Thursday, June 30, 2016

A VIEW FROM THE BACK: I Have a Secret..., The Beauty of the Whisper App by Aimee Teplitskiy

By Aimee Teplitskiy
  Throughout the duration of our lives, we are constantly dependent on the company and the assistance of others. As children, we depend on our parents for clothing, food, shelter, and education. As we enter our adult life the dynamic shifts, and we need to stop leaning on our parents for constant support. Instead, we lean on our friends. We live with roommates, go on vacations with our friends, and begin to develop relationships. As grown adults, we hopefully marry and start a family. We rely on our spouse for company, and any support we may need throughout the rest of our lives. Essentially, in every phase of our lives, we surround ourselves with people we can turn to for support.

        The play A View From the Back, by Yi Shi, really exposes how dependent we are on others be they someone we love, or a complete stranger. This play reflects on the different ways that we rely on others, and the different ways that we can be there for and support others. 

        Supporting someone can be interpreted in the literal sense:
Shi, Yi
helping someone sustain themselves by providing them with food, clothing, shelter, and anything else they would need to survive. It can also be something like providing services for someone, like a waiter or a taxi driver. To me, the most significant form of support is emotional support. Every single one of us knows what it is like to have an awful day, or a secret that you really want to share, but know you cannot. I know that when I have those days, the thing I need the most is company. I need to share my thoughts and feelings with someone and have them sympathize without any judgments.

        But sometimes, I am not completely comfortable sharing with my friends or family. Sometimes I am worried they might judge or be condescending of me, and I know I am not the only one that feels this way. There are so many people out in the world who need to confide their feelings and secrets in someone - so they go to the Whisper app. The Whisper app is an app where people anonymously upload the things they need to share most with someone, but are not comfortable sharing with the close people in their life. People can comment on the things others post, showing sympathy or suggesting ways to improve a situation. 

        Some of the confessions I find on Whisper are truly touching. They make me really empathize and connect with the person that wrote them. Others are hilarious and embarrassing stories that make me laugh. And of course, there are those that make me angry or uncomfortable because of their language or their content, but it is nonetheless fascinating to see how many secrets people have, and how comfortable they are with putting them out on the internet. 

        Even for people who do not feel comfortable posting their secrets online, Whisper really helps make you feel like you are not alone. Though I myself have never posted on Whisper, I have come across countless posts that I really related to. It amazes me how two people at entirely different points in their lives, and in two entirely different locations in the world, can be experiencing the same things as one another. But though Whisper is a great way to simply share how you are feeling and find others that feel the same way as you do, receiving support from random strangers is not as fullfilling and meaningful as receiving support from the people who love you.

        It is important to keep in mind that the people behind the screen do not know you. They do not care for you and your well-being the same way your loved ones do. Even though the internet is a great place to find someone who can relate to our problems, and it is helpful to know that we are not alone in our struggle, the only way to really help ourselves is too confide in those closest to us. Though they may not completely understand what we are going through, they will try their hardest and do everything in their power to make us feel better in a way that nobody else can. 

        A View From the Back recognizes this human need for sympathy and support from strangers, and shows how imperative it is for us to try and be there for others. It demonstrates how we never really know what is going on in the lives of the people around us, and that we need to be sympathetic towards the problems of others because pain is relative. Yi Shi uses a seemingly every day and mundane aspect of life, like a taxi driver, to reflect one of the most fundamental pieces of human interaction.

        Sharing personal thoughts is easy when it is done anonymously through the internet. It is easy to connect with a post on a Whisper page, or to get sympathetic comments on posts of your own. But how does this anonymous sharing of information help us learn to deal with the problems we face? If we cannot confront the people closest to us about our problems, we are not ready to deal with these problems ourselves. I can only hope that sites on the internet like Whisper can give us the courage and the drive to confront our issues and allow our loved ones to help us through the hardships of life.

        What are some ways that we can become more comfortable opening up to our loved ones? What are some of your experiences with opening up to friends and family?
Let us know below!!!

        A View From the Back will be playing in the
Strawberry One-Act Festival on
July 16 (Saturday) at 5pm,
July 17 (Sunday) at 3pm,
July 20 (Wednesday) at 9pm. 

The performance will take place at the Theatre at St. Clement’s at 423 West 46th Street, NYC, between 9th and 10th avenue. Tickets can be purchased online at

        A VIEW FROM THE BACK by Yi Shi
Who contemplates the questions of love and death in a taxi? A mosquito.
Saturday, July 16th at 5pm, Sunday, July 17th at 3pm &
Wednesday, July 20th at 9pm

Sixty Shades of Grey: The "Grey" Area in Dating by Elisabeth McGowan

Elisabeth McGown

Dating websites have become a popular method to mingle and date people. Creating a profile, receiving messages from potential dates, and eventually meeting them is all part of the whole process. However, there are possibilities of running into some liars. I’m sure you’ve become aware of creeps online trying to promote themselves, which have usually ended up scaring some website users.

