An actress, a novelist and a poet. These are main characters of plays to be read in the 6th season at the Playwrights' Theatre of East Hampton, in Long Island, NY. A way to give new plays a first push, the Playwrights' Theatre offers readings staged by professional directors and featuring theatre veterans.
Up next, Aug. 8-9, will be Jean, a drama starring Tammy Grimes (42nd Street, The Unsinkable Molly Brown). A bio of author Jean Rhys ("Wide Sargasso Sea"), Lella Heins' drama will be directed by Tom Palumbo. Eric Leffler, Terry Ashe-Croft, Kati Kormendi are also in the cast.
The season began Aug. 1 with Give The Man A Fish, a comedy by Richard Sutherlin about an actress desperate to hold onto her rent controlled NYC apartment. Jane White (a Tony-winner as the Queen in the original Once Upon A Mattress), Julie DePaul, Lex Woutas, Paul Milikan, Constance Kelly, Anthony Newfield, Tony Giaimo, Robert Andrew Bonnard.
Said director Robert Kalfin, best known for his work at NY's Jewish Repertory Theatre and a veteran at Playwrights' Theatre, "I was directing at Coconut Grove and was working with an actor whose friend wrote Fish. I read it, flipped and suggested it to Mitzi Pazer." [She and Perry Pazer are directors of the theatre.]
Asked about plans for the show after its two performance run Aug. 1-2, Kalfin said, "I know there's a lot of producers from New York coming to look at this, but nothing definite. Supposedly I'm directing an Off Broadway in the fall, but that's a show about Tallullah Bankhead. It's a musical by Arthur Siegal, and Tovah Feldshuh will do it if we can raise the money." Aug. 15-16, Exile In Jerusalem, by Israeli writer Motti Lerner, pits poet Elsa Schiller against her harshest critic, Walter Hermann. Elizabeth Owens (The Entertainer at the Roundabout, 1982) stars with Larry Block. Gene Feist, founder of the Roundabout Theatre -- and Owens' husband -- directs.
Closing the season will be John Tobias' Horns, about a worker finding himself at moral odds with a chemical plant. Kalfin directs the drama, which stars Bernie Pollack Horns runs Aug. 29-30, coinciding with the Theatre's 6th annual gala benefit party (on both nights).
As for the workings of the Theatre's season, Perry Pazer told Playbill On Line, "The playwright has to be in attendance for both shows. After the play the playwright takes the stage, we field questions and you often find out whether the play's gonna work or not. We have large and sophisticated audiences and seat about 250."
Said Mitzi Pazer, "This is the first staged-reading theatre I've put together, though I've done other theatres (The Kenilworth Players in Brooklyn, NY; Twilight Theatre in Prospect Park). Some people do things because they're born to do them. This is what comes out of them. I don't kill people; I make theatre. I see spaces that could be turned into theatres. The LTV space (LTV stands for Local Television Station) is a public access television studio in the middle of the woods! It almost looks like an airplane hangar. It has lighting, air-conditioning and chairs. My husband serves as technical director. This is our second season in this space; prior to this we were in a smaller, non-airconditioned church." The readings are not taped, however, due to union restrictions.
For tickets to plays at Playwrights' Theatre Of East Hampton ($15; $30 for the final weekend) call (516)329-3909.
--By David Lefkowitz