DECEMBER 2016 / JANUARY 2017
February 7, 2017
Last Tuesday (2/7/17) it was a dark and stormy night….and STILL they came! And they came EARLY! Lots of them! Writers, actors, directors – lots. The doors normally open around 7:00PM but by that time the house was half full. Our sign in sheet went to two pages. We had a couple of members return after an extended absence. It was good see G. Lawrence Stewart and Jody St. Michael again and we welcomed them back by promptly putting them to work on stage. Returning members are nice but what was even better were NEW ACTORS! We had four new actors join us last night – Susan McWilliams from New York, William Stevenson from LA, Mateo Mpinduzi-Mott from Huston and Anna Narbekian from Syria (her accent was so marvelous!) and we put them to work as well. No rest for the wicked – none! And speaking of work, the evening started with a section of a full length play by Ladd Sullivan titled Juliet & Romeo. Juliet & Romeo is a re-imagining of the Shakespeare play, told from Juliet’s point of view (hint: she thinks he’s an idiot). The playwright was encouraged when the actors on stage were laughing along with the audience. The leads were played by Anita Borcia and Jody St. Michael with help from Herman Poppe and Tom Walla. From young lovers to young newlyweds in Lawrence Stewart’s short piece – Boat House. A cantankerous grandfather turns out to be the co-conspirator with the bride to get the couple to spend their honeymoon in a boat house. Anna Narbekian was the bride, William Stevenson was the groom ( a talented lovely couple) and Mr. Stewart played the loving grandfather. Felix Racelis was next up with another scene from his untitled full length play about a difficult father / son relationship and the cost of war upon each. This flash back scene was fleshed out by Sunil Vernekar, Dan Roth, Herman Poppe and Helen Duffy. Loss was very much on the mind of Justin Lord in his short play – Hide & Seek, where are you mom? Two teenage brothers try to cope with the painful absence of their mother. Mateo Mpinduzi-Mott (in his First Stage debut) and Herman Poppe were brothers bound by loss. While the story may sound simple the storytelling was artful and complex.. Justin Lord builds word by word and image by image until you find yourself standing beneath a rose window in a cathedral of theater. Justin will have a Staged Reading of his work this Wednesday (2/15/17) and if you love the art of writing, you should be there. On a lighter note, Tom Misuraca returned us to the world of Comic Con in San Diego with his short - Cosplay. Herman Poppe and Sharon McWilliams portrayed classic comic book fans in an encounter with a millennial video gamer played by William Stevenson. This generation gap comedy was a rewrite of an earlier draft and the consensus in the theater was that the changes were an improvement. The process works! Next, Helen Duffy was a center stage with Tom Walla’s monolog to be submitted into a festival honoring International Women’s Day. Helen is a very good actress with a remarkable range. During the monolog Helen portrayed a 16 year old girl trying out for a boys ice hockey team and IMHO Helen scored on that one.
This WEDNESDAY (2/15/17) we bring out the big guns for our monthly Staged Reading series – LORD, POPPE & MISURACA – powerful, provocative & prolific! Our monthly Staged Readings will take place at the Eclectic Company Theatre located at 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd. in Valley Village. The doors open at 7:00PM and the readings begin promptly at 7:30 PM. There is a suggested donation of $10.00 And if a cold rainy night in February is any indication – get there early to get a seat.
You’re not going to want to miss this one.
