Luke needs to come up with money to pay the mortgage on the family ranch, and fast. His three friends offer to help him open up a dude ranch, and he knows he has no choice but to accept their generosity. At first, Luke is a little leery over the whole plan, but how hard can it be to teach a few city folk about life on a ranch? But things start to go wrong when his quirky guests arrive. There’s Aspen and Ariel, two hillbilly sisters who can’t keep their hands off of Luke’s friends Nash and Nolan. Next to arrive are Martha, Mercy, and Grace, who want a final outing before taking their religious vows. Then there is adventure-seeking millionaire Francis along with three women who are following his money. And what’s up with those two assassins? Oh, and Elvis makes an appearance as well, leading this crazy group in an optional song or two. Will Luke’s friends abandon him in his time of need, or will they stay the course when the going gets tough at the Double L Dude Ranch?
MARGARET WITT TALKS ABOUT
THE DOUBLE L DUDE RANCH
Q: What inspired you to write this play?
A: My students inspired me… or drove me crazy enough…. to attempt this play from the start. Ever since I wrote my first play, WILD PINK, my students have pretty much expected me to keep up the tradition year after year. Their encouragement and faith in my writing has always been my saving grace, so naturally when a couple of them mentioned the word “cowboys” and proceeded to pester me about the idea, I wrinkled my nose, rolled my eyes, and decided that I couldn’t let them down.
Q: What is your favorite part of this play? Why?
A: I get a kick out of several different scenes in this play. One is when the nuns sneak out of their sleeping quarters and place their new pet snake on Nolan’s chest, and another is when the assassins explain that they became professionals because their momma told them that they were good at sassin’ her all the time. I, however, am especially partial to the whole “friendship” theme going on throughout the play. Those of us who have friends who’ll stick with us through anything, no matter what, are truly the lucky ones.
Q: Where did the characters come from? Are they based on people you know?
A: As with all of my plays, my characters are based mainly on my students’ abilities and various personalities. I try to envision certain students stepping into the roles of the characters that I create. It is always a fun and exciting challenge to see if I can come up with characters that my students can associate with from either reading a particular line or performing a specific task.
Q: What did you try to achieve with this play?
A: Like most small schools, we have a lot of kids who try to get involved in everything. They might not always be the best athletes or the best actors, but they do strive to put forth their best effort in whatever they attempt. With that in mind, my goal for writing any play is to try to figure out a way make my students shine. While it’s true that some of them can handle bigger roles, others just want me to give them a few lines, but I consider all roles a step toward helping my students develop good leadership skills. Rather it’s creating parts for actors on the stage or doling out responsibilities for those who work behind the scenes, I try to encourage as many kids as possible to make a commitment to something and follow it through. I figure if I can teach my students a couple of life lessons while putting on a good show, the time I spend writing and directing are well worth the effort.
Q: Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
A: Kids are kids, no matter where they live. They want to have fun, they want to fit in, they want to learn new interesting things in interesting ways, and they want to be recognized, if only for a few minutes, for their efforts. Of course, are there any of us out there who doesn’t feel the same way? That’s why I write plays: Comedies, to be exact. I’m just a big old kid at heart, but let’s not stress the word “old.” We’ll keep that a secret.