Category Archives: Theater

“Without” at The Looking Glass Theatre

My play “Without” that I wrote in 2004 and was a finalist that year for the Samuel French Short Play Festival is being produced again at the Looking Glass Theatre in NYC June 4-7.  I originally wrote the play while studying playwriting at the Actors Studio Drama School at the New School. There is some interesting history to this play and it’s sort of ironic that it’s my most produced play (this is the third time it’s been produced in NYC).  Oddly enough, every time I get a production I re-write it a little, so it’s kind of always evolving.  The play is about a young woman who is attacked by a gang in Paris and as she’s trying to piece together what happend and who attacked her she discovers something – a miracle perhaps?  It’s one of my plays that deals with the psychology of the mind and plays with an alternate universe.  The Looking Glass Theatre is blogging about it,  so if you are interested in checking it out – you can buy tickets on their site.

Something for mom: Femme Feast

This Sunday at 3PM the Waverly Writers, Wanderlust Productions in association with The Playground Series at Manhattan Theatre Source will present “Femme Feast”, a veritable feast of female performances. With short plays by Bekah Brunstetter, Lisa Ebersole, Lara Gold, Laconia Koerner and Laura Rohrman (me) it’s sure to be outstanding! This is truly a labor of love and since I am one of the producers, I am certainly urging you to attend…and yes, bring your mom! Tickets are $15. Reservations: (212)501-4751 or order online.

Manhattan Theatre Source 117 Macdougal Street New York City between 8th Street and Waverly Place

How to BE the best?

This weekend I was dosed out with theater…Okay, first off, I know I haven’t posted in awhile.  I’m bad – or maybe, I have a good reason. I’ve been sick.  I should be better soon….times are tough with the Noni blog.  What’s new? I’m co-producing an all lady festival called Femme Feast in early May and we are having a big fun raiser called the Lady Cakes Ball where you can get free cupcakes in addition to seeing awesome live entertainment – uh, bands, burlesque dancers, the singer Deanna Neil….it’s going to be hot.  All for $1o bucks!  Cool, right?  It’s at Karma Lounge in NYC on April 16th — doors open at 7.

So all this is taking it’s toll.  We are also producing a theatrical event with 6 or 7 pieces, Butoh dancing, musicians — it’s wild!

So anyway…mid week, I was feeling my usual pain — can’t eat anything…ugh sick…and then I get a call from a director, Michael Parva, who offerred me one free ticket to his Broadway show currently in previews — the show — Irena’s Vow.  Don’t walk, run to get tickets!  I loved it!!  The NYTimes called it “cheesy”, and the reviewer felt it skipped over things — but c’mon we are telling a Holocaust story. I personally thought everyone did a beautiful job and hey — I cried, so I went home happy…which is more than I can say about a host full of mediocre cliched plays I’ve seen in the past weeks.   So good is good is my opinion and great is great. Go see Irena’s Vow.  It’s about something good, real and not just another war story.  In fact, I’m really happy to see all these Holocaust stories coming to life from other perspectives.  Remember when the only story we knew of was Anne Frank?  It’s okay. It doesn’t get tired. It’s part of history.

On Sunday I went to the BE company’s first fundraising event at The Rattlestick Theatre Company.  I was tired and didn’t really want to be there, but boy was I pleasantly surprised by what I saw — some extremely well written one-acts, that were certainly augmented by stellar acting and directing – with a bit of guitar.  Then, after it was over everyone was invited to socialize at Bobo — only my favorite restaurant in the village.  Unfortunately, I started to feel crappy and had to go home to uh…lay there and stare at the ceiling.  I heard it was fun.  And yes, when the BE Company starts producing plays make sure to check them out.  I want to BE them — classy, cool and full of talent.  Oh, I am…whew.

