12:30 PM12:30

Brunchily Ever After

It's the last brunch of the season, and we're going out in style: Happy endings for everyone!

June brings five new plays from Youngblood Artists, all about happy endings.  Meanwhile, we've got enough bacon and eggs (plus open bar) to tide you over until next season.

Join us this Sunday, June 8th Performances start at 1pm.  

Buffet opens at 12:30.

by Krista Knight

directed by Jeremy Bloom
with Sean McIntyre, Eugene Young Oh and Kelli Lynn Harrison* 


directed by Abigail Zealy Bess
with Dawn McGee*, Jonathan Randell Silver* and Lucy DeVito*

by Tony Meneses

directed by Andrew Grosso*
with Jared McGuire* and Brett Robinson

by Will Snider

directed by John Giampietro*
with Tommy Crawford, Eloise Eonnet, Will Turner, Tony Vo, and Douglas Waterbury-Tieman

by Lucy Teitler

directed by Colette Robert*
with Eddie Boroevich*, Turna Mete, and Jim Murtaugh*

View Event →
to Jun 22

When January Feels Like Summer

Ensemble Studio Theatre and Page 73 Productions
In Association with The Radio Drama Network present


Directed by Daniella Topol*

May 28th - June 22nd

Wednesday-Saturday and Monday at 7pm
Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 5pm

Presided over by the Hindu god Ganesh, a pair of teenagers become unexpected heroes, an immigrant accountant struggles with visibility, and two stifled romantics begin to stumble toward each other during one strangely warm winter in Central Harlem. When January Feels Like Summer follows five colliding lives as a feeling of change hums in the air and the many flavors of desire saturate the streets and subways and bodegas of the city. These characters learn to do more than meet their obstacles head-on -- they discover how to transcend them.

Cast & Creative

Featuring Dion Graham*, Mahira Kakkar, J. Mallory McCree, Debargo Sanyal*, Maurice Williams

Set Design: Jason Simms
Lights: Austin R. Smith
Costumes: Sydney Maresca
Original Music and Sound: Shane Rettig*



The New York Times Critics' Pick

The New York Times

Theater, Theater Review
Disparate Lives That Intersect
‘When January Feels Like Summer,’ at Ensemble Studio Theater
By Charles Isherwood

Click Here for Full Review

An engaging, buoyantly acted romantic comedy by Cori Thomas at Ensemble Studio Theater.

Among the play’s charms is its diverse cast of characters, who are the kind of folks not seen much of on mainstream local stages

Sydney Maresca’s stylish costumes, and the funky, smartly designed set by Jason Simms, contribute to the play’s lively appeal.

Ms. Thomas’s characters are written with such heart and good humor that we are happy to buy into the more fairy-tale-ish developments. And under the superbly judged direction of Daniella Topol, the actors embody them with both liveliness and sensitivity.

Ms. Kakkar brings a moving sense of strength and dignity to her portrayal of Nirmala

The moving monologue in which Indira falteringly decides to reveal, in an amusingly oblique way, the truth about the state of her gender to Devaun, is delivered by Mr. Sanyal with a soft-spoken emotional intensity that had me holding my breath.

“When January Feels Like Summer” carries you along on the tide of Ms. Thomas’s affection for her characters, which we come to share. The effect is like being given a window into the lives of people we all pass on the street every day, or bump into on the subway, as the characters here do. You might note their air of distraction, or be curious about the self-involved happiness they radiate, but decorum dictates you return your gaze to the iPhone or the blur through the train window. It’s rare to leave a play with such a strong desire to spend more time in the characters’ company.


New Yorker



Click Here for Full Review

The entire cast of this ultimately very funny and moving play, directed by Daniella Topol, is topnotch, but Sanyal is especially riveting as an overzealous convert to womanhood, desperate for admiration.


Times Square Chronicles

Run as Fast as You Can to See When January Feels Like Summer
By Suzanna Bowling

Click Here for Full Review

For at least three years, the work coming out of the Ensemble Studio Theatre has been fresh and poignant, with stories that stay with you long after you’ve left the theatre.

Ms. Thomas’s writing lets us know each of these individuals so deeply that we cry for them, laugh with them and want the best for them. Daniella Topol’s direction is smart as she allows this talented team of actors to stay real; not once do you not believe what they are saying or doing.

When Indira reveals the truth to Devaun, the emotional longing will choke you in its intensity. Mr. Graham is given moments when he reveals his past and as he says “Garbage is garbage” and in his capable hands we understand how to let go. Mr. McCree and Mr. Williams have such a great rapport that we laugh with their antics and sit on the edge of our seats for their next moments.

For a small space with a limited budget, Sydney Maresca’s costumes, and the terrifically designed set by Jason Simms keep us in the moment.

Ms. Thomas’s words cut to the bone as she shows us global warming, child/human abuse, lack of communication, lack of confidence and so much more. This is a play where you do not want to leave the theatre but explore more of the world which Ms. Thomas has opened. I pray that a smart producer moves this because it belongs on Broadway!


nytheater now

Indie Artists on New Plays #104
Espii looks at When January Feels Like Summer at Ensemble Studio Theatre

Click Here for Full Review

Each element of the production design works together to create a realistic feel of New York City. Jason Simms’ set design is attentive to detail, from the personalized graffiti on the wall to the 10 cents sticker on the candy bowl. Austin. R Smith’s lighting design and Shane Rettig’s sound design go hand in hand creating quick transitions like the inconsistency in the weather. A highlight for Sydney Maresca’s costume design was Indira’s rumpled red dress for her date night.

Director Daniella Topol does a wonderful job exploring the ebb and flow of each character. She has created a balance that grows more dangerous by the minute, but remains intact.

Maurice Williams and J. Mallory McCree complement each other as Devaun and Jeron. Also shining is Debargo Sanyal’s portrayal of Ishan/Indira.


