THUNDER AND LIGHTNING
by Ivan Comer, Taylor Hallman and Tom Ferriter
Thunder & Lightning tells the story of The Storm, a Negro League baseball team, on the day that Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, breaking the color barrier in Major League sports. Dave Carlson, a Major League scout, has come to Ralston Stadium, home of The Storm, ready to sign two players to a contract. Teammates Randy “Thunder” Thompson and Billy “Lightning” Magee are the two most likely prospects to make the jump to a Major League club. Lightning, the rookie, whose innocence contrasts sharply with Thunder, the veteran player, may have to choose between love (his girl, Sylvia) and his baseball career. Thunder, confident that he is on his way to the Majors, is involved with Maggie Brown, team manager Josey Brown’s wife. Club owner Frank Ralston, a wily businessman with a taste for gambling, seems ready to sell any of his players to the Majors, and is willing to risk sacrificing his team’s potentially-winning season and the potential adverse effect on team members, Costa, Johnson, and Shine, seasoned players with their own hopes for a brighter future. Surprisingly, the scout offers a contract to Josey Brown, whose maturity and experience is needed to work with newly-signed players from the Negro League so that they have a chance to make it in the Majors. As the home stadium opener enters the ninth inning, Ralston places his bet, putting pressure on Thunder to sacrifice more than he has bargained for. Carlson plans to sign one more player – but who?
JIMMY JAMES, African-American, a blind news vendor and former ball player, late 30s.
SONNY COLLINS, African-American, stadium announcer and radio play by play, late 20s.
RANDY “THUNDER” THOMPSON, African-American, the “Veteran”, major league prospect, 28.
FRANK “RED” RALSTON, light-skinned African-American, owner of the Jersey Storm, 50s.
DAVE CARLSON, Caucasian, scout for a major league team, 45-50.
JOSEY BROWN, African-American, player/manager of the Jersey Storm, early 40s.
MAGGIE BROWN, African-American, an actress, common law wife of Josey Brown, mid-30s.
SYLVIA CARTER, African-American, a seamstress, Lightning’s girl, 19.
BILLY “LIGHTNING” MAGEE, African-American, the “Rookie”, major league prospect, 20.
WALTER JOHNSON, African-American, the pitcher; mid-to-late 20s.
JOHNNY SHINE, African-American, the catcher, team captain, late 20s-early 30s.
MIGUEL COSTA, dark-skinned Hispanic, the second baseman, late 20s.
LANGER, Caucasian, a sports reporter, racially biased, 30s-50s.
Ivan Comer began his writing career in Wisconsin, where he received his writing degree from Lakeland College. He studied film at the New School for Social Research, where he earned his Master’s Degree in Media Studies. At the New School, he wrote and directed two short films: Man, and an animation piece, Soldiers. In addition, Ivan was awarded a media studies scholarship for his short story, Blue Suitcases.
Ivan’s first play, Martha My Heart, was performed at the Hudson Guild Theater in 1994. It tells the story of a social worker who saves and repairs the lives of others when she cannot do the same of herself. Shortly thereafter, Ivan wrote a trilogy of one-act plays, Love, Birth and Alcohol, which ranges from drama to comedy. It was produced at the Trilogy Theater in 1995. One of these one-acts, Fruit Salad, has been produced as a feature length film on Hi-8. Currently, Ivan is working with Taylor Hallman on Thunder and Lightning, a play about Negro League baseball.
Additional screenplays include Stolen Innocence, Buffalo Soldiers and Life Savers Like You. Ivan’s film experience includes work as a grip and electrician on independent films in the New York area, and as a camera operator for an independent documentary about boxing. He has also worked on Gold Mountain, which won an Academy Award for short film, and on Straight Out of Brooklyn. Ivan lives in Staten Island with his wife and two young daughters. He works in social services, doing outreach to the homeless in the subway system.
Taylor Lee Hallman is a playwright and screenwriter. His works for the stage include Cambridge, a two-act play about racial conflict in Maryland during the early 1960s, and Thunder and Lightning, a story about the Negro Baseball League, set in 1947 on the day that Jackie Robinson stepped onto Ebbets Field breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier, written with Ivan Comer and Tom Ferriter. Taylor’s motion picture screenplays include By the River Dong Nai, a buddy story, in which two Military Policemen learn of love, self sacrifice and the violently intimate nature of war; Mother-In-Law, an “African-American Graffiti,” involving the developing youth culture, drag racing, and racial conflict, written with Tom Ferriter; Brushfire, an action-adventure story, exploring the dangers posed by increasingly radical Right Wing militia groups; In Vain, a murder mystery set in a combat unit in Vietnam; The Pier Ballroom, a coming of age story involving payola in the music business; and Falling, a mystical fantasy where love, redemption and heavenly intervention lead to the reunion of a top rock band from the 1980s, written with his daughter, Danielle.
