Biting The Big Apple
Local playwright-professor takes on N.Y.C. theater.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Allston James, a local playwright who taught writing and specialized in Shakespeare and American Literature at MPC for 28 years, is on the move.
Last month his latest work, a full-length play called The Lated Traveler, had a staged reading by three Broadway actors at New York’s 45th Street Theater, under the direction of theater fixture Christopher Scott.
“Readings are the preliminary stage to any play being produced,” James says. “It’s pretty significant to get one early in a good theater.”
The 45th Street Theater sits, literally, off Broadway; at a theater up the block Mike Nichols directs Morgan Freeman and Francis McDormand in The Country Girl. Citing its sheer energy, James says, “You can’t beat off-Broadway.”
James admired the three actors that read The Lated Traveler for helping the characters “become literally quite real.” It’s not for him.
“I delivered a monologue once and my stomach was upset for a week,” he says.
The story is set in a King City carnival and is part of a trilogy (for research he hung out with carnies). The first two parts of the trilogy played successfully at the Carl Cherry Center.
As he ingratiates himself into New York’s theater scene, meets and talks to people, gets the lay of the land– “The Red Cat down in Chelsea is a serious food place without attitude that’s popular with artists”– James expresses a certain awe about his immersion into the theater world: “Anybody in theater has a certain belief in magic,” he says.
As to whether he’s comfortable enough in New York to call it “home,” James says, “I’ve been in the Monterey Peninsula since 1972– the Peninsula is my home. I love hearing the seal lions barking at night.”
His business card, however, lists his address in Monterey’s Spaghetti Hill and New York’s Upper West Side.