Industry Reading Announced For DELIKATESSEN By Richard Atkins

By: Aug. 29, 2019
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Industry Reading Announced For DELIKATESSEN By Richard Atkins

Group 9 Productions will present an industry reading of "DeliKateSSen," a play by Richard Atkins, directed by Matthew Penn with dramaturgy by Mark Medoff, September 23 at 4:30 PM in the Mary Rodgers Room of The Dramatists Guild, 1501 Broadway, 7 fl.

The play opens in a Manhattan deli on the eve of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre when eleven Israeli athletes lost their lives at the hands of the Palestinian group Black September. David and Yossi Shapiro, now middle-aged, are orphaned brothers of the Holocaust and survivors of Auschwitz-Monowitz. They own Shapiro's, a struggling landmark delicatessen. Across the street from their deli, a new German delicatessen and biergarten is preparing to open its doors. To add to their stress, the deli's delivery man has been attacked and hurt severely in an anti-semitic hate crime. Suppressed traumas from the death camps are reawakened, causing David, the older Shapiro brother, to call on a Nazi hunter to investigate the restaurateur across the street. David has allowed the Holocaust to define his existence and yields to an "eye for an eye" vendetta. We watch as an explosion of friction (possibly justified) and paranoia affects everyone involved.

Playwright Atkins has described the play as "a psychological thriller with Holocaust elements."

Reviewing the play's first performance in Albuquerque, critic Blake Driver wrote in, "the play makes a chilling case that the end of WWII was not the close of a conflict, but rather the birth of a legacy of mutual animosity that has continued to burden successive generations with the need for resolution--or retribution." In the plot, the Nazi Hunter goes missing and his findings are obscured. This provides a central mystery for the play. We never learn what he ultimately discovered, but we recognize how the characters' reaction to this mystery seals the play's thematic truth: how the sins of the Third Reich irrevocably affect Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

We are living in the year of the Pittsburgh and San Diego attacks, where many Jews are experiencing remembered trauma. It is years after the liberation of the camps, but survivors still speak of how they live with the pain. Atkins reminds us that the Holocaust is accessible to us, but the experience of the Shapiro brothers is also universal: it mirrors similar animosities between other religions, regions and races today. The need to remember, we all learn, must be accompanied by vigilance, prudence and wisdom. Atkins illuminates the struggle of survivors to move past their experience without denying the need to remember and mourn. He writes, "I hope the play illustrates how hatred affects not only the current generation, but the two, three, and four generations that follow, and also points out the need to let go of hatred and move on."

The play was a finalist for the Abingdon Theatre's Christopher Brian Wolk playwriting award. It has been produced in 2015 by the Adobe Theater in Albuquerque, NM, in 2017 by Centre Stage in Greenville, SC and in January, 2019 by The Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck, NY. This September 23rd reading is being held to introduce the play to the NYC producing community at a time when it seems especially urgent and timely.

Matthew Penn (Director) is an Emmy nominated director who has worked extensively in TV, film and theater. He has directed and/or produced over 200 hour-long dramatic television shows, working for every network and most of the significant cable channels. Penn began his TV career at "Law and Order," earning an Emmy nomination for directing the show's 200th episode and becoming the show's Executive Producer. His recent TV credits include "The Mist," "Queen of the South" (Co-Executive Producer/Director), "Orange is the New Black," "Blue Bloods," "Damages," "Royal Pains," "Secrets and Lies," "The Sopranos" and "NYPD Blue."

In theater, Penn most recently directed Jane Anderson's "Mother of the Maid" at The Public Theater starring Glenn Close. Other credits include "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" by Martin McDonagh, "Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike," "The Actors Nightmare" and "Sister Mary Ignatius" by Christopher Durang, "The Root" by Gary Richards (produced by Daryl Roth), "The Engagement" by Richard Vetere and "Typhoid Mary" by Mark St. Germain.

Penn is Co-Artistic director of the Berkshire Playwrights Lab (BPL) in Great Barrington, MA, which is devoted to developing new plays. During the last 12 years it has premiered over 50 new American plays including those by David Mamet, Elaine May and Larry Gelbart. Upon discovering "DeliKateSSen," Penn wrote to Richard Atkins, "You are a fine writer. The play is original and quite compelling." Penn is a member of DGA, SDC, The Actors Studio and Ensemble Studio Theater.

Richard Atkins (playwright) is a playwright, actor and musician. At the age of 21, he was the pianist for the Guy Lombardo orchestra, followed by a stint as musical director at Busch Gardens. He studied acting in NYC with Gene Frankel and portrayed both George Gershwin and Oscar Levant in Off-Broadway productions. He has written six murder mystery musicals and fifteen plays and recently secured the stage rights to the 1947 novel by Laura Z. Hobson, "Gentleman's Agreement," which explored anti-Semitism in the United States. He met Tony winning author, Mark Medoff in 2004 and has collaborated with him on two successful plays, "The Men of Mah Jongg" and "DeliKateSSen." Regionally he has performed at Centre Stage, the Barn Theatre, the Hampton Playhouse and the Adobe Theatre to name a few.

The actors will be Richard Atkins, Meredith Inglesby, Jonathan Lipnick, Cheryl Quinn, Richard Bourg, Rebecca Swanson, Steve Blanchard and Gordon Joseph Weiss.

The reading will not be staged on a theater set, but projections and recordings will punctuate the play in scene breaks, simulating their effect in the finished production.

The play's website is

Attendance to the September 23rd reading is limited to industry only. Producers, investors and talent representatives may reserve free tickets online at or by calling Group 9 Productions at 505.681.8376.


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