Thursday, December 20, 2012

...on earth peace, goodwill toward men...

"They'll Vote With Potter Otherwise!"

Kristy, Bailey, and I are about done for 2012. We’re so excited to be going away for the holiday! It’s been a great year for us, and there’s so much work to still be done, but we’re extremely ready for a vacation and chance to rest. We’re looking forward to spending this holiday season with our family and friends, and we hope that you’re in a position to do the same. Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! …on earth peace, goodwill toward men… From our home to yours… We’ll be in touch again in 2013! All the best to you and yours!

“, not every part of Marx’s theory has proved true.” OR HAS IT?

“Marx thought that with the development of capitalism, the capitalist and working class would become increasingly antagonistic (something he referred to as class struggle). As class conflicts became more intense, the two classes would become more polarized, with the petty bourgeoisie becoming deprived of their property and dropping into the working class. This analysis is still reflected in contemporary questions about whether the classes are becoming more polarized, with the rich getting richer and everyone else worse off, as we have seen...
     Why do people support such a system? Here is where ideology plays a role. Ideology refers to belief systems that support the status quo. According to Marx, the dominant ideas of a society are promoted by the ruling class. Through their control of the communications industries in modern society, the ruling class is able to produce ideas that buttress their interests.
     Much of Marx’s analysis boils down to the consequences of a system based on the pursuit of profit. If goods were exchanged at the cost of producing them, no profit would be produced. Capitalist owners want to sell commodities for more than their actual value-more than the cost of producing them, including materials and labor. Because workers contribute value to the system and capitalists extract value, Marx saw capitalist profit as the exploitation of labor. Marx believed that as profits became increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few capitalists, the working class would become increasingly dissatisfied. The basically exploitative character of capitalists, according to Marx, would ultimately lead to its destruction as workers organized to overthrow the rule of the capitalist class. Class conflict between workers and capitalists, he argued, was inescapable, with revolution being the inevitable result. Perhaps the class revolution that Marx predicted has not occurred, but the dynamics of capitalism that he analyzed are unfolding before us.
     At the time Marx was writing, the middle class was small and consisted mostly of small business owners and managers. Marx saw the middle class as dependent on the capitalist class, but exploited by it, because the middle class did not own the means of production. He saw middle-class people as identifying with the interests of the capitalist class because of the similarity in their economic interests and their dependence on the capitalist system. Marx believed that the middle class failed to work in its own best interests because it falsely believed that it benefited from capitalist arrangements. Marx thought that in the long run the middle class would pay for their misplaced faith when profits became increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few and more and more of the middle class dropped into the working class. Because he did not foresee the emergence of the large and highly differentiated middle class we have today, not every part of Marx’s theory has proved true. Still, his analysis provides a powerful portrayal of the forces of capitalism and the tendency for wealth to belong to a few, whereas the majority work only to make ends meet. He has also influenced the lives of billions of people under self-proclaimed Marxist systems that were created in an attempt, however unrealized, to overcome the pitfalls of capitalist society...
     Conflict theory also sees society as a social system, but unlike functionalism, conflict theory interprets society as being held together through conflict and coercion. From a conflict-based perspective, society comprises competing interest groups, some with more power than others. Different groups struggle over societal resources and compete for social advantage. Conflict theorists argue that those who control society’s resources also hold power over others. The powerful are also likely to act to reproduce their advantage and try to shape societal beliefs to make their privileges appear to be legitimate and fair. In sum, conflict theory emphasizes the friction in society rather than the coherence and sees society as dominated by elites.
     From the perspective of conflict theory, derived largely from the work of Karl Marx, social stratification is based on class conflict and blocked opportunity. Conflict theorists see stratification as a system of domination and subordination in which those with the most resources exploit and control others. They also see the different classes as in conflict with each other, with the unequal distribution of rewards reflecting the class interests of the powerful, not the survival needs of the whole society (Eitzen and Baca Zinn 2010). According to the conflict perspective, inequality provides elites with the power to distribute resources, make and enforce laws, and control value systems; elites use these powers in ways that reproduce inequality. Others in the class structure, especially the working class and the poor, experience blocked mobility.
     Conflict theorists argue that the consequences of inequality are negative. From a conflict point of view, the more stratified a society, the less likely that society will benefit from the talents of its citizens; inequality limits the life chances of those at the bottom, preventing their talents from being discovered and used. To the waste of talent is added the restriction of human creativity and productivity.”
sociology the essentials
by Margaret L. Andersen and Howard F. Taylor

, Mr. Neumann discussed the turning point of his theatrical life:

"In a 1979 interview, Mr. Neumann discussed the turning point of his theatrical life: “Somebody by the name of James Joyce — not the James Joyce — hauled me off on Jan. 3, 1953, to the Théâtre de Babylone,” he recalled. “It was the first performance of ‘Waiting for Godot.’ ”"


Frederick Neumann, Actor, Director and Interpreter of Beckett, Dies at 86

They're gambling with our lives.

"Few people, if any, in Washington expected the two sides to show their hands so early. If nothing else, the president and House Republicans have strong incentives to fight, or at least look like they are fighting, right up until the last minute to convince their respective liberal and conservative bases that they resisted as long as possible whatever concessions they ultimately decide to make."


In Latest Campaign, Obama Takes Deficit Battle to the Public

"Now we're going back to the rich and the poor."

“There wasn’t a middle class in the history of the United States before the unions,” said Gerald Florkowski, a retired assembly line worker from General Motors who drove from his home near Flint when he heard about the legislative push. “It was just the rich and the poor,” he said. “Now we’re going back to the rich and the poor.”


Bills Placing Limits on Unions Advance in Michigan Legislature

By and

...always grilled me to make sure I hadn't lost my integrity;

"Stella always grilled me to make sure I hadn’t lost my integrity; she considered this a major problem for the American artist. I wonder what she would have said about the almost total materialism of our current era?"


American Theater

‘Stella Adler on America’s Master Playwrights’

", she is a wildly exciting lover-mistress,"

"How striking is this: “E and I were going to make love in the afternoon and while cleaning herself on the bidet, she began to bleed from her bumsie. And I mean BLEED. . . . I searched E’s bumsy very often to check up on its progress. It is an extraordinary thing to look up . . . and to do it not with lust or sex in mind, but with love.” “I have been inordinately lucky all my life but the greatest luck of all has been Elizabeth. She has turned me into a moral man but not a prig, she is a wildly exciting lover-mistress,” etc. The glowing rest is too long to quote."


