Ah, The Summer Winds
This past weekend before I left the city for some fresh summer winds of my own, I was determined to get off my butt and support one of my friend’s plays. If you are an artist in NYC, part of the job and fun is going to support your friends’ when they do plays and such, even if they don’t always go to your plays and even if the production values are sometimes rather drab.
Lately, because I haven’t been feeling well, I’ve all but stopped the process of seeing any plays at all (friends included). I’m just hoping that my many years of good service will pay off and my fellow theatre artists will forgive me for my recent slight of their work. But since I am starting to feel better, this weekend I made a point to see a friend’s play, The Summer Winds a revival of the 1991 published work by Frank Pugliese.
Who was the lucky friend? Ian Streicher, a talented director who I’ve worked with several times. I also knew the writer, Frank who was my playwriting instructor when I studied at the New School for Drama in 2005. I had never seen his work, so I was interested in seeing the show. Also, there were two good actors who I’ve worked with: Nannette Deasy and Robert Baumgardner, so I figured this wouldn’t be a waste of my time, and it wasn’t.
The Summer Winds is being produced by Family Tree Collective, a group of actors who are interested in “artistic growth through performance.” It’s playing at the very bohemian Nuyorican Poet’s Café in the East Village, on 3rd Avenue between Avenue B&C. Not the greatest neighborhood in the world, but a pretty good place to produce the show as it turns out. The Summer Winds is a collection of short plays and monologues about “losers” in NYC – from Brooklyn to the Bronx. Pugliese seems to know this world well and he covers all types: a couple who have been married for six years and have nothing to hope for anymore, a dancer who never made it, a lonely garbage collector who spent time in prison and a woman who married the wrong guy. All real New Yorkers – the ones who are sad, the ones we don’t talk so much about, but who we know well because we see them, hear them – and they are ingrained in us. For every success there have been failures and for those of us who live day-to-day in New York, we know it’s tough and it sure as hell isn’t for the weak. These characters are strong and despite having lost sight of their dreams they still want to fight.
The plays hang together by a comedian and talented singer, Brian Murphy, who pulls off some Frank Sinatra greats, culminating with the song: The Summer Winds. The material is unusual. It takes a very skilled writer to write plays like this and truly great actors to bring them to life.
At times I had trouble seeing the action (the seating is not great at the Nuyorican, which is sort of like a bar) and I often wished for a more comfortable chair. Despite those minor inconveniences, the material, direction and cast of The Summer Winds is well worth your time.
The Summer Winds by Frank Pugliese
May 29, 30 at 7PM and May 31st at 6PM. Tickets $15 at http://www.smarttix.com or call 212-505-8183
Nuyorican Poets Cafe – 236 E. 3rd between b&c
Oh, and if you want to see one of my plays? My one-act Without is part of the The Looking Glass Theatre’s Spring Writer/Director forum June 4th-7th. To buy tickets: 212-352-3101 or go to their website at http://www.lookingglasstheatrenyc.com