Critical Praise


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Pipe Dreams


Two women artists, not willing to give up their integrity, lose their jobs and become bumbling plumbers. Their observations, experiences and hilarious antics make PIPE DREAMS a wacky battle of the little guy versus the big guy.

Shelley Finklestein, a Jewish woman in her thirties, forms a sister-like bond with Vanessa Ward, an African-American about her age, when Vanessa becomes her housemate. They live in a little red house in San Francisco that Shelley's grandmother has left to her. It is at the corner of a large piece of land in a multi-cultural neighborhood that the Dump & Dispatch Developers want to build condominiums on. Dump & Dispatch have bulldozed all but Shelley's house, and she is adamant about not selling.

Shelley, an "unstaged" actress, earns her living as a waitress, "like all actresses everywhere." Vanessa, an unpublished author, has a job as a social worker. Both are serious about their artistic work and idealistic and uncompromising about their jobs. Eventually, their convictions get them into trouble, and they are both fired from their jobs at about the same time. Shelley is fired when she shows a customer she won't stand for his degrading remarks and roving hand by dumping salad dressing from a cruet she's placed in the cleavage of her breasts onto his lap. She pretends to be aiming for his salad. A profound observation from Vanessa concerning her job as a social worker is typical of the chord striking humor that runs through PIPE DREAMS: "At welfare you'd never lose your job for not doing your work. Now you might lose it for DOING YOUR WORK!" She is eventually fired for using unconventional methods to help her clients.

While Vanessa and Shelley are scouring the want-ads for new jobs, they are told by a group of concerned neighbors about the plans of the development company to use muscle to get Shelley to give up her home. The neighbors have heard about the imminent danger from a black janitor who works at Dump & Dispatch.

But Vanessa and Shelley don't scare or give up easily. They take on plumbing to put food in their mouths while continuing to pursue their writing and acting. Their stamina and determination are evident when they will not accept defeat while performing their plumbing tasks in a Laurel and Hardy style, trial and error manner. They are not thwarted by anything whether it be their parents' advice to become "established" or the near destruction of their lives and home by arson. With the help of friends from near and far (even visits from a group of Ghanaians Vanessa met while traveling in Africa, a troupe of black dancers from Florida and a motorcycle gang from Richmond, California), they are able not only to survive but to achieve their dreams while remaining true to themselves.

PIPE DREAMS, with its lively scenes and dialogue, is a profoundly humorous and provocatively heartwarming screenplay that sends an old message to a changing world in a unique way.

Last updated November 26,2006