Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Last night Nora Ephron passed away. I don't know about other  female comedic writers out there, but I have felt really sad about this. I cried. I dreamed of death.

Nora Ephron has written tons of excellent movies such as "When Harry Met Sally," "Sleepless in Seattle," "Julie & Julia" and a personal favorite of mine, "Mixed Nuts." She was also a film director, a novelist, a journalist, an essayist and a playwright. You can read all about her credits all over the internet. But as an emerging playwright/screenwriter, I wanted to write about my experience as a puny fan of this great woman.

My friend who was in Love, Loss and What I Wore invited me to the opening night party because she knew I was a huge Nora Ephron fan. I got dressed that night thinking, "Be cool. You may not get to talk to her or if you do, she may not care you exist or give you a fake bitchy smile." I got to the party, greeted my friend, and spotted Nora Ephron. But I chose not to make a move until later or maybe not make a move at all. So I headed to the cocktail table. There were red drinks and purple drinks and I took a good look at all of them, wondering which would taste least like cough medicine. "What do you think these are?" I heard over my shoulder. I turned around and there was Nora Ephron asking me what the hell these cocktails were! I said something like, "I think some sort of cosmopolitan maybe." Then I told her I was there because of my friend. Then I told her I was a huge fan and grew up on her movie, "This is My Life" and Heartburn was one of my favorite books. I could see in her eyes she knew I was more than just a "When Harry Met Sally" fan. I was the real thing. Then, even better than being at a party with her and having her come up to talk to me, and having her even listen to what a gigantic fan I was, she said, "So what do you do?" And I told her about my plays and movies and the next thing she said was not "okay, bye" or "great meeting you" or "gotta go talk to other people now" but she actually said, "Let me know if I can help you." And I blushed, peed in my pants, did a cartwheel, flew for a few minutes, and then said, "Oh that's very nice. I'm sure you're very busy." And she said not "You're right. Bye." Or "Yeah but I don't want you writing anything nasty about me on the internet" but instead, "No, really."
And I got her email address and I actually sent her my screenplay Helping Yourself and she read it within a few days, and told me that I was funny and should keep writing. And I have been fulfilled in life ever since.

Many people know her as a fantastic funny writer and a strong woman. But I had the pleasure of seeing that she was also a generous woman. And though she inspired me with her writing since I was 8 years old or so, having her bother to talk to me and encourage me meant the most. And I hope to write as much wonderful, produced, high-grossing work as she did, but I also hope to make future ladies feel like they should keep on keeping on. Thank you Nora, for creating funny and moving entertainment and for making the punier of us feel like we deserve to be celebrated, too.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Final Bloodworks 2012

Can you hear that? It's not the sound of thunder. It's the clamoring sound of the regret you will feel if you miss the FINAL NIGHT OF BLOODWORKS 2012.

We've got deft Clare Barron at 7 PM, and the incomparable Angela Hanks at 9 PM. And this is your last chance to see an Angela Hanks play at Youngblood.

You know what that means folks? That means you get out your galoshes & you head right on over to EST. 549 W. 52nd Street. We'll be waiting for you with ice cold beers and vodka tonics.

Did I mention there may even be a glamorous late Monday night foot-stomping, theater-shaking dance party? Oh. Well there is that. And according to theater guru, Todd London, American theater could use a few more dance parties.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blogging Bloodworks: FOOLPROOF by Eric March

Five years ago, two guys I went to high school with and another guy kidnapped a fourth guy and drove him to a pizza place, where he escaped.

This is a play about that and tee ball.

By Eric March
Directed by Tom Wojtunik


Denny Bess
Dan Bittner
Stephen Ellis
Emma Galvin
Jonathan Gregg
Jared McGuire
Anthony Pierini

Wednesday, June 20 @ 7pm
The Ensemble Studio Theatre
2nd Floor

Please come!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

GOOD DANCER by Emily Chadick Weiss

2nd Fl of The Ensemble Studio Theatre

My Bloodworks Reading:

GOOD DANCER is the story of a wealthy disabled white guy, his black Republican girlfriend, and the meeting of their parents. The play was commissioned by THE APOTHETAE, a new theatre group created by Gregg Mozgala. THE APOTHETAE aims to change cultural perceptions about people with disabilities using the transformative power of theatre. It literally translates to "place of exposure."

