NEWS and REVIEWS
FOUR PLAYS FOR A PLANET IN PERIL
written and directed by Lee Roscoe,
filmed and produced by Janet Murphy Robertson
Cape Cod Premiere
Eastham Public Library, 190 Samoset Rd., Eastham, MA 02642
July 20, 3:30 PM
To register: https://easthamlibrary.libcal.com/event/9256679?fbclid=IwAR1Fe9boXtPajV8FNZ75cxwW3XcR1crwsqpNX1JGlX9ViFn0gTt13scYym0
On Wednesday, July 20 at 3:30 PM, a series of short films titled FOUR PLAYS FOR A PLANET IN PERIL will be presented at the Eastham Public Library. Following the 80-minute screening, there will be a brief Q & A with the writer/director, Lee Roscoe, and filmmaker/producer Janet Murphy Robertson. Admission is free and all are welcome.
Earth’s peril is portrayed differently in each piece. In the first—the poetic and dreamlike Water Spirits Colloquy—two Greek demigods and a legendary Native American spirit meet to share their torment over the ravaging of Earth’s waters by humans and ultimately conspire to exact revenge. They interact amidst spectacular underwater and terrestrial imagery and in scenes of environmental destruction that build to a dramatic ending.
In The Cage, three characters—a boss, a middle manager, and a worker—argue with a mixture of stunning insight and staggering myopia in what might be described as a class war in nine minutes. The highly stylized acting verges on comedy as it highlights the societal conflicts that contribute to inaction on climate issues.
The raw emotion and ultimate sweetness of Reprieve are a counterpoint to the power and intensity of the pieces that precede and follow it. An indigenous man in despair over the demise of his culture and the Earth is saved by the caring concern and common decency of people he barely knows. This work’s inclusion in the series gives a hint of what the films’ creators see as virtues that might help save the planet.
According to Roscoe, a long-time environmentalist, as well as playwright, “Our goal is to draw attention to the uncomfortable reality that our whole way of life, in effect, creates the Earth’s climate, sometimes with catastrophic consequences. We employ a range of theatrical techniques—heightened language, humor, outrage, satire, hyperbole, melodrama—as well as exciting new film technologies to entertain and engage viewers and provoke awareness, discussion and, we hope, constructive action.”
In The Warning, the cycle ends with an explosion of imagery and over-the-top theatrics, noted by Roscoe as “inspired by 1930s German expressionist George Grosz.” In this hyperbolized eco-feminist cartoon, Roscoe herself, as Woman/Earth, takes to the stage and reacts viscerally to the assaults on her body by the heat and fire of fossil fuels and confronts the puppet politicians and corporate overlords responsible. The Warning is an official finalist in three categories for the Independent Short Film Awards in L.A.: Best Experimental Short, Best Original Story, and Best Ensemble Cast.
In addition to Roscoe, the cast includes nine other beloved Massachusetts-based actors: Tom Wolfson, Judith Partelow (courtesy of SAG), Rod Owens, Karen McPherson, Constance Wilkinson, Cleo Zani, Geof Newton, Olivia Thompson, and LeVane Harrington.
The three experimental, non representational “shorts”—Water Spirits Colloquy, The Cage, and The Warning—were composed and filmed in a studio in Dennis during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic by Janet Murphy Robertson. She filmed the only “realistic” work of the four, Reprieve, on site in Dennis. All four films are produced by Shoestring Virtual Theater, a new venture (founded in 2021) of Robertson’s marketing and production firm ArtistsAndMusicians.org. The works employ a mix of techniques and technologies native to theater, film, and TV, including both traditional and green-screen filming/recording, cartooning, sound effects, special effects, musical scores, virtual video and photographic backgrounds, and black-and-white, as well as color, styling. The films will be available for online viewing at a later date and details will be posted at ArtistsAndMusicians.org and elsewhere.
FOUR PLAYS FOR A PLANET IN PERIL is supported in part by grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council (Towns of Brewster and Dennis).
