Survival is Insufficient

Ego Actus presented Survival is Insufficient, a series of 10 play readings on Zoom, Tuesday evenings at 7:30 in October, November and December 2020. There will be no reading on November 3 due to the election.

The Plays
Oct 6 Saving Stan by Gary Morgenstein, directed by Joan Kane
Oct 13 Nobody’s Flood by Glenn Alterman, directed by Terry Hanson
Oct 20 Smile Like a Knife by Fengar Gael, directed by Ralph Lewis
Oct 27 All Mothers Were Summoned by Bara Swain, dir. by Kim T. Sharp
Nov 10 As in the Night by Fredrik Brattberg, directed by Bruce A! Kraemer
Nov 17 Dog and Wolf by Catherine Filloux, directed Joan Kane
Nov 24 Pretty Bird by Alina Rios, directed by Joan Kane
Dec 1 Sometimes, The Lights by Jessica Litwak, directed by Christina Marks
Dec 8 Four Short Plays by Joan Lipkin, directed by Alisa Matlovsky
Dec 15 A Shot Rang Out by Michael Hagins, directed by Akia Squitieri

artistic director Joan Kane producer Bruce A! Kraemer social media marketer Laura Varela

October 6, 2020 at 7:30pm

Directed by Joan Kane, featuring Frances McGarry*, Carlo Fiorletta and J. Dolan Byrnes* with Stark Wilz reading the stage directions.

Saving Stan is a magical realism love story about friendship, passion and suicide. Stan Nagel, a rich 60ish lawyer, suffers a stroke and can’t talk. His best friend Jack Sanders, a 60ish failed writer, somehow hears him and believes Stan is asking for help to commit suicide in exchange for getting his estate. The third character, 40-something lonely Patrice Doner, the live-in health care aide, grows suspicious of Jack’s intentions while falling in love with Stan, with whom only she can dance. Who will Save Stan?

Photo composition by Laura Varela

“Enjoyed it a lot. (Gary has) a real gift for dialogue. All the actors were well prepared and effective. They picked their cues up beautifully, something that sometimes seems to be missing in Zoom presentations.” Jan Ewing of Ewing Reviewing

October 13, 2020 at 7:30pm

Directed by Terry Hanson, featuring Debra Kay Anderson*, Dave Bobb, Grant Bowen* and James Lurie* with Aaron Donahue reading stage directions.

Barry has returned home to Brooklyn be with his family one year after his younger brother’s death. His mother is anxious and slightly unbalanced. His father doesn’t know how to help his wife. They are all planning on all going to the cemetery together. As the play oscillates over several years, the Rosenstein family’s life is seen, before and after the death of their youngest son. Winner of the Reva Shiner Award (Bloomington Playwrights Project).

Photo composition by Laura Varela

October 20, 2020 at 7:30pm

Directed by Ralph Lewis, music by Sheilah Rae Gross, featuring Pooya Mohseni*, Michael Grew*, Isabella Schiller, Precious Sipin, Catherine Porter* and Conor Weiss* with Dan Williams reading stage directions.

One hundred years from now, in the city’s most prestigious shopping district stands Saxenburg’s Watches, specializing in hand crafted mechanical time pieces. In the shop window stands Mona, an alluring robotic mannequin equipped with a camera that spies on the constant stream of marchers protesting the country’s plutocracy. The shop owner, Gunther Sachs, hires Anna Glazer, a proficient clerk and struggling writer who charms him and his cousin, Lena, an electrical engineer. Lena’s outrage at the country’s corrupt leadership inspires her to equip Mona with an acoustical beam aimed at a corporate penthouse, but inadvertently afflicts innocent tenants, causing insomnia. The police pursue Lena who flees the country while Gunther is suspected of being an accomplice. Anna is left to manage the shop while writing dystopian novels.

Photo composition by Laura Varela

October 27, 2020 at 7:30pm

Directed by Kim T. Sharp., featuring Elly Berke, Ginger Grace* and Travis Raeburn*.

Hasselback potatoes, Evelyn Waugh, a boy crush on J. Hud, the Kent State shooting and a chilled bottle of wine are woven into the story of three rich characters with simple objectives: Katie wants to choose the perfect shade of nail polish for her date, her mother wants to prepare the perfect meal for her pescatarian daughter and boyfriend, Willie, and Willie is discovering what he truly wants in a new play that takes place on a fire escape on June 8, 2020, the first day that the lockdown is lifted in New York. The playwright was inspired by the message the “all mothers were summoned” when George Floyd called out for his mama.

