Our Blog / Script Spotlight: Unexpected by Andrew Kooman

“Unexpected,” Andrew Kooman’s popular and highly original script about unplanned pregnancies, takes center stage in this month’s Spotlight. Andrew, who has 15 plays on Scriptmore, gave us an insightful behind-the-scenes look at why he wrote the script, the impact it has had, and his history writing for the stage.

Scriptmore: Where do you live, and how long have you been writing plays?

Andrew Kooman: I live in Delaware, Ontario, Canada, which is a few hours west of Toronto. I was born and raised in Red Deer, Alberta, which is where I started writing plays about 15 years ago.

I’d never written a play before, but there was a playwright workshop and contest open to the public in my hometown. I entered the one-act competition. I had to race to hit the deadline (one week!), but I was motivated. That little play with a big heart (“Shelter”) won the competition. As a result, I was given the opportunity to work with a professional dramaturg and pro director, then had public reading of the play with trained actors. It was a tremendous experience, and I’ve written for the stage ever since!

Scriptmore: Do you have experience as an actor, director, or in other aspects of theater?

Andrew Kooman: I was always in church or school plays growing up, but my acting stopped in adulthood. I helped to produce my full-length stage play “She Has A Name” when we toured it across Canada in 2012. I love collaborating with and handing over the work to a director who shares my sensibilities and can help bring the story to life in ways I wouldn’t have imagined it on the page.

Scriptmore: What made you want to write a play about the three experiences of unplanned pregnancy in “Unexpected”?

Andrew Kooman: This play originated as a commission for a milestone anniversary gala for the Central Alberta Pregnancy Care Centre. They wanted a special event for their donors and the community that was different from what other non-profits were doing. They reached out to me, and I pitched a play that explored stories that fit into the world of their work.

The event was meant to entertain, raise awareness, and also humanize their work. That was my starting point. They shared a number of real stories with me, and I was surprised to learn they serve such a wide range of people and families from all different walks of life who face unexpected choices.

From there, I started to imagine a few characters that could bring these raw and rich stories to life. These three memorable characters emerged to tell their stories in unexpected ways.

Scriptmore: How difficult was it to work out the unique structure of this play, with actors playing more than one character and the shifts in focus and timeline?

Andrew Kooman: I love writing stories that break in and out of time and require doubling for actors. I find it quickly forces me as a writer to think out of the box. It also keeps audiences on their toes. If well done, it can really propel the narrative and add to the interest and drama. But it’s also a stewardship consideration. Disrupting linear structure and writing roles that are played by more than one character pushes the production to be lean and maximizes resources.

That’s one of the first things I learned in the workshop where I got my start as a playwright: If you want to get work produced, especially in Canada, you’ve got to write with only a few actors in mind and with set pieces that are minimalist. Production budgets can be small. So, when I write, I’m always factoring in the limitations a production will face once it moves toward production. It’s wonderfully freeing and makes imagination for the playwright, actors and audience the most valuable commodity.

Scriptmore: Have you ever seen this play performed?

Andrew Kooman: I have seen this play performed before a live audience, which is always a pinch-me experience. I attended the world premiere of an early version of the play in Alberta, Canada, where it was performed in a few different cities.

The play really resonated with the audience. It was meaningful to see them laugh, hold their breath, and lean into the story. It was also amazing, after the show, to have audience members come up and whisper, “I have a story just like that” and for the conversations it opened up as a result. The non-profit was able to leverage the performances to raise more than six figures for their charity, which was exciting.

Scriptmore: Can you recommend a play available on Scriptmore by another playwright?

Andrew Kooman: David J. Swanson and Rachel Benjamin are hilarious and such talented writers. You can’t go wrong with them or their plays!

You can follow Andrew’s work and subscribe to his newsletter “Things I Wrote Down” on AndrewKooman.com. You can also visit his streaming video platform at UnveilTV.com.

Characters: 3

Unexpected

By Andrew Kooman

Bryan falls into love with Jenny as simply and easily as a feather fell from the sky on a magical, unexpected afternoon. Janet, fifty-something and deflated, is focused on one painful spot in the past until a pair of tulip bulbs sort of save her life. Sarah risks it all for Eric, a poem-quoting English major, before he abandons her at sea. Three intertwining stories that collide in unique ways to explore the reasons we fall in love, life’s unexpected surprises, and the choices we make when love, life and loss meet.

