The Winners

What's the character breakdown?

1 man and 2 women.

How long is it?

It's a full-length play, 91 pages long.  With an intermission, it plays at about 1:40, 1:45.

Has it been produced?  

Yes, it was produced by HotCity Theatre in St. Louis in September of 2011.  It was also produced by The Owl and Cat Theatre in Melbourne, Australia in February 2016.

Has it won any awards?  

Yes, it won HotCity's GreenHouse New Play Festival in 2010 and, as a result, was produced by them the following year.

What's it about?  

Cassie & Kurt, a couple in their late thirties, have won $337 million in the lottery and as their first big spending spree they hire Tiffany, a twenty-three year old Asian-American call girl, to spend the night with them.  What starts as a sexual fantasy turns into something darker, though, when one member of the couple decides that what can really be bought with all this money isn't just sex but freedom.  A freedom that could very well tear this family apart with changes that can't ever be taken back.

Can I read a sample?  

Of course you can!  You can read it right here.

Any critical response?

Yes, Judith Newmark of The St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote:

Like a Pinter play with a dirty mind, "The Winners" invades the most intimate territory, the relationship between married people. There — again echoing Pinter — playwright David L. Williams demonstrates the power of things left unsaid, even between people who presumably could say anything to one another.

But they don't always do that, do they? And when they do, even a loving husband and wife may discover the power to horrify each other.

Last year, "The Winners" won HotCity's GreenHouse competition for new plays; now the troupe is presenting its world première, under the direction of Marty Stanberry. It's an apt choice. HotCity's cool aesthetic finds a good match in Williams' sharp, edgy story. Just remember, sharp edges can make deep cuts.

"The Winners" are Kurt (Shaun Sheley) and Cassie (Shanara Gabrielle), a couple catapulted out of middle-class struggle by a lottery ticket. Now worth untold millions, they embark on their first splurge, a night of sexual fantasy for them both. To make their dreams come true, they've hired a beautiful Asian-American prostitute (who would rather be called an escort, or perhaps dental hygienist), Tiffany (Sasha Diamond).

In her short, one-shouldered black dress, Tiffany is plainly the outsider in this tasteful house, impeccably designed by James Holborow. It's an unlikely scene for the encounter, from crystal knickknacks on the built-in shelves to the baby monitor on the pale sofa. ... Sheley, in full-on debonair-dad mode, makes the financial arrangements as suavely as he can, considering that until recently he probably had to figure out tips in his head. Cassie seems a little bit tense, though. Is that because she never did anything like this before? Or because she's so eager to change that?

In the meantime, Diamond changes personalities on a dime, an endless calibration of what's expected against what she's willing to do. Are any of them really who she is? What would it take to get her to tell them? If that is, indeed, all they want — and no, it is not.

The most intense sexual behavior takes place offstage, but the most intense fantasies take place before our eyes and, especially, our ears. In the second act, when the play takes an unexpected emotional turn, the mood changes along with the subject matter. By then, it's not Harold Pinter that Williams echoes, but Scott Fitzgerald. Maybe the rich really are different from the rest of us. And none the better for it.

Victoria Mantynen of Planet Arts in Melbourne wrote:

“Only exceptional people get exceptions” and what an exceptional show it was. The Owl and Cat may be an old, well-loved theatre but its new management team have done a remarkable job at bringing a warm and refined glow to the venue. The transformation of the theatre was only fitting for the raw, meaty script of David L. Williams and the incredible cast of The Winners. Under the direction of Gabrielle E. Savrone the constant struggle between loving and hating each of Williams’ characters will have you endlessly engaged with an unusual sense of trepidation. The exquisite twists and confrontations on how you see The Winners will have you celebrating this professional independent theatre and looking forward to their next show.

Bathing in organic truth the authenticity of the actors’ actions and the seamless detail applied even to the smell of the space by director Savrone, every sense of the audience is invited to be engaged and stimulated by the performance. Beautifully, Savrone was able to generate the illusion of genuine regard between the characters whether it was with the gentle nestling or playful advances. The tailored personality of the space and positioning of actors within it proved to be essential as power was evidently dictating the development of the performance and the audiences’ placement of emotional empathy.

Savrone’s eye for brilliance extends to her choice in cast. Unlike Williams’ characters Savrone could have her fantasy of fearless, humanising actors manifest into a reality. The ability to reinvigorate and intensify the dialogue from spoken word to honest, driven conversation was captivating as it drew the audience into acknowledging the emotion and issues of modern societies lust for greed, sex, and money. Depth of each issue presented was strengthened by the breathe of passions that each actor was able to convey. From the sweet, embarrassed but blunt authority of Claire Sara’s character, to the use of aggressive sarcasm to conceal the vulnerability of Ra Chapman’s character and the ever-shifting intention of Timmy Knowles’ character, the balance achieved by the actors unity and skill will have you immersed in the grey area of reality.

Ultimately everyone’s got a price for everything and the lack of civility shown by and to each character will have you questioning your own limits. Of course the justification of our price and actions is validated purely by perspective. It is what allows us to illustrate our dignity and creditability while indicating clearly the boundaries that we will acknowledge and permit to restrict us. After all “I’m not fucking nuts” is a reasonable way to express distain for other peoples lack of class and moral compass. However, once the element of freedom is suggested for sale the lure of money and its true price invite a dark dictating sense of entitlement that may have you questioning your treatment of your last serviceman.

Witnessing The Winners fantasy in reality and their attempt to free and purify themselves of responsibility with material trade will have you baffled and horrified at the truth of society. This incredibly strong and captivating performance will have you reflecting on who actually wins in a world full of The Winners. Are you one of them?

Any pictures of past productions?  

Yep.  Right down below.

Has it been published?

Not yet, but I'll always entertain offers.