Michael Halperin

CHESTNUT TREES
10-minute play
2014 Playwrights Festival World Premiere

A feisty, sharp-witted 100-year old reminisces about his childhood in a Russian village and the remarkable adventure that brought him to America.


Plays

FREEDOM, TEXAS


Full length Comedy (Part 1 of a trilogy)

A kid from Los Angeles in 1953 ventures to small town Texas with dreams of becoming a radio star and discovers reality smacking him in the face.


​DRIVING JAMES DEAN
Full length Comedy 
1955. An aspiring writer breaks his writers block through an unexpected encounter with the iconic actor James Dean leading to a moment that changes his life.


PURPLE HEART

90 minute Comedy ​​

A lie blossoms out of control leading to a comedy of errors, a love story, and family secrets revealed. 

THE SPARK OF REASON

Full length Drama

Promenade Playhouse, Santa Monica
“Love, deceit, betrayal and political corruption are all themes coursing through the veins of the heart-racing play, "The Spark of Reason." A sister's revenge can be brutal. Throw in a lover's deception and a teacher's betrayal to the historic 24-year-old Baruch Spinoza's trial for heresy in 1656 -- carried out by the Jewish community in Amsterdam -- and you've got one blisteringly dramatic play. An eclectic cast will rile your deepest emotions ...inspired by a true story.”
- Jewish Journal of Los Angeles



WRITING THE KILLER TREATMENT

A treatment reveals your story’s structure, introduces your characters and hooks, and is often your first and only opportunity to pitch your project. This is the only book that takes you through the complete process of creating treatments that sell.
Purchase this book now
Watch Michael's YouTube interview on this book​

Books, plays, dvds

DANCING WITH WILLIAM BLAKE

Full length Drama

After fifty years of marriage, the death of his wife forces William to

reflect on the compromises he made.  Now, late in life, he struggles to recapture a lost moment from his youth as he moves from the present to the past and back again.

JUDAISM: EMBRACING THE SEEKER

Harold Schulweis, Editor Michael Halperin KTAV, $18.95 paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-60280-141-7
This book is addressed to Jews and non-Jews, affiliated or unaffiliated, who seek to understand the distinctive character of Jewish faith and identification. It seeks to dispel the whispered rumors that Judaism looks askance at those of other faiths who seek or have adopted a Jewish way of life. 57 men and women who have chosen to join the Jewish community of faith and destiny are asked the motivation for their choice, the reaction of their family and friends, and their aspirations for their renewed lives. Prominent synagogue rabbis, of all Jewish schools, of thought share their dialogues with the seekers.​


ALL STEPS NECESSARY

Los Angeles Premiere April 2006
Produced by Inkwell Theater
90-minute One Act
“History forgotten is history repeated, and "All Steps Necessary," Michael Halperin's cautionary tale about the post-Kristallnacht doings at Field Marshal Hermann Goering's house in 1938, leaves no trenchant chill untilled.” 
- David Nichols, Los Angeles Times

FROM PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY 3/8/10

Throughout history, the Jewish attitude toward conversion has been ambiguous and complex. Schulweis, an eminent California rabbi, brilliantly analyzes the ambivalence toward conversion, citing the continuing Israeli argument about the Law of Return with respect to converts. He clearly explores the positive and negative attitudes toward the convert. The book consists primarily of first-person stories told by 57 men and women who became “Jews by choice.” By and large, they are individuals whose decision to embrace Judaism resulted from a personal spiritual quest rather than marriage. Following the personal narratives, there are eight brief essays, primarily by rabbis, in which they describe their experiences in connection with conversion. The book also includes five poems by Schulweis, an afterword by editor Michael Halperin, and a glossary. For Jews, this is a helpful exploration of conversion and a useful guide to the attitude that should be embraced. For non-Jews, it is a valuable introduction to the elements in Judaism that cause some of their friends and even members of their own families to choose to become Jews.