Burton on Burton

‘The Richard Burton Diaries,’ Edited by Chris Williams

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Michael Thomas Cain Gets A Mention For His Contributions To The Westchester Collaborative Theater.

Michael Thomas Cain gets a mention for his contributions to the Westchester Collaborative Theater

From Westchester to NYC. New York Regional Theater’s Burgeoning Westchester Collaborative Theater

WCT Program, 2012 Winterfest of  Ten Minute Plays
WCT Program, 2012 Winterfest of Ten Minute Plays

Regional Theater is the engine that drives original theatrical productions and puts them on the map, moving them toward greatness. If new plays are nurtured and developed with love, effort and artistry,  eventually they may be shepherded to Broadway. This is especially true if the theatrical group has an esprit de corps and inspired guide to watch over the flock of artists and their offerings. The beauty of such non profit theater is that there are no chains shackling its creativity.  Without the pressures of time and money weighing heavily upon it, the best regional theaters make the most of their incredible opportunity to experiment, innovate and collaborate with a fluid mix of playwrights, actors and directors.

This has been the case with Westchester Collaborative Theater, established in 2011 in Ossining, New York. Within the span of barely two short years, this regional theater group’s productivity has burgeoned like Jack’s magical beanstalk. WCT has produced Winterfest 2011 and Winterfest 2012.  These events included a number of Ten Minute Plays, original offerings by WCT member playwrights…world premiers, acted and directed by professionals and aspirants. With a variety of individuals at the ready, a spirit of generous camaraderie infuses openness and flexibility not regularly accessible in the closed atmosphere of stuffy professional theater which is hesitant to take risks.

Campbell Scott, award winning actor and director, was a guest artist in November.
Campbell Scott, award winning actor and director, was a guest artist in November.

A blessing for WCT is its proximity to New York City, the theater hub of the world. Guest artists who live in the area, like comedian Robert Klein (last year) and in November of this year, well known actor and filmmaker Campbell Scott, are able to share their talent and expertise and serve as an inspiration to veteran performers and engaged newbees. The atmosphere at WCT is creative and non threatening, the overriding risk of lousy box office receipts absent. WCT thrives on donations, grants and the good will of patrons and the surrounding community. It is a labor of love won by the efforts of dedicated individuals like Executive Director, Alan Lutwin, who adore live theater and the living moments of performance art.

This year’s Winterfest follows on the heels of a productive year for the  Westchester Collaborative Theater which included the scheduled Summerfest of One-Act play readings, monthly LAB with developmental readings and talk backs about select playwrights’ works in progress and a full length play reading. As a result of WCT’s labs, playwright/director Michael Thomas Cain was able to develop his play and present Enough’s Enough at La MaMa E.T.C. in NYC as part of the 2012 NY International Fringe Festival.

The works-in progress initiative for playwrights, directors and actors has been exciting. Each week guest artists with years of experience in the entertainment industry engaged in readings and talk backs. In November award winning actor and director, Campbell Scott (Victor Geddes with Julia Roberts in Dying Young and the protagonist of David Mamet’s The Spanish Prisoner, Co-director of the award winning film, The Big Night with Stanley Tucci) performed a reading of The Wife and the Widow Next Store by Richard Manichello. The playwright, screenwriter, actor, poet (penned the award winning Choices of the Heart for television) who wrote Agnes of God, John Pielmeier (he also wrote the screenplay for the film Agnes of God) was another guest artist in November who shared his experiences and contributions to the theater and television community.

WCT Director, Alan Lutwin, introduces the 2012 Winterfest
WCT Director, Alan Lutwin, introduces the 2012 Winterfest

This season’s 2012 Winterfest of Ten Minute Plays included new members, professionals and those whose love of theater, writing, directing and acting have kept them involved in regional theater in the New York City area. Many of the artists’ works have appeared in Drama festivals in New York City and around the nation. Of these, some have been semi-finalists or finalists at the festivals, nominees of major prizes and award winners of other venues.

One such notable is Richard Manichello, 30 years in the entertainment business (actor, producer, Artistic Director of Peekskill Playhouse) and an Emmy Award-winning director and writer of stage, film and television. Manichello directed two plays for the WCT Winterfest. The first was Hooters, written by playwright Gabrielle Fox. Fox’ plays have been produced throughout New York City and the metro region. Manichello also directed Lava Sus Manos by playwright Jess Erick.

Hooters, directed by Richard Manichello, with Jess Erick as Becca and Adam Glatzl as Sammy
Hooters by Gabrielle Fox.  Directed by Richard Manichello, with Jess Erick as Becca and Adam Glatzl as Sammy.
The Hunters by Joe McDonald, Directed by Matthew Silver. Janice Kirkel (left) as Eileen and Lorraine Federico as Rose (
The Hunters by Joe McDonald, Directed by Matthew Silver. Janice Kirkel (left) as Eileen and Lorraine Federico as Rose
New Orleans Playwright's Turtle Soup from White Suits in Summer. Directed by WCT actor and director Elaine Hartel.
New Orleans Playwright, Rosary O’Neill’s Turtle Soup from White Suits in Summer. Directed by WCT actor and director Elaine Hartel.
Turtle Soup: Suzanne Ochs as Lucille (left) and Janice Kirkel as Aunt Jean.
Turtle Soup: Suzanne Ochs as Lucille (left) and Janice Kirkel as Aunt Jean.

Another professional, Rosary O’Neill, whose work was presented at the Winterfest, like Manichello, has weighty career experience and many awards and fellowships under her belt. O’Neill who is from New Orleans is a published/produced playwright (22 published plays) novelist, actor, director and retired Professor of Drama and Speech at Loyola University of New Orleans. The fourth edition of her textbook, The Actor’s Checklist, is used in schools nationwide. O’Neill founded the Southern Repertory Theatre in New Orleans and for many years was its Artistic Director, producing a number of the plays she had written. The comedic 10 minute play “Turtle Soup,” directed by Elaine Hartel (actor and director for WCT and other New York regional theater groups) was excerpted from O’Neil’s semi-autobiographical play about a wealthy family in New Orleans, White Suits in Summer

Snow Birds by Csaba Teglas. Directed by Michael Thomas Cain with Jon Barb and Leslie Smithey
Snow Birds by Csaba Teglas. Directed by Michael Thomas Cain with Jon Barb and Leslie Smithey

For more information about the Westchester Collaborative Theater’s 2012 Winterfest of Ten Minute Plays, the actors, directors and playwrights, or for information about membership in this active regional theater company, check their Facebook page, Westchester Collaborative Theater.

