Monthly Archives: May 2009


GOP takes aim at Barack and Michelle Obama's NYC trip

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama landed in New York Saturday afternoon, and after taking a helicopter from JFK into Manhattan, drove up the West Side Highway, where the northbound lanes were shut down by police for their visit, past Ground Zero, into the Village for dinner at the Village's Blue Hill restaurant. From there, they went north to Times Square, where they went to to see a production of "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" at the Belasco Theater on West 44 Street.

Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest read a statement from Obama: "I am taking my wife to New York City because I promised her during the campaign that I would take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished."

Asked about the cost of the trip, which Republicans have criticized as indulgent, coming just ahead of the expected announcement of GM's bankruptcy filing on Monday, Josh Earnest told pool reporter Dave Michaels of the Dallas Morning News, that he "didn't anticipate being able to provide a cost estimate tonight."

After the play let out at about 11:30 p.m., the presidential motorcade went down Sixth Avenue, shut down by the NYPD, and onlookers packed onto the East side of the street cheered as the presidential motorcade passed as the Obamas headed back to JFK for a return flight to Washington.

The Republican National Committee slammed the outing in an "RNC Research Piece": "As President Obama prepares to wing into Manhattan’s theater district on Air Force One to take in a Broadway show, GM is preparing to file bankruptcy and families across America continue to struggle to pay their bills. … Have a great Saturday evening – even if you’re not jetting off somewhere at taxpayer expense. … PUTTING ON A SHOW: Obamas Wing Into The City For An Evening Out While Another Iconic American Company Prepares For Bankruptcy."

The RNC's Gail Gitcho added: "If President Obama wants to go to the theater, isn’t the Presidential box at the Kennedy Center good enough?”

The president traveled in a smaller, Gulfstream-type plane rather than the larger planes typically used as Air Force One. Two other planes carried staff and reporters. (read more)


Each week the expert staff of the renowned Drama Book Shop in Manhattan, just seconds away from Broadway, recommends one play that's new, interesting, or just flat-out fantastic. Picking the best of published work, they help keep us up to date and aware of the little known, broadening our horizons, and encouraging dialogue. Order a play from The Drama Book Shop, read it, and e-mail them with your thoughts–they'd love to hear from you:



100 Saints You Should Know by Kate Fodor

Father Matthew McNally has served his congregation well and faithfully, but he suddenly leaves the parish and returns to his mother’s home without word, without warning, for a respite. He is pursued by Theresa, a cleaning woman at his rectory, who seeks some kind of spiritual worth and acknowledgment. Abby, Theresa’s 16-year-old rebellious daughter, confronts him about his professed calling by God into the ministry, and about her own guilt at being an evil person. And Garrett, a grocery delivery boy, desperately seeks Father McNally’s advice and guidance in search of his personal and sexual identity.

An unexpected crisis brings all of these characters into confrontation. As faith is shaken and tried, Father McNally must face his own spiritual demons and his greatest fear – living without a connection to God.

Father McNally’s mother Colleen doesn’t comprehend what is happening to her son. When he finally announces that he has lost his faith in God, her own life begins to crumble; You tell me you don’t love God, you don’t love the Church. You don’t want to do the work that God called you to do and that I raised you to do. And you want me to stand here and pour out love for you? In return for what? What should I love you for?

Playwright Fodor doesn’t tie the story up in a pristine pink-ribboned package. She elicits profound unanswered questions of faith and of our dependence upon one another for our spiritual worth. 100 Saints is a serious play with brilliant comic buoyancy – all serving beautifully as character revelation and relief.

Cast: 3 W, 2 M

Scenes/Monologues: This beautiful five-character play has marvelous scenes for actors. Each scene has a clear dramatic arc in structure. The language has generational accuracy with phrases that reveal character sub-texts.

Recommended by: Bill


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karen finley
impulse to suck -the performance of the apology and the separation of
sex and state



Saturday, May 30, 2009
Time: 8:00pm – 9:30pm
The Cherry Pit
155 Bank Street between Washington & West Streets
New York, NY
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Controversial performance artist Karen Finely was in Albany on March 10, 2008 to hear a speech from Governor Eliot Spitzer on Reproductive Health.  Instead, Spitzer performed a public apology for his involvement in a prostitution ring.  IMPULSE TO SUCK uses the confession, the sexual encounter, the apology to his wife, and many other facets of the scandal to examine the repercussions of knowing the intimate lives of our political leaders.  This performance will be filmed!  One night only—with only 50 tickets available to the public—so buy your tickets now! 8pm.  Tickets are $20, available at 212-352-3101 or


Visit Finley’s Web site:

(Karen Finley’s work appears in DUO!:  The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books—due out in August.)



