ROBERT LIEBOWITZ: 40 years and still pissed off! Five 5-Star Works Return.

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In the early 80s, a cab driver, angry at the way the world treated the arts, the middle class, and him, sat down at a typewriter and wrote his first play… and never looked back. Today, Robert B. Liebowitz is a celebrated play and screen writer as well as novelist and essayist, with several published works. But then, he was an impoverished cabbie wanting nothing more than to tell his story. He’s still angry but now people listen.

Liebowitz, in association with one of the last remaining theaters of the original off-off Broadway movement, the American Theatre of Actors, will present a rep of three plays and two readings, many of which began their life at that theatre as early as 1982. THREE BITES OF THE APPLE will run October 18 – 30; Tuesday – Saturday @ 8:00 p.m.; Sundays @ 3:00 p.m. Performing where it all began at The American Theatre of Actors, 314 W 54th St, New York City. Email JMAE.Events@gmail.com for tickets and additional information.

ABOUT THE PLAYS:

Coulda Woulda Shoulda – Liebowitz’s flagship play, celebrated with awards and a legit off-Broadway contract run in 1997, depicts the last few weeks in the life of degenerate gambler Allie Neiterman. A character based on his father.

Bus Ride Home – finds two elderly Brooklynites on their home from Atlantic City exploring their dysfunctional lives. Based on a true story (taken from actual dialogue overheard on a bus ride home from Atlantic City by Liebowitz).

Grande Grande – pits a young lesbian medical student and an angry old man awaiting the passing of someone dear to him in a clash of ages, ideologies, morals, and emotions.

STAGED READINGS:

Final Final – as the United States Postal Services approaches extinction, Liebowitz wrote this one act [pardon the pun] love letter to them.

Freakin’ Giuliani – A one-act play dedicated to the man who forgot 911.

Select members of some of the original companies return to their roles as well as new young artists. Liebowitz’ play “Wisdom That Men Seek” is currently in development as a feature film; his books of essays on sports and 1985 are currently on sale, as is his play anthology. For decades his works appeared off-off Broadway and in festivals including The Fringe, Midtown International Theatre Festival, Samuel French, LoveCreek, and Genesis Repertory’s King New Works Series.

We asked Mr. L a few questions… that’s how we know he’s still angry.

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

I wrote it because the world needs to know what a wretched repugnant activity gambling is.

What do you want most in your chosen profession?

Acknowledgment from this profession

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

Yes, its all I can do.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

Cab driver or a bookmaker.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

I want history to remember me as a kind, thoughtful person and a decent dad.

Last words? 

If you don’t have dreams, you have nightmares.

 

A Good JOINT Effort

Review by C.B. Murray

THE JOINT is a part of the Theater for the New City Dream Up Festival. Written by Curtis D. Jones, Music and Lyrics by Timothy Graphenreed and Directed and Choreographed by Kenneth L. Roberson. There are some extremely talented seasoned professionals in this AEA Showcase who provide us with intimacy, laughter and a couple of show stopping moments.

Crystal Joy (Corrida) shines above all as the gifted daughter of a preacher searching to find her own way as a singer.

Sheila K. Davis (Queen) is captivating providing one of the show stopping moments in a duet with veteran performer Lee Summers (Hank).

There are some wonderful moments from Brenda Braxton, Richard E. Waits, Erick Pinnick and Albert Christmas.

The story written by Mr. Jones like many of his characters is peripatetic yet it never finds its way. This plot is very familiar with conflicts that are too predictable and resolves that have not been earned. The music by Mr. Graphenreed is unfinished. He has provided us with a couple of fun production numbers and pretty choruses but the arrangements are again too recognizable. Mr. Roberson finds a way to keep the show moving despite its apparent holes. I like the theme of this festival: Dream Up.

The Joint has potential. Showcases are meant to introduce new ideas for plays and musicals that have gone through a series of processes that will allow it to be presented in its best light. I believe The Joint may have missed or skipped a few steps in the process. It’s a good idea but it needs and deserves a chance to germinate behind closed doors with many incarnations of the script and music before being presenting again prematurely.