Not pictured, Take One for the Team by Carol Mark. Directed by Joe Albert Lima. With John Barbera as Will, Margie Ferris as Terri and Taku Hirai as Kevin.

Bobbo's Bullet by Wayne Paul Mattingly. Directed by Joe Albert Lima. Left to right, Sara Beth Colten, Femi Alou, Pe'er Klein, Margie Ferris.
Bobbo’s Bullet by Wayne Paul Mattingly. Directed by Joe Albert Lima. Left to right, Sara Beth Colten, Femi Alou, Pe’er Klein, Margie Ferris.
Lava Sus Manos by Jess Erick. Directed by Richard Manichello. From left to right, Femi Alou, Shelley Lerea, Tracey McAllister, Ryan Mallon, Mary Roberts.
Lava Sus Manos by Jess Erick. Directed by Richard Manichello. From left to right, Femi Alou, Shelley Lerea, Tracey McAllister, Ryan Mallon, Mary Roberts.

Friday, November 30, 2012

"Making Up For The Past," written and directed by Michael Thomas Cain.

"Making Up For The Past," written and directed by Michael Thomas Cain, will be performed as part of the 2012 Winterfest of Ten Minute Plays. Michael is also directing "Snow Birds."

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Making Up For The Past" (Written and Directed by Michael Thomas Cain) to be presented in Westchester Collaborative Theater's 2012 Winterfest of Ten Minute Plays.

November/December 2012:

The Westchester Collaborative Theater is presenting 2012 Winterfest of Ten Minute Plays as its final production of the season. The plays in the Winterfest are:

Bobbo’s Bullet By Wayne Mattingly
Hooters By Gabrielle Fox
Lava Sus Manos by Jess Erick
Making Up for the Past By Michael Thomas Cain
Snow Birds By Csaba Teglas
Take One for the Team By Carol Mark
The Hunters By Joe McDonald
Turtle Soup By Rosary O’Neill

WCT members Michael Thomas Cain, Elaine Hartel, Joseph Albert Lima, Richard Manichello and Matthew Silver are directing the plays. Members Femi Alao, Jon Barb, John Barbera, Sara Beth Colten, Jess Erick, Lorraine Federico, Margie Ferris, Adam Glatzl, Taku Hirai, Janice Kirkel, Pe’er Klein, Shelley Lerea, Ryan Mallon, Tracey McAllister, Suzanne Ochs, Mary Roberts, Ron Schnittker, Leslie Smithey and Howard Weintraub are featured in the cast.

The plays will be performed at the Budarz Theater, on the plaza level of the Ossining Public Library, 53 Croton Ave. in Ossining, N.Y. Performances are Friday, December 7th @ 7:30 pm and Saturday, December 8th at 2 pm. A talk back with the playwrights and directors is scheduled following the December 8th performance.

Admission is free, but audience members are encouraged to reserve seats in advance by emailing: with the date and requested number of reservations. There will be open seating for both performances but those making reservations will receive priority seating.

The Westchester Collaborative Theater is a multi‐cultural, cooperative theater company located in Ossining, N.Y, which is solely dedicated to the development of new plays by its member playwrights, actors and directors.

This project was made possible by the Arts Alive program of ArtsWestchester, with funding from the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts.

WCT also acknowledges the support of YCP TheaterWorks in acting as fiscal sponsor for our grant applications and for being a mentor to our Company as we continue to grow.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ionesco Interview in The Paris Review

An intersting and informative Ionesco interview in The Paris Review brings me even more excitement about seeing RHINOCEROS at BAM tonight.

"All right then, you can have your Baudelaire. In the theater, the same thing happened with us—Beckett, Adamov, and myself. We were not far from Sartre and Camus—the Sartre of La Nausée, the Camus of L’Etranger—but they were thinkers who demonstrated their ideas, whereas with us, especially Beckett, death becomes a living evidence, like Giacometti, whose sculptures are walking skeletons. Beckett shows death; his people are in dustbins or waiting for God. (Beckett will be cross with me for mentioning God, but never mind.) Similarly, in my play The New Tenant, there is no speech, or rather, the speeches are given to the Janitor. The Tenant just suffocates beneath proliferating furniture and objects—which is a symbol of death. There were no longer words being spoken, but images being visualized. We achieved it above all by the dislocation of language. Do you remember the monologue in Waiting for Godot and the dialogue in The Bald Soprano? Beckett destroys language with silence. I do it with too much language, with characters talking at random, and by inventing words." -Ionesco

...expect something in return.

Government has their nasty, shiny boot pressed down on our faces; they expect a lot from us and are not very understanding. Why should we not ask, demand, or expect them to look out for us in order to survive. We live under their rule, so we should expect something in return.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Let the artist explore and grow!

For some time now, there has been a lot of talk about playwrights getting caught in development hell. There's something to be said for revision, and I respect that aspect of the writing process. I revise. And I do believe in play development. But if theatre companies and producers are striving for complete perfection (who should judge what is considered perfect?), great voices will not have a chance to be heard and evolve.

Maybe complete perfection in art is not always the way to go. Perhaps, there's something to be said for flawed art and creations as long as it offers a unique perspective on the human condition and provides the audience with something that they are seeking. If the voice satisfies them, isn't that enough?

Who really has the experience and power to know when art is ready for presentation? Who has the right to be hyper-critical and judgemental when an artist exposes their soul? For that matter, who has the right to judge what art is right or correct? What each person likes when it comes to art is a matter of taste.

Is it so wrong to give the artist and audience an opportunity to learn, experience, and grow together without getting in their way? Let the artist and audience develop together. Give an artist the opportunity to grow and develop in front of people. Give the artist a chance to learn what works and doesn't work and apply those lessons to the next piece of art. But times have changed; it's not like that anymore. The buck has become more important than the true development of an artist.

Let it live! Let the art live! Let the artist explore and grow! And let the people decide how they feel about the person and product.