Lee Roscoe is an award-winning playwright, environmentalist and journalist and currently a correspondent for Artscope Magazine and Provincetown Magazine. She is a former Cape Cod and Massachusetts environmental activist and environmental educator. She has long-time ties to the environmental science and education community as a Woods Hole Ocean Science Journalism Fellow, a recipient of numerous WHSTEPS (Woods Hole Science, Technology and Education Partnership grants), an Eisenhower grant for creating nature/curriculum, a Massachusetts legislature commendation and EPA award and other awards and grants. As a journalist Lee Roscoe has covered many environmental stories, regionally and nationally (some cited in scientific journals) for publications such as Massachusetts Wildlife Magazine, New York Conservationist, Oceanus online (WHOI's magazine), Sierra, and Natural History Magazine. She is the author of Dreaming Monomoy's Past, Walking its Present (the interacting nature and culture of a typical American coastal area—a subjective and objective account).
Roscoe’s theater writing has been praised as “brilliant,” “powerful and important theater,” by such notables as the artistic director of Shakespeare Theatre Company, D.C., Michael Kahn; the founder of New York’s Living Theater, Judith Malina; playwright David Hare; and the late Howard Zinn, as well as other theater greats and public intellectuals. Early in her career, she worked as an Equity actress Off-Broadway and in indie films.
Janet Murphy Robertson is a former New York executive and management consultant and the founder and executive director of ArtistsAndMusicians.org, a firm that spotlights creative and socially conscious people and produces plays, films, and musical events. Her earlier films about social issues include Journeys in the Light, Untold Stories of Cape Cod, produced with Zion Union Heritage Museum (Hyannis) and Icons of the Civil Rights Movement, based on Pamela Chatterton-Purdy and Rev. Dr. David A. Purdy’s landmark exhibition by this name.
July 2022. Lee Roscoe’s new book, Wampanoag Art for the Ages, Traditional and Transitional, is now available!
February 2021. We are pleased to announce that Lee Roscoe has just been awarded Massachusetts Cultural Council grants from the towns of Brewster and Dennis to produce several of her provocative short plays.
One of the plays, DARK, was read recently at Eventide Theatre Company's Playwrights' Lab and again at a NYC Dramatists Guild Footlights New England online event. DARK, which is in the style of a cartoon, features a mysterious woman claiming to be Earth as she confronts corrupt politicians.
Lee previously received Massachusetts Cultural Council grants for IMPOSSIBLE? and for The Mooncusser's Tale (still available at womr.org archives).
No School, Lee's short play about race and class conflicts between a mother and son, can be viewed on Eventide Theatre Company's YouTube channel along with other Winter Showcase plays from ETC's Playwrights' LAB.
October 24-25, 2020: Impossible?, Roscoe's serious satire about American tyranny, draws 900+ viewers at Eventide Theatre Company's Virtual Playhouse.
“It was wonderful! Very unique, extremely well acted, loved the ‘virtual staging’ and the interplay between one actor/scene and the next, really added a very almost Brechtian mood to the production…Your story line & dialogue so well done…We’ll be donating & hope the theater project can keep on….This online theatre feels like a new valuable addition to the way productions can be done. Great work by all…(only thing that I would suggest that interfered with the flow for me were the ‘names’ that kept coming on (at least my) screen, found it confusing & distracting…hopefully that can be ‘tweeked’ out in future presentations?)” —Falmouth Activist, Well-Known Painter
“I really liked it! Seems like I was not the only one who thought so, too. I have seen a number of Zoom'ed pieces now -- one, very sophisticated, by Caryl Churchill, whose work I love, Zoomed at Bard, lots of sophistication, but it just fell flat. I left.
I loved "dried up like a vernal pool" - Nikki Mugg, guy with glasses, Eldredge, and how you managed to get away with calling Prez "Eddie Fabuloso" I don't know, but you did. It was splendid. I'm horrendously picky about theater as I'm sure you are which is why I mostly watch films. The only thing that I noticed that had a negative theatrical impact was not leaving the last line to resound in silence for a bit -- first for impact and also so people knew it was the end….but I enjoyed it a lot and I was charmed by the geeky retro backgrounds.”—Theater Professional who ran an Off-Broadway theater, formerly based in New York
“It is an important script. I hope it gets lots of exposure. I hear so many echoes in it of several administrations.
