America In Play

Work & Show Festival 2007

Connections between artists and audience – between plays old and new – marked three Work & Show Festival evenings presented by America-in-Play on March 19, 26, and 27, 2007.

Upon entering the auditorium of the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, audience members were invited to join playwrights, actors, and dramaturgs on stage to view an exhibition of displays intended to spark discussion and set the tone for the readings. The exhibits featured excerpts and visual representations from early American dramas as well as synopses of new ten-minute plays by AIP playwrights. The on-stage mingling led to conversations about how the original source material inspired sixteen playwrights to create new works strongly connected to and inspired by America’s earliest dramatists.

To begin the readings, AIP Founder and Artistic Director Lynn M. Thomson invited the audience to take their seats and spoke of the notion of folks sitting around the cracker barrel. With actors sitting on chairs staggered across the stage, the feeling was informal and inviting. Thomson then provided a context for each of the plays, giving the audience a sense of the discovery made by the playwrights in their course of writing workshops and study over two years.

The topic of the March 19th presentation was FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA: American Landscapes. As the program noted, and as Thomson further described, in its beginnings, America was imagined as “Paradise Found,” a new Eden-perhaps even the original. AIP artists started work through exploring the imaginative, primal landscapes of the Hudson River School painters and the folk characters born out of “this land.” The following plays carried the pulse of those beginnings in landscapes both rural and urban:

  • The Catskills Mountain House, a monologue by Erin Courtney
  • Farmer’s Quartette by Erin Browne
  • The View from Here and Just Folks by Lawrence DuKore
  • Lion of the East by Les Hunter
  • The Next Big Thing by Jenny Levison
  • Deleted Scenes from the Love of John Smith and Pocahontas by David Myers
  • Literal Lineage by Dominic Taylor

The March 26th theme was YANKEE DOODLES: From Cracker-barrel Philosophers to Silk Crooks. Thomson spoke of a new America that was a land of many contrasts, out of which arose a pantheon of archetypal characters to examine and specify our national identity. These plays continued that search:

  • Social Studies Report, a monologue by Erin Browne
  • Unknown Loyalist Upon Hearing the Declaration of Independence, a monologue by Quincy Long
  • Argue the Ocean by Erin Courtney
  • Falutin by C.S. Hanson
  • Banana and Booh in SECURITY by Susan Tenneriello
  • Collette Duval by P.J. Gibson
  • Falderal by Quincy Long

On March 27th, the readings centered around TALL TALES, or Performing Democracy. The evening was made up of music, monologues, and plays. The following presentations investigated how “stage-struck Yankees” enact rituals of democracy in life and art:

  • Yankee Doodle, a sing-along performed and lead by Nikos Brisco and Ruth Margraff
  • Unknown Loyalist Upon Hearing the Declaration of Independence, a monologue by Quincy Long
  • Caesar, adapted from the Virginia minstrels’ “Ole Dan Tucker” lyrics, music composed by Nikos Brisco, performed by Nikos Brisco and Ruth Margraff
  • Over the Garden Wall by Ruth Margraff
  • Waiting for Minstral by Gary Winter
  • the orchard, the handkerchief & the carbon copyists by Stephanie Fleischmann
  • Onkel Tom’s Hutte by Anne Washburn

In 2008, another Work & Show Festival will include readings of plays old and new. The public is welcome to join AIP at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center on March 31 and April 7, 2008, at 7 p.m. TPAC is located at 199 Chambers Street in New York City. For more information and for directions to TPAC, visit