The Fellowship Plays offer inspiring work by young NYC Department of Education Playwrights. Review by Domenick Danza
“The Fellowship Plays” is the final product of the partnership between the Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation and the NYC Department of Education. Seven high school student developed their plays under the mentorship of professional playwrights. These works were scheduled for a full production at the Lucille Lortel Theatre this past spring. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the partnering organizations shifted the final production to video, which is available for all to see on YouTube. This is an encouraging program for these talented and dedicated young playwrights. This video production is sure to inspire and entertain.
“Circumstances” is written by Marcus Rosario. It is a powerful play about the pain caused by the judgements we make. Mr. Rosario has fully developed his characters and given them each a journey of self-discovery.
Joel (played by Roland Lane) runs into an old friend from high school, Mike (played by Danté Jeanfelix) at a coffee shop. Joel is embarrassed because Mike is extremely successful, so he makes up a story about his job and college experience. When Joel accidentally spills coffee on Mike’s laptop, he has to face the harsh truth about himself… and so does Mike.
Roland Lane and Danté Jeanfelix have a strong connection. The shared history of their characters is truthful, and their mutual jealousy and resentment are grounded in reality.
“The Love I Meant to Say” is a strong piece about the future of our society and standing up for what you believe in. Playwright Helene Quinola skillfully crafted this deeply moving work. She keeps the action moving and her audience fully engaged.
We are sometime far in the future, and the Collective is furiously fighting to keep the DOE (displays of emotion) pandemic under control. Linus (played by Christian Mark Gibbs) is assigned to write an article about the Great War of 2325. Astrid (played by DeAnna Supplee) is assisting him. Linus shows signs of emotion, and it is Astrid’s job to report him to the Collective. She struggles with this responsibility as she finds herself experiencing emotions of her own.
Christian Mark Gibbs and DeAnna Supplee make this futuristic piece about emotional control into a genuine story about two people longing to connect. Helene Quinola has written a potent piece of theatre, and these actors bring it to a tender and heartbreaking conclusion.
“The Interview of Wyetta Sims” is written by Zanieka Nembhard, who succeeds at creating a brave and sympathetic main character. Her story is heartwarming. Ms. Nembhard has crafted flowing dialogue that gradually peels back to reveal the core of the story.
Wyetta Sims (played by Denise Manning) escaped a brutal attack that killed her husband and young son. She has forgiven her attacker after only one short year. This and other facts in Wyetta’s story have made her a target in the press. She is being interviewed by Frank Web (played by Andrew Goebel) to clear up some of these rumors. He brings out the truths of Wyetta’s interracial marriage.
Denise Manning is open an honest in this performance. Andrew Goebel’s character pushes her to get to the full story. They have a natural chemistry and timing.
“Snowed In” by Katherine Sciortino is a gripping play with a powerful and jarring ending that packs a strong emotional punch. Her characters are genuine, and her dialogue is authentic.
Jackie (played by Dorothea Gloria) and her brother, Jason (played by Alton Alburo) are in a cabin in the woods gathering up their deceased Mom’s belongings. Jackie is planning on selling the cabin. When the conversation turns to the topic of their father, they open up and reveal the depth of their grief and abandonment. The truth of their reality is shocking.
Dorothea Gloria and Alton Alburo have a great chemistry. Ms. Gloria creates a focused and mature character, while Mr. Alburo’s character is childish and playful. Their adversarial relationship is intoxicatingly genuine and enjoyable. Ms. Gloria brings this piece to a stunning conclusion, delivering a striking and sincere final moment.
“Caught in a Storm” is an impressive play about emotional family ties, written by Rommy Sasson. It is sensitively developed, and crafted with powerful, direct, and honest dialogue.
Taylor (played by Lambert Tamin) is getting ready to leave for college. His twin brother, Edmond (played by Danté Jeanfelix) is anxious about his brother’s leaving. Edmond is desperate and does everything he can to convince his brother to stay. When Taylor opens up about the truth of their lives together, he finds himself pulled back into the storm.
Lambert Tamin and Danté Jeanfelix are amazing together. Their connection and timing are impeccable.
“Divination” is written by Anya Jiménez. This young playwright has crafted characters that are unique and strong. The dialogue is riveting and the relationship blossoms as the action builds.
Ruth (played by Vanessa Guardiana) thinks she might be pregnant. She turns to her sister, Kat (played by Arielle Gonzalez) for support. Kat’s pushes Ruth to fully understand the choice she is about to face. Ruth’s decision is easier to accept when she receives an unexpected sign.
Vanessa Guardiana and Arielle Gonzalez are raw and honest in these roles. They skillfully drive the action forward and create characters who are genuinely bonded.
“I Have a Dream” is a comedy with a twist, written by Joseph DiGirolamo. He combines pop culture fictional characters to create this funny and thought-provoking play.
The popular game show “The Wheel” is hosted by Joey D (played by Jon Edward Cook). His partner and letter turner on the show is the famous Betty Boop (played by Denise Manning). The contestants are Lisa Marie Simpson (played by Dorothea Gloria), Barney (played by Andrew Goebel), and Simon Seville (played by Danté Jeanfelix). They are playing for a $5,000 cash prize. The subject for the puzzle is quotations. The game is full of mayhem and is finally solved. The answer, “I have a dream,” solves more than just the puzzle.
Jon Edward Cook leads this cast with outstanding energy and comic timing. Denise Manning, Dorothea Gloria, Andrew Goebel, and Danté Jeanfelix superbly embody these well-known characters both physically and vocally. They find the rhythm and timing needed to bring Mr. DiGirolamo’s excellently written humor fully to life.
Make time to watch this stunning video compilation of short plays. Interspersed in the full show are interview with the playwrights, Director Kimille Howard, Director of Theatre from the NYD Department of Education Peter Avery, Executive Director of the Lucille Lortel Theatre George Forbes, and the amazing cast of actors. It is an inspiring and enjoyable two hours, and well worth your time.