No Strings Attached, a new play by Manuel Igrejas

Left Out Festival hit returns for extended run with a new title and same talented team. Stage Left Studio. July 24th- August 16th 2014. 

Casey Burden, Afrim Gjonbalaj and Kevin Perez in No Strings Attached. Photo by Joel Bischoff. "   NSA - New play by Manuel Igrejas at Left Out Festival by Martin Denton · July 12, 2014 Now retitled No Strings Attached, this new play is coming back to Stage Left Studio for an extended run starting July 26th. So we're re-running my commentary on the original production from last spring: NSA, the new play by Manuel Igrejas, is a smart, adult, bittersweet look at three men who find themselves entangled in an off-kilter love triangle. It's a worthy successor to Hassan and Sylvia, Manny's award-winning 2010 play, which traded in similar themes on the complex web of compromise, integrity, and sex. As I write this, there is one more performance left of NSA at the Left Out Festival at Stage Left Studio; I highly recommend it. And I wish the play a full, long life after the festival. The title is an acronym for "No Strings Attached" (not the National Security Agency); it's an apt choice for this play, which deals in relationships with varying levels of ties that bind. Monty and Luis have been a couple for ten years, and seem to be soulmates in spite of differences in their backgrounds, ages, and ambitions. Monty wants to marry and Luis does not, but that's not the central problem in this play. Rather, the catalyst for all that happens is a cater-waiter they encounter at a gallery opening in Chelsea. I don't want to give away much about this handsome young man, but both men recognize him (although in different contexts). Both end up becoming acquainted with him, and his impact on their lives rocks their relationship to its very foundation. And everything that occurs pivots on the entwined ideas of how much skin we're willing to put in the game in terms of relationships with one another; and how willing and able we are to separate love from lust, sex from intimacy, and romance from transaction. Manny has written three highly individual, richly fleshed-out characters here, all brought to life by the actors in this premiere production. Casey Burden, who was in Hassan and Sylvia, plays  the grounded, good-natured Monty; Afrim Gjonbalaj is more conflicted as his partner, Luis; and Kevin Perez is splendidly ambivalent and enigmatic as the young man who is the third point of the triangle. This production is directed, vividly but in bare bones style suitable to the festival environment, by Robert Teague. What I like most about the play is that its characters do dumb and/or risky things and don't get let off the hook by each other or their playwright. And they adhere to moral codes that arise from their very different personalities and histories, In short, they behave like real people rather than constructs or archetypes, and it's a real privilege to spend time with them in the theater, indulging along with them in their fantasies and foibles. We care for them when our time with them is over.  

Casey Burden, Afrim Gjonbalaj and Kevin Perez in No Strings Attached. Photo by Joel Bischoff.

"

 

NSA - New play by Manuel Igrejas at Left Out Festival
by Martin Denton · July 12, 2014

Now retitled No Strings Attached, this new play is coming back to Stage Left Studio for an extended run starting July 26th. So we're re-running my commentary on the original production from last spring:

NSA, the new play by Manuel Igrejas, is a smart, adult, bittersweet look at three men who find themselves entangled in an off-kilter love triangle. It's a worthy successor to Hassan and Sylvia, Manny's award-winning 2010 play, which traded in similar themes on the complex web of compromise, integrity, and sex. As I write this, there is one more performance left of NSA at the Left Out Festival at Stage Left Studio; I highly recommend it. And I wish the play a full, long life after the festival.

The title is an acronym for "No Strings Attached" (not the National Security Agency); it's an apt choice for this play, which deals in relationships with varying levels of ties that bind. Monty and Luis have been a couple for ten years, and seem to be soulmates in spite of differences in their backgrounds, ages, and ambitions. Monty wants to marry and Luis does not, but that's not the central problem in this play.

Rather, the catalyst for all that happens is a cater-waiter they encounter at a gallery opening in Chelsea. I don't want to give away much about this handsome young man, but both men recognize him (although in different contexts). Both end up becoming acquainted with him, and his impact on their lives rocks their relationship to its very foundation. And everything that occurs pivots on the entwined ideas of how much skin we're willing to put in the game in terms of relationships with one another; and how willing and able we are to separate love from lust, sex from intimacy, and romance from transaction.

