Standard Deviation


Standard Deviation
by Alan David Perkins
Copyright © 1993


Full-length comedy.


Don Gormanly and Ted Frank from Beari Productions' presentation of "Standard Deviation."

Dr. Eli Kronenberg is a biochemist who has discovered a way to raise anyone's I.Q. by fifteen points, or one standard deviation. In an effort to carve his name in history he contaminates the water supply of a small, unsuspecting town in rural Alabama in order to study the effects on an entire city. But, as the play begins, he gets caught trespassing, gets thrown in jail and now has to answer to the town's Sheriff, who reigns over the tiny town with an iron fist and is now forced to deal with everyone in his town suddenly getting a little bit smarter.

Click here for an excerpt (Act I plus Act II, Scene 1) in PDF format.

Click here for Press/Reviews.

Click here for Production History.


DEPUTY CHIP TURNER - Male, early 20's. Stillman's Corner's Deputy.  Chip isn't the brightest bulb in the ocean.  Sure, he means well and he has a big heart, but he's a follower and, if it weren't for the string of events that occur during this play, he'd be a follower his while life.
DR. ELI KRONENBERG - Male, 30's. A sharp, edgy, angry, sarcastic, very brilliant biochemist from Columbia University.  Eli has a lot of passion about what he does, which, of course, makes him give little regard for anyone who stands in his way.  He does, however, have a huge ego, which allows him to brag and give away important secrets to anyone who strokes him
MOZELLE HUTTO - Female, 40's+ (or roughly the same age as the Sheriff).  The Sheriff's wife.  Alluring, forceful and practical but a big flirt as well.  Mozelle is possibly the only human alive who is an equal match for the Sheriff.  With the right mindset she could run for President.  The problem is, she has been raised to NOT have that mind set, thus making Mozelle her own worst enemy.
SHERIFF WAYNE HUTTO - Male, 40's+. The Sheriff of Stillman=s Corner. Very broad caricature - large and loud.  Sheriff Hutto (pronounced HUT-toe) is bigger than life in both size and stature, and he likes that.  He's a control freak who saw the opportunity to foster his mania.  Everything always goes his way and if it doesn=t, he=s not beneath using force.  He knows the law and uses it to his advantage whenever he can.
NITA-KAY ZIRLOTT - Female, 19.  The Deputy=s fiancé. Mousey, quiet and naíve, Nita-Kay is what Mozelle was raised to be.  She believes that her purpose in life is to raise children and do whatever her husband tells her to.  Unfortunately, Nita-Kay is a dreamer and wants desperately to know what's happening beyond the end of her own nose.  Either due to her sweet nature or the fact that she is on the path Mozelle felt she should have been, the Sheriff has a huge soft spot for her.
DR. JOANNE KING - Female, 30's.  Psychologist/biochemist who has been studying Eli=s findings.  Joanne is a little on the effected side, feeling a touch superior as she enjoys being an Academic.  She's a bit of a snob, though pleasant enough in her own way.  Still, she looks at the people of Stillman's Corner as nothing more than "subjects" in this experiment.
BILLY LADNIER - Male, mid- to late 40's. Manager of the wire plant in Stillman's Corner.  Billy Ladnier doesn't look comfortable in a tie, but he has to fit the role of someone corporate.  He's a bit of a nervous wreck, but a true representation of the local flavor.  He works hard and is a respected person in the community (and a close, personal friend of the Sheriff as well). 


110 - 120 minutes.


The play takes place in the Sheriff's office in the fictional town of Stillman's Corner -- a tiny rural community in West Central Alabama. The office is small, cluttered and dusty; almost comically clichéd -- with a desk, a small jail cell and front door.

The play is in two acts, the first taking place in the Sheriff's office in Stillman's Corner on a fall morning, and the second taking place the next day. Act 2 is divided into two scenes.


Rene Bendana and Don Gormanly from Beari Productions' presentation of "Standard Deviation."

I lived a majority of my life in Alabama. On a recent visit, I began to appreciate the differences between living in a tiny, rural town versus, well, New York City.

My wife and I would frequently play with the fact that our I.Q.'s were tested as being 3 points apart (mine was higher) and this was the source of much ribbing between us, though we knew it meant nothing. Somehow I came up with this idea of bringing the two together with this story (also, watching some episodes of "Cops" helped).

