I’m thrilled to invite you to Philadelphia’s first public reading of my unproduced play The Great Age, a racy romantic comedy — about Emily Dickinson. Set in Amherst, MA, the play is a time-jumping, supernatural romp about Amherst College undergrad Leah, an Emily-obsessed young writer and idealistic Wiccan who’s having an affair with her married English professor, Michael.
When she and her classmate Ashiq, a young Saudi prince, steal Emily’s famed white dress from the Dickinson Homestead and hold a seance to contact Emily’s ghost they they stir up a heap of multidimensional trouble and incur the wrath of junior English department faculty, Mary Beth.
The reading of this work-in-progress is connected to my current PDC @Plays & Players Artists Residency. It’s directed by the amazing Mark Kennedy and features an incredible cast including–
Laurel Hostak, outgoing president of the Drexel University Players, as the brazen young Leah
Anthony Adair as Leah’s friend Ashiq
Kaki Burns, most recently seen in Tom Stoppard’s Travesties at Plays & Players, as Emily Dickinson
Kevin Bergen as Emily’s randy brother Austin Dickinson
Mike Hagan is Emily’s long-distance lover Judge Otis Lord
Bethany Ditnes as 19th century social climber and Dickinson family groupie Mabel Loomis Todd
Eric Wunsch, last seen as Dadaism founder Tristan Tzara in Travesties, as Mabel’s swinging husband Prof. David Todd
Sarah Schol as the frustrated and desperate-to-land-a-husband-before-she-gets-any-older Prof. Mary Beth Hodder
Tina Brock, artistic director of Philadlphia’s premiere absurdist theatre the Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium (They Bring Good Nothingness to Life) in a variety of madcap roles.
Don’t miss it! Q&A of this work-in-progress afterward with myself, the director, and much of the cast.
WHEN: Thursday, July 12 @7:00pm
WHERE: the 1st floor main stage of Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, PA
See you there.
[images via poetryfoundation.org and massreports.com]
Philadelphia’s arbiter of good taste, the South Philly Review, sez don’t miss the 2012 Philadelphia Playwright Showcase April 25-28 @7pm. Buy your tickets here.
Plays & Players Resident Plots Future
A New York transplant, now residing in East Passyunk Crossing, presents his work to Philly crowds
by Jess Fuerst
On March 27, Jeffrey Stanley workshopped his play “UFOs Over Brooklyn,” which has been in development since 2001.
“The intention is a little more of a showcase, for who in Philly might be interested in producing it,” Stanley said.
Stanley is a resident at Plays & Players Theater, along with Jeremy Gable and Brian Grace-Duff, until September. As such, the writer has access to stages and actors, as well as exposure within the local community.
“Promotion is also part of their agenda. They are not necessarily going to produce all plays residents write,” Stanley said. “It’s an introduction to other professionals in the Philly theater world, so there is a publicity component involved when they showcase us and Plays & Players gets to showcase itself.”
A New York transplant Stanley has spent the past year diving head first into the local community. His debut was a one-man show he wrote and starred in for last year’s Fringe Festival, entitled “Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead.”
“Why I did the Fringe was to announce my presence. It worked. Well, it made them more aware. The decision makers … put me on the radar. They all came and saw,” the 44-year-old said. “It’s a dark comedy and autobiographical. A close relative of mine died of acute alcoholism, drank himself to death, and it’s about my year spent dealing with that.”
The show, which Stanley performed in a basement in West Philly, involved monologue pieces, as well as audience participation. Stanley asked for viewers to help him reach out to his dead relative through the use of a Ouija board, the result of which is the show’s grand finale.
“It culminates with starting them in another room, trying to make contact with the spirit world on my CONT’D at southphillyreview.com>>
Thrilled to let you know about the PDC@Plays&Players Resident Playwrights Showcase (or something unavoidably long-winded like that) happening for 4 performances on April 25-28 @7pm, in which myself and my fellow playwrights-in-residence Jeremy Gable and Brian Grace-Duff will each be presenting excerpts from our newest works-in-progress.
These are not readings or informal workshops but a real night of real theatre for real people. Each of us gets 30 minutes to blow your mind, adding up to an incredible 90-minute show.
