Joe Calarco

A Measure of Cruelty

This title is now available worldwide. The script is available in manuscript form now, while the final Acting Edition is being prepared.


Drama, One Act

by Joe Calarco

This play follows Buddy, a recently returned veteran from the war in Afghanistan, who comes to work in his father’s bar while he nurses wounds both physical and psychic. When father and son become entangled in a local tragedy, they are forced to confront the ghosts of their past, and reckon with the cruelties they have taken part in, both at home and abroad.

Production Notes

CAST OF CHARACTERS  (in order of appearance)

DEREK: 15yo. Infuriating. Dazzling. Lost.

BUDDY: In his 30s. Working class. Haunted.

TEDDY: In his 60s. Buddy’s father. Gruff but warm.

TIME: September 2005

PLACE: An old school bar in Binghamton, New York, called Eddie’s: one of those places that doesn’t serve any kind of food except for pretzels and peanuts and that has a heavy wooden front door causing physical effort for anyone getting in or out of the place. An old but working pinball machine sits in one of the corners, a vintage jukebox is against one of the walls, and a dartboard hangs on one of the walls as well as a baseball bat and an American flag with a picture of an army platoon on a desert landscape hanging next to it. The bar itself is made of wood, some of it chipped and damaged. There is a mirror behind it, but most of the mirror’s space is covered with photos—some faded, some with tattered edges-- that have been taped to it, forming a huge collage. A tv hangs over the bar but the audience can’t see the screen.


"Shattering. Joe Calarco’s A Measure of Cruelty offers a front-row seat to the slap-hug-slap-hug and rage-remorse-rage-remorse of wounding and wounded men. It’s at once a punch in the gut and a tug to the heart."  - DC Metro Theater Arts

“Stunning. A triumph. Calarco has a unique voice that comes out in convincing dialogue and in arias of anguish.”  - Florida Theater On Stage

“A deep, intimate portrait of what happens when social norms and expectations drive people to act in ways that are more damaging than fulfilling, more harmful than helpful, and how to break the cycles of violence and anger we think need to define us, especially men."  - Broadway World


Joe Calarco

Joe Calarco is a multi-award-winning director and playwright. He has served as Director of New Works at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, Virginia, and as Resident Playwright at Expanded Arts, Inc. He was a Joseph Papp Artist in Residence at Second Stage, is one of New York Theatre Workshop’s “usual suspects,” is a Drama League directing fellow, is an Associate Artist at Barrington Stage Company, and is a member of The Dramatists Guild. Joe’s current works include I Am Rafiq (w/ collaborators Mohamad Alrefai and Kholoud Sawaf), The Circus in Winter (book writer w/ composer/lyricist Ben Clark), A Rhythmic Me (stage musical and screenplay, w/ collaborators Jared Grimes and Mark Meadows), and Spring Break (second in Joe’s series of plays for teens which follows the same 19 students through a year of their lives which starts with the currently published Winter Break). Published Works: Shakespeare’s R&J (Broadway Licensing/Dramatists Play Service - Lucille Lortel Award winner, produced in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Belgium, Israel, Brazil, Peru, China, South Korea), Walter Cronkite is Dead (Broadway Licensing/Dramatists Play Service, Best Stage Monologues of 2013), In the Absence of Spring (Broadway Licensing/Playscripts - inaugural production of Second Stage’s New Plays Uptown series, Best Stage Scenes of 2004), two collections of plays for teens Signature in the Schools Volumes 1 & 2 (Concord Theatricals/Samuel French - include plays My Vacation in Paris, Salat, Civil Wars, Aftershock, Shakespeare, Will, Image is Everything, Revolution, Hero Worship, Veni Vidi Vici), plays for teens Winter Break and One Acts 17 and 18 (Broadway Licensing/Dramatists Play Service), short plays Just A Little Sniffle and Parting Gifts. Produced Work: A Measure of Cruelty (Mosaic Theater - Carbonell Award “Best New Work nominee, Best Men’s Monologues of 2013), Separate Rooms (4615 Theater, Best Women’s Monologues of 2020), his adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare Theater Company), The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (book writer w/ with comp. Chris Miller & lyr. Nathan Tysen - Mercury Musical Developments in London...[FULL BIO]