Category Archives: Plays

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Reilly in True West

The world lost a great actor today, but New Yorkers lost one of our own. I don’t know how else to put it. When I saw this terrible news of his death trending on Face Book today and someone said that it was a hoax, I was so hoping and praying it was true. I just can’t imagine that I am never going to see Philip Seymour Hoffman work his undeniable magic on the live Broadway stage. I’m pinching myself and feel so fortunate to have seen his work on the stage and not just know him from film. I think his movie roles are amazing, sure, but to me, they are nothing like the stage performances I’ve seen him in, that have frankly shaped and changed my opinions about theater. On the stage, he was, quite simply brilliant.  From my first few weeks in New York City in the spring of 2000, I started, rather accidentally following his career. Back in 2000, when I put my two feet on the soils of gritty New York, for whatever reason, the first theater show I decided to attend was “True West”. I had no idea who Philip Seymour Hoffman was and I certainly didn’t know the groundwork for the city yet, how to get around or who was who in the theater world. Shortly after seeing the intense production, however, one of my girlfriends back then had a thing for “this actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman,”  and as I remember it, she hung out with him a few times at some theater parties. So his name came up in my social circle, but I can’t say that met him, not back then.

In 2001, I waited with my friends all night to get free tickets to see “The Seagull” with Meryl Streep, Kevin Klien and Natalie Portman.  He was too old for the role he was playing. I remember that Meryl did a cart-wheel on stage. The show was spellbinding and inspiring.  Philip’s older age (he didn’t look 19 at the time) or looks didn’t matter, he nailed the complexity of role of Konstantin.  At this point, PSH could play anything. I was watching a master at work. He had this raw grit, full of pain, suffering and compassion. He made you root for the character. Had Chekhov been alive, I’m sure he would have approved of the casting. PSH’s palpable love and biting anger at his mother played by the amazing Meryl Streep was raw, seething, pathetic and powerful all at the same moment. After the performance, I was sitting with my friends in Central Park and chatting about the play and life over wine and cigarettes. The sky above us lit up by stars. Though surrounded by trees in the park, the city lights and buildings burst through all around us like a shadowy castle. Just above us, tiny flickering bulbs of the fireflies. The evening, down to our crazy fatigue and Hoffman’s ruthless performance was absolutely magical, one of my favorite New York moments.

In 2002, the summer after my first year of playwriting graduate school at the Actors Studio/New School for Drama, where classes were held in the West Village, I was writing a lot and hanging out at local cafes. No matter where I was, I often looked up from my work to see Philip getting a coffee right in front of me. About a month later,  I saw him in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” on Broadway.  His award-winning performance ran the gamut: overpowering, raw and gave me chills. The whole play was moving and poignant but he helped tell the sad story of the brother, Jamie who was so charming and had so much potential but was so helpless and doomed to a life of debauchery and drugs to dull his pain, just like his mother. Philip was the new fabric, allowing old plays to take on darker life for New York audiences.  Then I met Philip, and he became part of my New York experience as my neighbor. My boyfriend Dmitry (now my husband) and I moved to West Village in 2002 and we frequented the same coffee shop as Philip Seymour Hoffman and his posse, Joe on Waverly Place. So I’d often see him, just hanging out, chatting with friends, sometimes alone, just chilling.  I can’t say that his grit and just thinking of him acting on the stage and then seeing him, sometimes chatting with him, didn’t affect me as a writer, I think it did. I met his girlfriend Mimi and cooed over his eldest son when he was first born. I saw him in a new light: as a loving father. The last time I saw him at the cafe, now nearly five years ago, I was very pregnant and our entire conversation revolved around child rearing in New York. He laughed and said “I’ll probably never see you again you’ll be so busy.” I can still hear his cracking laugh. We moved downtown, and it’s true, I hardly ever go to Joe, but I do get there once in awhile, but I never saw Philip again. The last show I saw him in was “Death Of A Salesman” on Broadway in 2012. The critics and I somewhat agreed that perhaps Mr. Hoffman, at 45 was too young to play the beleaguered, tortured father who should have been at least 55 or 60 since his boys were in their thirties.  I can remember thinking, why does Philip want to play this part now, he has years to play the older dad? I couldn’t help but feel that he stole the part away from older actors who could’ve done a fine job in the role. Perhaps he really wanted to play the role of Willy Loman, one of the greatest roles in the theater…and yes, he still nailed the role despite being too young for it. Maybe he knew he’d never live long enough to play the part at the appropriate age, maybe he just wanted to seize the day and do it NOW. As the New York  Times reported today so eloquently, we will miss seeing him all those wonderful parts for aging men.