Happy New Year Blog

Ashley Wren Collins

Ashley Wren Collins

Happy New Year!  Wow – it’s 2009.  Finally.
It’s been such a long time since I’ve blogged!  After my whirlwind one-interview-a day project, which culminated with Barack Obama’s victory on November 4th 2008, I was just so overwhelmed I had to shut down The Pop Cycle from pure exhaustion.
The winter snow falling on our city seemed appropriate. The chilly air brought a palpable fear with it.  In November I started a Russian class with a terrible Russian teacher who made me think learning on tape might be easier than pulling Russian lessons out of him.  Really, since I studied French for some five or so years, I know a thing or two about how to approach language study and no homework is not a good thing!
Anyway, just as a dark November pulled up to the curb and the job market got even worse, a small miracle happened (to me). I was offered a role as an actor in a fellow playwright’s play . Did I mention that I didn’t have to audition, and the role was one of those juicy roles that only comes around every so often for an actor?

See, I like acting, but I hate auditioning and since I am mostly a playwright why would I ever audition anyway? I wouldn’t.  But then, somehow, someone, quite randomly sees my acting ability, literally from afar and voila, I get cast in a play.  It wasn’t exactly like that – but my version is close enough.
Being on stage is such a thrill.  It’s creative, but in a completely different way than the work I do as a writer.  In the end of course, writing is the better of the two because a writer walks away from their hard work with a play in hand, the actor applause.
There is a thrill to acting that is ephemeral; like a bottle of pop constantly exploding. As a performer I’m a part of the process – and who doesn’t love being told that “you’re wonderful.” It’s addicting and I could get used to it, but alas, I always do this one-hit acting thing and then I’m back to the hard, hard work of being a playwright.

Talk about no glory!  Playwrights sit hunched over their desks sipping coffee or worse – drinking Vodka.  They are primarily loners and sulk about not getting produced.  Or, when they are getting produced they think the following: “I should have written that better but oh well,” or “the actors and director are ruining it.” And when people are loving your work, it’s the actors that get all the praise!  Since I have done both roles — been the actor and the writer, I can tell you with confidence that acting is hard work too; and playwrights are lucky when a very good actor likes their script.  It’s a collaboration.

Speaking of good actors, this brings me to my first interview of 2009:
Who: Ashley Wren Collins
Where: In front of the Waverly Diner, West Village, NYC
Occupation: Actress and celebrity assistant.
Hometown: Bethlehem,PA
“I love this diner!” quips Ashley as she arrives from the rain.
“Why?” I ask, looking around puzzled.
Really people, The Waverly Diner is just a diner with regular diner food.  Outside of their fresh squeezed OJ, I can’t say I’ve ever had anything amazing to eat there, but I swear so many people LOVE it and so many of my friends pick this damn diner as our meeting place.  It’s a Greenwich Village staple, so I need to cover it.
Ashley says she loves it for the “memories.”
“Ah, okay,” I say.
“My dad and I came here 10 years ago when I was getting my first passport. I remember the experience not just because it was the day I got my first passport, but also because Santa sat alone at a table next to us.”
“Really?” I say.
“No kidding.  Just me, my dad and Santa eating breakfast in the restaurant.  He was pretty relaxed, especially since it was Christmas Eve.  Anyway, here I am about to renew my passport for the first time, so it had been 10 years!”
Ashley is lucky, she’s always known that she wanted to be an actress and she’s studied her craft at the Moscow Art Theatre in Moscow.  I met Ashley when my friend and director Fritz Brekeller cast her in my romantic comedy My Life As You in the summer of 2006.
Ashley is a great comedic actress who really should be a character on Saturday Night Live.  She’s stunningly tall and blonde.  Kind of like a goddess who burps when she’s nervous. In any event, today, two years after My Life As You, we are meeting at 8:30 AM at the Waverly Diner.
I wanted to interview Ashley because she’s been busy. Not only does she work as a celebrity assistant, but she and her friends have created a goofy travel web series called  Suzy and Duddy.  The conceit of Suzy and Duddy reminds me a bit of  Flight of the Concords on HBO except instead of musicians from New Zealand, the characters are two super dorky Minnesotans who have created a super dorked out travel show.  In episode 2 they find a British sounding producer who is now part of the chaos as they take on NYC, which they do with pizazz in episode 3.