January 25, 2017
Last week (1/17/17) we had EIGHT writers bring in their work. EIGHT. That is a lot for one night. And I've got to tell you, by the end of the night our actors looked ....exhausted. The evening started with a buzzing afterglow from our OFF THE SHELF FESTIVAL. There were a lot of smiling faces as stories were exchanged and compliments paid to the participating writers, actors and organizers. Good feelings all around. But then we got down to business. The first piece was a section of a full length play by Ladd Sullivan titled Juliet & Romeo which is a retelling of the Shakespeare play from Juliet's point of view. The Performance Partners were Roberta Bassin, Dan Roth and Tom Misuraca. Next up was also a section of a larger work by Gene DeJoie titled In the Shadow of. An estranged daughter reconnects with her mother after the funeral of her Army veteran sister who took her own life. Actors Helen Duffy, Roberta Bassin, and Cherie Mann were all poignant in their exploration of anger and grief. We then were treated to a jazzy mash up of two short plays by Herman Poppe titled Don't Confuse the Messenger. Returning member Gregory Lee Kenyon joined Dan Roth, Helen Duffy and Felix Racelis in malapropism mayhem that ended with a pistol packing punch. This was an experiment by Herman Poppe and he said he was grateful for the cold read because he now had a better idea as to where to go with the piece. Next up, Felix Racelis with a new scene from his play in progress about a son’s difficult relationship with his now homeless father. The scene read by Roberta Bassin and Gregory Lee Kenyon was a class of cultures regarding the care of family members. A wedding was next on our list with another play in progress by Toni Marsnik. An estranged daughter confronts her neglectful father played by Herman Poppe. Roberta Bassin read the part of the aggrieved daughter, Anita Borcia was the sheltered sister and Cherie Mann was the second wife. Roberta and Herman swam into some deep waters towing us all after them. One comment given to Playwright Toni Marsnik was that the scene had such authenticity, they felt that Toni had been hiding behind a bush at a real live event writing down each pain laden sentence. Execution was our next subject. Director and Playwright Justin Lord wrote a ten minute play titled It’s Still Here that had the audience by the throat. A husband agonizes over the execution of a man he knows to be innocent, while his wife is certain that the man on death row had killed their son. In ten short pages, we were all chained to a bench of pain in this gripping, powerful piece. Two of our best, Helen Duffy and Herman Poppe were flawless in the delivery of Justin Lord’s soaring language, imagery and poetry. It was hard to believe that this was a cold reading, they were that good. But no rest for Mr. Poppe. He turned right around and played a lover of comic books as he and his wife (played by Roberta Bassin) were two middle aged Cos Play attendees of the San Diego Comic Con. The pair’s love of comics and the convention is met with indifference by a millennial video gamer played by Gregory Lee Kenyon. Never has the “generation gap” been explored in such an amusing setting. While Gregory Lee Kenyon was able to sit out the next piece, Herman Poppe was not as he and Dan Roth played two old friends reminiscing about their time in the intelligence community. What’s the catch? Writer Gregory Lee Kenyon was able to put meat on these bones in just five pages. Pretty impressive if you ask me. Exhausted but satisfied, that’s how the evening ended and that’s how we draw the curtain on a very busy January. While many bemoan the state of the world, theater is thriving at FIRST STAGE. And YOU can be a part of it. It is easy to find us. Just look for the line going out the door on Laurel Canyon Blvd….
See you on TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5TH.
January 12, 2017
Hand to God, folks. People were sitting on the stairs. They were standing in the aisles. They were crammed into seats. It was a packed house. PACKED! Last night we had a packed house for the 2017 OFF THE SHELF FESTIVAL. Stories ranged from Existential angst (Where’s the Exit by Hermann Poppe), new beginnings for old Boxers (Bruised Figs by Gene Dejoie), unexpected romance (Date ‘n Switch by Felix Racelis), internet celebrity (To Be or X Tube by Tom Misuraca) to an out-of-body experience (Life is a Dream by Jacob Edelman). It was an evening full of laughter, tears and romance of all shapes and sizes. We would like to thank Bennett Cohon for being the evening’s Producer (and Director), Gene Dejoie for operating the light board and First Stage Board Member Helen Duffy for being the MC (and Director) and to our other Directors Gera Hermann and Dan Roth for their hard work in getting the shows up on their feet. And we especially want to thank our Performance Partners Jacque Lynn Colton, Neil Elliot, Susana Woo, Jean Kartal, Kris Frost, Christopher Carroll, Helen Duffy, Dan Roth, Sunil Vernekar, Samm Hill, Anne Westcott, David Wells, Devin Caldarone, Aaron Stall and Tripp Pettigrew-Rolapp. We thank our Performance Partners for their generosity and their talent. We could not do it without your support. Great writing plus great acting equals a PACKED house. We thank you all for making the 2017 OFF THE SHELF FESTIVAL such a success. Bravo!
January 3, 2017
Happy New Year! Last night was our first meeting of 2017 and our first meeting on Tuesday night. Can I tell you something? It was crowded. We had a 30% increase in members attending over the group that met in 2016. Every row had an actor, a director or a writer sitting in the seats. Lots of new faces for me to remember like produced Playwright Tom Wallis, New York Director Justin Lord or actress Cherie Mann. We welcome them all to First Stage and an exciting start to 2017. The evening started with the reading of the first act of a full length play by Ladd Sullivan titled Juliet & Romeo. Juliet & Romeo is a retelling of the tragic love story by William Shakespeare told from Juliet’s point of view (hint: she thinks he’s an idiot). It was read by Performance Partners Cherie Mann, Dan Roth, Sunil Vernekar and the very talented Herman Poppe. Next we read a new scene from Felix Racelis’ untitled full length play. What once had been a monolog, is now a moving recollection of the cost of war on the emotional lives of those that survive it. It was read by Dan Roth, Sunil Vernekar and Helen Duffy. New to the group is playwright Doris Davis. We read the opening scene of her full length play and actress Roberta Bassin was very convincing as a millennial employee gaining the upper hand on her new boss ( read by Dan Roth with help also from Herman Poppe). The feedback and the notes were of great help to the writers as were the performances by our actors.
