Monthly Archives: October 2008


Following is the 10/30/08 Back Stage review for Savage World by Stephen Fife ( 

See the 10/10/08 Stage Voices blog post regarding the show's genesis–written by the author.


Savage World 

By Travis Michael Holder

Stephen Fife has created an epic American play, covering a journalist's three-decade search to unravel a conspiracy that's left a possibly innocent black man incarcerated for the murder of a white couple. Fife's need to make sense of this twisted tale of the inequities of our country's justice system when it comes to race obviously drives this piece, which is based on the story of middleweight champion Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, jailed in the 1970s for a triple murder for which he was later exonerated.

Under L. Flint Esquerra's sturdy, steady directorial hand, Erik Passoja as reporter Sol Eisner leads a dynamic cast of 15 playing 35 characters who weave in and out of Sol's tortured memories. Even with actors exiting the stage as one person and returning with lightning speed as another, there isn't a weak link among the committed, unmistakably skillful performers in these multiple roles. Nate Geez is also calmly effective as Sol's biracial son Danny, as are Latarsha Rose as the reporter's doomed love Adele and Tom Badal as Sol's bigger-than-life uncle. But no matter who is on stage disturbing Sol's thoughts, the riveting marathon performance of Passoja provides the pulse here. He's almost uncanny in his ability not only to project Sol's frustration but to explore with subtle nuance the nagging vulnerability and uncertainty lurking below his studied professional bravado. Beyond that, Passoja mines a riskily quirky body language and humor that even better defines who this guy is and what makes him tick in a world he's in danger of abandoning at any moment.

The production is not perfect — something that can be blamed squarely on the enormity of the project. Fife's script is often exposition-heavy and in need of tightening, as is some of the air allowed to linger between lines that should be played more with rapid-fire Odets ballsiness than with intractable Miller indulgence. Esquerra's sound design is also leveled way too high and filled with unnecessary signals, while many light cues were clearly late, early, or nonexistent. Still, with its moody dreamlike grittiness and a wailing Miles Davis score sure to pull the audience in, what Fife and his crew have accomplished is haunting — and unmistakably commendable.

Presented by Stealfire Productions in association with and at the MET Theatre, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Hollywood. Oct. 17-Nov. 23. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 3 p.m. (323) 960-7788.

Stephen Fife’s work is anthologized in One on One: The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century and the upcoming 2009 title DUO!:  The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century (both from Applause). He is also the author of: Best Revenge Mpn:  How Theater Saved My Life and Has Been Killing Me Ever Since—with Appearances . . . Joseph Chaikin, Sholem Asch, and Sam Shepard (Cune Press).

Stephen Fife’s work is anthologized in One on One: The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century and the upcoming 2009 title DUO!:  The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century (both from Applause). He is also the author of: Best Revenge Mpn:  How Theater Saved My Life and Has Been Killing Me Ever Since—with Appearances . . . Joseph Chaikin, Sholem Asch, and Sam Shepard (Cune Press).




Edited by:

Joyce E. Henry, Rebecca Dunn Jaroff, and Bob Shuman



A follow-up to the popular edition from the 1990s, One on One: The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century includes the work of over 80 playwrights, spotlighting the best of Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional, and experimental writings since 2000. The book is edited by three theatre experts who have carefully selected the strongest pieces  for auditions, acting classes, and study, in the process revealing the pulse of the millennial theatrical scene. A special foreword by Broadway casting director Barry Moss is included.


Tackling issues of race, class, and gender; reactions to 9/11 and the Iraq war, this new compendium–by turns comic and serious, and sometimes both–depicts young, middle-aged, and older characters caught in the truths of our time. John Patrick Shanley portrays the rituals of boys becoming men on the basketball court (Doubt ); A. R. Gurney shows the unconscious at work in a polite game of tennis (Big Bill); Heather McDonald decodes how parents inflict pain on the children they are trying to protect (An Almost Holy Picture); David Rabe contemplates a larger awareness (The Dog Problem); and Spalding Gray, in one of his last monologues (The Anniversary), confronts the mortality of everyday life and reaches out to those he loves.