Come early to meet and greet the other artists and me at Quig’s Pub (the private bar on the 3rd floor of Plays & Players), then step into the hot kitchen that is the Skinner Studio and see what we’ve got in the oven as I kick off the evening.
My macabre, funny, autobiographical piece is called Grave Digger’s Bawl, that’s all you get. Trust me, come see it. It’ll be followed up with a monologue from my play UFOs Over Brooklyn performed by Jordan B. Mottram.
WHEN: Wed. 4/25 – Sat. 4/28 @7pm. Come at 6:30pm to have a drink at Quig’s Pub on the 3rd floor and meet and greet the playwrights.
WHERE: Plays & Players, 1714 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, in Quig’s Pub and the Skinner Studio on the 3rd floor
COST: $10.00 in advance, $12.00 at the door. Buy one now.
At the intersection of sex and religion a frantic hipster and his goldfish take the ultimate leap of faith.
Please join me on Tuesday, 3/27/12 at 7pm at Plays & Players Theatre in Philadelphia for a reading of my unproduced play UFOs Over Brooklyn presented by the outstanding Drexel Players, Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design‘s student-run theatre company. The reading of this work-in-progress will be followed by a brief Q&A.
This is my 3rd play reading in as many months, and is connected to my residency as one of 3 current PDC@Plays&Players playwrights-in-residence.
This particular play has had so many near-misses for production in New York and so many stellar actors reading the roles in public presentations it makes my head spin (Naked Angels tuesdays@nine, Urban Stages, The Collective, the now-defunct Lightning Strikes Theatre Company, et al) Over the past several years it took on a life of its own as a favorite for developmental readings (aka “development hell” in theatre parlance) , and also at Amherst College where an early draft was presented while I was a Copeland Fellow there in 2001.
This marks the first time the play has been presented in Philadelphia, and I welcome your feedback. It’s a very dark, very sexy romantic comedy about two couples and a UFO suicide cult. See you there.
WHAT: UFOs Over Brooklyn
WHEN: Tuesday 3/27/12 @7:00pm
WHERE: Plays & Players, 3rd floor Skinner Studio; 1714 Delancey Place, Philadelphia
COST: FREE but please RSVP to Dan Student at firstname.lastname@example.org .
In connection with my being a 2011-2012 PDC@Plays & Players Playwright-in-Residence, a reading of my unproduced play Fishing With Tony and Joe will be held at Plays & Players Theatre at 1714 Delancey Place (17th Street between Pine and Spruce) in Philadelphia on Tuesday, February 28th at 4pm in the 3rd floor Skinner Studio. The event is FREE but seating is limited so please RSVP to Dan Student at email@example.com .
The play is an historical drama with a touch of magic realism about opera stagehand, exiled leftie and “back yard inventor” Antonio Meucci, an Italian immigrant who invented a working electric telephone at his Staten Island home some 20 years prior to Alexander Graham Bell.
The plot covers a year in the life of Meucci, his firebrand wife Esterre (Esther) and their house crashing friend Giuseppe Garibaldi, the famed Italian revolutionary. A love triangle, corporate greed and the dawn of telecommunications ensue.
This unproduced play was originally commissioned by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York, in 2005-06 (this same pairing by a science foundation and an Off-Broadway theatre produced my hit play Tesla’s Letters in 1999).
There will be a Q&A of this work-in-progress with the audience afterward and I would value your attendance and your input. The event is FREE but seating is limited so please RSVP to Dan Student at firstname.lastname@example.org .
written; it is partly hidden away in twenty or
thirty thousand pages of testimony and partly lying
on the hearts and consciences of a few whose lips
are sealed — some in death, and others by a golden
clasp whose grip is even tighter.”
- Elisha Gray, inventor and competitor of Alexander Graham Bell
Please enjoy my 2nd Rep Radio interview. This one happened on 1/7/12 at midnight on the stage of Plays & Players, and it’s the aforementioned live ouija board session in lieu of a traditional interview, in hopes that interviewer Kristen Scatton and I could contact one of Plays & Players’ 3 resident ghosts, and we did with help from my frequent Philly ghost pal Mala. Sadly the recording contains no voices from the dead, aka, electronic voice phenomena. Why does it always work so well on Ghost Hunters?