Personally, I have never used a dating website; I prefer to stay offline in terms of meeting new people, partially because of what I’ve heard can happen if you run into a creepy site user. This hasn’t stopped other people from using dating sites though, and it shouldn’t. These websites can genuinely be helpful in building relationships. We’ve all seen the “Christian Mingle” and “eHarmony” commercials about how the websites have helped create recent and happy relationships…even marriages. But how reliable are these sites? Is it all just black and white, satisfaction or distrust of a dating site? Is there a grey area in all of this? Or in other words, is it a mix of happiness, but also reality, meaning some bad parts to a relationship, or even just a date? Is this grey part indicative of a balance in persona, such as not being overly and weirdly sexual or annoyingly timid?

Amanda Ortega explores this “grey” area in her play Sixty Shades of Grey. Now before you think it is just another parody of the infamous Fifty Shades series, it’s not. It’s actually about two people, Lilly and Joe, who are both on their ways to meet with their “” date as the elevator breaks. Ortega used comedy in her play to show the juxtaposition between the two characters. Lilly, an anxious and expectant young woman meets Joe, a calm and intelligent guy. Their conversations are compelling as they bicker over little things then gradually reveal themselves.

The real fact that illuminates from this play is that these modern dating sites make it hard to find the grey area in what one is interested in. Sometimes finding someone who has too much in common with you, and is therefore just too perfect, isn’t exciting. Then again, finding someone who is just horrendously opposite of you has too been found as a negative effect of meeting people online. So how do you find your shade of grey? How do you figure out what person is “right” for you as they say?

Sixty Shades of Grey will answer these questions for you. Show dates are July 14 at 7pm, July 17 at 3pm, and July 20 at 7pm.


A romantic comedy with a twist: a single woman is on her way to meet her first “normal” date when suddenly she gets stuck in an elevator with a man she wants nothing to do with.

Thursday, July 14th at 7pm

Sunday, July 17th at 3pm

Wednesday, July 20th at 7pm

At the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th Street, NYC
The Riant Theatre’s Strawberry One-Act Festival

LIKE THROUGH A MIRROR: Being Thrown into the Deep End of Dating

By Jenan Jacobson

Jenan Jacobson
In the span of a single summer, four married couples that were close friends with my family got divorced. Having watched these couples as models for parenthood and married life, I was understandably distressed and confused. I had never seen these people filling roles in my life that did not somehow revolve around their married status—suddenly Thanksgiving dinners were a mess of balancing which half of the couple would show up this year, and we were sending out quite a few more holiday cards. I was still young enough to believe that these people no longer really fit into the order of the world around me. They had broken free of my limited understanding of the world, and for me it seemed like the end of their lives. Reflecting back on these childish thoughts, I now see divorce a little bit more clearly, and I can comprehend futures for these people who have seen fit to part
ways. As a friend to the children of these shattered marriages, the new question that burned on my tongue whenever it came up was how they felt about a new person entering into one of their parent’s lives. Romantically. I, of course, restrained myself, but I always wondered. What was it like to enter back into the dating pool so late in the game? Having spent so much time removed from the writhing and changeable arena of casual romantic interaction, what is it like to return and be suddenly submerged? Have the rules changed? This is the same for widows and widowers. What does it take to become that vulnerable again? Having been parted from the normal and expected, what does it take to foster a reemergence of budding romantic feelings? If the break happens later in life, does age suddenly present an impossible impediment to finding new love?

In the play Like Through a Mirror by Joseph Lizardi, two actors rehearse for a show, donning roles that hit a little too close to home. Playing characters that fall in love despite an age gap, the rehearsals allow these actors to share parts of themselves with each other, moved along by the closeness mirrored in the play. Both characters find themselves in positions that have them reentering the wilds of availability, widowed and divorced, and unsure quite how to approach new relationships. The play balances the performed and the utterly genuine, and also emphasizes the importance of art in resolving issues in one’s own life.

My parents were both divorced before they met each other, and so I am the product of a reintroduction to the dating scene following such a rift in one’s life. Sometimes these trials and errors need to happen, it seems, and when forced to, people will swim rather than sink when thrown back into the deep end of dating. In the play, we watch these characters come to terms with being alone, and then perhaps being something more, and we root for them as they navigate these tricky waters. Come watch them figure out how closely fiction can inform fact!