Pat Stirs Up a TEMPEST with Identity Theater

Pat Dwyer, currently in rehearsal for Identity Theater’s production of The Tempest (Performances run: Fri. @ 8:00 pm • Sat. @ 2:00 & 8:00 pm • Sun. @ 3:00 pm at The Underground Theater of El Barrio’s Artspace, 215 E. 99th Street, NYC) is no stranger to works of the Bard. He was The Ghost in The Shakespeare Forum’s inaugural production, Hamlet opposite Tyler Moss, as well as appearing is The New York Shakespeare Exchange staging of Much Ado About Nothing. He also created the role of General Haywood Hansell in Douglas Lackey’s Daylight Precision; played Hugh for Mother of Invention’s Look Homeward Angel (Dir. Austin Pendleton).

patdwyerheadshotOuterStage will be reviewing this production, presented by the courage Identity theater, so we thought we’d take a moment to get to know one of their actors.  

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you? 

For me what drives me in my acting work are the other people acting around and with me. Working with other actors and experimenting to see what kind of behavior comes out of us playing off each other is the real magic.  When it is really happening it’s like fantastic JAZZ.

Tell us about the play

Well it’s about a man named Antonio whose evil sorcerer brother HAD to be banished along with his infant daughter, because… hey she might be a witch. Anyway…

Tempest is a real romance. At the heart of the show is a golden thread of love.  Love of a father for a daughter, love of two young people who NEED to be together, love of family both by blood and by circumstance. Prospero takes the opportunity to bring his loved ones together and to make a match for his daughter that will set her amongst the rulers of his homeland. It is also his chance to settle some scores with those who betrayed him including his own brother Antonio.

How you are approaching your characters?

Antonio is the “villain” of the piece but it’s important to me to not play him villainous. My Approach is to simply be a man who wants what he wants and will do whatever it takes to get it. He is motivated by his drives and passions and simply wants to remove the obstacles to the power he seeks. His relationship with Sebastian is key to all this and he can use that relationship to manipulate Sebastian. Until the end of the play he is unaware that his brother survived his betrayal and that there will be payment for his sins.

 

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do? 

Apparently. I’ve failed at everything else.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do? 

Well if I could chose, I would like to create things… I think to compose music is a true gift from the Heavens.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

Not at all. I don’t want the responsibility.

Last words? 

I am so having my life altered by working with this wonderful company. It pleases me no end to work on a beautiful story with gifted people. I believe in Identity’s mission and am proud to be a small part of fulfilling it at this moment in time.

 

Triple Threat Tim and the Premiere of “Comfort in Silence”

Timothy Patrick Walsh: Actor, Artistic Director of StreetLamp Productions, and Playwright of the new work, Comfort in Silence (A Coming of Age Story for Forty Somethings), part at the American Theatre of Actors’ 41 season. The ATA is located at 314 West 54th Street, between 8th and 9th avenues in NYC.

Comfort in Silence
Preview: Thursday, September 22 @ 7:00pm (special preview price $15)
Opening: Friday, September 23 @ 7:00pm
Running: Saturday, September 24 @ 3 & 7pm
Sunday, September 25 @ 3pm (ASL Interpreted) & 7pm
Thursday, September 29 & Friday, September 30 @ 7pm
Saturday, October 1 @ 3 pm (ASL Interpreted) & 7 pm
Sunday, October 2 @ 3 pm

We chatted with Tim before things got crazy for him with his impending opening.

tim-headshot

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

Seeing great work by amazing artists. When I see a performance that moves me emotionally, either makes me cry or laugh. When it effects me at a deeper level…emotionally or spiritually…I think…”Yea…I want to do that!…I want to move people!”

Tell us about The Play – Comfort In Silence (A Coming of Age Story for Forty Somethings)

In Comfort in Silence, three friends since high school, have spent their lives wearing masks to run and hide from their inner fears and insecurities (fighting adulthood every step of the way). Now, in their forties, they are faced with the decision of finally growing up and embracing a path of love, forgiveness and true happiness.

Patty, Stevie, and Mary have been best friends forever. They have shared everything with each other but, no matter how well you think you know a person… you never really knows what goes on behind closed doors. Each have battled, suppressed, or just ignored issues that have consciously or subconsciously held them back from living a complete, loving, fulfilled lives … instead of the superficial, alcohol-induced existences they have come to accept. It all began when Patty went to a shrink.
Why did you write it?