Joyce E. Henry, Ph.D., is professor emerita of Theatre and Communication Studies at Ursinus College. She is the editor of The Wisdom of Shakespeare and author of Beat the Bard. She lives in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.



Rebecca Dunn Jaroff, Ph.D., is assistant professor of English at Ursinus College, where she teaches American literature, drama, and journalism. She lives in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.



Bob Shuman, M.F.A., is an editor, playwright, college professor, and co-author of Simply Elegant Flowers with Michael George. A Fellow of the Lark Theatre Company, he received Hunter College’s Zarkower Award for excellence in playwriting. He lives in New York City.



A complete listing of the excerpted plays and playwrights included in this volume follows:

The Adventures of Nervous Boy (A Penny Dreadful) by James Comtois*Aliens, 3 Miles, Turn Left by Stephen A. Schrum*An Almost Holy Picture by Heather McDonald*

At Said by Gary Winter*Auntie Mayhem by David Pumo*The Beginning of August by Tom Donaghy*A Bicycle Country by Nilo Cruz*Big Bill by A. R. Gurney*Big Love by Charles Mee*Bitter Bierce by Mac Wellman*The Black Monk by David Rabe*Black Thang by Ato Essandoh*The Boss’s Daughter by Josh McIlvain*Burning the Old Man by Kelly McAllister*Catch & Release by Staci Swedeen*Chaucer in Rome by John Guare *Clean Alternatives by Brian Dykstra*Communicating through the Sunset by Kerri Kochanski*Corps Values by Brendon Bates*Cost of Living by Brad Schreiber*Cuban Operator, Please by Adrían Rodríguez*Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams by Terrence McNally*The Dog Problem by David Rabe*Doubt by John Patrick Shanley*Dust by Carrie Louise Nutt*End Zone by Bob Shuman*The Exonerated by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen*Expecting Isabel by Lisa Loomer*Fabulation or, The Re-education of Undine by Lynn Nottage*Fat Pig by Neil LaBute*Fear Itself, Secrets of the White House by Jean-Claude van Itallie*Fetes de la Nuit by Charles Mee*Folkdance by Robin Reese*Freedom High by Adam Kraar*Gap by Carol Lashof*Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson*Gone Missing by Steven Cosson and The Civilians*Heirloom by Andy Bragen*Imagine by Rebecca Basham*The Impossibility of Most Things by Albert Innaurato*Jimmy Jim Jim and the M.F.M. by Meron Langsner*Johnny’s Got a Gun by John Fleck*La Tempestad by Larry Loebell*The Language of Kisses by Edmund De Santis*The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman and the members of Tectonic Theater Project*The Last Freak Show by Philip Zwerling*Letters from Cuba by Maria Irene Fornes*Light by Jean-Claude van Itallie*Lost Love by Peter Papadopoulos*The Ludicrous Trial of Mr. P by Susan Yankowitz*Maggie May by Tom O’Brien*The Mean Reds by Mark Scharf*Measure for Pleasure, A Restoration Romp by David Grimm*The Mercy Seat by Neil LaBute*My Chekov Light by Frank Gagliano*‘Nami by Chad Beckim*The Naturalist by Robin Goldfin*New York by David Rimmer*On My Head by Thaddeus Rutkowski*Orson’s Shadow by Austin Pendleton*O. T. Fairclough and Roger Mais by Clifford Mason*The Paris Letter by Jon Robin Baitz*The Pavilion by Craig Wright*A Picasso
by Jeffrey Hatcher*The Pilgrim Papers by Stephen Temperley*The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh *PLATONOV!PLATONOV!PLATONOV! by Michael Kochmer*Prophecy by Karen Malpede*The Proposal by Tim Miller*Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire*The Rebirth by Lisa Soland*Red Roses by Lisa Soland*Shyness is Nice by Marc Spitz*Small Domestic Acts by Joan Lipkin*Some Girl(s) by Neil LaBute*Souvenir by Stephen Temperley*Spin by Randy Wyatt*Storytellers by Thomas McCormack*Tales of an Urban Indian by Darrell Dennis*They’re Just Like Us by Boo Killebrew*Third Person by Peter S. Petralia*This Is How it Goes by Neil LaBute*Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg*Unequalibrium by Alexander Lyras and Robert McCaskill*Via Crucis by Albert Innaurato*The Violet Hour by Richard Greenberg*The Voyage of the Carcass by Dan O’Brien*We Had a Very Good Time by David Auburn*WTC View by Brian Sloan*Aunt Pitti-Pat in the Tower by David Simpatico*The Anniversary by Spalding Gray*


