David L. Robbins
Novelist, Educator, Playwright, Essayist
Stage Plays
In the past four years, I've written and had produced four plays for the theatrical stage: 
​- 2013, Scorched Earth, an adaptation of my 2009 courtroom novel of the same name;
​- 2014, Sam & Carol, an original two-actor tour de force about my parents; 
​- 2017, The End of War, an epic play adapted from my 2010 novel of the same name, about the fall of berlin at the end of WWII; and,
​- 2017 The King of Crimes, a one-act written in conjunction with the John Marshall Society, about the great treason trial of Aaron Burr, presided over by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall. 

​Here are some videos and imagery about the works. if you represent a theater company and you'd like to see a press package and/or the scripts, please contact me

The King of Crimes; The Treason trial of Arron Burr in John Marshall's Court

Commissioned by The John Marshall Foundation, The King of Crimes is a long one-act play about the trial of Thomas Jefferson's first vice president -  and the man who famously shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel - Aaron Burr. Burr was a charismatic figure who, denied power by Jefferson and on the run following his killing of Hamilton, set out to carve for himself a kingdom in an already fractured America. His scheme was to set himself as emperor, in the same fashion as Napoleon had done in France, either in the Spanish holdings of the Floridas, in the great swaths of barely settled lands of the Louisiana Purchase and the Orleans territory, or even by sparking a war with Mexico. Burr was captured before his plans could be fully put into effect. Thomas  Jefferson became adamant seeing Burr hang for treason. This sparked one of the first and greatest constitutional crises in our young America's history, and only John Marshall, the great Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, stood between the president and Burr, and between Burr and a noose. 

​The play is a long one-act, written for theater-in-the-round or a thrust staging. Audiences range from high school students to adults. The cast of six play multiple roles, and the play is designed to be suitable for travel.   

The End of War

​The following is the author's note from the original playbill: 

 When I set out to write the novel, The End of War, the source material for this play, I had in mind a Greek tragedy. The book was designed to mimic classic theatrical structure: three Olympian gods (in this case, Churchill, Stalin and FDR) who decide the fates of men; then three chosen mortals (in the novel, one American combat photographer, a female cellist in Berlin, and a crazed Soviet soldier) live out the Olympians’ intents on the earth. I took pains to make the book authentic, using much historical fact; these include several topics you’ll see in the play, such as the actual plot to save the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra from the last days of the war, the real threat to Berlin’s women by the advancing Red Army, and the tragic choice made by many of the city’s women to take cyanide tablets – made available by the Nazi Youth – rather than face the coming wrath of the Russians.

When the time arrived to adapt my novel for the theatre, I jettisoned much of the book’s structure – the Olympians, the iconic politicians, several fictional characters – and concentrated on the story’s core, the terrible history of the fall of Berlin. I centered the piece on a few viewpoints: two women struggling to persist in the final cataclysm of the German capitol, a lone Jew hiding his sacrifices and loss, two Red soldiers driven to the brink of madness by the horrors they’ve done and witnessed, and Berlin itself, “torn down to its skeleton.” The play focuses on the fears and hatreds of both sides, on insanity balanced by courage, and the desire to survive tempered by selflessness. The violence and cost of that war was, in every measure, unimaginable by modern standards, yet they became commonplace. This stands as a warning for modernity. 

I have tried to put for you a museum on the stage, a timepiece of peril, endurance and immense grace from a war long behind us, told by characters who should seem as frightening and challenging as they are contemporary. I ask you to measure what you see, inquire of yourself what you might have done in these circumstances. Ask what you would do today, and if you are honest, our play has done its work. 
​Here's an audio interview with Public Radio about the play, focusing on the music and the live onstage cellist employed in the production. 

Sam & Carol, A Play Where Everything Is True

Sam & Carol  is written as a tour de force for a pair of actors, who in two acts play a dozen roles each, covering the span of my parents' 35 year marriage. I figured in writing this play that every family, every two people who find each other, stay together, make a home and raise children, has at its core myths and true tales of immense courage, luck, struggle and grandeur, even in the smallest moments. Sam & Carol  tries to capture the marvel of  a family. 
Here's a link to an excellent interview with my two wonderful actors, Nick Aliff and Eva DeVirgilis, and the gifted director Jan Powell: 
And here is a television interview, featuring a three-minute excerpt from the play, where Eva plays my grandma Rose meeting my mother Carol for the first time. Enjoy.

Scorched Earth

Set in a small Virginia mill town, Scorched Earth is the story of a young mixed-race couple whose stillborn child is exhumed by the local church where she was laid to rest. That night, the church is burned, and the sheriff's 18 year-old daughter's body is found in the ashes. Based on actual news stories, Scorched Earth is a courtroom drama and a mystery, but even more it is a contemplation on contemporary issues of race, politics, violence and forgiveness.