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Steven Carl McCasland a Playwright to Watch

Steven Carl McCasland a Playwright to Watch
Penny Lynn White, Samantha Hoefer , Polly McKie

Penny Lynn White, Samantha Hoefer and Polly McKie

Little Wars, What Was Lost and Shades Of Blue, Der Kanarienvogel, 28 Marchant Avenue and Neat & Tidy are five plays that have been playing in repertory by playwright Steven Carl McCasland in a month-long festival. Steven’s characters include a legendary jazz singer, an unforgettable playwright, a President, the world’s most famous mystery writer and more. From plays featuring Agatha Christie and Gertrude Stein to Billie Holiday and Joe Glaser, Steven’s plays if they are anything like Little Wars, which is the play I attend, are well written, mesmerizing and thought provoking. Steven Carl McCasland is also the Founding Artistic Director of Beautiful Soup Theater.

Kristen Gehling

Kristen Gehling

Little Wars, takes place in the French Alps, in 1939 where tensions are high and war is about to change the world. Gertrude Stein (Polly McKie) and Alice B. Toklas (Penny Lynn White) are having Agatha Christie (Kim Rogers), Lillian Hellman (Kimberly Faye Greenberg) and Dorothy Parker ( Dorothy Weems) to dinner when, Muriel Gardiner (Kristen Gehling), shows up a day early. Gardiner, is incognito in France to raise money for false passports to enable Jews to escape from Germany. Stein has given her $600 pounds for the cause. As the authors arrive their curosity over Ms. Gardiner is peaked. Stein and Toklas are lovers, Stein and Hellman are sparing partners, all are alcoholics, except Gardiner and Bernadette (Samantha Hoefer), the young house maid. As the booze flows, secrets and pains are revealed. Each character has a wonderful revelatory monologue that stream forth in a honest truth. With Gertrude Stein “Why am I not normal?,” which is a cry of more than being gay, it is a cry of a soul never feeling at ease in her own skin. Toklas’ explains her devotion to Stein and how she helped glue a broken heart that was only barley stitched together.

Parker, regrets an abortion that costs $30 and Christie explains her alleged kidnapping. Each of these incredible personalities are interesting, intriguing and was famous in their own right. Each actress brings an honesty, vulnerability and chemistry to their role that makes you want to know more.

Stein and Toklas were Jewish, lesbians in a world gone mad and unaccepting. The most touching part of the whole show is the revelation of the housekeeper Bernadette. It seems Gertrude and Alice rescue Bernadette who was gang raped by six Nazis and a gun.

Cara Picone directs this piece with sensitivity but it is Steven Carl McCasland, who is the one to watch here. His words are profound and his monologues are a must for any actress who wants a concise piece to sink their teeth into. It is surprising for a man to write such wonderful work for women.

There are two more chances to see Mr. McCasland’s work.

5/31: 2pm 28 Marchant Avenue: The Kennedy Family’s Hyannisport compound. Examining five summers in the family’s lives, the play focuses on the lobotomy of Rose Marie Kennedy. Spend each fading summer with John, Joe, Eunice, Kathleen, Bobby, Pat, Rose, Joseph and Rosemary as the family grapples with their skeletons.

5/31: 7pm What Was Lost: Brings the beloved stage actress Laurette Taylor return to the stage after a six-year hiatus. Chronicling her process from the first rehearsal of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie through her legendary first performance as Amanda Wingfield, What Was Lost is a piercing look at the lies we tell ourselves in order to survive. Pennylynn White returns as Laurette Taylor with Paul Thomas Ryan as Tennessee Williams. They are joined by the entire original company and creative team.

Clarion Theatre, 309 East 26th St.

Entertainment

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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