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David Avruch – 2022 Pilot Finalist

The Palace

Amid crushing oppression and Cold War paranoia, a closeted ex-cop finds work at a glamorous Baltimore department store in 1949.

My name is David Oliver Avruch and I’m a queer Jewish cis-man, 38 years old. Currently I am a social worker in private practice in Baltimore, MD. My clinical work focuses on couples therapy, trauma treatment, psychedelic medicine and social-justice-oriented approaches to mental healthcare. Though on paper I tend to come across as pretty serious, I’m actually a goof and I enjoy writing comedy and dramedy in addition to drama.
I believe that screenwriters and therapists share an overlapping role in society: to interpret the present moment in a way that is logical and compelling. In other words, we help people make sense of things. In my experience, the better we understand what’s unfolding around and within us, the more tolerable everything feels. A meaningful narrative can move us from stuckness to optionality.
Take my pilot The Palace as an example. Currently, Baltimore occupies a particular place in the national consciousness – a synonym for urban bleakness. A casual observer, not knowing why Baltimore is so impoverished and segregated, with high rates of substance use disorders and trauma exposure, may assign blame to the city’s residents. Media narratives reinforce this tendency.
In The Palace, I am trying to tell the story of why Baltimore became Baltimore. Was it inevitable? For me, the goal is to increase flexibility in how viewers understand the social problems that plague my city. (Unsurprising spoiler: various forms of anti-Black racism are at the root of much of modern-day Baltimore’s dysfunction.) My goal is to contribute to the national conversation over whether, how and why we must address historical forms of harm – and to do it in a way that keeps you glued to the screen.
The other thing I’m focused on as a writer is the experience of identity. As a cisgender queer Jewish guy with white privilege, my life is spent in equal measure on the inside and outside of mainstream society. Hence, what it means to belong – what it means to trust others to accept me – is my central preoccupation.
Contact David Avruch: davidoliveravruch@gmail.com