The Hourglass Group, who brought NYC the Off-Broadway revival of Mae West's Sex and Deborah Swisher's Hundreds of Sisters & One BIG Brother, are introducing us to four more women writers. With "Readings at the Gershwin," artistic director Elyse Singer and her two associate directors, Carolyn Baeumler and Nina Hellman, present four new plays Monday nights in October at the downtown NYC Gershwin Hotel. Admission to the series of readings will be free.
On Oct. 9, Hilary Bell started the series with her Eye of the Storm: A Shipwreck Tetralogy. In four connected short plays, (Wreckage, The Bog Queen, Orilla Del Mundo, and Tom and Eva) a shipwreck serves as the focal point of each. Bell's other works include Fortune, Cheering Up, and Conversations With Jesus.
Then, Brooke Berman presented her play, The Triple Happiness Oct. 16. In this story, a college student and his suburban parents — along with a movie star, drifter, and prophetess — all seek ultimate bliss in Larchmont, New York. Berman, a former solo performer herself, now teaches writing workshops and coaches other soloists. Her work includes Wonderland, Playing House and Dancing with a Devil.
Next, Kira Obolensky's The Adventures of Herculina plays Oct. 23 at the Gershwin. In this epic escapade, our heroine encounters Sarah Bernhardt, an off color British prostitute, sideshow freaks, and issues of gender, sexuality and love. Obolensky's other works include Modern Nightmare, The Whalebone Sonata, and 1998 Kesselring Prize-winner Lobster Alice.
Now, closing the series on Oct. 30 is the reading of Ruth Margraff's Red Frogs (a slapstick mirror for the summer purgatorio). This post-apocalyptic tale takes place as the great flood ebbs back from Coney Island to Nantucket where Beautifica Strata struggles against the Chaplin girls to hold her position. Margraff, an assistant professor of Playwriting at the University of Texas at Austin, has also written Night Vision: A New Third To First World Vampyre Opera, Wallpaper Psalm and All Those Violent Sweaters. Singer also serves as director for all the readings by, as she told Playbill On-Line, "writers that I've wanted to work with." She added about Hourglass productions that "developing new plays is where our hearts lie," and hopes that these readings will lead to full productions.
Baeumler and Hellman appear in the readings along with cast members Paul Vincent Black, Stacie Chaiken, Erin Gann, Jan Leslie Harding, Carla Harting, Peter Jacobson, John McAdams, Jesse J. Perez, Molly Powell, Steve Ratazzi, Ninon Rogers, and Dale Soules.
All readings begin at 7 PM and are free. For more information on the shows at the Gerswhin Hotel, 7 East 27th, (between 5th and Madison Ave.) call (212) 439-8122 or visit the Hourglass Group website at www.hourglassgroup.org.
-- by Ernio Hernandez