Find One on One: The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century wherever fine books are sold.

$14.95 U.S.


ISBN: 978-1-55783-701-1



Gloria Swanson ("the goddess of love") wants to produce Camille starring herself and Rudolph Valentino ("the god of love"), directed by Erich Von Stroheim ("the Austrian director") and backed by Mary Pickford ("America's Sweetheart") and Bill Hart ("the Man of the West"). She throws a party for these people to which Erich brings as a date Mae Murray ("The Merry Widow"), and which summer neighbors, writers Noel Coward and Dorothy Parker crash.

What’s not to love?


SOUNDCAST copy5 copy

TOSOS – The Other Side of Silence
(Doric WilsonMark FinleyBarry Childs)
Robert Chesley/Jane Chambers Playwright Project
play reading series
Kathleen Warnock, director
invites you to join us on

Saturday, October 25 at 6:30 pm
admission free – no reservations needed

"Kids say the darnedest things . . . about silent movies, American mythology and love!"

Robert Patrick's


directed by Mark Finley

cast including:
Paul Batchelor – Ron Bopst – Leo Coney Island – Jamie Heinlein – Rink Hinkson – Deric McNicsh

Janice Mann – Mary Louise Mooney – Adam Raynen – Karen Stanion – Scott Sowers – Chris Weikel

playing time approximately 1 hour 20 minutes (no intermission)

Title graphic by Robert Patrick

Ripley-Grier Studios, Room 16-E
520 Eighth Avenue (between West 37th & 36th)

Directly after the reading, join the TOSOS family and their friends at Zuni
(598 9th Ave at 43rd Street) for a no-host get-together

From the opening of The Haunted Host at the Caffe Cino (1964) to the Broadway run of Kennedy's Children (1974)–still the most telling dramatic dissection of the 1960s; from the publications of more than 50 plays including T-Shirts, Untold Decades, and My Cup Ranneth Over to Hollywood at Sunset–which was presented by TOSOS and won the 2004 oobr award–Robert Patrick has been a major influence in the development of alternative theater.

In 1980 he won the International Thespian Society's Founders Award" for services to theatre and to youth," and in 1995 received the second Robert Chesley Lifetime Award for Gay Playwriting (presented by its first recipient, Doric Wilson).

Patrick retired from theatre in 1990 and now maintains 54 pages of pictures of or related to the Caffe Cino (1958-1968), the birthplace of Off-Off Broadway and gay theatre at: 

(until October 31 when AOL drops its Homepage Program).

A scene from Patrick’s Sound will be included in Duo!:  The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century from Applause Theatre and Cinema books coming in 2009.  Another two-hander from the play will appear on the Stage Voices blog for one month starting Friday, November 24, 2008. 

Patrick lives in Los Angeles ( Visit: today.



