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Neal Learner: Blackout!


Life and Love at the End of the World

A Musical

(Two Acts) 

By Neal Learner


Technology has a powerful grip on this group of high school students and their parents. Everyone, young and old alike, adore their gadgets and use them incessantly as they go about their busy routines. This all changes, however, when a massive blackout hits the community and the lights don’t come back on. Can the students and adults learn to survive without their gizmos? Can they find happiness in a much slower world? Can they avoid anarchy? Blackout explores our relationship with modern technology and shines a light on the fragility of a society run by electrons.


JIM (17 years old; son of Susan and Brian; little brother Luke) Jim is a confident teen but not part of the high school’s “popular crowd.” He is editor of the school newspaper and plays on the tennis team. A perceptive boy, he longs for deeper and more authentic relationships than can found online or during quick exchanges in the hallway.

BROOKE (17 years old): The most beautiful girl in school, Brooke is leader of the “popular crowd.” She is ambitious and involved in many school activities. She has no insecurities and thinks her world and the future is grand. Brooke falls hard when the lights go out, but eventually finds new meaning in her life.

SOPHIA (17 years old; Ted’s daughter): Sophia is considered part of the school’s “artsy” crowd. She doesn’t use any of the latest technology and instead prefers to write handwritten letters, play board games and paint. Despite her independent nature, she has insecurities of not belonging.

SAM (Jim’s best friend): Sam is a computer genius who can fix anything electronic. He also is a philosopher and he enjoys discussing esoteric questions, such as, “What’s at the edge of the universe, and what’s just beyond that?” Jim and Sam also discuss more mundane questions like, “Why did she blow me off?”

AVA (Brooke’s best friend, girlfriend of Jack): Ava is an airhead who is obsessed with her smart phone, iPad and other gadgets. When the electricity goes out, her main concern is not being able to text her friends.

JACK (One of the cool kids, boyfriend of Ava, friend of Brooke): Jack starts out as part of the high school in-crowd, but when the lights go out his dark side emerges. Rather than staying positive in the face of adversity, he predicts the end of the world and vows to go down fighting.

TED (late 40s/early 50s; Sophia’s father and owner of Out of Time): Ted is owner of the coffee shop “Out of Time,” which sells coffee, muffins, used books, and CDs and records. The back of his shop has a stage and chairs where he holds poetry slams and open mic nights for singer/songwriters. Ted used to work as a financial analyst on Wall Street but burned out from the killer hours and stress. He has traded his suits for colorful Hawaiian shirts. When not attending to the shop, he bangs away on a manual typewriter, trying to finish his long-in-progress novel.

SUSAN (late 40s; mother of Jim and Luke): Susan is well educated and used to work in public relations, but hasn’t worked since Jim was born 17 years ago. She spends her time volunteering at Luke’s school and taking him to soccer practice. She also can be found at the local spa having her nails done and going out with friends for long lunches and wine.

BRIAN (late 40s/early 50s; father of Jim and Luke): Brian is a high-powered vice president at a pharmaceutical company. He is constantly on airplanes traveling to meetings and conferences around the country. He loves his sons, but has little time for him with his busy travel schedule. When he’s in mixed company, he ends up flirting with the married women.

OLD LADY/GRANNY (late 60s/early 70s): Granny is a frequent patron of Out of Time who likes to observe and eavesdrop on others. She can be found poking her nose into other people’s business, and offering valuable advice to Jim and Sophia. Granny also provides prospective on the blackout, and sings praises to the humble potato once the lights go out.

STUDENTS IN CHORUS (Taylor’s friends): The popular students are not necessarily mean, but very self-absorbed. They constantly check their smart phones, text each other, listen to their iPods.  (Out of Time patrons): Funky kids with long hair and laid-back attitudes, they like to hang out in Out of Time where they discuss poetry, and argue over who is the most hip: Jack Kerouac, Marlon Brando or Johnny Depp?

ADULTS IN CHORUS – SOCCER MOM WALTZ: (Friends of Brian and Susan) Two couples who have elementary school-aged children on Luke’s soccer team. ERIC/CARLA (super mom) Carla brags about her great life and her ability to do everything. TOM/JULIA (working mom) Julia complains about how hard she has to work while the stay-at-home mothers enjoy manicures and drinking red wine with lunch.

Ode to the Potato


TAKE OVER ME by Neal Learner

Blackout - All Songs