The Juggler's Act by William Parsons | Script Revolution

The Juggler's Act



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A young man who is struggling to carve his identity battles bullies, family, and society as he does all he can to challenge the expectations all three place on him.


Mike, a lonely, outed gay teenager, is having more than his share of days from hell: bullies; his family’s expectations; the class clown’s intense attention and strange question, “How do you do it?”. He decides to please everyone else by entering a student art competition, which means just adding that to his juggler’s act of avoiding the bullies, getting his grades up, winning back everyone’s—especially his rigid, patriarchal grandfather’s—acceptance. And oh, yeah, Mike’s dealing with his newfound love for his parents’ liquor cabinet. Add to all this his best friend keeps pushing him to honor what a natural singer and dancer he is, something that would just enrage his grandfather if Mike ever dared let the old man find out.

Mike experiences ups: he protects younger classmates at school from the bullies; he places high in the art competition; he’s re-united with his beloved cousin. But he also experiences downs: he alienates his friends; he drinks too much; and he lets his best friend talk him into watching the auditions for the school musical as she goads him to throw his hat in. All this only leaves him to discover it all just leads to exhaustion, disappointment, and despair at the prospect of the half-lived life.

In the end, Mike must respond by making the most important—and the most personal—decision of his young life, a decision which could wreck the family business and the family overall as well as ruin his tenuously-repaired relationship with his grandfather but which could also set free his heart and soul aching to express who and what Mike truly, at his deepest self, is all about.


Hurt, despair, confusion, anger – at 50 years old, I’m feeling these powerful emotions as I grow more dissatisfied every day with living to work (what feeds my bank account: teaching) rather than working to live (what feeds my soul: writing). To be 16 again. I can’t turn back time, but Mike, my 16-year-old protagonist, feels these emotions and struggles with this dilemma. Mike does so in my stead and in the stead of every viewer who will join him on his journey and relate to him and to it on an emotional and personal level.

Mike faces the tug-of-war of pleasing his grandfather, this Italian family’s rigid patriarch who has mapped out Mike’s whole future, and of satisfying his yearning to sing and dance and share those innate gifts with the world. In the course of my feature-length coming-of-age drama set in 1973 California, Mike stumbles, falls, picks himself up, falls again, all in an effort to do what he thinks is right by his family and what is right by him. Along the way is a colorful assortment of his friends and allies, who help him reconcile having been outed as gay, and his enemies, the school bullies and the uncaring headmaster as well as the whisky bottle to which Mike turns more and more to just make it all go away. The story culminates with an unexpected chance for Mike to honor his dreams which threatens to destroy forever the acceptance he has battled to regain from his grandfather, who will not even entertain the notion his grandson is a “frocio”, the Italian slur for a gay person.

Do we remain slaves to our fears, or do we dig down within ourselves to access that inner well of “Enough!” and conquer them? Every person’s “Enough!” is different, and some people never find it. Some people, even when handed it from without, refuse it. What does it truly mean to be free from fear? Is it even possible to achieve a fear-free life, and should one even try, or does fear actually help us be better human beings? And can we tackle and overcome our fear alone, or is it only through accepting we need a helping hand that we truly release ourselves from fear’s limiting stranglehold on our lives?

This story offers much on many levels: meaty and meaningful roles of three-dimensional characters in whom up-and-comer talented actors will find much to excite them; themes and situations to which the audience will relate on a deep level; a soundtrack and sequences of dancing which the audience will find entertaining simply as spectacle (the rousing climax will be a real crowd-pleaser, though I do hasten to clarify this story is not a musical); plus merely the fact of the handsome young male actors who will attract straight and gay, male and female, ticket buyers alike in large numbers. This story will succeed on both commercial and critical levels.

Submitted: January 21, 2019
Last Updated: November 13, 2019
Times Downloaded: 5
Last Downloaded: January 6, 2020

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William Parsons's picture

The Writer: William Parsons

"Do not fear death; fear the unlived life." Ever since I read that advice given by Pa Tuck in Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting, I have thought of that as my rallying call. I do not want to come to the end of my days (at 49 years old, still—so I hope—a ways off) and look back and realize to my horror, "Wow, what a waste!" A product of a bad childhood, I have stumbled through my adulthood, always though managing to keep on the path of my own happiness. The one constant through all of it has been my writing, which has lived in symbiosis with my meandering that path. My writing has served as my journal of that journey, and my journey has provided me the well of emotions and experiences to... Go to bio

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