The original title was "3 Points," but after a suggestion of my friend and colleague, Jordan Auslander, and some studying up on I.Q.s and the testing of such, I went with "Standard Deviation" -- which also has cultural ramifications as well. Though the characters are drawn with extremely broad brush strokes, this play became one of my most solid comedies.



The entire script of Standard Deviation is available upon request from the playwright. No production of this play can take place without permission from the playwright.


from the Pasadena Star News

A gem at Theatre Americana

by Frances Baum Nicholson

Theatre Americana in Altadena has spent the last three quarters of a century or thereabouts, producing untried plays. It's quite an adventure. Even after narrowing down the scripts from 200 to the four they actually produce each year, the results are often a rather mixed bag. Then, every once in a while, one discovers a true gem.

"Standard Deviation" by Alan David Perkins is such a jewel. The idea is a kick, the actors range from passable to quite good, and the evening proves quite entertaining. More importantly, director Lisa Covell has managed to give the piece a pacing and a style that show off the best of what Theatre Americana can do.

It's an entertaining concept. A scientist has come up with an additive that he believes can be used to significantly increase people's intelligence. In a strictly illegal experiment, he dumps the stuff into the water supply of the tiny town of Stillman's Corner, Alabama, and waits to see what effect it will have. However, in doing so he trespasses, and ends up in the town jail, seeing the effects of his experiments only as people come in and out of the jail house door.

As it turns out, there are as many down sides to becoming more intelligent as there are advantages. Andy Forrest is Eli, the unfortunate scientist. Of the entire cast, he is the most "by the book" portrayal. Though it works well enough for the comedy to continue, one never believes he is a Jewish, judgmental New Yorker. If one could, the laughter would flow even more freely.

It's the cast around Forrest that keeps this from really bothering anyone. Paul Anderson makes an attractively practical sheriff, settled well into a job he truly enjoys. Todd Kraus has a field day as the somewhat dopey deputy.

Lisa Natale seems sometimes a bit exaggerated as the sheriff's hot-to-trot wife, but has several fun moments. Virginia Speckman becomes the soul of innocence as the deputy's girl, and Billy Ferguson brings a practical likeability to the criminal who is also the sheriff's best friend. Elizabeth Finn shows truly well-honed comic timing as the fellow scientist who comes to aid Eli in his work.

Yet, the true star is the script, at least as Covell has presented it. Often playing against stereotype, it offers real comedy as well as certain insight on the human condition. The characters have a sense of realness to them, which is often quite engaging. You like these people. You care about how they react to being changed.

"Standard Deviation" might not be ready for Broadway yet, but it offers charm, freshness and even a little wisdom along the way.

Go see this diamond in the rough.

from the Queens Courier

Prolific Playwright Presents 'Standard Deviation'

by Cliff Kasden

Don Gormanly, Dolores Voyer and Rene Bendana from Beari Productions' presentation of "Standard Deviation."

What if you were suddenly smarter than the average person? What if your entire town's IQ jumped 15 points (one standard deviation)? That's the wickedly wry premise behind playwright Alan David Perkins' original comedy.

Though not originally from Queens, playwright Perkins has used his life experiences in New York, Alabama and New England to amass an exceptionally prolific portfolio.  It includes 17 full length plays, eight one-act plays, TV and video credits, cabaret and sketch comedy, two screenplays and experience as a producer/director.  Perkins is also an accomplished French horn player and high school band director.  However, his most challenging role is as playwright for his wife Miriam's 5th graders.  He has written more than a half dozen original works for as many as 70 elementary school kids and their drama club.

Perkins' energy is not restricted to the keyboard.  He is a founding member of Theatre on a Limb and Developmental Stages in New York.  His accolades include honors from 21 national playwriting competitions.  Perkins will occasionally perform on stage as well.  I recently chatted with Alan, who shared some additional feelings on his writing life.

Miriam P. Denu from Beari Productions' presentation of "Standard Deviation."

In the current stage production of "Standard Deviation," the setting is a small town in Alabama, Stillman's Corner.  "No Freudian slips here," he quips.  "The name is a variation of Tillman's Corner, a small town right outside Mobile."  Raised in the south, Perkins writes what he knows.  "I went for authenticity in both the culture and the vernacular.  I relied on what I refer to as shortsightedness -- there's not a vast grasp of the whole world.  But everything is isolated in their own community."

