Fame & Infamy

Written by:

Lisa Coleman-Brown

Artist/Creator(s) Identify As:

D/deaf, Disabled, and/or Mad

Cast Size:
62

Roles For:

  • Men: 45
  • People of Colour: 4
  • Women: 17

Genre:

Drama

Themes:

20th Century
Fame
Scandal
Sex
Sex Work

Length:

60 min.

Year Written:

2014

Synopsis:

In Fame & Infamy, the madcap days of turn of the 20th century Vaudeville and the slapstick world of the Silent Silver Screen the beloved, rotund yet dainty, actor comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle comes to enjoy world renown. While he from boyhood achieves fame, Virginia Rappe from girlhood craves fame. Starting out as an artist’s model she is soon groomed into the world of prostitution by the evil madame, Maude Delmont, who uses Virginia as bait for tipsy millionaires set up for blackmail shakedowns. Fame turns to infamy when Roscoe’s and Virginia’s paths cross at a 1921 boozy party during the days of prohibition. Virginia takes sick, her bladder ruptures following an earlier illegal backstreet abortion, and she subsequently dies. The press has a field day vilifying Roscoe as rumours swirl accusing him of raping and squashing Virginia to death during the act. Infamy, resulting in a Hollywood sex scandal of 1920’s cancel culture, prevails and his career is destroyed in spite of two jury acquittals.

A “cast of thousands” featuring the likes of the Great Houdini, Buster Keaton, and Pancho Villa, the 62 characters can be played by as few as 8 actors, the maximum number appearing in any scene.

Characters:

ORGAN GRINDER WITH “MONKEY, grizzled old man / STAGEHAND/HAND, male / ROSCOE “FATTY” ARBUCKLE, projected image or film of famous silent comedian in clown makeup as PAGLIACCI / BOY ROSCOE, “Fatty” pre-teen husky child / TEEN ROSCOE, “Fatty” husky teen / ROSCOE, “Fatty” adult obese but dainty / ROSCOE’S GHOST, “Fatty” adult / BOY #2’s VOICE / ANNOUNCER’s VOICE, male / HOUDINI, the great magician and escape artist / JOE KEATON, acrobatic vaudeville star father of Buster Keaton / MYRA KEATON, acrobatic vaudeville star mother of Buster Keaton / TODDLER/BABY BUSTER KEATON, can be a doll / VAUDEVILLE MATRON, middle aged or senior female / WOMEN’S TEMPERANCE LADY #1, prim and proper middle aged / WOMEN’S TEMPERANCE LADY #2, prim and proper middle aged / GIRL VIRGINIA / TEEN VIRGINIA / VIRGINIA, early 20s / SAILOR #1, male teenage or early 20s / SAILOR #2, male teenage or early 20s / MR. GRAUMAN, wealthy showman / MINTA, actress girlfriend and wife of Roscoe / PANCHO VILLA, male Mexican revolutionary leader / COMPADRE, male or female Mexican revolutionary / HORSE #1, hobbyhorse or if by actor male or female / HORSE #2, hobbyhorse or if by actor male or female / ARTIST, male /  MAUDE DELMONT, middle aged female villain blackmailer / TEEN BOY #1, teasing smart aleck / TEEN BOY #2, boisterous teasing / FATHER, down on his luck desperate “stage mother” type / BYSTANDER, amused male adult / PERFORMING DAUGHTER, very young Shirley Temple prototype / CHILD #1, playful male or female / CHILD #2, playful male or female / CHILD #3, playful male or female / BUSTER KEATON, male acrobatic comedian star of silent movies / CAMERAMAN / ACTRESS / STAND-IN ACTOR / FILM DIRECTOR, male / COP, male / BOOTLEGGER #1, male / BOOTLEGGER #2, male / NEFARIOUS THUG PIMP, male / NEFARIOUS THUG’S PROSTITUTE, female / ORDERLY #1, male in white uniform / ORDERLY #2, male in white uniform / MILLIONARE #1, Monopoly game style man in tuxedo, top hat, and monocle / MILLIONARE #2, Monopoly game style man in tuxedo, top hat, and monocle / MOLLY, female friend of Virginia / MR. HEARST, wealthy newspaper owner / PAPERBOY #1, poor but scrappy go-getter / PAPERBOY #2, poor but scrappy go-getter / RADIO ANNOUNCER VOICE, male / GUITAR GIRL, sings and strums guitar / PREGNANT WOMAN / REPORTER, male

(8 maximum on stage at any one time per scene)

Resources:

Fame & Infamy is available through the CPO Website.

To view other works by this playwright, click here.