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About Pat

Baltimore County

Pat Montley's picture
        I am a Unitarian ex-nun lesbian I have spent much of my life confronting and trying to resolve conflict--in the context of a dramatically changing world.  Thus many of my  plays reflect a life-long obsession with values: how they are formed, challenged, changed; what happens when they are inadequate, misguided, conflicting.  The themes of my plays include faith and forgiveness, religion and repression, challenging authority... more

Pat Montley's portfolio


Based on this script, the playwright was awarded a month’s residency at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in Woodside, California, and an Individual Artist Award by the Maryland State Arts Council.  The script was a semi-finalist in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival and was given a reading in the Baltimore Dramatists Guild Footlight Series.  It was a semi-finalist for the 2019 Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference.  As a consequence of being a winner in the AACT New Play Fest 2020 contest, it premiered at Tacoma Little Theatre, WA, in January, 2020.  It is scheduled for publication by Dramatic Publishing. 

  • SHATTERING--by Pat Montley.pdf

    SYNOPSIS: Jonah has just been released from juvenile commitment into the foster care of Jacqueline Dawson, whose estranged son he helped to murder. She witnessed the crime and testified against the other two perpetrators, which resulted in their imprisonment. Now the gang leader who organized that crime wants to teach a lesson about what happens to “snitches.” He orders Jonah to torture and kill Dawson—or be killed himself. The instructions come through Jonah’s girlfriend LaBelle, whose investment in the outcome is intensified by her pregnancy. Jonah and LaBelle plot the murder, even as Jonah’s relationship with the strict but caring Dawson develops and his imagined visits with her dead son jar his conscience. When he has a change of heart, it is too late, and Dawson urges him to go through with the murder.

    PDF icon SHATTERING--by Pat Montley.pdf


POPE JOAN II is a RUBYS grant-winning project and an ​MSAC Individual Artist award project.  It has had professional readings at Rep Stage in Columbia, MD and at the  Shaw Society of London, UK, where it won the T.F. Evans Award.  It was a semi-finalist in the Bridge Initiative, AZ, and enjoyed a reading at Cumberland Theatre, MD.  

​_______________________________________________________________________________________________ ​Dramaturg's recommendation:

Pat has always been drawn to big ideas; her plays tend to frame the largest human questions that have always tempted dramatists.  No fractured American families of four re-hashing the past in a living room for her.  A Montley play tackles themes of faith, the afterlife, racism, gender and sexuality, mysticism,  historical and political process, justice, education, the beleaguered good, and the persistence of evil.

And yet there is an irrevocably fractured family of three at the heart of PJII, Pat’s fanciful "What if?” comedy about the papacy in the contemporary world.  What if an American nun with Buddhist tendencies and a mission for social justice finagled her way into the Vatican? 

More important, what would she do when she got there?  Aided by her spirit guides—Joan of Arc and Pope Joan I,  the 9th century subversive—Sister Joan reaches the top by the end of Act One, but her policies are leading the Church to Schism from the conservative male cardinals headed by Henry Cardinal Gardiner, whose secret connection to Joan…but enough plot.

 PJII is fanciful, theatrically vivid,  a high-stakes look at the interwoven crises—political, environmental, religious—currently threatening to sink the globe for good.  In this play, Pat is shaking Shaw, Paula Vogel, and Joe Orton in the same blender of satire and dialectic in order to come up with a fresh start for the world.

 The reading was a huge success.  Any worries that the play was “too Catholic” were swept aside by the laughs, the engaged silences, and the spontaneous bursts of applause throughout.  All audiences have a stake in the future of the planet.  Pat Montley’s PJII is a hilarious reminder (and a wake‐up call for those who need it) that when the going gets tough, no question, put a woman in charge.

 James Magruder

  • POPE JOAN II by Pat Montley.pdf

    SYNOPSIS: Urged by apparitions of her namesakes Saint Joan and the apocryphal 9th-century Pope Joan I, and armed with an infusion of the Life Force, Sister Joan--faster than a speeding angel, more powerful than a prayer, able to leap clerical hierarchies in a single bound--blackmails her way to becoming pope, so she can fight the never-ending battle for truth, justice, gender-equality, and the American Way by transforming the Catholic Church into a liberal democracy and saving the world from overpopulating.