To purchase this book: www.ktav.com

WRITING THE SECOND ACT
Writers Digest Book Club Selection
Every screenplay needs an attention-grabbing beginning and a satisfying ending, but those elements are nothing without a strong, well-crafted middle.  The second act is where most of the action is: where your characters grow, change, and overcome the obstacles that will bring them to the resolution at the end of the story. It's also the hardest act to write, and where most screenplays tend to lose momentum and focus.
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Watch Michael's YouTube interview on this book

BLACK WHEELS

National Education Association African American Booklist 2005-2020
Read Across America Program
Inspired by a true story.
Nat Fowler, a fifteen year old African-American boy raised on his family farm in a predominately white part of Missouri in the late 1800’s, runs away  when he’s accused of murder and joins the U.S Army.  He ends up at Fort Missoula, Montana immersed for the first time in all-black culture with the 25th Infantry where he joins the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps just as the U.S. Army orders the corps to complete a journey of 1900 miles from Missoula, Montana to St. Louis,Missouri in forty days over the most rugged territory in the United States.  During the journey he falls in love, discovers bigotry and hatred, finds friends, betrayal and comrades but also grows up as he enters the 20th century.

"...This novel is a gem....There are nuggets of irony throughout...this book will become popular." --- Susan Allen, VOYA Magazine

“It was heart wrenching for me to ‘feel’ the struggle of these Black men in 1897 struggling to demonstrate to whites that they were equal human beings...[as] seen through the eyes of a Black teenager...The story also angered me because it is a struggle that still continues today...I enjoyed reading the novel.”

Dr. John A. Davis, Chair of African-American Studies, Loyola Marymount University, 

Los Angeles, California

“I thoroughly enjoyed it.  [it] handled the whole racist issue in the West and...the changing and unchanging attitudes...the men’s travails made fascinating reading.”

Robert M. Brown, Executive Director, Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Montana


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JACOB’S RESCUE: A HOLOCAUST STORY

American Bookseller’s Association, Best Book of 1993
Teachers’ Choice International Reading Association
Notable Children’s Trade Book
Children’s Book Council & National Council for Social Studies

Based on the true story of children rescued from the horror of the Holocaust by a Polish Catholic family and kept safe for four and a half years under Nazi occupation.

“Characters are well developed and multidimensional, and the story is a poignant one.”  School Library Journal

" What gives the story authenticity is not only the harsh physical danger, but also the candid characterization, the honesty about how fear made people act.“  

Booklist

 “[an] evocation of...terror and courage.”  Publisher’s Weekly

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WRITING GREAT CHARACTERS

Writers Digest Book Club Selection
This valuable book identifies and solves a major problem for writers, creating characters who are so real they literally jump off the page. Halperin has developed an easy to understand, logical system which gives

all screenwriters a foolproof and fail proof method of developing great characters. Writing Great Characters is a book for all writers, from the expert looking to polish his techniques to the novice who wants to learn

the craft from an expert.
"Halperin provides tremendous insight into effective ‘character

development’ in order to create great characters for screenplays." 
- Frederick S. Pierce | CEO Frederick S. Pierce Co., former president, ABC-TV, past chair American Film Institute

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MY NAME IS DAVID: SEARCH FOR IDENTITY

From Floricanto Press.  A true post-Holocaust Odyssey

www.FloricantoPress.com
ISBN: 978-0-915745-27-2 353 pages.

Rescued from the Warsaw Ghetto by Polish-Christians, a young Jewish boy hides in the guise of a Polish child. In a remarkable act of altruism his rescuers refuse to abandon him as they traverse war-ravaged post-Holocaust Europe seething with an upsurge of Anti-Semitism.


“David’s post-Holocaust search for his identity serves as background for a variety of human experiences and adventures as well as touching personal relationships…an impressive document about David Gilat’s journey to self-discovery that will contribute to our understanding of those important times.”
Havi Dreifuss, Ph.D.
Historian of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe
Dept. of Jewish History, Tel Aviv University

My Name is David is an important contribution to the study of Christian Heroism during the Holocaust. While there are a few other books written about Christian rescuers of Jewish children, I have not come across any demonstrating the devotion that equaled the Roslan’s. In my work with The Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute I met personally with children, now adults, rescued by Christians who had tragic experiences. Alex and Mela Roslan were especially devoted to David and his brother Jacob and recognized as Righteous Gentiles by the State of Israel. Both children grew up to become scholars and contributors to society. Michael Halperin has written a book that is an easy read and will appeal to the general reader as well as Holocaust scholars. 

SAMUEL P. OLINER, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Humboldt State University; Founder/ Director of the Altruistic Personality and Prosocial Behavior Institute. Author: The Nature Of Good & Evil; Altruism, Intergroup Apology Forgiveness and Reconciliation; Do Unto Others: Extraordinary Acts of Ordinary People; Embracing The Other (co-author Pearl Oliner, Ph.D.); The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe (co-author Pearl Oliner, Ph.D.) 

