As much as 90 percent of the material developed, Daisey said, ends up being cut. "If you look at the actual number of words said, it's very compact. It's more like poetry—less about the words than about symbol and resonance and positioning and intonation."
Hensley plays Charlie, a morbidly obese shut-in whose health is fading fast. He refuses to go to the hospital—it’s hard enough for him to get off the couch, or reach for the remote—but he does have frequent visitors. Mormon missionary Elder Thomas thinks he can save Michael’s soul, while Liz, a nurse whose late brother was Michael’s partner, thinks she can heal Michael’s illness. Michael’s ex-wife Mary berates him for all his past failings, while their teenage daughter Ellie verbally abuses him because of the pathetic man he’s become. It’s not the most supportive group, but they’re the only ones willing to step inside Michael’s smelly apartment and watch him wheeze and sweat and suck down gallons of Dr Pepper.
"It's funny how disasters really do bring out the best in people," said A Christmas Story's lead producer Gerald Goehring. "Being in the arts, I think we're even more sensitive to that. Two days ago, when we contacted all the cast and crew, when I personally heard their voices, talked to them, and they asked me what to do and what's going on, there was a big sigh of relief. I think we're just happy to be seeing each other again."
At the tender age of 29, playwright David West Read is about to have his Broadway debut. It's only the second play he's ever written, and it's really, really dirty.
“House For Sale” is the story of Franzen going back home to Missouri to take care of the house his recently deceased mother spent half of her life putting together; the house where Franzen himself was “the only person in the family who’d had a full childhood.” For House For Sale, Fish presents Franzen’s essay in the voices of five actors—Rob Campbell, Merritt Janson, Lisa Joyce, Christina Rouner, and Michael Rudko. Each is cued to read with special sets of lights that, when particular colored bulbs are illuminated, direct specific actors to read a section of the text. But, the playbill explains, the cues aren’t planned in advance; they are determined live so none of the actors know quite when they will be called on.(6)
As sparring partners, Letts and Morton are more than evenly matched. Any time either of them seems to get the upper hand, the other lands a crushing blow. And although fists and voices are often raised, most of the war is waged with words. These are the "quips with a sting" and "jokes with a sneer" that Stephen Sondheim would write about a decade later in Follies.
David Levine’s Habit stages the most deliberately conventional of plays within a set of totally unconventional contexts: an art installation in a warehouse gallery space. The play, titled Children of Kings, is by one of the leading lights of the downtown playwriting scene, Jason Grote, and was written specifically for Habit. There's no unit-set living room built on a proscenium stage. Instead the house is a fully three-dimensional, free-standing structure installed in the Lower East Side’s Essex Street Market. The structure is stocked with everything required for the play to unfold, and from within this enclosure, the actors perform the 90-minute play repeatedly for eight hours at a time.
The secrets she reveals range from the small to the enormous—from your grandfather wasn’t really your grandfather to millions of Armenians were murdered by the Turks in 1915—as the scope of the play vacillates between a family drama and the history of the Armenian genocide. But the minor revelations come off as predictable, mechanically paced bits of earnest drama, while the major revelations seem jarring and melodramatic. And these revelations must carry the whole 90-minute, intermissionless play.
Against this backdrop, Playwrights Horizons is presenting Detroit, a new play by downtown stalwart Lisa D’Amour, directed by Anne Kauffman. With its action set in a suburb outside a mid-sized American city—“[n]ot necessarily Detroit”—D’Amour juxtaposes the specific fate of Motor City against the allegorical space of Anycity, USA, recalling the chilling prophesy of former Detroit mayor Coleman Young: “Detroit today is your town tomorrow.”(1)
“I’m a collector of stories,” he said after the play was done. “People tell me stuff and I write it down when I get home, so almost every piece you heard tonight is based on a real story that someone told me. I’ve seen Brooklyn change three or four times, so it’s like, Oh look, gentrification. Change is going on in Brooklyn now,” he continued, “and in twenty years, there’ll be another change. The dialogues across class, race; neighborhood is the dialogue of Brooklyn. That’s where the stories are. ”
Playwright Gina Gionfriddo asks, in her new play, 'Rapture, Blister, Burn,' and her life: What do women want?
When politely confronted with the evidence that a new Off-Broadway play and an episode for Netflix’s upcoming series “House of Cards” might not exactly constitute taking it easy, Gionfriddo demurred. Of Rapture, she said that she went to the first rehearsals and then dropped away until tech. To write the TV script, which helped her keep her health insurance, she said she did require full time childcare, but only for a month. Her caregivers of choice: “Unemployed actresses. My baby loves them so much. I have a bunch of them. When they get auditions I can call another one.”
In this respect, the production has something to say to the current political-economic moment in Europe and the United States. If, in 2001, the production staged a generational revolt against the legacy of Communism in Eastern Europe, in its present context it resonates more directly with an age coming to awareness of the excesses and exploitations of its own wealthy capitalist patriarchs. Here, the question of what we willingly excuse so the party can continue unimpeded once again comes to the fore. When Helge’s forced, public confession is followed almost immediately by a scene of the party guests dancing, we have the sense that something is indeed rotten in the state of Denmark.