FEARLESS MORAL INVENTORY Receives Second Extension At Stage Left
FEARLESS MORAL INVENTORY: 12-step Walk Up, starring Drama Desk Award-nominee and celebrated monologist Frank Blocker, has received a second extension thanks to audience response and positive reviews from theatre professionals. The play was to close after the Sunday 5:00 pm performance, December 11, at Stage Left Studio, 214 W 30th Street. A full weekend of performances has now been added for Friday through Monday, December 17-19, and will move to 7:30 pm.
A daring, edgy comedy about tenant/landlord relations and facing change in a turbulent world, the producers of FEARLESS have decided to up the ante by making it a Double Feature with award-winning SOUTHERN GOTHIC NOVEL: THE ABERDEEN, MISSISSIPPI SEX-SLAVE INCIDENT. One actor, two solo plays, and 37 characters. Blocker’s Drama Desk nomination sprang from this hilarious play described as a novel, that feels like a movie, but is really a play.
How will Blocker make the switch from the Deep South Mississippi setting to a five-floor walk-up filled with New Yorker tenants? “I get an hour to cool down.” A critical darling of the multi-character genre, he will need to be “fearless” to pull off two plays with a total of 37 characters.
The extension of FEARLESS is due to the critical accolades the play receives from other theatre professionals. Barry Rowell of the Obie-winning Peculiar Works Project states, “He again creates a dizzying array of characters—this time, all residents of a single NYC neighborhood—each with their own compelling personal story. He effortlessly breathes life into them all, in rapid succession, throughout the evening.” Director Sydnie Grosberg Ronga of Gotham Radio Theatre adds, “’Fearless’ is the perfect word to describe his work. I have seen very few actors who can make such bold choices, lightning changes of character and be thoroughly entertaining and thought provoking.”
Producer and owner/operator of Stage Left Studio, Cheryl King directed SOUTHERN GOTHIC NOVEL for the 2009 production. “I’ve watched the show more than 30 times, and I can’t wait to see it again. GOTHIC brought a lot of attention to Stage Left Studio. When he was nominated for Outstanding Solo Performance, he was the only off-off Broadway production in his category. I am very proud to be a part of his breakthrough performance.”
Blocker never intended to be a solo artist. “I write plays; the solo work is accidental. Whoopi Goldberg’s one woman show inspired me as a writer and actor, but I only dreamed I would be in a solo play in New York City one day. And for the record, neither GOTHIC nor FEARLESS started as solo plays. GOTHIC began as a writing exercise that I read to friends who kept pushing for more, and eventually pushed me onto the stage. Truth told, I thought they were crazy for thinking it would work. FEARLESS began as a showcase piece because actor friends wanted to use my monologues. While tooling the script, the concept took form and I had to ‘serve the play.’ Where GOTHIC is described as a movie, FEARLESS is a documentary. My hope is that the audience realizes the point that we are all one and the same at our core, and I believe the solo format cements the message. Still, I have a cast in my head for it.” He states with a mischievous grin.
Director Kathy Kelly Christos used her own distinctive character building process to help with the development of physicality in FEARLESS MORAL INVENTORY’s characters. “The intention of the play is to introduce the likeable along with the most irritating of New York City’s characters so that audiences return home from the theatre with more empathy for their fellow man.” Christos worked with Blocker in weekly workshops for a year making each of the cast recognizable by their silhouette, letting the audience know who they are seeing before the character speaks.
FEARLESS MORAL INVENTORY: 12-Step Walk Up plays Dec. 11, Sunday at 5:00 pm at Stage Left Studio, then runs Saturday through Monday at 7:30 pm, Stage Left Studio. SOUTHERN GOTHIC NOVEL: The Aberdeen, Mississippi Sex-Slave Incident will re-open for two shows on Saturday and Sunday at 5:00 pm.
Set design is by Edward Morris, vocal coaching by Amy Jones, development & dramaturgy by Helena Judd, costumes by Murray Scott Changar, and sound design by Kenneth Allen and Kathy Kelly Christos.
FEARLESS MORAL INVENTORY is produced by Cheryl King Productions in association with E-Merging Writers.
