The act of writing is the act of discovering what you believe.

David Hare


 by Jill Dalton

2015 Semi-finalist Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference

WHISTLE-BLOWER based on Pvt. Bradley (Chelsea) Manning who was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison for exposing U.S. war crimes.

An idealistic young kid with gender identity issues joins the U.S. Army to save his soul and defend his country, but instead uncovers and exposes corruption and war crimes at the highest levels of government.

6 actors.  4 of them play several parts.

Staged reading of WHISTLE-BLOWER @ Polaris North in NYC.

“Your play is a triumph – I’m blown away.  This is a Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway show – save me a seat.”    Mary Teitelbaum

Cast L to R:  Jim Nugent, Leslie Lynn Meeker, Sam Lubin, John Edgar Moser, Nathaniel Janis, Keith Herron, Lauren Williams, & Alix Elias

i was so absorbed in the story line I completely forgot about the actors perfomances…..THEY WERE GREAT.    Richard Gordon

John Edgar Moser as Bradley/Chelsea Manning

“Captivating, all the way through.  Intelligent, well-written, funny . . .How to get people to come when they think it’s ‘just’ a “political play,” when it is so much more than that, very human, very full.  I am very impressed.  Are there plans to move it on?”  Kam Metcalf



LtoR: James Nugent, Jill Dalton, & John Edgar Moser in a scene from WHISTLE-BLOWER.

If you aren’t writing your story, your story is always being written for you by others.  And if you aren’t telling your story, your story is always being told to you by others.

Wajahat Ali

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by Jill Dalton

2014 Semi-finalist Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference

COLLATERAL DAMAGE explores the invisible costs of war.  What happens when a warrior returns from war with all their physical and psychological wounds and inflicts them on his family?

An idealistic southern Army brat, Laurie Cameron, defies her Colonel/father, as she struggles to stop the Vietnam War, and learns first hand the untold cost of war on her family, but finds solace and redemption in, of all places, stand-up comedy.  After many years she returns home on the eve of her father’s funeral, where she must face her demons and her combative angry alcoholic brother in order to heal their relationship, forgive her father and herself, and make peace with the past.

5 main characters.
1 supernumerary
1 with one short speech

I did a reading of COLLATERAL DAMAGE with William Hurt reading the part of the Colonel. His presence and reading were wonderful.  I was blessed to have him there.

The cast included:

Amy Metroka (Laurie Cameron)
Keith Herron (Jack Cameron)
William Hurt (Colonel Cameron)
Mary Ann Hay (Judi Cameron)
James Wirt (Johnny)
Grant Machan (Announcers/MC/National Guard/Soldier)
Anne Pasquale (Stage Directions)

The next incarnation was a staged reading at Polaris North directed by Jack McCullough.

The cast included:

Jill Dalton (Laurie Cameron)
Keith Herron (Jack Cameron)
Richard Marshall (Colonel Cameron)
Mary Ann Hay (Judi Cameron)
James Wirt (Johnny)
Grant Machan (Announcers/MC/National Guard/Soldier)
Anne Pasquale (Stage Directions)

LtoR: Keith Herron, Jill Dalton, Mary Ann Hay, Anne Pasquale, and Grant Machan.

Collateral Damage is a WINNER … expecting it to hit Broadway.  Sunday show was fantastic … this play is brilliant! The acting was superb!”    Susan McCauley

Jill Dalton (Laurie) and James Wirt (Johnny)

Such a good show – the acting /the writing/ the direction/ Hats off to u Jill Dalton, and your ensemble!  Cindy Wilks

LtoR: Keith Herron (Jack), Jill Dalton (Laurie), and David Licht (Colonel)

Bravo to all of you! The multi-layered and agile writing, fluid direction, and laser-sharp performances all make for a powerful work that must be seen by more audiences. Precise and poignant without ever being preachy. I enjoyed all of you. Truly well done!    Kris Lew

LtoR: Mary Ann Hay (Judi), Jill Dalton (Laurie), and Anne Pasquale (stage directions)

It’s a gem: truth and wit!  Mary Ann Sekely

LtoR: James Wirt (Johnny) and David Licht (Colonel)

LtoR: Keith Herron (Jack), David Licht (Colonel), Jill Dalton (Laurie), and Mary Ann Hay (Judi)

Cast bios

LtoR: Jack McCullough (director) and Jill Dalton (playwright) during Q & A after reading.