This time last year, GOOD DANCER was about to become a ten-minute play performed as part of Theatre Breaking Through Barriers' "Some of Our Parts" at The Clurman Theater on Theatre Row.

Here's a bit of press:

“Emily Chadick Weiss' Good Dancer is nicely done…the tone of the piece is wisely kept light,” 
– Dan Bacalzo,


And then Gregg Mozgala started his new company The Apothetae and asked me to expand it. I added two aggressive moms, a dad who's high, a dad who loves the mechanics of everything, a temptress, and a trip to Taiwan.

I lucked into a fantastic director and cast and look forward to revising it for this summer's Page to Stage Series at The Kennedy Center.

Good Dancer
by Emily Chadick Weiss

directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel


Kristin Griffith
Mike Hodge
Geany Masai
Gregg Mozgala
Melle Powers
Scott Sowers
Ali Stroker

7pm Wednesday June 13
The Ensemble Studio Theatre
2nd Fl Theater

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Blogging Bloodworks: STIFF by Ryan Dowler

I’ve only taken out one personal ad in my life. It happened before I was old enough to drink.

“SWM (19) seeking Anne Frank type (18-30) who has slept on the airport floor. Must be willing to talk about Ralph Nader. Corduroy a plus.”

I had left the BFA Acting Program at Ole Miss to work at a McDonalds in Iowa and couldn’t afford to pay the fee to use the phone system the newspaper had set up to track personal ad responses.

The ad was terribly earnest but posing as tongue-in-cheek. I was coming out of a summer of deep, pathetic Anne Frank affection spent reading the diary and the Miep Gies book among others and I used to lie awake sure that we would have been soul mates, the way I guess some 15-year-old girls probably do.

As far as the note about sleeping on the airport floor – I was in love with the 20-somethings I would see sleeping on the airport floor in between flights to this or that romantic foreign country. I realize now that having given up a scholarship to work at a McDonalds, I probably would have hated these people who were actually probably like the only character from GIRLS that I can’t stand. The newspaper actually misprinted this part. The published ad requested someone who had “slipped” on the airport floor.

Anyway, it was the discovery of this hilarious old artifact in a box nearly a decade after the newspaper had printed it that inspired this play.

Ryan Dowler

Directed by RJ Tolan

Steven Boyer
Ryan Karels
Claire Siebers
 Diana Ruppe

Wednesday, June 6, 2012, 7 PM

549 West 52nd Street, 2nd Floor
(between 10th & 11th Aves)

A bromance about dying that features neither sickness nor death. 

Blogging Bloodworks: BARN BURNER: A Play about Pro-Wrestling and Middle School by Christopher Sullivan

When I was 12 Pete Jenesen power bombed me through a table. It was terrifying and exhilarating. That's not as gay as it sounds.

Couches, mattresses, and trampolines became arenas where we would suplex, piledrive, and clothesline each other. We used to have these wrestling parties for the monthly Pay Per Views on Sunday Nights. The first one I went to was for the 1999 Royal Rumble, an event the WWE (then the WWF) throws every January where 30 wrestlers (or superstars, as they call them) come in and out of the ring, eliminating each other by tossing each other over the top rope. At Quinn Jason's mom's house that night we had our own Royal Rumble on his what then seemed like enormous living room floor. We clanked Arizona Ice Teas pretending we were Stone Cold Steve Austin chugging beers. It was some of the most fun I've had in my life.

Finding out who was into wrestling growing up is always a total surprise, never who you'd expect. There was something magical about it, the drama, the humor, the real stakes (it's hard to fake falling off a steel cage). Pro-wrestling is a total fantasy world unlike anything else. At the same time we were throwing each other through tables we were also having our first games of spin the bottle, walking from the bus to school by ourselves for the first time and seeing the high schoolers who seemed like all the cool people you saw on TV. These are the years where children are introduced to very adult things for the first time, and the results come in waves of anxiety and terror. Looking back there was no perspective on how things would change, no safety in the knowledge you'd become a different person. Things would get better, if only a little.

