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Dead Reckoning

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Felice Lesser
August 9, 2013

What is your job on this show?
I am one of three featured playwrights on the program. .

What is your show about?
This show consists of three original plays written on the theme DEAD RECKONING.

What do you do when you’re not working on a play?
I’m the Artistic & Executive Director of my own dance company, the Felice Lesser Dance Theater. I also teach dance at UCONN/Stamford Campus.

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this summer that...?
-- has two CHOREOGRAPHERS with their own NYC-based dance companies (Gus Solomons Jr. and myself), crossing the road from dance into theater, involved in this production. I’m the playwright, and Gus is the leading actor (playing the role of “George,” a retired college professor, on his way to a beach community to rescue his long-time girlfriend, after one hurricane has hit, and another is on the way). This play may also be the only one opening in NYC this summer that also has two non-human actors in its cast. (But I don’t want to spoil that here. You’ll need to come and see the play to find out what I’m talking about.)

How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
I met Melody Brooks, the Director of New Perspectives Theatre, when she selected me as one of three playwrights (the others are Cecilia Copeland and Holly Eaton) for this year’s “Women’s Work” Project. Each of the playwrights was then paired with a director, and I got the wonderful Jenny Greeman. Jenny brought our leading lady, Jane Ives, into the mix. Gus Solomons, Jr. and I met years ago, but we worked together for the first time when he played a role in my multi-media “living cartoon,” the spy spoof, “Funding the Arts” (which was premiered by my dance company at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in 2010).

Which character from a Shakespeare play would like your show the best: King Lear, Puck, Rosalind, or Lady Macbeth -- and why?
Puck, because he would have a lot in common with the “non-human” characters.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
We’re hoping it does. That’s one of the goals of New Perspectives Theatre, and the “Women’s Work” Lab focuses on just that. It’s an interesting process. Each playwright is asked to write a play on a particular subject. This year Melody presented us with the theme DEAD RECKONING (from NPR’s website): “inspired in her choice by multiple happenings this year— the increasing devastation from climate change heavily influenced our theme, along with downright legislative insanity at the State level on an array of issues affecting citizens’ very ability to live healthy and productive lives.” We then wrote our first drafts, which were shared with Melody and our directors (Jenny Greeman, Joyia Bradley, and Daniella Caggiano), who helped shape the rewrites. Each of the playwrights was then matched with one of the directors, the plays were cast, and they will be presented in a “bare-bones” production this coming week. My play, "Dead Reckoning (or Running Out of TIme)" takes place in the near future, as polar ice caps melt, oceans rise, and hurricanes hit with increasing frequency. I hope the play will make people think and act, before it is too late. But I also tried, as I generally do, to mix these serious issues with comedy, so that people would enjoy the show and not feel that they’re being subjected to a lecture.