Ensemble Studio Theatre

Todays Date: 06/25/22
Last Update: 05/01/12 03:00:06 PM

Address: 549 West 52nd Street
New York, NY    10019

Phone: 212-868-4444

History of Productions View Current and Upcoming

Headstrong  | Open: 04/22/12 Close: 05/13/12
  The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Project for New Plays on Science and Technology will tackle Post-Concussion Syndrome when it presents the world premiere of 27-year-old playwright Patrick Link's Headstrong.  The play, directed by Ensemble Studio Theatre Artistic Director William Carden, begins previews April 18 for an opening April 29 at The Ensemble Studio Theatre.

                  Headstrong is the story of a long-retired NFL linebacker who played with the greats and tackled them to the ground.  When his son-in-law, a Pro Bowler himself, dies under strange circumstances, he and his widowed daughter struggle with their own culpability, and whether the brain trauma he suffered in life was the price of football greatness.

                  Headstrong features Ron Canada, Tim Cain, Alexander Gemignani and Nedra McClyde. Sets are by Jason Simms, lighting by Chris Dallos, sound by Jannie Bullard, video by David Tennent and costumes by Suzanne Chesney.

                 Mr. Link's play is inspired by the ongoing struggles of professional athletes with head-related injuries, including, among others, Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, who suffered from amnesia, dementia and depression before his death at the age of 50; and Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Andre Waters, who sustained numerous concussions as a player before committing suicide at age 44.

                 "If you’re an NFL player," Mr. Link says, "what do you do when the one thing you’re qualified to do­that can generate income for your family, the thing you’ve loved your whole life, that you feel you are designed to do­might destroy your brain?"

                 "Science tells us these men put their lives at risk when they go out on that field," says Mr. Carden. "But there is a deep need in our culture for heroes, and these men answer that need. So this play is asking, 'do we lose our heroes if we heed our science?' It's a conflict."
                 The research linking the brain damage suffered by Webster and Waters, and the injuries sustained during their playing days has been led by the former pro wrestler Chris Nowinski www.chrisnowinski.com (a.k.a. Chris Harvard www.chrisharvard.net), and neuropathologist Bennet Omalu www.braininjuryresearchinstitute.org/about-us.
                 Both have been involved in the study of post-concussion syndrome, especially through the study of retired or deceased pro football players that continues to generate front page headlines around the country < www.nytimes.com/2012/03/22/sports/football/nfl-delivers-harsh-punishment-to-saints-over - bounty-program.html>. Two characters in Headstrong are loosely based on Nowinski and Omalu.
                 Playwright Patrick Link has been a football fan his whole life.  e read Mr. Nowinski's book Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisisand says it speaks to the conflict at the center of the sport he loves.

                 "In the interest of player safety, football has to change drastically, and that's a change that no true fan of the sport wants to see," Mr. Link says.  "When science tells us that our traditions, our passions are flawed, how do we change?  What consequence is severe enough to bring about change? If brain damage isn't enough…what is?"

About the Company: Ensemble Studio Theatre

The Ensemble Studio Theatre is a not-for-profit developmental theatre founded by Curt Dempster and a loose-knit group of fellow theater artists during a fertile period Off Broadway between 1968 and 1972. EST’s founders had two primary goals in creating the company: to nurture individual theatre artists and to develop new American plays.

EST nurtures individual artists through its free membership program, which offers lifetime membership in the company to diverse theater artists selected via a competitive application process. Demonstrated talent and keen interest in collaboration and contributing to EST’s community are the criteria for admission. The emphasis is on talent. EST currently lists more than 500 theatre artists on its membership roster. Collectively the group has won every major prize or award in theater, film and television, including Pulitzer Prizes, Oscars, Tony Awards, Emmy Awards, Obie Awards and Susan Smith Blackburn Awards.

EST’s goal to develop new American plays has resulted in a record of achievement that rivals any theater in the U.S. in terms of quantity and quality of output, with a total of more than 6,000 plays developed and produced since 1972 featuring many of the finest playwrights, directors and performers working in the theater. Each year, EST produces over 150 projects, including readings and workshops of new works-in-progress and fully produced Mainstage productions, including many U.S. and world premieres.

