Be Strong Be Brave and Be Honest: Nelson Mandela

I've also told my kids to be strong, be brave and be honest.  It's something my mother used to tell us.  When I heard about Nelson Mandela's passing today, I thought about how much he embodied these words and how he encouraged the world to change by his actions.  It is very difficult to live by this dictum.

How he stayed strong and brave while in prison for 27 years is mind boggling.  How do you not loose yourself and your mind when you are confined to a prison cell and forced to work in a salt field?  Would I have been so brave or have the courage to be so truthful when I was released?  Would I not have been filled with hatred to the people who held me captive?

He taught us all so much and he will be missed.


Are you looking for a new play that challenges your actors and audience.  Join us in the first worldwide premiere of "The Gas Station Project," written by Victoria Bugbee.  I am building a website that will post photos, videos, and stories from the various casts around the world.  Running time approximate 60 minutes.  Best to have a short intermission.

Here is the play's history.
My 11 year old daughter Georgia was walking our dog Magic when she ran into Maureen Garret in the Draper Park dog run.  Maureen was an actress on The Guiding Light and had started The Actors Lab backstage at CBS's studio in Manhattan.  Georgia told her that her mom was a playwright and had written "A Surreal Soap Opera - Toxic Waste Meets Beach Resort" for Lincoln Center Out of Doors.  Maureen invited me to join the lab and my play was the first one to come out of the workshop.

Originally titled "The Divorce of Tammy and Chet," the 3 person play was written as a weekly.  I wrote it as a short one act.  But the actors loved the characters so much that they encouraged me to continue. Carrie Cromelin was my muse, my Tammy, and week after week she brought the character to life as I wrote act after act. The play was accepted to The First Playwrights Marathon in Ossinging, New York and Kurt McKinney, also of The Guiding Light became my Chet.  (Both are powerhouse actors as was everyone on the show.  I've never seen actors get into character so quickly in a cold reading!) I read the narration of the dramatic comedy.

The play tells the story of Tammy and Chet, a young couple who run a gas station in rural Florida.  Their crumbling marriage is told through their eyes, their children and their best friends, Lynette a chain smoking hairdresser and Buck, Chet's mentor and crack mechanic.  Two actors play all six roles and a narrator leads the audience through 16 different sets including a talk show set, a barroom scene, a roadside car crash, an emergency room and more.  Best to keep it all minimal and let the audience use their imagination.

Tammy has fallen hard to The Juice Boy, an outsider who came into town and opened a health food store in Piggly Wiggly country. Their kids, Tiffany, a brash 10 or 11, and Cuey, a shy boy of 6 or 7, can't figure out what is happening.  Lynette and Buck are old and have seen it all.  Tammy and Chet proceed to loose everything - their marriage, their business, their home.  It was all so freakin' sad that I had a change of heart and rewrote the ending.  Tammy crashes her car and Chet thinks she is dead. He burns rubber to get to the nearby emergency room only to discovers his ex bruised but still as zany as ever.  They decide to try again.  As Chet say, "Its like putting a new trannie (transmission) in a car.  It will run but who knows for how long."  

After my characters decided to get back together, I changed the title to "The Gas Station Project."

With Cherie Fortis, Producer, I directed a staged reading of the play at Overseas Auto Body in Hastings on Hudson.  The audience of 130 raved about the play and many said it had "wheels."  New York Foundation for the Arts was the Fiscal Sponsor, Arts Westchester was a supporter and it was presented by RiverArts - The Rivertowns Arts Council.  Carrie Cromellin, Kurt McKinney reprised their roles and Caroline Winterson was the narrator.

The next year we restaged "The Gas Station Project" at Clark Academy at St. Christopher's in Dobbs Ferry,NY.  We worked with at risk teens who helps us construct a makeshift stage that looked like a used car lot.  Again, Carrie and Kurt joins us and Jasmin Way was narrator.  Whereas Caroline Winterson was in a red convertible, Jasmin hung out on her motorcycle, helmet in hand. This was the year that the bottom fell out of the US economy and too many members in the audience were experiencing fear, doubts or knew families who was in similar situations of loosing everything.  It was bittersweet, full of touching sadness and humor.

I have translated the play into Spanish and an Argentine adaptation.  A friend of mine started a Croatian version and we are looking for translators for French, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and other languages.  Help with translation is welcome.

To participate please contact:

To read more about The Gas Station Project and Victoria Bugbee's other plays visit

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