On Tuesday, April 5th, Theatre Communications Group (TCG) presented “An Evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis,” author of the hit Broadway play The Motherf***er with the Hat, which featured a reading of excerpts from several of his plays, a discussion and signing of his newly published play, Between Riverside and Crazy, for which he received the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, at the Drama Book Shop in New York, now celebrating its 99th year.
Priority admission to the free event was predicated on purchasing one of Mr. Guirgis’ plays, but when I arrived at the Drama Book Shop at 4:30pm, the store was packed.
With only 50 seats in the Drama Book Shop’s Arthur Seelen Theatre, those of us who were lucky enough to get in to the standing room only event were treated to an intimate trio of readings by Tony and Academy Award winning actress Ellen Burstyn, Two-time Emmy Award winner and Tony nominee Bobby Cannavale, playwright and actress Paola Lázaro-Muñoz and Guirgis, of his new work The Untitled/Boxing Play, The Little Flower of East Orange and Between Riverside and Crazy. Pure theatre magic. The discussion was moderated by playwright and Drama Book Shop Events Manager Steven Carl McCasland, and Guirgis welcomed questions from the audience for any of the artists onstage, citing the importance of community among theatre artists.
After the performance and discussion, Guirgis signed copies of his plays for his fans who stood in a line that stilled spanned the length of the store when I left at 6:15pm.
Between Riverside and Crazy was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama after its world premiere at Atlantic Theatre Company starring Stephen McKinley Henderson (Walter “Pops” Washington), Victor Almanzar (Oswaldo), Elizabeth Canavan (Detective O’Connor), Rosal Colón (Lulu), Liza Colón-Zayas (Church Lady), Michael Rispoli (Lieutenant Caro) and Ray Anthony Thomas (Junior), under the masterful direction of Austin Pendleton. Ron Cephas Jones joined the original cast for the subsequent remount at Second Stage Stage Theater in the role of Junior. In Guirgis’ new play, City Hall is demanding more than Pops’ signature, the Landlord wants him out, the liquor store is closed — and the Church won’t leave him alone. For ex-cop & recent widower Walter “Pops” Washington and his recently paroled son Junior, when the struggle to hold on to one of the last great rent stabilized apartments on Riverside Drive collides with old wounds, sketchy new houseguests, and a final ultimatum, it seems the Old Days are dead and gone — after a lifetime living between Riverside and Crazy.
STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGIS is a member and former co-artistic director of LAByrinth Theater Company. His plays have been produced on five continents and throughout the United States. They include Our Lady of 121st Street (Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle Best Play Nominations), Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (Edinburgh Festival Fringe First Award, Barrymore Award, Olivier Nomination for London’s Best New Play), In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings (2007 LA Drama Critics Best Play, Best Writing Award), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (10 best Time Magazine & Entertainment Weekly), and The Little Flower of East Orange (with Ellen Burstyn & Michael Shannon). All five plays were directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and were originally produced by LAByrinth. His most recent play, The Motherf***er with the Hat (6 Tony nominations, including Best Play), was directed by Anna D. Shapiro and marked his third consecutive world premiere co-production with The Public Theater and LAByrinth.In London, his plays have premiered at The Donmar Warehouse ((Olivier nom.), The Almeida (dir: Rupert Goold), The Hampstead (Robert Delamere), and at The Arts Theater in the West End. Other plays include Den of Thieves, Race Religion Politics, Dominica: The Fat Ugly Ho and the upcoming Untitled/St. Paul play. Regional premieres include two Midwest premieres at Steppenwolf. New Dramatists alumnus, MCC Playwrights and Ojai Playwrights member. TV writing credits include NBC’s “UC: Undercover,” David Milch’s CBS drama “Big Apple,” “NYPD Blue” and “The Sopranos.” He is currently collaborating with Academy Award nominated director Baz Luhrmann on a Netflix Series The Get Down, a 13-episode drama about the birth of hip-hop in the 1970s. Part-one of the series will premiere globally Friday, August 12, 2016 at 12:01am PT. Guirgis has received the 2016 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, 2016 Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 2015 Vassallo Award for Outstanding Achievement in Playwriting, Yale Wyndham-Campbell Prize, a PEN/Laura Pels Award, a Whiting Award, a TCG fellowship and the prestigious 2014 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. He is also a New Dramatists Alumnae and a member of MCC’s Playwright’s Coalition, The Ojai Playwrights Festival, New River Dramatists, and Labyrinth Theater Company. As an actor, he has appeared in theater, film and television, including roles in Kenneth Lonergan’s film Margaret, Todd Solondz’s Palindromes, Brett C Leonard’s Jailbait opposite Michael Pitt and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman opposite Michael Keaton. A former violence prevention specialist and H.I.V. educator, he lives in New York City.
For more information, visit www.dramabookshop.com.
Lia Chang is an award-winning filmmaker, a Best Actress nominee, a photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek, which at the Disorient Film Festival in Eugene, Oregon in April. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
Broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: Stephen Adly Guirgis Reads, Signs Plays at The Drama Book Shop with Bobby Cannavale and More
Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Between Riverside and Crazy Garners 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
2014-15 Outer Critics Circle Award Nominations; Something Rotten!, On the Twentieth Century, An American in Paris garner most nods
BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Starring Stephen McKinley Henderson, Victor Almanzar, Elizabeth Canavan, Rosal Colón, Liza Colón-Zayas, Michael Rispoli and Ron Cephas Jones; Opens February 11
Production Photos: Stephen Adly Guirgis’ BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY at Second Stage Theatre
THE GET DOWN, Baz Luhrmann’s New Drama Series Set in 1970s NYC That Gave Birth to Hip-Hop, Punk and Disco, to Premiere on Netflix in 2016
talkingbroadway.com: Elizabeth Canavan, Rosal Colón, and Liza Colón-Zayas in Between Riverside and Crazy
Stephen Adly Guirgis’ BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Extends through March 22
Second Stage Theatre Presents Stephen Adly Guirgis’ BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Starring Stephen McKinley Henderson, Victor Almanzar, Elizabeth Canavan, Rosal Colón, Liza Colón-Zayas, Michael Rispoli and Ron Cephas Jones; Opens February 11
Ben Brantley’s Best Theater of 2014: Stephen Adly Guirgis’ BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Set for Second Stage Theatre’s Tony Kiser Theatre Beginning January 16, 2015
Stephen Adly Guirgis’ BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY at Second Stage Theatre’s Tony Kiser Theatre Beginning January 16, 2015
Photos: Ellen Burstyn, Baz Luhrmann, John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Stephen McKinley Henderson, John Patrick Shanley, David Henry Hwang, Liza Colón-Zayas, Kenneth Lonergan and More Celebrate Stephen Adly Guirgis at The Mimi Awards
Stephen Adly Guirgis to Receive the Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award at the Seventh Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards on November 17
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