One of the best live events I attended in March was a reading of three plays at the Schapiro Studio Theater at Columbia University. The evening of plays - Strindberg’s The Stronger, Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice and the world premiere of Danny Mitarotondo’s The River Has No Water - was conceived by director Noah Himmelstein together with Danny Mitarontondo.
The first piece was The Stronger performed by Kathleen Butler and Patricia Hodges. Julia Coffey performed The Human Voice. Finally, Matt Hurley, Kathleen Butler and Julia Coffey read new original play The River Has No Water.
Each piece looked at the elements of talking and listening and what we really hear. The Stronger is about two women who meet - one woman never says a word, while the other can't quit talking, at first out of happiness to see her friend and then out of fear and paranoia as she reacts to the fact that her friend never speaks. The Human Voice is about a woman who has broken up with her lover. The entire piece is her alone speaking on the telephone to her lover, whom is never heard by the audience- she becomes increasingly anxious as she is drawn in and pushed away and truths are revealed. It's a stunning piece and Julia Coffey performed it brilliantly. The River Has No Water is about a son who is visiting his dying mother, who she cannot speak. He forces himself to keep talking all the while his heart is breaking from the aspect of losing his mother. It tied in nicely with the theme of listening.
Each of the pieces was a one act play and although the actors were on book, it seemed like a full production thanks to Noah's smooth and thoughtful direction and the terrific acting from the ensemble. It was an enlightening evening of theatre.