    PDF icon POPE JOAN II by Pat Montley.pdf


Based on the submission of this script's first draft to the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the playwright was awarded a fellowship.  Based on submission of a revised script, she was awarded residencies at the Millay Colony for the Arts (NY) and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program (CA).  The script was a finalist in the Bay Area Playwrights Festival and a semi-finalist in the National Arts Club  (NYC) Playwrights First Award.  It was given a professional reading at the Abingdon Theatre (NYC), was a finalist in the New Harmony Project, and received Honorable Mention for the Jane Chambers Award.
  • KALI DANCES by Pat Montley.pdf

    SYNOPSIS: When a music teacher is found at the church organ with her throat slit, her lesbian lover, the pastor, and his young daughter confront one another with their grief and anger.  The investigating detective interrogates each of them as a suspect, though the homicide may be a hate crime.   The terrifying Indian Goddess Kali challenges them all to come to terms with her.  Although at its most superficial level, the play is a detective story, at its heart it is a mystery play--exploring the intersection of Hindu and Christian beliefs regarding death.

    PDF icon KALI DANCES by Pat Montley.pdf


​This play was produced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival after being given readings at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival and the Baltimore Playwrights Festival.  It won the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival Playwriting Contest, placed second in the Goshen Peace Play Contest, and third in the Kernodle New Play Competition.  Its writing was supported by the Djerassi Resident Artists Program (CA).

  • ACTS OF CONTRITION by Pat Montley.pdf

    SYNOPSIS:   What exactly constitutes an apology, whether voiced in public arenas or by regular folk in the privacy of our homes and offices?  Is it enough to say "I'm sorry that..." (the offense happened)?  Or "I'm sorry you​..." (were offended)?  Or must an apology begin, "I'm sorry I...​(committed the offense)?  Must responsibility be taken?  Or can the offense be dismissed as an accident?  an unintentional slip of the tongue due to ignorance or diminished faculties or simply a misunderstanding?  What are the possible effects of a sincere apology?  An insincere one?  What does it mean to forgive?  Who benefits?  Are there some offenses that are unforgivable?  Does forgiveness require  more than an apology?  This play explores the theme of forgiveness in seventeen discrete two-character scenes.  It raises questions about the nature, purpose and dynamics of apology, repentance, and regret, as well as the need for and cost of giving, getting, delaying, withholding, and negotiating forgiveness.  And sometimes it's funny.

    PDF icon ACTS OF CONTRITION by Pat Montley.pdf


DANCING THE GOD has been produced at the Nebraska Repertory Theatre in Lincoln, the Burbage Theatre in Los Angeles, and the Women’s Project in Ft. Lauderdale.  It was a finalist in the Actors Theatre of Louisville National Playwriting Contest and a semi-finalist at the Florida Studio Theatre Mini Festival.  It has enjoyed readings at Notre Dame of Maryland University and Palm Beach Drama Works.
  • Dancing the God by Pat Montley...pdf

    SYNOPSIS: A lawyer returns to her college to investigate the alleged seduction of a student by her dance teacher.  The student’s accusation is vehement; the teacher refuses to defend herself. Prompted by the lawyer’s questions, the pair re‑enact, through flashbacks, the stages of their playful, passionate relationship, reporting different versions of the culminating episode.  In uncovering the truth about them, the lawyer is challenged to come to terms with her own experience in the face of what seem to her disarming ideas of education and intimacy.  The script calls for six modern dance sequences, four of them choreographed to Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise.”  All three performers must be dancers as well as actors.  Running time: 85 minutes

    PDF icon Dancing the God by Pat Montley...pdf


The first draft of this play was completed while the writer was in residence at the Millay Colony for the Arts (NY).   The script made it to the final round of reading at Kitchen Dog Theatre in Dallas, was a semi-finalist in the New Works Multistages Contest (NYC), and a finalist at IATI Theatre (NYC).  A selected scene was given a reading at the Inkwell Theatre (DC).
  • The Shaman, the Virgin, and the Crone-- a Winter Solstice Fantasy by Pat Montley..pdf

    Is equitable distribution of wealth an impossible, unnatural ideal? Or are sharing and compassion the most human of impulses? Are these impulses compatible with capitalism? Is technology dehumanizing us? At a future crossroads, Zero, a shabby Shaman/Salvation Army Santa, pesters financier Ray for half his assets. When Ray bets nobody behaves that generously, Zero finds Viola, a bewildered senior who trusts Ray with her finances and is attracted to her assisted-living robot. Viola opens her heart and apartment to the homeless shaman and a teen-age, Latina, pregnant-virgin, social worker who, at their Winter Solstice ritual, births “el sol,” a source of magical, greed-healing powers.

