Pigeon Creek Debuts New Arlo Whittaker Radio Play
During the pandemic, Pigeon Creek commissioned two new radio play scripts by playwright David Taylor Little. These plays, which can be seen on our Youtube channel, follow the adventures of Arlo Whittaker, a theatre director who solves Shakespeare-related mysteries that arise during his theatrical productions. On April 23 at 4:00 p.m., we will premiere the third in the Arlo Whittaker series, Arlo Whittaker and the Mackers Mistake, in a live, in-person reading at the Bookman bookstore in Grand Haven, Michigan. Admission to the event is by pay-what-you-will donation, and we would love to have you join us! Below, playwright David Taylor Little discusses his inspiration for the script.
I have been a mystery buff since I was first able to read on my own. My love of the genre started when I began the Encyclopedia Brown books, grew as I moved on to young adult adaptations of Sherlock Holmes stories, and then graduated when I discovered the novels of Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh. This love of detective stories cultivated in me a desire to create my own series of mysteries. Not being a novelist, however, it made sense to resort to a written form I DID understand...theatre. Some form of serialized play seemed to fit the bill. So, when the pandemic started, the world shut down, and I lost directing work, it seemed like the perfect time to begin writing this series.
At first, I imagined an episodic podcast about a theatre director whose productions of unlikely musical adaptations are consistently interrupted by murder...a la the weekly television adventures of Cabot Cove native Jessica Fletcher. However, that vision shifted slightly when Pigeon Creek agreed to produce my first Arlo Whittaker mystery as a radio play in the summer of 2020. The musical theatre artist of my imagination became a director of William Shakespeare’s plays. Originally titled A Twelfth Night Murder, episode one of the Arlo Whittaker series, in which Arlo saves his production of Twelfth Night by solving the murder of the theatre company’s managing director, was produced on YouTube. Later the play was revised for a live stage/Vimeo production at Ball State University in the Spring of 2021. Further revision and workshopping at The Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp led to the play's final title, Arlo Whittaker and the Viola Verdict. Thus, my series of live podcast mystery plays was born! Pigeon Creek soon commissioned a sequel called Arlo Whittaker and the Petruchio Problem...set in a radio station producing a production of The Taming of the Shrew. Now, Pigeon Creek and The Bookman are about to produce the third instalment of the series, Arlo Whittaker and the Mackers Mistake. I imagine you can figure out which of The Bard’s tales Arlo is working on this time…a murderous play in its own right.
Creating and writing this series of plays has been one of my biggest joys over the last three years. It has been a much-appreciated respite and creative outlet while the world seemed to be falling apart. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Katherine Mayberry, The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company, and their company of actors for affording me this opportunity. And I hope to continue revising these plays towards the ultimate goal of publication. I look forward to the day that high schools, colleges, community theatres, and Shakespeare companies can produce the plays of this series as live events and podcast productions. I am excited about this latest edition of Arlo Whittaker’s adventures, and I sincerely hope you will join us at The Bookman to experience them for yourself.
David Taylor Little