My play Barn Burner (tonight at 9:00 on the second floor of EST) is very much about all these things and is one of the more personal things I've ever written. Those were years friendships I have to this day were formed, and interests I have now were cultivated (wrestling has maybe taken a backseat to somethings.) In the play, Jesse Heller is a 13 year old girl who's inspired by a WWF writer who's renting her family's cottage to start her own pro-wrestling league for the kids in her school and try to get it on TV. While I usually try to avoid incorporating specific details from my life into my writing, this play has many, from the Burger King in my town where the kids hung out to the long stretches of black dirt fields where onions grew. It's a play that means a lot to me and it would mean a lot to me to see you there.

Barn Burner
by Christopher Sullivan
Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel
With Clare Barron, Jon Bass, Dave Gelles, Scott Sowers, Tommy Lyons, and Patrick Fleury

9:00 PM at Ensemble Studio Theatre
549 W52nd St, Second Floor
Part of EST/Youngblood's Bloodworks Reading Series

Monday, June 04, 2012

A Responsible Adult - Gillespie's Bloodworks

It takes a village.

As a freelance tutor, babysitter, etc, most of the advice I receive - and the codes I tend to live by - involve distancing myself from children and teenagers who I become incredibly close with.  Who share their secrets and tantrums and fears and hopes.  Some problems are simply too hard to fix.  It's not my job to fix them, it's none of my business to tell a family how to be; my observations are often unwelcome and my advice most certainly is.  For the most part, that is fine.  Sometimes it just kills me.

Living 3,000 miles away from home means I think a lot about the families we create from community.  The friends, coworkers, classmates and clients who become emergency contacts, who dish dinner out for you into tupperware as you dash off to another appointment, who invite you to their Bar Mitzvah and Christmas Dinners, or find you a place to stay when the shit hits the fan.  In the 3 years I have lived in New York, I have experienced incredible loneliness and unimaginable kindness.  A big city full of anonymous, professional strangers; it is also a village.

A Responsible Adult is a play about a village.

(It's also a very new play.  Like, shh, this new play has been crying all day and I just got it to sleep.  Come, please come, but be kind.)

Here are the details:

by Lucy Gillespie
Directed by Colleen Sullivan
Featuring Clare Barron, Parker Leventer, Chris Thorn, Nitya Vidyasagar, Helen Coxe

EST / Youngblood - BLOODWORKS 2012 Reading Series

Monday June 4th, 7pm
549 West 52nd Street, 2nd Floor
(between 10th & 11th Aves)
15-year-old Anya spends her days dragging a cello and a parakeet back and forth between her warring parents' apartments; her nights she spends practicing.  Caught skipping school and falling behind, Anya's exasperated mother hires a tutor for a quick fix.  But newly-wed Kylie, distracted by her own quarter-life crisis, may not be the best role model.  When Kylie and Anya both become involved with the same older man, all three must learn from each other how to be a responsible adult.


Blogging Bloodworks: Diversity Awareness Picnic

The very first  reading of a new play by Leah Nanako Winkler
549 West 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019
2nd floor
Directed by Shannon Sindelar
Alfredo Narciso, Devere Rogers, Allison Buck, Debbie Lee, Stephen Ellis, Risa Sarachan
and the voices of Jillian Tully
with music by
Julian Mesri
It’s Diversity Awareness Week at Buffalo and Rhody, a telemarketing office located on the campus of Johnson-Brown University, a small liberal arts college somewhere in America. As six employees ponder which color of the rainbow they might be and attempt to speak candidly with each other, uncomfortable tensions, anger and true love arises.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Leaving Youngblood: the lessons learned

I’ve made a list of all the wonderful moments I'll never forget from Youngblood: the laughter that comes from reading someone's new play out loud; the discussions in which a playwright snaps to verbalize what their play is about; RJ and Graeme's wise observations of what's core in a scene, in a character, in a play.

But workshopping our work was just a fraction of what we did. Every Wednesday, we met to talk about the shows we’ve seen, breaking down what’s working and not working in new plays, and during the breaks, we talked about our own challenges living and writing in New York. Fascinating were the moments in which these struggles were revealed in our work, or discussed 'till late-night over drinks at McCoy's.

If being a new playwright in the city is not difficult enough, being a foreign, young playwright in the city is rough. There's an incredible amount of barriers to face when you’re trying to cross borders, cross cultures, to become part of a new community. So I have to take this moment to thank Youngblood for giving me a home.