"A flair for the peculiar distinguishes playwright Sheila Callaghan . . . [she finds] raw emotion under the deadpan uproar . . . Crawl has arresting elegance." -Los Angeles Times (Recommended)

"Sheila Callaghan takes us through the looking glass into a play with surreal plot developments . . . a strange-but-touching study of estrangement, loneliness and reconciliation." -LA Weekly (Recommended)

"Callaghan's dialogue is sharp and bizarrely incisive, surely heralding another step in the evolution of a great contemporary playwright." -Entertainment Today

"The brilliance of Sheila Callaghan's play and a lesson to every aspiring writer is that she takes a mother-daughter conflict, dissects it, probes every aspect with jewel-like precision, incorporates flashbacks, contrasts it with frightened surreal neighbors — then presents the results in 90 taut minutes structured with the lyric prose of a poem. This densely layered play raises as many questions as it answers but it's a quirky delight. " -CurtainUp

"Exceptional . . . a remarkable achievement that makes me realize how fortunate we all are to be beneficiaries of the haunted souls of tortured artists in general–and possibly Callaghan in particular…" -Reviewplays



Directed by PAUL WILLIS

Designed by
Stage Manager: PAMELA SALLING*

Press representative: JIM BALDASSARE

Time: October 15 – November 1, Wednesday – Saturday at 8PM

Location:  Ideal Glass Gallery, 22 East 2nd Street (between Bowery and 2nd Avenue), NY, New York. 
Reservations: or 212-352-3101


Mysteries buried within a sleepy suburban block are unearthed when April returns from college unannounced with a burning question: "What's in your briefcase, Louise?" A story about family secrets, yard sales, strange rain, and exactly what the neighbors really do know.

Sheila Callaghan’s full-length plays include Scab, Crawl, Fade to White, Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake), We Are Not These Hands, Dead City, Lascivious Something, Kate Crackernuts, That Pretty Pretty; or, the Rape Play, and Fever/Dream.  Her work is included in One on One: The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. Learn more at: and



Monologues are posted as a recurring feature on Stage Voices. 


SOUL HEALING by Bob Shuman 


Reverend Elizabeth, a Spiritualist minister, is in her late 30s (but she can be played by a variety of ages); SHE wears a dark blue suit with a clerical collar. After church meetings, Sister Catherine, a Catholic nun greets her.

SCENE:  A hotel conference room in southeastern Pennsylvania.

TIME:  Tonight.


REVEREND ELIZABETH: Sister Catherine?  How are you doing?  If I had known you were going to be here, I would have taken part in the study group. They're using the old convent reading lists, talking about St. Teresa and Padre Pio.  I'm just sorry I’m on my way out.  I have an early morning, giving a fundraising speech. What has it been?  Eight, nine years, at least. 



It gets stuffy in here without the air conditioning.  Please take off your coat.  I can stay a few minutes.  You’ve lost weight, I have to say—sit down—I hope not too much. 



Paul usually gives the demonstrations, but he’s in England training: physical phenomena, clairvoyance.  Come back one Sunday and you can hear me preach.  (Writing a note.)  I'm going to give you the name of a healer—I can only imagine what you think of this.  You should take it, please let me give it to you.  [(SISTER CATHERINE refuses the note concerning the healer.)]  I said a voice told me to go in the convent.  (REVEREND ELIZABETH takes back the note.) Sending me to volunteer at rehab, it took me a while to realize you were trying to punish me.

I have to finish my speech before it gets too late.



(REVEREND ELIZABETH looks through her papers.)  Sister Clare's mother, after she passed away, there was another voice .  .  .  “Won’t you offer my daughter my apologies? Would she forgive me?” She woke me up in the middle of the night.  Broke into my meditations and prayers. I lit votives and went twice a day to Mass, “Tell my daughter I ask for her love . .  ."



(Practicing her speech.)  "It's easier to pick up a brick and put it in the ground than it is to stop abuse.   (Making notes.)  It's easier to have the miraculous communicated in the pages of a book than through a medium such as myself.  We're building this church together because it's easier to put a brick down than it is to live one more second in hating



The night manager is signaling to me, he wants to lock up.

I'm sorry, Sister Catherine.  If you’re not going to let me help you .  .  .  it's not something I need to be tested on.  All you thought was I was upsetting the novices with hallucinations, probably schizophrenic .  .  .



