Dramashop Book Club
Dramashop Book Club is a chance for members of the Dramashop community — and you! — to come together and discuss a variety of plays and enjoy each other’s company.
Most book discussions take place on the third Saturday of the month at 11am. Currently, we are holding all meetings via Zoom, and hope to eventually resume face-to-face meetings.
Check out our Facebook page for updated information on these events. A copy of each script can be on our online store for $20. You can also buy all four “Act One” selections for just $60 or the whole year’s worth of plays for $150.
The time is 1905, the place New York City, where Esther, a black seamstress, lives in a boarding house for women and sews intimate apparel for clients who range from wealthy white patrons to prostitutes. Her skills and discretion are much in demand, and she has managed to stuff a goodly sum of money into her quilt over the years. One by one, the other denizens of the boarding house marry and move away, but Esther remains, lonely and longing for a husband and a future. Her plan is to find the right man and use the money she’s saved to open a beauty parlor where black women will be treated as royally as the white women she sews for. By way of a mutual acquaintance, she begins to receive beautiful letters from a lonesome Caribbean man named George who is working on the Panama Canal. Being illiterate, Esther has one of her patrons respond to the letters, and over time the correspondence becomes increasingly intimate until George persuades her that they should marry, sight unseen. Meanwhile, Esther’s heart seems to lie with the Hasidic shopkeeper from whom she buys cloth, and his heart with her, but the impossibility of the match is obvious to them both, and Esther consents to marry George. When George arrives in New York, however, he turns out not to be the man his letters painted him to be, and he absconds with Esther’s savings, frittering it away on whores and liquor. Deeply wounded by the betrayal, but somehow unbroken, Esther returns to the boarding house determined to use her gifted hands and her sewing machine to refashion her dreams and make them anew from the whole cloth of her life’s experiences.
In GARY, maverick theater artist Taylor Mac’s singular world view intersects with Shakespeare’s first tragedy, Titus Andronicus. Set just after the blood-soaked conclusion of that sensationally gruesome tale, the years of battles are over, the country has been stolen by madmen, and there are casualties everywhere. And two very lowly servants are charged with cleaning up the bodies. It’s the year 400—but it feels like the end of the world.
In this brash reworking of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, a group of old friends, ex-lovers, estranged in-laws, and lifelong enemies gather to grapple with life’s thorniest questions—and each other. What could possibly go wrong? Incurably lustful and lonely, hapless and hopeful, these seven souls collide and stumble their way towards a new understanding that LIFE SUCKS! Or does it?
INDECENT, by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, is a deeply moving play inspired by the true events surrounding the controversial 1923 Broadway debut of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance—a play seen by some as a seminal work of Jewish culture, and by others as an act of traitorous libel. INDECENT charts the history of an incendiary drama and the path of the artists who risked their careers and lives to perform it.
Mark Twain wrote: “There are five kinds of actresses: bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses – and then there is Sarah Bernhardt.” In 1899, the international stage celebrity set out to tackle her most ambitious role yet: Hamlet. Theresa Rebeck’s new play rollicks with high comedy and human drama, set against the lavish Shakespearean production that could make or break Bernhardt’s career.
In this modern day riff on The Scarlet Letter, Hester La Negrita, a homeless mother of five, lives with her kids on the tough streets of the inner city. Her eldest child is teaching her how to read and write, but the letter “A” is, so far, the only letter she knows. Her five kids are named Jabber, Bully, Trouble, Beauty and Baby, and the characters are played by adult actors who double as five other people in Hester’s life: her ex-boyfriend, her social worker, her doctor, her best friend and her minister. While Hester’s kids fill her life with joy—lovingly comical moments amid the harsh world of poverty—the adults with whom she comes into contact only hold her back. Nothing can stop the play’s tragic end.
Al has to take the rap for his pal Duane’s botched robbery, but before he goes, he leaves his drunken ex-beauty-queen wife, Sylvie, in the care of his father, Jefe. In the year he is gone, Jefe and Sylvie fall in love, and when Al is granted early parole, he enlists Duane in a mad and murderous hunt for the fleeing lovers. In the course of their search, they meet China, a weird changeling who wields a water gun filled with ammonia and purports to know where Al’s wife has been taken.
The Charles R. Drew Prep School for Boys is dedicated to the creation of strong, ethical black men. Pharus wants nothing more than to take his rightful place as leader of the school’s legendary gospel choir. Can he find his way inside the hallowed halls of this institution if he sings in his own key?
Inside the FedEx box are two things: a 100% bona-fide-heart’s-desire-level wish, and a suicide note. Hannah tracks the package back to Korea, where her grandmother recently jumped from the roof of the Sunrise Dewdrop Apartment City for Senior Living onto the wrong side of the Demilitarized Zone. Oops.
Jeffrey, a gay actor/waiter, has sworn off sex after too many bouts with his partners about what is “safe” and what is not. In gay New York, though, sex is not something you can avoid. Whether catering a ditzy socialite’s “Hoe-down for AIDS” or cruising at a funeral; at the gym or in the back rooms of an anonymous sex club; at the annual Gay Pride Parade, or in the libidinous hands of a father-confessor, Jeffrey finds the pursuit of love and just plain old physical gratification to be the number-one preoccupation of his times—and the source of plenty of hilarity. Suddenly, just after he’s reconciled himself to celibacy, Jeffrey’s flamboyant friends introduce him to the man of his dreams, who also happens to be HIV-positive. What follows is an audacious and moving romantic comedy with a difference—one in which the quest for love and really fabulous clothes meet, and where unflagging humor prevails even when tragedy might be just around the corner.