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Vincent Sessa's BODY OF WORDS Begins Tonight at TNC


"Body of Words" by Vincent Sessa is set in a rented bungalow on a deserted stretch of beach on a summer night into morning. Two strangers meet -- a rugged, powerful middle-aged man and a young, athletic man who might be a student. A sexual contract is established between them but suspicion and violence ensue. Yet by morning an inseparable bond has joined the men together and they are changed forever. The play is evocative of the homecoming of Odysseus. The author, Vincent Sessa, is known for profoundly nuanced plays about men and women in personal, often political struggle. Theater for the New City will present the play's premiere run today, January 1 to 25, 2015, directed by John Michael DiResta.

Norman, a despirited fifty-something, is a lonely voyager who has ventured widely and now seems at the end of his rope. Boyd is a runaway youth of evident physical prowess and the spirit of a warrior. The pair meet by chance in a dangerous surf, where Norman might have gone to drown himself. They enter into a sex-for-pay contract, but as the night advances, their relationship becomes much more complex.

In a weathered beachside room, the two men initially taunt and threaten each other, but grow to trust each other. They bluster, they wrestle, they probe each other for weaknesses. Invitations to resume sex are broached, then cast aside. Each man offers autobiographical hints pointing to a buried relationship and destiny. Boyd reveals that he has fled his family home out of desperation with his mother and her tortured relationship with dozens of men. Defenseless at home, he has escaped, followed by his loyal dog, who occasionally barks outside. Norman's life has had many phases; in a lifetime left behind, he was married but never knew his children. There is a simmering potential for exorcism in both characters. While Norman might be saved by Boyd's body, Boyd is ultimately saved by Norman's words. The process of that, with subtle manipulation of the characters and their relationship, is the play. Ultimately, Norman lies to Boyd to protect him from discovering that the broken older man in his presence may be his father. The play ends tragically.

Playwright Vincent Sessa is the author of 26 plays, varied in subject and manner. They share a lyricism of language and illuminating imagery. One particular review of a past play helps foreshadow the style of this one. The New York Times (Neil Genzlinger) described his play, "A Child's Guide to Innocence," produced by New Jersey Rep in 2005, "as delicate and nuanced a drama as you'll find, its three actresses telling a sublime intergenerational tale beautifully." In the play, three generations of Italian-American women revealed their reactions to a soldier brother's being MIA through their various defense mechanisms. The play's "inspired stroke," wrote Ms. Genzlinger, was "to tackle almost nothing head-on....Mr. Sessa stays away from anything overt: the first segment remains a collection of fragments. It's a deliberate device and an effective one...." The play was summarized as "a lovely portrait of how ordinary lives can be defined by a few pivotal moments, of how the world's great events can have a profound impact at a very small, personal level."

Sessa's other best known plays are "The Girl With The High Rouge" (New Jersey Repertory, NJ) and "Moral & Political Lessons on Wyoming" (SnowLion Repertory, ME). He is an alumni member of New York's MCC's Playwrights' Coalition. This play comes to production via Theater for the New City's developmental reading series, New City, New Blood, which is directed by the theater's literary manager, Michael Scott Price.

Director John Michael DiResta has recently staged "Oedipus, Hare & Tortoise" for Hangar Theatre, "The Drunken City" for Steppenwolf Garage, "La Casa De Schwarz" at Judson Church, "The Memory Tax" for Araca Project; "Scenes From the Middle Voice and Favorites" for Rising Phoenix, "Yellowface," "Lyle The Crocodile," "The Romeo and Juliet Project," "The Glass Menagerie," "The Normal Heart" and "Big Questions" at Northwestern, "A Crack in the Canvas," "Bisexuality is for Teenagers" and "Watching the Thunder" for MCC FreshPlay, "Jump Into The Abscess" for Where Eagles Dare," and "Back to Society" at Abrons Arts Center. He was assistant director for "Ode to Joy" at the Cherry Lane and "Killers and Other Family" at Rattlestick Theater, among others. He was dramaturge for " Fur" at Access Theater and "The Wild Duck" at Bard Summerscape. He produced the MCC Theater Youth Company from 2007 to 2010 and is a teaching artist and writer.

Bruch Reed plays Norman and Marek Pavlovski plays Boyd. Set design is by David L. Arsenault. Lighting design is by Dylan Uremovich. Costume design is by Tristan Raines. Sound design is by Harrison Adams.

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