John Guare Reading Series


A month-long celebration by the member artists of The Ensemble Studio Theatre of selected plays by 2011 Distinguished Member John Guare

The Series is an EST Members Council Initiative Produced by Council Members J. Holtham*, Marcia Haufrecht* and Abigail Gampel*

All presentations take place at 7:00 p.m. at the Ensemble Studio Theatre 

Marco Polo Sings a Solo

Sunday April 3

Directed by Jamie Richards*

The time is 1999, the place an island off the coast of Norway. Stony McBride, a young movie director and adopted son of an aging Hollywood star, is writing a film about Marco Polo, in which, it is hoped, his father will make a comeback. Stony is also attempting to deal with his attractive wife, a former concert pianist whose lover, a dynamic young politician who has gotten hold of the cure for cancer, is also on hand. Adding to the rapidly multiplying complications are Stony's mother (a transsexual, as she later confesses); a friend named Frank (who has been in space orbit for the past five years); a maid (who is impregnated astrally by Frank); and another friend, Larry (who is fitted with a set of mechanical legs). There is also an earthquake; the discovery of a planet; and the birth of a new hero (Stony himself?); all coming together, within the bizarre action of the play, to yield some chilling, albeit very funny, glimpses of the future which may await us all.

Diane - Geneva Carr* 
Stoney - Thomas Lyons* 
Tom - Chris Ceraso* 
Skippy - Amy Staats* 
Lusty McBride -  Scott Sowers* 
Mrs. McBride - Anne O'Sullivan*
Frank - Sam Freed
Larry - Steven Boyer

An Evening of One-Acts

Sunday April 10

Muzeeka 

Directed by Holli Harms*

As the New York Times outlines, "It is done almost as a comedy, yet it isn't quite. Jack Argue is the 'hero,' the middle-class man from Connecticut who works for Muzeeka, a piped-music company that inflicts its bland tunes on all America. He is the man who has made it, who tries to assuage his conscience through hypocritical verbiage. There is a series of episodes--Argue chanting a hymn to a penny, Argue loving his wife, Argue loving a prostitute, Argue fighting in Vietnam. If he could have been wherever he chose to be, he says, he would have chosen to be an Etruscan, one of those ancient people who came and went 'a million years ago,' 'a whole civilization danced out of the earth.' Mr. Guare has written with thought, craftsmanship and beauty. His allusions are poetic--the traffic lights, for instance, that make the streets go from grass to blood."

Argue - Haskell King* 
His Wife- Julie Fitzpatrick* 
Evelyn Landis - Maria Gabriele* 
Stage Hand - Geneva Carr* 
#2 - Robert Askins*

Woman at a Threshold Beckoning 

Directed by Mordecai Lawner*

This universal but surreal courtroom drama, which was originally performed as a part of Brave New World, the commemoration of the first anniversary of 9/11 at Town Hall in New York, is a provocative attempt to spiritually understand and come to peace with the atrocities experienced on that day. The narrator Joan recounts her time as a juror on the grand jury: one day the monotony of testimonies and indictments is interrupted when an Arab woman suspected of terrorist ties suddenly appears to testify before the grand jury. Soon the question of whether or not she really is a terrorist pales in the face of even greater questions-the search for God and the wish to give meaning to life.

with Chris Ceraso*, Martin Shakar*, Sakina Jaffrey*, Jose Angel Santana*, Shawn Randall*, Shyko Amos*, Denny Bess*, Polly Adams*, Linda Faigao-Hall*

The General of Hot Desire 

Directed by Giovanna Sardelli*

How does one write about the unknowable? A group of English Lit students attempt a condensed version of the Christian Bible, starting with a Shakespeare Sonnet. Their knowledge of Bible stories combine with their modern day sensibility to become an accusation against an apathetic and greedy God. Their take on Eden and the after-math compel them to combine love and knowledge to become the weapon against a God who frowns on those who have used their freedom from Eden to see God as perhaps he really is silent.

with Shyko Amos*, Cindy Cheung*, Ann Talman*, JJ Kandel*, Jay Patterson*, Chris Wight*, Catherine Curtin*, Bill Cwikowski*, Haskell King*

Lake Hollywood

Monday April 18

Directed by Barbara Andres*

The first act finds us on the shore of Scroon Lake in New Hampshire in August 1940.  Agnes and Andrew, a soap salesman, arrive from New York City at Agnes' cabin that she owns with her sister, Flo.  Flo would like to have the home all for herself and her new much younger husband, Randolph.  Mrs. Larry, Randolph's German mother, is also in residence.  It is the Feast of the Assumption which Agnes believes brings special healing powers to the lake, powers she hopes to share with her would be suitor, Andrew. The woods around the lake are ablaze on this day, threatening the house, and their belongings have been brought down to the beach.  Their older Uncle Ambrose arrives to add complications to the day by befriending the visiting Andrew, and sharing his own earlier adventure with another visitor, Spencer Tracy.

The second act leaps forward forty years to find us on the West side of Manhattan.  Agnes and Andrew, now husband and wife, are preparing to go to St. Clare's hospital where Agnes must undergo a serious operation.  Hildegarde, their daughter, along with her husband and teen-age daughter, George and Monica, come into the city from New Jersey to drive them to the hospital, but things occur which prevent their helping.  On their short walk to the hospital, Agnes and Andrew stop at a restaurant, and share a long hidden reality. We are left with the image of two people realizing the hope in a 50 year friendship.

with Patricia Randell*, Scott Sowers*, Lois Smith*, David Margulies*, Joel Rooks*, Anne O'Sullivan*, Ann Talman*, Grant Shaud*, Leslie Lyles*, Charlotte Cwikowski, Denny Bess*, Haskell King*

Landscape of the Body

Tuesday April 26

Directed by Abigail Zealey Bess*

Moving back and forth in time, the action of the play is a mosaic of short scenes, monologues and original songs, all blending together into a revealing and affecting study of the American Dream gone awry. The play moves on many levels. In one sense it is a murder mystery: a boy is found dead, and his mother is suspected of his killing. But, as the investigation of the crime proceeds, other themes emerge and combine with it. The boy's mother has come to New York to persuade her sister to come back to their home in Maine; the sister is killed in a bizarre accident and her sibling slips easily into her persona, moving into her apartment and taking over her job; and her son loses his country innocence and becomes involved in the often ugly street life of Greenwich Village. In the end all these various strands are drawn together into a shattering climax--a forceful, moving illumination of lives first betrayed and then destroyed by illusions which, inevitably, lie always behind comprehension and control.

Betty -  Katherine Leask* 
Rosalie - Abigail Gampel* 
Holahan - Lou Liberatore* 
Bert - Jared McGuire* 
Durwood Peach/Masked Man - Chris Harcum
Joanne - Shyko Amos* 
Margie - Molly Carden
Donny - David Gelles* 
Raulito/Dope King - Denny Bess* 

At the piano - Eric March

Special thanks to Tom Rowan* for the casting

*denotes member of Ensemble Studio Theatre