What I Saw In New York

Hoo boy. I’m only just now crawling out from under this horrible flu-like thing that everyone seems to have. The one whose main symptom seems to be sapping you of all ambition.

I caught it right after I got back from a trip to New York for the Dramatists Guild annual meeting. I made a long weekend of it, so I got a chance to see some pretty extraordinary shows, all of which I recommend:

  • Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz. Star-packed, and not just onstage. Stockard Channing, Stacy Keach, Judith Light, Justin Kirk and Rachel Griffiths are all in the show, except Rachel Griffiths was out, so her understudy was in it – and it turns out, it was her Broadway debut. All her friends were in the audience; her mom sat right behind me and teared up; the cast was practically crying as they handed her flowers. It was really pretty special to catch. Oh, and the dude who plays Mitchell on Modern Family sat right in front of me, because I had good seats, because that’s how I roll.
  • Tribes by Nina Raine, directed by David Cromer. One of my rules is to automatically go see whatever is on at Barrow Street Theatre. I have never, ever been disappointed, and this one keeps the streak going. Really, really good. It was a preview, and I have a rule about not talking much about previews because who knows what will change by opening, but I will repeat that it was really, really good. You should consider emulating my “go to whatever’s on at Barrow Street” rule.
  • Grant Stewart Quartet at Smalls Jazz Club. Also caught a late night after hours jazz show at my favorite jazz club. Being at Smalls is like watching a few friends jam in someone’s basement. You start out standing in the back, and as people fade away, you move up until you get a seat. I ended up in the front row, where I could have reached over and played along on the piano, and if I had stretched out my foot, I would have kicked Grant Stewart in the shins.
  • Venus in Fur by David Ives. He’s one of the ones on the list I’ve memorized for when I inevitably get that “what playwrights have inspired you?” question during talkbacks or press interviews. This one is getting deservedly rave reviews for being fun, daring, theatrical, witty and smart, and for Nina Arianda’s performance, which is so good, the New Yorker even did a long article about it.

And, of course, I spent the last day doing some writing in the Rose Reading Room of the New York Public Library, because that’s also how I roll.

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