Author Archives: grafflaurie

About grafflaurie

Writer, lover of theater, media and all things New York. Up for anything, expectant of everything, likes to eat more than shop... keep open and keep kissing.

DEAR JANE Directed by Katrin Hilbe

Instead of lounging on the beach, go see DEAR JANE by Joan Beber, directed by our own Katrin Hilbe who did Beber’s IN BED WITH ROY COHN in 2015.

This time it’s about her life, various quests through art, love, family and how accidental happenings shape our lives.

Previews are happening now, it open July 26th, at the Clurman Theatre on Theatre Row, running til August 26th.

There is a Friends&Family discount, TRDJNFF that you can get via or call them at 212-239-6200 or 800-447-7400.

Sneak Peak: All’s Well with Gnat in Action

Wonderful photographer, Lee Wexler (Images for Innovation), shares a few fun shots of the talented Michael Gnat in the DrillingCo. production of All’s Well That Ends Well, expertly directed by Karla Hendrick.


Michael Gnats duels as Lafew with Michael Bernstein as Parolles.


Actor, Michael Gnat, pensive as Lafew.

Presented by The Drilling Company
More info: 212-877-0099 or visit 
Running time: 2 hours (no intermission)

Michael Gnat and a Quick Plug for Shakespeare, Come On Out!


Looking for something fun to do this summer? 

WorkShop’s ever versatile, MICHAEL GNAT, just opened last night as Lafew (aka LaFeu) in a free, outdoor production of All’s Well That Ends Well, directed for the DrillingCo. by Karla Hendrick.

So if you’re still in NYC and looking for a fun evening, check out the Clemente Center on the Lower East Side! [But check the weather report too!] Running Thurs-Sat thru July 22, at 7pm.

It’ll be the first production of this “problem play” in The Drilling Company’s Shakespeare in the Parking Lot–or in any other parking lot for that matter.

Anwen Darcy as Helena. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

July 6 to 22, 2017
La Plaza @ The Clemente Parking Lot, 114 Norfolk Street (E. side of Norfolk St. between Delancey and Rivington)
Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:00 PM
Subways: F to Delancey Street, M to Essex Street.
Presented by The Drilling Company
More info: 212-877-0099 or visit
Running time: 2 hours (without intermission)

We open our 23rd season July 6 to 22 with “All’s Well That Ends Well,” directed by Karla Hendrick. It’s the first time this play has been presented in a parking lot, ever.

(R) Elowyn Castle as Countess of Rousillon, (L) Mary Linehan as Levatch, a clown in her household. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

In the play, Helena is the only daughter of a famous French physician. Although a gentlewoman, she is not nobility, and for that the man she loves, a count named Bertram, her rank is not enough. He rejects her but she follows him to the court of the King of France, who is ailing. Bearing her father’s potions, she offers to cure the monarch on a gamble: if he dies, she will submit to execution, but if he lives, she can choose a husband from anyone in his court. She chooses Bertram, who is forced to marry her and does, but he flees immediately after the ceremony to Italy to fight in the Tuscan Wars. He issues an impossible challenge: he will only be Helena’s husband after she has borne his child and wears his family ring. In Italy he distinguishes himself as both a warrior and a seducer of local girls. Helena tails him to Italy, where she befriends Diana, a virgin he is smitten with. Helena poses as Diana in his dark bedchamber and Diana manages to obtain Bertram’s ring in exchange for one of Helena’s. So the marriage is complete, whereupon Helena fakes her own death to lure Bertram home. Back in France, Bertram tries to marry the daughter of a Lord but Diana breaks up the engagement with her revelations. Bertram, impressed by all Helena has done to win him, swears love to her. This resolution fulfills the proverb: all’s well that ends well. The play offers side-splitting comedy in the self-serving machinations of Parolles, a disloyal associate of Bertram, and by a clown of Bertram’s household. But its moments of levity are interlaced with gut-wrenching pathos, causing it to be labeled one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays.”

