“That’s disgusting! No son of mine would…”


What happens when one person has a full life ahead of him…and another has nothing left to live for.   Finding the Burnett Heart  is the story of three generations of men from the same family forced by circumstances to share the same small two-bedroom house.

For sixteen year old Tyler Burnett, it’s hard enough just being a teenager, without suddenly having to share your room with your  seventy-five year old grandfather, a man who seems to have based his entire life on making others miserable. For forty-five year old Robert,  having his domineering father now living under his roof, brings up every bitter memory of his childhood and his ingrained hatred for and fear of the old man. For  James, the grandfather, moving into the small cluttered bedroom of his grandson is a fate worse than death, yet this once strong man, is still determined to control everyone around him as he’s always done.  He just might have met his match,  however, in his grandson, Tyler.  Tyler is a teenager with all the attitude and mecurial emotions that come with age,  compounded by a secret he’s afraid to admit even to himself.

Trapped together in a room barely big enough for one boy’s dream, adversaries discover over time, through pain and laughter,  the meaning of tolerance…that differences are often complimentary…that one generation can learn from another…and that the exchange of knowledge passes in both directions.  They also learn that in crisis, most people sadly revert to their past nature…and the clash of those natures can be devastatingly destructive.

Finding the Burnett Heart  is the story of  a family in crisis…the story of three men who are forced to get past their own personal angers and insecurities and discover what it really means to be family and the importance of unconditional love and acceptance.

Most importantly, this is a story of life, death and some secrets that need to be told.  For it’s only in the telling that any of them has a chance of truly “Finding the Burnett Heart.”

See what Critics have said about Paul Elliott’s Finding the Burnett Heart

Back Stage (Critic’s Pick)  “ amusing … heart-rending play … a breath of fresh air. “

LA Weekly (GO!)  “One of the best plays to come along in some time” with “an impeccable cast.”               “The play delivers an incisive exploration of father-son relationships and a   damning portrait of  bigotry and Christian fundamentalist dogma.”

(Accessibly Live)     …. as much soul as it has heart . . . witty”

(Stage Happenings) ……”a thought provoking family drama”

(StageSceneLA)     … one of the most powerful coming out plays ever”

Detroit Repertory Theatre  — “Winner of Best Play of the Season”

Detroit Press –  Donal V. Calamian  “Finding the Burnett Heart –There are so many moments  where the crafts of playwriting and performance art melt away and reveal the power of human nature at its best and worst, darkest and brightest. And that is the genius behind Paul Elliott’s thought-provoking play that had its world premiere opening last night at the Detroit Rep. …..Coming out as a teenager is fraught with risk, as many gays and lesbians can attest. In particular, they face rejection and alienation from the people they need to love them the most – their family. Elliott’s tale, while treading familiar territory, digs beyond the histrionics and stereotypes employed by Lifetime specials and similarly themed works. Instead, the Burnetts are an imperfect family with identifiable beliefs and histories, and Elliott challenges their hearts as he sends them along their individual journeys.It’s a heart-wrenching, but often-funny road the Burnett family travels.”

,                              Corey Craig as Tyler (Missing Piece Theatre, Burbank, CA)

For availability and script: Please contact the playwright   (




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