But there was also a great buzz in the theater over our Off the Shelf Festival taking place a week from tonight, on WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11TH. This one act festival by First Stage will feature the work of Jake Edelman, Tom Misuraca, Herman Poppe and Felix Racelis among others. The doors of the Eclectic Company Theatre open at 7:00PM and the Festival starts at 7:30. There is a suggested donation of $10.00. The Eclectic Company Theatre is located at 5312 Laurel Canyon Blvd. in Valley Village. Come be part of our community and help start the New Year on a creative note. We look forward to seeing you! Happy New Year!
December 13, 2016
Siblings were on the mind of the group on Monday night (12/12/16) along with a haunting commute. The group welcomed back long time member (and former Board Member) Roberta Ellen Bassin. Roberta had been touring the country for many years with her one woman show “Amelia Earhart: In Her Own Words”. At the meeting, Roberta talked about the book she had written about Ameila Earhart whom she finds to be a truly inspirational historical figure. Toni Marsnik brought in another scene from her work in progress about a family wedding. In the scene that was read last night, two sisters take faltering steps to reconnect after a long absence. The scene was read by Anita Borcia, Roberta Bassin, Dai Kornberg and Sunil Vernekar. The group switched tracks and took a subterranean tour on a ghost train in Tom Misuraca’s untitled but haunting radio play about dead souls trapped on a commuter train for eternity. Taking the audience on this journey were Dai Kornberg, Roberta Bassin and Dan Roth as the Preacher. Jacob Edelman brought in his short play Second Childhood about two grown men devolving into squabbling siblings during a visit to their elderly mother on Mother’s Day. The verbal candy and flowers were delivered by Dai Kornberg, Sunil Vernekar and Helen Duffy. The audience provided useful feedback for the writers to help develop their plays and the actors always make it a lively evening. There is one more meeting on MONDAY DECEMBER 19th before our holiday break. When we return in January, there will be a new schedule. Stay tuned.
December 9, 2016
On Tuesday, December 6th, First Stage hosted its last Staged Reading for 2016 with its presentation of CHRISTMAS, Carol by Ladd R. Sullivan. CHRISTMAS, Carol is the story of how a Latino family, an African American Ad Executive, an Asian American IRS Agent, a Gay couple and a dead guy, teach an ambitious lawyer the true meaning of Christmas in this imaginative re-telling of the Dickens holiday classic. The cast included First Stage members Anita Borcia ( Abuelita ), Dai Kornberg ( Jose ) and Sunil Vernekar ( Agent Schroode ) as well as new talent Samantha Barrios ( Tina ) Tamara Bunker ( Maricela ) Gayla Johnson ( Ebony ) Gracelia Valderrama ( Roberta ) Richard Warren Lewis ( Jacob ) and Maura Knowles reading the lead part of Carol. New also, was the Director, Miranda Stewart who came to First Stage after producing a production of Macbeth in the weeks before Thanksgiving. The Playwright was grateful to Miranda for her thoughtful direction, to the actors for their talent and generosity and to the members of First Stage who came to the Reading to provide support and insightful feedback. A special thanks to First Stage members Helen Duffy for her introduction (and delicious homemade muffins) and Tom Misuraca for his skillful guidance of the post reading discussion.
Staged Readings are a wonderful opportunity for writers and actors to come together as a community. As of today, there are SIX Staged Readings scheduled for 2017.
The NEXT Staged Reading will be our Off the Shelf Festival of short plays scheduled for WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11, 2017 at 7:30 PM at the Eclectic Company Theater in Valley Village. We hope to see you there.
November 29, 2016
Death, weddings, end of life and Barbie! It was another stimulating gathering of the writers and actors of First Stage at the Writers Workshop / Cold Reading, last night (11/28/16). The group celebrated the return of writer Gene DeJoie back to First Stage. Gene reports that he will be bringing in some fresh material in the new year. The evening started with an untitled piece by Toni Marsnick about the clash of complicated relationships at a wedding. A special day is in store for all. Herman Poppe returned with a revision of his Sartre influenced short play titled Where’s the Exit? Herman had incorporated a number of suggestions from the workshop on the 14th and our Performance Partner Helen Duffy gave a very moving performance of a young mother trying to save the life of her infant daughter. It was the perfect match of good writing and good acting and another example of what makes First Stage so special. Returning also was Felix Racelis with his What Would Barbie Do? This scene is part of a larger piece and the scene is a re-examination of beauty pageants and a celebration of Multi-Cultural Barbie’s break out year. Tom Misuraca brought in a very humorous new short play titled Advanced Directive about two siblings vying to control the demise of their mother with a surprising outcome. The writers were again supported by their Performance Partners Anita Borcia, Helen Duffy, Dan Roth, Dai Kornberg and Sunil Vernekar,talented actors all. It is their contribution that brings life to the words every week.