Kudos to the actors for bringing their characters to life without personal interaction. That takes incredible skill. Remember the audience has no idea what you intended. They only know what they see. And what we saw was powerful.
Thanks for giving them such a wonderful script.” —Reverend __, Freeport, Maine
“Great work! The play is loaded with fabulous lines! And the characters! Kudos!”—Fellow Playwright
“Timely and important. I really enjoyed it!”—Retired International Lawyer
“Glitches or not the actors came through! Thinking and meditating on all the characters last night and the viewer can identify with a piece of all of them, even, God forbid, Eddie's false sense of patriotism! Im,,, possible? You are so clever!”—Well-known local artist/writer couple
“...many people seemed to like it so they could see the excellent script and great acting through the tech problems. Congratulations to the script.”—Retired Teacher
“All praise to you! You did a super job of handling the comments/questions after the performance. I thought that the play was excellent.”—Activist, Organizer
“Interesting Lee, some problems with the tech, but many readings were very clear. Very timely....Good casting, especially Dave O'Sulley, the radio station owner and Lemuel Cranby, who was delightfully creepy as his cousin the real estate guy. The actress playing Nikki Mugg was also "fabuloso". All the actors had their lines down and were very clear (except for the tech problems in the background that distracted from Eldredge Landon's delivery somewhat)”—Audience Member
“The technical glitches did not diminish my enjoyment of the play. You have written a contemporary interpretation of a theme that is run through history. The actors were terrific. The opportunity to hear from them and from you was very meaningful. It's not often that we get the go to cast parties. That was definitely a good cast party. Although, I would've enjoyed something in person where I could've gotten some deviled eggs.
I have sent a message to the theater company asking this is going to be available as a DVD. I certainly hope so and that will include everything including the cast party.
Thank you for writing this and for reminding me that it was going to be on the air.”—Indian Rights Advocate/Entertainment Lawyer, Wisconsin
“Great. So happy to see it today. __was watching and like a lot as well. Truly!”—Graphic Artist and Activist
“I found the performance should I say haunting or terrifying. I didn’t know if I should say something on the chat. Anyway, I had the sense that you were preaching to the converted. Keep up the good work .—Mental Health Professional
“We did watch "Impossible" on Saturday. I was not expecting a theater play --and thought it was great!! It gets better and better and more and more relevant…this last performance the best of all! The actors were excellent -- very professional and perfect for their roles. I can't wait to see it in the theater (Eventide or somewhere else)! Congratulations!”—Open University Founder/Author
“So I got to hear a lot of it, and of course, since I was familiar with it I felt that I had a good idea of how it was going. I thought the acting was very good. I thought Sarah Sneed was excellent. But the men, too, were very good.”—Playwright/Actress
“Hope they put it on again!”—Magazine editor
"Unexpectedly funny, amazing that it you wrote it before the current admin."—Audience Member
“…actors did a wonderful job. Your play is so thought provoking, and set me full of fear, but in a good way I think. Thanks so much for writing it.”
“You captured the uneasy fear we are all feeling in this scary political atmosphere! Democracy is so threatened! Lets hope that there is some backbone exhibited in this up and coming election! An incredibly complicated subject to tackle! Bravo!”
“Totally awesome play. Very challenging and scary, particularly thinking back to when you wrote it.”
“Got it! This is terrific...and scarey!” ·
“Fantastic storyline and great acting, also love the backdrops and sound effects!”
“Scary - too close to some truths”
Pandora Peoples of WOMR interviewed Lee Roscoe and producer Janet Murphy Robertson in September 2019 about Lee's terrific new play HERE, now titled Impossible?
More Reviews of Lee Roscoe's Work
"Important and powerful," "Impressive," "Extraordinary," Multi-layered and broad in
scope" —Praise for Roscoe's body of work from Michael Kahn, David Hare, Judith Malina, Steve Capra, Sean David Bennett, Howard Zinn, and others.
Roscoe's Impossible? was read on the main stage of Cotuit Center for the Arts on January 9, 2019 and presented again in a staged reading at the Cape Cod Museum of Art on May 2, 2019. Both performances garnered enthusiastic reviews.