My friend called me this afternoon, the one who used to study acting and hung out with him at theater after parties. I couldn’t talk because I was with my daughter who is now a chatty four-year-old. But I’ve been thinking about him all day, and into the evening, my heart actually ached. The World lost a giant movie star today, but New Yorkers lost someone who was part of our fold; part of the fabric of our city.  He was the most amazing stage actor I’ve ever seen, and he was my neighbor.  He was such a talented human being and he was so lucky to do what he loved and to be able to show the world his talent, to let us see old plays in a new light. To his family, to his partner Mimi who just lost her love and the father to her children (as a mother, I just have to say how awful and terrifying this would be — and I’m just hoping that she is surrounded by love and light right now) and to his children, the youngest who is just five, who just lost their father, who died with a fucking needle in his arm, I’m just so sorry. My heart breaks for his extended family, close friends and for his theater company.  I mean, what a tragedy and what a sad, and somewhat theatrical and tortured end to such a legend.

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Le Wilhelm

I went to the memorial of my mentor, Le Wilhelm last night. He died on September 25th, over a month ago. I just haven’t had time to stop and process all that’s happened these past six weeks. It’s been a whirlwind with my kids’ birthdays, school starting again and my own play reading.

I did make it to the hospital in time to sit by his side. I was surprised by how much love and emotion I had for Le, how hard it was to say goodbye, how much I wanted to curl up in his arms and get a hug. For much of my time in New York City, for the past 13 years, Le was my protector…he held me under his wing and gave me encouragement when I needed it the most.

He was an odd find for me in New York City, but again knowing me and the more I hear about Le, I’m not at all surprised. Le was a gift to this world, a gift to me. He was a large man in stature. Geez, how tall was Le? Maybe 6ft-5 and he was, for most of the time I knew him considered to be very large. He later grew thinner from illness, but that’s not how I remember him. He was this great presence, like a king, really. Whether standing on a street corner smoking or sitting in his special chair, drinking and holding court at Zuni’s, he was truly beloved and admired by those who mattered to him.

The summer of 2001 was such a strange time; it was like the pink before the red, before September 11th, before the dread, before things really changed. And for me, it was like the last summer of my youth. I played most of the spring and summer of 2001. I had gotten laid off from my job and had drifted into an uncharted, unknown state. I was definitely wandering; I was searching and finding my artistic self in the big Apple.

Le was from a different era all together. He was probably 54 when I met him, but looked older. He already had that seasoned feel. Somehow, maybe it was the left over food stuck in his beard, or the stains on his untidy shirt.  He lived in New York and had been running a theater for nearly 20 years. He was from Missouri, The Ozarks. He was a larger than life southern man who didn’t give a shit what you thought about him.  He just loved theater and loved to see “the magic” happen. He lived and breathed the stage as if it was his air. He was a prolific, talented writer who created characters who he loved, which of course actors reveled in.  As a director, he chose difficult, interesting plays and as a producer, he enjoyed helping new writers gain confidence (like me). He was an encourager, a friend. He openly hated the elitism that is so much a part of New York theater,  so he created an Off-Off Broadway theater company for the odd balls, like him, like me, I guess.  How one finds their way to Love Creek Productions — is, well, part of the fun — we are all odd balls, aren’t we?

I had been doing this and that all summer long in 2001. I lost my job and instead of getting another one, I spent the summer really fooling around, having no money. I was so so poor that summer. I had been an extra in a movie and on the set, I mentioned to one of the other extras that I wanted to be a playwright. She told me that she was part of a theater company that often produced members’ scripts. So sent an email to Le Wilhelm, the founder and the artistic director of Love Creek Productions. I auditioned for him a week later.