ABOUT THE PLAY
Homeless JACKIE O invites the audience to his/her favorite squatting place, a five-floor walk-up where evil (typical) New York landlord “KILLER” JOE is plotting against the tenants of his building. He’s already gotten rid of one, and another has passed under suspicious circumstances. LORNA BREEDLOVE, a septuagenarian sex addict in recovery and den mother of the building, will not be moved. The rest of the tenants will follow her lead: THOMAS the log cabin accountant, middle-aged stoner JP, and repentant retiring priest FATHER BENEDICT to name a few.
All is happening in a race with the new subway line, bringing more change and more people to the turbulent surroundings. KILLER JOE enlists sadistic lawyer (redundant) ROVEENA who has the personality of a preying mantis and will prove to be his final undoing. Those who work together and help each other, of course, persevere.
All 20 characters have been witnessed or heard in NYC and all are experiencing change in a turbulent world. It’s not about the destination, but their journeys.
Frank Blocker is a writer and actor extraordinaire who sees life in a way that most of us just skim past. And, even better, he infuses it with humor. Taking a “Fearless Moral Inventory” is the fourth step in the recovery process for Anonymous groups; however here it is a steambath of the people who reside by us, beside us and, God forbid, in us. The play features multiple characters, challenging us to tell the truth and to stop hiding behind our fears. Instead, we must face them in order to be whole instead of shattered fragments. As Joe Tennent, Blocker plays the landlord we all hate and here we see his warped view of the world.
This is a play that should be submitted for a Pulitzer for the profound way it sees life. Blocker is not only a talented actor but a talented writer who needs to be nurtured for his incredible talent.
“Frank Blocker, creator, writer, star of Fearless Moral Inventory is not presenting himself as Gandhi, De Gaulle, Sitting Bull. But he is fearless. There’s no denying he’s working hard – as well as enjoying his self-revelation. At the same time he’s hating doing so. There’s a half fearful building of suspense that sooner or later something awful is going to happen. And that is fascinating in the same way one might be mesmerized by a cobra. Despite the fact that Frank Blocker, actor, appears to be a charming, facile man, tall, pleasant, curly hair, dimples, smile, twinkly eyes. But all of that becomes unstuck in scary, little moments and you see something murderous in the briefest of glimpses. Sure, he’s doing it in among the multiple characters but – he’s not. We’re safe here in a tiny theater and there are friendly folk around and what could happen, what could possibly happen? It’s only a 75 minute show. But I’m glad none of the props have sharp edges.”
Frank Blocker (playwright, actor) Plays include Southern Gothic Novel (Drama Desk Award nomination), Good Jew (with M.S. Changar), off-Broadway hit Eula Mae's Beauty, Bait & Tackle (Quintero Theatre), The Wisconsinners (Dubuque Fine Arts Center), Patient Number (Inner Voices Social Issues Play Winner), Suite Atlanta (Fn Productions/78th Street Studio Theatre), Kiss and Fade (Short Attention Span Play Festival, Boston), Air Marshals (in development with co-author Captain James Blocker, Oklahoma City Fire Dept), and Alice with composer William Wade (York Theatre Development Series, Emerging Artists). Frank edited the art catalog Tatyana Nazarenko: Family Portrait (A. Gertsman) exploring the Jewish experience from the Russian perspective, sci-fi novel The Slaves of Votarus (Changar), Stage THIS! Ten-Minute Plays (co-edited with Jan Herndon), Stage This, TOO! More Ten-Minute Plays (co-edited with Sydney Stone and Changar), and Stage THIS! Volume 3: Monologues, Short Solo Plays and 10-Minute Plays (with Stone and Dana Todd). He is a member of The Dramatists Guild of America and a member of Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, and AFTRA. As an actor, he appeared on Law & Order:SVU and in the off-Broadway hit The Deep Throat Sex Scandal (“Blocker delivers.” – Backstage Magazine) most recently. Short films include Lester and Maryam, Red Moonflower Blooming, and The Anniversary. NY stage roles include Mortimer in Brecht's Edward II, Roderick Usher in Steven Berkoff's Fall of the House of Usher, the "last Don" in The Don Quixote Project, Mr. Peachum in The Beggar's Opera, and as a prisoner on the streets in the Obie-winning West Village/East Village Fragments. He frequently appears in experimental works and readings including Stage Left Studio’s Forbidden Kiss series (sometimes singing). California-born, Arizona-raised, Okie-stamped transplant to the South via Atlanta, Mr. Blocker now resides in New York City with his giant dog and tiny cat.