Directed by George Bartenieff

In the Studio Theatre

An evening of short plays by seven performers about seven famous artists: Van Gogh, Magritte Klimt, Dali, Hopper, Bacon and Pollock.

May 21 – May 30

Thursday & Friday – 7pm
Saturday 3 & 7pm

$10 for students

The Cherry Lane Theatre:

Through Telecharge at 212.239.6200

Cherry Lane Studio History

Cherry Lane Studio opened its doors in September, 1998 as a birthing room for new American work. Artistic Director Angelina Fiordellisi created the 60-seat black-box theater, originally named the “Alternative Space,” with Samuel Anderson Architects. At that time, CLT Studio benefited from the generosity of our community, including theater-operator and producer Carolyn Copeland, who donated sixty chairs from The Lamb’s Theater basement, as well as artist and producing board member Jack Gindi, who donated our technical booth, sound and lighting boards. The seating was upgraded and made retractable in 2006 with a generous grant provided by New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Prior to its present incarnation, the 1,000-square-foot space housed a restaurant in the 1950s that was built and managed by the Carroad family, who once owned and operated the entire block.  The yard behind their building at 44 Commerce Street served as an outdoor eating area for the restaurant during spring and summer, and the Cherry Lane boiler once served all the properties on our stretch of Commerce Street. The restaurant, which had a floor dotted with gold-plated fleurs-de-lis, also served as a late-night gay club in the 60s and 70s.

Arnold Warwick, a tenant at 40 Commerce Street since 1950, claims that the Carroad family


(The following article appeared in the Village Voice on May 19th.)

Obies 2009: Saying Goodbye to Tom O'Horgan, Paul Sills, and More

To recall some great theater artists gone this year means looking at why we make theater

By Michael Feingold

They dimmed the lights of Broadway this year for Horton Foote, for Bea Arthur, even for super-agent Sam Cohn, but not for Tom O'Horgan, who once had four shows running simultaneously on that over-celebrated street. This didn't particularly surprise me: O'Horgan's fame and fortune were made on Broadway, but his glory lay elsewhere. He made the rock musical a viable form and, in so doing, permanently altered Broadway's idea of the musical theater. But I doubt that, if anyone had asked, O'Horgan would have called this his ultimate goal in life: What we achieve is never exactly what we meant to do when starting out.

They didn't dim the Broadway lights for Paul Sills, either, when he died last June, though his story-theater productions caused a great stir on Broadway in their time (he more or less invented the form), and the artists he nurtured through his decades of work with the Second City might be said to have created America's prevailing comic style. But such honors were probably not important to Sills, who, like O'Horgan, would have been startled, perhaps even annoyed, if anyone had referred to him as "a Broadway director." What both men had in common—what they shared with so many of the artists on the sadly long list of our necrology at the Obie Awards this year—was a passion for the spontaneity of theater, for the idea that we love it because it is ever-changing, always fresh, always open to surprise.




'Wall: An Essay' by David Hare

Listen:  (Duration: 30 minutes)

(The Text of Wall was posted on Stage Voices blog May 13.)


David Hare, one of Britain's foremost playwrights, provides a personal view of the physical, political and psychological impact of the combination of trenches, ditches, watchtowers, checkpoints, concrete and razor coil that may one day form a border between Israel and Palestine.

(An excerpt from David Hare's work appears in Duo!: The Best Plays for Two for the 21st Century due out from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books in August. 


(Michael Billington's review appeared in The Guardian May 23.)


Almeida, London

The Ibsen boom continues. And it is a measure of our theatre's confidence in dealing with the old Norwegian ironist that even a dark, difficult late play like this can be bathed, both in Anthony Page's production and Mike Poulton's new translation, in such physical and psychological light.

More than most of Ibsen's plays, this one is about the weight of the past. Rosmer, a former pastor, is oppressed by a whole series of factors: his conservative ancestry, guilt over his wife's suicide and loss of religious faith. But, aided by his companion, Rebecca West, he believes he can set out on a new path of missionary idealism. This, however, turns out to be a fond dream as he alienates his allies, becomes a subject of scandal, and as Rebecca turns out to be haunted by incestuous demons.

