Friday, March 6, 2009

ArtsBuzz: Florida Stage to air six new plays in 1st Stage festival

Playwright Israel Horovitz.

By Hap Erstein

One of the best ideas that Florida Stage has had in the past few years -- besides opening a full bar in its lobby -- is 1st Stage, its festival of new plays. Six hot-off-the-duplicating-machine scripts will be read Monday and Tuesday, and there will be an opening reception Sunday to showcase the new lobby bar.

And if things go as well as they did in the festival’s first two years, Florida Stage is likely to pluck a couple of the scripts from the festival and produce them in the future in its subscription series. That is what happened last year, when William Mastrosimone’s Dirty Business and Catherine Trieschmann’s The Bridegroom of Blowing Rock were deemed worthy of primetime exposure.

One of the most appealing elements of 1st Stage is the Tuesday evening keynote address by a major, established playwright, speaking on the state of the American theater or, if that is too depressing to contemplate, whatever he or she wants to talk about. John Guare (Six Degrees of Separation) handled the assignment two years ago and last year it was Marsha Norman (’night, Mother).

This year’s keynote speaker will be Israel Horovitz, who arrived on the fledgling off-Broadway scene 38 years ago with Line and The Indian Wants the Bronx, and is probably best known lately for Park Your Car in Harvard Yard (seen at the Caldwell Theatre in 2003) and My Old Lady (currently running to acclaim in Paris and soon to be made into a movie).

While most of the playwrights whose work is in 1st Stage are relatively young and emerging, Horvitz -- who turns 70 this month -- also has a script in this year’s festival. Called The P Word, it revolves around a “pregnancy pact,” widely reported early last year, when 17 Gloucester (Mass.) High School girls, none older than 16, made a conscious effort and succeeded at becoming pregnant, planning to raise their babies communally.

This happened in Horovitz’s hometown, where he had been the founding artistic director of Gloucester Stage.

“I was traveling when the pact was first reported, but when I got home, my e-mail was full of messages encouraging me to turn this into a play,” says Horovitz. “I was initially resistant, until I saw a play in the media’s reaction, instead of the pact itself.” The P Word has a prime spot in the festival (8 p.m. Monday) and Horovitz’s keynote will be the following night (6 p.m. Tuesday).

“I applaud Florida Stage for everything they do, but particular for their commitment to new work,” says Horovitz. “So few theaters these days feel they can afford to bother, but where will we be without stages open to new plays? And readings, too, are so important. You can tell the difference when a play comes into New York, a finish line of sorts, without the benefit of being read and developed first. A playwright has to hear his words, preferably in front of an audience, to really know what he has written.”

The 1st Stage schedule looks like this:

Monday, March 9

Noon: Reading of Running Out by Jack Staub -- A brother and sister confront a haunting secret from their parents’ past.
3 p.m.: Reading of The Storytelling Ability of a Boy by Carter W. Lewis (Ordinary Nation) -- Love is complicated among a storytelling boy, a cello-playing lesbian and a nail gun-toting girl.
7 p.m.: Playwrights' panel
8 p.m. Reading of The P Word by Israel Horovitz

Tuesday, March 10

10 a.m.: Reading of Sirens by Deborah Zoe Laufer (End Days) -- On a cruise for his 25th anniversary, Sy hears music, jumps ship and washes ashore on a strange island.
1 p.m.: Reading of Levittown, or The Fall of the Lone Ranger by Andrew Rosendorf -- Fifteen-year-old Ronnie Edelman imagines his family life as a 1950s radio show.
6 p.m.: Keynote address by Israel Horovitz
7:30 p.m.: Reading of When the Sun Shone Brighter by Christopher Demos-Brown -- A political candidate struggles with truth and ambition during the Cuban-exile bombings of the ‘70s and ‘80s.
10 p.m.: Closing reception

Tickets to individual events are $10, with festival passes of varying access for $50 and $100. Call (561) 585-3433 or visit for more information.


Conundrum Stages said...


Want to know how one sends a press release to you for posting?

Greg Stepanich said...

Send your releases to

Soon we'll have a revamped Website on which we'll have more opportunities to post releases.

Thanks for writing.

Jonathan Wemette said...

Thank you so much for the great article. I just wanted to let everyone know that the Tuesday, March 10 reading of Andrew Rosendorf's LEVITTOWN, OR THE FALL OF THE LONE RANGER has been moved to 1pm. Hope to see you there!

Jonathan Wemette
Artistic Associate
Florida Stage

Greg Stepanich said...


I see that your Website also has been updated to reflect the 1 p.m. time for Levittown.

We've updated it in the schedule.

Thanks for writing.