Manny has written three highly individual, richly fleshed-out characters here, all brought to life by the actors in this premiere production. Casey Burden, who was in Hassan and Sylvia, plays  the grounded, good-natured Monty; Afrim Gjonbalaj is more conflicted as his partner, Luis; and Kevin Perez is splendidly ambivalent and enigmatic as the young man who is the third point of the triangle. This production is directed, vividly but in bare bones style suitable to the festival environment, by Robert Teague.

What I like most about the play is that its characters do dumb and/or risky things and don't get let off the hook by each other or their playwright. And they adhere to moral codes that arise from their very different personalities and histories, In short, they behave like real people rather than constructs or archetypes, and it's a real privilege to spend time with them in the theater, indulging along with them in their fantasies and foibles. We care for them when our time with them is over.

 

Margarita and Max

Margarita and Max

Margarita and Max

A new play by Manuel Igrejas

Margarita is having a rough time.  She’s unemployed, broke and newly unattached.  She’s on her way to catch a bus to New York City to interview for a menial job she probably won’t get. She could use a miracle. A strong spring breeze blows one of those ubiquitous black plastic bags into her path…and into her life. This is no ordinary bag and this is no ordinary day.

Kim McKean as Margarita and Craig  Fox as Max

Kim McKean as Margarita and Craig  Fox as Max

 Winner Best Short Play, Best Actress and Best Director Awards at the 2013 Midtown Festival

Off-Broadway

“Margarita and Max” at the Midtown International Theatre Festival at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre
By Manuel Igrejas
Directed by David Hilder
Reviewed by David Roberts, Theatre Reviews Limited

What could be more absurd than a talking black plastic bag once home to a six-pack of beer? Perhaps more absurd would be hearing the bag talking to Margarita Mariposa as she waits in Cedar Chips, New Jersey for the bus to Manhattan, or hearing Margarita talking to the bag and taking the bag on the bus with her to her job interview at 1515 Broadway. Conceivably, most absurd would be that the bag “becomes flesh and dwells [with Margarita] full of grace and truth (after John 1:14).” 

In Manuel Igrejas’ new post-absurdist play “Margarita and Max,” that is precisely what happens. Playwriting becomes soteriology – the theology of salvation. Margarita has lost her job and her squeeze and with “restless heart” is living just “east of happiness” – just east of Eden. From the void, from nothing really, comes a plastic bag that seems comfortable “just going with it,” unencumbered by nomenclature and norms (like ‘jobless’ and ‘single-again’). The bag “likes” Margarita and engages with her playfully, drawing her from her void and drawing her into happiness. After she “claims” this moment of salvation by naming the bag Max, Margarita sees the world in a new light.


Margarita’s encounter with Max is an extraordinary surreal journey into Margarita’s psyche which leads her to an awareness best described in the character’s own words: “My name is Margarita Mariposa and here I am in the Void. The beautiful Void and I am on the cusp of everything. Maybe there was no Max, maybe there is no me, just an idea of me, as delicate and flickering as a candle’s flame. But at least I give off a little light and, if you get close enough, a little warmth. I know that one good breeze could send me soaring or a puff of breath could extinguish me, but that’s a chance I’ll take, a chance we all take, really.”

As for Max, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going (John 3:8).” The best saviors (and there are many) know when to intervene and when to withdraw. Max will be tossed about until he finds another soul just “east of happiness” and with “restless heart.” He will draw them from their void and return them to the magic in their void renewed of spirit and in the middle of their circle “open to the segment of chance.”

Kim McKean and Craig Fox are perfect in the roles of Margarita and Max: Ms. McKean understands the place of “restless heart” and conveys with spiritual transcendence what it means to transition from a void filled with sadness to a void filled with hope. It is not easy to portray a small plastic bag but Craig Fox accomplishes this task with ease making Max the bearer of “good news” that he is. Under David Hilder’s meticulous direction, these actors deliver Mr. Igrejas’ script with a comfortable passion. 

Mr. Igrejas has developed a magnificent script about the very important theme of losing those things which we have allowed to define us and moving forward into new possibilities, new unknowns, unencumbered by nomenclature and norms. His writing here is honest and precise and utilizes all the rhetorical devices at his disposal to create pure persuasive magic. The action moves from reality to fantasy in a deliciously erratic manner. “Margarita and Max” is a brilliant account of the soteriology of chance.