Anwen Darcy as Helena, Michael William Bernstein as Parolles. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

In its previous 22 years, Shakespeare in the Parking Lot has never before presented this tricky play and there is no record of it being produced in any other parking lot. The Drilling Company has been producer of Shakespeare in the Parking Lot since 2006 and is also the exclusive producer of Shakespeare plays in Bryant Park. The troupe has been kicking around the idea of doing this challenging play for about four years.

To director Karla Hendrick, the play’s quick shifts in tone are Checkhovian and that is the source of its strength and beauty. She explains that the play might seem to depict a smart woman who falls for the bad boy and makes dumb choices. But viewed through the healing power of the feminine, it becomes a discovery of becoming a woman and what it means to become a man.  Helena, on her journey of self-discovery, is driven by her heart and a positive life philosophy. She makes bold choices and is emboldened with each success.  Bertram is on a journey too; becoming a war hero and learning what it means to be a man.  The play, then, is a Checkhovian coming of age story of two young people united through diverse journeys through despair and darkness.

This truck will be moved before the production. Photo by Wai Wing Lau.

Ms. Hendrick has chosen to set the piece in southeastern France just before the fascist invasion of World War II. This is to illuminate themes of the muting of women’s role and voice, the breakdown of patriarchal systems, and the fight against fascism (or lack of fight). The cloud of an uncertain future is always present; in the end, we don’t know what choices Helena and Bertram will make but we are meant to wonder how the impending darkness will deepen their journeys.

The actors are Anwen Darcy, Una Clancy, Michael William Bernstein*, Michael Gnat*, Elaine Ivy Harris, Elowyn Castle*, Adam Huff*, Mary Linehan*, Eric Paterniani, Jarrod Bates, David Sitler* and Gabriela Montalvo. Costume design is by Sofia Piccolo and Grace Whittemore. Sound design is by Andrew Keenan.

Assistant director is Andrew Gombas. Stage Managers are Em Hornbeck and Joseph Treimanis. Assistant Stage Manager is Rachel Jeffries.

Karla Hendrick oversees a publicity photo shoot. Photo by Maggie Rothberg.

Karla Hendrick is one of The Drilling Company’s most accomplished actresses. Her performance as Betty in “The Norwegians” by C. Denby Swanson, she was cited by The New York Times as one of the Top 25 Quirky and Magical Moments in Theater of 2013. Her other significant roles in the company include the Woyzeck character’s psychiatrist in “Reservoir” by Eric Henry Sanders and her performances in both the Parking Lot and Bryant Park in “Hamlet” (Gertrude) and “The Merry Wives of Windsor” (Mistress Ford). She earned a BA in Theater Arts from Mount Holyoke, attended the British American Drama Academy, Oxford and earned an MFA from Brooklyn College. She is a Master Teaching Artist at the Metropolitan Opera Guild. She has been a guest artist-educator at the Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed National Conference and a professional artist/panelist at the New England Women’s Global Leadership Conference. This is her directorial debut.

The cast is filled with standout actors of The Drilling Company. Anwen Darcy (Helena) stole the show as Mercutio in “Romeo and Juliet” in Bryant Park in 2015. Elowyn Castle (Bertram’s mother) directed “The Norwegians” and was commended by The New York Times for her performance in the Parking Lot as Coriolanus’ mother Volumnia, the pushy and hard-bitten “Momma Rose of the Roman military.” Adam Huff (Bertram) got the girl last summer as Bassanio in “The Merchant of Venice” in the Parking Lot. David Sitler (King of France) was critically praised as Claudius in “Hamlet” and Dogberry in “Much Ado About Nothing.” Eric Paterniani and Jarrod Bates are The Drilling Company’s leading Shakespearean clowns. The part of The Fool, traditionally played by a man, has been cast with Mary Linehan (Hero in “Much Ado About Nothing” and Bianca in “The Taming of the Shrew”). Michael Bernstein, who plays, was Lucio in “Measure for Measure.” Michael Gnat, playing Lafew, was the company’s Polonius in “Hamlet” in Bryant Park. Elaine Ivy Harris (Diana) played Celia in “As You Like It.”

