Set in Frank’s café, a greasy spoon diner in New York City’s Upper Broadway neighborhood, Balm in Gilead loosely centers on Joe, a cynical drug dealer, and Darlene, a naïve new arrival to the big city, over the course of three days. Joe and Darlene spend the night together hours after meeting, but he soon pushes her away, overwhelmed by his debt to a local kingpin named Chuckles. Darlene, meanwhile, finds herself ill-equipped to handle life in a New York slum, and she becomes increasingly vulnerable to the attentions of the various low-rent men who hang around the café looking for an easy target.
A number of “hoods” (A general term that could cover almost everyone in the play, but defines more specifically the petty thieves, bargainers, hagglers, pimps. They will steal anything from anyone and sell anything including themselves to any man or woman with the money, although they could not be described as homosexuals. Their activities in this area are ·few and not often mentioned.
Most of the characters are about twenty-three to thirty years old unless otherwise noted.
WOMEN – A number of the women are lesbians; some have boys’ nicknames; they might be prostitutes as well:
BABE, a heroin addict – Any Age.
KAY, the waitress. Any age
BONNIE, a prostitute.
ANN, a prostitute.
DARLENE, an attractive girl, twenty to twenty-three; recently arrived from Chicago; she speaks with a candid, Midwestern voice that sets her apart-from the sound of the rest of the play. Darlene has a very long monologue.
MEN – some are drug addicts, some are pushers, some are prostitutes.
XAVIER – Hispanic
TIG, a male prostitute (hustler).
MARTIN, a heroin addict.
RAKE, a hustler.
DOPEY, a hustler-addict. Somewhat of the narrator, has monologues.
ERNESTO, a hustler – Colombian.
CARLO, a Colombian
FICK, a heroin addict who sometimes provides a background to the rest of the action. Has substantial monologues. (I am open to Fick being any gender)
JOHN, the waiter-grill man. Any age
FRANNY, an almost transvestite boy – very beautiful, very feminine.
DAVID, much like Franny, not so lovely.
STRANGER, about thirty-five. (I am open to any gender)
FRANK, about fifty-five.
AL, a bum, about fifty.
JOE, a New Yorker, typical middle-class metropolitan background. He is twenty-four, good-looking, of average height and build.
TWO to FOUR ENTERTAINERS – who set the tone for the show. Must be able to sing. Will be on stage the majority of the show. Any age, any gender, any ethnicity.
ALL ACTORS should learn the Joe Cocker version of A Little Help from My Friends for this audition.
This show will be very physical and most characters are on stage the entire show.
Show will run in the Winter/Spring of 2018