News for me: I am writing about Greenwich Village for the Examiner.com, so if you want to keep up on events and such in the village, become a subscriber to my blog.

24 Hour Plays on Broadway: Morning Times

After we had a round table of idea sharing, Adam Bock, a playwright who is “on staff” for the night, went upstairs to write his play.  We all hung around and chatted, ate food and eventually we were all getting pretty tired.  At 4:30AM  I went upstairs to the writer’s lair where Ellen Maddow was looking for a story about the ocean, and Adam B was nearly finished.  He laughed that all the assistants were now sleeping on cots while the writers were still busy typing away.  I heard Adam laughing to himself.  I couldn’t really sleep, so I asked to see what he thought was so funny.  Tina Fallon (the producer) told me not to give anything away about any of the plays, so I won’t.  But my oh my, Adam put some of my stories in his play.  So perhaps before my official Broadway debut as a playwright, two of my shinning delightful (and hilarious) stories made it into a play that is going up on Broadway tonight.  It’s pretty funny that Adam just ran downstairs and asked us for stories and then wove them into his characters.  He’s a pretty talented fellow. We are both from San Francisco originally, so we talked about that for awhile.  I already liked his work (Five Flights) but now I really like him as a person too.  He’s a social butterfly.  I can’t wait to see the plays tonight.

Questions for 5AM: I don’t know what to ask.

I asked Adam what his favorite play that he ever wrote. Without thinking he said:The Typographer’s Dream.

A quote from Tina: “We have too much amazing.”

I’m tired.  I don’t even know what to write.  But obviously I thought this experience would be fun.  I get home at nearly 5:30AM, jump into my cozy bed.  As I drift off into my real sleep, I tell my husband, who is used to my goofy stories about my day.

The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway: It’s Sharing Time

I’m back!  I have decided to blog a little bit tonight because I happen to be up all night tonight working as an assistant for the 24 Hour Plays on Broadway.  We are all on the 5th floor of the American Airlines Theater (on Broadway), This is my third year to come help out, and so far this year is more fun that previous years.  For starters, we are all in one room together — assistants, producers, writers (the actors and directors went home to sleep).  Because we are all so near each other, some of the writers are using us for idea generation. For example, I just gave my best pimple story to Adam Bock.  Apparently Rachel Dratach is going to be a gay boy scout.  Sounds fun.  So we just got food, and we are reading the Times and stuff.  More to come soon.

One last good one: Bullets, Bums and Barack

Hope. Now I have it.  I’m so excited to see what Barack Obama is going to do with his presidency!  I feel proud for the first time that I am an American; that I had the chance to vote, to make a difference.
My interview project is nearly complete.   From September 17th – November 4th, I attempted to interview one person a day as an exercise to keep me writing.  The result is pretty amazing.  It’s a journal of New York City as we prepared to elect the first Black president.   On September 17th, the day after I arrived  in New York after spending two weeks in California, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty of the city in the fall.  It was as if someone had put V-juice in my coffee.  Or, I was in love again with New York.  The trees, the air, the people…everything was cracking with change.

Continue reading

The “It” Girl of 2005 is Back!

Tonight is the night.  Sure I want to know about the election results, but I’m also trying to close out my project, one interview a day until the election.   Olives are on the table and the champagne is being opened chez moi; my husband is already annoyed with me that I am in my room blogging instead of watching  and being social. In fact, I am still wearing my workout gear and a Hello Kitty T-shirt that says: “Being This Cute is Exhausting.”  Today when I was wearing this shirt at Grounded and asked the guy behind the counter to refill my Hello Kitty water bottle,hellokitty he looked at me with a funny grin.  I realized he was looking at my shirt, which I threw on when running out the door.
“What – you think I’m obsessed with Hello Kitty?” I said, realizing, of course that I looked utterly ridiculous.
“Oh this is a coincidence,” I said, pointing at my shirt.
“You are going to tell me that that’s the only Hello Kitty stuff you own?” he said.
“Uh, not exactly.” Maybe he should read this piece I wrote about Hello Kitty back in 2001.
Moving on.
So with nothing to watch a la moment but a CNN hollogram, I am off to catch up on my interviews.  What on earth are we all going to do for entertainment when this is all over? See more plays?  Be more creative?  Well this brings me to my next interview.