The actors take the stage next Monday (12/5/16) as they rehearse for the Staged Reading of
CHRISTMAS, Carol. THERE WILL BE NO WRITERS WORKSHOP ON MONDAY DECEMEBER 5TH.
To help you get into the holiday mood, there will be a Staged Reading of CHRISTMAS, Carol by Ladd R. Sullivan on TUESDAY DECEMBER 6TH at 7:30PM.
CHRISTMAS, Carol is the story of how a Latino family, an African American Ad Executive, an Asian American IRS Agent, a Gay couple and a dead guy, teach an ambitious lawyer the true meaning of Christmas in this imaginative re-telling of the Dickens holiday classic. ( Translations will be made available since several scenes are in Spanish. ) Admission is FREE but donations are welcomed.
The next Writers Workshop / Cold Reading will be on Monday, December 12, 2016.
November 21, 2016
Last week (11/14/16) the Writer’s Group was in an Existential frame of mind with one play by Herman Poppe – Where is the Exit? – influenced by Sartre and another play – Blind, Deaf, Dumb by Tom Misuraca was influenced by Beckett. Both pieces were very theatrical and engaging. Dan Roth brought in a beautifully written piece titled He Shoots, He Scores about a chance encounter at a high school basketball game that evolves into a moving reflection on divorce and loss. Felix Racelis’ piece – What Would Barbie Do? – was a fresh take on beauty pageants and women’s body image issues. We were pleased to have writer Tom Misuraca return to the group after his writing stint in San Diego. The Writers were assisted in the Cold Readings by our Performance Partners, Helen Duffy, Dai Kornberg, Sunil Vernekar and visiting Director Miranda Stewart. Out Performance Partners are wonderful at bringing life to the written word and are a great asset to the grateful Writers. Miranda Stewart will be directing our next Staged Reading of CHRISTMAS, Carol by Ladd Sullivan on TUESDAY, December 6, 2016. The Staged Reading is FREE and starts at 7:30PM. Last Monday was a lively and stimulating Workshop. I look forward to tonight’s gathering. Why not stop by and see for yourself? The doors at the Eclectic Company Theatre open around 7:00PM and the Workshop / Cold Readings start promptly at 7:30PM. See you there!
November 11, 2016
Performance Partner & Member Anita Borcia
will be appearing in the world premiere production of
THE YENTAS WEAR RED HATS
at the Secret Rose Theatre
11246 Magnolia Boulevard, North Hollywood, 91601 (1 ½ blocks west of Lankershim)
from November 12th to December 18th.
The Yentas, a team in the Women Over 60 Basketball League, decide to form a Red Hats chapter. The play was written by Art Shulman and directed by Kaz Matamura and will be performed on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 2:00PM. Ticket prices: General admission $24, Seniors $18. For tickets and info please call 818-285-8699.
November 8, 2016
Monday night (November 7, 2016) was a busy night at First Stage’s Writers Workshop / Cold Reading. Debbie Opp wrote a moving monologue about a young woman committed to improve her life. Felix Racelis brought in the first scene of his new play for feedback from the group. Herman Poppe’s one act play was an homage to existentialism and Jake Edelman’s short play explored the end of the world as we know it. The writers had assistance from our performance partners: Helen Duffy, Sunil Vernekar and Dan Roth. These talented actors bring our words to life and we are always grateful for their important contribution. Yes sir, a busy night. The Board met briefly to discuss plans for 2017. There will be changes to the schedule, so stay tuned. In the meantime we would love to have to join the action at First Stage. Our next meeting will be on Monday, November 14th at 7:00PM. Hope to see you there.
Ladd R. Sullivan
November 2, 2016
There will be a Staged Reading of
Ladd R. Sullivan
on TUESDAY December 6, 2016
at 7:30 PM
CHRISTMAS, Carol – A Latino family, an African American Ad Executive, an Asian American IRS Agent, a Gay couple and a dead lawyer, teach Carol the true meaning of Christmas in this imaginative re-telling of the Dickens holiday classic.
November 11, 2015
THE WINNERS OF THE 2015 ONE ACT CONTEST
After last night’s staged readings of the three First Stage One Act Contest finalists, the judges awarded:
1st place to DWI (DRIVING WHILE INNOCENT) by Dale Dunn,
2nd place to WRONG NUMBER by Michael Pearce, and
3rd place to STRANGER by Steven Schwartz
- Congratulations and thanks to all those who participated
NOVEMBER 1, 2015
AFTER 30 YEARS FREE STAGE HAS DROPPED DUES FOR ACTORS
AFTER 30 YEARS FREE STAGE HAS DROPPED DUES FOR ACTORS
May / june
May 1, 2015
A production of Family Abandoned by Thomas J. Misuraca
Tom Misuraca's surreal ten-minute play, Family Abandoned will be produced along with six other plays at Magnetic Theatre's Brief Encounters. Show run April 30-May 16 (Thurs-Sat) at 7:30 p.m. The Magnetic Theatre, 375 Depot St., Asheville, NC 28801.