Have you ever experienced a reintroduction to dating? Have any stories about meeting the right person the second or third time around? Comment below!

Like Through a Mirror will be performed as a part of the Strawberry One-Act Festival on July 15th (Friday) at 9pm, July 19th (Tuesday) at 7pm, and July 21st (Thursday) at 9pm. The performance will take place at the Theatre at St. Clement’s at 423 West 46th Street, NYC, between 9th and 10th avenue. Tickets can be purchased online at    

PSYCHIC CAFE: Is The Future Written in Your Cards? By Aimee Teplitskiy

By Aimee Teplitskiy
Fortune cookies, horoscopes, Magic 8-balls, palm readings, tarot cards; we all immerse ourselves in a culture, in a society that is always looking to the future. We want to know what will happen tomorrow, or in a few weeks, or in ten years, and in the scramble for the future we often forget to live in the present.
        The play The Psychic Café, by Anthony Fusco, delves into the idea that perhaps we let fortune telling, and our obsession with always moving forward, dictate how we live our lives. The protagonist, Anthony Fontana, lives his life strictly by his tarot cards. If it is in the cards, it must be so. He allows psychic readings to dictate his every decision, and in doing so, he renders himself blind to the things going on around him.

        But Anthony is not alone in making this mistake. In fact, finding a balance between this cultural aspect of our society and the reality of the world around us is a struggle we all face. Take Nancy Reagan for example.  The former First Lady is known to have used an astrologer as a consult in very significant affairs during her husband’s presidency including the timing of the Presidential debates, military tactics, as well the date of his cancer treatment. Considering the fact that Nancy Reagan had so much pull in the White House, this could arguably be an inappropriate decision on her part. Should she really have allowed astrology to dictate the decisions that were made by the White House?
        Even looking beyond literal psychic readings, we face the struggle of future versus present in the scientific field as well. In the advanced, technological age we live in today scientists are constantly striving to uncover what the future holds, and in doing so, to prevent diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. Gene mapping, the process of identifying the genes present in peoples’ DNA, is becoming a growing field of interest in the medical world. People want to be able to know the diseases that are embedded in their DNA, and that have a potential of being triggered in the future. In theory, gene mapping would help prevent the development of many hereditary diseases, and would also give scientists the ability to learn more about getting rid of these diseases altogether. However, if gene mapping is made more accessible, we need to consider the question of how will this affect the way we live in the present?

       If I got my genes mapped and found out that I have a chance of getting a disease, I could either go on living my life as I normally would, or I could structure the rest of my life around this slim chance that I might get this disease. I would have to decide if it is worth it to alter my life choices, so that I might evade triggering that disease.
        This is a concern that many different professionals have expressed on the topic of gene mapping. We need to consider how gene mapping results might affect patients’ mentalities, and if this process should be made accessible to the public in the face of these risks. But at the same time, how can we deny people the right to know what potentially lies in their future?
        I think that The Psychic Café has a very in depth way of portraying how much we let fear and anticipation of the future shape our life choices. I think too often we worry about how what we do will affect us later on, and do not stop to consider how much we are missing out on when always airing on the side of caution. We need to understand the importance of finding the balance between thinking ahead, and still enjoying the present moment. And the next time you sit down for a tarot card reading ask yourself: How much should we let the future dictate what we do in the present?

Let us know what you think below!!
The Psychic Café will be playing in the Strawberry One-Act Festival on July 14 (Thursday) at 9PM, July 16 (Saturday) at 5PM, July 17 (Sunday) at 3PM. The performance will take place at the Theatre at St. Clement’s at 423 West 46th Street, NYC, between 9th and 10th avenue. Tickets can be purchased online at

PSYCHIC CAFÉ by Anthony Fusco
A flamboyant NYC psychic hires an assistant to draw in new business. The new guy has no idea what he’s in for until he meets the quirky clients who reveal the most bizarre, over-the-top secrets.
Thursday, July 14th at 9pm
Saturday, July 16th at 5pm
Sunday, July 17th at 3pm
For tickets go to

NIGHTS ON THE COUCH: Keep Calm, You're Having a Baby

By Jenan Jacobson

Jenan Jacobson
Deciding to have a baby is life-changing. That right there is a game changer—the entire way you have oriented your life is going to shift, and with the birth of your son or daughter comes a rebirth of your own. I have often wondered at my parents’ decision to wait for so long before they had children, and whenever I asked them about it they always talked about how they wanted to be at the point in their lives where they wouldn’t be regretting any paths they hadn’t taken. Your life is not entirely your own after you have kids, at least as far as I can tell from
my observations of family members and friends. This being said, everything that leads up until that baby-having moment is fodder for the self that makes you a mother or a father. Like a chain reaction, all the facets of your life that come together to create your personhood inform the life that you lead jointly with your child. The type of discipline you were dealt as a child by your own parents might inform how you deal with your child’s tantrums, or the adventures in love you experienced in your youth could generate a certain brand of advice-giving when your kid is pining after his or her first crush. Your life is dramatically altered, to the point where the you of the past that partied into the early hours of the morning might not even recognize the person up at that early hour, changing a diaper. However, the person you become is irrevocably tied to the experiences that you see shaping that original personality.

