Howard Doughty
Midwestern Journal cover


Journal by Howard Doughty

1 or 2 males, 1 female, 1 female musician (plays viola)

Drama/comedy 90 minutes

Perhaps the reports of Mark Twain's death have been greatly exaggerated. His literary style and wit live in Midwestern Journal.

Adapted from Howard Doughty’s award-winning novel, Midwestern Journal, is a serious story embroidered with subtle humor in which the leading character is caught in a void between the past and the present. 

It is in the format of a journal or diary, a double diary.  The entries of Edward Ellis and his great-grandmother, written forty years apart, echo on a parallel course throughout the play. They rise and fall together, cover approximately the same territory, and close when the great-grandmother dies and Edward Ellis, through his own experiences, finally realizes that the heartland in which he grew up is only memories.

Edward Ellis, the great-grandson, can be played by a man of any age from 45 to 65.  He is a Henry Fonda-type who moseys around the stage with his journal in hand (in which is hidden the script).  He wears a white suit, white shirt and belt, white sneakers, and no tie.

Hattie Aldrich, his great-grandmother, is portrayed as a woman in her later years.  She sits in her rocking chair throughout the play except for the final scene when she is gone.  At the start of each act (which are called chapters) she reads excerpts from her diary.  Hattie and Edward are not supposed to be cognizant of each other and usually are not. 

Lady Time, plays her viola (or violin).  Resplendent in Victorian or Edwardian dress, and with a large Gibson Girl hairdo, she is young and beautiful.  Her station is left-rear stage, and she comes out to center stage to play.   Her traditional melodies, mostly early American or Irish folk tunes, accompany Hattie’s recitals.  These melodies are also found in hymns.  She also plays a prelude before each half, and a postlude.  When she is not playing, she disappears into the shadows.  In larger theaters, other stringed instruments may accompany Lady Time during the pre/postludes.


Hattie’s rocking chair is right-center stage.  A lectern is left-center stage.  The lectern is boxy and sturdy enough to sit on when it is upright or overturned.  A stepstool is on the stage near the lectern.  Edward and Hattie have small journals (binders) which contain the script.  Lady Time has her script in a large binder on a music stand, and a tall stool or a chair, left-rear stage.   

A translucent scrim, for rear, or front-projection (depending on the size of the theater), runs across the middle of the stage.  It hangs 20 feet or more back from the front edge of the stage.  For smaller theaters which cannot hang a scrim, a large floor-mounted screen can be placed to the side of the stage area.


The script is mostly monologue.  Hattie reads from her diary and does not even have to memorize it.  Edward recites from his journal.  He should memorize his lines, but he will have the script in hand, in his journal, when he needs to see which paragraph is next.  To reduce the memorization load, two actors may play the part of Edward Ellis.  Howard Doughty himself is often available for all or half of this part.


Graphic cues (PowerPoint projections) are provided on disk.  Stage lighting is slightly blue.  Hattie’s spotlight is golden.  A haze machine could make it a heavenly shaft of light.  A tungsten floodlight, for making silhouettes, stands about eight feet behind the scrim at left-rear stage.  The actors may be able to turn this light on and off themselves as needed.  Hattie and Edward use ear-mounted mics so they can speak with lower voices and be heard in the back without having to project.  Lady Time also uses an ear-mounted mic to amplify her viola.


Fees $50
4 scripts (@$10) $40
Video license (waived if we collaborate on a multi-camera taping) $75



Howard Doughty 440 - 835 - 9526