Can we be willing to overlook a couple of flaws, expectations, and inspections? Not everybody is a critic; most everybody is a human being. We, as human beings, produce art and connect with art to become better human being and gain perspective and enjoy. What really matters is that everybody involved goes on a journey and gets something out of it. Right?

...plays that reflect the experiences of a lot of people in this country.

"...I write American plays that reflect the experiences of a lot of people in this country. Or rather, I just write human dramas (usually in a comedic manner) that I hope most people can relate to."

-Yussef El Guindi

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I work on the edge of disaster...

"I work on the edge of disaster a lot, and eventually it turns. It's nerve-wracking because you don't know when that'll happen,"

-Donyale Werle

...transform people's lives.

" can and should transform people's lives."

The Cleveland Connection
September 2012

...I speak to individuals, not crowds.

"I prefer the smaller venues. I speak to individuals, not crowds."

-Athol Fugard

...he fantasized about writing, directing, and designing his own plays, but he "let go of that impulse,...

"Kushner agrees: "I worry about the weakening of my concentration on the tasks of the playwright," he reasons. There is, he confesses, also a pragmatic reason behind this separation of powers. "With the first production of ANGELS IN AMERICA, I surprised myself at how little help I could actually be." In his early days he fantasized about writing, directing and designing his own plays, but he "let go of that impulse, especially as I came to understand that what scenic designers do is really much more difficult than what I naively thought.""

The Scenic Route
by Stuart Miller
July/August 2012

...what theatre could be, and say, and do.

"O'Neill heard particular sounds in his head...both O'Neill and Shakespeare had really gargantuan notions of what theatre could be, and say, and do. The variety of ideas, their richness, the size of their really have to go up the mountain with these guys. And they're always ahead of you. You can't try to reduce them to your level. O'Neill is a genius, no question in my mind. It's really something to get up in the morning and work with a genius."

July/August 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

For me, Sam Shepard starts off the 2012 New York theatre season!

The 2012 New York theatre season is starting, and I have a long list of events to check out this year, and some of my tickets have already been purchased. I'm more excited about this season than I've been in a long time. I think there's some interesting stuff being circulated, and despite my sometimes negative attitude toward the state of the American theatre, I'm optimistic about the chances being taken on established and new work. I'll admit, I feel a change.

I saw this last night, and the style, themes, language, direction, and presentation had such a huge impact on me. It's some of the best Sam Shepard work that I've experienced.

My Fringe play has been over for about a month, and I've been trying to regroup and figure out how to proceed with my work and career, but after experiencing HEARTLESS, I'm motivated to write. I want to write. I want to sit alone and revise and start new projects and create worlds and moments and characters and stories that have meaning. This production confirmed a few things in me, and this artist is ready to proceed. Thank you Mr. Shepard and to everyone involved with this powerful production.

What motivates you? What direction will you move into as we settle into the fall?

I've also decided to slowly start broadening my theatre horizons; I want to start experiencing productions that move out of my comfort zone or away from things that I naturally like.


With that said, I saw this last weekend, and I was truly amazed by this theatrical, entertaining, inspiring, and great production.

Here's what's coming up for me:


Steppenwolf's WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? by Edward Albee

Chaplin The Musical

Mamet's GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS with Al Pacino and an all star cast

What are you seeing next?

...the center of the universe.

The mind, body, and soul are the only true things that we have. These are the only things that we can really count on. I give and receive with my mind, body, and soul. There is nothing else. The human being may very well be the center of the universe.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Desolation Row

Desolation Row

"They’re selling postcards of the hanging
They’re painting the passports brown
The beauty parlor is filled with sailors
The circus is in town
Here comes the blind commissioner
They’ve got him in a trance
One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker
The other is in his pants
And the riot squad they’re restless
They need somewhere to go
As Lady and I look out tonight
From Desolation Row

Cinderella, she seems so easy
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

Now the moon is almost hidden
The stars are beginning to hide
The fortune-telling lady
Has even taken all her things inside
All except for Cain and Abel
And the hunchback of Notre Dame
Everybody is making love
Or else expecting rain
And the Good Samaritan, he’s dressing
He’s getting ready for the show
He’s going to the carnival tonight
On Desolation Row

Now Ophelia, she’s ’neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid
To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession’s her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

Einstein, disguised as Robin Hood
With his memories in a trunk
Passed this way an hour ago
With his friend, a jealous monk
He looked so immaculately frightful
As he bummed a cigarette
Then he went off sniffing drainpipes
And reciting the alphabet
Now you would not think to look at him
But he was famous long ago
For playing the electric violin
On Desolation Row

Dr. Filth, he keeps his world
Inside of a leather cup
But all his sexless patients
They’re trying to blow it up
Now his nurse, some local loser
She’s in charge of the cyanide hole
And she also keeps the cards that read
“Have Mercy on His Soul”
They all play on pennywhistles
You can hear them blow
If you lean your head out far enough
From Desolation Row

Across the street they’ve nailed the curtains
They’re getting ready for the feast
The Phantom of the Opera
A perfect image of a priest
They’re spoonfeeding Casanova
To get him to feel more assured
Then they’ll kill him with self-confidence
After poisoning him with words
And the Phantom’s shouting to skinny girls
“Get Outa Here If You Don’t Know
Casanova is just being punished for going
To Desolation Row”

Now at midnight all the agents
And the superhuman crew
Come out and round up everyone
That knows more than they do
Then they bring them to the factory
Where the heart-attack machine
Is strapped across their shoulders
And then the kerosene
Is brought down from the castles
By insurance men who go
Check to see that nobody is escaping
To Desolation Row

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row

Yes, I received your letter yesterday
(About the time the doorknob broke)
When you asked how I was doing
Was that some kind of joke?
All these people that you mention
Yes, I know them, they’re quite lame
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
Right now I can’t read too good
Don’t send me no more letters, no
Not unless you mail them
From Desolation Row"

-Bob Dylan

Tuesday, September 18, 2012



"Fat man lookin’ in a blade of steel
Thin man lookin’ at his last meal
Hollow man lookin’ in a cottonfield
For dignity

Wise man lookin’ in a blade of grass
Young man lookin’ in the shadows that pass
Poor man lookin’ through painted glass
For dignity

Somebody got murdered on New Year’s Eve
Somebody said dignity was the first to leave
I went into the city, went into the town
Went into the land of the midnight sun

Searchin’ high, searchin’ low
Searchin’ everywhere I know
Askin’ the cops wherever I go
Have you seen dignity?