The play Nights on the Couch by Matt Fotis deals with this transition into parenthood in a way that shows just how connected all the different parts of your life are, and how these pieces build on each other to follow us through the process of growing up. The play focuses on the character of David, 30 years old with a brand new baby in his life. Looking at the new life in front of him, feeling his own life shifting, the flashbacks that take him through the stages in his “previous” existence tell the story of the man who is just now becoming a father. From very young and arguing with a best buddy to older and struggling with the whims of women, we see the pieces that fit together to create a life. While the snapshots stand in their own sphere of a story, the conflicts particular to a specific time in his life, there is an undeniable accumulation of complexity of being. Additionally, the play ushers in a new life by packing in the history of the lives that came before it. It is recognition of life in the grand scheme of things, and our connection to each other across time and space. At its center, the play reveals the tight spider web of connecting lives and peoples, and shows how each intersection is an essential shaper of who you become, and how you go on to impact the people you interact with.

Are you having a baby soon? Will you want kids? If you have children, how do you think the life you’ve led will impact your interactions, and how will your life change after you’ve had one? Comment below!

Nights on the Couch will be performed as a part of the Strawberry One-Act Festival on Thursday, July 14 at 9pm, July 17 (Sunday) at 7pm, and July 21 (Thursday) at 9pm. The performance will take place at the Theatre at St. Clement’s at 423 West 46th Street, NYC, between 9th and 10th avenue. Tickets can be purchased online at

Family Dinners as Living History—THE EARLY BIRD SPECIAL is Served!

By Jenan Jacobson

Jenan Jacobson
Family dinners are always an interesting affair.
Crossing generational gaps to enjoy a night of       eating and joke telling, these dinners are a microcosm of the differences that stretch across eras. Depending on the family, gatherings like these could play out in myriad ways. My favorite television show when I was younger was Gilmore Girls, and the best scenes were always dinners at Emily and Richard’s house. Why? Because that was where all the tension was to be found! These two generations were as different as could be, “diametrically opposed, foes.”

Hamilton's "The Room Where it Happened"

In fact, this setting of the family dinner is a well-loved one in television and stories, even appearing in good old family lore. Some dinners fill themselves up with small talk and secret shames and disappointments, tension weighting people down like a heavy blanket. Some dinners are celebrations, good news passed around with the salad bowl. Sometimes the baby photos are brought out.
The family dinners in Gilmore Girls 

Regardless of how these events ultimately unfold, some things are always made clearer. The interactions between generations and the perceptions challenged on both sides of  the age spectrum display a sort of living history, a tangible change in our society. It’s always obvious which grouping of people grew up at the same time—their references to old television shows that don’t ring any bells, their jokes that call upon the memory of some specific political slogan never mentioned in your history books, all of these are testaments to a life that cannot truly be understood by a generation that comes after. And vice versa. Trying to explain some of the finer nuances of Facebook or Twitter will be an exercise in futility, and engaging in topics that are just a little bit too out there is often met with some form of resistance. These are people we love and who love us, but there is a separation nonetheless.

The Early Bird Special by John J. Ronan tells of the aftermath of one such family dinner. Splitting the script into three sections of conversation, we see the reflections of the older generation as well as the younger. The older couple congratulates themselves on a meal well done, celebrating despite the various medical problems bringing them down in their old age. We get to also see two other perspectives from the same evening, the older couple’s children making their own remarks about the dinner—giving a vastly different impression of how the night progressed. This construction of the play works wonders in conveying these differing perspectives, highlighting how dramatic the shift in comprehension of an event is according to your place in the history of the world. Given different backgrounds and experiences, groups of people looking at or participating in the same event might come away with vastly dissimilar impressions. This is true within the same generation, of course, because people grow up differently. However, there is a commonality contained in the zeitgeist that is just not present across generations. And The Early Bird Special portrays this beautifully. Also I hear there is a hilarious joke in the play. Don’t miss it!

Do you have any good stories from a family dinner? 
Wacky things your grandparents have said? Comment below!

