Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Plays and Playwrights 2009: See the Plays Live!

For the first time ever in the ten-year history of publishing our Plays and Playwrights anthologies, audiences and readers will have the opportunity to see two of the plays in our current volume on stage in New York City, right at the time that the book will be released!

Krapp, 39, written and performed by Michael Laurence, is currently running at SoHo Playhouse. Here's some of what I say about this remarkable solo play in the introduction to Plays and Playwrights 2009:
The premise of Krapp, 39 is that an actor decides to record the monologue from the Beckett play on his 39th birthday, with the intention of using this recording in his own production of Krapp’s Last Tape when he is 69 (the age of the character in Krapp’s Last Tape). This does not actually happen in Krapp, 39, however; instead Laurence’s play takes the shape of an elaborate archivist’s birthday ritual, in which said actor looks back on the artifacts of his life (journals, photos, recordings) and videotapes himself in the act.

It feels intensely personal and genuine, though in fact it is brimming with artifice and turns out to be startlingly universal. Who, as middle age approaches and youth vanishes, does not examine their own story so far? Who does not at least suspect that failure is the only legacy he or she will leave behind?

You can find details about the current engagement of Krapp, 39 here.

Rick Burkhardt's Conversation Storm will be at the Interborough Repertory Theatre from February 3 - 15. It plays on a double bill with Burkhardt's brilliant percussion piece Great Hymn of Thanksgiving. Burkhardt co-stars with Ryan Higgins and Andy Gricevich, his colleagues in The Nonsense Company. Here's a bit about Conversation Storm, again from the Plays and Playwrights 2009 introduction:
This, it turns out, is a play about torture, and the rationalizations for torture. And it is, at the same time, itself an act of torture, at least of a kind. Burkhardt understands the power of language, and though Conversation Storm consists only of words, it is as brutal and horrifying a theatre experience as any I’ve encountered.

It is also elegant, almost classically so; darkly funny in places; utterly surprising yet oh so carefully constructed. Two men have a hypothetical discussion about when it might or might not be justifiable to torture someone in the interest of national security. A third man alternately mediates, participates, and interrupts. Somehow, before the brief single act of this play is finished, everyone onstage has been compromised irreparably. And everyone in the audience has been implicated in the carnage.

There's more info about Conversation Storm's upcoming NYC run here; plus there's a brand new interview with Rick Burkhardt (written by nytheatre mike) here.

So, that's two out of the 11 plays in Plays and Playwrights 2009, being presented live with their original casts/productions, right here in NYC! It's a thrill for us--the book should be in our hands sometime in February. Here's a chance for folks to see first-hand what made us so eager to publish these two extraordinary plays.

Finally: I should note that on Monday, February 2, Tim Collins--whose play A Fire as Bright as Heaven is also in Plays and Playwrights 2009--will be performing a brief excerpt of that play at the final staged reading in the 11 Celebrates 10 Series. That event is at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre at 7:30pm on Feb 2, and it's absolutely free! There's more info on Facebook.

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