I’ll admit, the day of the audition, I thought the whole thing was strange. There was this old man watching me do my monologue — and then he just cast me in something — right then and there. It was so simple, except that I had to pay $100 to join the company. Uh, okay. I was lured in by getting to act on the stage in New York! Then he read my play and two days later, he told me that  he really liked it and “let’s produce it.” What???

From that day forward I was able to call myself a produced playwright. September 11th happened, I wanted to drop out of the play — two of my actors dropped out — it was a terrible, scary time. Nothing but tears and confusion. But Le pressed me to continue, and unlike some of the folks he worked with, I did it, I carried on. And through that “moment” of courage and perseverance or whatever it was, Le and I formed a very strong bond that would last us until his death just over a month ago.

Le was quite simply one-of-a-kind. He meant so much to so many of us. He was a mentor, a person who it would seem was here to bring people together. It’s like a piece of New York is gone without him here. I am grateful, so so grateful to have known him. Ledirectingmontevideo_front IMG_0848As my friend Jason Nunes said last at the memorial. “We miss you Le Wilhelm. Very much. “

Another Marker…10 Years ago this week my first play was produced!

10 years ago this week my first play was produced in NYC. The play was aptly titled “The Miracle.” It was about a young man who had lived with a false HIV test for three years. He discovers the test was wrong, but it doesn’t really change his life or his choices.

Because I didn’t know anyone in New York City yet, I was also the play’s director and cast all my friends in the parts. The play happened right after Sept 11th and it was such a scary time.  I was totally afraid to put on a play during such darkness, but there was light in this play and with these people. Plus, I was urged to continue. The play brought levity to a dark situation, so I learned that theater, my theater could heal the heart. I could make people laugh.

My roommate Gabe was our co-director and lighting designer. My other best friends were my actors. Somehow we filled those seats for every single performance. I remember sitting in the full audience feeling the energy and hearing the laughter. There’s nothing quite like it, hearing your own words being interpreted by actors. I felt so inspired…like if I can do this, I can do anything. You can’t go too far without good friends in this life. I love all my friends who helped with that production and I certainly haven’t  forgotten how much fun we all had. In December my 50th production/and or reading/public performance of my work will be produced in New York City since that crazy show back in 2001. Follow this link for updates. My play He Says His Name Is John, a one-act I wrote while commuting to my job in White Plains in 2007 is getting a small production at The Looking Glass Theatre’s Winter Forum. I wrote this play when I was working for Starwood Hotels and I took the train to work everyday. The only free time I had back then was during my train commute. I wrote this play in the first few months of the job. By the end of two years I wasn’t writing so much, I had been corprotized.

A Delightful Evening of Social Romance

A Delightful Evening of Social Romance

I’ve always wanted to produce an evening of holiday themed plays and finally I’ve done it. Here’s a link to our press release on Broadway World.com

It’s a mini production, a night of readings, which has turned out to be a lot of fun, and it’s cheaper and easier than putting up a full production. These days, I really need to try to make my life a little easier…

To make up for the lack of production, we are only requesting a $10 donation. That’s a fair trade, right? The whole thing is a benefit for Manhattan Theatre Source, a theatre that needs way more than your $10 donation to stay afloat, but that’s another story.

Why you should go:

Do you like funny one-act plays, goofy songs, already miss the show Mad Men and often pretend that you are Don Draper? Do you miss the days when Santa filled your stocking?  Did you enjoy the book Memoirs of a Geisha, then consider how you might become a Geisha?  Have you ever met someone online? Did you like the movie The Social Network? Basically if you are a human and you live in New York City, you’ll enjoy this show. The only thing missing is alcohol, which you can get at the bar next door, North Square, which serves the best “Blood Orange Martini” I’ve ever had.

The new comedic one-act plays include: “Geisha School” and “How Don Draper Saved Christmas” both written by Laura Rohrman (moi) and directed by Li Murillo and Michelle Pace.  Sara Adler will perform 2 songs and there will be one other play “Cyberia” written by Aurin Squire.

