October 17–November 30
Tim Sanford on Grand Concourse
Grand Concourse is probably the most recognizable place name in the Bronx (next to Yankee Stadium). Built at the turn of the century at the height of the City Beautiful movement, taking fifteen years to construct, its Alsatian architect modelled it on the Champs-Élysée, only on an even grander scale. Yet the Bronx itself, despite gradual improvement, still stands in some people’s minds as a symbol of urban blight. Heidi Schreck’s play, Grand Concourse, evokes both of these associations. Set in a soup kitchen in a church managed by a progressive, secularly-dressed nun, the play depicts the world where idealism and reality meet head on. With only four characters, the play represents a remarkably broad spectrum of players in this struggle.
When I was in middle school, a family friend—I’ll call him Mr. Hornby—asked my parents if he could borrow a thousand dollars. Mr. Hornby had divorced his wife and lost his job and he needed the money to get his car fixed. A thousand bucks was a lot to us—this was the 1980s and my parents were public school teachers saving to send two kids to college—but they scraped it together and gave it to Mr. Hornby, who was genuinely grateful. Then Mr. Hornby got in his Buick, which was not actually broken, and drove eleven hundred miles from our little town in Washington state to Las Vegas, where he lost the money at a blackjack table.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT/DIRECTOR
Visit our show page to read more about Grand Concourse including bios of the creative team!
THE AMERICAN VOICE: WRITING ABOUT THINKING ABOUT GOD
Noticing an upswing of plays on and off Broadway that were written by actors, the New York Times offered that “there are lots of reasons why actors might want to flex new muscles, trying their hand at creating their own characters instead of interpreting ones created by others,” in an editorial that manages to belittle actors, playwrights, and actor-playwrights. “Appearing in plays both good and bad can be a fine apprenticeship in how to write and how not to write a play, at least for actors who can see beyond the limits of their own lines. (And, to be sure, there are many actors who probably never do.)” I can understand how the crossover between acting and writing might seem unusual to someone unfamiliar with making plays; in most fields, one necessarily narrows one’s focus toward a niche. But theater is intensely collaborative, and the best artists have a handle on the entire storytelling mechanism. So it's no surprise that Heidi Schreck’s playwriting reflects the same self-searching, self-deprecating, open-hearted elegance we've seen from her in performance on stages all over New York; Heidi the playwright is the same artist as Heidi the actor.
HELP US FEED THE HUNGRY
The setting of Grand Concourse in a Bronx soup kitchen reminds us that there are more than 2 million New Yorkers facing hunger each year. City Harvest, New York City’s first food rescue program, helps feed over 300,000 people in NYC each week, and they serve over 500 emergency food programs annually. During the run of Grand Concourse, Playwrights Horizons’ staff, artists and audiences will do our part to help by holding a food drive.
Please consider bringing a can, box or bag of non-perishable food when you come to see Grand Concourse. (No glass bottles, please.) Just look for the donation basket in the Sharp Theater lobby. Thank you in advance for your donation!
BACKSTORY: LIFE IS A BANQUET
As she prepared to receive her first sacraments in 1927, Dorothy Day must have seemed an unlikely Catholic. She was thirty years old, unmarried, a new mother, living in a cottage on Staten Island she’d bought with her own money three years earlier when Hollywood bought the film rights for a novel she’d published. Called The Eleventh Virgin, the thinly veiled autobiography chronicled a youthful love affair and an early pregnancy that ended, when Day was twenty-one, with an abortion. (She would later refer to it only as “a very bad book.”) She’d spent her twenties making a living as a journalist, writing for radical Socialist papers including the New York Call, The Masses, and The Liberator. Twice she had been jailed: first in Washington, D.C. for participating in a suffrage demonstration, and later in Chicago on mistaken suspicion of prostitution, for her presence at night in what police deemed a “disorderly house.” (It was, in fact, the headquarters of the Industrial Workers of the World.) Her friends were writers and artists and intellectuals. Her present lover, a biologist who worked in the city but spent his weekends with her at her cottage, was an anarchist and an atheist.
During the run of Grand Concourse, post-performance discussions with the creative team have been scheduled for the following dates:
Wednesday, October 22
Wednesday, October 29
Sunday, November 2 (following matinee)
These discussions are an important aspect of our play development process. We hope you can take part!
$35 for all performances.
30&Under Member tickets are $20; Student Member tickets are $10.
SUBSCRIBERS: Order guest tickets for $45 each when you reserve your own.
FLEXPASS HOLDERS: FlexPass holders may use tickets in your account to bring guests. Add tickets to your account by calling Ticket Central (Noon-8pm daily) at (212) 279-4200. Restrictions apply.
MEMBERS: Order one guest ticket per package per production for $50 when you reserve your own.
YOUNG MEMBERS: One guest ticket may be purchased per production for $35.
We recommend Grand Concourse for those aged 14+.
Go to Plan Your Visit to find out more about directions, parking, and neighborhood discounts!