American Plays and Playwrights

On this edition of ST, we learn about two new plays to be presented on April 19, 20, 26, and 27 at the Nightingale Theater here in Tulsa, at 1416 East 4th Street. Heller Theatre Company recently opted to stage two one-act plays (in a single evening) by a pair of Tulsa-based playwrights in order to continue its ongoing mission to support original dramatic work, and thus Heller is offering "Trade Privileges" (written by David Blakely) and "Niñas de la Tierra" (written and directed by Shadia Dahlal).

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we learn about "The Gun Show," a critically acclaimed one-person play by the Oregon-based playwright, E.M. Lewis. It's being staged at the Nightingale Theater (1416 East 4th Street) through January 26th by the Midwestern Theatre Troupe, and Ms. Lewis is our guest today. As she tells us, this play aims to candidly and sincerely present both sides of the gun-control issue through a series of distinct yet related scenes or vignettes. More about the play is posted here.

Our guest is the noted playwright, Sarah Ruhl, a Tony Award nominee and the author of "100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write," which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She tells us about her newest book, a collection of moving and insightful letters between herself and Max Ritvo (1990-2016). Ruhl teaches at the Yale School of drama, and Ritvo -- a noted poet who died young of cancer -- had been one of her favorite students.

On this edition of ST, we speak with the Tulsa-based playwright Ilan Kozlowski, whose two-act dramatic comedy, "Shades of White" will be staged at the Tulsa PAC on June 22nd and 23rd. As noted of this work at the Tulsa PAC website: "Set in Tulsa in 1996 -- the 75th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre -- [this play] explores the relationships between an Israeli immigrant and a former member of the Ku Klux Klan and their wives. Narrow-minded Dr. Whitehill and his crone of a wife, Birdie, are set in their miserable ways until Dr.

On this broadcast of ST, we chat with Laura Skoch, a Visiting Faculty Member with the Theatre Department here at The University of Tulsa. She's directing the new TU Theatre production of George Orwell's "1984," which opens tonight (the 22nd) in Kendall Hall on the TU campus and runs through the 25th. As Skoch relates during our interview, this decidedly multi-media play, like Orwell's classic novel, is mainly about how people seek out both meaning and hope in a world of lies, suppression, fear, and distortion.

On this edition of ST, we learn about "Four Chords and a Gun," a newly created non-musical play that looks at the iconic punk band known as The Ramones -- and in particular, at their efforts to record an album with the eccentric yet legendary music producer, Phil Spector. The play was written by John Ross Bowie, an actor best known for his roles on TV's "Speechless" and "The Big Bang Theory." As we learn on today's show, "Four Chords and a Gun" focuses on the years 1979 and 1980, when The Ramones stood on the very edge of breaking into stardom.

Earlier this summer, the Tulsa-based theatre company, Clark Youth Theatre, was honored to perform at the very first YouthFest during the American Association of Community Theatre's 2017 National Festival. Only a handful of youth theatre companies from across the U.S. were invited to participate in the festival, which happened in Rochester, Minnesota. At this special gathering, Clark Youth Theatre staged "Snow Angel," by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, as our guest today tells us.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we learn about "The Light Fantastic, or In the Wood," a new play that will be staged by the locally based Heller Theatre Company tonight (the 19th), tomorrow night (the 20th), and Sunday afternoon (the 21st) at the Nightingale Theatre in downtown Tulsa, which is located at 1416 East 4th St. Our guests are David Blakely, who wrote this play, and Susan Apker, who is the president of Heller Theatre Company (or HTC).

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we are discussing "In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)," a contemporary comedy by the much-acclaimed American playwright Sarah Ruhl, which will be staged here in Tulsa from May 12th through the 22nd. It's being presented by American Theatre Company, and you can fine more information (including ticket details and show times) at this link. Our guest is Lisa Wilson, who is directing this production.

Photo Credit: Wendy Mutz

On this edition of our show, we learn about a newly created original musical called "Pryor Rendering," which is being staged from today, the 13th, through Sunday, the 16th, at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center (at 2nd and Cincinnati). Tulsa's American Theatre Company has joined forces with the Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre and the University of Oklahoma to create this work. It's a coming-of-age story about a young boy who struggles with his loneliness, his sexuality, and his father's absence, and it's adapted from a novel by Tulsa native Gary Reed.

On this edition of ST, we speak with the highly regarded theatrical director David Schweizer, who's currently in town to direct Tulsa Opera's staging of Andre Previn's "A Streetcar Named Desire" (happening on Friday the 4th and Sunday the 6th).

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we speak with acclaimed playwright Lee Blessing, who's best known for his 1988 Tony-nominated play, "A Walk in the Woods." Back in January, he workshopped his most recent play, "The Hourglass Project," here at the University of Tulsa. It's a comedy, with interesting ethical overtones, about several elderly couples who, though an experimental procedure, regain their youth.

Theatre Tulsa's much-praised SummerStage production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Next to Normal," returns this weekend for a set of "back by popular demand" performances at the Tulsa PAC's John H. Williams Theatre. A novel and quite jolting blend of rock music and intense drama, this play depicts a mother who struggles with bipolar disorder, exploring how the affliction affects not only herself but her family.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we speak with Anthony Wilkinson, the writer/creator of "My Big Gay Italian Wedding," a musical comedy that premiered off-Broadway in 2003...and then, eventually, after some revisions...opened on Broadway itself in 2010. This popular play is still staged in NYC, and it's also been presented -- by this point -- at venues all over the glove. It actually opened here in Tulsa last night, the 16th, in a production being offered by the Tulsa-based American Theatre Company through June 26th.

On this edition of ST, we present a chat with the prolific and award-winning contemporary American playwright, Lee Blessing, who's working on the University of Tulsa campus this week with students and faculty in TU's Department of Theatre and Musical Theatre.