Sunday, October 7, 2018

Discover a Great New Play

Tomorrow (Monday) my one-act play The Love Songs of Brooklynites will have a staged reading as a part of Emerging Artists Theatre's New Work Series.

Zach McCoy is playing the part of Chuck, a recent transplant to Brooklyn from Wisconsin. Zach's favorite stage credits include David in Love and Human Remains, Bernard in Boeing, Boeing, and Colin in The Birthday Boys. He also appeared in my play The State of Colorado v. Tennessee Williams. He currently does extensive voiceover work, reviews plays for The Drama League, and runs a sustainable seafood restaurant on the Upper West Side. Zach is a proud graduate of Butler University in Indianapolis, IN.

The role of Chuck's neighbor Abbie is being played by Jessica L. Vera. Her previous credits include Bullet Catchers, The True History of the Tragic Life and Triumphant Death of Julia Pastrana, the Ugliest Woman in the World, and A Snowfall in Berlin. She has also appeared on the Hulu series The Path and is in an independent film, Beyond the Night, which will be premiering at Woodstock Film Festival. I've also had the pleasure of working with Jessica as part of the 36th Street Writers Block, where she read the leading roles in Capital and Bones of the Sea as I was developing them.

The reading is directed by Dev Bondarin, who is the Artistic Director of Astoria Performing Arts Center where she has directed Follies, Raisin, ...Spelling Bee, Astoria Stories, Merrily We Roll Along, and In The Bones. As Associate Artistic Director of Prospect Theater Company, she directs a musical theater lab which has produced over 80 new, short musicals. Her other credits include Elevator Heart, King Lear, and A Home Across The Ocean.

Tickets for the reading (which benefits Emerging Artists Theatre) are $10. That includes admission to readings of two other short plays, The Cruelty of Children by Raymond McAnally and Hamlet Investigations, Inc. by Ellen Abrams.

The theatre is located at 15 West 28th Street on the second floor. Hope you can make it!


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

LOVE SONGS Next Week!

My one-act play The Love Songs of Brooklynites will have a staged reading next week on Monday, October 8th, at 7:00 pm.

The reading is being directed by Dev Bondarin and stars Jessica Vera and Zach McCoy. Kevin Quinn will be reading stage directions.

Some of you might have seen a reading of the same play last year at the Dramatists Guild. This version has been tightened up a bit and is slightly shorter.

We'll be presenting the piece as a benefit for Emerging Artists Theatre. Tickets are $10 each. In addition to seeing my show, the audience will also get to see The Cruelty of Children by Raymond McAnally and Hamlet Investigations, Inc. by Ellen Abrams.

The reading will be held at TADA, 15 West 28th Street (between Broadway and 5th Avenue) on the second floor. Tickets are available here:

https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3616610

If you can make it, I'd love to see you there!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Art and Activism Panel Tomorrow

Gingold Theatrical Group, which just finished an amazing production of Heartbreak House on Theatre Row, is sponsoring a free panel discussion on Art and Activism tomorrow night, Monday, October 1st.

The panel will be at The Players Club at 16 Gramercy Park South. It's scheduled to go from 6:00 to 7:30. You can make reservations by calling 212-355-7823 or by e-mailing info@gingoldgroup.org. The event is open to the public, and is a great chance to get in to see a 19th-century club founded by Edwin Booth.

G.B. Shaw's Heartbreak House was written in response to World War I, and cast and crew members will be there to discuss that play, but no doubt the discussion will move to more recent occurrences of Art and Activism as well. Hope to see you there!


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Shibaraku

One of the most enduring kabuki plays ever written is Ichikawa Danjuro's Shibaraku. First performed in 1697, the play remains a favorite today as a "face-showing" production at the start of the season, introducing the audience to the new company of actors for the year.

No doubt the play's large cast makes it attractive for such an event. Also, its over-the-top performance of a heroic, bravura style known as aragoto makes it impressive to watch. Plus it has a remarkable villain, Takehira, who is an evil lord that everyone loves to hate.