"It stunned me. It was like an Our Town for today." John Bangert, No Place For Hate
"Great job, so prescient, funny and disturbing." Kathy Clobridge, political organizer
"I thoroughly enjoyed it! The reading was excellent. It moved along at a great pace ! Your dialogue and scenes were terrific. I enjoyed everyone, I definitely can see this as a produced play. Fingers crossed! Scary, funny and poignant. Congratulations!" Judith Partelow, playwright, actress
"What a fabulous, scary, funny reading tonight; so prescient. Thanks for such an entertaining evening. Brilliant! " Lee Bartell, alternative fashion store owner, activist, New York and Provincetown
“This excellent play about an imaginary Fascist regime in Washington D.C. (absurd I know) and its impact on simple folk..is simultaneously prescient, funny, scary and tearful--a great combination.” Neil Silberblatt, founder Voices of Poetry (8000 members)
The Cape Cod Museum of Art production included a stellar group of actors, including Cleo Zani, Anna Botsford, Dennis Cunningham, Kevin Kenneally, Garry Mitchell, Geoff Newton, and Neil Silberblatt. HERE! is directed by Lee Roscoe and produced by Janet Murphy Robertson of ArtistsAndMusicians.org.
More about Impossible?
Reviews and Audience Response to Other Lee Roscoe Plays
The Mooncusser's Tale
"We feel so privileged to have heard The Mooncusser's Tale tonight on WOMR. Exciting, lyrical, spooky, tragic, profound -- and so Cape Cod. The characters were real and well-drawn, the writing beautiful, the actors excellent. Also the pacing and sound effects perfect." June Hager, organizer of Wellfleet Open University, Michael Hager, international lawyer
"Great job! The characters and language were so authentic.The history fascinating. It took me back to another time." Jeff Bumby, retired Wisconsin CEO
"Intelligence, clarity, literacy, integrity..." Bruce Henry, Jesuit archivist, Ottawa
"Last night was so enjoyable, gathering by the radio listening to listen to your play. A great way to spend a Halloween evening. I thought it was very poetic and really captured so much of historical Cape Cod. Everyone sounded real and authentic." Bill Salem, actor. NYC and Provincetown
"A play which keeps me wanting to know what happens next, characters which interest me, and a story which is new!" Ed Maroney, newspaper editor retired
"Terrific! We were spellbound." Larry Minear, author, activist and Beth Minear, weaver
“Bravo! Outstanding work!” Jill Putnam, education expert
“An amazing piece of work!” Bonnie Hiller, best selling children’s author, NYC
“Fabulous.” Kathy Clobridge, political organizer
“Beautifully written, so poetic” Elysse MaGuire, designer, NYC and Chatham
“A brilliant historical Cape Cod mystery seeped in sand and sea. Accompanied by fabulous evocative sound effects” Bethia Brehmer, artist, Wellfleet
“I hadn’t listened to a play on the radio in my life. However,I had listened to baseball games on the radio and enjoyed it so much that I continued that practice from time to time long after tv was in virtually every home in America. My hope was that your play would stimulate my imagination and invoke memories the way the ballgames had. It did that, but to a much grander degree than a simple ball game could. I could see the pictures you were painting of people and community and nature as vividly as I would have walking the pathways of the Cape in those long ago times. In fact, many of the long ago pictures are still very much with us on the Cape to this day. Sitting in our place in Florida where the temperature reached the mid 80s today, it was so nice to be transported back to the Cape in such a wonderful way." Tim Barnicle, retired Government Executive, Florida
"Wonderfully written (I loved the deft language), beautifully acted, and well produced radio play." Neil Silberblatt, founder Voices of Poetry (8,000 members). Neil's review of The Mooncusser's Tale.
More about The Mooncusser's Tale
The Shakespeare Theater Company D.C. calls The Second Coming and CASTLE "Powerful and important theater."
The End of America in the Time of the Fireflies
Finalling it for Yale Drama Series, David Hare found this play "greatly impressive."