 

Margarita and Max: The Motion Picture
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpFm1tfN6z0

The Midtown International Theatre Festival’s 2013 Season runs from July 15 – August 4, 2013.  John Chatterton created the MITF in 2000, a Midtown alternative to other theatre festivals, as a way to present the finest Off-Off Broadway talent in convenience, comfort, and safety.  The MITF’s artistic emphasis is on the script itself, and therefore the Festival focuses on effective but minimal production values. For more information, visit www.midtownfestival.org.


Hassan and Silvia

Hassan and Silvia

Hassan and Sylvia

Cast: John Wernke, Karin de la Penha, Vandit Bhatt, Casey Burden, Erik Kever Ryle, Marilyn Bernard
Author: Manuel Igrejas
Venue: Cherry Lane Theatre - Studio
Director: David Hilder
Stage Manager: Julie Watson
Awards: Winner Best Play, Best Actress (Marilyn Bernard) Fresh Fruit Festival 2010.

 Click here for more production information about Hassan and Sylvia

Read Review Here »

An Interview with Manuel Igrejas


Miss Mary Dugan

 Miss Mary Dugan A Play In Two Scenes By Manuel Igrejas

Craig Fox and Bryan Webster close up in a scene from Miss Mary Dugan by Manuel Igrejas.jpg

Miss Mary Dugan Premiere at Fresh Fruit Festival 2009:

Directed by David Hilder
Cast: Danny Ettinger, Craig Fox
Miss Mary Dugan: Danny Ettinger
Production Stage Manager: Julie Watson
Running Time: 1 hour,  no intermission
Awards: Winner Best Play, Best Actor (Craig Fox) and Best Director (David Hilder).

Miss Mary Dugan (aka Joe Azzopardi) lives in Cedar Chips, New Jersey, a pretty little town that he calls the West Hollywood of the East Coast. With his fabulous parties, Mary Dugan is the center of social life of gay Cedar Chips. Despite being the hostess with the most-ess, Dugan hasn't had much luck with men, and many of his nights are spent alone with porn, Doritos and Stoli.

He has a crush on the good-looking, mysterious guy next door. He lives next door to a funeral parlor. A chance encounter in the parking lot with Kevin, the object of his affection, throws him for a loop. It forces him to ask: what does he really want--his fantasy or the prospect of getting to know his hunky neighbor in real time? Read More...

Miss Mary Dugan 2012. Starring Craig Fox and Bryan Webster. Directed by Karin de la Penha.


Kitty and Lina

Kitty and Lina

Kitty and Lina

By Manuel Igrejas

"I think, in a very small way, a pretty girl in a pretty dress helps make the world a better place."

Kitty takes the stage in a smashing red dress. She is having a “pretty” day and wants to share it with the audience. Kitty came to New York fueled by fantasies of a Manhattan created by Woody Allen. Her day job pays the rent but her evenings are reserved for The Inwood Merry Players, of which she is a charter member. She’s still finding her way in the big, grimy playground and sometimes, being a pretty girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Lina, a self-possessed woman in her later years, follows her. Lina is on the other end of Kitty’s ride. An immigrant from Portugal, she escaped her arranged marriage and through pluck, luck and a little on the side, had a career in publishing in New York City.  Now retired, she still loves New York but finds there are new challenges for women of a certain age.

Two vibrant, intelligent women bare their souls directly to the audience. Read More...

Cast: Marilyn Bernard, Jennifer Boutell

Read Review Here »


Shrinkage

Shrinkage

Shrinkage

"You need to find a modality to deal with your sexuality in its totality."

Directed by Lory Henning-Dyson
Cast: The cast of Shrinkage included Susan Blackwell, Laura Camien, Jeffrey Doornbos, Brian Hotaling and Janet Ward.

Shrinkage is an evening of three one-act plays about the pursuit of mental health.

In Phyllis and Kirby, a young woman is thrown by her esteemed psychologist's new, user-friendly approach.

In Jack and Jane, a struggling actor makes a shocking discovery about his dour, undemonstrative therapist. Read More...

Read Review Here »