Over the past two decades, New York's Ensemble Studio Theater has fostered the creation of more than 5,000 new plays. Now twelve more are on view at E.S.T.'s annual festival of one-acts, "Marathon `99," which runs in three series, Series A played May 5-16; the rest of the Marathon runs through June 13.
Among the noted writers contributing new works to this 22nd annual event are Frank D. Gilroy, Romulus Linney, Leslie Ayvazian, Susan Kim, Edward Allan Baker, Bill Bozzone, Christine Farrell, Cassandra Medley, Jaime Richards & Kevin Harris, Stuart Spencer, Cherie Vogelstein and Michael Louis Wells.
Actors appearing in this year's series include Rob Morrow ("Northern Exposure," filmdom's "Quiz Show"), former Broadway Belle Kerry Butler, and Sound of Music castmember Dashiell Eaves.
Series A ran May 5-16, and contained Deaf Day written and directed by Leslie Ayvazian; Goodbye Oscar by Romulus Linney; Maiden Lane by Cassandra Medley; All About Al by Cherie Vogelstein.
Here's the rundown for Series B and C at E.S.T.: Series B (May 19-30)
The Golf Ball by Frank D. Gilroy, directed by Chris Smith, is about a rich, retired and restless George Powell (Tom Ligon), who makes a bet on a golf game which escalates into an obsession. The cast also includes Mimi Bensinger and Baxter Harris. Other plays by Gilroy include: The Subject Was Roses, The Only Game in Town, and That Summer - That Fall.
Dreamtime for Alice by Susan Kim, directed by Richard Lichte, has a forty-something American (Cecilia DeWolf) on vacation in Australia and finding herself left behind by her tour group in the great big outback. With little on-hand but time, she reflects on everything from the local lizards to the husband she left behind. Kim's adaptation of Amy Tan's novel The Joy Luck Club recently enjoyed an Off-Broadway run at Pan Asian Rep.
In the Western Garden by Stuart Spencer, directed by Judy Minor, gives us famous, cantankerous painter Gene Kapp (Robert Hogan), who rose to fame in the Sixties. Like de Kooning and Pollock he lived in the Hamptons, and there he has remained in virtual seclusion with his wife Sally (Peggity Price). That is, until he's visited by his broke art dealer (David Margulies) and a hot young conceptual artist (Rob Morrow) with an agenda. Spencer is the author of several plays including Resident Alien, Water and Wine, Blue Stars and Go to Ground.
The 'I' Word: Interns by Michael Louis Wells, directed by Jaime Richards. It's September 16, 1998: the evening Vaclav Havel speaks at the White House and the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal ensues. Three young interns wrestle with their feelings about the American political system. The cast includes: Kerry Butler (Beauty and the Beast), Ian Kessler, Katherine Leask, and Sarah Rose. Other Wells plays include: Real Real Gone, District of Columbia, Fourth Time Around, and Seven Pages Unsigned.
Series C (June 2-June 13)
Up, Down, Strange Charmed Beauty and Truth by Edward Allan Baker
War by Bill Bozzone
The Once Attractive Woman by Christine Farrell
Roman Fever by Jaime Richards & Kevin Harris
For tickets ($15 per series, $35 for all three evenings) and information on Marathon `99 at Ensemble Studio Theatre call (212) 247-4982. Casting is usually announced at the last minute, so expect actors and directors for Series B and C to be added in the weeks to come.
-- By Sean McGrath