Cover art by Doug Katz,

Secret Order

Bob Clyman
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Recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award


William Shumway, a young, idealistic cellular biologist with a brilliant new idea for curing cancer, is recruited from a relative obscurity to Hill-Matheson, a major cancer research institute, by its charismatic director, Bob Brock, with the offer of his own lab and all the resources he will need to pursue that idea. As the pressure to show publishable results begins to build, fueled by unexpected competition from a rival lab at Oxford and the politically agile head of another department who has resentfully seen his own budget slashed to free up more funding for Shumway’s lab, his research suddenly hits a snag. He is faced with having to choose between full disclosure of the problem, which would jeopardize the funding he needs, and making the more expedient decision to bend the rules just a little, which will buy him enough additional time to solve the problem.

Production Info

Cast: 4 total (1 female, 3 male)
Full Length Drama (about 110 minutes)
Minimal Set Requirements
Contemporary Costumes

Press Quotes

“… taut, twist-filled and appealingly cynical drama … Not since COPENHAGEN has a playwright so dramatically portrayed the culture of high-stakes science … for all its theatrical bravado, SECRET ORDER doesn’t give short shrift to science, which is not only elegantly woven into the themes of the play but also helps establish the credibility of his dramatic world.” —New York Times

“… grabs your attention right away and never lets go … It’s exhilarating to find a writer equally versed in science, medical intrigue and playwriting.” —John Simon, Bloomberg News

“… a smart, tightly constructed and surprisingly humorous play … As a playwright, Clyman seldom puts a foot wrong. The plotting is tight and involving. The dialogue is smart, punchy, full of meaningful observation and wry humor. It always sounds right — true to the characters he is developing.” —Everett Evans, Houston Chronicle

“… a burst of heady theatrical pleasure, courtesy of playwright Bob Clyman and his drama SECRET ORDER … brainy, taut and psychologically complex … Clyman crafts the dialogue so subtly that it’s impossible to label anyone as good or bad, honest or dishonest. They’re both.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“… witty, fast-paced and incisive … Clyman’s script crackles with humor and intelligence.” —Buffalo News

About the Author


  • Bob Clyman

    Bob Clyman's plays have been produced Off-Broadway and at regional theatres, such as the Alley Theatre, Laguna Playhouse, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, San Jose Repertory Theatre, George Street Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, Colony Studio Theatre in Los Angeles, Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, and L.A. Theatre Works, in addition to touring Scotland. His play SECRET ORDER was initially commissioned and produced by The Ensemble Studio Theatre under the auspices of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It was subsequently produced at 59E59 Theatre in New York, where it was nominated for an Outer Circle Critics Award for the best script in 2008, and has since been produced at many regional theatres. His plays TRANCED and THE EXCEPTIONALS were both supported by Edgerton Foundation New American Play Awards. TRANCED has been produced by San Jose Repertory Theatre, Laguna Playhouse and Merrimack Repertory Theatre, among others. THE EXCEPTIONALS was produced by the Contemporary American Theatre Festival and Merrimack Repertory Theatre, where it was nominated for both Best Play and Best New Play of 2012 by The Independent Reviewers of New England. His most recent play THE GOOD BET, was chosen for The Ashland New Play Festival in 2014 and won the Stanley Drama Award for 2015. He has been awarded a number of national prizes, including a Eugene O'Neill Summer Conference Fellowship, Geraldine Dodge Fellowship, Playwrights First Award, New Jersey State Arts Council Award, Edward Albee Foundation Fellowship, Berilla-Kerr Foundation Award, Djerassi Foundation Fellowship, Shenandoah Valley Playwrights Fellowship, and Theater in the Works Fellowship.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 2/1/2014
Pages 92
ISBN 9780881455748

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:
The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
Secret Order is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC


Upcoming and Recent Productions


2/27/2025 – 3/2/2025
St. Louis, MO