Through a series of episodic adventures, My Name is David reveals the ways in which the hidden identity of Jewish children deeply impacted their lives during and after the Holocaust. Based on a remarkable true story, the tale renders an existential, yet picaresque journey of a young boy forced by circumstances beyond his control to vacillate between two worlds. The crisis at the heart of the story is not just survival under catastrophic conditions; it is the tension between what one is and what one knows. As such, it is a story about the Holocaust that can be universally understood. As Halperin writes: “We all have stories about survival...They’re different and at the same time they’re the same.” 

HOLLI LEVITSKY, Ph.D. Director, Jewish Studies Program/Professor of English, Loyola Marymount University; Affiliated Professor of the University of Haifa Fellow Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Author: Summer Haven: The Catskills, the Holocaust, and the Literary Imagination (Jews of Russia and Eastern Europe and Their Legacy) Co-writer Phil Brown. 

We search through the daily news to find a few sparks of hope. My Name is David, the true story of a young boy’s post-Holocaust journey written by Michael Halperin offers a vivid and moving testimony to the abiding power of human goodness. The Roslan’s, a Polish Christian family risked everything to rescue and protect two Jewish brothers from Nazi genocide. In their story, set within the devastation of post-war Europe, amid the ashes of the Holocaust, we find a generosity of spirit and a commitment to moral decency guaranteed to lift our souls. It is a story that needs to be told and told again. 

RABBI ED FEINSTEIN, Sr. Rabbi Valley Beth Shalom, Encino, California. Author: Tough Questions Jews Ask—A Young Adult’s Guide to Building a Jewish Life (Finalist National Jewish Book Awards); Jews and Judaism in the Twenty-First Century: Human Responsibility, the Presence of God and the Future of the Covenant.



​​​FIELDS OF POISON: MIGRANT FARMWORKER TO CRUSADING PHYSICIAN

From Floricanto Press. The Biography of Antonio Velasco, M.D.

ISBN: 978-0-915745-21-0.  262 pages.  $22.95


​Forced by his family to cross the Mexican border at the age of 11 from Mexico, Antonio Velasco entered a life of back-breaking labor as a migrant farm worker. He overcame systemic and institutional bigotry and rose to the heights of the scientific and medical professions. Rampant pesticide poisoning affecting hundreds of farm workers persuaded Velasco to investigate major chemical corporations and agribusiness.  Against enormous odds he developed diagnostic protocols and treatment of toxic pesticides that impacted public health. His story represents the experience of those who choose the United States as their country. 

“…multitudes of immigrants… gave their talent and intellect to improve life in America.” (Antonio R. Velasco, M.D.) 


“Fields of Poison relates the dramatic account of battles encountered by Dr. Antonio Velasco in seeking social and legal justice to protect workers from highly hazardous pesticides…. Despite constraints, he became a medical doctor who focused on the mismanagement of pesticides that exposed farm workers to highly toxic insecticides [and] succeeded in passing legislation to protect farm workers.” 

Graham Matthews, PhD., DSc. Emeritus Professor of Pest Management, Imperial College, London, UK. Author: History of Pesticides; Pesticides: Health Safety and the Environment.

“We don’t all start  at  the  same  place. We don’t all encounter the obstacles, barriers, deterrents that he overcame. Antonio has a burning passion for justice. He converted his anger into achievement.”  

Sen. Bill Monning, California State Senate. 

“The book is a detailed and significant portrait of human courage and the potential that lies within us all to learn from personal suffering and to substantively contribute to the larger good.” 

Daniel Rothenberg, Ph.D. Professor of Practice, School of Politics and Global Studies; Co-Director, Center on the Future of War, Arizona State University, Tempe. Author: With These Hands: The Hidden World of Migrant Farmworkers Today.  

“The hallmark of someone like Antonio was the ability to inspire others. We called it el corazón de Antonio (Antonio’s heart)…” 

José Alberto Arévalo, M.D. Medical Faculty, University of California Davis; Chief Medical Officer, Sutter Independent Physicians.

“Fields of Poison tells the story of the extraordinary brilliance and tenacity of Dr. Antonio Velasco in overcoming systemic racism and injustice in America. His story reminds us it is possible to bend the arc of history towards justice.” Harry Snyder, J.D. Advocacy Leader in Residence, University of California School of Public Health.

www.floricantopress.com

​Available on Amazon