Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Venus von Merkel

Abover:  Detail of "Venus von Hamburg" by Cristian Bors and Darius Ritiu. 
Photo credit:  Anja Matthes, courtesy of Open Source Gallery

It's been a busy theatrical summer, which I'm winding up with a new play, "Venus von Merkel," which opens this Friday.  It's much broader and more overtly political than I'm used to writing.  But thanks to Open Source Gallery, I have the opportunity.  

All the info is below.

Dramahound Productions and Open Source Gallery are pleased to announce the world premiere of a one-act play by Anne Phelan, Venus von Merkel.  It will be performed September 18 and 19 at 7:30 and 8:30 PM at Open Source Gallery, 306 17th Street, Park Slope.   Admission is free. 

The play was commissioned by Open Source Gallery, and is inspired by its current exhibition Venus von Hamburg, Cristian Bors and Marius Ritiu’s sculptural take on the Greek debt crisis. It features Alexandra Gellner (Romeo & Juliet, The Cradle Theatre Company; Pericles, The New Ensemble Workshop; Coffee & Biscuit, HERE Arts SubletSeries, NYC Fringe) as Aphrodite, and Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum (Robert Moses, in Les Frères Corbusier’s Boozy; Bernie Madoff in Woodshed Collective’s The Confidence Man; Old Testament God in Les Frères The Franklin Thesis) as German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The director is Christie Marie Clark (Anne Phelan’s They All Know Me, Thespian Production Slam-a-Thon; Clown Love, Strawberry One-Act Festival; The Diner, Caravan Play Festival) with costume design by Anna Slocum.  

Venus von Merkel imagines a surreal summit between Merkel, dressed as a pirate of the Caribbean, and Aphrodite, representing the Greek people.  It is a satirical, questioning exploration of globalization, the euro crisis and their the human cost. 

This is Anne Phelan and Dramahound’s sixth production at Open Source; previous plays include Brooklyn Lighthouse; Deconstruction (featuring Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum); Mi Tigre, My Lover (featuring Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum); a reading of The Tiger Play; and Olmsted in Autumn.

Open Source Gallery is a 501(c)3 owned and curated by Gary Baldwin and Monika Wuhrer.  Directions:  To reach Open Source, take the R train to Prospect Avenue.  306 17th Street, near Sixth Avenue, Brooklyn NY.  646.279.3969


Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Mermaid Won't Sing

"The Mermaid Won't Sing" is a new one-act by me, inspired by Tom Bovo's photograph "Harbor- Fog."  It will be presented twice, at 4:30 and 6, on Saturday, July 18th at 440 Gallery, 440 Sixth Avenue (near Ninth Street), in Brooklyn, New York.  It's directed by Christie Marie Clark, and features Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum as Barnaby, and Shannon Marguerite as Aphrodite the mermaid.  Admission is free.  The play was commissioned as part of Tom Bovo's solo photography show, "The Other Side of Summer." 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Theatre History Geeks Alert!

Tomorrow morning there's a special guest at the Church of Monika at Open Source Gallery.  Cezar Del Valle is coming at 11AM to talk about his new book, "Brooklyn Theatre Index, Volume III," about the history of theatre in Coney Island.  I am a total theatre history geek in general, but I'm particularly interested in Coney Island because of Eddie Cantor, Chico Marx and Louis Roth.  Roth was married to (and trained) Mabel Stark-  they're both in my play "The Tiger Play."  He learned to train big cats while working for a wild animal show in Coney Island, ca. 1900. 

Open Source Gallery is at 306 17th Street, near the corner of Sixth Avenue.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Other Side of Summer

"Harbor- Fog" photo by Tom Bovo

Tom has got another solo show at 440 Gallery, and once again, he's commissioned me to write a play based on a photo of his (I chose the above).  It's called "The Mermaid Won't Sing," directed by Christie Clark, featuring Shannon Marguerite as Aphrodite the mermaid, and Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum as Barnaby.  The play will run one afternoon only, Sat., July 18 at 4:30 and 6PM. 

Tom has many events for his show.  This Saturday, there's an opening reception, 5-8.  Sat. the 25th, I'm giving a talk on mermaids (really not for children, nor is the play) at 4.  Sun. August 2nd, Jody Mullen is singing a pop and standards set; and Sunday, August 9th, there's a closing reception, 4-7.

440 Gallery is at 440 Sixth Avenue (near Ninth Street) in Brooklyn, New York.  The nearest trains are the G, F, R at 4th Avenue/Ninth Street.  For more information, www.tombovo.com or www.440gallery.com

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Master Writer of the City

There's a new biography of Joseph Mitchell by Thomas Kunkel called "Man in Profile:  Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker."  It's reviewed by Janet Malcolm in the April 23rd issue of the New York Review of Books.  I had a copy of Mitchell's "Up in the Old Hotel" which I kept for years- such an eerie tale of old New York, before the Brooklyn Bridge was built. 
I didn't know Mitchell, but I saw him fairly often.  He liked to come to the 11 o'clock service at Grace Church, and lurk in the back by the narthex (that's foyer to the uninitiated).  He didn't discriminate between Morning Prayer and Communion, never approached the altar rail.  The Rev. Fleming Rutledge, the assistant at the time, told the congregation that Mitchell came for the sermon.   
I never felt like Mitchell was approachable, so I left him alone.  Never asked him about his writer's block, or about the New Yorker's glory days.  He was a man who wanted to be left alone.   And I was a young writer who didn't want to upset an old man. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


In my quest for research about Berlin in the early 1940s, I came across Allison Owings' Frauen [Women].  It's a series of interviews with women who lived through the "Hitler times" in Germany, and it's fascinating.  Owings doesn't judge her subjects, she lets the reader judge for herself.  Some of the subjects are remarkably unguarded in their stories.   One interviewee is Freya von Moltke, whose husband was executed for his resistance work; but most of these women are not aristocrats nor famous.  They hold a wide range of political opinions; some of them had the greatest admiration for Hitler and his policies.  The interviews are full of surprising insights into the daily lives of women during difficult times.  I can't recommend it highly enough. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Llamas on the Attack!

One night before rehearsal, my friend Cotton Wright made the mistake of telling me that her sister had witnessed attack llamas, that is llamas who act like guard dogs at various properties in the southwest.  This image of half of a pushmepullyou behaving like Jimmy Carter's attack rabbit has stayed with me. 
In the November 10th issue of the New Yorker, Alec Wilkinson wrote a feature called "Modern Farmer, and the Back to the Land Movement," in which he interviewed the former (as of yesterday) editor of Modern Farmer magazine (who knew there was such a thing?), An Marie Gardner, and a farmer, David Munson, Jr.  Munson had a few things to say about his llamas, which he keeps to guard his goats:  "Llamas don't like dogs, they don't like coyotes, they don't really like people-  they put up with them because they bring them food.  Some are more protective than others.  Mine were raised [on his farm north of Dallas] as pet llamas, I think, and they just didn't go after the bad guys.  They would walk ff and leave the goats.  The predators often kill for fun.  You have all these goats that are torn up ... It's a combat situation... I replaced the llamas with guard dogs."