Lighting and Sound America

Theatre in Review: When January Feels Like Summer (Ensemble Studio Theatre/Page 73)
By David Barbour

Click Here for Full Review

Topol's direction is helpful in unearthing the real feelings sometimes hidden under the shtick, and her cast does remarkably well with material that shuttles between reality and bare-faced gagging. She pulls off some lovely moments, especially when Indira and Devaun enter from their Burger King date, festooned with paper crowns.

Mahira Kakkar makes Nirmala's dilemma -- she feels loyal to a man she has never remotely loved -- seem thoroughly real. Debargo Sanyalbelievably enacts Ishan/Indira's big change; he also does wonders with Indira's big speech, explaining her situation in terms of the Hindu religion. As Joe, Dion Graham radiates a quiet decency that only barely hides his desire for Nirmala. As Devaun and Jeron, Maurice Williamsand J. Mallory McCree are certainly enthusiastic even as they channel material that sounds like it comes from a "hip" mid-'70s sitcom likeGood Times or What's Happening. However, Williams plays beautifully with Sanyal and McCree does well with a pair of phone monologues.

Jason Simms' set, an arched brick streetscape that can be quickly dressed and redressed, neatly solves the problem of doing a play set in a great many locations; he even supplies a thoroughly convincing piece of a subway car. Austin R. Smith's lighting reshapes the space as necessary, neatly and without fuss. Sydney Maresca's costumes include some stunning Indian outfits for Nirmala and clothing that does much to assist Indira's newly feminine appearance. Shane Rettig's sound design helpfully provides a battery of urban effects -- traffic, subway rumbles, and a local television newscast among them.

Thomas' writing is sufficiently striking that it's easy to see why two fine theatre companies wanted to get behind this production.


A CurtainUp Review

When January Feels Like Summer
By Gregory A. Wilson

Click Here for Full Review

All five characters are ultimately engaging and sympathetic, a testament not just to Thomas's creation but to high quality acting from the ensemble and excellent, lively direction from Daniella Topol.

This is a well-done and uplifting production by Ensemble Studio Theatre and Page 73. If you've ever smiled at something you've seen on a New York City street when passing by, When January Feels Like Summer is your kind of play.


TDF Stages

What If You Listened to the People You’re Afraid Of?
by Kenneth Jones

Click Here for Full Review

On EST’s vest-pocket stage, the physical world of director Daniella Topol’s production is an urban patchwork (by designer Jason Simms): part bodega, part subway car, part transit platform, part apartment, part hospital room, and part street corner.

One of the most nontraditional and sensitive love scenes you may ever see on stage.



When January Feels Like Summer

Ensemble Studio Theatre and Page 73 join together to present the New York premiere of Cori Thomas' latest comedic drama.

By Hayley Levitt

Click Here for Full Review

Thomas delicately peels back the layers of these human shells, drawing them into sharper focus while each searches for a renewed state of equilibrium.  

Director Daniella Topol silently keeps the characters and their unfolding circumstances grounded in a sincerity that seems as unassuming as the dingy subway doors and stocked bodega shelves that comprise Jason Simms' set. Yet, while emitting the unremarkable aura of everyday urban life, Thomas and Topol manage to look under the hood of these unassuming circumstances to reveal a nuance that is absent from the casual newsreel about a pair of local citizen heroes or the struggle with transgender identity.

Thomas is blessed with a talented cast of actors who add the necessary contours to her collection of characters who yearn to be seen by a world intent on keeping them invisible. Kakkar, who opens the play as a stern shopkeeper, drudging through life's responsibilities, chips away at Nirmala's hard exterior with a series of monologues by her husband's hospital bedside. The final pieces of armor fall to the ground in a climactic moment of catharsis, visibly lighting a long-dormant fire behind her eyes. Graham offers a sweet, subdued performance as her romantic counterpart Joe, who, while carrying his own demons, helps bring about Nirmala's spiritual rebirth.

Sanyal, however — who originated this role at Pittsburgh's City Theatre — stands out among the cast of five, delivering a heartbreaking performance as he gradually transforms from Ishan to Indira.

Sanyal succeeds in making an equally strong argument on behalf of Ensemble Studio Theatre and Page 73's future collaborations.


Entertainment Hour

A Theater Review Blog
When January Feels Like Summer @ The Ensemble Studio Theatre
By Paul Morin

Click Here for Full Review

The partnership of The Ensemble Studio Theater and Page 73 Productions starts this reviewer’s theater season off on just the right foot.

When January Feels Like Summer is a wonderfully smart bit of writing by Cori Thomas. Her characters are a perfect blend of ridiculous and believable, causing delight and heartache in the same breath.  It is no surprise with material such as this that the cast excels as well.  

Maurice Williams (Devaun) and J Mallory McCree (Jeron) are hilarious together. Their innocent ignorance allows them to deliver what could otherwise be offensive dialogue as comedy gold.  Dion Graham (Joe) plays a wonderfully mild mannered everyman, who quietly lends compassion and relateability to the audience.  Mahira Kakkar (Nirmala) subtly builds emotional confusion in her character, culminating in a truly crazed release.  

Even among these brilliant performances, Debargo Sanyal (Ishan/Indira) rises skyward.  Sanyal’s portrayal was as moving as it was humorous, often at the same time.  His stylized character reactions leave you disarmed with laughter, lending greater strength to the vulnerability he has a moment later.  To not empathize with him is to be heartless.

In case there wasn’t enough delight in the cast and writing, the direction, set and lighting add even more to this ensemble work.  Jason Simm’s set is a wonderful use of the space; seamlessly transforming in seconds and giving the detail that even lifelong New Yorker’s will appreciate.  Add to that the flowing stage movement from director Daniella Topol, the simple precision of lighting by Austin R Smith and the great prop work by Andrew T Chandler and we are transported around the city with casual ease.

When January Feels Like Summer is a must see!  This stellar production will leave you awe struck.