Calling out to the night manager.)  Jimmy, I'm with someone I know.  You don't mind if we stay a while longer. You can start turning off the lights if you want—we don’t care.

 (The lights are lowered.)


(To SISTER CATHERINE.) I guess I should be humbled you’re even here.  I know why you came, it’s not for my personality. God called me to enter the convent. I wanted to save the world, found out I couldn't do that.  I could save myself, maybe.  I took the holy vows; I broke them, not because of you .  .  . not because of you, Sister Catherine, who wanted to get me out! .  .  .  but because I couldn't stay any longer and honor myself, who I was!  I did hear voices, I did see—I won't let you or anyone tell me–I took the ring off.  I left Him. 



(Calling out, suddenly, loud, to the spirit world.) Let’s get going! I've got two people here who need to go to work in the morning!



Sometimes I think of Sister Frances crying “Mama” before the death rattle.  The old nuns kept asking me to read Hildegard of Bingen, “I, the fiery life of divine wisdom, I ignite the beauty of the plains, I sparkle the waters, I burn in the beauty of the sun, and the moon, and the stars.” (Silence.) (Scanning her speech.)


I’ll look at this again tomorrow, I’m too tired now.  "To believe that there must be somebody else out there just like you, it must be easier than to imagine you're alone." (Pause.) You won’t mind if I leave when I’m through packing up. I understand you don’t want to talk—I don’t mean to be mad.  (Another set of lights is turned off.)   



(REVEREND ELIZABETH senses a spirit.)  A young man . . .  You know who he is, he’s saying.  He shows me the image of a crow, like one you saw this morning.  I'm aware of St. Anne, the church where his urn is buried: Thomas.  He assures me he didn't take drugs like crack and cocaine.  It started with pills only to get high.  He’s your sister's son, does any of this make sense to you?  His roommate, never noticed or thought he was being forgetful, planning a retreat. Thomas takes the medication, slowly, not to be caught: Xanex, Tylenol with codeine, Halcyon, OxyContin, a precious capsule of morphine—anything, anything he can get his hands on.  Carefully he builds his stock,  only to be  told someone would be checking up on him, staying part of the time, watching—you. 


(Gaining intensity as the lights fade.)  He doesn't want you to be hurt. He's sorry for any trouble he's caused you. He couldn’t face his depression, he’s saying.  He knows you didn’t know how to help him. You can’t stop it, no matter what you do.  You can’t wake him up.  You can’t lift his body any further. Come back to life. You’re the one who’s alone. You’re the one who’s dead! (Pause.)


I won’t leave you. 



(Reprinted from One on One: The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century.  All rights reserved.)



"NIGHT SKY is a rare thing: a play with a mind.  It is also about the mind as universe, where language is internal astronomy. It shows us that more than hearts can be broken."–Variety

 "A mind lost in a black hole, groping for words in the spaces between stars, struggling to communicate with 'elephants on tongue' – a fascinating  play, interweaving tragedy and emotion with the enduring mystery of the cosmos." –Sunday Star, Johannesburg


The National Aphasia Association and Power Productions/Stan Raiff present a staged reading of




by Susan Yankowitz

directed by Daniella Topol

featuring Laila Robins

with Lucy DeVito, Lia Aprile, Manu Narayan, Gerardo Rodriguez and Lee Wilkof


Time:  Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008 at 8 p.m.

Location:  Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Avenue (entrance @ E. 25th Street), NY, New York.

Reservations and information: Contact the National Aphasia Association (NAA) at (800) 922-4622.



NIGHT SKY is the drama of Anna, a brilliant astronomer who is struck by a car and rendered aphasic. Her speech becomes a hodgepodge of disconnected words alternately poetic, funny, confusing and profound.  She and her family must fight through the black holes of her mind and journey into an unfamiliar world and a new language.  This is a work about the resiliency of the human spirit and the universal need to find words for our deepest thoughts and feelings.


