NEW YORK—New York City houses a number of creative organizations where new plays are worked on, usually via regular (often weekly) meetings with playwrights having scenes or plays read by professional actors.
A few of these workshopped entities may reach fruition and may be produced. However, production is rare. There may be play readings about town, as in the case of Times Square Playwrights, headed by artistic director Tom Thornton; the American Renaissance Theater Company offers an annual two-night performance at the Neighborhood Playhouse.
However, one unique organization produces an entire season in August, at a lovely theater located on a hilltop in the rustic town of Woodstock, N.Y., about a two-hour drive outside of New York City. This is the Woodstock Fringe, which has grown from its Manhattan-based Playwrights Unit, and is now celebrating its l0th anniversary season, under artistic director Wallace Norman.
Here is a rundown of this season’s offerings: Saturday, Aug. 11 at 4 p.m. features a kick-off fundraiser, at the company’s Woodstock home: Byrdcliffe Theatre (on Upper Byrdcliffe Road).
“No Frackin’ Way” is musical cohorts’ Marc Black and Amy Fradon’s take on the environmental issue affecting New Yorkers (Aug. 10). The aforementioned producing artistic director Wallace Norman is presenting the world premiere of his new play, “It Can’t Happen Here,” a drama dealing with a shooting at a high school, and its aftermath. Opening night is Aug. 16; for a full schedule of this play’s six performances, see contact information below.
“Poor, Obscure, and Pushing 64” is admittedly a “hodge-podge of fugitive parody, garbled monologues, obscure songs, unsustainable skits, and theatrical ineptitude.” Two performances: Saturday, Aug. 18, and Sunday, Aug. 15. Sounds like fun, perhaps for the intellectually challenged.
“Goat Hill Poets” on Aug. 22 offers readings from this group, all of whom are published poets who have been featured in poetry series in the Hudson Valley area. The name is taken from the group’s original meeting place in Saugerties.
Rain Pryor (daughter of famed comedian Richard) has written “Fried Chicken and Latkes,” dealing irreverently and poignantly with racism in the late ’60s and early ’70s and includes original music and lyrics by Pryor. Marking its Hudson Valley Premiere, the show has received critical acclaim in Los Angeles and will shortly enjoy an Off-Broadway run. Check schedule for performances.
“Cocktails With Coward” features songs (including “Mad Dogs and Englishmen”), anecdotes, and more, concerning the life and career of the famed playwright/song writer/performer. The show is performed by Malcolm Gordon, with James Followell on the piano. Check schedule.
“Songs of the Theatre: A Concert Cabaret” on Sept. 2 is sung by Vicky Devany and Wallace Norman, with Bill Lewis at the piano.
“First Looks at the Fringe” features staged readings of a number of new works on various topics by Playwrights Unit members. Beginning Aug. 25 and presented on various dates through Sept. 1, these are free to the public.
For specific scheduling and admission information, contact (845) 810-0123, or www.woodstockfringe.org. All performances take place at the Byrdcliffe Theatre, Upper Byrdcliffe Road, Woodstock, N.Y.
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