View Event →
to Jun 26

Bloodworks 2014

Youngblood's annual reading series, featuring 23 new full-length plays from the members of Youngblood

Readings are FREE, no reservations necessary

EXTINCTION - Will Snider
WILDROSE - Anna Moench
RED HOOK HOTEL - Patrick Link & Eric March
ONE OF US - Lucy Gillespie
ENGAGEMENTS - Lucy Teitler
CORN COBBERS - Krista Knight
IRONBOUND - Martyna Majok
YOU LIKE IT - Mariah MacCarthy
THE MOORS - Jen Silverman
CHATTERBOTS - Olivia Dufault
LITTLE HEARTS - Alexander Borinsky
SEMPITERNUS - Tony Meneses
SISTERS IN BLIZZARD - Emily Chadick Weiss
FOUL - Willie Orbison
KENTUCKY - Leah Nanako Winkler
METRO CARDS - Christopher Sullivan

Wed 5/21
7pm Will Snider
9pm Chiara Atik
Thu 5/22
8pm Anna Moench

Wed 5/28
7pm Lydia Blaisdell
9pm Patrick Link and Eric March
Thu 5/29
7pm Lucy Gillespie
9pm Brendan Hill
Wed 6/4
7pm Lucy Teitler
9pm Krista Knight
Thu 6/5
7pm Mariah MacCarthy
9pm OliviaDufault
Tue 6/10
7pm Jen Silverman
9pm Zhu Yi
Wed 6/11
7pm Martyna Majok
9pm Alex Borinsky
Wed 6/18
7pm Emily Chadick Weiss
9pm Tony Meneses
Thu 6/19
7pm Willie Orbison
9pm Kim Davies
Wed 6/25
7pm Clare Barron
9pm Cory Finley
Thu 6/26
7pm Leah Nanako Winkler
9pm Christopher Sullivan

View Event →
1:30 PM13:30

So You Think You Can Brunch


Waltz. Tango. Scrambled. Over-easy. 

 Enjoy 5 new plays about dance from our Youngblood Artists while dancing your own salsa with eggs, bacon and an open bar. 

Join us this Sunday, May 4th
Performances start at 1pm.  

Buffet opens at 12:30.

by Olivia Dufault

directed by Linsay Firman*
choreographed by Dax Valdes
with Curran Connor*, Denny Bess*, Shyko Amos*, Bjorn DuPatty*, Nadia Gan, and Samantha Sembler.

by Mariah MacCarthy

directed by Sidney Eric Wright
with Tyler Hanes and Naomi Kakuk

by Tony Meneses

directed by Nick Leavens
with Jay Patterson*, Dylan Dawson, David Mitsch, Chris Gwynn, and Paul Pecorino

by Will Snider

directed by John Giampietro*
with Dave Thomas Brown and Lilli Stein

by Leah Nanako Winkler

directed by Morgan Gould
with Amir Wachterman Tommy Heleringer, Ike Ufomandu, Mary Monahan and Maggie Raymond 

View Event →
1:30 PM13:30


April 6th, join EST's under 30 playwright program, Youngblood, for a brunch that will defy the limits of reality and stun even the most skeptical of disbelievers.  It's the magic brunch.

Watch as we stun you with 5 new plays about magic while simultaneously filling you up with eggs, bacon and open bar. 

by Cory Finley

directed by R.J. Tolan*
consulting magician Evan McGorty
with Brigitte Viellieu-Davis* and Evan McGorty

by Krista Knight 

directed by Tom Costello
music by Barry Brinegar
with Patrick Terry 

by Willie Orbison 

directed by  Liz Carlson
consulting magician Jeff Grow
with Dylan Dawson, Turna Mete and Curran Connor*

by Jen Silverman

directed by Matt Dickson
consulting magicians Peter Maloney and Ruy Iskandar
with Ruy Iskandar, Darcy Fowler and Chiara Atik 

by Lucy Teitler

directed by John Giampietro*
consulting Magician Alex Fleming
with Mike Smith Rivera*, Ron Domingo and Curran Connor*

View Event →
to Apr 6

Fast Company

Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation present in partnership with Ma-Yi Theater

FAST COMPANY by Carla Ching

Directed by Robert Ross Parker*

A New York Premiere

Ever since she was a kid, all Blue wanted was to be a grifter. 

But her mother, the legendary Mable Kwan, cut her out of the family business. Mable said Blue lacked "the gift of the grift." So Blue went to college. Took a class in game theory. Made herself into a new kind of con artist. Now Blue is staring down the barrel of the score of the decade, and everything is going wrong. She has to call her family for help.

And now they'll find out who's the greatest grifter of them all.

Fast Company is the 2013/2014 mainstage production for the EST/Sloan project, a collaboration between EST and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to develop new plays about science, technology and economics.  

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (Doron Weber, Vice-President, Programs) is a philanthropic, non-profit institution that awards grants in science and technology and economic competitiveness. Sloan’s program in public understanding of science and technology aims to enhance people’s lives through a keener comprehension of our increasingly scientific and technological world. The program also strives to convey some of the challenges and rewards of the scientific and technological enterprise, and of the lives of the men and women who undertake it.

Cast & Creative

Featuring: Stephanie Hsu, Mia Katigbak, Christopher Larkin and Moses Villarama

Set & Lights: Nick Francone
Costumes: Suzanne Chesney
Original Music & Sound: Shane Rettig

*Indicates an Ensemble Artist


Honesty Is Not the Family Policy
‘Fast Company,’ Carla Ching’s Tale of Grift
by Alexis Soloski, March 25, 2014 (To see full article, click here)

Carla Ching’s “Fast Company,” at the Ensemble Studio Theater, offers a crafty take on the dysfunctional-family tale. The Kwan siblings manipulate, deceive and forsake one another. But it’s all for the good of the family business. That business? Con artistry.