Blind man breakin’ out of a trance
Puts both his hands in the pockets of chance
Hopin’ to find one circumstance
Of dignity

I went to the wedding of Mary Lou
She said, “I don’t want nobody see me talkin’ to you”
Said she could get killed if she told me what she knew
About dignity

I went down where the vultures feed
I would’ve gone deeper, but there wasn’t any need
Heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men
Wasn’t any difference to me

Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade
House on fire, debts unpaid
Gonna stand at the window, gonna ask the maid
Have you seen dignity?

Drinkin’ man listens to the voice he hears
In a crowded room full of covered-up mirrors
Lookin’ into the lost forgotten years
For dignity

Met Prince Phillip at the home of the blues
Said he’d give me information if his name wasn’t used
He wanted money up front, said he was abused
By dignity

Footprints runnin’ ’cross the silver sand
Steps goin’ down into tattoo land
I met the sons of darkness and the sons of light
In the bordertowns of despair

Got no place to fade, got no coat
I’m on the rollin’ river in a jerkin’ boat
Tryin’ to read a note somebody wrote
About dignity

Sick man lookin’ for the doctor’s cure
Lookin’ at his hands for the lines that were
And into every masterpiece of literature
For dignity

Englishman stranded in the blackheart wind
Combin’ his hair back, his future looks thin
Bites the bullet and he looks within
For dignity

Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
Dignity never been photographed
I went into the red, went into the black
Into the valley of dry bone dreams

So many roads, so much at stake
So many dead ends, I’m at the edge of the lake
Sometimes I wonder what it’s gonna take
To find dignity"

-Bob Dylan

Friday, September 7, 2012

...Facebook in the dictionary...

If you look up Facebook in the dictionary, it is defined as:

A social network. A network that people rely on but offers no real human contact, friendship, or help. A place to collect friends that you really do not know and never will. A place of isolation that gives you a false sense of belonging. A place to expose your soul with no true return. A form of technology that provides a place to post news and events that you are interested in and for you to write about me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"...where truth might live."

Eugene O'Neill.

Today, the American theatre is not willing and prepared to embrace such heavyweights. And that is sad. Times have changed, and any creation that represents real value and meaning are ideas and feelings that live in the past. Present society, as a whole, is nervous and scared to take a long, hard look at the truth, and as a result, theatre producers are unsure about taking chances on new, interesting, unique work, people, and voices. And this stifles the creative process and our chances of positively changing and progressing humanity. Eugene O'Neill, as great as his work and contributions, would have never made it in 2012. And it is sad that today's artist is not given the same opportunity to grow, evolve, and make a difference.

In the July/August 2012 issue of AMERICAN THEATRE magazine, Wendy Smith wrote an article titled "From Sea-Chanties to the Moon: A spate of intense new productions shows how Eugene O'Neill's theatrical vision deepened as his canvas tightened." Here are a few highlights from the article that inspire me and capture what O'Neill left behind. And as a result, I make the choice to not bend or brake when it comes to creating what is in my heart. I will continue to think, feel, explore and present the truth even if most of society feels it necessary to turn away as a result of fear.

"EUGENE O'NEILL TOWERS OVER THE AMERICAN STAGE THE WAY SHAKESPEARE TOWERS over the english: He virtually invented our national drama, forcing a juvenile theatre to grow up just as America was facing the political, social and spiritual challenges of maturity. No truly ambitious actor can shirk the challenge of his soul-exposing roles, and no one who cares about the theatre wants to miss out on the key entries in his exhausting yet exhilarating canon.

An evening of O'Neill can be exhausting and exhilarating for the same reason: He never settles for less than the most the theatre has to offer. He disdains cheap laughs, easy emotions and comforting nostrums-all the facile tricks of the "show shop," as he sneeringly called Broadway. He demands of his audiences the same stern willingness to look at life whole and without flinching that he demands of himself, and he expects them to sit still for as long as that look takes.

O'Neill sometimes failed to achieve his titanic ambitions, but he never compromised them. Toward the end of his life, as he gained perspective on the nightmarish family drama that shaped his dark view of the world and humanity's place in it, his work became more personal and also more universal. There are no greater American plays than THE ICEMAN COMETH, LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN, yet they came after nearly three decades of game-changing achievement that included such other seminal pieces as ANNA CHRISTIE, DESIRE UNDER THE ELMS and MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA. Familiarity with O'Neill's entire body of work merely makes those final masterpieces more astonishing: How could he have given so much and yet still have more to give?...

O'Neill was the first great American playwright in large part because he was the first to challenge audiences with a genuinely tragic vision of the human condition-a vision that consistently presents death as the only lasting peace achievable.

O'Neill's quest to present onstage life in its unvarnished reality led him to experiment with new forms for the very beginning...

It's a young man's play, sometimes crude and schematic, and O'Reilly had the good sense to encourage the Irish Rep's capable actors...not to be embarrassed by the flaws in the text. They embraced O'Neill's unrelenting pessimism and played the human particulars in which he always embeds his philosophical points. O'Reilly's thoughtful interpretation illuminated BEYOND THE HORIZON as the unjustly neglected culmination of O'Neill's apprenticeship years.

STRANGE INTERLUDE is a characteristic work of O'Neill's middle period, the decade and a half of furious creativity during which he wrote 20 plays and pressed against the realistic theatre's constraints...

Some of the humor in the play is intentional, but much is not; O'Neill's ultra-Freudian insights, considered terribly bold and risque in 1928, seem terribly obvious to a modern audience. But people are obvious sometimes, and one of this production's great strengths was the willingness of the actors to let both kinds of laughs happen. They were relaxed about STRANGE INTERLUDE'S excesses, so the audience could relax and enjoy the play on several levels.

"It's just a giant soap opera!" said a woman next to me on line at the first intermission. Indeed, promiscuity, hereditary insanity, abortion, adultery and deaths both natural and unnatural are among the plot developments O'Neill doles out with a generous hand as his angst-ridden heroine, Nina Leeds..., finds that she needs the love of three men-and the son on whom she obsessively dotes-to make up for the fiance she lost in World War I. Despite his contempt for the phony, sentimental fare of his father's generation, O'Neill shared its relish for high drama, and he imbibed an enormous amount of theatrical know-how during those miserable childhood years being carted from town to town on James O'Neill's endless national tours. He thought and wrote naturally in units of acts and scenes, expressing character development through dialogue and stage action, even as he stretched the theatre to encompass greater metaphysical depth and psychological complexity. 