The play unfolds entirely in the sheriff's office of the small southern hamlet.  "The office is small, cluttered and dusty; almost comically clichéd."  The use of just one main set is a recurrent technique for Perkins.  "The easier a play is to produce, the more likely someone will produce it!"  He has used this strategy to great success in his popular comedy, "Nobody Knows I'm a Dog" in which Internet relationships are examined.

Perkins shares some insights into the psyche of a playwright.  In his comedy "Wedded Blitz" he purges a personally bad relationship.  In "A Dish of Food," the author indulges in some emotional house cleaning.  "It works for Neil Simon!  Later, I learned to disguise my housecleaning better with plays like 'Rubber Duckies in a Row' and 'Second Bananas' [which was performed by Queens' Parkside Players]."  He adds, "Everything can't be a one set/seven character drawing room farce.  As an author, I do feel an obligation to teach some sort of message."


Stevens Dramatic Society - November 11, 12 & 13, 2004

The Stevens Dramatic Society is a student-run theatrical organization sponsored by the Student Government Association of Stevens Institute of Technology.

The Society was founded in 1910 and is the oldest continuously operating student group on campus. Their ever-changing troupe generally produced one show per semester, a dramatic play during the month of November and a musical production during the month of April.

The show was produced at DeBaun Auditorium on the Stevens campus.  The November 12th performance featured a Q&A after the show with the author, director and cast.

Producer was Joshua Zawislak, Production Manager was Paul Bennett, Stage Manager was Nicole Young. The play was directed by Christina Cass.


ELI.......................Joe Brigante
DEPUTY CHIP...................Gus Rath
MOZELLE................Sarah Hoskinson
SHERIFF HUTTO.............Andrew Keane
JOANNE................Maria Manacheril
NITA-KAY...............Melissa Barnett
BILLY LADNIER..........Deagle McNamara

Click here for bios and photos.

Beari Productions - October 2003

Beari Productions in Middle Village, Queens, will frequently feature original works.  This production, directed by the playwright, featured Beari co-owner Rene Bendana and was produced by their other co-owner, Debbie Richardson.

This production marked the East Coast premiere of Standard Deviation.

Though the stage was relatively small, use was made of authentic Alabama flavor.  All studied authentic Western Rural Alabama accents for uniformity.  The stage was strategically littered with artifacts from the University of Alabama and George Wallace.

The set was designed by Abe Ber and Jimmy O'Neal. Stage Manager was Natalie Candella. Berny Bosio supplied the firearms and John O'Hare painted the Stillman's Corner backdrop.  The play was directed by the author and the cast was as follows:

Beari Productions' cast of "Standard Deviation."
L-R:  Sylvia Vinall, Donald Gormanly, Dolores Voyer, Rene Bendana, Bob Acerno, Ted Frank, Miriam P. Denu.
Beari Productions' cast of


ELI..........................Ted Frank
DEPUTY CHIP............Donald Gormanly
MOZELLE..................Dolores Voyer
SHERIFF HUTTO.............Rene Bendana
JOANNE..................Miriam P. Denu
NITA-KAY.................Sylvia Vinall
BILLY LADNIER...............Bob Acerno

Click here for photos and bios.

Theatre Americana - October 30 through November 21, 1998

Theatre Americana is the oldest community theatre in the country dedicated to performing original scripts. Established in 1934, TA produces four original scripts from American authors each year.

After five years on the shelf, TA has the honor of the Word Premiere of Standard Deviation. Director Lisa Covell created an atmosphere throughout the theatre by providing "greeters" who met the patrons as they entered the hall and served up lemonade. (During intermission they offered brain teasers.)

The set was designed by Paul Anderson and Lisa Covell. Lighting designed by Paul Anderson and Bob Peace. Stage Manager was Eric Gonzalez. The cast was as follows:


ELI.......................Andy Forrest
DEPUTY CHIP.................Todd Kraus
MOZELLE....................Lisa Natale
SHERIFF HUTTO............Paul Anderson
JOANNE..................Elizabeth Finn
NITA-KAY.............Virginia Speckman
BILLY LADNIER...........Billy Ferguson

Click here for bios.