Blog Archives

I was thinking about my own labor history…

 

Since I’ve been taking a look at unions today, it occurs to me that I have been a member of two unions back in my New York past.

As a theatre worker in the early 70s, I had experience as a member of AEA (Actors Equity Association) and LOBTET (the League of Off Broadway Theatre Employees and Technicians.) LOBTET was eaten up by Equity after a couple of years and does not exist anymore.

As an Equity member (which I had to join as a professional stage manager), I was involved in the Off Broadway strike in 1970 or 71. Equity was protesting the fact that actors in off-Broadway productions were often paid very little or nothing at all, but took jobs so that they might be seen by critics or casting direc tors or Broadway producers.

I had to picket the Theatre De Lys (now the Lucille Lortel Theatre) one night. I walked back and forth with my

Shelley Winters

picket sign, alone, while the General Manager of the theatre sat in the ticket booth and stared at me.

After a while I was joined by another Equity member, and this was one of the most interesting occurences in my theatre career. The other picketer was Shelley Winters!

Shelley and I picketed for about two hours, carrying on a neat social conversation, until we decided that it was past what would have been curtain time and we quit. She got a cab and I walked down the block to the subway.

That’s my Union Story.

 

“Ghost-Writer”… a play by Michael Hollinger

Contemporary American Theater Festival

Last night we went to the second of CATF‘s Tuesday night staged readings. This one was the utterly amazing “Ghost-Writer” by Michael Hollinger,  directed by Ed Herendeen with a cast of three: John Lescault, Julianna Zinkel (currently appearing in “From Prague“) and Tamara Tunie (from the cast of “We Are Here”).

You may think a staged reading, where there is no activity within a set, where the performers read directly from the script while sitting in chairs in a line and where the Stage Manager reads the stage directions) would be less exciting to attend than one of the fully prepared productions. You would, however, be wrong. Back in my College days at Northwestern University you could get a degree in the subject “Oral Interpretation of Literature”… right up to a PhD. That department performed many staged readings, many of which were done before paid audiences where they frequently sold out. Such a performance requires a special set of skills by actors to create characters and perform acts which you see in your imagination. When done well, as this one was, it is a delight.

Hollinger, a 49 year old playwright and former violinist from Pennsylvania, has created a mysterious and imaginative work here which kept the audience mesmerized throughout.

In a summary from the play’s premiere at Pennsylvania’s Arden Theatre Company, Ghost-Writer was summed up as follows:

It’s 1919, and novelist Franklin Woolsey has died, dictating his latest novel to his devoted secretary, Myra. But she continues to type anyway, claiming she’s still receiving dictation, and dutifully sends each chapter to the publisher under her late employer’s name. (Woolsey’s widow – who hasn’t heard a word from her husband – is understandably vexed.) Is Myra channeling the dead author? Is she merely an artful forger? Where did the words used to come from, and where do they come from now? A tale of inspiration, expiration, and vicarious love.


That shouldn’t give away the mysteries of the plot (in case you should see another production of the play, which I hope you can), but gives a good idea of its environment. The cast did a superb job… especially Ms. Zinkel, whom I have invited to be interviewed on the Friday Morning Winner’s And Losers show on WSHC with John Case and me. I hope she can make it.

There is one more staged reading, next week at the Opera House, of a new play by “From Prague”‘s author, Kyle Bradstreet. That’s Tuesday night, the 26th, at 7:00 PM. And did I say these readings are FREE? They are, so come early to get a good seat… the house was full last night.