Author Topic: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)  (Read 7465 times)

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #100 on: March 07, 2017, 02:40:42 AM »
Tonight is the first performance, exciting!  Best wishes!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #101 on: March 07, 2017, 06:13:13 AM »
Tonight is the first performance, exciting!  Best wishes!

Thank you! Dress/tech last night, and I'm looking forward to a good house!
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #102 on: March 07, 2017, 06:45:36 AM »
Excellent!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #103 on: March 09, 2017, 11:46:05 AM »
How was it received?
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Brian

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #104 on: March 09, 2017, 01:29:44 PM »
How was it received?
Yes, how was it?

(Sorry for my earlier silence, but I did relay your invitation & the details to my friend in NYC. She was working the late shift and has plans Sunday unfortunately.)

I may not be around to immediately read your reports on the performances (vacation 'til the 20th), but look forward keenly to reading them!

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #105 on: March 13, 2017, 08:34:23 AM »
Say, how was yesterday?
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #106 on: March 13, 2017, 11:38:02 AM »
Say, how was yesterday?

Hi. I'll get back to you on this soon. In recovery mode.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #107 on: March 14, 2017, 05:53:45 AM »
Of course!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #108 on: March 15, 2017, 10:13:13 AM »
I find there is always a let-down period after a production finishes when I don’t want to do anything at all. This is one. A little chapter in my life has closed, and I don’t feel the creative energy to begin a new one just yet.

We had two performances, March 7 and 12, and in our 40-seat theater we got 28 people one day and 20 the next. That’s a decent turnout, but I expect I would have done better if I had not thoughtlessly scheduled the Sunday performance for Purim afternoon, the most festive day on the Jewish calendar.
No matter. On the whole I was very pleased with our cast, headed by a remarkably talented young actor named Tim Oriani, and our director Christopher Erlendson. No question we could have used some additional rehearsal time, as Chris had to step in almost at the last minute for an actor who had unavoidable work conflicts, and basically our opening night was our first full run-through. As a result he had no opportunity to see the whole show from the front, and I would have liked some tightening of the transitions between scenes. But we had both performances video-recorded, and perhaps I can edit the videos to improve the continuity.

The play is my attempt, as a non-believer of Jewish heritage, to get into the mind of a young person of unshakably devout Orthodox faith. The play tackles questions that every Jewish person encounters at some point in their life. Is true friendship possible between a Jew and a gentile? What do you do when an attractive person not of your faith comes on to you? Or when a family member leaves the faith entirely? Can the talented young music student David Lindenbaum survive in a secular society while remaining true to his faith as a Modern Orthodox Jew?

Presenting the play led me to see some weaknesses in the script, but I think the basic premise is sound. You can see a couple of trailers here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1746803358981396/permalink/1767898303538568/

Tim wrote as follows: “On March 7th and 12th I'm starring in this lovely play at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre! It's been a wonderful experience in character, religion, and creating new works.” Chris wrote to the cast, “We don't have many full-length plays with these kinds of characters and this kind of spiritual meaning in NYC.”

And here are some other comments I received:

“Last night, I was presented with a charming story in an intimate setting about many things, from the positive emotional power a religion can give oneself, misconceptions about cultures and ways of life around us, how they affect our connections, family, real world vs. the one you thought you were in, etc. It was lighthearted and provoked some thought in me.”

"Hi Larry, I wanted to write to you and let you know how much I enjoyed the show last night. The play was absolutely incredible, thank you. As someone who has only recently started observing all of the mitzvot of Judaism, but who identifies as modern orthodox, I really identified with Dovid and the other characters. I think my favorite part was when Dovid was listing all of the positive, wonderful things about Judaism. Unfortunately these gems sometimes get buried under all of the negative commandments we must follow, and I think if we spent more time on the positive commandments, we would get much more out of Judaism."

“Saw A KREUTZER SONATA tonight at Manhattan Rep Theater. Amazing work! Striking, fast paced, and entertaining. Really delves into the subject of the American-Jewish experience.”
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #109 on: March 15, 2017, 10:29:01 AM »
Congratulations!  All very good to hear.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Jeffrey Smith

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #110 on: March 15, 2017, 05:16:18 PM »
Ovation!