KATHY KELLY CHRISTOS (director) began her professional theatrical career on-stage in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She took a turn as a professor in the Theatre Arts Department at Cameron University, teaching stage movement and dance to actors, choreographing and performing. The recurring dream of being on stage led Kathy to leave the world of academia and return professionally in numerous regional theatres as an actress, dancer, and choreographer in Anything Goes (Reno Sweeney), Sugar Babies, Of Thee I Sing (Mary Turner) , The Man Who Came to Dinner (Maggie Cutler) and many others. Since coming to New York, she has appeared in, co-produced and directed several Off-Broadway productions by The Infinite Space Theatre Company and others, and has worked in TV and film. Most recently, she co-directed and choreographed the Rock Garden production of Below the Belt with Larry Preston, appeared as Brona in Eugene Grygo’s Brona and Alberto at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre, and performed the role of Queen Isolde of Ireland in the world premier of Tristan & Isolde in the 2010 International Fringe Festival. Kathy is a movement and acting teacher specializing in whole-body characterization. She is co-founder of the Not-Ready-For-Downtown Players Theater Company in Upper Manhattan.
AMY JONES (acting/vocal coach) is an accomplished director, choreographer and musical director. Most recently, she provided musical direction and choreography for Flat Rock Playhouse’s production of Hairspray, where she has been the resident vocal director since 1999, and has served as a choreographer since 2001. She is also an adjunct professor at Western Connecticut State University, where she most recently directed and choreographed I Love A Piano. Amy lives in New York, where she most recently served as the musical director/choreographer for Girl Talk at Ha! and is the musical director for the tour of Girls Night The Musical (Entertainment Events, Inc). Amy has provided dramaturgy for the musicals Alice and Warsaw—the latter is where she first met Blocker, singing themselves to death. Her favorite role to date came this past September 23, where she played the bride in her real-life wedding to Guy Barudin. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).
CHERYL KING PRODUCTIONS (producer) was formed in 2000 by Cheryl King. The company has produced several acting retreats, over 300 showcases, and three years of V-Day events. She is the creator of the Left Out Festival, an annual festival of gay performance art, which has been presented since 2008, and is a benefit for Bailey House and GMHC. For her work in promoting gay performance, she was chosen as one of the 100 Women We Love in GO Magazine's June 2008 Annual Pride Issue. In November 2008 she was chosen "Person of the Year" by nytheatre.com. She also created the Women At Work Festival, now in its fifth year, which contributes funds to Friends of Niger, the Young Girls Scholarship Fund. Ms. King has curated solo shows for the Estrogenius Festival at ManhattanTheatreSource since 2005. In October 2010, she inaugurated the Mama Drama Festival, a festival of theater about mothers, at Stage Left. Cheryl King is currently starring in Sally Lambert’s Grapefruit at Stage Left Studio, directed by Teresa Gambacorta.
E-MERGING WRITERS (producer) began in 2000, after five years of providing playwriting assistance and services, and group projects on small-scale productions and promoting of independent and new works. The New York-based group made its debut at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2003 with the premiere of Southern Gothic Novel. E-Merging Writers followed up by producing The Gates of Helen by Murray Scott Changar in early 2004, produced a promo CD for the musical Alice (William Wade composer) as well as several readings of that same show. The last production of E-Merging Writers as a sole entity (not in partnership) was Eula Mae’s Beauty, Bait & Tackle at The Duplex, NYC, 2006. The group next launched the playwriting competition “Stage This! The Best Ten-Minute Plays We Could Find,” teaming with new Production Company Fn Productions in 2007 to continue the biennial competition for 10-minute plays. The Stage THIS! series now has three volumes in print. E-Merging Writers has published a total of six books (2 novels, 1 play, and 3 play collections) and continues to hold readings—formal and informal—for new works.