Sean David Bennett, playwright, Edward Albee Fellow, (now ex-pat, living in Ireland)
"The End of America is an important play about Americans tormented by a country which has lost its way. Lee’s work is honest, edgy, savage, funny and compassionate. She writes for actors; her plays are like a rich meal for a director because her characters live with us both as archetypes and as unique beings, multi-layered and broad in scope; at once real and larger than life, enveloped in wonderful language and original stagecraft. As a director, it would be a delight to explore them, to see them develop into living beings on stage. I have worked with Lee for a number of years on various projects. She is always a consummate theater professional and working with her is always an enriching experience for me as a director, actor and playwright. This is a unique and necessary voice waiting for discovery."
Political activist Gene Taylore who runs the “Conscience Films” website:
“I think her play The End of America is a masterpiece. It says it all. Getting it produced is the challenge! A powerful and excellent play. It has to hit the theaters!”
Howard Zinn: “I must tell you that I found your play POOR truly impressive. It gets inside the head of a guy who in his one mind and body carries the sickness of our society --and who expresses this in devastatingly real language, nothing artificial about it, as if those words are wrenched from the soul and hurled at us with no shield in the way.”
The late Judith Malina: "This play is brilliant.”
At The Hollow
Sean Bennett, playwright, Edward Albee Fellow: “This play reveals the pain of the human condition in failed love: like watching a flower having its petals picked off, one by one.”
Playwrights Horizons: “Compelling, beautifully rendered with sharply etched characters.”
The Men or Stalking Random Pastels
Tom Wolfson, author, actor, painter: "I really like the impressionistic quality of the piece, the dance quality you spoke of. For me the piece resonates as a depiction of the struggle the artist and many people have to be free, to allow themselves to feel and be passionate, to be the way they really are inside without internally and externally imposed restrictions and oppressions. It is a courageous and ambitious piece.”
It Can't Happen Here
Ed Maroney, long time Editor in Chief, Barnstable Patriot: “All of America should see this play!” Audiences said the same thing.
The Shame of Daniel Shays
Deborah Ullman Co-Director and Senior Editor Gestalt Press: "The Shay’s rebellion play is outstanding! I so enjoyed it and am amazed you've not gotten it into production more. I learned much from it and am wowed at how you turned historic docs into moving storyline.”
Audience member: “An excellent piece with strong relevance today.”
Howard Zinn: “Captivating, authentic, and fair.”
The Second Coming or the God Annals
Michael Kahn said of The Second Coming "Dazzling in its display of linguistic wit; marvelous theatrical sense; rich, evocative, consistently inventive…so well done and thank you! What great theatrical possibilities for a talented director and a daring troupe of actors.”
Avayar Kamari, Living Theatre actress: "It's a magnificent opus, enormously creative, and based on extraordinarily comprehensive scholarship. I see it as a mega-mystery play. It unveils the deep societal dysfunction we've been manifesting overtly since WWII. Art must reflect its time. You have done that, absolutely. I think it is too much for most playwrights, producers and actors to handle, so the usual response is deflecting the pain by retreating into triviality. I had thought to specialize in comedy, feeling that we really need to laugh now. But that's only a band-aid. We need to get the message out. There's little, if any, time. And it will be resisted. Thank you so much for creating this."
Julie Foh, Studio 42: "The passion you have as a writer and for the complex, provocative issues you tackle in this text comes through with bell-like clarity.While I would ultimately like to stretch the bounds of what our audiences can expect from us, I fear this project may be too far too soon.”
Playwrights Horizons: "Amazingly inventive!"
The New Georges: “Epic!”
Playwright Chris King: "A new genre."
Another theater-goer who saw an act at Playwrights Platform, Boston said it was the best thing they had seen there.
Steve Capra, former artistic director Living Theatre, NYC: “I’d like to recommend the playwright Lee Roscoe. I’m familiar with her work and I find it extraordinary. I was very pleased to produce a reading of Poor for The Living Theatre, and I hope I’ll be able to work with one of her plays again. Her scripts are animated and carefully crafted, and, most importantly, they reflect social responsibility. I am sure anyone who takes the time to read her plays will be greatly impressed.”
Anita Waxman, Tony award producer: “You are amazingly talented.”