This story came out of a conversation I had with a close friend on a road trip a few years ago.  We grew up together and were now in our 40’s. We started talking about different friends that we grew up with and realizing that you really don’t know everything about a person, no matter how close you think you are. On the outside, they are always laughing, smiling…a perfect life…But behind closed doors…there is pain, things they don’t share even with the ones closest to them. We all have our little insecurities, private pain but others have deep emotional scars that are held and kept locked away inside, running from them, burying them deep inside…so deep that we forget about them. This is a story about how holding onto pain can manifest itself in destructive ways (heavy drinking, sleeping around, creating a false identity…) and how, finally, facing those demons, can be freeing and opening yourself up to an amazing, fulfilling life full of success and love.

How about you as an actor… how do approach your characters?

Patty has been hurt so deeply and has a strong sense of betrayal. He has been carrying around a lifetime of guilt. He feels as if he is responsible for all the pain, unhappiness, anger and the fate of those he didn’t trust to be honest with. “If only I was strong enough…”  There is a lot of anger in Patty and it would be so easy, as an actor, to fall into the trap of acting ‘ANGRY’ with each line. But, Patty has become a Master at hiding his true feelings and masking them with either drinking, losing himself in work or creating an imagined lifestyle full of love.

I approach this role trying to find a fine balance of portraying his inner anger and guilt with that of a ‘normal’ person who just wants to make some minor adjustments in his life.

What do you want most in your chosen profession?

To be able to make a living as an Actor. To have the respect and admiration from colleagues as well as those who pay to sit in the audience. To create work that move people emotionally and spiritually….oh…and yea….fame and fortune would be nice.

 

Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

I was born for this…As long as I can remember, before I even could name what ‘it’ was…I knew I was/am meant to be an actor.

Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?

I would become an ASL Interpreter and bring Deaf children and hearing children together and teach them all about Theatre and Acting.

How do you want [legit] history to remember you?

He was one of my bestest friends who could always make me laugh.

Last words? 

Not yet….

 

Debriefing Worthy of Discussion

Version 2How far would you go to prove your loyalty?

Version 2

 

This is one of the themes from the production of “Debriefing” at the 2016 Summer Fringe Festival. The play works on how undercover operations can go awry when the covert agent’s cover is blown, due to inadequate Intel gathering. It starts with Agent Handler Reed (well-played by Andrew Rothkin), debriefing one of his agents Aliya, (brilliantly played by Nazil Sarpkaya) on her recent visit to Afghanistan where she attended the funeral of her relative and to gather Intel on operatives in the Islamic Caliphate.

Director Joan Kane obviously understood what the dynamic between Reed and Aliya should be, creating what seemed to be very much in the line of most Secret Agency scenarios. It was believable, even at times seemed more like a father and daughter dynamic. Rothkin and Sarpkaya were obviously highly comfortable with each other and the source material. A bit more volume would have been beneficial but all in all the first act of the drama moved well.

Kane’s direction provided fine staging, but was particularly strong in creating powerful relationships between the characters. The level of identifiability and commiseratory feelings obviously came from an adept hand.

 

Act II shined from the onset with the actors center stage for a high energy debriefing interrogation scene. Sarpkaya was especially compelling in recounting, in anguish, treating a fatally wounded teenage male combatant at the hospital while she was in the IC. Sarpkaya swift changing from in the now to flashback was done with the grace of a well-trained acrobat. Wonderful range of emotion and control Sarpkaya used was well-placed and necessary for her characters portrayal.

pageclements_as-finchandrewrothkin_asreed2

Page Clements portrayal of Director Finch, was very much spot-on as a high positioned Director of Homeland Security. The bottom line of protecting the American “children” from the beheading of the IC, was truly believable and at times could feel deplorable to anyone that has not been in a situation where they have to make a drastic decision that means life and death of an agent. She possesses such aplomb and talent that comes with a well- thought out character development and training.

nazlisarpkayaasaliyaadeelahmedaswaleed4Adeel Ahmed, playing a senior covert agent, was well was truly compelling – enough so that there should have been more of him. His character felt more plot devise than persona.

Andrew Rothkin’s performance as Agent Reed, was a hard one to describe at first glance. But as the show progressed, Rothkin gave Reed a deep conflicted nature. One for doing his job and the other were feelings to protect Aliya and promised to bring her back home. He was very much the glue for the play and close in nature to the audience. One can associate with him easily during the whole production.

Overall, “Debriefing” leaves the audience with great fodder for discussion. One this is for certain, the play, like the drone airstrike survival story, is now ejected onto the world. We expect it to make a powerful impact in the future.