was performed at the The White Mountain School, Bethlehem New Hampshire. The director was Sam Brown; the cast was Fred, played by Ronan Casey; Muriel was played by Titi Angelova; the Baggage Handler was played by Nick Corter.

Available for production. To read the script, click on this link.


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My play A Test of Compassion was read as part of Playwright's Express in Los Angeles. The show was a benefit for FirstStage Theater. The performance date was Sunday, June 8th. FirstStage Theatre is located inside the Hollywood United Methodist Church 6817 Franklin Ave at Highland Ave. in Hollywood, CA.

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My play The Baggage Handler was staged at the Black Box Theatre in Palm Springs, California as part of the Playwrights' Circle Short Play Festival. Tony Padilla was the Producing Artistic Director.

Eric Olson was the director. After graduating with a degree in playwriting from UCLA, he earned a master’s degree from Columbia University. A gifted playwright, His plays Nothing…Less and Waving Flags received their premiere productions by Playwrights’ Circle at the Black Box Theatre in Palm Springs. Eric also appeared in See How They Run for Manor Productions, What Happens in Vegas and Maternal Spirits for Playwrights’ Circle.

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My play Betting the Karmic House has been published in The Best Ten-Minute Plays for Three or More Actors by Smith and Kraus, edited by D. L. Lepidus. House is about couple in the afterlife who discover they can place bets in a heavenly casino with their karma.

The play is available for production. To read the script, click on this link.

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Betting the Karmic House was part of Lakeshore Players 3rd Annual Ten Minute Play Contest. The play was directed by Aaron Rocklyn.


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The Catholic Schoolgirl and the Gay Klingon was performed as part of Toy Boat Production's Choke on My Heart show at The Coho Theater. Schoolgirl is directed by Aaron Ross; Fred is played by Geoff Kleinman, Muriel is played by Michael Anna Fambro.

Aaron Ross: Aaron works with Portland comedy troupes Renob Control, Kick the Squirrel & A+ Failing.

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In The Caregiver an elderly black man is a caregiver for a paralyzed, racist white woman who grew up on a farm in the Pacific Northwest. When he gives her a pill that will put her to sleep permanently, is his decision moral or immoral? Staged by First Stage Theater in Los Angeles.

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My play Judas was performed as part of The Provincetown Theatre Company play festival in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

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On the Road to Camp Lazarus was read as part of Another Country Production's SLAMBoston reading series. Road is about a father determined that his dead son attend the summer camp he wasn't allowed to go to as a child. David W. Frank was the director. John Carter was played by Steven W. Richardson; Mason Priss was played by Jay Lee. Lyralen Kaye is the Artistic Director of the SLAM.

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My play Satan Offers Lassie a Room of Her Own was performed by Another Country Productions in Boston. Lassie must decide whether it's better to be a Hollywood movie star who goes to Heaven or an unacknowledged, unsupported woman artist on Earth with a room of her own in Hell. Directed by Adam Sussman. The cast was Emily Evans and Diane DeCoste.

Lassie was performed as part of the North Park Play Festival in San Diego.

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The Baggage Handler, another one of my after life short plays, was performed in New York as part of the Creative Mechanics/E-MergingWriters 10-Minute play competition, STAGE THIS! The Best 10-Minute Plays We Could Find festival. The play was voted by the audience as best of fest.

In The Baggage Handler a couple getting ready to be reborn learn something about themselves and each other when they check in the baggage for their next life.

Handler and the other plays produced in the festival are available in an anthology put out by Creative Mechanics.

Directed by: Shannon Maddox
Fred: Terry J. Long
Muriel: Maryann Walsh
Baggage Handler: Robert Neal Marshall

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The Baggage Handler was a finalist in the Speaking Ring One Act Play Festival in Chicago.

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ArtWork Enterprises, producers of the Ashland New Plays Festival , performed Pre-Life, Pre-Nuptial as part of their Fourth 10-Minute Play Slam. It was directed by Kevin Berg, and performed by Michael Meyer as Fred, and Kate Sullivan as Muriel.

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Pre-Life, Pre-Nuptial was performed as part of the Pregnant Chad Play Festival on October 7th. The festival was in Windsor, New York, at the Kowawese Unique Area.

The director for the production was Anthony Kollar, who attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, studing with Max Fischer among others.

Fred was played by Anthony Valbiro. He's been performing professionally since the age of 11, in all areas of theatre, film and cabaret. His one man show 'Anthony Nobody, there's a world outside' was performed recently in an extended run at the Duplex in N.Y.C. and he is currently performing in a series of reading and productions in the tri-state area. He plays the role of Fred in Pre-Life.

Misti Tindiglia played Muriel. She has done commericals, voice overs, off off Broadway productions, industrials and movies. She has worked with directors as well known as Stanley Tucci, in "The Imposters", Tim Robbins in "The Cradle Will Rock" and Tim Van Patten on "The Sopranos", as well as working on independent films that have gone on to festivals throughout the country.

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Pre-Life, Pre-Nuptial was performed three nights as part of the Brief Acts Company's Summer 2004, a festival of short plays, July 21-22-23 at the John Houseman Too Theater in New York City.

Directed by Anthony Galluccio.

The cast: Muriel - Mary Albertoli, Fred - Richard Gleason

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Yours, From the Heat of My Heart, full length play produced by Firehouse Theater in Portland, Oregon.

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In Out Image, a full length play produced by Keith Scales as radio theater for K-BOO.

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