Susan Yankowitz’s work is included in One on One:  The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century and the upcoming volumes:  One On One:  The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century and Duo!:  The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century (all from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books).  Among her plays are The Revenge, Phaedra in Delirium (winner of the QRL poetic play competition); Under the Skin; Terminal and 1969 Terminal 1996, both pieces collaborations with Joseph Chaikin's Open Theatre (Drama Desk Playwright’s Award); A Knife in the Heart (O’Neill Conference winner; West Coast Premiere October 2002 at Sledgehammer Theatre).  Visit her Web site:


The following are playwright Stephen Fife’s program notes for Savage World, opening at the Met Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday, October 18 (previews begin October 15):  


A Persistent Sense of Persistence


Savage World arose from the experience I had as a young reporter in 1979, when I was the only journalist to interview ex-boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter in maximum security prison after his reconviction for triple murder.  Rubin is a fascinating man, and I was able to meet with him for 21 hours over the course of four different visits.  (Just as fascinating was the chance to roam around Trenton State Prison; if you don’t believe we’re a racist society, try taking that tour someday.)   I wrote up my interview for the New York Times Magazine, where it was bought but for various reasons never published.   For a time I wanted to write a book about the case, but this too didn’t happen, mostly because Rubin refused to cooperate.  (He had been released and wanted to write his own book.)   I had interviewed all the major players in the case except one, I had lived with the case for several months, but there was no payoff, no outlet for the feelings I had about the people I’d encountered, especially one reporter I knew whose life had been deeply effected by his association with Carter.   I started to feel haunted by his story, almost obsessed.      



The first draft of Savage World came out in a rush over a three day period in the summer of 1993 while I was at the Shenandoah Playwrights Retreat in rural Virginia.  The staged readings at the Retreat and at the Kennedy Center Lab were very well-received.   The play was almost immediately taken up by a nonprofit Off-Broadway theatre in NYC, who gave it a star-studded reading that gave rise to a great deal of buzz.  I had meetings all over town, from the Shubert Organization to New Line to HBO.  The play was chosen as the First Alternate by the National Playwrights Conference.  A Broadway producer with deep pockets confided that it was “the best play I’ve read in five years, better than anything August Wilson has written” (her words, not mine).   But no one produced it.   There were so many close calls—regional theatres, nonprofits, even one of the producers of Wicked.  The play was optioned a few times, never produced.  No, it would be 7 more years until Paul Koslo of the Met Theatre, being a true maverick and unreconstructed iconoclast, read the play & immediately started working to make this production happen.



So what is the morale of the story?  (Besides give Paul Koslo your unproduced play.)  Never give up?  Nah, sometimes it’s better to toss the pages into the ocean and move on.  Never stop believing in yourself?  Well, yeah, but that has nothing to do with any particular play or screenplay or book.  If it does, then you don’t stand much of a chance in this world.  Then what?



Late in this play, Sol Eisner says, “You know me, I’m persistent.”  And yes, it’s true, so am I.  This is not always a good thing—it has kept me in some doomed relationships too long, and it has caused me to beat my head too many times against the same brick wall.  Yet without it, this play expires a long time ago.  So is the morale Accept yourself for better or worse?   Well, maybe, but I’d put it differently.  Play your hand the best way you can, because it is the only hand you have to play.  



Yes, I can live with that.  Hope you can too.           