Hard-working, intelligent, and ambitious, Blue (Stephanie Hsu) is the Asian-American clan’s black sheep. Years ago, her stepmother, Mable (Mia Katigbak), announced that Blue would never make it as a grifter. Undaunted, Blue runs scams on the sly even as she works toward her undergraduate degree, confident that course work in game theory will help her achieve bigger and better scores. But when a con involving a million-dollar comic book goes calamitously wrong, she must call on her stepbrother, Francis, and Mable to keep the cops at bay.

Ms. Ching has a great gift for dreaming up elaborate plots, though rather less success in unspooling them. There are crosses, double-crosses and schemes devious enough to impress the most jaded flimflammer. But just when a scene gets going, cheap-insult slinging or dry exposition stops it cold again.

The theater commissioned “Fast Company” with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which underwrites projects meant to improve the public understanding of science. Ms. Ching seems determined to give the foundation its money’s worth, pausing to explain every aspect of game theory that the play exploits. In the midst of charged dialogue, characters pause to define “brinkmanship” or “credibility of threat,” as if footnoting the conversation. Urgency is eroded.

The director, Robert Ross Parker, tries to hurry things along. A veteran of Vampire Cowboys’ intensely kinetic theater, Mr. Parker favors broad, energetic strokes, which keep the pacing swift but sometimes threaten to push the characters toward caricature. And that’s a shame, because the play provides rich roles for its actors. Ms. Hsu is gutsy and adorable, and Christopher Larkin does fine work as her stepbrother, who traded long cons for a different kind of hustle: David Blaine-esque endurance stunts.

The expert Ms. Katigbak takes obvious delight in the devious, whiskey-swilling Mable, the kind of woman who, as Blue explains, disavowed Santa Claus “so she wouldn’t have to buy Christmas presents anymore.”

You can hardly blame Mable. In the world of “Fast Company,” as one character remarks: “A grifter’s always grifting. And a gambler’s always gambling.” To show tenderness is to admit weakness. If you’re not the shark, you’re the chump, maybe even the chum.

Yet Ms. Ching reveals the real affection that these characters feel for one another, even as they lie, cheat and steal with skill and avidity. Here, the family that cons together, belongs together.

“Fast Company” continues through April 6 at the Ensemble Studio Theater, 549 West 52nd Street, Clinton; 866-811-4111, ensemblestudiotheatre.org.

A version of this review appears in print on March 26, 2014, on page C7 of the New York edition with the headline: Honesty Is Not the Family Policy. Order Reprints|Today's Paper|Subscribe

Let's Talk Off-Broadway

See full review here
by Yvonne Korshak

Fast Company by Carla Ching, directed by Robert Ross Parker, The
Ensemble Studio Theatre & The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

FAST COMPANY is a fast moving, funny and suspenseful comedy about an Asian-American family of grifters, the Kwan’s, who’ll con anyone -- best of all one another -- to get what they want.

Blue, the girl of the family, using, she says, probabilities based on her college study of game theory, manages to swipe a copy of Action Comics #1, the first Superman comic book (worth over a million dollars, the world’s most valuable comic book) but she loses it!  To get it back, she has to turn for help to her brothers who’ve never thought much of her grafter skills.  This sets up a round-robin of conning with her brothers, Francis, who’s retired from pick-pocketing to become a TV magician, and H, a crooked gambler, until, in their need, they turn to that legendary con great, Mabel -- their mother.

As con artists, they base their moves on calculations of what their targets expect and don’t expect.   What makes this play so delightfully funny is the playwright's canny sense of what the audience can and can't anticipate -- the playwright’s the best con artist of all:  she knows what we will and won’t figure out, and that, as the play continues and we catch on, we’ll get smarter -- so she ups the ante.  FAST COMPANY is a voyage through cleverness: the Kwans outwit one another and the playwright outwits us -- to the very end where she shifts gears to give an unexpected ending that enriches the meaning of her play.

Stephanie Hsu as Blue let’s us catch on through her facial expressions and body language that there’s some kind of special, i.e. family, intimacy, between herself and her brother Francis even before we know who’s who, and Francis -- with help from the playwright -- takes “cool” to new lengths.  Moses Villarama is touchingly conflicted as H, and Mable, as played by Mia Katigbak, with her outstanding deadpan, is tops in the script and in the play.

As for “game theory” … well, the concept may have given a scientific whiff that would involve the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation which has partnered with the Ensemble Studio Theatre to develop plays about science, technology and economics … but crooks were crooks before there was game theory.

FAST COMPANY playsat The Ensemble Studio Theatre on Manhattan's west side through April 6, 2014.  For more information and tickets, click on live link of title.


Times Square Chronical

See Full Review Here

Fast Company At The Ensemble Studio Theatre Is The Family Hustle

What do you do when your brother rips you off? What if it is in the midst of a $1.5 million heist? In Carla Ching’s Fast Company, Blue
(Stephanie Hsu) has always wanted to be a grifter, but her mother shut her out of the game, so Blue has enrolled in Brown to study “Game Theory.”  However on her first con she loses the mark to her brother, H.

Born into a family of con artists, the one code of ethics is you do not “break code.” To get help, Blue goes to her brother, Francis (Chris Larkin) who has retired from the game to become a Las Vegas magician.  Francis insists they call in their psychopathic mother, Mable (Mia Katigbak) who has schooled them all to trust no-one and is the biggest hustler of them all. Together they set up a con to bring H (Moses Villarama) back and get back the stolen copy of Action Comics No. 1, where Superman first appeared, which goes for $1.5 million. The plan was to switch it for a counterfeit copy, return the original leaving the owner none the wiser. H is a compulsive gambler who betrayed his sister in order to save his life. Confronted by the mother, H gives up the comic book as she takes up the betrayal and the con continues.

