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Stephen Adly Guirgis

Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis signing copies of his plays at the Drama Book Shop in New York on April 5, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

On Tuesday, April 5th, the Drama Book Shop, now celebrating its 99th year, welcomed Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis for a discussion and signing of his newly published play, Between Riverside and Crazy by TCG.

Priority admission to the free event was predicated on purchasing one of Mr. Guirgis’ plays, but when I arrived at the Drama Book Shop at 4:30pm, the store was packed.

Bobby Cannavale, Ellen Burstyn, Paola Lázaro-Muñoz and Stephen Adly Guirgis at the Drama Book Shop in New York on April 5, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

Bobby Cannavale, Ellen Burstyn, Paola Lázaro-Muñoz and Stephen Adly Guirgis at the Drama Book Shop in New York on April 5, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

Ellen Burstyn and Bobby Cannavale at the Drama Book Shop in New York on April 5, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

Ellen Burstyn and Bobby Cannavale at the Drama Book Shop in New York on April 5, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

Since there are only 50 seats in the Drama Book Shop’s Arthur Seelen Theatre, those of us who were lucky enough to get in to the standing room only event were treated to an intimate trio of readings by Ellen Burstyn, Bobby Cannavale, Paola Lázaro-Muñoz and Guirgis, of his new work The Untitled/Boxing PlayThe Little Flower of East Orange and Between Riverside and Crazy. Pure theatre magic. The discussion was moderated by playwright and Drama Book Shop Events Manager Steven Carl McCasland, and Guirgis encouraged the audience to ask any question of any of the artists onstage and cited the importance of community among theatre artists.

After the performance and discussion, Guirgis signed copies of his plays for those in a line which spanned the length of the store when I left at 6:15pm.

Stephen Adly Guirgis reads a scene from "Between Riverside and Crazy" with Paola Lázaro-Muñoz at the Drama Book Shop in New York on April 5, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

Stephen Adly Guirgis reads a scene from “Between Riverside and Crazy” with Paola Lázaro-Muñoz at the Drama Book Shop in New York on April 5, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

Between Riverside and Crazy was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama after its world premiere at Atlantic Theatre Company. In Guirgis’ new play, City Hall is demanding more than Pops’ signature, the Landlord wants him out, the liquor store is closed — and the Church won’t leave him alone. For ex-cop & recent widower Walter “Pops” Washington and his recently paroled son Junior, when the struggle to hold on to one of the last great rent stabilized apartments on Riverside Drive collides with old wounds, sketchy new houseguests, and a final ultimatum, it seems the Old Days are dead and gone — after a lifetime living between Riverside and Crazy.

Stephen Adly Guirgis and Bobby Cannavale, who received a Tony nomination for Guirgis' "The Motherf***er with the Hat" at the Drama Book Shop in New York on April 5, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

Stephen Adly Guirgis and Bobby Cannavale, who received a Tony nomination for Guirgis’ “The Motherf***er with the Hat” at the Drama Book Shop in New York on April 5, 2016. Photo by Lia Chang

STEPHEN ADLY GUIRGIS is a member and former co-artistic director of LAByrinth Theater Company. His plays have been produced on five continents and throughout the United States. They include Our Lady of 121st Street (Drama Desk, Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle Best Play Nominations), Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train (Edinburgh Festival Fringe First Award, Barrymore Award, Olivier Nomination for London’s Best New Play), In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings (2007 LA Drama Critics Best Play, Best Writing Award), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (10 best Time Magazine & Entertainment Weekly), and The Little Flower of East Orange (with Ellen Burstyn & Michael Shannon). All five plays were directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman and were originally produced by LAByrinth. His most recent play, The Motherf***er with the Hat (6 Tony nominations, including Best Play), was directed by Anna D. Shapiro and marked his third consecutive world premiere co-production with The Public Theater and LAByrinth. In London, his plays have premiered at The Donmar Warehouse, The Almeida (dir: Rupert Goold), The Hampstead (Robert Delamere), and at The Arts Theater in the West End. Other plays include Den of Thieves, Race Religion Politics, Dominica: The Fat Ugly Ho and the upcoming Untitled/St. Paul play. UK and regional premieres at the Donmar Warehouse (Olivier nom.), the Almeida (dir. Rupert Goold), The Arts Theater in the West End, the Hampstead, Edinburgh (Fringe First Award) and two Midwest premieres at Steppenwolf. New Dramatists alumnus, MCC Playwrights and Ojai Playwrights member. TV writing credits include NBC’s “UC: Undercover,” David Milch’s CBS drama “Big Apple,” “NYPD Blue” and “The Sopranos.” He is currently collaborating with Academy Award nominated director Baz Luhrmann on a Netflix Series The Get Down,  a 13-episode drama about the birth of hip-hop in the 1970s. Part-one of the series will premiere globally Friday, August 12, 2016 at 12:01am PT. Guirgis has received the 2016 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, 2016 Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 2015 Vassallo Award for Outstanding Achievement in Playwriting. Yale Wyndham-Campbell Prize, a PEN/Laura Pels Award, a Whiting Award,  a TCG fellowship and the prestigious 2014 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award. He is also a New Dramatists Alumnae and a member of MCC’s Playwright’s Coalition, The Ojai Playwrights Festival, New River Dramatists, and Labyrinth Theater Company. As an actor, he has appeared in theater, film and television, including roles in Kenneth Lonergan’s film Margaret, Todd Solondz’s Palindromes, Brett C Leonard’s Jailbait opposite Michael Pitt and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman opposite Michael Keaton. A former violence prevention specialist and H.I.V. educator, he lives in New York City.

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