O'Neill's famously detailed stage directons express these boundary-stretching intensions-and his mistrust of those executing them on stage. They describe scenery in terms of its emotional impact and its relationship to the progression of the story; they give in-depth psychological portraits as well as physical descriptions of characters; and they frequently indicate precisely how a line should be spoken and the action that should accompany it...

He was seldom happy with productions of his plays and considered the published scripts, in which he restored cuts made for performance, to be the truest versions.

In fact, O'Neill was in his lifetime one of Random House's best-selling authors, and he is among the most readable of playwrights, thanks in part to those evocative stage directions. If he had not been so irrevocably committed to the theatre, he might have been a great American novelist.

STRANGE INTERLUDE is O'Neill's attempt to write a novel as a play, covering 27 years over 9 acts. In the original production, his sprawling script took four-and-a-half hours to perform, plus a 90-minute dinner break in lieu of intermissions. With the permission of the O'Neill estate, Kahn cut the running time to slightly over three hours, including two intermissions. I have usually found it a mistake to eliminate the deliberate repetitions with which O'Neill orchestrates his themes; I've seen two heavily cut productions of THE ICEMAN COMETH, both fragmentary and oddly dull, whereas the Almeida Theatre's 1999 production, anchored by Kevin Spacey's scarifying Hickey, gripped me for every minute of its more than four hours. Goodman Theatre's recent production, directed by Robert Falls, was similarly uncut, and judging by the glowing reviews, it too lived up to O'Neill's epic demands; plans for a Broadway run may well have been announced by the time this issue is printed...

He wrote many great roles for women, and plenty of speeches that express a character's effort to find meaning in human suffering...

Kahn and his accomplished cast realized that these lovely, quiet moments couldn't be disentangled from the busy plot and facile Freudianism that make STRANGE INTERLUDE rather dated, albeit a surprising amount of fun; they struck every note in O'Neill's discordant symphony with equal deftness...

A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN shares with LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and THE ICEMAN COMETH a simplicity and economy that reveal the playwright working at the deepest levels of his art. The urgency of what he needs to communicate precludes the restless experiementation that marked his work in the '20s and early '30s. A single set and a single day suffice as O'Neill uses unadorned, naturalistic speech to strip away his characters lies and force them to confront who they are and what they've done...

A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN shows us people capable of delight (not something you see a lot of in O'Neill) once again shipwrecked on the shoals of the past. What makes O'Neill's perennial theme so heartbreaking here is that it isn't Josie's past; she makes the mistake of falling in love with someone whose course in life was set long before she knew him: haunted James Tyrone Jr....

O'Neill brought the character based on his brother back from LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT because he felt he'd failed to do justice to Jamie O'Neill's profound love for their mother, and May's interpretation movingly conveyed that love. Robards's final monologue was one long howl of outrage, abandonment, self-hatred and the most dreadful, desolate kind of self-knowledge. It's one of the few times in the theatre when I have felt in my bones the catharsis through pity and fear that Aristotle defined as the purpose of tragedy.

Greek tragedy was one of O'Neill's touchstones, not only in his understanding of theatre but of life itself. Depicting a world in which human beings commit crimes without intending to, driven by forces they cannot control but may at last come to comprehend, the ORESTEIA and OEDIPUS REX provided a philosophical frame that could encompass the guilt and grief of a teenager wracked with the knowledge that his birth had been the cause of his mother's morphine addiction.

But if O'Neill's embrace of the Greeks' tragic ethos quite possibly saved him from following the suicidal path of his nihilistic brother, he found no way to voice it in his own plays until he discovered his second touchstone: the revolutionary drama of Ibsen and his peers. Seeing Alla Nazimova's HEDDA GABLER in 1907, he remarked, "gave me my first conception of a modern theatre where truth might live." More than 100 years later, sampling key works from his staggering output, we can see that what HEDDA gave O'Neill is what he gave the American theatre: the beliefs that it was a place where truth might live."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 escape...

"It's about reaching that moment of pure ecstasy when a drawing just happens. Where every move you make with your hand and every thought you have in your head grows in front of you without any mistakes; no rubbing out, starting again and getting frustrated. It's like being in a trance-it's fluid-and you almost don't remember doing the picture. Drawing is an escape from all the unnecessary things in life that get in the way of being free..." -Jamie Hewlett

Monday, August 27, 2012

Killing The Human Race...

What's the average guy to do?

Is progress really better when you turn your back on the people who helped build this world? What's left for them when technology takes over?

On Sunday, August 19, 2012, John Markoff wrote an article for THE NEW YORK TIMES titled "Skilled Work, Without the Worker: New Wave of Deft Robots Is Changing Global Industy." Here are some highlights from the article that have me concerned:

"DRACHTEN, the Netherlands-At the Philips Electonics factory on the coast of China, hundreds of workers use their hands and specialized tools to assemble electric shavers. That is the old way.

At a sister factory here in the Dutch countryside, 128 robot arms do the same work with yoga-like flexibility. Video cameras guide them through feats well beyond the capability of the most dexterous human...

And they do it all without a coffee break-three shifts a day, 365 days a year...

This is the future. A new wave of robots, far more adept than those now commonly used by automakers and other heavy manufacturers, are replacing workers around the world in both manufacturing and distribution...

"With these machines, we can make any consumer device in the world," said Binne Visser, an electical engineer who manages the Philips assembly line in Drachten...

Foxconn has not disclosed how many workers will be displaced or when. But its chairman, Terry Gou, has publicly endorsed a growing use of robots. Speaking of his more than one million employees worldwide, he said in January, according to the official Xinhua news agency: "As human beings are also animals, to manage one million animals gives me a headache."

The falling costs and growing sophistication of robots have touched off a renewed debate among economists and technologists over how quickly jobs will be lost. This year, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made the case for a rapid transformation. "The pace and scale of this encroachment into human skills is relatively recent and has profound economic implications," they wrote in their book, "Race Against the Machine."...

Beyond the technical challenges lies resistance from unionized workers and communities worried about jobs. The ascension of robots may mean fewer jobs are created in this country...

Yet in the state-of-the-art plant, where the assembly line runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there are robots everywhere and few human workers...