This game gets twisted, while being turned into a Mad Hatter’s tea party of misdirections. The audience laughs and thrills to this carnival ride of manipulation and greed, spinning rapidly to its effervescent conclusion of how families exploit vulnerabilities for
their own selfish motives.

Director, Robert Ross Parker keeps this show moving like a crisp anime action flick. This ensemble of Asian actors is charismatic, likable and believable in a comic book kind of way. If you liked American Hustle, or the TV show Leverage you will love Fast Company.

Fast Company: Ensemble Studio Theatre, 549 West 52nd Street, through April 6th

View Event →
1:00 PM13:00

Take This Job And Brunch It

Work sucks.  Brunch doesnt. 

TAKE THIS JOB AND BRUNCH IT features 5 new short plays by our Youngblooders. Join us at 12:30 for pancakes, bacon, and open bar.  Performances start at 1pm

by Willie Orbison

directed by Christina Roussos
with Brad Anderson and Lucy DeVito*

by Martyna Majok

directed by Nick Leavens
with Layla Koshnoudi and Gregg Mozgala

by Anna Moench

directed by Liz Carlson
with Sasha Diamond, Diana Ruppe*, Kelli Lynn Harrison*, Dawn McGee*, Graham Stuart Allen, Mike Smith Rivera*, and Bob Jaffe*

by Kim Davies

directed by Danya Taymor
with Alex Grubbs and Cleo Gray

by Emily Chadick Weiss

directed by Claudia Weill*
with Jonathan Randell Silver*, Richmond Hoxie*, and Cathy Curtin*

View Event →
to Feb 9

Please Continue

Please Continue By Frank Basloe

Directed by William Carden

Yale, early 1960s. Professor Stanley Milgram's "obedience experiments" test how cruel people can be when they are just following orders. Milgram gets the data he needs, but the Yale Student recruited to conduct the experiment is left to grapple with his own cruelty, a dilemma echoed by unexpected crimes on campus. Please Continue examines the conditions under which we allow ourselves to inflict harm.

with Austin Trow, Victor Slezak, Jonathan Randell Silver, Alex Herrald, Dylan Dawson, Jared McGuire, Tommy Schrider, Cathy Curtin and Molly Carden

View Event →
1:00 PM13:00

Brunch, Actually

Because we <3 Youngblood and Youngblood <3s Us. 

Join us at 12:30 for pancakes, eggs, bacon and bar, and then, at 1:00, fall in love with five new plays by five Youngblood playwrights.  

Also, we'll have you out in time for anything else that might be happening in New York/New Jersey on February 2nd.  

by Lucy Gillespie

directed by Nick Leavens
with Bradley Anderson, Lucy DeVito*, Katherine Folk Sullivan, and Dawn McGee*

by Brendan Hill

directed by Riley Teahan
with Shyko Amos* and Dave Gelles*

by Mariah MacCarthy

directed by Danya Taymor
with Diana Ruppe*, Lilli Stein, and Brigitte Viellieu-Davis*

by Tony Meneses

directed by Kel Haney*
with Ryan Karels, Drew Lewis, Sean MacIntyre, Turna Mete, and Debargo Sanyal*

by Christopher Sullivan

directed by John Giampietro*
with Polly Adams*, Merissa Czyz, Brandon Drea, Eli Gelb, Erica Lutz, Bobby Moreno*, James Murtaugh*, and Laura Ramadei

View Event →
to Feb 1

Year of the Rooster

Ensemble Studio Theatre and Youngblood present

Year of the Rooster by Olivia Dufault

Directed by John Giampietro

A New York Times Critics' Pick

Extended!  January 9 through February 1, 2014! 

“Year of the Rooster” at the Ensemble Studio Theater isn’t merely entertaining. It’s astonishingly entertaining," - The New York Times

"Plot description doesn’t really do justice to this play’s dazzling comic fury, it’s a good thing there’s an intermission, because the audience needs time to recover" - The New York Times 

"Olivia Dufault's comical cockfight thriller Year of the Rooster, written for Youngblood, brims with that group's ferocious, under-30 pep." - Time Out New York

Odysseus Rex is a champion.

He is his trainer's greatest hope.

He is his opponents' greatest fear.

One day he will destroy the sun.

He is a rooster.

Cast & Creative

Dickie Thimble - Denny Dale Bess*
Lou Pepper - Delphi Harrington*
Gil Pepper - Thomas Lyons*
Odysseus Rex - Bobby Moreno*
Phillipa - Megan Tusing*

Production stage manager - Eileen Lalley
Scenic Design -  Alexis Distler
Costume Design - Sydney Maresca
Lighting Design - Greg MacPherson*
Sound Design - Shane Rettig*
Fight Director - Qui Nguyen*  

*Indicates an Ensemble Artist


He Struts, but His Comb Is Trembling

‘Year Of The Rooster,’ A Play About Cockfighting
By NEIL GENZLINGER, The New York Times
Published: November 11, 2013

“Year of the Rooster” at the Ensemble Studio Theater isn’t merely entertaining. It’s astonishingly entertaining, partly because the playwright, Olivia Dufault, is only in her mid-20s and partly because who would have thought that a barnyard bird could make such an intriguing stage character?

The play is about cockfighting, and it would be noteworthy just for its human characters: Dickie (Denny Dale Bess), a profane promoter; Gil (Thomas Lyons), a timorous schlub who is training a champion-caliber rooster; Lou (Delphi Harrington), Gil’s aged mother; and Philipa (Megan Tusing), Gil’s foul-mouthed co-worker at McDonald’s. Each of their performances is top-notch, and two of them (Mr. Bess and Ms. Tusing) also do time as fowls.

But it’s Bobby Moreno, playing Gil’s prize rooster Odysseus Rex, who makes the play especially memorable. Frenzied and drug-addled (the bird is being supercharged with a diet that includes a lot of injectables), Mr. Moreno is utterly convincing, with the jerky, strutting motions of a rooster and the crowing to match.

