cross the threshold into my whacky, but sometimes sentimental, imagination...
Gary’s theatre experience began as a fifth grader when he was cast in the role of Rex Charming in the class play, “Cinderella Western Style.” He still remembers his first three lines: “Nope.”, “Nope.”, and “Yep.” He later appeared in high school and college productions, and then in 1991, as a new resident of Garnett, Kansas, he became a founding member of The Chamber Players Community Theatre and has since participated in almost every production as either actor, director, or a behind-the-scenes guy.
In 2003, he added playwright to his resume when his first playwriting endeavor, Love Thy Neighbor, was performed by the Chamber Players for an audience which broke the group's standing attendance record by fifty-percent, requiring an unprecedented two-performance encore, and so becoming the most successful play the group had produced in its previous thirteen-year history. Both stunned and overwhelmed by the accolades, he recovered and discovered a true passion for playwriting, and pried open an unexpected window of opportunity to express his imagination and creativity. So, slowly but surely, Gary penned new works that would also be premiered by his local theatre troupe: Daddy's Girl, Family Ties and Little White Lies, Fashionably Late, The Trouble With Cats, and Aprons. Additionally, he wrote two large-cast plays that would be originally produced by the local high school drama department: The Ups 'n Downs of Rollin' Hills and Romey Odel & Julietta May (No, It Ain't Shakespeare!).
Gary has also authored a one-act play, It's Not Ugly, It's Art!, and two "shorts": Stuck and The 4th Digit. At present, every play he has written has been accepted for publication by leading play publishing companies. Hence, his plays have been produced across America and in Canada and Europe.
In February 2007, he was named the Kansas Arts Commission’s 2007 Mini-fellowship winner for playwriting. In 2008, his play Fashionably Late was chosen as the winner of a national playwriting contest titled "The Funniest Play on Earth 2008." Delving predominantly in the comedy genre, Gary strives to mesh the art of one-liners with a good balance of physical buffoonery to create story lines that are quirky, yet with a sense of normal, and populated with characters that are colorful and fun for both the audience and the performer. He diligently tries to weave a story that an audience from all walks of life can enjoy, and hopefully even laugh at in reflection a few days later. Currently, he is experimenting with his playwriting skills by exploring dramatic ideas and plots, one of which was inspired by a recent mission trip to Haiti. Who knows, perhaps a drama will be his twelfth play?
“A few years ago, I cracked open a fortune cookie and found this message: 'Ideas you believe are absurd, ultimately lead to success!’ So now, I have what may be an absurd goal of getting my work produced on a professional regional stage, not to mention my dream of seeing my art on Broadway. But who knows what ‘fortune’ awaits me...after all, it was just a note in a cookie! In the meantime, I’m having fun creating new stories and hatching new characters. I encourage the curious to open one of my scripts and cross the threshold into my whacky, but sometimes sentimental, imagination."
A CRITIQUE of MY WORK by BOB and MARY JO GEIGER “If you want to experience really enjoyable theater, plan to attend any of the plays written by Gary Ray Stapp. Audiences of any age, neophyte or veteran, sophisticated or plebian, discriminating or eclectic, critical or all-embracing, will find artistically satisfying results with Gary’s plays. His plots are intricate and defy transparency until the denouement presents the solution to the viewer. You may think you have the motives lined up, but then you find you have another think coming when one of your theories crashes. He keeps the story line moving at such an accelerated pace that the humor comes so fast one must listen very closely not to miss many of the gag lines. Some of his humor is so subtle that even the most erudite student of drama may miss the punctuation. Hilarious dialogue keeps the audience producing belly laugh after belly laugh throughout the development of two or more intrigues in each production. Stump the audience is his game. Gary skillfully delineates each character to complement the whole, and thereby maintains the web that draws the audience into the action and releases them only as the curtain nearly begins to fall. His characters are full-bodied, genuine, surprising, and memorable. One can see oneself often in the situations that unfold on stage, and anticipate the actions and reactions of the characters, only to be totally ambushed by what actually develops. Each of his characters plays an integral part in the movement of the plot, and keeps the audience in awe as then feint here and there to add another turn, another nuance to the unpredictable movement toward the unanticipated solution of the various conflicts. Gary’s stage business is direct, purposeful, and communicative, and his sets contribute visual elements essential to the interaction of his characters without the delivery of the plot having to depend entirely on them. All in all, Gary’s plays are well written, carefully crafted, challenging, humorous, and good theater.” — Bob & Mary Jo Geiger, Chanute, Kansas. *Bob and Mary Jo have been faithful supporters of The Chamber Players Community Theatre where they have enjoyed the presentations of my plays. Their generous compliments are not only in response to my writing, but are also in reaction to the talent of the Chamber Players’ actors who have brought my words to the stage. Bob and Mary Jo have a long history with the Chanute Community Theatre, having been directors of numerous plays and musicals. Their years of involvement and support of CCT prompted the theatre group to create an award in their honor. The Geiger Award is presented annually to a member of the CCT organization. Thank you, Bob and Mary Jo, and thanks to all of you who have taken the time to express your appreciation of my work. With humble and sincere gratitude, Gary.