On Sunday afternoon, I attended The New York Times' Arts & Leisure Weekend event "Pulitzer Playwrights" in the stunning TimesCenter stage. Moderated by Times journalist Robin Pogrebin, three authors of award-winning plays shared their thoughts on the craft, read excerpts from their essays featured in the book The Play That Changed My Life, answered questions from the audience, and participated in a booksigning afterwards.
The playwrights were Donald Margulies (Dinner with Friends), Beth Henley (Crimes of the Heart), and John Patrick Shanley (Doubt). I had the pleasure of acting the role of Huey in Shanley's play Italian American Reconciliation and a few years ago I stage managed a production of Doubt. I have also performed scenes from Savage in Limbo and have been itching to do a full production of it along with another of his famous plays, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, so it was a thrill to finally meet the fellow Bronx native in person.
Margulies, Henley, and Shanley were insightful and funny, providing anecdotes about their career, tips on playwriting, and ruminations about the state of American theater. It was an inspirational and thoroughly enjoyable presentation.
The Arts & Leisure Weekend, the ninth annual celebration of the arts, also included discussions with Natalie Portman, Paul Shaffer, Jimmy Fallon, Liev Schreiber, Alan Cumming, Angela Lansbury, and others. It was a terrific series that covered a broad range of topics. I look forward to more to come.