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The rhythms of a life remembered,
and misremembered,
in connected short stories.
Multiple aspects of the same person, unfolding with humor and trauma, magic, love, heartbreak and survival.

Accompanied by improvised percussion.

A one-act play in 5 acts, portraying various disparate aspects of one personality, looking at the rhythmic side; the funny/dramatic side (in an act called "Stand Up Tragedy"); a life looked at as planned from future to past; the poetic, ADD side; and finally, the complete person, whom we meet for the first time at the end. All accompanied by an improvising jazz drummer. It's funny, sad, contemplative, intellectual, and entertaining.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first play and first Fringe production by Joseph Reed Hayes.


  • Orlando Fringe 2022 Review: 'The Mockingbird News'

    "Native mythology holds that the mockingbird, nature’s news-delivering mimic, taught people how to talk. If that’s so, Sarah Lockard has learned its lessons well, as she embodies a vast range of voices in playwright Joseph Reed Hayes’ delightfully ADD tone poem about the power of human language. Across five tenuously connected acts, Lockard leaps fluidly from persona to persona — a Lenny Bruce-boosting stand-up comic in one scene, an aging carny looking back on her abusive childhood in the next — all while propelled by the beats of live percussionist Robed Fenelus. With its mix of beat poetry, bad magic tricks, and Borscht Belt one-liners, this show could fit comfortably into Mrs. Maisel’s Gaslight Café. But beyond the gags, Hayes is reaching to say something real about the relativity of time. Even if I couldn’t always grasp what that something was, under Lisa Halstead Castañeda’s dreamlike direction, the luminous Lockard makes every minute of this expansive ethereal experiment an entrancing experience."

  • Orlando Fringe review

    "Local playwright Joseph Hayes’ “The Mockingbird News” (Green, 60 minutes) takes a wider view of life and time and sound and art and meaning. It’s a dense play, full of rhythmic sentences that echo the beat of the percussion underscore. The work is lightened by the radiant Sarah Lockard, who tells the stories with gusto and approachability, as directed by Leesa Halstead Castaneda. Drummer Robed Fenelus adds to the sense of movement and helps set the mood with his beats — like the ticking of a clock that is impatient to move forward. There’s a lot here, and I occasionally just let the sound of voice and instrument wash over me rather than digest every well-chosen word literally. In other words, it’s a thinker. Like life itself, you aren’t always sure where it’s going, and you feel as if you don’t always understand everything, but by the end you’re sure you’ve had a journey — and an enjoyable one at that."

  • Poetry as Life in The Mockingbird News

    "The Mockingbird News is a highly engaging work by playwright Joseph Reed Hayes. It quickly draws you in, and makes you feel like you’ve been transported to one of those old Beatnik coffee houses of the 1960s, listening to the Beat Generation’s free form poetry. Poetry as theater, in fact, works exceptionally well in this production performed at this month’s Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, thanks in no small part to the outstanding and immensely entertaining performance by Sarah Lockard. The Mockingbird News follows one woman’s lifetime, charted over five different angles; we don’t know her name or identity, but it doesn’t much matter. What’s far more important is watching how skillfully Lockard gives us so many different aspects of the same persona, painting for us brief parts of this character’s life, so that each glimpse becomes more enticing,slowly reaching a greater appreciation of who this character is. The Mockingbird News is also fascinating in the way it captures a universal sense of how all of us change in subtly ways over time. Each momentous shift creates new dynamics that alter how we perceive our surroundings, so that we either run from or actively embrace those changes. Lockard asks us to step into her world for short but tempting moments, which are tied to trauma and heartbreak, but also moments of joy and humor. By the end, we have a much more complete view of the full person, and it was a fascinating journey to get there. Lockard’s bravura role is aided considerably by the only other person on stage, percussionist Robed Fenelus, who provides a sort of running commentary on Lockard’s dialogue as he performs on his drum set — quietly sometimes, ferociously at others. It’s a stunningly effective way to enhance the mood and feel of this captivating spoken poetry. The play is also boosted by the creative staging by director Leesa Halstead Castaneda, who takes a single character and artistically establishes a constant rhythm and flow to the production that adds enormously to our appreciation of it. This was a terrific show about memory and recollection, and where we find ourselves once we begin to look back."

THE May 2022 CAST

  • Sarah Lockard
    Sarah Lockard: Actor, writer, dancer, and puppeteer Sarah Lockard has performed comic and dramatic roles in Orlando for more than a decade, at Orlando Shakes, Garden Theater, Voci Dance, Mad Cow Theatre, Playlist Seattle and Studio Theatre Tierra Del Sol.

    Sarah plays:

  • Robed Fenelus
    Robed Fenelus is a drummer and percussionist, a recent Dean's List graduate from Rollins College, and is heading for a Master of Music degree at the Valencia, Spain, campus of Berklee College of Music. All of the music in Mockingbird is imrovised by Robed.

    Robed plays:

  • Leesa Halstead Castañeda
    Director Leesa Halstead Castañeda is a legend in the Orlando theater community. Her one-person show, "La Reina Yolanda", received Patrons Pick and Best Female Performer Critics Choice awards at Orlando Fringe. In addition to her directing credits she has also performed with Greater Orlando Actors Theatre, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Mad Cow Theatre, Theatre Downtown, and others. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and has many film and TV credits as a proud member of SAG-AFTRA.

    Leesa is:


  • Joseph Reed Hayes
    Joseph Reed Hayes celebrates 20 years of writing and producing plays with this Project and this play. To date, he has had 50 productions and readings of his work from coast to coast and in three countries. The Mockingbird News is the third event of The Hayes Project, a yearlong four-part series of related events culminating in a full production of the central play, If I Had My Way, in June.

    Joseph is:

    THE AUTHOR — My first play, and first Orlando Fringe show, was in May, 2002. For my 20th anniversary, I’ve written a play that maps the chaotic, poetic, ADD mind that has created 17 shows – so far – and if this brain that do that, so can yours. The Mockingbird News is part personal history, part cabinet of curiosities, part voyage of pure fiction (read: lies). 
     ~ Joseph Hayes, Mystic and Life Member of St. Merryn Druids, Cornwall UK*




My plays take place on buses and in bars, in hotel rooms and government offices, farmhouse kitchens and jazz stages. 58 productions and readings of my plays from coast to coast and in three countries; creator of House Theater Project and the year-long 13in13 series of shows.

"Best local playwright: Joseph Hayes" - Orlando Sentinel

food writer

Florida Magazine Association Award winning food writer and Orlando restaurant critic. James Beard Foundation judge, knowledgable champion of world cuisine and avid advocate of undiscovered chefs.

freelance writer

As a writer on assignment, I've traveled to Italy, Scotland, England, New Orleans, California and New York City, with a specialty on all things Orlando. Whether it's a story about Arts & Crafts houses in Florida or new styles in computers, a Mounted Police squad or alien abduction insurance, I've written it. Environmental issues, music, movie and theater reviews and in-depth conversations with legends in jazz. Interviews and personality profiles are my specialty.

EVENT producer

Producer of the Jazz On Edge series since 2008, spotlighting new and original jazz to appreciative audiences, giving creative hometown and nationally-known musicians a place to perform their own music, without boundaries, in person and online. Founder "Word Play" series and former Chair of Alternative Programming, Timucua Arts Foundation.