Plays that originated at EST have been produced at more than 360 theatres across the United States. The company has been recognized with Village Voice Obie Awards, NY Outer Critic Circle Awards and numerous American Theater Wing Awards for excellence in theater.

Marathon 2010 Series B  | Open: 06/05/10 Close: 06/26/10
The Ensemble Studio Theatre's 32nd annual award-winning Marathon of One-Act Plays. This year's festival includes ten World Premiere plays from the country's finest established and emerging playwrights.

The festival will run in two series. Series b runs from June 5 - 26. Click here for the detailed performance schedule.


Series B features five World Premiere One-Acts:

by Laura Jacqmin

by David Auburn
directed by Harris Yulin

by Rachel Bonds
directed by Linsay Firman

Interviewing Miss Davis
by Laura Maria Censabella
directed by Kel Haney

They Float Up
by Jacquelyn Reingold

For more information about the Marathon, including play synopses and casting information, please visit www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/marathon2010.


2010 Marathon Of One-act Plays  | Open: 05/21/10 Close: 06/26/10
After 32 years, it seems as if every year everyone and his agent sends a one-act play script to The Ensemble Studio Theatre for its annual marathon of one-act plays, the oldest, acclaimed one-act play festival in the country.  This year is no exception with 886 one-act scripts totaling 21,264 pages which were read by 17 readers over 5 months.  From that, Ensemble Studio Theatre artistic director William Carden has selected 10 plays to be presented on two separate programs for the Ensemble Studio Theatre's 2010 Marathon of One-Act Plays May 21 through June 26.

The playwrights to make this year's cut are:
Series A: (previews May 21 for an opening May 24)
Robert Askins, Ben Rosenthal, Daniel Reitz, Amy Fox and Adam Kraar

Series B: (previews June 5 for an opening June 10)
Laura Jacqmin, David Auburn, Rachel Bonds, Laura Maria Censabella and Jacquelyn Reingold

"We mix emerging writers with established writers," said Mr. Carden.  "We go for plays where stuff really happens  Actions and impact and nothing predictable.  This year's outstanding lineup of playwrights are voices of richness, texture and daring."

Series A begins previews May 21, opens May 24 (runs through June 19)

Matthew and the Pastor's Wife by Robert Askins, directed by John Giampetro

Matthew is a small town sinner and Dorothy is the pastor's wife. When they kiss the world starts to fly apart and only something awful can put it back together.

Robert Askins has been commissioned by Divercity Theatre and Baylor University and has been produced in New York, Los Angeles, Prague, Belfast and Waco, Texas. His play critically acclaimed Princes of Waco received a mainstage production at EST last January.

Safe by Ben Rosenthal, directed by Carolyn Cantor

A rug salesman is roused out of bed to bail his stepson out of jail after the boy assaults a girl at a party.

One of EST's newest artist members, Ben Rosenthal's plays include Welcome Back, Buddy Combs, The Bog Lacuna and The Monkey Puzzle Tree.

Turnabout by Daniel Reitz, directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel

An actor in trouble summons the courage to invite his bitter ex-boyfriend for coffee, not in search of closure or rekindling but to ask a tremendous favor of his ex’s newfound wealth.

Daniel Reitz’s most recent play, Studies For A Portrait, is currently running Off-West End at the King’s Head Theatre in London. His screenplays include Urbania (Lionsgate Films), which he adapted from his play Urban Folk Tales. His Self-Portrait in a Blue Room was in EST’s 2007 Marathon.

Where the Children Are by Amy Fox, based on an original story by Caitlin Shetterly and Amy Fox, directed by Abigail Zealey Bess

This play has five parents of soldiers serving overseas finding ways to support their children and hold onto hope.

Playwright and screenwriter Amy Fox has been produced by theaters in New York, London, San Francisco, Austin, and St. Paul.  She adapted her one-act Heights into a feature film produced by Merchant Ivory.

Wild Terrain by Adam Kraal, directed by Richmond Hoxie

Two scrappy seniors battle over love, art and the relativity of memory as they navigate their fiery relationship.