The Early Bird Special will be performed as a part of the 
Strawberry One-Act Festival on July 16 (Saturday) 
at 1pm, July 18 (Monday) at 9pm, and July 23
(Saturday) at 1pm. The performance will take place at the 
Theatre at St. Clement’s at 423 West 46th Street, NYC, 
between 9th and 10th avenue. Tickets can be purchased 
online at

Sunday, June 12, 2016

JUST SAY IT THREE TIMES By Erin Moughon. The Creative Team, Cast & Ticket Info.

 The Creative Team

Erin Moughon (Playwright & Director) is a NYC-based playwright and teacher with an MFA from Columbia.  Plays include: Survived By (New Plays Now, 3LD), Slip Her a Mickey (Schapiro Theatre),  Pretend That You Owe Me… (Schapiro Theatre) , “[death]” (Player’s Theatre) ;“What if…?” (Arden Project as part of Old Vic New Voices); “In Memory of Calvinball” (Heartland Theater). 

She was a semi-finalist for both the Princess Grace award (‘10) and the National Playwrights Conference (‘12 and ‘14). She completed 31 Plays in 31 Days thrice and participated in Write Out Front and 365 Women a Year both twice.  More information can be found at

David Smith (Tech/Light & Sound Person) is thrilled to be involved in this production. Thanks to Erin. I love you!

The Cast

Bess Miller (Joanna) received her MFA from The New School for drama this May. Credits there include Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Aphra Behn (!) in Or. Outside of school she appeared recently in Emission at Dixon Place. She is thrilled to have been a part of this production. A huge thank you to all involved!

Emily Long (Emilia) Having previously performed in Erin's adaptation of a Neil Gaiman work, Emily is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of another of Erin's plays, surrounded by amazing women. Many thanks to Behn and the many other badass writers who paved the way and continue to inspire us. Love, ever and without reserve, to Scott.

Kendra Augustin (Aphra Behn) has a BA in theatre from Nova Southeastern University. She has also studied at Stella Adler, Matthew Corozine Studio, The Shakespeare Forum and The Peoples Improv Theater. Some of her notable roles include Florence Mills in The Three-Mile Limit (by Barbara Khan) and Mona in Philoctetes (by Sander Gusinow).


Joanna and Emilia are spending another night at home drinking and bemoaning the state of their lives.  That is until Joanna summons playwright Aphra Behn to their apartment from the 1600s.

Friday, July 15th at 7pm
Monday, July 18th at 9pm
Thursday, July 21st at 7pm

Tickets: $25 Online, $27 at the Box Office
Premium Seats (Rows A-F): $30 Online, $35 at the Box Office

Friday, July 15th at 7pm
Playing with:

THE OLD STATES By Lain Kienzle
Directed by Lain Kienzle
As the snow storm of the decade hits her small farm house, Mildred finds a stranger collapsed at her door step.  But once she opens that door, she may not want to close it.

HIM AND HER Book, Music & Lyrics By Matt Anderson
HIM AND HER, a dark story that will leave you stunned and hopefully, asking questions that will start a dialog about a difficult topic.

A Musical
By Gil Varod, Caleb Damschroder & Kit Goldstein Grant
Christopher Michaels (Producer)
When a recently-sacked MTA executive wanders the port Authority Bus Terminal after midnight, the plaster “Commuters” sculpture comes alive to warn him how he is to pay for his subway-related sins.  A one-act horror musical that played to uproarious laughter during its initial reading at Lincoln Center’s “Across A Crowded Room” festival.
Avoid the Port Authority after midnight.

Monday, July 18th at 9pm
Playing with:

EULOGIES By Amanda Feliciano
What happens at a funeral, stays at a funeral.

A woman trapped in an elevator is forced to confront her imaginary sister.

A martini to die for, the old folks are really stepping out.

Thursday, July 21st at 7pm
Playing with:

A one-act play diving into the emotions of a tormented man that may have murdered his wife.  You will cherish the moments of laughter that relieve you from the raw emotion.

SEE YOU HAVE ME By Simone Allen & Ed Rosini
Directed By Shannon Ludeman
Simone Allen: Writer/Composer/Music Director
Adam Kaminski: Bass, Jeff Saltzman: Cajon

Nick's family just doesn't get him, and neither does his older sister, Sam, who has just come home from her second year at college. Watch this family struggle with finding themselves, loving each other, and letting go in this original short musical.
Jacqueline and Frank invite an old friend over for dinner, hoping she will influence Jacqueline’s daughter’s decision about her first teenage love.  Having a smartphone at the ready during a conversation of old friends turns out to be a dangerous thing, as the daughter starts researching their stories through the internet.  They come to reveal and to learn more about themselves during the setting of the dinner table than they ever imagined.