A staged reading of The Magnificent Malware by Thomas J. Misuraca
Tom Misuraca's ten-minute superhero play The Magnificent Malware will be one of six sci-fi themed plays stage read at the Slingshot New Work Series on May 4th at 7:30pm. The reading is free and takes place at Spitfire Bar and Grill in Seattle, WA.
May 1, 2015
Congrats to Nate Edelman for his Belle of Belfast opening in New York.
MARCH / April
MARCH 8, 2015
Felix Racelis' "UNCOMMON THREADS"
LIVE ON THE QUMRAN REPORT
First Stage member Felix Racelis' award-winning play, Uncommon Threads, will be performed live on the Qumran Report, a weekly hour long internet radio broadcast featuring Community Activists, Politicians, the Cultural Community and the people and organizations that are a part of the renaissance that has finally arrived for Central City East (Skid Row, Los Angeles).
Date: Monday, March 9
Time: 8:00 p.m. Live
Log onto: www.skidrowstudios.com
The radio production will be directed by First Stage member Bill White and features Shirley Jordan and Alma Collins, both of whom have appeared in numerous First Stage readings.
Program host and producer is Melvin Ishmael Johnson.
Wary of a snobbish museum staffer's motives, an African-American retiree withdraws her quilt submission until she discovers they have more in common than just their ethnicity.
The short play explores themes of class and identity in the African-American community and shows how appearances can be deceiving.
Uncommon Threads is Felix's most popular short play. It has received over a half dozen productions and staged readings through Los Angeles and New York City, and was featured in the NAACP Short Play Festival at the LA Theatre Center. Most of these productions were directed by Bill White, who also directed the play at the Secret Rose Theatre where it won First Place in First Rose Productions' First Annual Ten-Minute Play Festival.
The play appears in "A Quintessential Evening: Five Short Plays by Felix Racelis" published by JAC Publishing & Promotions and available at Amazon.com.
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2015
THE OLD COOT AND THE GEEZER
2015 Oscar Predictions
First Stage's Monday Night Maestro, Dan Roth, playing the role of The Geezer and two First Stage Alums, John Corcoran as The Old Coot and Stanley Dyrector as The Swabby fearlessly predict The Academy Awards in their own inimitable style.
Among them they have forgotten more about movies than most people know, but their rotten memories don't stop them.
For Part One of the show to big to be in only, well, one part watch them on The Sage or directly on Vimeo. And look for Part II next week.
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2014
AN EVENING OF ONE ACTS
Long time First Stage member Felix Racelis had two of his short plays produced in MEH!, an Evening of Short Plays, held November 9, 2014 at the JET Theatre in NoHo. These were SHHH!, an unrequired library romance, and THE GRAND CAN, a monologue which won Best of Festival in the 2014 Playwrights Express.
November 17, 2014
2014 FIRST STAGE ONE ACT CONTEST
Our distinguished judges quickly came to an unanimous decision.
First Place went to "The Lights of Ossining" by Raphael Falco.
Second Place went to "The Mediator" by Tom Stringer.
Third Place went to "For the Dream" by Mackenzie Jahnke.
A big thank you to: The literary committee: Jacob Edelman, Jacque Lynn Colton, Dan Roth, Arnie Weiss, and Dennis Safren for selecting the finalists.
Our distinguished judges: Virginia Morris, Dan Berkowitz, Ron Burch,and Lee Sankowich
Our wonderful directors: Sunil Vernekar, Jacque Lynn Colton, and Gera Hermann.
Our talented actors: Maureen Chesus,Melissa, Brandzei,Skip Pipo, Rosalie Alspach,Tommy Spaulding,Tom MIsuraca, Dan Roth, Dai Kornberg, Anita Borcia, Herman Poppe, Helen Duffy, and Frank Gangarossa.
Our technical director: Walter Ulisinky
Our camera operator: John MacDonald
And to all those who helped to make this evening a success.
First Stage Board of Directors
SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2014
MARCH / APRIL 2015
April 1, 2014
STAGE DOOR ARTICLE
Stage Door Stories recently caught up with Mr. Tom Misuraca to learn a little about him, what inspired him to write his One Act entitled “Last Words”, why he proudly wears the moniker of “Tehachapi’s Favorite Playwright”, and his thoughts on seeing a familiar name on the list of playwrights selected!