Adam Kraar has had plays produced and developed by Primary Stages, N.Y. Stage and Film, Public Theatre, Urban Stages, Theatreworks U.S.A, Geva Theatre and others.

Series B begins previews June 5, opens June 10 (runs through June 26)

Airborne by Laura Jacqmin, directed by TBA

During Private Margaret Jensen's airborne training, something goes horribly wrong - and she won't let her CO forget it.

Laura Jacqmin was the winner of the 2008 Wasserstein Prize for emerging female playwrights and has had work produced at Steppenwolf, Ars Nova, Second Stage, Chicago Dramatists and more.

Amateurs by David Auburn, directed by Harris Yulin

A young woman confronts the political operative whom she believes destroyed her father's career.

David Auburn is a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whose work includes Proof, An Upset (Marathon 2008), The Journals of Mihail Sebastian, and Skyscraper.

Anniversary by Rachel Bonds, directed by Linsay Firman

While beginning a new relationship after a great loss, a young woman confronts the promises of time pushing forward and the persistent tug of memories left behind.

Brooklyn-based playwright and performer Rachel Bonds has worked with Columbia Stages, Ars Nova, SITI Co., Polybe + Seats and Subjective Theatre Company, and is a member of The Jam, New Georges' lab for emerging women theatermakers.

Interviewing Miss Davis by Laura Maria Censabella, directed by Kel Haney

Bette Davis is interviewing a replacement for her beloved assistant. Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night.

Laura Maria Censabella is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter whose work has been seen in productions and festivals around the world.  She is the Director of EST's Playwrights Unit.

They Float Up by Jacquelyn Reinhold, directed by TBA

A funny-sad play about topless dancing in New Orleans, getting old in the Finger Lakes, and how to move on after you've lost what you most love.

Jacquelyn Reingold's credits include the play String Fever (produced at EST starring Cynthia Nixon) and HBO's "In Treatment", for which she wrote the Mia episodes for Hope Davis and Gabriel Byrne.

Marathon 2010 Series A  | Open: 05/21/10 Close: 06/19/10
The Ensemble Studio Theatre's 32nd annual award-winning Marathon of One-Act Plays. This year's festival includes ten World Premiere plays from the country's finest established and emerging playwrights.

The festival will run in two series. Series A runs from May 21 - June 19. Click here for the detailed performance schedule.


Series A features five World Premiere One-Acts:

Matthew and the Pastor's Wife
by Robert Askins
directed by John Giampietro

by Ben Rosenthal
directed by Carolyn Cantor

by Daniel Reitz
directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel

Where the Children Are
by Amy Fox
Based on an original story by Caitlin Shetterly and Amy Fox.
directed by Abigail Zealey Bess

Wild Terrain
by Adam Kraar
directed by Richmond Hoxie

For more information about the Marathon, including play synopses and casting information, please visit www.ensemblestudiotheatre.org/marathon2010.


Lenin's Embalmers  | Open: 03/03/10 Close: 03/28/10
Inspired by the book Lenin's Embalmers by Ilya Zbarsky and Samuel Hutchinson, translated by Barbara Bray (Harvill Press, 1999), Lenin's Embalmers spins the tale of Boris Zbarsky and Vladimir Vorobiov, two scientists who were chosen by The Committee for Immortalization to embalm Vladimir Lenin after his death in 1924. 

Inspired by the book Lenin's Embalmers by Ilya Zbarsky and Samuel Hutchinson. Sets are by Mikiko Suzuki MacAdams, lights by Chris Dallos, sound by Shane Rettig and costumes by Suzanne Chesney.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up
The embalming of the leader of the World Proletariat - which took almost four months - was a scientific "miracle" at the time and was hailed by scientists around the world.  A miracle indeed because the work began two months after Lenin's death.  Lenin's embalmers developed a process which restored the body to a lifelike appearance and is still used for preventive maintenance today.  Yet, as so many had during the Great Terror, Lenin's embalmers reached levels of power and influence that ultimately led to their death by a paranoid Stalinist regime.