–Steve Fife, 2008 



The Met Theatre and Stealfire Productions present

The World Premiere


Savage World

a play by Stephen Fife

directed by L. Flint Esquerra


Tom Badal, Roger Bridges, Gary Colon, Darin Dahms, John Del Regno,

Nate Geez, Ernest Harden Jr., Eileen Grubba, Caryl Ingersoll, Erik Passoja

Elain Rinehart, Latarsha Rose, Barry Shay, Kathryn J. Taylor, Vincent Ward


Paul Koslo and Caryl Ingersoll

Casting Direct or -Eileen Grubba

Video Consultant -Stephen Goetsch

Production Stage Manager -Lloyd Reese

Costume Designer -Dawn Worrall

Lighting Consultant-Mark Baker

Postcard Design -Erik Passoja

Public Relations -Phil Sokoloff

Previews October 15th and 16th at 8pm

Opening Night Friday, October 17, 2008 at 8pm

Runs Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm through November 23

Tickets: $15 Previews $20 Run *Discounts for Students and Seniors*

For reservations and group sales call 323.960.7788

The Met Theatre
1089 North Oxford Ave Los Angeles, CA 90029

Parking available at the Earl Scheib Lot

1/2 block East of theatre on Santa Monica Blvd

Synopsis: In 1975, Sol Eisner was a young journalist determined to prove the innocence of the African-American boxer Calvin “Savage" James, convicted eight years earlier of killing a Jewish couple during the riots in Newark. The outcome of these events was so life-shattering that 30 years later Sol and his family are still reeling from the effects.

Stephen Fife’s work is anthologized in One on One: The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century and the upcoming 2009 title DUO!:  The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century (both from Applause). He is also the author of: Best Revenge Mpn:  How Theater Saved My Life and Has Been Killing Me Ever Since—with Appearances . . . Joseph Chaikin, Sholem Asch, and Sam Shepard (Cune Press).



You're invited to a free reading of Goodrich’s new play Starboard Home, set on an ocean liner in the late 1930s. It takes a stowaway, a reporter, two eccentric (twin) sisters, a German diplomat, and a British playwright, stirs them into a froth and serves them up in a chilled glass.

Erik Liberman, David Greenspan, and Jennifer Morris to star.

Time: Tuesday, October 14, 7:00 p.m.

Location: New Dramatists, 424 W. 44th Street, New York, N.Y. 

Those interested in attending should call 212.757.6960 to reserve a seat. (The reading is free, but New Dramatists likes to have some idea of how many to expect.)

(Joseph Goodrich’s work is included in One on One: The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century and the upcoming 2009 book Duo!: The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.)


PROPHECY (Islington Gazette)
24 September 2008
New End Theatre, New End, Hampstead, NW3
The New End Theatre's and Three Collaborative's premiere of the political drama Prophecy offers its audience a compelling, and at times complicated, tale of the tragedies of war and the ongoing physical and emotional effects it has on both the civilians and combatants caught up in man's inhumanity to his fellow man.

Karen Malpede's tale weaves the ongoing disastrous American presence in Iraq and their equally devastating sojourn from 1963 until their ignominious departure in 1975.

Sarah Golden (Susan Penhaligon) is a Jewish New York drama tutor, her husband Alan (George Bartenieff) the head of a refugee relief organisation.

Children of the 1960s and involved in the then student anti-war movement, their own middle-aged married existence is still coloured by the effect the Vietnam War had on decisions both of them made 30 years before.

Jeremy (Jos Vantyler) is a promising first year drama student with a dark tragic secret. Like many of the ex-Vietnam vets, his period in Iraq as a foot soldier, has deeply disturbed him – and with ultimately tragic consequences.

Interwoven within this tale is a parallel story cataloguing the pregnancy of Sarah and her ultimate "forced" abortion and subsequent infertility thereafter and the extra-marital affaire, years later of Alan, with a Palestinian collegue resulting in a child,

Prophecy certainly isn't easy watching and is often complicated in structure, but there is evident humour peppered throughout, often of a dark nature.

A well written and executed piece of drama that makes for intelligent theatre. Certainly worth a visit.

(Selections from Prophecy by Karen Malpede are included in One on One: The Best Women's Monologues for The 21st Century, One on One: The Best Men's Monologues for The 21st Century, and Duo!: The Best Scenes for Two for The 21st Century.)