Photo composition by Laura Varela

November 10, 2020 at 7:30pm

Directed by Bruce A! Kraemer, featuring Molly Collier*, Ian Campbell Dunn* and Deirdre Brennan* with Joan Kane reading stage directions.

A young couple brings their child to grandma’s so they can see a play. They regret that they have not warned grandma they are coming. She is happy to see them, or is she? They go off to the play, but the child’s mother feels bad about leaving her child. She drops her husband at a bus stop where he goes to the theater only to find no play there. People get lost in a forest at night. Plans must be made in the right order or they can fail.

Photo composition by Laura Varela

November 17, 2020 at 7:30pm

Directed by Joan Kane, featuring Robert Wesley Mason*, Daniela Dakich* and Jessica Litwak* with Gabrielle Filloux reading the stage directions.

When Jasmina, a political refugee seeking asylum in the U.S., suddenly disappears, her lawyer Joseph, a wheelchair user, must track her down. Who is the dog? Who is the wolf? A psychological and political play of intrigue, identity and pursuit.

Photo composition by Laura Varela

November 24, 2020 at 7:30pm

Directed by Joan Kane, featuring Sandra Bargman*, Ian Campbell Dunn*, Taylor Graves and Peter Collier, with Aaron Donahue reading stage directions.

Independent outgoing Anna is dating go-with-the-flow Mark. After two years, she’s not ready to live with him, maybe not even in the same country, and won’t be his date at a wedding. But that’s not even half the story, what starts at a park bench makes a Persephone’s journey through trauma. 

Photo composition by Laura Varela

December 1, 2020 at 7:30pm

Directed by Christina Marks, featuring Nick Sholley, Jessica Litwak*, Michael Breslin, Emma Welch, Lijesh Krishnan and Morgan V. Canham with Fiona DeVito reading stage directions.

The FEAR Project aspires to create an atmosphere of restoration by giving people a chance to communicate about fear in a safe and creative space. After the Los Angeles FEAR Project the producers asked me to take out the interview sections and focus on the family play, so I tried that and the play Sometimes the Lights emerged.

Photo composition by Laura Varela

December 8, 2020 at 7:30pm

Directed by Alisa Matlovsky, music by Marcus Bagala, featuring George Pappas*, Katherine Alt Keener*, Michelle Dillard*, Eileen Weisinger, Samuel Ledesma, Samy Cordero, Jessica Sporn, Nathanael Johnson* and Matthew Humphreys* with Ariel Lauryn reading stage directions.

With her finely tuned ear for dialogue, in this quartet of short plays, playwright and activist Joan Lipkin tunes in to the key issues of our times with humor, pathos and compassion. 
Afternoon Zoom with Zack portrays the wistful imagination and enduring friendship of two teenagers in very different households during the pandemic.
A winner in the Tennessee Williams Festival, Are You Married? explores the concerns of homophobia and racism between a white lesbian and an African-American nurse around a probable cancer diagnosis. 
Published in Best American Short PlaysCrab Cakes explores the unorthodox explorations of a heterosexual couple as a response to the economic climate. 
In Ferguson, a white gay male millennial couple have very different responses to the Black Lives Matter Movement that will either bring them closer together or break them apart. 
Lipkin shows the heart of what it means to be human and to attempt to understand oneself and another.
She is a master of the short play form, included in multiple anthologies including Best American Short Plays, Nice Jewish Girl:Growing Up in America, Climate Change Theatre Action, Amazon All Stars, Every 28 Hours, Scenes from A Diverse World, and After Orlando, among others.

Photo composition by Laura Varela

December 15, 2020 at 7:30pm

Directed by Akia Squitieri, featuring Christopher Jumper*, Xavier Rodney and Maggie Kissinger with stage directions read by Rick Benson

A white police officer is trapped in a warehouse during an increasingly violent protest with a scared Black teen and a disgruntled schoolteacher.

Photo composition by Laura Varela
Artistic Director Joan Kane, producer Bruce A! Kraemer
Social Media Manager, Laura Varela
Photo composition by Laura Varela