“All’s Well That Ends Well” will be performed July 6 to 22, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:00 PM and all admission is free. Seats are available on a first come first served basis, with audience members often arriving early to secure a place. Audience members are welcome to bring their own chairs. Once seats are gone, blankets are spread out. No one has ever been turned away and there’s never a wait for tickets.

2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

Cast info, location, and more:’s_Well.htm

:Anwen Darcy, David Sitler*, Michael William Bernstein*, Adam Huff*, Mary Linehan*, Michael Gnat*, Elaine Ivy Harris, Elowyn Castle*, Eric Paterniani, Jarrod Bates, Una Clancy, and Gabriela Montalvo.

July 6 to 22, 2017
La Plaza @ The Clemente Parking Lot, 114 Norfolk Street (E. side of Norfolk St. between Delancey and Rivington)
Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:00 PM

Subways: F to Delancey Street, M to Essex Street.
Presented by The Drilling Company
More info: 212-877-0099 or visit
Running time: 2 hours (no intermission)


Are You Ready for Dirty Old Men?

The Dirty Old Men-NYC-rock band

@ Klub 45 @ Connolly’s – Saturday, July 8th @ 9pm


Sandy Moore, front and center on guitar, leads the Dirty Old Men

WorkShop’s Amazing SANDY MOORE says:

Hey folks, Sandy Moore here –

The Dirty Old Men- NYC Rock Band, returns to Klub 45 @ Connolly’s – Saturday, July 8th @ 9pm for a smoking 45 minute set of originals, tasty covers and blues stompers. $10 cover. Enjoy your summer weekend @ The Klub 45 room @ Connolly’s, 121 West 45th Street (bet. 6th & Broadway).


Rock on!

SPLASH Magazine Showers Will-A-Thon 2017 With Love

The Shakespeare Festival that takes place every year around the great author’s birthday is one that not many people are privy to.  Probably because it has the makings of a sect, as it is run by a select few and for only a select few, the former being some of New York’s best Shakespearean actors and the latter Midtown’s The Workshop Theater, which puts up occasionally Shakespeare, but mostly contemporary and often award-winning plays and productions—rare for an Off-Off Broadway, or now called, NY Indie Theater.  Luckily, if there’s room, non-members can attend the Will-A-Thon Festival, though they might need to be friends to find out about it.

The Court of HAMLET, with( left to right): J. Warren Weber as Hamlet, Arthur Aulisi as Osric, Letty Ferrer as Lady in Waiting, Liz Amberly as Gertrude, Jason Howard as Claudius, Charles E. Gerber as Polonius, Kelsey Kurz as Laertes, Rebecca Johnson as Ophelia, and Zack Banks as Horatio


Conceived in 2004 by Charles E. Gerber, one of The Workshop Theater’s founding members, the Will-A-Thon is going strong, continuing all these years.  One reason is it is run almost exclusively by Gerber, whose passion for Shakespeare is virtually unrivalled, unless you’re talking about James Shapiro of Columbia, Harold Bloom of Yale and/or the venerable Tony Award winning and Theater Hall of Fame Honoree, Richard Easton, who graciously guest starred in this festival three years in a row: 2013-2015.  Moonlighting between teaching Shakespeare at The Workshop Theater, teaching a course in the History of Film Acting at NYU as well as being a free-lance player of contemporary media, along with a Shakespearean actor, director and producer, all mostly out of sheer love for the bard being the impetus.


Inside the walls of the theater he is sometimes referred to as Charles Shakespeare, and if you ever get the chance to speak with him you’ll know why.  Talking to Charles he will more often than not recite some text from the plays if he feels it best responds to the situation, but it does not go amiss, because which one of Shakespeare’s plays doesn’t address myriads of problems?   And the usages only tend to catapult conversations to sager places, unless you don’t do well deciphering Shakespeare, then you might be rear-ended.  Though sometimes you might get a sonnet, a full sonnet, soft-spoken and so naturally delivered, the receiver might be brought to shed a tear or two if it’s their first time after years’ of seeking the pureness of Shakespeare’s words.