That much is familiar. But this production confirms a point made by Toril Moi in a brilliant book on Ibsen: Rosmer and Rebecca are "heartbroken romantics, not moralising idealists, who cannot bear the world that bourgeois democracy has produced". And Page's production heightens this by laying emphasis on the figures who surround this death-haunted pair. On the right, we have Malcolm Sinclair's Doctor Kroll, Rosmer's brother-in-law, an academic reactionary who muses that "these days the only boys who support our side are the dunces and the dullards". On the left, we have the newspaper editor Mortensgaard, who kowtows to readers with scandals and slogans. For once, you see that Rosmer and Rebecca are driven to suicide, not just by guilt but by despair at the death of civilisation . . .

(Read more)




(The following blog by Robert Butler appeared in the Guardian May 22 2009)

Green shoots of climate-change theatre

Plays about the environment might sound preachy and dull, but three new eco-conscious shows in London are engaging dramas

When you work as a full-time theatre critic, you get to see more than your fair share of drama on an impossibly wide variety of subjects. And yet, during my five-year stint as the critic on the Independent on Sunday (and excepting occasional moments in Chekhov and Ibsen), I never once saw a play with a green theme.

During that period (the late 1990s), a number of reports were published by NGOs and intergovernmental bodies on deforestation, loss of biodiversity and the high probability that our climate would be altered by human activity. The contents of these reports challenged how we led our lives: if we carried on in this way, things were going to end badly. The odd thing was, despite theatre's ability to reflect and ponder on every other scenario imaginable, you didn't hear a squeak about the environment on stage.

Perhaps theatre wasn't cut out to do green issues. Plays are about human relationships. Plays are about families. "What else is there?", Sam Shepard once asked. Maybe the sort of cutting-edge subjects that compelled the attention of physicists, biologists and philosophers of the stature of James Lovelock, EO Wilson and Peter Singer simply couldn't be reimagined in theatre. Even to raise the subject prompted embarrassed looks. A play about the environment? Sounds preachy and dull.


(Brendan Kiley’s article appeared in TheStranger; Kevin Phinney’s in Seattle Weekly—both on May 12. )


Maria/Stuart: Cheese Balls, Comic Books, and Cousin Sex (a Comedy)

Maria/Stuart, by Brooklyn-based playwright Jason Grote, is a cleverly built, well-concealed pit trap. At first, the play seems like a pleasant stroll through a family of comical, middle-class eccentrics—in just a few steps, it plunges into a dark subterranean maze.

The story begins innocently, with an awkward, lovable nerd named Stuart talking on the phone, pitching his ideas for comic books. He fiddles with his pen and excitedly describes Russian gangster capitalists fighting Chekhovian superheroes: the Three Sisters (who communicate telepathically), the Seagull (has big wings), and Uncle Vanya ("a jolly, fat guy who's ex-KGB and doesn't have any superpowers at all"). Brandon Ryan plays Stuart as anxious and squirmy, but not at all repulsive. He's the kind of guy for whom you hope life pitches softballs. Life doesn't, of course, and Stuart erupts into a storm of squeaks and tics when he's uneasy—which is pretty much always . . .

(Read more)

 Seattle Weekly:

Family secrets and a wild and crazy meeting of minds.

PICK Maria/Stuart

Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave., 324-5801, $15–$21. 8 p.m. Thurs.–Sat. Ends June 6.

Theater Schmeater takes seriously the idea of challenging its audiences, and in so doing makes Maria/Stuart one of the more audacious productions of the season.

What will audiences make of a play that tries to fit comic-book superheroes, handless train-wreck victims, and changelings into a story that's supposedly modeled scene for scene on a German romantic tragedy written in 1800 revolving around Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots? Hard to say. I found it frustrating, engaging, fascinating, and the very kind of thing that keeps live theater a viable art form. Oh, you could film something like this, but Maria/Stuart needs a live audience to work its alchemy.

Jason Grote's text is newly minted, fresh from a debut last fall at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in D.C. It's funny, but not the kind of piece with great one-liners you'll be quoting over drinks after the show. It's provocative, but not particularly enlightening. You won't emerge changed or a better person for having seen it. What it will do, if it works for you, is broaden your live-performance palate . . . 

(Read more)

Theater Schmeater, 1500 Summit Ave., 324-5801, $15–$21. 8 p.m. Thurs.–Sat. Ends June 6. Web Site:

 Visit Jason Grote's Web site and blog:


(Jason Grote's work is included in One On One:  The Best Women's Monologues for the 21st Century from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.)