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"Can Theater Inspire Social Change?", a Drama Desk Panel and Reception
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"Can Theater Inspire Social Change?", a Drama Desk Panel and Reception

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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Drama Desk Panel and Reception
(February 2, 2009)

(Drama Desk Website)
William Wolf, Drama Desk President
Robert R. Blume, Exec. Producer, Drama Desk Awards
Les Schecter, Press and Public Relations

Drama Desk Board of Directors
William Wolf, President,
Leslie (Hoban) Blake, Vice President, WFUV-FM
Charles Wright, Treasurer and 2nd Vice President,
A&E Television Networks
Richard Ridge, Secretary, Broadway Beat TV
Barbara Siegel, Nominating Committee Chairperson,,

Tony’s Di Napoli Restaurant
(Tony's Di Napoli Website)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 8, 2009

(See the 53rd Drama Desk Awards Ceremony, Plus Pre- and After-Parties)

Recent Panel Discussion and Reception (February 2, 2009)

Joseph Bologna, Co-author and director of new play, Lansky
John Gould Rubin, Co-Artistic Director and Executive Director,
Labyrinth Theater Company
Richard Frankel, Producer, Hairspray, Gypsy
Nilaja Sun, Actress, Author, No Child
Casimiro Torres, Actor, The Castle

David Rothenberg, Any Saturday, WBAI

(See a Review of The Castle)
(See a Review of Lansky)

Drama Desk members had a wonderful opportunity recently to attend an early evening dinner reception and panel discussion about the inspiration for social change through good theatre. David Rothenberg, of WBAI and The Fortune Society, served as Moderator. Rothenberg recently staged The Castle, featuring four formerly incarcerated performers, who have turned their lives around, thanks to The Castle, a halfway house run by Rothenberg’s Fortune Society. Casimiro Torres, one of those speakers in The Castle, who had been arrested dozens of times for drugs and burglary, was on tonight’s panel. Also on the panel was Joseph Bologna, Co-Writer and Director of Lansky, a one-man play about Meyer Lansky (the mob’s financial genius), as he waits for Israel to grant him citizenship. Bologna quipped, “All good plays satirize society”.

Panel comments reflected the ability of theater to transport the audience for individual and group efforts of social change. The panel also spoke about the learning experience theater can provide to students, the urgency to bring theater to the schools, and the creation of affordable tickets for young audiences. Two historical plays, singled out as influencing social change, were The Diary of Anne Frank and Labyrinth Theater Company’s Jesus Hopped the A Train. John Gould Rubin, who co-produced this latter play, set in Riker’s Island, spoke about theater dramatizing the prison system, as the conversation about The Castle continued. Richard Frankel, Broadway Producer, mentioned the long-lasting influence of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Nilaja Sun, who wrote and performed solo in No Child, spoke about reactions to her play that depicted a multitude of urban youth. Rothenberg took members’ questions, and a lively conversation ensued. Watch this column for future Drama Desk receptions and the May Drama Desk Awards Ceremony.

Drama Desk Reception at Tony's Di Napoli
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Angel Ramos, Counselor, The Fortune Society
and Writer/Performer, "The Castle"
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

David Rothenberg, Joe Bologna, Eric Krebs,
and Richard Frankel (Producer, "The Producers", "Hairspray", "Gypsy")
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

William Wolf, Drama Desk President, Welcomes the Guests
and Introduces the Panel
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

John Gould Rubin, Co-Artistic Dir. and Exec. Dir.,
Labyrinth Theater Company
and Casimiro Torres, Writer/Performer, "The Castle"
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Nilaja Sun, Writer/Performer, "No Child",
and Richard Frankel
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

David Rothenberg, Producer/Director, "The Castle",
WBAI Radio ("Any Saturday"), and Panel Moderator
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Casimiro Torres Greets the Drama Desk Guests
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Velma Ortiz Donavan, Eric Krebs, and Angel Ramos,
of "The Castle"
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Drama Desk Accountant, Stuart Marguiles,
and Producer/Drama Desk Member, Margo Astrachan
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

William Wolf and Drama Desk 2d VP
and Treasurer, Charles Wright, A&E TV Network
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Barbara Siegel, Drama Desk Board, and Writer, Randy Gener
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Joseph Callari, Producer/Actor, and John Gould Rubin
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Richard Frankel, Producer
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at