Today, the Arts are a “Life & Death” Situation

Laurie Rae Waugh and the American Theater of Actors have been part of the off-off Broadway movement for decades. She began her career at the historic AIDS benefit honoring Michael Bennett in the early 80s, and the ATA is one of the last of the historic theaters of the movement. Once a skyline that included Caffe Cino, LaMama, 13th Street Repertory Theater, Theatre Genesis, the Judson Poets’ Theater, New York Theatre Ensemble, The Old Reliable, The Dove Company, The Playwrights Workshop, and Workshop of the Players Art (WPA); now only a few remain.

Laurie latest work at the ATA are two works looking at life and death through decisions we make or made. Her cast of power-players spoke out about indie art in this “new world.”




“The more freedoms are suppressed, the more people need to express themselves. The arts allow you to transcend restrictive politics. If the endowments to the arts and humanities are rescinded, there will hopefully be enough patrons to support the arts from private funds.”  … Amy Losi






“I believe that indie theatre will continue to thrive. As long as there are writers who want to write and Actors who want to work on their craft and develop their instrument, coupled with the fact that this group works for free, Independent Theater will continue.”    …Anthony Gallo








“I think Independent Theater will be kept alive and relevant, by those who continue to have a passion for theater. I am afraid that some independent theater companies may fall by the wayside, in the current environment, but I also believe that the current environment will inspire others to get into theater to have their voice heard.”   …Ken Coughlin








“I think now more than ever, artists will try and create more independent theater as a way to be heard but will likely lack bigger venues for production. Also, if the government lessens or removes art funding, a lot of mid-size theaters that benefited from government subsidies, will become more independent with less original productions and, probably, will lean more of classics to bring people in to make the bottom line in their budget.” 
 … Eugene Kopman



“We are in a period of crisis but I believe we will prevail. Many artist’s worst fears are coming true.

The fight is on.”  

… James Crafford



John T. on LL running now at the ATA


Leaving Lannahassee opened this past weekend to raves. We wanted to grab one of the lead actors for a quick chat about the arts before they began their second weekend. 

A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, John T. Lewis worked numerous plays, obligatory TV projects, and independent films. Among his favorites are Cahoots at Primary Stages, The Service Project with the Drilling Company and Straight Man at Virginia’s Mill Mt. Theater … and of course, his current success.



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

“I’ve always been drawn to projects and stories that provoke thought, make you feel uncomfortable. Not in a twisted, depraved way. But, one that inspires, rouses emotion and elevates the human condition.”

What do you want most in your chosen profession?

“I’ve always seen myself as both an actor and writer. To me they are one in the same, viable outlets of expression. I continue to be inspired by the likes of Jason Miller, Tracy Letts and Danai Gurira – all successful actors and writers.

Last words?

“Make sure you leave a little piece of you up on stage.”


Stephen Wagner is scary-good

Commanding in Lynn Navarra’s LEAVING LANNAHASSEE, opening at the American Theater of Actors this week, Stephen Wagner is a triple threat… actor/writer/director. All these parts come together in his current film project, a short horror film entitled “Mary.”
… and he’s in mental institution on this play. OK, so Steve, give us a few thoughts?
“I’m inspired by people. The human condition fascinates me. In all it’s facets and intricacies throughout human history. In my profession, I want the freedom to explore and create in subjects that I find interesting.”
Any last words?
“Cut. Print.”
Veeeerrrryyyy funny.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow in 2017

A Bob Greene Rant

It’s a new world, Golde, a new world …. love.

This line from Fiddler on the Roof was meant to garner laughs, but there and now, nearly a generation into the 21st Century, it can be that much more pungent.

The homosexual character on stage and screen is starting to mature. We see relationships in plays, films, and television becoming de rigueur in general plots; gay-marriage also is simply written in and not a political hot spot. But the biggie is now villains and murders are gay. That’s gotta mean something!

David Beck is the creator of Spring Street – The Webseries, premiering on a mobile device or computer near you this March.  It is the first major project under his company The Great Griffon, which aims to shatter gender and LGBTQ stereotypes.  His new on-stage reading series Seeking the Queer Voice, tells identifiable stories of the human condition. The premiere reading is The Phillie Trilogy, winner of the Scrap Mettle Arts Inaugural Playwrights Program Competition last year, written by celebrated playwright Doug Devita.

Phillie follows Philip McDougal, through three interconnecting stories … actions of the priests and nuns entrusted with our education; the taunting of schoolmates; parental suspicions; or the realization that a best friend since childhood may not be the person thought to be … we learn of Philip’s journey discovering his sexuality. The Phillie Trilogy by Doug DeVita, directed by James Phillip Gates will be presented at 13th Street Repertory Theater at 8:00 p.m. with an informal meet & greet following the reading. Admission is free but donations are encouraged. RSVP to as space is limited.

Producer and playwright weighed in on what it means to be a gay character today.




Today, with the rise of white supremacy, stories that reflect the discrimination against the LGBTQ community are crucial, but isn’t reflecting the LGBTQ community as every day humans going through universal struggles a more powerful way of changing others’ mindset?  In truth, we are all human beings and we are going on the same journey.  The Great Griffon aims to highlight what we have in common.   






img_08541DOUG DEVITA

What is a gay character today, anyway? Sexuality, both onstage and off, is just one part of the incredibly complex human condition; onstage it has the added advantage of helping tell the story the playwright wants to tell. In the late 60s the men in Mart Crowley’s groundbreaking The Boys In The Band were defined by their bitchy gayness, but even a cursory reading reveals characters who are in pain, trapped by the convention of their era and desperately trying to survive by any means possible, just like everyone else in the late 60s (and 70s, 80s, 90s,); by the early 80s, Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy portrayed the protagonist, Arnold Beckoff, as simply a human being who happens to be gay, living his life and looking for the same thing everyone else wants – love and acceptance – with humor and profound heart. The importance of Fierstein’s brilliant work in establishing gay characters on stage as “normal” (whatever that is) in every respect, and the affect both of these plays have had ever since, is often overlooked these days; it is doubtful that without either of these works, what used to be termed “gay theater” would have morphed into what it is and should be: just “Theater.” And given what is happening in this country right now, it is vitally important that “gay characters” continue to be written simply as “characters.” Just like you, me, and the GOP.