In 2005, test Neil Gobioff and Shawn Paonessa wrote The March of the Kitefliers, produced by Jobsite Theater, the resident theater company of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. The production was a box office smash, breaking all records for an original work produced in the TBPAC's Shimberg Playhouse. Due to its overwhelming success, they remounted an improved version in 2007.

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Shawn Paonessa and David M. Jenkins in the original production of The March of the Kitefliers.
(Photo courtesy Jobsite Theater.)

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Through both runs in a house that seats 100, over 2,500 people saw The March of the Kitefliers. Not only was it a rousing success with its intended audience – mid-30's post-college grads – but it received standing ovations nearly every night from all ages: teenagers, the middle-aged and seniors. They all laughed, they all cried, and they all stood at curtain call. The Kitefliers effect – as it came to be known – was immeasurable. It even made a few people quit their jobs. (No, we're not making that up.)

The March of the Kitefliers could be the best kept secret in theater, primarily because it was produced in Tampa – a city known for its tourism and football, but not theater.

Despite Tampa's cultural shortcomings, the public knew what it saw. After the city's alt-weekly, Creative Loafing, published a review revealing critical plot spoilers, their office was inundated with phone calls and letters decrying the review. The response was so vociferous and unprecedented, that its editors created a special award for Kitefliers and Jobsite Theater during its annual Best of the Bay issue: Best Impassioned Theater Fans. Kitefliers would later garner a special award of recognition from Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio for its cultural endeavors and success.

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(Top-Bottom) David M. Jenkins, Shawn Paonessa and Meg Heimstead in the original production of The March of the Kitefliers.
(Photo courtesy Jobsite Theater.)

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The script for The March of the Kitefliers is available for production.

Everything below explains why it's a proven, successful, funny and very insightful script.

All we want is for the script to be produced. That's it: for more people in other cities, bigger cities, to see it. We know if that happens, the rest will take care of itself.

So if you produce theater, know someone who does or know Kevin Smith (because it will be a film eventually), please . We will gladly send press kits, synopses, DVD excerpts and scripts to anyone who is interested.

"There are those who think that trivial things like kites are governed by uncontrollable forces of physics and nature. And there are those who know better," says the mercurial character Jack in The March of the Kitefliers.

Act 1

When Sam graduated college with a double major in art and marketing, he had big dreams of a career in advertising. Reality quickly submitted him to a world of mediocrity, so he quit to work in a corporate coffeehouse. There, the penultimate daydreamer could pal around with his best friend – Jack, a cartoonist and perpetual child – and Sam could pursue his dreams through vivid fantasy, a perspective that is enacted before us.

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(L-R) Shawn Paonessa, Meg Heimstead and Summer Bohnenkamp-Jenkins in the original production of The March of the Kitefliers.
(Photo courtesy Jobsite Theater.)

Click to enlarge

Enter Julia, a sculptor who has sacrificed her creative ability to sculpt for the securities rooted in the "real" world. Sam and Julia hit it off. While the two smother themselves in smitten bliss, they leave Jack to share his sarcastic analyses with the audience, while he cleverly inserts Beatles references into Shakespeare soliloquies.

When Sam perceives Julia is forcing him to grow up, the two split. Sam blames his cyclical misfortunes with love on his relentless fantasy and Jack's influence, somewhat understandably, since Jack is Sam's imaginary friend from childhood. Jack simply grew older as Sam did, and Jack's imaginary friend is us, his own personal audience. Sam decides the loss of his true love is the final straw, and decides to live like everyone else: without his imaginary friend. Or so we think....

Act 2

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(L-R) Katrina Stevenson, Chris Holcom, David M. Jenkins and Jason Evans
in The March of the Kitefliers.
(Photo courtesy Jobsite Theater.)

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The romantic comedy quickly turns into a dark comedy, as the three humorously struggle to find (and live with) themselves without each other. Sam is pitted against corporate mundanity without his escapes, and Julia is pitted against loneliness without her last chance of inspiration. Meanwhile, Jack is sent to a waiting room where he meets other imaginary friends who are all waiting to be executed for their obsolescence.

The pressures quickly build, and the three discover that perseverance depends not upon themselves, but their interdependence. While the pursuit of life indeed requires love and friendship, it also requires the acceptance that we are not merely defined by who we are, but what we dream to be.

The March of the Kitefliers is an endearing romantic comedy and a hilarious post-modern satire that asks, "Who are we really, and what ever happened to the dreamers within us when we were children?"

Kitefliers has similarities to two other romantic comedies: Chasing Amy and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Those familiar with Chasing Amy writer Kevin Smith's work will undoubtedly identify with Kitefliers protagonists Sam and Jack – one stuck in a dead end job and the other a comic strip artist. Conversations about cult films like Star Wars and Blue Velvet are interspersed with clever dialogue about relationships, the nature of existence and bad poetry. Like Eternal Sunshine, Kitefliers is infused with a few dark twists along the way, and the difference between real and perceived is almost never clear.