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #111 on: March 30, 2017, 09:53:16 AM »
Great news for all those who wanted to but didn't get to "A Kreutzer Sonata" this past March, or who want to see it again, or who want to invite all their friends and relations: "Kreutzer" has been accepted by another New York City theatre for a second round of performances this August.

Don't have all the details yet, and I'm going to keep the location secret until I know more. But response to the play from both company and audiences has been highly gratifying, and I hope for even more people to come see "Dovid Lindenbaum" and his friends in a few months!
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #112 on: March 30, 2017, 10:16:36 AM »
That is fabulous news, congratulations!  When you have dates, let a chap know.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Pat B

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #113 on: April 03, 2017, 09:41:03 AM »
Great news for all those who wanted to but didn't get to "A Kreutzer Sonata" this past March, or who want to see it again, or who want to invite all their friends and relations: "Kreutzer" has been accepted by another New York City theatre for a second round of performances this August.

Don't have all the details yet, and I'm going to keep the location secret until I know more. But response to the play from both company and audiences has been highly gratifying, and I hope for even more people to come see "Dovid Lindenbaum" and his friends in a few months!

Congratulations!

I know next-to-nothing about theater. Since you said: "Presenting the play led me to see some weaknesses in the script,” I am curious: do you edit it for the second round?

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #114 on: April 03, 2017, 11:58:15 AM »
Congratulations!

I know next-to-nothing about theater. Since you said: "Presenting the play led me to see some weaknesses in the script,” I am curious: do you edit it for the second round?

I will be making some changes, yes.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #115 on: August 30, 2017, 06:05:08 AM »
A Kreutzer Sonata has seen a bit of a run, congratulations!  Did the performances wax tighter over time?
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #116 on: August 31, 2017, 12:55:02 PM »
A Kreutzer Sonata has seen a bit of a run, congratulations!  Did the performances wax tighter over time?

Run over. I see I haven't updated this thread for a long, long time. So let me start with a modified version of a post from June 8 on Facebook:

PLAYWRIGHT'S BLOG, Jan-Jun 2017
This has been so far a very good year for me in theater, and it’s not half over. Back in January, my short farce “Peas in the Fried Rice” set in a Chinese restaurant was performed at The Secret Theatre, followed by three showings at another festival in Maplewood, NJ. In May Manhattan Repertory Theatre saw my romantic comedy "A Semicolon is a Double” for two high-school boys, and just recently this same play was voted audience and judges’ favorite at a preliminary round of the Fresh Fruit Festival, which means it advances to the finals in July. (Actually a third theater expressed an interest as well, but passed because the play had been done twice in NY this spring. But I’ll be writing something else for them.) [Update: the finals came and went, but there was no voting for a grand prize at the finals.]

My verse adaptation of Chaucer’s “Merchant’s Tale,” entitled "The Fable of January and May,” just wrapped up a short run at The Secret Theatre, and I'm working on a short article about the play for a scholarly Chaucer blog. [Update: Was not pleased that the scholar in charge there never got back to me.]

And last week my capsule dramatization of Dante’s “Divine Comedy” was offered a slot this July at the Art of Adaptation Festival in Chicago, and I'm looking to find a director. I’m even getting requests from actors for me to write something for them. [Update: the play got two performances in late July, but did not win the first place award despite some nice comments.]

But perhaps most important to me was the premiere in March of my long one-act/short full-length “A Kreutzer Sonata,” my play about the struggles of a Modern Orthodox college student to reconcile his Judaism with survival in the modern world. In this play I took a commonplace incident – a Jewish piano student paired with an Italian violinist to play Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata – as the basis for an exploration of faith, doctrine, and the main character’s relationships with family, friends, and the girl with whom he is infatuated.

I thought the two performances at Manhattan Repertory in March might be the last of this play, but it’s now been accepted for five shows at the much larger Secret Theatre at their UNFringed Festival, August 9, 13, 19, 24, and 29. We’re still working on casting, but some of our earlier cast will be back and our other roles will be filled anew. I am also revisiting the script based on suggestions from a number of viewers and readers.