Who: Lisa Ebersole
Where:  Bar 6, West Village
Occupation: Playwright, Video Media Specialist
Lisa was the “IT” Girl of the summer of 2005.  Her play Brother caused quite a stir in New York City.  Her publicist sent an invite to me at my agent job at the Fifi Oscard Agency.  The title of this play had me intrigued, so I went out to the play and there was the playwright with a starring role in her own work that she also directed.  She was as good as any of the other actors in the fine play. For a few weeks at least Brother was the talk of Off-Off Broadway New York; it was edgy, dramatic and different. The New York Times gave it a rave review and Back Stage called her “The new voice in theater.”  I decided that we had to meet.  Even though I didn’t know how long I’d be an agent, I decided to represent her. How could I not?  Lisa is one of the coolest, smartest and talented people who I know.  Within a few months, I helped to get Brother published by the Samuel French Publishing Company, which was thrilling for both of us.  This meant, of course, that I indeed had a good eye for talent and of course the obvious: Lisa Ebersole was bound to be a star.
Fast forward three years to 2008 in the week preceding the presidential election.  I left my post at the Fifi Oscard Agency in 2006 to go back into online marketing.  Meanwhile, Lisa has staunchly refused to be represented by anyone other than me, and writing and creativity for both of us had taken a back seat to the stresses of real life.

Honestly, we’ve both had just about enough reality, and we could use a little sugar. In addition to getting a new President elected, we are both poised for a comeback.
“Oh yes!” Lisa says with a grin.
Lisa and I were in full secret planning mode and I’m not sure we did a proper interview.  From the looks of Lisa, she’s is certainly back from her “It” girl hiatus.
“I’ve got a movie premiere,” she says with grin.  Yup, she’s back.

Wonder Woman in a Cat Suit

Sadly, today at midnight I am going to end my “project” which has been to interview one person a day until the election.  Today when I went to vote I stood next to Patricia Keaton in line.  She is very nice and civic minded, but she really didn’t want to be interviewed for the blog.  Meanwhile, I am quite behind in my interviews and will be spending election night writing about the many cool people I met with instead of focusing on any poll numbers.  People are coming over to watch election results around seven.   My house is usually some sort of center of activity….

Continue reading

Vampire Cowboy at Work: Robert Ross Parker

Wednesday I went to Midtown to take care of my membership dues for the Dramatist Guild.  While I was there I stopped in to pitch a story idea to the magazine editor and get in an interview for The Pop Cycle.