But this is no gimmick part. Dufault gives this rooster a complex, conflicted inner life and a revelatory perspective on the world. And Gil piles a lot of hopes onto Odysseus’s feathers. Plot description doesn’t really do justice to this play’s dazzling comic fury, but the gist of it is that Gil enters into a bet with Dickie, who owns a legendary undefeated rooster. The stakes are high; under the humor, Dufault has laid a foundation of pathos.

The pivotal cockfight that ends Act I is exhilarating and, in the tight confines of Ensemble Studio’s theater, a little terrifying. Anyone can stage a sword fight, but the director (John Giampietro) and fight director (Qui Nguyen, of Vampire Cowboys renown) may have invented the template for a battle to the death between birds.

It’s a good thing there’s an intermission, because the audience needs time to recover from this scene and get ready for the denouement. Winning, it turns out, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, whether you’re a human or a rooster.

“Year of the Rooster” continues through Nov. 24 at Ensemble Studio Theater, 549 West 52nd Street, Clinton; 866-811-4111, ensemblestudiotheatre.org.

"Olivia Dufault's comical cockfight thriller Year of the Rooster, written for Youngblood, brims with that group's ferocious, under-30 pep."
Time Out New York

"Year of the Rooster Crows with Delight"
Times Square Chronicle

"It's masterful traditional theater"

"One of the best plays of the year."

"Year of the Rooster, EST's new play by Olivia Dufault, is cut from the same cloth as the best of Greek drama, with gorgeously written tragic characters, torrents of raw emotion, and the agonizing recognition of how fate responds to man's choices."

"Moreno is smart, sexy, funny"

"An EST show is sure to have a distinctive voice, very talented actors and a spirit of passionate support.  That's all on display with Year Of The Rooster... This is a funny, fierce work and you leave eager to see the playwright's next one! That's what EST does at its best and they do it here."
-The Huffington Post  

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1:00 PM13:00

An Object at Brunch Tends to Stay at Brunch

The 2014 Science Brunch Sunday, 1/5 at 1pm

This batch of plays tackle science and tech from a variety of (mostly comic) angles.
Drinks pancakes and bacon start at 12:30, performances start at 1pm. 

by Chiara Atik

directed by Colette Robert*
with RJ Tolan*, Graeme Gillis* and Hanna Cheek 

Fourth grade science is a cut-throat business, especially among Park Slope parents. 

by Clare Barron

directed by Linsay Firman*
with Megan Hill*, Heather Robb and Darcy Fowler*

The advent of onions without the enzyme that makes you cry does nothing to improve the emotional lives of three women. 

by Alex Borinsky

directed by John Giampietro*with Lou Liberatore*, Susan Merson*, Justin Perkins, Debbie Lee Jones*, Justin Perkins, Cory Antiel and Jonathan Randell Silver*

A young man's coming out to his grandfather which erupts into a
family-wide debate on whether his sexuality is a product of biology or

by Cory Finley

directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt
with Danielle Slavick and Haskell King*

Watch the evolving relationship of a climatologist and a zoologist, as they
try to make their own fun at the McMurdo research station. 

by Anna Moench

directed by RJ Tolan*
with Meera Kumbhani, Steve Boyer* and Sean McIntyre

Progress in forestry technology both puts forestry at risk as a career and ruins a perfectly good one-night stand between a student and his adjunct professor. 

by Leah Nanako Winkler

directed by Matt Dickson*
with Mari Yamamoto, Joel de la Fuente and Lilli Stein

A young woman attempts to seduce a renowned robots scientist but struggles to compete with his latest creation.

View Event →
to Dec 14

Christmas In Queens

Christmas In Queens
Book by Patrick Link
Music and Lyrics by Eric March 

Directed by RJ Tolan

Performances Dec 12 - Dec 14 @ 7PM

with Tim Cain*, Curran Connor*, Helen Coxe*, Dylan Dawson, Todd Alan Johnson, Eugene Oh, Rachel Resheff, Jonathan Randell Silver, Nitya Vidyasagar*

In order to save Christmas for one little girl, Manhattan advertising executive Julia Kelly will have to abandon the most important account of her career and travel to the one place she swore she would never, ever go: Queens.

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1:00 PM13:00

Come They Told Me Ba-runch A-Brunch Brunch

Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry.  This Sunday we're adding some culture to all of the holiday revelry with five new plays from our Youngblood crew.  After all, we're not heathens.  Join us for pancakes, eggs, bacon, pastries and our merriest open bar yet and enjoy plays by Leah Nanako Winkler, Mariah MacCarthy, Jen Silverman, Alex Borinsky, and Chris Sullivan! 

by Alex Borinsky

directed by Jeremy Bloom
with Denny Dale Bess*, Steve Boyer*, Layla Khoshnoudi, Patrick Link, Thomas Lyons*, Eric March, Allyson Morgan, Brian Rady and Amy Staats*

by Mariah MacCarthy

directed by John Giampietro*
with Margot Avery*, Dave Thomas Brown, Molly Carden* and Laura Ramadei

by Jen Silverman

directed by Colette Robert*
with Katie Consamus, Catherine Curtin*, Eric Miller and Sean McIntyre

by Chris Sullivan

directed by Rachel Dart
with Bobby Moreno*, Abby Rosebrock, Chet Siegel and Jonathan Randell Silver

by Leah Nanako Winkler

directed by Matt Dickson
with Brad Bellamy*, Alex Borinsky, Darcy Fowler and Chris Sullivan

View Event →
to Dec 7

Holy Crab!

Holy Crab!