The Benefit is one night only. Wednesday, November 10th at 8PM at

Manhattan Theatre Source which is located at 177 MacDougal Street/cross is at 8th

Voices Without Borders: It’s Possible

This fall has had so many amazing happenings. It feels as though I have been at the helm of many projects: my daughter’s first birthday, my husband’s 40th birthday party, getting back in shape, running a race and my part-time marketing business. I also have two full-length plays in development, many articles due and then there is this crazy rouge project that you must go to!

Back in March when I thought I wasn’t going to work for awhile, but be a stay at home mommy, I was in search of the perfect volunteer project.  I was looking for something that was outside of me, but still me.  So I signed up to be the producer of what was then called Voices of Africa, part of The Estrogenius Festival at Manhattan Theatre Source.  By June I had gotten really busy, taking on private clients that I never expected and the Voices project seemed dead in the water. We had no script coming from Africa this year. I was about to call it a day and forget about it. Then things shifted and Jen Thatcher, this year’s Estrogenius producer put me in touch with Jessica Morris, who is the executive producer of a kick-ass group of young women performers called Project Girl Collective that is all about empowering young women through performance. Jessica also happens to be one of the most courageous, driven and inspiring people who I have ever met.

Welcome to Voices Without Borders: Project Girl Congo. I am one of what feels like 50 producers who helped shape this piece.  Led by hip hop artist Toni Blackman, the Project Girl girls’ have developed monologues, poetry, song and dance numbers inspired by stories told by the Man Up delegates working in the Congo, who in this case, are men who are working tirelessly to stop violence against women in the Congo every single day. These men have lost wives, mothers and sisters to violence, lack of education and health care. Many women die giving birth since there is little to no access to maternal health care. These men are standing up for women, as are the young women/performers of Project Girl who are taking time away from school and their social lives to stand up for women in the Congo. What are they giving? Their time, their hearts, their energies. What are we asking of you? To give the same. Be aware of what’s going on in other parts of the world. Watch our show, which is a fundraiser.  Every penny of the proceeds goes back to the Congo to stop violence against women and girls. If you cannot come to the show, please log onto, http://www.s317461102.initial-website.com/donate/, to support this worthy cause.

“Just about every kid in America is told that they can make a difference in this world,” says Project Girl performer Alexa Winston, age 17. “Now I have a real opportunity with Project Girl: Congo. For the first time, I have heard first-hand accounts about what life is like for girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  These stories are the bedrock of our show.  I know exactly where our donations are going and am proud to support the courageous young leaders who are “manning up” in the DRC.”

This ground-breaking show will be a staged reading performed at Manhattan Theatre Source as part of the Estrogenius Festival on Oct 29th and 30th in New York City. The show tells the stories of young girls in The Congo and helps us all realize that we can do something right here, right now by just being aware.

I never knew, for example, that the fear of being raped is a fact of life for women in the Congo and that being permanently damaged (or “ruined”) from a rape is a common occurrence there.  However, what trumps all of this violence is the fear of being killed as a result of living in a war-zone where child soldiers are shown with precision how to abuse women as part of their military training.

Through education and enlightenment, it is our hope as producers that we are encouraging awareness about what is going on for women in the Congo and for women right here in our community who are affected by gender-based violence.  The statistic is 1:3 women and girls around the world are victims of violence.  Clearly, this is a universal travesty that our youth-led theater company, Project Girl Performance Collective and Man Up, a youth led movement to stop violence against women and girls are working to change.

Voices Without Borders with be performed in connection with Congo Week, which is October 17-23, 2010, and Voices Without Borders will be co-produced by Congolese human rights organizers, Ally Malumba and Jean de Dieu Tshileu and Lewis Kasindi.

Proceeds from this year’s Voices Without Borders ticket sales and donations will benefit Man Up Campaign’s global anti-violence work in the Congo.

For more information and ticket sales, please visit Estrogenius Festival (www.estrogenius.org), ManUp Campaign (www.manupcampaign.org), Project Girl Performance Collective (www.projectgirlperformancecollective.org).