Mr. Tom Misuraca
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Revere, Massachusetts – a coastal town just a few miles north of Boston. All my life I wanted to be a writer. I received a BFA in Writing, Publishing and Literature from Emerson College. Soon after graduation, I moved to Los Angeles, where I live to this day.
At first, I focused mostly on writing prose. I was fairly successful, having over 80 short stories published in literary magazines all over the world. I also had two novels published, one young adult comic book adaptation, as well as my original novel Lifestyles of the Damned, a vampire parody.
I dabbled a little in screenwriting, with one co-written script produced. But soon after that, I was bitten by the theater bug.
In order to make ends meet, I run my own graphic design company. My interests include music (former Goth boy, thus the dark tone of “Last Words”), literature, comics/sci-fi and yoga.
What is your background in theater?
Though I always seemed to be writing a play, I never quite jumped into the theatre world until 2007, when I joined the writing development group FirstStage LA. I went in with the intention of just work-shopping one play, but then more and more play ideas came to me. They stage read my first ten-minute play, “Opening Closure”, (which eventually went on to be produced off-off Broadway) as well as my first full-length, Little Black Book, which recently won the Las Vegas Little Theatre New Works Competition, and will be produced there in April.
Since then, over fifty of my one-act plays have been produced in the US (and a few one-minute plays in the UK). I’ve won audience favorite awards for “Table for One” at The North Park Playwright Festival; “Haunted” and “For Whom the Speed Dating Bell Tolls” at The Secret Rose Theatre’s MonoSlam;“Camp Soggy Lake” at Youth Education on Stage’s Summer Shorts;“Manservant 3000” at The Three Rose Theatre’s The Writer Speaks;“Communication” at PianoFight’s ShortLived 2.0, “Falling Bodies” at Bellarmine University’s Anything Galileo Festival, and three years in a row with “Offender”, “Pie Us!” and “No Problem” at the Tehachapi Community Theatre’sPlaywright’s Festival.
And within the past two years, six of my full-lengths have been produced. Beginning with Geeks! The Musical which was produced by Write Act Repertory twice in Los Angeles, and again by Write Act Westside in New York City. Also in 2012, The ParaAbnormals was produced at Zombie Joe’s Underground in Los Angeles and Edgar was produced by The Unknown Artists. The following year,Tenants was produced by Tehachapi Community Theatre. After having won their audience favorite award three years in a row, I was donned: “Tehachapi’s Favorite Playwright.”
This year, I was honored with the Pickering Award for my full-length play,Golden Age, which was produced in Michigan in March; as well as the above-mentioned Las Vegas Little Theatre New Works honor.
How did you find out about Stage Door Productions’ One Act Festival?
I keep tabs on many playwriting submission websites, but I believe this one appeared on the NYCPlaywrights blog.
What inspired or motivated you to write this One Act?
I’ve always been fascinated by artists’ last words and often wonder how true they were. Who knows? Maybe some of them were rehearsed. But the more I wrote about a man trying to come up with his last words, the more I tapped in to a story about a father and son, which really brought this story about dying to life.
Tom striking a pose in the theme of his One Act selection “Last Words”
How did you feel upon the selection of your Act to be performed by Stage Door Productions?
I was very excited to be part of a festival that is now in its seventh year. This is also my first piece produced in Virginia, so it’s exciting to break new ground. It was also great to see a familiar name like Donna Hoke, who produced one of my plays in Buffalo, on the list. It’s a nice unity of playwrights.
What do you hope the audience takes away from your story?
That we should appreciate the people in our lives while they are still there. Pretty basic, I know, but how often is it forgotten? And, that it’s not bad to have a few laughs along the way.
What doors do you expect to be opened for you from this selection and process?
Only good can come from having my work produced in a new theater community. There’s always a chance to make new contacts, whether they be new fans, potential producers, directors, actors, or just new friends.
What’s next for you?
This year I’m exploring directing some of my own work. Along with fellow playwright and friend, Terry McFadden, we’ve been producing a series of staged readings at local libraries called Eclectic. This gives us the opportunity to test out new short plays and get an idea what the finished product would look like. We’ve had two successful shows so far this year, and at least three more planned with hopes of expanding into something bigger.
I’m also excited to get back into publishing as well. First, my teen play, Add Nauseam, will be published by YouthPlays. And my monologue, “For Whom The Speed Dating Bell Tolls”, will be published by JAC Publishing.
March 24, 2014
FIRSTSTAGE’S - WRITERS' NIGHT, on March 24, was a great success, with eleven fabulous new pieces staged. Thanks to all the writers, actors and directors for a great evening of pure, original, theater. Below is the program for the evening.
WRITER'S NIGHT PROGRAM
Figgets- Sometimes the imaginary can guide us to a hopeful resolution.