On Tuesday 1/24/12 @ 4:00pm as part of my PDC@Plays&Players residency in Philly we’ll be presenting a rehearsed reading of my unproduced play Virginia Dare. There’ll be a Q&A afterward and I’d dearly love your feedback on this work in development.
VIRGINIA DARE is a multidisciplinary, multicultural play; a 21st century Southern Gothic drama gone global. Set in a not-too-difficult-to-imagine near future in which the US has boots on the ground not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but Pakistan and even India, the play is a high stakes tale. An Appalachian brother and sister plot patricide against a backdrop of perpetual war and cosmic collisions. With a touch of magic realism and a
spike of Eastern religion, the plot focuses on two irreparably damaged working class siblings who are struggling to deal with memories of their violent childhood, a forgotten murder, an impending murder looming on the horizon, and even a trip to the afterlife. Startling images and verbal sparring send them both hurtling toward a dark decision.
WHAT: Reading of Virginia Dare featuring Pardon My Invasion actors Emily Gibson and Joe O’Brien, directed by Daniel Student
WHEN: Tuesday 1/24, 4pm-6pm.
WHERE: Plays & Players, 3rd floor Skinner Studio; 1714 Delancey Place (in Center City), Philadelphia, PA.
[images via todayontoday.com, wisdomlaughterhealing.com and dismalworld.com]
Fun article in the Philadelphia Daily News about this Thursday’s Scratch Night -
Live Arts salon helps artists make new work
BY MOLLY EICHEL
Philadelphia Daily News
THE NAME “Scratch Night,” a monthly salon from the good folks who bring you the Live Arts Festival, is supposed to connote performing art at its beginning stages.
But playwright and performer Jeffrey Stanley thinks of the evening in decidedly nonartistic terms. “It’s like playing a scratch game in bowling,” Stanley said. “It’s a game that doesn’t really count. There’s a safety net and it’s a little off the record.”
Scratch Night is an evolution of Live Arts’ 2nd Thursdays, a similarly minded evening of workshopping the arts during which performers shared selections of in-progress pieces. Scratch Nights will also take place on the second Thursday of the month through May, but the new iteration is meant to engage the audience on a deeper level. “A lot of people have trouble understanding and digesting experimental work. Getting people to talk can be a challenge,” said Craig Peterson, director of the Live Arts Brewery (LAB) and Philly Fringe. “People don’t want to sound stupid, but we want to engage them in ways that are less threatening and more fun.”
Peterson said it’s important for the audience to get a glimpse into the creative process. “These things don’t just come fully formed in [the festival],” he said.
At Thursday’s inaugural Scratch Night, Stanley and playwright/actor Justin Jain will perform their separate works, both of which are CONT’D>> at philly.com
Last night my ongoing Ouija-as-theatre experiment continued for another round. Kristen Scatton of Philadelphia’s Rep Radio, who had already interviewed me several months ago for my 2011 Philly Fringe show, BZ:ABOTD, interviewed me again, this time in the context of my being one of this year’s 3 PDC@Plays&Players playwrights-in-residence (along with playwrights Brian Grace-Duff and Jeremy Gable).
She didn’t want a repeat of my first interview in August so I suggested something different — how about meeting me at midnight on the mainstage of Play & Players on the set of August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (which opens January 19th and which is not to be missed) to see if we can contact the ghost of the Small Boy who has been spotted on the stage over the years. He’s one of 3 spirits said to haunt the hundred-year-old building.
You can soon hear the full Rep Radio interview and the complete audio of our Ouija session so I won’t go into full detail here. In summary, MALA showed up again in her usual insistent way (MALAMALAMALAMALA) and confirmed that she indeed knew me and had last spoken to me upstairs in Quig’s Pub on 11/6/11. I asked her if she was doing okay and she said NO. I told her I wanted her to try and be happier in 2012 because she always seemed sad, and she said OK.
We asked Mala if she knew the Small Boy and whether he was hanging around onstage with us. He was. In fact he was standing directly to my right, upstage center, according to Mala. The Small Boy’s initials are AE and he talked about PLAYS and that he was in a play on that stage in 1945. Does he enjoy living at Plays & Players? NO. Why doesn’t he leave? LALALALA (a frequent Ouija answer in my experience, which I interpret to mean la la la la I’m not listening/can’t discuss it).
