Marc Paykuss

for Zadig

Marc Paykuss is a former award-winning entertainment copywriter from Los Angeles now residing in Pittsburgh. His first play, “The Tinker Bell Situation,” was one of the winners of The Bonita Springs 10-Minute Play Festival in 2020,  In addition, it was produced via Zoom by the Nicely Theatre Group in Michigan for their inaugural season and received a staged reading by the Core Artist Ensemble at the Barrow Group Theatre in New York City. His first full-length play, “No Entry” was one of the selected plays by the TRU Voices New Plays and Reading Series, and received a Zoom live reading in June, 2020.   It is also a finalist for the 2023 Woodward/Newman Drama award.  In 2022, Marc won first-prize in the Think Fast one act play competition at the Theater Project, Union, NJ. for his play “Home for Sale By Owner.”  His play “Zadig” is a finalist for the FMM Fellowship for Works in Heightened Language from Synecdoche Works, 2022 ( His semi-biographical play “Marietta” was performed by the Acting Out Theater in Massachusetts in October, 2022 and is a selection of the Talk It Out theater in NYC this November.  His comedy, “Farce Majeure,” was performed at the Sullivan County Playhouse in New York in 2021.

About Zadig

Early one morning at JFK’s International Air Terminal, Kyra (30s) awakens to discover Adil (60s) with a long beard, sitting next to her. She’s is in a very bad mood, having been there all night. Adil tries to chat with her with no success, but finally wins her over with some home-brewed tea, and they begin to converse. Kyra’s been through a rough time, and Adil, a self-described spiritual advisor, offers to tell her a story he thinks might be of some help to her. Initially she resists, but then gives in. It’s about a young man named Zadig, who lived in Babylon around 550 B.C. Fate has always been kind to him, and he has everything he could ever want. But things are about to drastically change for him. He almost loses his eye in a fight with his fiancé’s rejected lover, who then winds up marrying her. He escapes to the country, where his neighbor Arimazes (who’s jealous of Zadig) threatens to ruin his life. He steals a poem that Zadig wrote about the King and alters it, which causes Zadig to be arrested for treason. Luckily, Arimazes’s eunuch comes to his rescue. Cutting between scenes from Zadig’s tale, Kyra confronts Adil about the story’s meaning and how it relates to her own life. Zadig earns a position as judge on the king’s court and befriends his beautiful wife, Astarte. They have many discussions on a variety of topics, and slowly begin to fall in love. Arimazes reveals their relationship to the King, who wants them both killed. Astarte begs Zadig to flee for his life, and he heeds her wishes. Alone in the desert, Zadig begins to question why fate has suddenly been so unkind to him. As he journeys on, he’s captured, sold as a slave and purchased by Setoc. But they become friends as he defends Setoc in a court case, and saves the young widow Almona from throwing herself on her deceased husband’s funeral pyre. Zadig continues his journey, saving the life of a fisherman. Finally, Zadig’s prayers are answered when he meets up with Astarte again. She managed to escape the King, but was abducted and sold into slavery. He convinces her captor, the Emir Ogul, to release her in exchange for helping him solve his lifelong weight problem, But the agreed-to one month turns into six, for Ogul wants physical perfection. Now, just as Zadig heads off to rejoin Astarte, she writes him and lets him know that she must wed Arimazes, the victor in a battle for her hand in marriage. Zadig, having given up hope, meets up with a hermit who turns out to be an angel. He tells Zadig that our fates are determined by forces unknown to us, but we still have the power to claim out destiny. Zadig heads back to Babylon, beats Arimazes in a battle, and marries Astarte. Kyra, finally understanding the story’s message, makes peace with her life.