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by Jill Dalton

I’m sitting across the dining room table from Gail Stahlhuth at her Christmas dinner when she asks me, 

“How would you like to write a play about Lizzie Borden?”

This catches me a little off guard, 

“No.  I mean…I don’t need a homicidal maniac running around in my head.”  

“She was acquitted, you know.”  

“Oh, I didn’t know.  I thought they hung her like in the ballet?”

“Nope.  Well, think about it.”

I go home and immediately forget about it.  A few days later, Gayle calls, 

“So what do you think?”  

“About what?”  

“Writing a solo play about Lizzie Borden.”  

“Oh, you’re serious.”  

“Yes, I’m serious.  And I’ll pay you, and you’ll do the world premiere down here in Cape May and it’ll be an Equity contract.”  

“Oh, okay, well, let me do a little research, and see how I feel about it.”  And thus began my decade long rendezvous with the notorious Lizzie Borden.

LIZZIE BORDEN LIVE! was commissioned in 2006 by Gayle Stahlhuth and had its world premiere at the East Lynne Theatre Company in Cape May, NJ in August 2007.  The play had a successful five-week run with accolades from critics and audiences alike.  The play then went on to tour NYC, RI, MA, and AZ.

Ms. Dalton received THE JACOBY AWARD for her performance of Lizzie.

c. 2007

DRAMATIC QUESTION:  Will a wealthy New England spinster find happiness after being accused, tried, and acquitted of the brutal hatchet murders of her father and stepmother?

Dalton  runs the gamut of emotions in this play from a supposedly mild Christian woman to that of a ruthless murderer.

Jacob Schaad, Jr. , CAPE MAY GAZETTE


See separate LIZZIE BORDEN LIVE! highlight.

Prior to Lizzie, there was . . .


An autobiographical solo play by Jill Dalton

I played 23 characters.

A thirty-year siege through her southern roots, a fractured war-torn family, addictions, marriage, recovery, death, divorce, New York City, and acting with many detours along the way before she’s finally able to let go of her past and excavate her authentic self.

In 2003 the TRINITY REPERTORY COMPANY under the direction of Oskar Eustis said,

It’s an engaging piece full of humor and theatrical sensibility.  The story moves quickly and effectively through its biological timeline, while maintaining, the audience-actor relationship necessary to keep the material active.

Literary Department, Trinity Repertory Company

I developed and performed the show from 2000 – 2006.  The piece was directed by my friend, Jack McCullough, a 1982 graduate of the Trinity Repertory Conservatory in Providence, RI where he studied acting and directing and was a recipient of the Peter Kaplan Acting Fellowship for Trinity Rep’s ’84-85 season.  Jack helped to guide this ship and I am forever grateful to him for this.  He believed in me, which made me believe in myself.

This play changed my life in huge ways.  Because I played both my parents and actually wore my father’s uniform I was able to literally experience life through their eyes.  And through  this experience, I was able to heal my childhood wounds.  I believe this play came into being to heal me and subsequently, the play healed others.  I had many people express this to me including a Vietnam vet who said, “I didn’t realize I was suffering from PTSD until I saw your show.”

Writing and performing this piece was terrifying and exhilarating.

(See separate highlight for MY LIFE IN THE TRENCHES)

In front of The Kitchen Theatre Company in Ithaca, NY c. 2006

Before TRENCHES I did stand up comedy, which started me writing jokes and those jokes lead me to write and performing short solo pieces, which lead to me putting some of those pieces together in a full-length solo piece called, CALLING ON GOD, which I performed at Surf Reality.  I just kept following my muse.  Wherever she lead me I went.

The “creative life” is not an easy choice, but for me it was the only choice.

Jill Dalton