The play begins with the footmen of Takehira speaking in a flurry. The evil lord himself then appears on a raised platform. With him is Shinsai, a priest who has long, pigtail-like whiskers that make him look like a catfish. They celebrate the fact that Takehira has subjugated the Eastern provinces and will soon hold absolute power.

Not content with political and military domination, Takehira lusts after the beautiful Katsura, who is already engaged to Yoshitsuna, the son of an important governor. Yoshitsuna tries to report Takehira's foul deeds to the Emperor, but the evil lord stops him from leaving. Just as everything looks hopeless, we hear a cry of "Shibaraku" which is loosely translated at "just a minute" or "wait a moment."

That cry comes from Kagemasa, a hero of superhuman strength. The villains are struck with terror, as they hear the cry again and again. The actor playing Kagemasa then enters wearing an oversized costume that includes clogs to make him taller. He also wears a large wig that adds to his height even more. He has two enormous swords and his face is painted a distinctive red and white.

Takehira sends Shinsai to stop the hero, but the cowardly priest is no match for him. Shinsai tries to get a woman to confront Kagemasa instead. Four samurai reluctantly come forward to fight, but then turn and run. Kagemasa restores Yoshitsuna's inheritance and allows him to marry Katsura. When Takehira's henchmen try to stop him, he cuts off their heads. The play ends with a grand, triumphal exit.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

More Praise for FOLLIES

Congratulations to the Astoria Performing Arts Center, whose production of Follies cleaned up at the New York Innovative Theatre Awards this week.

In addition to winning for Best Ensemble, the revival of the classic Stephen Sondheim/James Goldman musical also picked up awards for choreographer Sara Brians, costume designer Jennifer Jacob, and actress LaDonna Burns.

I had the pleasure of seeing the production, directed by Dev Bondarin, this past May. It was also the last production APAC produced in their former space. For next season, they'll be moving to the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, just down the street from their old place.

Incidentally, Dev will be directing a staged reading of my one-act play The Love Songs of Brooklynites next month, presented by Emerging Artists Theatre. Hope you can make it!


Monday, September 24, 2018

Taymor's Dream

I remember how when I saw Kathryn Hunter's wonderful performance in Kafka's Monkey at Theatre for a New Audience in 2013, the company had recently announced that they would be producing Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream... directed by none other than Julie Taymor.

Unfortunately, I missed that sold-out production, though I heard it was amazing. Fortunately, it was recorded and is now available on DVD. Since some of my students have seen the filmed version, I checked it out from the New York Public Library, and now I'm kicking myself for not seeing Kathryn Hunter again... but this time as Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream!

Taymor's Dream is beautiful, though it sacrifices much of the comedy of the original play. Still, many of the scenes with the lovers and the rude mechanicals are quite funny. Hunter isn't so much funny as Puck as just incredible to watch.

Hunter will be appearing through the end of the month in The Emperor at TFNA. She'll also be acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company this winter as the title character in Timon of Athens in Stratford-upon-Avon.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Staged Reading Next Month

My one-act play The Love Songs of Brooklynites will be having a staged reading next month as a part of Emerging Artists Theatre's New Work Series.

The script had a reading last year at the Dramatists Guild with Jessica Vera and Zach McCoy. I'm happy to say that both actors are slated to be reprising their roles in this reading, which will be directed by Dev Bondarin.

We will be presenting the script as a benefit for EAT, so tickets are $10 each. In addition to seeing our show, you'll also get to see The Cruelty of Children by Raymond McAnally and Hamlet Investigations, Inc. by Ellen Abrams.

The fundraiser will be held on Columbus Day, Monday, October 8th, at 7:00 pm. EAT is renting out the theatre at TADA, 15 West 28th Street (between Broadway and 5th Avenue) on the second floor. Hope you can come!