Written by HERMAN POPPE, Directed by BENNETT COHON. With SARAH ZINSEER – Woman, RICHARD CANSINO – Man.
Fly on the Wall: Episode 1 – A journey into the Past.
Written by JACOB EDELMAN, Directed by DAN ROTH
DAN ROTH, STEVE CASSIDY, FELIX RACELIS
- Man on a Skewer - A highly respected, multi-national executive must choose between protecting his most valued personal asset and harpooning his career.
Written and directed by LOREY HAYES
PETER TRENCHER as MARTIN, HERMAN POPPE as THEODORE
LONGRIDGE), HELEN DUFFY (NATALIE LONGRIDGE), HUGH
DANE (CRAIG WRIGHT), THYAIS WALSH (MILDRED AGOSTO)
- The Grand Can - A widow travels to the Grand Canyon to fulfill her late husband's last wish, sort of.
Written and directed by FELIX RACELIS, ANITA BORCIA (EDITH)
- Mozzarella at the Shore – A New Jersey dream weekend in the making
Written and directed by VIC CABRERA
LUDO VIKA (GINA), ARNIE WEISS (TONY)
- Irresistible Temptation - A Playwright's Worst Nightmare - Good Actors Go Oh So Wrong
Written by JOHN CORCORAN
Directed by VIC CABRERA
DAN ROTH (PLAYWRIGHT), HELEN YEOMAN (PICKUP),
DAI KORNBERG (ADVISOR)
- Fly on the Wall: Episode 2 - Another journey into the Past. DAN ROTH, HELEN DUFFY, DAI KORNBERG, FELIX RACELIS
- The Heights of God’s Grace – The story of a tenement with an elevator. Written and Directed by SUNIL VERNEKAR
MAIKIKO JAMES (GRACE), ADAM MICHAEL ROSE (DIETER
MANZ), PHILIP ANTHONY PIRIO (NARRATOR)
- The Last Days of the Gingerbread Man - It's hard out there for a cookie. Written and Directed by TOM MISURACA
ARNIE WEISS (GINGERBREAD MAN)
HELEN DUFFY (WOMAN)
- ID - A father has to complete a dreadful task.
Written and Directed by TOM MISURACA
HERMAN POPPE (FATHER)
- Fly on the Wall: Episode 3 – Yet another journey into the Past.
DAN ROTH, STEVE CASSIDY, FELIX RACELIS
March 1st, 2014
Congrats to Rock-N-Geek Productions
FirstStage members Tom Misuraca and Terry McFadden's once again rocked the house to a full house with their staged reading effort, "Eclecic - 2" at the West Hollywood Library on February 22, 2014. And congrats to the FirstStage community for their part in the development of the works.
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2014
February 22, 2014
Next Up for ROCK-N-GEEK Productions
The next rehearsed stage readings event ECLECTIC 2, from Rock-n-Geek Productions, FirstStage members Tom Misuraca and Terry McFadden's company will again be at the West Hollywood Library, and will take place on February 22, 2014.
JANUARY 9, 2014
The President’s State of the Stage… First Stage that is!
When you put writers and actors in the same room, you know there is going to be some good eat’n! The BELATED HOLIDAY PARTY- HOUSE WARMING AT THE AVERY SCHREIBER PLAYHOUSE - ANNUAL MEETING - pot luck, white elephant, silent auction, hoo-ten-anny, was no different, and in addition, members and friends met the new Board and picked up a schedule of projected dates for events throughtout the year.
In honor of our new home at the Avery Schreiber Playhouse, Anita, Jacque and Dai told of their time with the Comedy Master.
The silent auction and the white elephant were fun. The most coveted prize of the night was a rubber chicken, which Jacob Edelman won after being returned by the first winner.
Before the festivities, I had a chance to chat with Arnie Weiss. I asked him how the group managed to attrack writers and actors in the past. He told me that FirstStage was very active, and would have several readings and events going on during the same week sometimes. They would also have celebrities come in for readings, including Ed Asner. Once the word got out, writers and actors were anxious to join FirstStage.
I would like to see us do more things like that and intice former members to return, and new members to join.
January 15, 2014
Long time First Stage member Felix Racelis has been invited to join the Skylight Theatre Company's PlayLab 2014. The goal of the PlayLab 2014program is for each participant to develop a new play over the next several months.
He'll be working with some very gifted playwrights, and All PlayLab members are included in Skylight Theatre Company's annual LAbWORKS Play Festival as either a Workshop Presentation or Staged Reading. The program is headed by Gary Grossman, Producing Artistic Director, Tony Abatemarco, Co-Artistic Director, PlayLab Director Shem Bitterman, and PlayLab Co-Directors Tim Furlong & Ron Burch.