By Zhu Yi

The Chinese Mitten Crab is coming to America.  But when it arrives, will it get the welcome it deserves?
HOLY CRAB! is a wildly theatrical dark comedy that blows up the American immigrant experience, and tells a rollicking tale across time and space of how these crabs - a dangerous invader here, a priceless delicacy at home - made it from China to the coast of New York, like so many Chinese Americans before them.

with *Kelly Anne Burns, *Bobby Foley, *Natalie Kim, *Meera Rohit Kumbhani, *Calaine Schafer, * Imran Sheikh, *Keola Simpson, *Shawn Randall, *Mike Smith Rivera, *Michael Rosete

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association

Puppetry Designer and Choreographer: Lake Simons
Music Director: Yoonmi Lee
Stage Manager: Dana Gal
Production Manager: Joe Lankheet

View Event →
to Mar 15

First Light Special Events



a New York Premiere
December 5 - 21, 2013
By Tannis Kowalchuk, Brett Keyser, Allison Waters  
Directed by Ker Wells  
Dramaturg and Contributing Writer- Kristen Kosmas

In 2011, Tannis Kowalchuk had a major stroke. To augment her rehabilitation, Kowalchuk devised her own theatre physical therapy in an attempt to regain her abilities and skills as a performer, musician, and stilt walker. STRUCK is about neurology, the workings of the mind, and one woman's walk on the razor's edge between life and death.


By Lindsey Hope Pearlman with Anisa George, Stella Kasoumpi, Nick Lehane and Alex Suha
January 3, 2014 at 7:30 pm at Dixon Place
161 Chrystie St. Subways: J to Bowery; B, D to Grand Street; F to 2nd Avenue

Based on a true story. A baby girl chimpanzee is adopted by a psychologist and his wife in suburban Oklahoma in the mid-1960's, and raised as their human daughter. Featuring an international cast of physical theatre performers and puppetry, LUCY is the story of unlikely friendship and unconditional love, exploring the bonds that tie humans to our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee.

EST/Sloan Production in partnership with The Ma-Yi Theater Company

View Event →
to Mar 31

First Light Readings

The Gum Play

By Lucas Kavner
December 2nd, 7pm

In the late 1800s, the brutal and disgraced former Mexican president Santa Anna was exiled to Staten Island, New York, where he hoped to make some quick cash and return to Mexico as a hero. But when he and the American assigned to watch over him strike up a unique partnership, everything takes a turn for the far, far worse. A dark comedy based on the true story of the invention of gum in America.


Life on Paper

By Kenneth Lin
December 7th, 6pm

As a forensic economist, determining the financial value of a person's life is just another day's work for Mitch, so the surprise death of a billionaire philanthropist should mean his ship has come in. But when his estimates are disputed by the dead man's beautiful beneficiary, he's forced to re-examine what makes life worthwhile.


Binary (Or The Information Age)

By J. Holtham*
December 9th, 7pm

Rob and Andrew enter a worldwide competition to redesign the Netflix customer preference algorithm, believing victory could change the world, or at least get them out of Andrew's mom's garage. But when Rob falls for a rival programmer, that victory - and their lifelong friendship - hangs in the balance.



By Leigh Fondakowski
December 10th, 7pm

Playwright Leigh Fondakowski (Head Writer of THE LARAMIE PROJECT) explores the stories of those whose lives have been impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.  Based on extensive interviews with gulf coast residents, oil industry workers and environmentalists, SPILL presents the kaleidoscope of conflicting interests and perspectives that led to, and exacerbated, the catastrophe. 

*Following the reading of SPILL, EST/Sloan will host a discussion between Leigh Fondakowski and Moises Kaufman, moderated by Ellen Reeves. 


Father Unknown

By Daniel Reitz*
December 12th, 2pm

Amy and Lisa are the proud parents of a baby girl. When they go online in search of half-siblings born from the same anonymous sperm donor, they are shocked to find a hundred-fifty little half-brothers and sisters--and counting. The miracle of motherhood clashes with the dangerously unregulated boom business of baby making as the women delve deeper into the questionable ethics of the sperm bank that sold them their gift of life.


Youngblood Science Brunch: An Object At Brunch Tends To Stay At Brunch

January 5th, 1pm (12:30 for pancakes and bacon!)

Join the playwrights of Obie Award-winning EST/Youngblood as they merrily push past their complete ignorance of science to ponder the great unsolvable questions of this world and the world beyond…along with a buffet of pancakes, bacon, and (Young) bloody marys. A perennial sellout.



By Emily Chadick Weiss
January 7th, 7pm

After the Beijing Olympics, gymnast Felicia Biancardi refuses to accept her team's second place finish, claiming the gold-winning Chinese athletes lied about their ages. Felicia goes on an obsessive quest to use science to prove the truth and disqualify her opponents, but finds herself up against the limits of what science can prove. A comedy about failure on the world's greatest stage.


Old Four Legs

By Clare Barron
January 13th, 7pm

In early 20th century South Africa, Marjorie Latimer, curator of a curiosity museum, discovers the coelacanth - a fish thought to have been extinct for sixty-five million years.The remarkable story of a life-changing discovery and a one woman's refusal to let it change her quiet life.


Wonks (A Travesty)

By Willie Orbison
January 14th, 7pm

Based on the true story of Project ORCA and the 2012 Presidential Election, Wonks follows the rise and fall of young political operative who devises a secret computer program that will defeat the Obama campaign's big data juggernaut and vault Mitt Romney to the presidency.  Spoiler alert: it doesn't quite work out as he planned.

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1:00 PM13:00

The Brunch Beneath My Wings

EST/Youngblood’s first brunch of 2012/2013 in association with The 52nd Street Project

The 52nd Street Project works with neighborhood kids on original theater pieces.  For our third collaboration with the Project, five Youngblood playwrights created plays custom-written for one of the teens from the Project to perform in, surrounded by professional actors. Presenting FIVE brand new plays, plus a brunch buffet of pancakes, eggs, bacon, pastries and fruit!

Five brand new short plays about what it means to be a hero.
Not a superhero.  Not a sandwich.*
Just a hero. 
*okay maybe also a sandwich.