Such advances in manufactoring are also beginning to transform other sectors that employ millions of workers around the world. One is distribution, where robots that zoom at the speed of the world's fastest sprinters can store, retrive and pack goods for shipment far more efficiently than people. Robots could soon replace workers at companies like C & S Wholesale Grocers, the nation's largest grocery distributor, which has already deployed robot technology.

Rapid improvement in vision and touch technologies is putting a wide array of manual jobs within the abilities of robots...

The Obama administration says this technological shift presents a historic opportunity for the nation to stay competitive. "The only way we are going to maintain manufacturing in the U.S. is if we have higher productivity," said Tom Kalil, deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy...

If the United States does not compete for advanced manufacturing in industries like consumer electronics, it could lose product engineering and design as well. Moreover, robotics executives argue that even though blue-collar jobs will be lost, more efficient manufacturing will create skilled jobs in designing, operating and servicing the assembly lines, as well as significant numbers of other kinds of jobs in the communities where factories are...

Mr. Graves wears headsets and is instructed by a computerized voice on where to go in the warehouse to gather or store products. A centralized computer the workers call The Brain dictates their speed. Managers know exactly what the workers do, to the precise minute.

Several years ago, Mr. Graves's warehouse installed a German system that automatically stores and retrieves cases of food. That led to the elimination of 106 jobs, roughly 20 percent of the work force. The new system was initially maintained by union workers with high seniority. Then that job went to the German company, which hired non-union workers.

Now Kroger plans to build a highly automated warehouse in Tolleson. Sixty union workers went before the City Council last year to oppose the plan, on which the city has not yet ruled.

"We don't have a problem with the machines coming," Mr. Graves told city officials. "But tell Kroger we don't want to lose these jobs in our city."


Michael Thomas Cain featured in the August 2012 ASU Alumni Columns.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

...if people refuse to be challenged...

On Sunday, August 19, 2012, Lawrence Downes wrote a piece titled "As Woody Turns 100, We Protest Too Little" for THE NEW YORK TIMES. Here is something that struck me as interesting as we wrap up Enough's Enough!:

"In October the Kennedy Center will throw a centennial party for Woody Guthrie, a star-studded concert with tickets topping out at $175. It will be America's ultimate tribute to a beloved troubadour. "Through his unique music, words and style," the Kennedy Center says, "Guthrie was able to bring attention and understanding to the critical issues of his day."
Poor Woody. The life and music of America's great hobo prophet, its Dust Bowl balladeer, boiled down to this: He brought attention to the critical issues of his day...
But under the saintly folk hero has always been an angry vigilante-a fascist-hating, Communist-sympathizing rabble-rouser who liked to eviscerate his targets, sometimes with violent imagery. He was a man of many contradictions, but he was always against the rich and on the side of the oppressed.
He wrote hard-hitting songs for hard-hit people...
Woody's musical heirs tried their best...
It's hard to be a troubadour with dangerous ideas if people refuse to be challenged or offended by them."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Michael Thomas Cain in LakewoodPatch!

Lakewood Native on the Big Stage for International Fringe Festival

Michael Cain presenting “Enough’s Enough!” at the 16th annual theater festival in New York City.
By Colin McEwen August 1, 2012

It’s been a few years of trying, but Lakewood native Michael Cain has finally caught his big break under the bright lights of New York City's theater scene.

The actor-turned-playwright is unveiling his production of “Enough’s Enough!” at the La MaMa Theatre in New York City on Aug. 11.

The stage couldn’t be much bigger.

The show is being presented as part of the 16th annual New York International Fringe Festival.

Cain said that the play is done in the “absurdist style” of Samuel Beckett — one of his major theatrical influences.

“I wanted to create some sort of play that honors that,” Cain said. “It’s a strange, grotesque and absurd kind of play.”

The story is set in an office, revolving around a man and woman trapped in the space and forced to live in confinement.

“It’s humorous, with some pretty heavy themes,” he said. “I am so excited to have the piece produced, to see it live and breathe.”

Making ends meet

Things haven’t always been easy for Cain.

To make ends meet, he’s worked in nearly all facets of the theater, including acting and technical work.

“I felt like a floundered and struggled as an actor for a few years,” he said. “I waited a lot of tables. It’s been quite a journey filled with some obstacles."

“There was a moment where I thought maybe I should be doing this anymore. But this is a passion for me.”

To help him along, Cain earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from Adelphi University.

In addition to writing "Enough's Enough!" he will also direct it when it opens Aug. 11, “because I knew exactly how I wanted it.”

“To be a part of the International Fringe festival, it’s a quite a accomplishment,” Cain said. “This is definitely one of the bigger steps in my career. It’s all kind of finally coming together into something workable. I guess you could say I am finally figuring it out."

He said he’s been busy lately, “writing a lot of plays.”

Lakewood is still home

Although he moved to Georgia when he was young, Cain moved back to Lakewood where he lived until five years ago when he set off for the Big Apple.

Cain said his roots in the theater are planted in Lakewood.

His grandmother, Phyllis Cain, who lived above the Detroit Theatre for nearly four decades years before it was demolished in May, used to take him to see movies downstairs.

She worked as the manager, and young Michael work the candy counter.

The first movie he remembers seeing there was “Star Wars.”

His father, Tom Cain, was the technical director of the Lakewood Little Theatre, which later became known as the Beck Center for the Arts.

“Lakewood is very special to me,” Cain said. “Ultimately, it is my home. There are many days I wish I could be back there. It’s always with me.”

Enough's Enough! is mentioned on indie theater blog

Enough's Enough! on indie theater blog!

FringeNYC 2012: Playwrights Find New Plays For Us

August 17, 2012
A couple of weeks ago I asserted that the New York International Fringe Festival is an important source for rich, challenging, new American drama. And last week I told you about our team of reviewers who have set out to identify some of that for us in this year’s festival.

Well I am happy to report that they’ve been delivering, in spades! As expected, FringeNYC 2012 is offering dozens of interesting and surprising new plays to its audience. Many of’s reviewers are playwrights, and most of them have been through the FringeNYC experience themselves, and so I thought I would begin my survey of this year’s festival with some of their recommendations.