The popular story is that I’m the most MIA playwright in Youngblood because I was deported, and in truth, I was absent for 4 years of my membership. However, before I left the States, I asked RJ whether I could remain a member and while I was gone, I kept Youngblood in my heart.

Abroad, it was hard for me to identify myself as a playwright, so I held on to my membership to not lose sight of my creative needs. During those years, I'd manage to return to the city once a year and bring pages to the group. Once, there was a two-hour long melodrama, where I poured my heart out to describe all my frustrations with love, in often subversive or coded relationship dramas.

I was dealing with a sexual identity crisis, worsened by a tri-lingual cultural clash, and playwriting was what held me together. It was through my writing that I could identify my problems and deal with them, mostly in solitude, and if I didn't have the support of Youngblood, that period in my life would have been unbearable. 

I traveled a lot, and a lot of that was a means to escape. Escape my problems. Escape my frustrations. Avoidance was necessary, because I was too afraid to be who I was. But then I'd come to Youngblood and say to myself: well, one of the big problems I have is a sexual-identity crisis, so I emailed RJ and Graeme telling them that Youngblood needed to make a firm stance in favor of gay rights. So before the Marriage Equality law was passed in New York, Graeme got in a wedding dress and RJ married him in one of my brunch plays. That's one of the moments that I personally, will never forget.

Around that time, I was working on a play called "disOriented," which was directed by Carlos Armesto and produced by his company, Theatre C. Carlos and I met through Youngblood on my first year in the group, back in the days when Carlos was Associate Artistic Director of EST. Looking back at where Carlos and I started and where we ended, I am so thankful to Youngblood for introducing us, and planting the seed of one of my best collaborations so far.

Meanwhile, I had the privilege to learn the singular beauty of each playwright's voice, their unique personalities, and over the past eight years, it's been incredible to watch playwrights achieve incredible accomplishments. I'll never forget what I've learned from fellow Youngblooders: Qui Nguyen, Liz Meriwether, Zakiyyah Alexander, Edith Freni, Sharyn Rothstein, Amy Herzog, Annie Baker, Jon Kern, Mike Lew, Josh Conkel, Lucy Alibar, Rob Askins--but they're just a fraction of the talent Youngblood has nurtured, and it's just a matter of time before each Youngblood playwright will make me see something new about the theater and literally make me say: "whoa."

But the greatest lesson I've learned comes from looking back at the first play I brought to the group. After college, I was obsessed with the tragic form and I was working on a trilogy of tragedies called THE HOUSING PROJECT. The first play, HOUSE OF SOL, dealt with a young gay man, full of revenge and anger, that severed ties with his family. The play was read as part of UNFILTERED, and performed by seven men playing both men and women. The show was a drag show that never got produced, because I kept on self-censoring myself while writing it. On a retreat to the Catskills, I remember Graeme advising me to avoid self-sabotage. And after reading the play, I remember RJ acknowledging how hard it was to sever ties with your family.

This year, I’m finally facing the music, as I take the necessary steps to make New York City my permanent home. In my last brunch play for Youngblood's "Fellowship of the Brunch," I wrote about what’s going on to explore the personal challenges I’ve been too embarrassed to talk about in person. Sitting in rehearsals with Kel Haney (our director) and our cast, we talked about how my situation happens and how sad it is that it's true. Yet, at the same time, there’s something completely liberating about unveiling your personal wounds, and edifying to have a place to talk about them while being empowered.

Caryl Churchill once described playwriting as exposing your mind on stage, to then have it chopped up to pieces by the press. But in the art of making theater, I've been able to bring in these complicated, personal situations to learn how to deal with them empathically, and that has made me personally, and I believe artistically, a much stronger and braver human being. For this, there aren't enough words to express my gratitude to Youngblood.

For those that know my work, they know that I like writing political theater, because I believe that theater is a rehearsal room for social change. In that sense, Youngblood also gave me the home I needed until I could find the tools to build a home for myself. And for that, I’ll never forget how Youngblood taught me to stay true to my voice, to listen to it and use it to change my life. Many thanks Youngblood. These lessons, I'll always remember.