In the end, chronically lonely little girl Mala confirmed that she liked the Small Boy and thought he was nice, so I asked if she’d like to stay on at Plays & Players and be friends with him. She said YES, so I felt good about finding her a much-needed playmate. Apparently in the process I’ve also brought another ghost into Plays & Players’ otherworldly fold. I hope Maud and Leon are okay with that and don’t get angry with me for crowding them out. It’s getting downright lousy with ghosts in there.
Proof of a spirit world, or proof of characters from mine and Kristen Scatton’s fevered imaginations conveyed via subconscious ideomotor impulses? Take your pick. I’m equally fascinated by both phenomena. For further reading I highly recommend James Merrill’s epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover.
See you all at Live Arts Scratch Night at the Live Arts Brewery on Thursday 1/12/12 at 7pm. It’s free, there’s cheap beer, and you can RSVP here.
[Maud Skinner photo via findagrave.com]
I was delighted last night to hear again from spirit MALA during our Ouija session that was part of my Plays & Players playwright-in-residence presentation. I began with a little shtick I wrote just for the occasion, then called for volunteers, BZ:ABOTD-style, and moved us all across the threshold from the Skinner Studio stage into Quig’s Pub where we all stood around a table watching the two volunteers try their hands at my antique William Fuld original Ouija board. Our goal was to contact one of the theatre’s 3 resident ghosts.
At first, lots of jibberish despite multiple partners and switch-offs and trying to get the board warmed up. There were a few early highlights, like my asking, “Look, is there anyone there who just wants to cut the jibberish and talk to us in plain English using simple words?”
The response was a swift NO.
At one point it blurted out OZ which got lots of oohs and aahs. Later one of the volunteers emailed me that she got home and flipped on the TV only to see that The Wizard of Oz was indeed on that night.
But whenever it was my turn to switch in with a partner it shot back and forth from M to A to L to A to M to A, sweeping a wide arc back and forth across the board nonstop. It wouldn’t answer any other questions. It was, like, in this catatonic state. I’d get up and let a new partner take over, but 10 minutes later when it was my turn again it’d shoot back to M A L A M A L A. As obvious as it seems now (duh) I kept guessing at names…”Are you Mama?…Alam? … Lala?”
Thankfully someone chimed in, “My guess is it’s a child.”
“Are you a child?” I asked the board. At that she finally stopped the chant and went to YES.
“You’ve been trying to talk to me all night. Do you know me?”
“Have we met before?”
“What’s your name?”
“Oh! You’re Mala. From my show!”
“You’re the little girl.”
(to the crowd) “This is a little girl I met during my show. She was killed by her mother. (to Mala) You followed me here from the Blue Grotto to Plays & Players?”
“Are you in the room with us?”
YES NO YES NO YES NO (this indecision was also evident during her previous session with me; the personality and her reluctance or uncertainty with her state seemed consistent, as did her childlike repetitions of “MalaMalaMalaMala” and previously “MomMomMomMom” for emphasis)
“Your mother killed you, right?”
YES NO YES NO YES NO
(In our previous conversation on 9/15/11 her discomfort with discussing the details of her death (stabbed by her mother) and her insistence that she has forgiven her, felt consistent again with her current indecisive answers. Previously her discomfort was indicated by the constant use of the infinity sign when she wasn’t sure how to answer; tonight it was the YES NO YES NO maneuver.)
I got tired of monopolizing the board so I stepped away for a slice of pizza while two others continued the chat. I told them Mala was a lonely little girl who meant no harm and to chat with her for a few minutes. I’m not sure of the outcome but I know their chat with her was brief because the board was soon abandoned. People kept admiring it and discussing it but no one would dare to use it. I offered to use it with someone but no one would take me up on it. Everyone seemed too spooked by the Mala thing.
So, not exactly an earth-shattering session but a good experience overall and I was happy to chat with my otherworldly pal Mala again. Most disappointingly no contact was made by any of Plays & Players’ supposed ghosts. Maybe they’re just a legend…
TO BE CONTINUED.