Grew Up… studying playwriting with every teacher and reading every book on the subject. David Shayne has always wanted to be a great artist – he vows, “I won’t change a word of my play to pander to some commercial Broadway audience!”
Living… in the roaring ‘20s. Manhattan is a dangerous place during Prohibition: gangsters rule the roost, from the supper clubs of the Lower East Side to the lights of Broadway.
Profession… struggling artist, currently looking to fund his play, Gods of Our Fathers. David can’t seem to find the dough to finance his “masterpiece” until he meets a gangster named Nick Valenti who needs a favor. If David agrees to put Olive Neal – the gangster’s girlfriend – in his play, Nick will put forward the money required to stage it.
Interests… the power of art. David has a lot of fancy ideas about his writing, but when it comes down to it, he “don’t write like people talk,” in the words of Olive’s mobster bodyguard, Cheech.
Relationship Status… having a passionate affair with his alcoholic lead actress, Helen Sinclair. David is stricken with guilt, especially now that his girlfriend, Ellen, is starting to suspect something.
Challenge… making his play work. Olive Neal, who can’t seem to remember any of her lines, is ruining Gods of Our Fathers. Meanwhile, David is having an artistic crisis when he learns that Olive’s bodyguard, Cheech, has a better mind for writing than he does. He cries, “Suddenly, I’m taking suggestions from a strong-arm man with an IQ of minus 50.”
Personality… nervous, tortured, and guilty. Everything in David’s life seems to be falling apart – his career as a playwright, his confidence in himself, and his relationship with Ellen. Through it all, he’s bumbling all over Manhattan, trying to avoid angering the mob while he struggles to make his play a success.
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