No stranger to media storms herself, Karen Finley has come to examine the subconscious lives of public figures such as George Bush, Martha Stewart, Eliot Spitzer, and Liza Minnelli.  It’s a reversal of her early work, where invisibility is given voice.  Catch her point-blank rage in a 1988 Mondo New York clip seen on YouTube.  There, a character’s tormenting screech recalls a life where “nothing happened.”   In a sometimes devilish interview during the same period called Pranks!—also on YouTube—Finley explains that like everyone else in the lower and lower-middle classes, she is left with only language to defend herself.  She’s pissed off at “people, who because of political class, control me.”

It was a prophetic pronouncement.  C. Carr, in a June 24, 1986 Village Voice cover story, put Finley on the cultural map, tossing her the keys to the avant-garde.  Four years later, Senator Jesse Helms, intent on her walk of shame (shared with three other miscreant artists, John Fleck, Holly Hughes, and Tim Miller–collectively known as the NEA Four), gave her the nation’s front pages, finding her merely obscene.  What a surprise to all the silly East Villagers, still waking up from punk-rock stupors, Club ODs, or AIDS, who had come to believe she was an artist.

Conservatives, of course, had every right to want to light Karen Finley on fire.   Her work was subversive—not to America’s underlying principles, but to its domestic life; she was exactly the wrong person to have common workers and  corporate elites identifying with (if they didn’t know better–and if they ever saw her in the small venues she played).  To take the Constitution at its word–and say what you felt compelled to say, not only what the country’s power structures would approve–what temerity!  She spoke, in your face, of rapes, incest, prostitution, elder abuse, and, famously, replaced chocolate for feces in a performance piece inspired by Tawana Brawley (a young girl who had accused police of brutality).  To this day, Finley will still break the fourth wall to rip, most recently, Sarah Palin, for advocating the helicopter slaughter of polar bears in Alaska.  In a new show on Eliot Spitzer, Impulse to Suck, Finley suggests sex work be taught in the Ivy League.  Helms, in his grave, is rolling over and over.   

Make Love, Finley’s 9/11 tribute given a 2008 touch-up (it was originally performed in 2003), has Liza Minnelli tramping around among a slob taxi driver and homogenous art committee, dragging the booze with her. Wearing a beaded cabaret dress and a bad wig, she’s irked that her Bob Mackie must be shared by a doppelgänger:  All New York artists are the Oscar-winning actress in the play, and the stage is littered with all aspects of Liza—most in drag. It’s true that on 9/11 New Yorkers were celebrities in need of a very big comeback, again.  Liza notes, though–ever wardrobe-conscious–that the real fashion incongruities around her are the camouflage pants worn by soldiers in Grand Central.

Liza travels upstate to throw back a few drinks with friends, worn down enough to tell bin Laden jokes all night. She takes an airline flight where she’s felt up by airport staff, trying to get through check-in; tourists go home Mchappy after scoring a trove of Twin Tower salt-and-pepper shakers. At her destination, in a flyover state–where the arts for the city are housed on a single floor– she finally lets loose on her hosts, "No, I don’t want to get to know you; no, I don’t want to meet you."

Finley is angry at the emotionally thoughtless and the fake–not at authentic feeling.  She recalls how nice everyone in New York tried to be to one another right after 9/11, but wants things to be all “fucked up” again, just like normal.  When she detects an absence of humanity, get ready. That’s when Finley will gross you out: chocolate and yams, bean sprouts and broken eggs, baked beans and glitter.   

As she recites poetry about the rubble and hell-stink of the day, we can hardly be reminded of it. Our greatest wish has come true, we have moved beyond the horror and are past the numbness.  Too impatient to listen, the Lizas dance to and play “Optimistic Voices” from The Wizard of Oz.  Later, however, insisting on going further, Finley tries to re-feel those hours, not as part of a commercial enterprise, night’s  entertainment, or even as Liza Minnelli.  Coming to herself, she rejects the notion of making the night sadder or more dramatic.  Even for herself, the art of Karen Finley is about going down on getting human.

–Bob Shuman

(Make Love is available at on a 2004 DVD called Karen Finley Live.)