The Confidence Man on a Boat

The Confidence Man

The Confidence Man

Actors from The Confidence Man

Actors from The Confidence Man

A couple of weeks ago, I set out for yet another New York City adventure – late in pregnancy too, which surprised everyone.  My friend Lara Gold was acting in a play on a boat, so without knowing too much about it, a friend and I booked tickets for the opening night of previews of The Confidence Man, which was a play being performed on the Lilac, a boat found on Pier 40 in NYC.  I was excited to go see a show on a boat – that’s a little different, but this experience was a complete surprise for me and my unborn baby.  The Woodshed Collective, a young group of producers who like to do interactive, large ensemble plays in odd places – like an office space, or on a boat for example, decided to tackle The Confidence Man by Herman Melville.  When we arrived at the pier of the Lilac on Pier 40, we were put in groups based on the number of our ticket and assigned to a docent, who would be our guide for the 2-hour boat play.  Turns out, this was not a normal play at all.  It was many interweaving stories out of the book put to dialogue – and depending on what number (or who your docent is) you will be seeing a different story.  Our docent was hilarious and a great improver, and the stories were fun too — though, none of it made much sense to be honest which is probably because they were out of context.  The experience, however, was still extremely unique and I did feel like I was in a different time altogether.  Even though the boat never left the dock, baby and me were in for the ride of our lives. The audience members had to run all over the boat, up and down and, well, for anyone of you who have a disability, have a hard time walking or standing – or happens to be 81/2 months pregnant, I wouldn’t suggest it.  I’m glad that no one mentioned the running around to me, or I probably wouldn’t have gone.  For now, I’ll chalk it up to one more wild adventure for a pregnant lady who loves drama.

Venue Name: The Lilac
Venue Address: Pier 40
Venue City: New York
Venue State: NY

Where: New York-NY Venue

Source: http://www.woodshedcollective.com

When: 8:00pm Wed 9.16.09-9:30pm Wed 9.16.09 with 15 other show times tonight through 9.26.09

Go To the Fringe Festival – See Viral

If you are new to New York or just visiting, you might be wondering what’s “The Fringe” and why should you go? The NYC Fringe Festival is one of the largest and best festivals of new plays in the world. Every August for the past nine years companies from all over the world have come to NYC to showcase their work (from dance to theater) and hopefully get some needed recognition and sponsorship of producers. Many little Fringe shows, playwrights, actors and directors go on to be quite successful. Urinetown came out of the Fringe as did Matt and Ben and many others. Doing well in the Fringe can really help a playwright get to the next level in their career. I’ll be short and sweet with this one because this play will close and you must see it. Viral, a new play by Mac Rogers (who has written several other successful Fringe plays and other plays around the city – read my review of his last one) scores on so many levels that I think newbie playwriting students should go see this play as an example of how to hit every element needed to make a great play, which is extremely difficult to do and rare to see. Talk about it afterward and try to analyze what makes it so great. In Viral, Rogers brings the audience into his characters bizarre world effortlessly; and by the end we almost don’t want to leave it. First of all, he starts out right by choosing an intriguing subject matter (watching someone’s last breath). However, a great subject matter does not alone make a great play; it’s the je ne sais quoi that makes a play go from good to great, but playwriting professors will tell you that it’s the combination of craft and the uniqueness of the world that you create. This play has both. Rogers didn’t just create compelling characters with believable dialogue, he makes us root for them. More importantly he gave them something to do, a problem — with life and death stakes that takes the entire hour and half to resolve. Viral centers around three fabulously dysfunctional misfits who get off sexually by watching people die via “painless suicide.” The forth star of the play is the client, the dark and sexy Amy Lynn Stewart, the victim who wishes to die. The big question to be answered by the end of 70 minutes is clear and you won’t be disappointed. Obviously I don’t want to give too much away, but just know that the ride in Viral is a hideous and beautiful journey, well worth and hour and half of your time. Playwrights of every pedigree (and producers) should pay attention to this one. It’s extremely rare to see a play working so well with so much craft in place. I can’t tell you how many plays that have been lauded in recent years actually aren’t terribly well crafted or worth all the hype. I’m not saying these plays aren’t  enjoyable to watch; they are. In my opinion they are just a tad overrated. Those of us who know better, who are shooting to someday write a play that follows the rules that are so hard to master, should look no further than Viral, found in the bowels of New York City at the Fringe Festival: it’s perfection!

Viral is only playing for two more performances, so catch it while you can.