Running time: approximately 2 hours
Cast minimum: 4 men, 3 women

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(L-R) Shawn Paonessa and David M. Jenkins in the original production of The March of the Kitefliers.
(Photo courtesy Jobsite Theater.)

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Act 1, Scene 4 – While on an airplane, Sam discovers he needs to ask Julia out. Oh, and the plane's crashing.

Act 1, Scene 7 – Sam and Julia simultaneously debrief their first date to their best friends Jack and Rita.

Act 2, Scene 5 – After they've broken up, Sam and Julia bump into each other having separate dates at the same restaurant and have an impromptu double-date from hell, while Jack appears and appeals for his survival.

"...it is charming and fresh and – wonder of wonders – genuinely funny... what you might call an uber grande good time." – The Tampa Tribune

"[Gobioff and Paonessa] wanted to surprise audiences with their new play, The March of the Kitefliers. They've succeeded in a several ways." – St. Petersburg Times

"...funny and poignant.... The acting is as solid as the script. ....Kitefliers is a romantic comedy, but has enough wit and freshness, even on second viewing, to set it apart from the genre's run-of-the-mill entries." – St. Petersburg Times

Here's what some patrons said when they saw The March of the Kitefliers:

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(L-R) Jaime Giangrande-Holcom, Meg Heimstead, Jason Evans, Shawn Paonessa, Katrina Stevenson and Summer Bohnenkamp-Jenkins in the original production of The March of the Kitefliers.
(Photo courtesy Jobsite Theater.)

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"Bravo!!!!!  We had a great time at the show and thoroughly enjoyed the performance.  We've told a number of people about the show and even were inspired to become season ticket holders for the upcoming season." – John R. Streitmatter

"Art matters.  Divine art (that which reveals the soul) is vital.  You guys did divine art." – Bradley Falk

"March of the Kitefliers was better than I ever expected... The acting, writing, directing and even production was so amazing that I apologize that I don't have the right words to express how impressed I was.... I can't wait to see another performance. You are all incredibly talented and Tampa is fortunate to have Jobsite here." – Jenny Weigle

"We had a phenomenal time last night. Congratulations on creating a innovative and utterly hilarious script – not to mention driving home a really great point. Wow, wow, wow.... I kept thinking to myself, 'wow. they really put effort into building this.' ...I hope I get to make it down to see the show again. The standing ovation was well deserved. Congratulations." – Tim Burke

"It was phenomenal! The show was hilarious! I laughed the whole way through. In fact between all my snorts and guffaws, I darn near peed my pants a few times. So if you go, bring your Depends. You'll need them.... And the show's message is great too." – Dawn Narramore

"My wife couldn't stop talking about your play over the weekend to all our family. She really enjoyed it as did I. She had never been to a play before so she didn't know what to expect but she loved it." – Jacen Santiago

"Michelle and I attended Saturday's show, and we had not read a review. March of the Kitefliers was a masterpiece! We have been season ticket holders for several years now, this was absolutely one of the best top 3 plays and performances we have seen you all do. Keep up the great work and may all your original works be as big a hit as this was!!" – Wayne and Michelle Smith

The following was made by Jobsite Theater to promote the remount to Kitefliers. It contains a brief summary of the show from the actor's and producer's points of views, as well as some discussion about what makes the show so special.

Since their playwriting debut in 1999, Gobioff and Paonessa have written for numerous productions, primarily for Jobsite Theater. Additional produced plays include Pericles – Prince of Tires Grimm's Faery Tales, The Curse of Millhaven, Breathing Oblivion, The Acropolis Project: Balance, and Learning Swerve.

In 2011, Gobioff and Paonessa founded Kitefliers Studios, a production company devoted to expanding great storytelling from theatre to film, print and online media. Since then, they have produced for a number of films, notably The Bedford Devil, their first short, which they co-wrote.

has also worked behind the scenes in other Jobsite productions including Clive Barker's The History of the Devil (Sound Technician), Bloody Poetry (Stage Manager) and Delusion of Darkness (Asst. Director/Stage Manager).

has been acting, writing and directing with Jobsite Theater since 1999 when he played Donkey in their second production, Brownbread. Notable performances include The History of the Devil, Cloud Nine, Playing With Fire: After Frankenstein, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), A Girl's Guide to Chaos, Phyro-Giants!, The March of the Kitefliers, Woman in Mind and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Mr. Paonessa has also directed in various capacities for Jobsite, including Delusion of Darkness and Hurlyburly (Associate Director).  In August 2008, he will co-direct Tim Robbins’ Embedded with David M. Jenkins.  When not working directly on the stage, Mr. Paonessa is also Jobsite’s Vice-Chair and Web Manager.