The institute responsible for Lenin's upkeep later embalmed the leaders of several other Socialist countries, among them Ho Chi Minh.  Today the mausoleum laboratory provides mortuary services to all paying customers, including members of the Russian nouveau riches and the Russian mafia.

The River Crosses Rivers: Series B  | Open: 09/12/09 Close: 09/27/09
The River Crosses Rivers, presented by the Ensemble Studio Theatre's Going to the River program, is a festival of new short plays by women playwrights of color, including Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and renowned playwright, actor and activist Ruby Dee.

Series B:

TRUTH BE TOLD by Melody Cooper, directed by EST Member Petronia Paley
DIALECTIC by Kia Corthron, directed by Chuck Patterson
HOT METHUSELAH by J.e. Franklin, directed by Imani Douglas
JESSE by P.J. Gibson, directed by Lydia Fort
SLOPPY SECOND CHANCES by Mrinalini Kamath, directed by EST Director in Residence Kel Haney
SPIRIT SEX: A PARANORMAL ROMANCE by Desi Moreno-Penson, directed by Adam Immerwahr

The River Crosses Rivers: Series A  | Open: 09/09/09 Close: 09/26/09
The River Crosses Rivers, presented by the Ensemble Studio Theatre's Going to the River program, is a festival of new short plays by women playwrights of color, including Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage and renowned playwright, actor and activist Ruby Dee.

Series A:

RISEN FROM THE DOUGH by France-Luce Benson, directed by EST Member Holli Harms
THE KITCHEN or 9½ Minutes of Subcontinental Absurdity by Naveen Bahar Choudhury, directed by EST Member Jamie Richards
LADYBUG GONNA GETCHA by Kara Lee Corthron, directed by Pat Golden
THE STEP-MOTHER by Ruby Dee, directed by Chuck Patterson
ANGELS IN THE PARKING LOT by N.N. Ewing, directed by Seret Scott
BANANA BEER BATH by Lynn Nottage, directed by EST Member Talvin Wilks
RALLY by Bridgette Wimberly, directed by Clinton Turner Davis

Marathon 2009 Series B  | Open: 06/05/09 Close: 06/27/09
Marathon 2009 is Ensemble Studio Theatre's 31st-annual festival of one-act plays. This year's Marathon offers ten World and Off-Broadway Premieres in two separate evenings. The two series will run in rotating repertory.

Ensemble Studio Theatre's Series B has the following shows:

LITTLE DUCK by Billy Aronson*; directed by Jamie Richards* and starring Paul Bartholomew*, Jane Pfitsch, Julie Leedes*, Steven Boyer and Geneva Carr*.

CAROL & JILL by Leslie Ayvazian*; directed by Daniella Topol and starring Leslie Ayvazian* and Janet Ann Zarish*.

BLOOD FROM A STONER by Jeanne Dorsey*; directed by Maria Mileaf and starring David Margulies*, Patricia Randell* and Tommy Lyons*.

DAUGHTER by Cassandra Medley*; directed by Petronia Paley* and starring Kaliswa Brewster, Gayle Samuels, Lynne Matthew and Natalie Carter.

SUNDANCE by M. Z. Ribalow*; directed by Matthew Penn and starring Richmond Hoxie*, David Deblinger, Ean Sheehy, Rob Sedgwick and JJ Kandel*.

* indicates EST Member

An Equity Approved Showcase. All actors appear courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.


Marathon 2009 Series A  | Open: 05/22/09 Close: 06/19/09
MARATHON 2009 is Ensemble Studio Theatre's 31st annual festival of one-act plays. This year's Marathon offers ten World and Off-Broadway Premieres in two separate evenings. The two series will run in rotating repertory.

Ensemble Studio Theatre's Series A has the following shows:


TRICKLE by Kia Corthron; directed by William Pomerantz* and starring Geneva Carr*, Shirine Babb, Tatiana Suarez-Pico, Nikki Walker and Jackie Chung.


FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, ST. TERESA by Christine Farrell*; directed by Deborah Hedwall* and starring Christine Farrell* and Lucy DeVito.

AMERICANA by Garrett M. Brown*; directed by Linsay Firman and starring Miles Bergner, Ann Talman*, Michael Cullen and Chris Ceraso*.

