Astoria playwright to debut three-person production at New York International Fringe Festival

Photo by Darren Cox

An Astoria playwright’s new production is set to take the big stage at the New York International Fringe Festival this week and hopes to keep audiences thinking even after they leave the theater.

Lisa Lewis’ play “SCHOOLED” will celebrate its world premiere on Saturday at FringeNYC, a 16-day festival that presents productions from 200 companies from all over the world throughout 16 venues in the city.

Directed by James Kautz, “SCHOOLED” features only three actors on stage and follows the story of two university students competing for a grant from their professor. The real focus goes beyond the classroom and examines the concepts of privilege and ambition — and delves into what the characters are willing to do in order to succeed.

The 90-minute play, which Lewis began writing in 2011, is loosely based on the environment the Astoria resident experienced while studying at the dramatic writing program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She added that it examines interactions between students and teachers, and among students.

Since she started writing it, Lewis said the play has gone through many changes and has been rewritten, especially after readings with actors in different settings that helped add more to the characters.

"SCHOOLED" stars actors Quentin Maré, Lilli Stein and Stephen Friedrich. (Photo by Darren Cox)
“SCHOOLED” stars actors Quentin Maré, Lilli Stein and Stephen Friedrich. (Photo by Darren Cox)

“It’s just been evolving. I’ve just been grateful to work with great actors along the way,” Lewis said. “I’m a huge fan of the rewriting process. You’re chipping away at the statue until you find the right thing.”

She added that she is very excited to be able to share her play at the festival, which she sees as a great starting point for people’s careers.

She also hopes that after experiencing the play — which explores the politics in a college setting,  economic class conflicts and the differing opportunities for success among characters – audience members will think about their actions and examine the world around them.

“I’m hoping people will come away thinking of those choices that they themselves make and how it affects the community at large,” Lewis said. “And I hope they have fun.”

Lisa Lewis (Photo courtesy of David Gibbs/DARR Publicity)
Lisa Lewis (Photo courtesy of David Gibbs/DARR Publicity)

For Lewis, writing was always a passion and while she started out creating short stories, she saw that getting into the theater world would show her biggest strengths as a writer. She has since been a playwright for about 15 years.

“As I got older, I saw that theater was the best medium that could tell the stories I wanted to tell,” she said.

Lewis is also an essayist who has appeared in The New York Times, ELLE Magazine and other publications. For six years she worked as a story analyst for organizations such as New Line Cinema, Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal at Tribeca Film, and The Weinstein Company.

Lewis is also in the works of creating her next play, “Sex, Friends and Real Estate,” which examines another issue she has seen living in New York City regarding the challenges of buying a home and the affordability of the American Dream.

“SCHOOLED” will be shown at The Robert Moss Theater, located at 440 Lafayette St., on Aug. 15 at 9 p.m., Aug. 18 at 2 p.m., Aug. 20 at 4:45 p.m., Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. and Aug. 27 at 4:45 p.m.

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at FringeNYC.org. For information on the play visit SchooledThePlay.com.


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