It’s been a minute since Mike (my husband) and I and our fearless partner, friend, and director, Douglas Wagner, produced theater in NYC. We started out working together at Trinity Rep Conservatory and then came to New York and founded The Invisible Theatre back in the 90’s. And we created some beautiful, powerful shows that we were very proud of including two plays that I wrote:
DO SOMETHING WITH YOURSELF!
The Life of Charlotte Bronte
And an adaptation of Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher
In the past twenty years Douglas went on to become a successful businessman, Mike did a deep soul search, left acting, worked in various roles in theater production and established a career in commercial real estate. We had two daughters, and I wrote, acted, worked for a non-profit, produced a jazz series, and kept digging for my voice.
Mike and I are now working together again putting up my play Bite the Apple, and Douglas will join us as a consulting director. The band is back together. In this role as writer/director/actor, making my own stuff, I feel like I’ve come home to where I started out, and it's very gratifying.
I was elated when I found out last summer that I had received a grant to mount a production of Bite the Apple. Grants are rare and beautiful things.
This play ... what can I tell you about this play. I love this play and it has driven me around the bend and back. The story lived in me. I knew it was a powerful, but finding the structure that would make it sing has been a quest. Over the years when I would spend the days, weeks, months working on it, I would say to Mike in the evening, “can we talk about the play?” I would watch him straighten his back, take a deep breath and say “yes”, because he knew “no” wasn’t really an option. He would listen and ask questions and I would contort myself through the day’s themes and ideas and actions and character’s desires searching for the golden nuggets that suddenly make scenes fall into place, characters make perfect sense, and plays feel whole. The evening would often end in exhaustion with no perfect answers, but the talking and listening were a crucial part of the process.
It all started when I read a book in 2010 about the value of reading the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales to young children, The Uses of Enchantment – The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim, and the idea for Bite the Apple sprang full into my head, as they do:
The child learns from Cinderella that to gain his kingdom he must be ready to undergo a “Cinderella” existence for a time.
Little Red Cap is universally loved because, although she is virtuous, she is tempted ....
If there were not something in us that likes the big bad wolf,
he would have no power over us.
The queen orders the hunter not only to kill Snow White, but to return with her lungs and liver as evidence. When the hunter brings the queen the lungs and liver of an animal to prove he has executed her command, “The bad woman ate them and thought she had eaten Snow White’s lungs and liver.” In primitive thought and custom, one acquires the powers or characteristics of what one eats.
The selfishness of the mother, which forces her husband to take the rampion illegally, is balanced by the selfishness of the sorceress, who wishes to keep Rapunzel to herself locked in the tower. The fantastic element is that which provides the final consolation: the power of the body is imaginatively exaggerated by the overlong tresses, on which one can climb up a tower, and by the tears, which can restore sight. But what more reliable source of recovery do we have than our own body?
The first workshop of Bite the Apple was developed at The Directors Company in NYC in 2011, and then the play was produced as part of the NY Int’l Fringe Festival in 2012. I significantly restructured it and had a staged reading in 2016. This play speaks to all that I think about and need to say -- where did you come from, what happened to you, who are you really, and what do you want to do now?
The show will open on March 10, 2022
at 224 Waverly Place Theater,
West Village, NYC.
We have been hard at it for the past few months. I’ve been rewriting sections of the play, still digging. We searched for and found the perfect theater and rehearsal space. We’ve assembled an amazing cast and an exciting group of designers. We’ve had a zillion Zoom meetings. I’ve enlisted my dear friend and brilliant writer Drew Pisarra to be the Dramaturg on the project and my right hand man.
I’m excited and scared and excited and scared. I'm stepping out on my own in a new way by directing my own work, but as I said earlier, it feels like I'm where I'm supposed to be. Although it's been in development for ten years, this play, this story, feels urgent. It's never stopped grabbing my attention and pulling me forward. The fairy tales live in my girlhood memories, and the hard lessons in them are the bridge into my adulthood. I travel back and forth often.
I cannot wait to get into rehearsal with these gifted actors and begin to fill the scenes with tenderness and joy and frenzy and furor ... and hope.
I can promise that we will share with you an evening of live theater that is unique, compelling, visually and aurally provocative, and mines the beauty and mystery of desire --
desire for love, desire for a true family, and the desire to walk free in our own skin.
The tale of four heroines --
one trapped in servitude
one preyed upon by a wolf
one hunted through the woods
one locked in a tower --
many years later
determined to unearth what was lost
and write a new story
March 10 - 13, 2022
We will let you know when tickets go on sale soon.