Every month in 2018, I wrote a ten-minute play inspired by a recent scientific study, as summarized in the Findings column of Harper's Magazine. The plays are wildly varied in form, subject matter, and treatment of the underlying study, and they have been accumulating readings and productions across the country. All are available to read on the New Play Exchange.
A foodie couple shops for the latest treat: placenta, fresh from the maternity ward. But some mothers are more interested in selling than others.
“The placenta is not a superfood.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, Jan. 2018
A villainous Internet troll has met her match, in the hero our time deserves... DOXMAN!
“The most common known motivation for doxing is justice.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, Feb. 2018
A couple who once made a harrowing exit from their restrictive religious community now faces their college-age daughter contemplating her own escape from the life they’ve built for her.
“A gibbon couple who escaped from captivity had a wild baby.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, Mar. 2018
Gibbon was an official selection of the 2019 William Inge Playwrights Conference.
In 1750, an explorer on Lake Superior seeks for a new-discovered island he can name for his patron; in the present day, his descendants try to retrace his course. What will they find - and what will they do if they can’t?
“Many old maps contain imaginary islands.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, Apr. 2018
Dr. Miranda Ritchie simulates a black hole, opening up infinite possible futures, using the only possible subject: herself. Can her advisor understand – or else stop her?
“A physicist determined that some black holes can free an observer from strong cosmic censorship by erasing her past, thereby allowing her an infinitude of possible futures.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, May 2018
Indeterminate won 2nd Prize in the 2019-20 Simons Center Science Playwriting Competition.
Colin and Jill meet cute at a networking event. But as time seems to speed up and the evening threatens to come to an end, can they overcome Colin’s fear that something better is happening somewhere else?
“FOMO increases as the evening goes on.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, June 2018
Four octopuses who believe they come from space plot their takeover of the bipeds who live on land. The only thing that can stop them is their own dogma.
“Thirty-three researchers considered whether octopuses… came from space.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, July 2018
Three siblings sort-of accidentally kind-of kidnapped the woman who got away with killing their youngest brother. Now what do they do with her?
“Sitting in a hard chair makes people want to impose harsher punishments, as does seeing other people exhibit a willingness to punish.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, Aug. 2018
A not-failed-yet playwright reads that greater creative achievements are reported by people who kill in their dreams. Can he lucid-dream-murder his way into creative success, or will his own psyche get the better of him?
“A greater number of creative achievements in waking life was reported by subjects who kill in their nightmares.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, Sep. 2018
Three governor's aides are assigned to recommend a replacement for a deceased senator. What does their choice say about them, their goals, and what they truly believe?
“Worker honeybees in need of emergency queens support members of royal subfamilies over candidates from their own worker families.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, Oct. 2018
A young woman is dead on her doorstep. Mal, a clever detective, suspects... the rosebush.
“A rosebush suspected of killing a woman was cleared when forensic scientists determined that the victim had been stabbed by a human.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, Nov. 2018
Briar Rose will have a reading with Unidentified Stages in March, 2020.
A teenage American girl vacationing in Sweden finds an ancient sword in a lake, awakening a warrior-goddess and her prophecy. Will it help her college application?
“In Sweden, an eight-year-old girl named Saga pulled a pre-Viking sword from a lake.”
Kroll-Zaidi, Rafil. Findings. Harper’s Magazine, Dec. 2018
Saga was an official selection of the 2019 Midwest Dramatists Conference.