Maplewood Playwright Erin Mallon to Debut New Play at SOPAC

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Maplewood resident Erin Mallon, an accomplished playwright, actor and voice-over artist, has her feet firmly planted in several areas of artistic expression. She could be considered a consummate multi-careerist as she continues to bring energy and artistry to all her endeavors.

On May 21 at 7 p.m., her new play, A Mind Out of the Gutter, will be presented by American Theater Group in a reading in the South Orange Performing Arts Center Loft. The reading gives professional actors a chance to bring life to the play as they read with script-in-hand, and gives audiences the opportunity to give valuable feedback to the playwright as she continues to refine the work.

The story unfolds in the most unlikely of settings, two rooftops in suburban Ohio. A 75-year-old man and a 9-year-old girl sit on houses full of secrets. Literally.

Bernard wants nothing more than to enjoy his beer (and perhaps kill a few sparrows), but Rory next door has different plans for him. With six decades between them and only four chance encounters to connect, these unlikely new friends unearth what's buried in each other and find new ground. Warning: this play includes tap dancing, pumpkin throwing and air-hugging.

The part of Bernard will be played by Broadway veteran Arthur French, whose extensive credits include Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Trip to Bountiful, Death of a Salesman, Design for Living, and many more. He is the recipient of an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. Rory, his next-door neighbor will be played by newcomer and Summit resident Maren Heary, who just completed filming the Netflix series Gypsy opposite Naomi Watts and Billy Crudup. Kel Haney, who directed American ater Group's hugely successful Way We Get By (Neil La Bute) and the recent reading at SOPAC of A Good Farmer, will lead the cast in this reading as well.

"Any time a playwright sees her work performed by talented artists is a thrill," statEd Mallon. "I am particularly excited to see this cast dive into the play with the wonderful Kel Haney directing. Kel has such a gift for mining new plays, finding what "makes them tick" and helping them come to life. American Theater Group and Jim Vagias are such champions for writers and new work. The support and platform they provide for theater artists mean so much!"

"Erin's play is a delight to read and will be even more delightful to hear performed. It's one of those "feel good" plays. I think the audience is going to love it," says American Theater Group Producing Artistic Director James Vagias.

Mallon has made Maplewood her home for the past 18 months. Relocating Greenpoint, Brooklyn was a positive move for both her artistic life and her family. "I feel incredibly lucky to be a new member of the SOMA community. These two towns are welcoming, diverse and positively teeming with creative people and opportunity," she said. "Theater companies are popping up all over! Wonderful organizations like the SOMA Coalition on Race hosts a monthly playgroup to bring together children and families of different ethnic backgrounds. I couldn't imagine a better place to raise my little boy while continuing to grow my work as an artist."

A Mind Out of the Gutter will be performed South Orange Performing Arts Center Loft on Sunday, May 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale and are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. They can be purchased at or by calling the box office at (973) 313-2787.

Erin Mallon is a writer, actor and voice artist living in Maplewood, NJ. Her plays have been presented with Urban Stages, New Georges, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, The Collective, Cherry Picking, Great Plains Theater Conference, Project Y Theater and Mile Square Theatre. Erin's play Branched (dir. Robert Ross Parker) premiered with InViolet Theater at HERE Arts Center in NYC and is in print with Original Works Publishing. Her new play, A Mind Out of the Gutter is an Honorable Mention on the 2016 Kilroys List and will have its World Premiere this fall at Mile Square Theatre in Hoboken, NJ. Other full-length plays include: Good Riddance, Hand Me Down (a commission for Ethical Culture Fieldston School), Stunning Displays of Prowess and The Other White Meat. Acting credits include Buran Theatre, The Brick, Incubator Arts Project, Sleeping Weazel, Ensemble Studio Theatre and more. Erin is the narrator of 175 audiobooks, a member of InViolet Theater and The Collective and is founder and co-curator of The Brooklyn Generator, a playwriting engine that creates "plays in less-than-30-days."

American Theater Group, a professional member of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, is SOPAC's theatre company in-residence. Headed by Producing Artistic Director James Vagias, the theatre company presents staged readings of new work in the SOPAC Loft and will produce fully-staged productions on the SOPAC mainstage beginning in the 2017-18 season.

American Theater Group is an ambitious new performing arts company launched in 2012 with co-founders Joe Mancuso, Rick Sordelet and then Mayor of Rahway Jim Kennedy that offers musicals and plays, a new musical reading series and arts-in education programming. Its focus is on producing new and classical works, primarily by American Playwrights, with an emphasis on the development of new works and the rediscovery of undeservedly neglected older ones. American Theater Group's Board of Trustees chairperson is South Orange resident and Tony Award-winning actress Michelle Pawk.

Since 2006, SOPAC has been serving as a premier performing arts center in the region. SOPAC offers innovative artistic and cultural experiences for diverse audiences in an intimate, inviting environment. The premier arts center hosts a variety of live performances, community events and education programs for all ages. To further expand its offerings, SOPAC has a partnership with the Juilliard School of Music to present Juilliard @ SOPAC-a series featuring upcoming musicians from the acclaimed conservatory. SOPAC is home for Seton Hall University Arts Council's performances, including Classical Concert Series, Jazz 'N the Hall performances and Seton Hall University Theatre productions. SOPAC also presents performances by its theater company in-residence, American Theater Group. For more information, visit

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