PTSD by Tommy Smith; directed by William Carden* and starring Jay Patterson*, Stephanie Janssen, Haskell King* and Julie Fitzpatrick*.

FACE CREAM by Maggie Bofill; directed by Pamela Berlin* and starring Paula Pizzi and Bruce MacVittie*.



* indicates EST member

An Equity Approved Showcase. All actors appear courtesy of Actors' Equity Association.

In this show, Eric Davis stars as a bone-thin cantankerous clown, whose neurotic endeavors run the gamut of comic expression. Wildly impish one moment, pathetically gutless the next, he answers the call to an epic adventure only to find himself stranded in a cave for 100,000 years. Surrounded by the skeletons of failed attempts, he must now conquer a disembodied voice as this unlikely hero fends off monsters, struggles to make a name for himself and quests to find the Glove of Never Ending Awesomeness.
Thicker Than Water 2006  | Open: 01/23/06 Close: 02/18/06
Youngblood and Ensemble Studio Theatre present THICKER THAN WATER 2006, the seventh collection of new plays by members of Youngblood

This year's Youngblood series marks the first time presenting a repertory schedule of an evening of one-acts in rep with a full length play, allhaving their world premiere.

In Kevin Christopher Snipes' "A Bitter Taste," a mild-mannered college professor and a smooth-talking divorce attorney explore the underbelly of their lifelong friendship after their world is knocked off balance by a prostitute. Who happens to be underaged. And a boy. No assumption is safe. Directed by R.J. Tolan, featuring Peter O'Connor, Haskell King and Paul Clark.

"Henrietta Hermaline's Fall From Great Heights" by Maggie Smith will be directed by Abigail Zealey Bess and star Nicol Zanzarella-Giacalone, Denny Bess and Brendan McMahon A socially backward, chronically allergic young secretary is swept into a world of romance, heartbreak and despair in Maggie Smith's lyrical fantasia. As her new flame introduces her to the world of the elite, the pigeons on her roof proclaim her the rightful Queen of the Bird People, and Henrietta is torn between the worlds of love and madness.

"Hungry" by Amy Herzog will be directed by Christine Farrell, featuring Erin McMonagle, Lucia Brizzi, and Rebecca Pace; A blossoming anorexic, a brainy bombshell and the girl your parents warned you about. In the middle of the 90s, in the middle of New Jersey, three friends try to hold onto each other in Amy Herzog's heartbreaking study of a turbulent suburban adolescence.

Octoberfest 2005  | Open: 10/05/05 Close: 10/30/05
This year's OCTOBERFEST will feature more than 600 artists, including...
A spectacular ensemble led by Amy Irving (Crossing Delancy, Deconstructing Harry), Andrew McCarthy (Pretty in Pink, Mulholland Falls), Paul Ben-Victor (Drowning Mona), Leslie Lyles (Ladder 49, Mona Lisa Smile) New works by: Arthur Giron (Flight, Moving,Bodies), Amy Fox (Heights, Summer Cyclone), Rob Ackerman (Airborn), Bill Bozzone, Conrad Bromberg (Silent Witness), Leah Kornfeld Freidman, Peter Maloney and Jeffrey Sweet (Solving Your Script, The Dramatist's Toolkit) And works directed by: Billy Hopkins (d. I Love You I Love You Not/cd. Alexander, Chocolat), David Margulies (a. Angels in America, Sopranos, Celebrity)

Started a quarter century ago, this in-house festival, performed on our two stages, is sponsored by ENSEMBLE STUDIO THEATRE's over 500 artist members and has become a spawning ground for new American plays, music, poetry, stand-up and performance art. All of this directly serves E.S.T.'s mission to nurture artists and develop new plays for the American stage.

Luminescence Dating  | Open: 04/21/05 Close: 05/15/05
Archeologist Angela Hart has spent her career chasing her own holy grail - a lost statue of the goddess Aphrodite. An unexpected turn in her pursuit forces her to confront another, more personal quest - true love and romance. The spirits of inquiry, eros and mythology propel this fiercely intelligent and poignant new play.