Short review of Skeleton Crew at the Atlantic Theater

Skeleton Crew, a play at the Atlantic Theater’s Stage 2 in NYC, is a really fine, moving play by  Dominique Morisseau, a playwright whom I was not familiar with before. It concerns four workers in a Detroit auto plant in 2008, when there was a virtual collapse of U.S. manufacturing. The play opens as there is word that a sister factory has just shut down, and before the first act is over, it’s obvious that this factory is being prepared for the chopping block as well.

As the play progresses, we slowly learn about the lives and hopes of four people who work in the factory — Dez (Jason Dirden), an ambitious and angry young man; Reggie (Wendell B. Franklin), who made it from the factory floor into lower management; Shanita (Nikiya Mathis), a soon-to-be single mother who is proud of her work and her independence; and Faye (Lynda Gravatt), a union rep who is nearing her 30-year retirement. The entire action takes place in the break room of the factory and the actors do an incredible job of bringing the characters to life.

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My mother, who saw the play with me, also thought the actors did a splendid job and liked the play; however, she felt the resolution at the end was a bit pat and somewhat forced. I didn’t have that issue; perhaps because I was so caught up in the characters’ problems and conflicts, both external and internal.

I only do occasional reviews of plays and/or books, but in this case, I wanted to promote what I think is a really excellent slice of life about a group of people to whom attention should have been paid. Skeleton Crew runs through February 14th; if you have a chance to see it, I recommend it.

 

I’m going to read at NYRSF!

image01February is almost here, and on Tuesday, February 2nd, I’m going to be doing a reading at the NYRSF Readings series with one of my favorite writers, Richard Bowes.

Rick and I have been part of the same writing group (currently called Tabula Rasa) for a few years now, and he is the author of several excellent novels and short stories, including one of my absolute favorites (and the best 9/11 story written, in my opinion), “There’s a Hole in the City.” Appearing on the same bill with him will be great.

I’m still back and forth about what I’m going to read: Right now, it’s between a maybe-it’s-real-and-maybe-it’s-not story that I recently sold to Mythic Delirium called “The Ladderback Chair” and a science fiction tale that just appeared in Abyss and Apex called “With Triumph Home Unto Her House.” I probably won’t decide until I absolutely have to (the same way I sometimes decide what to eat at a restaurant; wait until the waiter shows up and then pick one).

So come on by if you can. With any luck, at least some of the snow will be gone by then:

NYRSF Readings
Tuesday, February 2nd
Doors open at 6:30 pm; begins about 7 pm
The Brooklyn Commons
388 Atlantic Avenue  (between Hoyt & Bond St.)

 

 

My publication report for 2015

Just thought I’d take a moment — since this is the time of year when writers are looking back to what they did (and, if we’re going to be honest, forward to awards nominations) — to remind folks of the two stories of mine that appeared last year. Both are available online, so if you’d like to read them, they’re easily accessible. Hope you enjoy them.

Sophia’s Legacy
Mythic Delirium
This is part of what I’m coming to think of my series of “Lost Connection” stories — stories about several generations in the lives of two families, one starting in Germany and the other in Russia. This one is about a young girl who learns that she has the power to look back through time in order to help her great-grandmother win an important game.

Of Their Sweet Deaths Are Sweetest Odours Made
Triptych Tales
A standalone about a woman who feels as though her life has been wasted until she meets a strange and somewhat unpleasant man in the park. (And no, this story is not a romance.)

Sold! “The Ladder-Back Chair” to Mythic Delirium

I’m happy to announce that my story “The Ladder-Back Chair” has been officially accepted by Mike Allen’s lovely magazine Mythic Delirium. It will appear in an upcoming issue.

“The Ladder-Back Chair” is sort of — maybe, perhaps — a ghost story, prompted by my memories of my parents’ home (which was sold a little over a year ago when my mother moved to an apartment, and so no longer exists as it was except in those remembrances). It’s the second story I’ve sold to this venue (the first being last year’s “Sophia’s Legacy”) and it’s very exciting to be able to appear there once again.

 

A new short story at Abyss & Apex

with-triumph-home-unto-her-house-illustration-e1450619552581With all the fuss, bother and excitement of CES (the tech trade show that takes up a week of my life each January), I somehow completely neglected a highly important event: The publication of my short story “With Triumph Home Unto Her House” in issue 57 (the first issue of 2016) of Abyss & Apex.

“With Triumph…” is more science fictiony than fantasy; it takes place in a near-future U.S. in which a formerly middle-class woman tries to earn her way back into society after committing the crime of unemployment.

I’m really pleased to have my work appear in Abyss & Apex. It’s now online and available for reading; I hope you enjoy it!

Camera-shy and on camera

I’ve always been camera-shy. It was impressed upon me years ago, when I was a teenager, that I didn’t have the type of features that were considered attractive — or, at the very least, that if I did, they didn’t show up in photos.

Now that I look at some of the photos of me in my 20s, it occurs to me that things really weren’t as bad as I thought at the time. But it was what I did think at the time, and that is what has kept me a writer who only presented herself for photos or videos with some trepidation.

graduate_barbara
Caught off-guard at age 21 wearing my college graduation head-gear.

A few days ago, I actually was able to overcome that shyness somewhat to do a “journalist covers new technology video” for IDG, the company I currently work for. It was quite an experience — both for me and for the poor people who worked with me: the director, a young woman with infinite patience, and the photographer, a young man with equal patience (although he didn’t say much, and I have no idea what he was thinking).

They wanted me to talk to the camera, explain why I thought the product was important. I thought that, at worst, I’d be interviewing the vendor, and wouldn’t have to utter more than a sentence or two at a time. (“And what usership is the focus of your product? Do you think you can compete against, say, Google? )

Instead, I was asked to give my “expert opinion” on why this was an important product, a task that I failed at utterly. I am used to being able to play with a product and then write it up, going back to check an impression or do a bit of research. Asked to describe or pontificate on a product, and I get completely tongue-tied; my entire store of vocabulary dries up.

I was constantly apologizing; for stumbling over words, for saying things like “today” and “currently” (we weren’t supposed to date the video); for forgetting what the product was supposed to be about (and for becoming so flustered I forgot the name of the product itself). “Smile!” the director would constantly remind me. “Be more lively!” Finally, I said, “I’m from Brooklyn — we don’t smile there!” (Obviously not true, but it was all I could think of saying at the time.)

So here’s the result: More of a complement to the talents of the director, the photographer and the editor than to me. I still don’t like the way I look on camera — and I think the way I pronounced my “s” sounds a bit off.

But still, I think it’s rather neat, and thought I’d show it off.

My moment of media glory.
My moment of media glory.