January 11, 2014
Congrats go out to First Stage members Tom Misuraca and Terry McFadden on the first event presented from their newly formed Rock-n-Geek Productions. Held in association with the West Hollywood Library, the production, "Eclectic - A staged reading of eight short plays with nothing in common" was a huge success. Terry and Tom are long time members of FirstStage and many of Saturday's plays were developed in the FirstStage Writers Workshop. Terry and Tom both wrote and directed all the plays and included many of our FirstStage actors.
January 3, 2014
A Few Words on Behalf of Some Talking Dogs!
What can we say to entice you to see “Pick of the Litter,” a play about talking dogs?
I’m the show’s playwright, John Corcoran. Since dogs talk but it’s a rare pooch who can write a coherent sentence, I’ve been asked to speak on behalf of the four-‐legged thespians in the play. For openers, the price is right (free, please donate), the director is great (Bennett Cohon) an the Cast is a combo of all-star FirstStage vets (Dan Roth, Marcie Ross, Herman Poppe, Helen Duffy, Anita Borcia) plus newbies fresh to the FirstStage boards. What else we got?
COMEDY! The protagonist, Bully, owner of the Bully Academy for Dogs, is of the always hilarious Bulldog persuasion. Bulldogs are known as the David Letterman’s of the animal kingdom. You’ll also see the Teutonic comedy stylings of an “Austrian” Police Dog, and the shaggy dog humor of an Old English Sheepdog. And more. We have ten, count ‘em TEN talking dogs under one roof-‐roof. (See what I did there with the “roof” pun? None of that kind of crap in the play, I promise)
LOVE! You’ll witness the romantic yearnings of our beastly-‐faced Bully for a showdog beauty, the Poodle Angelique. Of course she already has a live-‐in dogfriend, an Irish Wolfhound with a wandering eye-‐-‐wandering in an unexpected direction.
CRIME! The pack is picked on by the two “humans” in the cast—an evil Puppymill operator, and the Mayor. They want to shut down Bully’s School and put down the pooches for good.
MEGALOMANIA! What talking dog play would be complete without a Lab, beloved by humans and himself, a dog who thinks he’s Joel Grey?
EMOTION! You love dogs, right? The play was inspired by my family’s late Shar-‐Pei, "Sai-‐ly"a rescue dog victimized by people who don’t love dogs. We won’t preach or inflict guilt, but we will try to make sure that you’ll leave knowing more about what is good for dogs and their human companions than when you arrived.
Gotta run. There are water dishes to fill.
SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2013
October 24, 2013
MARCIE on "THE MIDDLE"
Long time FirstStage actress Marcie Lynn Ross has just shot an episode of the hit show "THE MIDDLE" which will be aired on Wednesday, Decemeber 4th, 2013.
October 22, 2013
HARRY AND EDDIE, THE BIRTH OF ISRAEL
Have you been looking for long time FirstStage member ARNIE WEISS? Well, he can be seen on Nov. 4th, 2013 at 10:00 AM at The Hazak Senior Center, 15739 Ventura Blvd., Encino, CA 91436. He will doing a one person adapted reading of a play by Mark Weston, HARRY AND EDDIE, THE BIRTH OF ISRAEL. All are welcome.
JULY / AUGUST 2013
July 27, 2013
FELIX RACELIS PUBLISHED IN WRITERS DIGEST
FirstStage playwright Felix Racelis' play Suicide Interruptus: A Wild Ride from Paramus to Dallas won tenth place in the Stage Play category in this year's Writer's Digest Annual Competition. For his win in the national contest, Felix receives a cash prize and congrats from everyone here at FirstStage. The complete list of winners will be published in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of Writer's Digest.
This play was presented at FirstStage last year (working title then was Death 'N Texas) in a reading directed by Peggy Chane and featuring Marcie Ross and other FirstStage actors.
August 7, 2013
Take a look at FirstStage writer JOHN CORCORAN'S new blog BREAKING SATIRE: http://breakingsatire.blogspot.com
July 25, 2013
John Corcoran will make his second appearance this year at "SHINE" - bright stories of positive changes."
"DANCING FOOL: My First Time on the Boob Tube"
The incident took place years before he became a paid television personality. John, a friend and the friend's beautiful cousin got to dance on a televised local version of "American Bandstand" in Washington DC. Two probems. 1. The high school boys had to lie to get out of afternoon football practice, taking place at the same time. 2. Sudden thunderstorms sometimes cancel practice, and players and coaches race home to watch... well you'll see. Part two of the story involves an unexpected dancing malfunction that lead to an unplanned grope and almost lead to a fatal beating by a Rosarie-wielding team of armed SWAT Nuns... Written, directed and performed by John. 8 PM August 15th at the YWCA,
Santa Monica/Westside, 2019 14th Street, Monica CA 90405. Other speakers, music and refreshments. Suggested donation $5-$10.