Special thank you to the Tools for Life Foundation and Melina Brown for making this brunch possible.

by Chiara Atik

directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt
featuring the 52nd Street Project's Delia Cadman
with Molly Carden* and Emma Galvin

by Patrick Link

directed by Linsay Firman*
featuring the 52nd Street Project's Alvin Garcia
with Rob Askins*, Darcy Fowler and Jason Liebman*

by Eric March

directed by Andrew Grosso*
featuring the 52nd Street Project's Enrique Cabaellero
with Kelly Anne Burns*, Dylan Dawson, Sean Huddlestan and Mike Smith Rivera

by Anna Moench

directed by Colette Robert*
featuring the 52nd Street Project's Asia Rosado
with Guy Boyd*, Tim Cain*, Helen Coxe* and Keola Simpson

by Willie Orbison

directed by Rachel Dart
featuring the 52nd Street Project's Daquan Nelson
with Cleo Gray, Seth Kirschner, Lou Liberatore*, and Patricia Randell*

View Event →
to Oct 12

EST/Youngblood Asking For Trouble 2013: Series D

80 Actors | 23 Directors | 23 playwrights  

4 epic nights of theater

Asking for Trouble is back for its 11th, glorious year. 
23 ten-minute plays created in two weeks by 128 artists.


10/9 WEDNESDAY 8:30pm
10/11 FRIDAY 7pm
10/12 SATURDAY 10pm

Writers: Olivia Dufault, Martyna Majok, Eric March, Anna Moench, Willie Orbison

Directors: Christine Farrell*, Melisa Firlit, Ben Kamine, Mikhaela Mahony, Christina Roussos

Actors: Robert Askins*, Dylan Dawson+, Anne Dufault, Abigail Gampel*+, Eli Gelb, Mary Jane Gibson, Jonathan Huggins, Layla Khoshnoudi, Artem Kreimer, JocelynKuritsky, Drew Lewis, Jason Liebman*+,Turna Mete+, Jay Patterson*+, Marguerite Stimpson+, Brigitte Villieu-Davis, Margot White+

+Denotes members of Actors' Equity Association, *Denotes Ensemble Artist

View Event →
to Oct 12

EST/Youngblood Asking For Trouble 2013: Series A

80 Actors | 23 Directors | 23 playwrights  

4 epic nights of theater

Asking for Trouble is back for its 11th, glorious year. 
23 ten-minute plays created in two weeks by 128 artists.


10/8, TUESDAY 7pm
10/10, THURSDAY 8:30pm
10/12, SATURDAY 3pm

Writers: Clare Barron, Alex Borinsky, Kim Davies, Patrick Link, Michael Walek, Zhu Yi

Directors: Tom Costello, Nelson Eusebio, Colleen Sullivan, Danya Taymor, RJ Tolan*, Stephanie Ward

Actors: Margot Avery+*, Allison Buck,  Katie Consamus+, Helen Coxe+*, MerissaCzyz,  Megan Hill+*, Bob Jaffe*+, Ryan Karels+, Seth Kirschner, Dawn McGee+*, James Murtaugh+*, Brian Quijada, Mike Smith Rivera*+, Diana Ruppe+*,Samantha Sembler, Emily Shoolin+, Jonathan Randell Silver+, Teresa  Stephenson+, Stephen Stout, Michael Tisdale+, Chris Wight+*

+Denotes members of Actors' Equity Association *Denotes Ensemble Artist

View Event →
to Oct 12

EST/Youngblood Asking For Trouble 2013: Series B

80 Actors | 23 Directors | 23 playwrights  

4 epic nights of theater

Asking for Trouble is back for its 11th, glorious year. 
23 ten-minute plays created in two weeks by 128 artists.


10/8 TUESDAY 8:30pm
10/10 THURSDAY 7pm
0/12 SATURDAY 5pm

Writers: Chiara Atik, Tony Meneses, Jen Silverman, Will Snider, Chris Sullivan,  Emily Chadick Weiss, Leah Nanako Winkler

Directors: Mark Armstong*, Eliza Beckwith*, Matt Dickson, Jamie Richards*, Colette Robert*, Erica Saleh*, Riley Teahan

Actors: Clare Barron+, Pepper Binkley+*, Kelly Anne Burns*+, Tommy Crawford+, LucyDeVito+*, Julie Fitzpatrick+*, Bobby Foley, Darcy Fowler, Graeme Gillis*, Cleo Gray, Alex Grubbs, Kelli Lynn Harrison*, Sean Huddlestan, Meera Rohit Kumbhani+, Mordecai Lawner+*, Jared McGuire*+, Marie Polizzano+, Shawn Randall*+, Patricia Randell*+, Risa Sarachan+, Chet Siegel+, Keola Simpson, Molly Ward+, Dan Ziskie+*

+Denotes members of Actors' Equity Association * Denotes Ensemble Artist

View Event →
to Oct 12

EST/Youngblood Asking For Trouble 2013: Series C

80 Actors | 23 Directors | 23 playwrights  

4 epic nights of theater

Asking for Trouble is back for its 11th, glorious year. 
23 ten-minute plays created in two weeks by 128 artists.


10/9 WEDNESDAY 7pm
10/11 FRIDAY 8:30pm
10/12 SATURDAY 8pm

Writers: Cory Finley, Brendan Hill, Krista Knight, Mariah MacCarthy, Lucy Teitler

Directors: Kareem Fahmy, Kel Haney*, Kai Hsiang-Tu, Nick Leavens, Ana Margineanu

Actors: Satomi Blair, Dave Thomas Brown+, Chris Ceraso*+, Cathy Curtin*+, Dave Gelles*+, Frank Harts*, Lou Liberatore*+, Erica Lutz+, Susan Merson*, Willie Orbison, Shanga Parker+, Heather Robb, Danielle Slavick+, Lilli Stein+, Mark Watson

+Denotes members of Actors' Equity Association *Denotes Ensemble Artist

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