I met Charles after becoming a member of The Workshop Theater, our names randomly chosen from a hat for an improv exercise for the theater’s Meet-n-Greet event.  Having selected another Shakespeare great, Ken Glickfeld, and long-time friend with Charles, and the two sharing a production history of Shakespearean works, our improvs quickly gave way to recaps from Richard II, Richard III, the Henrys, and many others, history and ephemera, which inadvertently became the subject of the play, along with any arguments they had going into it.


Letty Ferrer as Tubla, Charles E. Gerber as Shylock-THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, end of Act 3, scene 1


The drafts scrutinized for accuracy, I saw that anything I’d cut of Charles part put back in, but even when deliberating whether to put back in a comma, Charles brought out the physical plays, never resorting to what had previously been written or said and keeping entire phrases or monologues rather than excerpts.  Upon seeing him performing them I realized he was more than comfortable with long texts because he knew how to navigate in them.  It seemed effortless for him to go where the words took him, and maneuver there for as long as it took to accomplish what was desired, never even as much as raising his voice or employing histrionics.  The longer the text, the longer I stood mesmerized.


Throughout it all I hadn’t hesitated relating that I was no Shakespeare fan—having walked out from many productions, including those at Lincoln Center, but Charles simply answered, “Don’t worry—that’ll all change when you come to the Will-A-Thon,” to which I nodded.


Though having a schedule conflict when it finally arrived, the Will-A-Thon won out—I wanted to see if Charles was right.  From Shakespeare’s smorgasbord Charles selected excerpts from Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV, among others speaking to today’s times.  First and foremost showing “the age and body of the time” from Henry IV, Part 2, was the Induction monologue with Rumor, the originator of Fake News, conveyed quite honestly by Letty Ferrer.


Liz Amberly, J. Warren Weber-HAMLET , Act 3, scene 4″: Look here, upon this picture, and on this,”


Most touching was Act 3, scene 1 from The Merchant of Venice where Shylock expresses what it’s like being Jewish and made to suffer for things one wouldn’t subject a normal human being to, and then for a person having to withhold reacting like they are even human.  It was so subtly and thoughtfully rendered by, of course, none other than Charles himself, with both fear and its opposite passion, delivered modestly in hopes of affecting another and altering a strange convention.  It was the first I’d witnessed Shakespeare’s lines sans emotional disconnect, as unfortunately had usually been the case.


Jason Howard, J. Warren Weber- HAMLET, Act 3, scene 3: ” Now might I do it, pat, now he is praying,”


Further unforgettable were the last scenes in Hamlet, with murderous King Claudius, very naively played by Jason Howard and to his credit—maybe he brought something from Trump into the role.  But Liz Amberly’s heartfelt and innocent portrayal of Gertrude who seemed for once more concerned for her son, did much justice to the play, rendering J. Warren Weber’s Hamlet’s unforgivingness of her and her husband more potent and vengeful, and taking the play farther than it ever had before in my view.


Though I’d seen Hamlet many times, knowing everyone dies in the end, I still remember Hamlet and Laertes’ sword fight, and where Laertes’ sword struck, and my shuddering, with a scratch alone being enough to subdue Hamlet, the poison eventually affecting him.  The astonishing fight choreography was Kelsey Kurz’s accomplishment, while ingenuously playing Laertes as wel!


J. Warren Weber, Kelsey Kurz, HAMLET , Act 5, scene 2,” A hit :” a hit, a very palpable hit.”


Of course the cozy Jewel Box Theater helped in receiving all this.  After the production, when the cheering audience jumped up and ran over hugging and kissing the entire cast, I saw that everyone had felt the same thing, had witnessed what was truly good and even great Shakespeare.  I was glad I had listened to Charles and come to the Will-A-Thon, but he has that effect, onstage and off, when rendering Shakespeare’s lines, and even when he’s not.

Photo credit: Greg Oliver Bodine