Metropolitan Playhouse Presents a Horatio Alger Festival, 1/16-29


Metropolitan Playhouse, Obie Award winner for exploring American culture through theater, hosts The Horatio Alger Festival, the theater's seventh annual Living Literature Festival of performances inspired by the lives and works of American authors.  The Festival is a collection of five new works by artists and companies from near and far taking their inspiration from Alger's works and biography.  Performances take place daily from January 16 to 29, 2012. Performances will not be held at Metropolitan, but rather, all shows will plaly at 9th Space, 150 East Ninth Street (Ninth Street and 1st Avenue). 

Each new work is presented five times over the festival unless otherwise noted. (Project descriptions and schedule follow.) Additional events include readings of salient works, and discussions with contemporary artists and scholars.  Tickets may be purchased online at, or by phone at 212 995 5302.  Tickets for all programs are $18, unless otherwise noted.

The Horatio Alger Festival includes one-act and full-length plays, ranging from adaptation to biographical fantasy, all inspired by Alger and his work. Alger's legacy as the man who made the rags to riches story an American staple, is familiar to all; less well known are his actual stories, and the story of his own life, with inspirational and nefarious twists of its own.   Together, these very different plays by singular contemporary theater voices will bring the author's work to a new audience, explore the persistent resonance of his themes in our own culture (for good and ill), and delve into the darker side of both the Alger myth and Alger the man.

Artist participants in the festival include Jason Jacobs (2007 Person of the Year --; 2 GLAAD Media Award nominations); Adam Klasfeld (The Report of My Death, featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, and Showbusiness Weekly), David Lally (Little Edie and the Marble Faun: "[a] touching examination of memory and loss." - Backstage); Dan Evans(Henry's Lunchroom, "Great job!" -, and Michael Schwartz.

Previous years' festivals were the Poefest (2006), Twainathon (2007), Hawthornucopia (2008-"exhilarating", and Melvillapalooza (2009 "divine…. put the life and works of Melville in a new light" – New Theatre Corps), Another Sky (2010), and A Harlem Renaissance Festival (2011 - "very satisfying indeed" --   Metropolitan Playhouse explores America's theatrical and cultural moment. Metropolitan has earned accolades from The New York TimesThe Village VoiceBackStage, and Notable productions includeThe Jazz Singer, From Rags to Riches, One-Third of a Nation, The Great Divide, Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Drunkard, Dodsworth, The Return of Peter Grimm, Year One of the EmpireThe Pioneer5 plays by Eugene O'Neill, and Denial.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTIONS (In order of first festival presentation.)

Shifting for Himself, or Gilbert Greyson's Fortunes  (An adaptation)
by Michael Schwartz (Philadelphia)
Shifting for Himself (or Gilbert Greyson's Fortunes) is an adaptation of the typical Horatio Alger story--a young man finds himself poor, but through hard work, good manners, and some good luck, he gets the best of cheaters, schemers, and layabouts in end-of-the-19th century New York City. Can pluck, integrity, and innocence prevail on Wall Street? In Horatio Alger's world, you bet your boots it can!

Another Horatio Alger Story  (A new play, set in the present)
by Jason Jacobs (New York)
An impassioned teacher leads his impressionable student in an exploration of Alger's life and work ... but the charms of fiction are threatened by dangerous facts. Is there a true "Horatio Alger story?" What secrets do these tales conceal?

The Return of Ragged Dick  (An alternative biography)
by Dan Evans, A LuLu LoLo Production
In 1866, young Horatio Alger, Jr. arrives in New York, an ex-Unitarian minister and budding author disgraced as a pederast.  Twenty years later, a fearsome stranger from the Amazon Rain Forest suddenly appears on the doorstep of this now popular but near- bankrupt author with surprising results.

Horatio Alger's Boys  (A biographical fantasy)
by David Lally (New York and Los Angeles)
Prey or victim?  A scandalous incident in Horatio Alger's past may affect his future.  A "ripped from the headlines" story, the saga of Horatio Alger did not begin and end with his "rags to riches" stories.

Pluck  (Staged Reading - A special work-in-progress for $10)
by Adam Klasfeld, A One Armed Man Production
One Armed Man exposes the American dream that dare not speak its name, with a staged reading of "Pluck," an early look at a new play by Adam Klasfeld.  The Devil narrates the despicable fall and triumphant rise of Horatio Alger, Jr., a fallen minister turned unlikely prophet for the American gospel of wealth.
In 1866, scandal strikes a Unitarian church in a coastal New England town as elders investigate Alger for "gross immorality and ... the abominable and revolting crime of unnatural familiarity with boys." Alger escapes arrest on the first train to New York, and one bitter deacon predicts he will "serve the Devil by writing novels."
Adrift in New York, Alger ekes out a living writing books about street urchins, on the verge of adolescence, plucked from poverty by a wealthy older benefactor. The stories don't sell very well in his lifetime, but eventually, the Devil will get his due.

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