    PDF icon The Shaman, the Virgin, and the Crone-- a Winter Solstice Fantasy by Pat Montley..pdf


     In Amazon All-Stars (anthology), Applause Theatre Books, 1996
     University of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1999
     Iris Events, Lexington, KY, 1993
     BLT Productions, San Diego, CA, 1990
     Portland Women's Theatre Company, OR, 1988
     Celebration Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, 1988
     Theatre Gemini, Dallas, TX, 1988
     Woman's Showcase Theatre, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 1987
     Center Stage, Baltimore (professional), 1982
     University of Wyoming, 1983
     American Theatre Association's Women's Program Theatre Festival, 1983
     First Place, Woman's Showcase Theatre Contest, 1987
     First Place, Colonial Players Playwriting Contest, 1984
     First Place, American Theatre Association Women's Program Playwriting Contest, 1983
     Finalist, Towngate Theatre Playwriting Contest, 1983
     Finalist, At-The-Foot-Of-The-Mountain Festival, 1983
     Finalist, Robert Forest-Shiras Institute Award, 1981
     Semi-Finalist, Maude Adams Contest, Stephens College, 1986
     Semi-Finalist, New Plays Program, Dramatists Guild/CBS (Alley Theatre, Houston), 1984

  • Sisters by Pat Montley.pdf

    Facing the disapproval of her religious community for her controversial work in gay and lesbian ministry, Sister Joanna invites five of her former convent classmates—now ex-nuns—to a twenty-year reunion in the hope of eliciting their support. When Mother Naomi threatens her with dismissal, Joanna proposes a plan to the others to make the Superior back down. The weekend's events force the women to confront their own sexuality and life choices, as well as their relationships—past and present—to one another.

    PDF icon Sisters by Pat Montley.pdf

ROSVITHA'S REVIEW -- a Musical Comedy

ROSVITHA'S REVIEW, winner of the Jane Chambers Award, was a regional finalist in the American College Theatre Festival.  It was produced at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Loyola University in Baltimore, and the Castle Theatre in Hyattsville, MD, and given a reading at NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

  • ROSVITHA'S REVIEW by Patricia Montley.pdf

    Based on the life of Hrotsvita of Gandersheim, the 10th century nun who was the first woman playwright on record, Rosvitha’s Review is both a playwriting lesson provided by Rosvitha and a farcical, tongue in cheek speculation on how she came to write her plays, specifically one about the conversion of a prostitute.
    When the nuns’ enactment of a bawdy Terence comedy provokes Bishop Diehard’s
    censure, Rosvitha determines to write her own play. With the help of Sophia (an uppity princess consigned to the convent by her Emperor-father), Rosvitha does “research” at a nearby tavern/brothel. Their plan backfires when the proprietor, ex-Empress Theophano, Sophia’s long-runaway grandmother, sees through their ploy and sets them up for a rendezvous with a “customer”—her own paramour—the bishop, disguised on weekends as a blacksmith. The mutually terrified trio manage to escape one another’s clutches, but not before the girls get the goods on the bishop.
    Back at the monastery, grandmother and granddaughter are happily reunited. When the nuns present Rosvitha’s new play, the bishop, recognizing the plot and even a few of his own lines, is both outraged and compromised, and thus blackmailed into giving his blessing to Rosvitha’s playwriting career.

    PDF icon ROSVITHA'S REVIEW by Patricia Montley.pdf


Crossing Borders was produced as part of the Variations on Hope project at Theatre Project, Baltimore, in 2009 and as part of the Estrogenius Festival at the Manhattan Theatre Source, NYC, in 2010, where it was voted “Best-of-Show.” In both Adult and Youth versions, it was produced as part of the Summer Shorties Program by Turtle Shell Productions, NYC, in 2011 and 2012.  It was published by CreateSpace in the anthology: EstroGenius 2010: a Celebration of Female Voices.

The Competent Heart was a final finalist in the Actors Theatre of Louisville 10-Minute Play Contest, was given a reading at the Women’s Project in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and productions at the Women’s Project at Theatre Project in Baltimore and Love Creek Productions in NYC.  It is published by Dramatic Publishing in 25 in 10: Twenty-Five Ten-Minute Plays.

  • Pas de Deux--Two Ten-Minute Romantic Comedies by Pat Montley.pdf


    An intrepid, hopeful bookstore mouse tries to persuade a timid parsonage mouse to move in with him and enjoy the perks of culture hanging out at Borders, but she resists leaving the parson and embracing a high-risk lifestyle.


    A customer enters a bookstore and—in the hope of pleasing her/his less-than-satisfied Significant Other—asks the proprietor for advice on becoming a competent person. The proprietor (clearly a Trivial Pursuits champion) offers advice and self-help books on medicine, home repairs, and plant care. The customer is awed, but questions the definition of competency with an Emily Dickinson poem. The proprietor’s response provides a revelation.

    PDF icon Pas de Deux--Two Ten-Minute Romantic Comedies by Pat Montley.pdf


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