Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Out to Lunch with the American Badass

Last night was great: I attended the kickoff of No. 11's Productions' Plays and Playwrights reading series at Under St. Marks. What a terrific night!

The centerpiece of the evening was a staged reading of Joseph Langham's edgy satire Out to Lunch. Julie Congress directed a fine cast that included Mitchell Conway, Ryan Emmons, Samantha Hooper-Hamersly, Adam Lerman, Sarah Stephens, Zachary Fithian, and Joel Bovev. Kudos to all for bringing Langham's hilarious play to life.

After the reading, I got to moderate a talkback with Joseph, which was a true pleasure. I haven't seen this play since its premiere at the 2002 New York International Fringe Festival, and unfortunately I haven't seen Joseph that many times since then either (because he spent several years touring the country doing Shakespeare). Joseph talked to the audience about his inspiration for this play--working as a waiter at a restaurant in Texas, in particular. He also noted that a university in Frostburg, Maryland produced Out to Lunch after it was published, and how interesting it had been for him to see a production that he was not personally involved with.

Joseph told me that he's written a 36-character Western (in verse) -- so all you quixotic producers out there, here's your chance to premiere the next Langham classic.

We ended the evening by introducing one of the playwrights who will be featured in the next volume of the Plays and Playwrights series (that would be Plays and Playwrights 2009, due out next February). The playwright is Chris Harcum, and his play is called American Badass, or 12 Characters in Search of a National Identity. Chris is a very talented solo artist (he premiered American Badass at FRIGID New York last February); he's also a contributor to nytheatre.com.

Plays and Playwrights 2004 alumnus Tom X. Chao (Cats Can See the Devil) was also in the house. So I had three playwrights in the room with me, which always makes me happy.

Speaking of Plays and Playwrights 2009, by the way, lucky folks in Williamstown, Massachusetts will have a chance to see another of the plays that will be included in that volume: Tim Collins's excellent solo play A Fire as Bright as Heaven is part of the Dialogue One Theatre Festival on November 22 at the Centre for Theatre and Dance at Williams College. All the info is here. Just before Tim's show is a performance of John Clancy & Matt Oberg's The Event (hear a podcast about that show) --so this sounds like a terrific afternoon of amazing theatre (and it proves that those folks at Williams College have excellent taste).

No. 11's next reading events will be on November 17th at The Chocolate Factory in Long Island City -- Margie Stokley's Elephant from Plays and Playwrights 2005; followed the very next night by a reading of Daniel Reitz's Fall Forward from Plays and Playwrights 2008 at Metropolitan Playhouse. Can't wait! (Here's No. 11 Productions' website.)

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