Julia Lee Barclay is excited about three shows:

BUMBERSHOOT: The blurb promises a play about “weary drag queens, corporate irresponsibility, tea-party paranoia.” Julia says: “The writing is strong, especially [playwright Derek] Davidson’s ear for the inarticulate in contemporary dialogue….There are very interesting questions of identity, class and politics that emerge in the play and some moments of pure theatrical grace…” Read the entire review here.

FLIPSIDE: Julia writes: “Flipside is one of those rare theatrical experiences that is equal parts intelligent, funny, moving, important and innovative. The extraordinary company HartBeat, an ensemble out of Hartford, CT, created this piece in workshops, devising it as a group, working with a drug dealer to get his story.  Equally compelling is the story the piece tells of the policeman who eventually arrests him.” Here’s the rest of her review.

WAKE UP: She’s even more enthusiastic, if possible, about this play about contemporary racial attitudes in America. “What a breath of fresh air is the must-see Wake Up!  This Redbone Theatrical production written by Kim Fischer, directed by Travis Baird with Trevor Salter, Glenn Quentin, Max Carpenter, Max Bisantz and Baird in the ensemble is as good as it gets at FringeNYC. Seeing this show reminded me of when I first saw Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, except with the more immediate and dangerous presence of live theater.” Read more…

Pink Milk

Lynn Berg recommends PINK MILK: This play is inspired by the life of gay British mathematician Alan Turing. Says Lynn, “Alex Paul Young has written a poetic, magical story loosely spun from Turing’s life full of fantastic devices like talking daisies and hypodermic needles, robot boys and poison apples. Brandon Powers’ direction helps spin Young’s script into a magic spell. He gracefully composes the performers to interweave the often poetic dialogue with dance and movement. It all feels like a choreographed dream or fairy tale.” Go here for the full review.

Theresa Buchheister really likes Jeff Seabaugh’s solo WE CRAZY, RIGHT?: “Seabaugh IS an artist… and approaches his story with diligent technique and craftsmanship. He has a great awareness of the slippery nature of individuality and universality. His is a distinctly personal story. It is his life and experience translated into a one man show. At the same time, it is a show about parenting, childhood, milestones, perspective, struggle…  Themes we all relate to (in varying ways) effortlessly.” Read the entire review.

Nat Cassidy (represented in FringeNYC ’12 with SONGS OF LOVE: A THEATRICAL MIXTAPE) finds lots to commend in CAUSE OF FAILURE: It’s the only show in FringeNYC with a human heart as one of its characters. Nat opines, “There are scenes here of, for want of a less on-the-nose descriptor, heartbreaking power, particularly for those who have had to deal with a loved one’s deteriorating condition.” See the complete review.


Edward Elefterion is a fan of BOXPLAY: “It’s Kaspar Hauser meets sci-fi meets reality TV (theatre in this case, thankfully) meets absurdism 101 and it never ceased to surprise and delight me during its 75-minute run time,” Ed enthused about this new work by Seattle-based Steven Ackley. “boxplay was such a wonderful start to my 2012 FringeNYC experience, I’m afraid it may have spoiled me.” Find out more here.

Jason S. Grossman was impressed by ALIEE AND BETTINA’S (SORT OF) GROWNUP SLEEPOVER: “The show is enjoyable, because [Aliee] Chan and [Bettina] Warshaw have a lot to say. They bound about the stage (and into the audience) role-playing and playing dress up. There is rarely a dull moment. The creative team here has every intention of making you feel like you are on a (sort of) psychoanalytical adult play date, and they succeed.” See the rest of the review.

David Hilder really likes SALAMANDER STARTS OVER by Armando Merlo: “[T]he script he has written… is immaculately structured.  Tales of how friendships evolve and fade away intermix beautifully with very funny family conversations and wrestling matches (Merlo was a member of his high school’s NJ state championship wrestling squad for four years).” David’s entire review is here.

Richard Hinojosa enjoyed ENOUGH’S ENOUGH: Richard writes, “I really enjoyed this short dark comedy.  [Michael Thomas] Cain’s script is sharp and subtle.  At the top of the show you may think that this play is just another story about nameless, nobodies working in the corporate underbelly but it is far from that.  The script unfolds gradually to reveal darker and darker revelations about the world of the play.” Learn more here.


Claire Kiechel reviewed INDEPENDENTS: This musical about Revolutionary War re-enactors has a tragic history, which Claire talks about in her review: “These are deeper concerns and questions than ones often addressed in musicals, which is why it is so heartbreaking that Independents’ very promising book writer Marina Keegan was killed only five days after graduating from Yale. There are no words to express what a loss this is.”

Ed Malin is high on YBW – YELLOW BRICK WALL: This two-woman comedy, in which Siho Elsmore and Marisa Marquez explore and explode a variety of stereotypes, earned this comment from Ed: “There’s not a dull moment in this show, nor will there likely be an empty seat.” Read more.

Montserrat Mendez has two top picks:

FORTUNATE DAUGHTER: This is a one-woman play by Thao Nguyen. “What Thao’s one-person masterpiece has that most one-person shows don’t,” says Montserrat, “is a cast of characters fully realized, all of whom have their own intentions and desires; and then she goes on to play them out, imagining what their reactions will be and then playing out their actual reactions. Because we’re not told what the characters are thinking, she manages to surprise us.” Here’s the review.

LINDA MEANS TO WAIT: Montserrat says about Linda Kuriloff’s solo show, “There are great lessons to be found in the play; there are also simple moments of recognition that it is our cultural differences that make us all the same in one way, and yet, each of us are wonderfully unique.” Read more.

Kim Wadsworth recommends THE 27 CLUB: “High and low culture race to the grave in this tragicomic deconstruction of fame from NC’s Fly-By-Night Theatre,” goes the show’s blurb. Kim says, “…throughout I was struck by the inventiveness and poetry of much of what everyone was saying. Even when he’s trying to write ‘badly’—in character as the pompous, overly-dense Howard—[playwright Tommy] Trull still has a lot of poetry in this script…” Check out the full review.

Amy E. Witting (whose own play FALLING is in this year’s festival too!) chooses THE EGG PLAY: “A story of one event but told from the perspective of each individual unfolds in this seventy minute drama of love, loss, and heartbreak…. The Egg Play by San Francisco-based playwright Candice Benge draws the audience in from the intrigue and mystery of the events and left me wanting more.” The Egg Play also received the endorsement of FringeNYC co-founder John Clancy (all over Facebook, plus in a phone call to yours truly.) Here’s Amy’s full review.