Did you know that Snickers is gluten-free....(whenever you are trying to justify the ordinary munchies)? Or that death enjoys a cup of tea.....(when visiting your home for that final salute)?
This and, oh, so much more, the audience learned at the New York New Works Theatre Festival that premiered from August 20th till September 9th. The destination for these two weeks was The Times Square Arts Center where theater enthusiasts were able to witness the birth of a fabulous cross section of tomorrow's Broadway shows. The festival promoted new writing, directing, and performing talents from all over the country.
The beauty of this very unique theater experience was the immediate involvement of the crowds that came to watch, enjoy, and appraise theater in the making. NYNW Director Gene Fisch, Jr. describes the intentions of the festival, "We wanted to make a difference.
Our intent was to create a legitimate theater festival that incorporated the Broadway community into an environment that truly supported talented writers at little cost for the participants. Essentially, this is the first festival of its kind and we're thrilled to be helping make the dreams of Broadway and T.V.'s next generation of writers become realities. This is your shot."
It also depicted a new endeavor for organizer -- not to mention actress, director, and mentor --Gabby Creery, and was furthermore a very personal engagement. "Mentoring writers has become my passion. A mentor made a major difference in my life. A writer friend read my blogs and saw something more in them than just a lot of random observations.
He edited them into a one woman show that changed my life, personally and professionally." The opportunity Creery was offered by her friend, she wanted to pass on to new talents within the theater world, because giving people a break, and helping others succeed, is also part of the New York City experience. "This is what we want to do for artists. We want to change lives by offering the venue, the stage, and the connections that can make a difference... and a challenge for artists to not just dream... but live the dream...make the dream your reality!"
The night of August 27th was sold out within the blink of an eye, where five different plays of various lengths were presented. After watching them all, making a choice which piece to advance seemed very difficult, as every single one of them covered such a uniquely different aspect of the theater and performing world -- both in terms of technique as well as storytelling. At the end of the night, the members of the audience had two votes each.
The evening opened with Paul M. Bauer's short play Stick 'Em Up (Or Not), a nightly dialogue between a woman and her armed predator about living -- and ultimately -- letting live. The discussion takes place at a cemetery, starring Chris B. Flowers and Yvonne Hernandez.
Mr. Bauer's piece was followed by Woosical, a light, musical take on the sometimes sensitive subject of self-acceptance, wonderfully tailored by Kristen Tumminello and Kelley Birney, performed by Joshua Dixon, Vicky Modica and Mike Rickles.
Sleeping with Earrings On, caused storms of enthusiasm. The all-woman play made a strong statement on the matter of gay marriage, describing the universal magic that is unconditional love. Kerri Kenny, Amy Rutledge, Sue Caro, Noelle LuSane, Stephanie Iscovitz, and Jaclyn Gramigna stole everyone's heart.
Jonathan Green's Mr. Daniels was an elegant recall of a man's life, who's motto might as well have been, "Regrets I Had a Few." The one act play is a wonderful tale of human recollection and the encounter with finitude, performed by Stephen Bradbury and Luke Hofmaier.
In a way, Jordan Bean's Since I've Been Here, plays and integrates all the above mentioned themes. The short drama described the struggle of a young couple trying to identify themselves, their surroundings, every day values, and the love that brought them together, and on top of all -- the daily discovery of the metropolis, New York City.
Twenty plays and six solo shows graced the festival in its first year. Plays reached the jurors from all across the United States, Woosical from Alabama, to The World is a Monster from California. Several shows made it across the Hudson from Jersey City including Paul Bauer´s Stick 'Em Up (Or Not), as well as many shows from New York and Long Island.
The festival ran the full variety in age range, as well. One show Straight, was written by Sarah E. Taylor, a Long Island University college student while others, such as Death of The Dollar by Michael Maher were written by seasoned professionals.
The plays and the writers represented diverse cultural backgrounds. Quiet Wind by Kim Snyder delved into life on the Reservation and her Native American ancestry. Wabugu by Eleanor Bullock described a British-African conflict that results in loss of life and liberty for an African village. An equal mix of male and female writers was promoted through the festival.
The panel consisted of a selection of renowned Broadway producers and Emmy Award winners, who reviewed all of the submissions and ultimately chose the twenty-six pieces that would move forward into the festival. They also attended and reviewed every single performance during the festival.
The best plays of the season will be crowned on September 9th with a final show. And the winners of 2014 are, Wabugu by Eleanor Bullock, Fly Home In My Dreams by Jason Furlani, Woosical by Kristen Tumminello & Kelley Birney, Death of the Dollar by Michael Maher, Mr. Daniels by Jonathan Green, Sleeping With Earrings On by Stephanie Iscovitz & Kerry Kenny.
The NYNW theater festival showcases exquisite quality and talent - and depicts a marvelous addition to New York City's ever revolving theater scene, for years to come.
Visibly happy after another night of great performances, NYNW Director Gene Fisch, Jr. and General Manager Gabby Creery.