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Glenda Frank's "The Fourth Estate" at The Cherry Pit, in The 2010 New York International Fringe Festival
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Glenda Frank's "The Fourth Estate" at The Cherry Pit, in The 2010 New York International Fringe Festival

- Backstage with the Playwrights

The 2010 New York International Fringe Festival
www.FringeNYC.org
and
Glenda Frank Productions
Presents:
The Fourth Estate
By Glenda Frank

At The Cherry Pit
155 Bank Street, NYC
866-468-7619

Featuring:
Leanne Barrineau, Aleta Davies,
Dennis Z. Gagomiros, Sarah Kay,
Jaygee Macapugay, Colin McFadden, David Sedgwick

Directed by Rebecca Hengstenberg
Lighting Design: Daniel Winters
Sound Design: Trevor Dallier
Company Representative: Susanna Miller
Venue Director: Nina Sacharow


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 23, 2010


The Rookie, Afghanistan, 2009
Komawoyo, North Korea, 2009
Johnnie Walker Black, St. Louis, Missouri, 2008
Target, Dublin, Ireland, 1996


Glenda Frank presented her new play, The Fourth Estate, at The 2010 New York International Fringe Festival last week, and I was thrilled to see its fourth of five performances at The Cherry Pit, in The Village. Ms. Frank created four sequential scenes, each a unique drama, and each a compelling vignette, relating to the power of courageous, determined journalists, who withstand danger in the quest for uncensored truth. Her characters are authentically drawn, and they perform on this small stage with spare furniture, impassioned personas, and, in one case, a dinner and drinks. The seven actors shift, within one or more vignettes, with an impressive command of the actual historical event they introduce.

The Rookie, with Aleta Davies, as Sally Hensen, and Colin McFadden, as Cal Levy, in 2009 Afghanistan, plumbs the raw conditions of war, with the erratic couplings war generates. Ms. Hensen, a seasoned photographer, and Mr. Levy, a young reporter, share rations, uncertainty, and intimacy to survive. Natural sound effects and nuanced gestures mark the moment with credibility. Komawoyo brings us to a prison camp for accused spies, in 2009 North Korea, where two American journalists, here named Betty (Bong-Cha Kim) and Lee (Liang MaKenzie), are persuasively portrayed by Sarah Kay and Jaygee Macapugay. David Sedgwick and Colin McFadden appear briefly as prison guards. Ms. Kay and Ms. Macapugay carried these roles with powerful dramatization. The invisible wall between their cells, through which they communicated and propped each other up, in the bleakest of surroundings, took on a life of its own. Ms. Frank's dialogue included the physical and psychical bruising incurred through this ordeal.

Johnnie Walker Black abruptly turns the scene to 2008 St. Louis, Missouri, where Phil Ruckman (Dennis Gagomiros) and Joe Bernard (David Sedgwick) are meeting in a steakhouse, with Aleta Davies as the waitress. Real hors d'oeuvres are served, as Mr. Gagomiros portrays an executive of a corporation that's in trouble for polluting the Missouri River, and Mr. Sedgwick is a newspaper executive who might be able to drum up positive publicity. Both Ruckman and Bernard are obvious longtime buddies, with sports and families two common bonds. Bernard is being plied with Scotch and the smell of sizzling steak, but to little avail. A deal is struck, a compromise and a handshake. The final vignette, Target, set in 1996 Dublin, is the most loosely conveyed, with Leanne Barrineau as Valerie Collins, a reporter on crime, and David Sedgwick back onstage as Seamus O'Healy, who debates the treacherous pursuit of a case.

The eight actors were plausible and persuasive, with each vignette seamlessly shuffling to accommodate the next. With further development, scenic projections and enhanced sound might magnify these documented events. Daniel Winters' lighting was appropriately dim, and Trevor Dallier's sound evoked the natural ambiance. Rebecca Hengstenberg directed to maximize the poignancy and import of the four scenarios. Kudos to Glenda Frank.



Aleta Davies and Colin McFadden
in "The Rookie"
Glenda Frank's The Fourth Estate
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Hengstenberg


Aleta Davies and Colin McFadden
in "The Rookie"
Glenda Frank's The Fourth Estate
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Hengstenberg


Sarah Kay and Jaygee Macapugay
in "Komawoyo"
Glenda Frank's The Fourth Estate
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Hengstenberg


Sarah Kay and Jaygee Macapugay
in "Komawoyo"
Glenda Frank's The Fourth Estate
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Hengstenberg


Dennis Gagomiros and David Sedgwick
in "Johnnie Walker Black"
Glenda Frank's The Fourth Estate
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Hengstenberg


Dennis Gagomiros and David Sedgwick
in "Johnnie Walker Black"
Glenda Frank's The Fourth Estate
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Hengstenberg


Leanne Barrineau and David Sedgwick
in "Target"
Glenda Frank's The Fourth Estate
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Hengstenberg


Leanne Barrineau and David Sedgwick
in "Target"
Glenda Frank's The Fourth Estate
Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Hengstenberg





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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net