BY NATALIE MENNA
(resident playwright of August Strindberg Rep)
Thu. and Fri., Nov. 5-6, opens Sat. Nov. 7,
plays through November 22
Tue through Sat at 8:00 PM, Sun at 3:00 PM
Theater for the New City (Cino Theater).
Produced and presented by Theater for the New City,
Crystal Field, Artistic Director
Directed by Austin Pendleton.
Drama | 3M, 1F
"Committed" is a work of historical fiction about the
last two days of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh's life. When his
highly controversial and vulgar documentary causes a tremendous
uproar in Amsterdam and abroad, Theo spirals downward. The play
explores the collision of an artist's radical temperament and
unyielding vision with modern political realities and the inevitable
tragedy when uncompromising values clash. Can friendship, family,
or love save Theo from his biggest threat - himself?
Workshop at 14th Street Y produced and directed by Brock
Harris Hill, a coproduction of the 14th Street Y and The Altruistic
Staged reading, Planet Connections Theatre Festivity 2015, Paradise
Factory, 64 E 4th Street, NYC. Winner: Outstanding Overall Production
of a Staged Reading, Outstanding Actor (Imran Sheikh). Nominated
for Outstanding Overall Production of a Staged Reading, Outstanding
Playwright for a New Play in a Reading.
Natalie Menna is an award-winning playwright and actress living
in downtown Brooklyn. Her play "Zen A.M." was performed
at Theater for the New City the month of June 2019, and her "Occasionally
Nothing" was performed in TNC's Dream Up Festival in August/September
2018. Her tryptic ("Hiroshi - Me, Me, Me," "Pause"
and "Montana") was produced by August Strindberg Rep
at the Gene Frankel Theatre November/December 2018. She performed
lead roles with Strindberg Rep as Tekla in "Creditors"
in TNC's Dream Up Festival in 2018, as Laura in Strindberg's "The
Father" at the Gene Frankel that fall and again in Dream
Up 2019, and as Elise in Strindberg's "The Pelican"
at TNC in 2020.
"Menna's brilliant writing captures the multifaceted nature
of Theo Van Gogh's character.... [Her] dialogue is gorgeous with
resonating lines. Natalie Menna masterfully crafted a world that
is neither black or white, but grey. [She] does an admirable job
in portraying a story full of gripping themes such as religion,
identity, ego, artistic integrity, love, family, loyalty, selfishness
vs. selflessness, and how far a person will go to stand for what
they believe in." -- Outer
wrote this play for those of all beliefs, political, and religious.
It should not answer questions, rather it should cause the audience
to raise questions, not least in themselves... I was gratified
that audience members found the humor in what otherwise would
have been grim proceedings." -- AHA
was fascinated when I first heard the story of Theo Van Gogh's
life - death. Looking around at the world and seeing a disturbing
trend towards extremism in many different forms... There is a
natural reluctance even to approach a character with such abhorrent
views, yet I felt compelled to write about such a character and
also to address his underlying humanity... As we've seen the rise
of autocratic leaders in the Western Hemisphere, Eastern Europe,
and around the world, this play addresses issues of extremism
and has gained a relevance I wish it never had." -- Arts
is a fulsome treat that's worth seeing more than once. The story
of Theo van Gogh's last two days in Amsterdam and his untimely
death at the hands of a religious extremist, the play presents
him as a provocateur willing to die for his right to free speech.
It offers an admirably broad spectrum of perspectives ... and
provides insight into Theo van Gogh's irascible and complex character.
There isn't a dull moment, which is a tribute to Menna's writing
and the talented cast... Menna is equally adept at comedy, having
presented and won awards for Zen A.M., Roberta!, I-POD; Hiroshi
- Me, Me, Me; Montana and Occasionally Nothing." -- Beauty
What's it like being a female playwright in NYC? Natalie: "Exhilarating!
I started as an actress, and while I still love performing, playwriting
provides an opportunity to right the wrongs of the universe, or
at least attempt to... All playwrights face the same challenges.
I don't think opportunities are particularly based on gender anymore.
Income seems to play the determining role in a playwright's opportunities,
which is a disturbing trend. However, the disparity in income
between men and women does make it harder for women to gain a
foothold in this field." -- Drama
"DANCE OF DEATH" PARTS ONE AND TWO
BY AUGUST STRINDBERG
Presented together for the first time in North America
Theater for the New
two-part play, written in 1900, is labeled by some critics, not
without justice, as Strindberg's greatest work. In an isolated
fort Edgar, a captain of artillery, and Alice, his wife, have
lived for 25 years, hating each other with a deadly venom and
each wishing the other's death. Their home becomes peopled with
devils. When Kurt, Edgar's friend, comes to stay in it, he is
caught up in the atmosphere of evil. He falls in love with Alice
and becomes her associate in a plot designed to destroy her husband.
During a stroke, Edgar suddenly gains a new vision of life, realizing
his own errors and pleading for reconciliation. Thus ends the
first part of the drama.
second shows the final triumph of the wife. Remorselessly, she
drives Edgar to his death--although in the very process of doing
so, a bitter doubt enters her mind.
play's legacy can be seen in a number of contemporary plays. "Play
Strindberg" by Friedrich Dürrenmatt condenses the two
parts into a terse, brutal series of boxing rounds. In its claustrophobic
atmosphere and treatment of marital dysunction, the play reverberates
through Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," Harry
Kondoleon's "The Houseguests" and even John Guare's
"The House of Blue Leaves."