Taylor Hallman was born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and grew up primarily in Ocean City, a summer resort. He has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and earned a Master’s in Social Work at Hunter College. When not writing plays and screenplays, he also writes science fiction short stories. In 1991, with the story A Release in Time, Taylor won the Opps Award, a “fanzine” prize given for excellence in science fiction satire.
For the stage, Tom has written Ten Million Black Republicans (with Steve Gold), a dark comedy about the Congressional nominating process, Thunder & Lightning (with Taylor Hallman), a morality tale set in the Negro Baseball Leagues on the day Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league sports, A Howling Wilderness, a military court-martial drama during the time of the Philippine Insurrection (with John Chodes), and co-authored the book of a new musical, BELL (with Michael Treni), based on the life of Alexander Graham Bell and the American dream. Tom is co-author of Benefit Performance, Paul Engerís drama with songs about a pop singer who overcomes dependency problems and family issues to emerge triumphant from semi-retirement, which features the music of Michael Valenti; and is currently working with Walter Zuk, as co-author of The Winners, a play about drug dependency. Tom has co-authored with Llywelyn Jones, Itís Only Money, a family comedy dealing with inheritance and acceptance, and is presently working with Mr. Jones on Left of Center, a drama concerning teenage drinking, substance abuse, and driving under the influence. With Allen Davis III, Tom is co-author of Florindaís Time, a WW-II era coming-of-age comedy with music and dance. And, with Steve Gold, Tom is co-author of Our Kind Of People, a drama about voter registration in Memphis at the dawning of the modern civil rights movement. Tom is adapting into a new musical for families, Santa.Com, John Kallas's play about the down-sizing of Santa's workshop due to internet shopping.
Tom has authored six original motion picture screenplays: Florida, a story of the tapestry of life on the Mississippi Delta in the twentieth century (with Narroyl Parker); Mother-in-Law (with Taylor Hallman), a saga on racing and race relations during the early days of the American Civil Rights movement; Crossfire, a drama of innocent bystanders caught up in the urban drug wars, adapted from the play by John Walsh; Love Object, a film noir thriller about love unattained (with James MacGuire); Low Tide (with Bernard Mendillo), an investigative drama about illegal aliens, the drug trade, and corruption within the HAS; and Songs Without Words, a coming-of-age story set within the music industry. Tom is currently working with Risa Campana as co-author of Acts of Contrition, a six-part movie for television involving three generations of a family and spanning over seventy-five years of European and American history during and in the aftermath of World War II.
Tom Ferriter directed and produced the world premieres of Kathleen Anderson Culebro's The Crying Woman/La Llorona, a cross-cultural drama on international misunderstandings, Off Broadway at the Beckett Theatre, Paul Enger's In The Air, a love story during the Great Flu epidemic of 1918, Off Broadway at Theatre 315, James MacGuire's Nanny (also co-producer), an American comedy of extended families at the Nottara Theatre-Bucharest, and the European premiere of Harding Lemay's From A Dark Land, a World War-II drama of complicity, at the National Theatre of Romania-Craiova (co-producer), after having produced and directed the premieres of Marlene Shyer's First Wife, at the Emelin Theatre (Mamaroneck), Diane Leslie's and Mary Orr's family musical, Enchanted Afternoon, and Frank O'Donnell's Twisters, Off Broadway at the Nat Horne Studio Theatre on New York's Theatre Row. Tom is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, Actors' Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and is a graduate of the Commercial Theatre Institute's Master Producing Class.
Tom Ferriter has been a visiting professor to the Academy of Theatre in Bucharest, and a guest professor at the Academy of Theatre in Oslo. He was Performance Coach to America's Health Network, a 24-hour cable TV network transmitted by satellite to more than 10 million households across America, and was a member for three years of the faculty of The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, where his classes included Acting for Film and Television, TV Commercial Acting, and Basic Acting Techniques. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Business Management from California State University - San Francisco and an Associate of Arts degree in Economics from Santa Barbara City College.