Axial Theatre: Where the Playwrights Come Out at Night
by Rob Seitz
When the sun goes down in the safe haven of Pleasantville, out comes a hint of debauchery and misconduct—but all in good fun: It’s the home of Axial Theatre, housed (though paradoxically) under the protective cloak of St. John’s Episcopal Church on Sunnyside Ave.
Since 1998, aspiring and accomplished actors and playwrights have been working out their real emotions and fantasies under the coaching of actor, director and playwright Howard Meyer, who is also the founder of Axial Theatre, an acting and playwriting school and production company. By day they are office administrators, government bureaucrats, public relations consultants, business writers, and college students. By night, they are all equally engaged in the same playwriting class at Axial --where even a truck driver and retired broadcast journalist come together with the same purpose.
Meyer describes playwriting as, “An archeological dig. You have to keep going down, down, down to get to the meat of it… Writing is not about volume; it’s about being more sinewy,” one of Meyer’s most favorite measurements of good scripting. “This is not likely to surface in the first draft. Reviewing what one writes is very vulnerable, but brave.” This bravery is just what his students need to pull us out of our daily routines. For me, the class gives me the tools I need to one day achieve my modest goal of winning a Pulitzer Prize in Drama.
My classmate, Adam Glatzl of Mt. Kisco, describes his work at Axial as, “one of [his] most joyous experiences. It is a safe place to let go. It is like a gymnasium for the exploration of one’s self”—a most ironic metaphor for a man who quips that he has “muscles made from cardboard.” He’s referencing his day job as a UPS deliveryman. “It allows me to go inward and explore my mind. I can create a story out of whatever I find there, no matter how scary or crazy it may appear to be.”
For a lot of people, Monday is a day that many dread. Not Shelley Lerea of Bedford Hills. “My favorite day of the week is Monday! It’s when I have acting class, which means the world to me.” Lerea, the Member Services Manager at Club Fit, has been studying both acting and playwriting with Axial Theatre since 2008. She confesses that, on occasion: “I have been pushed outside of my comfort zone. I have done risky scenes in class and recently performed a monologue that was racy and edgy. It made me feel confident and skilled enough to perform for an audience and feel good about myself. It was very therapeutic! “Howard pushes people,” she adds. “He is tough, but he is also loving and caring.” For more information about Axial Theatre, visit their website at: www.axialtheatre.org.
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Rob Seitz is a public relations and marketing consultant, as well as a commercial real estate agent living and working in Mamaroneck. He has been studying at Axial Theatre since June 2011. His goal is modest: To win the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. He can be reached at 914-393-6144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.