Who: Robert Ross Parker
Where: The Dramatist Guild Offices, NYC
Occupation: Editorial Director, The Dramatist, Theater Director, Co-Creator of The Vampire Cowboys.
Oddly enough, a month before I met Robert, it was Sonya who was singing the praises of his theater company The Vampire Cowboys.  She said “you have to see this!”  I don’t even know if Robert and Sonya know each other, but see – that’s the NY Theater scene.
I’ve gotten to know Robert as my editor for the Dramatist, (The Dramatist Guild’s magazine devoted to playwrights and lyricists) and he’s gotten to know me as a “busy reporter,” which is how he referred to me during our meeting.  It’s funny to me that Robert and I have similar sensibilities and yet I haven’t seen his theatrical creations and he hasn’t seen mine – yet.
I’ve only written one article so far for the Dramatist, but it was a success and I’m hoping to write more.
Earlier this year, I turned my experience of working as an assistant on the 24 Hour Plays on Broadway into an intimate behind-the-scenes portrait.  I interviewed a gaggle of playwrights: Adam Rapp, Adam Bock, Theresa Rebeck, Tina Howe and several others about what it was like to create a play in 24 hours for Broadway, which is what they did for the 24 Hour Plays on Broadway, a process I’ve been a part of for the past couple of years.
Robert was new on the job when I first proposed my article back in February, but he quickly got to know how determined I can be, and I found out how down to earth he is. I like him.  Now, many months later, he seems to be more comfortable with his duties and skills.
Robert juggles two careers – surprise. Theater artists often juggle many jobs at once in order to do the one that they love.  In this case, both of Robert’s jobs fit together nicely.
He’s both the editor of the Dramatist, spending his day interacting with both the writers (who are playwrights like me) and heeding to the wants and desires of the famous playwrights on the Board of Directors, like David Ives.  In the evenings, he’s a director, creating new work with Qui Nguyen for their theater company, The Vampire Cowboys.
Today we are at his day job and David Ives, one of the greatest American living playwrights happens to knock on the door while I am sitting in Robert’s office.
David knows of me because of the article I wrote and because we worked together on the 24 Hour Plays on Broadway in 2006.
“What are you two doing?”  David says inquisitively.
I tell him about my interviews for The Pop Cycle and remind him of his not being included in my interviews earlier in the year.
Then I say, “you know, David, I’m going to have to ask you a question too.”
“Okay, he says.”
Great! I’m going to interview David Ives! Super cool!
“So, David, what are you reading?”  I say.  I always think what a playwright is reading is very informative.
He throws two books down in front of me and I write them down. The books are:
Something by T.S. Eliot that I guess I forgot to write down and “The Nigger of the Narcissus and other stories” by Joseph Conrad.
Then the three of us broke into a discussion of “The Heart of Darkness.”
“I just couldn’t get through it at first,” says Robert.
“The Heart of Darkness is one of the greatest war stories ever written,” says David.
“I missed out on the classics because I’m from Canada,” says Robert.
Hmm. We will have to get back to this Canada thing later, I’m thinking.
“I read it in college as part of my major,” I say “I loved it.”
“I just read it for the 5th time,” says David.
“I don’t read books a second time,” I say. “I’ve considered it, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
Truth is, there are still so many books I am getting to for the first time.
“I only read books the second time, I skip the first time,” says David.
He makes sure that I write his quote down correctly before he departs.
After he leaves, Robert and I laugh.
“So that’s part of my day,” he says with a grin.
Robert has an awesome job and I think he knows it.  He seems to take it all in stride because he has so much going on.
“So tell me about your theater company “The Vampire Cowboys,” I see from your face book profile that you are rehearsing,” I say.
“Yes, we have a show coming up in the spring,” he smiles.
“It’s so much fun,” he says.
“We are interested in pop-culture, in creating a theatrical experience that is explored in comic books and television.”
“That’s interesting,” I say.  “So why do you think you are creating theater and not working in film?”
“Money,” he says, but he thinks about it more.
“Actually, I am looking to create these experiences that can only happen on stage, but that are very theatrical.”
“You can get away with so much for on the stage,” he says.
“For example,” I say.
“If your story has an elephant attack, there is a way to do that on stage – you can hear it, people can talk about it, but if it’s a movie, you sort of need to show that elephant attack.”
“Yes, you are right,” I say.
“So many plays are two guys sitting there on the back porch talking, I’m not interested in that.”
“Me neither,” I say.
Robert grew up in Canada, was a child actor who went to a high school for the arts before meeting his “Vampire” partner Qui Nguyen at Ohio University.
It’s worth mentioning that The Vampire Cowboys just won a NYITA award for Best Choreography, Best Costumes and Best Ensemble, so I am really excited to see their next production.
Before I leave, Robert shows me what he’s reading, it’s a book about the Commodore 64.
“Do you remember it?” he says grinning.  “I’m a techie geek,” he says.
I suggest that the next Vampire show should be a musical about the rise and fall of the Commodore.  Of course, in his world, Ninjas will fight with elephants and I’m sure a computer will get smashed.  As I leave, I can tell he’s toying with the idea.