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Characters: 2

Breaking Up, Breaking Out

By Andrew Kooman

Taken from the longer one-act play “Heel Joseph Heal” by Andrew Kooman, this short, powerful scene is just right for workshops and auditions. "Breaking Up, Breaking Out" on Scriptmore presents an excerpt of a poignant journey of self-discovery and resilience that delves into the complexities of mental health, love, and personal growth. Joseph is a young man navigating his first year at Bible college while grappling with the profound mental health issues. As his life begins to unravel, Joseph turns to Cindy, his lifelong companion, for both solace and guidance. Her presence haunts and captivates his imagination. In a riveting exchange set in a janitor’s closet, Cindy, a powerful manifestation of Joseph's inner struggles, warns him about the potential consequences of his growing affection for a girl named Becky. Becky has become an unexpected confidante, providing Joseph an outlet for sharing his life and talking about his mental health struggles. Cindy does not approve of this budding connection, suggesting it will hurt their own relationship and also pose a risk to Joseph's life. Written to be performed by high school students or adults, "Breaking Up, Breaking Out" will offer the right actors enough complexity and emotional heft to challenge and demonstrate their skills as they inhabit these fascinating characters.

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Characters: 2

A Nickel for a Kiss

By Andrew Kooman

First kiss stories are charming. Joseph’s is hilarious. It happened, of all places, during Sunday School. As he starts to get closer to Becky, the girl he’s fallen for during his first year of Bible College, the inevitable “First Kiss” story emerges. But can it possibly be true?

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Characters: 8

Shelter

By Andrew Kooman

Little Will Harrison’s dying wish is to help homeless people in Alberta by organizing a food drive. With the help of their neighbours and close friends the Welsh family, the Harrisons work hard to help Will realize his final wish. As the families gather produce donated from the town of Sunrise, they dig up more than just potatoes: a surprise engagement and a secret affair promise to bring the two families closer together and rip them apart, forever.

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Characters: 2

Arms to Hold Me

By Andrew Kooman

Micah and Richard, two prisoners deep inside a Soviet prison in Romania, tap out messages in Morse Code to each other from their solitary confinement. Imprisoned for months, they have a conversation about loneliness and companionship, wondering if they'll ever experience the touch of another human - or freedom - again. Based on true events, this is a fantastic piece for workshops.

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Characters: 2

Defining Moments

By Andrew Kooman

Joseph and Becky, two students in their first year at college, start to fall for each other. As their relationship gets more serious, they start to delve into their personal histories, and the silly, often funny things from childhood that left their mark. A great script to perform for workshops!

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Characters: 1

I'm Not Afraid

By Andrew Kooman

Becky, a talented dancer has fallen for a cute guy named Joseph at College. In the middle of the semester, Joseph has a breakdown and is hospitalized. When the doctors diagnose his schizophrenia, Becky is at his bedside. Joseph wants to be healed by faith alone while Becky encourages medical treatment. An excellent monologue for workshops and auditions.

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The Day the Magic Stopped

Characters: 1

The Day the Magic Stopped

By Andrew Kooman

Bryan, a teenager, learns that his girlfriend is pregnant. It rocks his world. And even though he’s terrified about the future, his biggest concern is what will happen to the baby, since his girlfriend won’t talk to him anymore and has booked an appointment at an abortion clinic. An excellent monologue for workshops and auditions.

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Characters: 1

They Tried To Destroy Us

By Andrew Kooman

After years of imprisonment in a Soviet jail, Elsie speaks. Her captors tried to destroy the life and faith that sent her and members of her church to a prison where she was thrown into solitary confinement and regularly tortured. In this short monologue, Elsie gives a glimpse at not only the things she suffered and the reason she was able to survive but at her inspiring courage and faith. A fantastic monologue for auditions and workshops.

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Characters: 1

After All This

By Andrew Kooman

Richard, imprisoned for his faith in Communist Romania after the end of World War II, is in a small cell that's underground with no light. His only connection to the outside world are the regular beatings he receives at the hands of the guards, and the short messages tapped out in Morse Code by other prisoners. In this monologue, Richard reflects on the meaning, if any, of his suffering. Perfect for workshops and auditions.

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Characters: 3

Heel Joseph Heal

By Andrew Kooman

Joseph, a young man in his first year at Bible College is forced to come to terms with his mental illness. As Joseph’s life unravels, he resists medical treatment with the desire to be healed by faith. Joseph’s growing love for Becky, a girl from school and the one person committed to his wellness, is threatened by Cindy, his lifelong companion who both haunts and captivates his imagination.

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