Next post will be more specifically about "Kreutzer." So that's five productions of my work this year, and I'll have another very short play called "Two Portraits," a kind of parable about artistic creativity, that will be produced at Dixon Place in NY on September 23.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #117 on: September 06, 2017, 08:12:51 PM »
Given all the horrible things happening in the world today (Houston, Irma, DACA, N. Korea, the continued presidency of Donald Duck), it may seem superfluous even to mention something as small as one of my own plays. However, this one matters a lot to me personally, and the experience of putting it on, despite some problems, was on the whole a valuable one. But I’ll be a bit more candid here in this smaller group than I would be on Facebook.

In my 90-minute play “A Kreutzer Sonata,” a talented Jewish piano student enrolls on full scholarship at a major conservatory. In all kinds of ways he finds his faith and observances challenged by the outside world. His mother wants him to stay home and attend a Jewish university to study something practical. His more sophisticated father wants him to learn how to deal with the modern world. He is faced with a satirical roommate who finds his Jewish practices absurd, with a demanding piano professor who secretly admires his exceptional talent but never stops pushing him, and with an alluring lapsed Catholic violinist with whom he has been paired to play the Beethoven Kreutzer, and who plainly takes a sexual interest in him despite his unwillingness to date a girl outside his faith.

David (performed splendidly by Tim Oriani) faces a variety of challenges, and how he deals with them forms the action of the play. His mother wants him to find a Jewish roommate — and he refuses. His violinist tries (we do not learn how successfully) to seduce him — and while he first stops attending class and contemplates leaving music school, he comes to accept the responsibility of performing the Kreutzer with the same violinist. Faced with the revelation that his father has been cheating on his mother and is getting a divorce, he first reacts with anger, but then learns to accept his father’s Episcopal girlfriend and to forgive his father too. He even takes his skeptical roommate to Shabbat services. In each case he falters at first, but his eventual decisions both show him engaging with the modern world, and being more truthful to what’s most essential in Modern Orthodox Judaism.

Something of a shock, therefore, to read one of our reviews claiming that David doesn’t change during the play (I can easily find a dozen major instances to the contrary), and another making the even wilder claim that the play itself is anti-Semitic! The argument seems to be that since the Jews in the play exhibit human frailties and shortcomings, their behavior is hypocritical, and therefore “this play lays the groundwork for explaining the existence of anti-Semitism, making it, in my opinion, an anti-Semitic play.” Even if the reviewer’s conclusion followed his premise, this is a defamatory charge and I fail to see how it can be legitimately argued based on the play I wrote.

It would be unprofessional and counter-productive for me to engage this reviewer directly. In fact I wonder if I should speak to a lawyer specializing in libel cases, since any one Googling my name and play will see this review, and not knowing the work, will assume the conclusion is justified. But in fact a variety of audience comments mostly from Jewish people speak to the contrary: “A beautiful little one act that tells the story of a college freshman trying to reconcile his orthodox Judaism with a secular world.” “A charming and lighthearted story in an intimate setting about the positive emotional power a religion can give oneself.” “A relevant work questioning how all people and specifically Jews balance their beliefs with participating in the modern world. A fantastic experience for me as an American Jew.” “My favorite part was when David was listing all of the positive, wonderful things about Judaism.” “I was extremely impressed by how powerful and inspiring it was. The acting was phenomenal and the story was touching.” “The wonderful ending reminded me of my own identity issues.” “A fantastic play that everyone can relate to. If you love music, coming of age stories, and the eternal struggle to keep a dream alive while still being true to your faith, then come see this play!”

A complete video now has been made and I’ll provide a link for anyone who wishes to PM me. Afterwards, if you feel I have been maligned, perhaps you can write a comment on the reviewer’s blog supporting me against the more defamatory of these reviews.
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #118 on: September 07, 2017, 01:12:38 AM »
Send me the link via email, please!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: (poco) Sforzando, (playwright)
« Reply #119 on: September 07, 2017, 03:39:46 AM »
Send me the link via email, please!

Thanks! Not sure I have your email. Could you drop it to me in a PM?
"I don't know what sforzando means, though it clearly means something."

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