The New Dramatists is a center that offers seven-year long residencies to playwrights, giving them the time, space and resources to write plays in which they have complete creative authority, allowing them to continue with their own artistic growth.
Since 1949, in a former church, the New Dramatists has served more than 600 playwrights, among them sixteen Pulitzer Prize winners and twenty-four Tony award winners. During their time at the New Dramatists, resident playwrights participate in The Playwrights' Lab and associated programs that give them an opportunity to develop their own work through a series of readings and workshops. As executive director, Joel Ruark corroborates, telling us "the most valuable thing they get is one another."
A rotating committee chooses the residents every year to ensure fresh perspectives. The entire operation is grant-and philanthropy-funded, letting playwrights focus on developing their craft. This approach has won the organization an honorary Tony Award and renown to spare.
Ezrath Israel was originally established as a Jewish Community Center in 1917 by the West Side Hebrew Relief Association, a group of Orthodox Jewish shop owners. The area was known for its busy steamship ports, however, the entertainment business eventually became one of the biggest industries in this part of town. As show business grew, so did the number of congregants, and it became the place of worship for many prominent actors and performers, including Sophie Tucker and Shelley Winters. The Actors Temple continued to thrive until shortly after WWII when people in the industry began journeying across the country to Hollywood. The synagogue then found its membership slowly decreasing. By 2005, there were only twelve members left in the congregation. A year later, when Jill Hausman became the rabbi, she found herself resuscitating what had once been a proud shul. Rabbi Hausman was pleased to report to us that in the eight years that she has been there, membership has increased to about 150, a marked improvement. Still, she has hope that the Actor's Temple will continue to grow. "We are a well-kept secret, " she says, "but we don't need to be. " To help maintain the synagogue, the sanctuary is shared with an Off Broadway theater company that performs on their "stage, " just a few feet in front of their sacred arc and collection of eleven torahs. Today, Rabbi Hausman welcomes all denominations of Judaism, even those who are "on the fringes of society. " She is a warm, sweet, bright woman who not only has her door open to everyone, but her heart as well. She emphasizes the importance of love and acceptance in her sermons and is adamant that the Actors Temple is a "no-guilt synagogue. " People should come if they feel compelled to pray – Rabbi Hausman's only goal is to have them leave with a desire to return.
While traffic is streaming in and out from the Lincoln Tunnel and the Port Authority, a striking structure emerges on the west side of 41st between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. This imposing Roman Catholic church serves as New York's Croatian-American parish. It was built in 1902 to serve the Irish Catholics of Hell's Kitchen, and 1974 saw a merging of nearby parishes to create the current configuration. In this sparser side of the city, the church emerges as a breathtaking find, casting quite the shadow with its powerful twin spires and gray stone. It is a beauty to behold and an ideal way to end my walk.
Now an AMC movie theater, this building was born in 1912 as the Eltinge 42nd Street Theater, named for the highly acclaimed actor of the time, Julian Eltinge. When hard times hit during the Depression, the theater entered the salacious world of burlesque and ultimately the perhaps tawdrier world of cinema. In 1954, the theater was renamed Empire Theatre, giving it recognition once again. Due to the decline of the area, the theater continued to face opposition as a "second-run movie house, " and was ultimately closed in the 1980s. Because of its New York City Landmark status, however, when real estate mogul Bruce Ratner began implementing his plans for a large redevelopment project in 1998, he was essentially forced to move the building, in tact, seventy feet to the west. Today, the elaborate Egyptian decor remains inside a mega cinema complex with almost 5, 000 seats.
Inside an historic brick building that dates back to 1859, the Actors Studio is a bastion and celebration of every aspect of the theater. Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford, and Robert Lewis founded the organization in 1947 as a place for actors to hone their skills together. Based on the observation that actors are often either typecast into roles they play in hits, or left out in the cold when they are associated with flops, the Actors Studio is a safe haven where members are encouraged to experiment with their craft and to delve into new areas. For some thirty years, Lee Strasberg, the father of Method Acting, was in command. Over the years, the studio has produced some of the country's most iconic actors – among them James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Al Pacino (who is now at the helm alongside Harvey Keitel and Ellen Burstyn). The Actors Studio is just that – a studio. Members come in for sessions where they can perform scenes and receive comments from other members, as well as guidance from the session's moderator. As one might imagine, the Studio has quite a bit of cachet among the New York acting community. Since its inception, it has expanded to other roles, offering acting MFA courses of study in conjunction with Pace University (previously with the New School) and hosting the show "Inside the Actors Studio, " with James Lipton, exploring thespian subjects with actors, playwrights, directors and other artists. For almost seventy years now, the Actors Studio has inspired and revolutionized acting methods. Living as it is on the same block as the New Dramatists, the artistic passion is palpable.
I can attest to the immediate success of Carmine's on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the early nineties as my family and friends stood on the lines to get in on a number of occasions. Owner Artie Cutler's concept of serving large, family-style portions to guests, in a warm, friendly atmosphere connected with diners immediately. It did not take Mr. Cutler long to realize that he had a success on his hands and that it was time for expansion. In 1992, the theater district had another hit in Times Square, in the form of a grand, traditional Italian restaurant.
Teddy Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, and Charles Lindberg are among the noteworthy clients that E. B. Meyorwitz & Dell has been crafting “made-to-measure” frames for since 1875. Today, be it in their New York, London or Paris shops, one can still be fitted for a pair of the same classy, high quality spectacles.