Pie Lessons Takes us back to a not so unfamiliar time

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I recently saw an off-broadway play called Pie Lessons which was a lot deeper than the title would suggest. One might think it was a lesson in baking (which, at some point it is) or a lesson in math; but it’s much more of a lesson in history and how we prevent it from repeating itself.

Here’s their official press release:

PIES ARE HAPPENING OFF BROADWAY TOO!

 

CARRIE ROBBINS

BROADWAY COSTUME DESIGNER TURNED PLAYWRIGHT

TO DEBUT WORLD PREMIERE PLAY AT FRINGE NYC

 

“PIE LESSONS”

OCT. 25 – Nov. 3

Broadway costume designer turned playwright, Carrie Robbins, will present the world premiere of her latest work, PIE LESSONS, with her production company Days of the Giants, Oct. 25-Nov. 3 as part of THE N.Y. INTERNATIONAL FRINGE FESTIVAL at Metropolitan Playhouse (220A East 4th Street) in Manhattan. PIE LESSONS, directed by Jonathan Cerullo, debuts this fall having previously received a staged-reading last spring at Theater for the New City as part of Crystal Field, Exec. Artistic Director’s Scratch Night. Pie will be served!

Described as a “patriotic and pavlovian tale with pie,” PIE LESSONS – depicts the story of little Gloria Levski who just wants a piece of pie. Not the sliver of pie her dad usually gives her after supper, but a generous, glorious plate-filling piece of pie. However, her father, Mr. Levski is more concerned that his young daughter be motivated and focused on her evening lessons. Mr. Levski, a teacher of political science & history from “the old country”, knows that those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it; and driven for her desire for something sweet – Gloria devours every lesson whole.

PIE LESSONS is a private view into how powerful a grip an immigrant’s background has on a man, and how it shapes his behavior, perhaps even years after he crossed the ocean. PIE LESSONS is served with traditional klezmer music, fresh pie at every performance and a generous dollop of unabashed patriotism that perhaps only a foreigner could muster.

CARRIE ROBBINS (Playwright) is an award-winning artist. In 2012, she received the TDF/Irene Sharaff Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work as a costume designer both off and on Broadway. She is a two-time Tony Award nominee, and has received four Drama Desk Awards, a Maharam, Hewes and LA Dramalogue awards. Most recently, Carrie’s playwriting talents were recognized with an Outstanding Original Short Script nomination from the New York Innovative Theatre Awards for her tale about an ancient dragon – THE DRAGON GRISWYND at Theater for the New City. She is known for her strength & skill of character drawing, which may have presaged her interest in character writing.  Additional details available at www.carrierobbinsdesignageinc.com.

The cast of PIE LESSONS includes: Alyssa Marvin (School of Rock, Annie), Robert Meksin (The Canterville Ghost), and Jenne Vath (Galas, Small Craft Warnings). 

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased available at: https://fringenyc.org/basic_page.php?venue=3

FRINGE NYC has been the launching pad for numerous Off-Broadway and Broadway transfers, long-running downtown hits, and regional theater productions including Urinetown, Matt & Ben, Never Swim Alone, The Jammer, Debbie Does Dallas, Dog Sees God, Brandon Teena, Dixie’s Tupperware Party, 21 Dog Years, The Irish Curse, Jurassic Park, The Fartiste, Silence! The Musical and 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche.

FringeNYC alumni include Bradley Cooper, Melissa Rauch (Big Bang Theory), Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me, CNN’s Inside Man),Mindy Kaling, Tony Award winner Diane Paulus (Pippin), Alex Timbers (Rocky), Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) and countless other success stories.

The New York International Fringe Festival now includes both a FringeNYC and FringeBYOV segment, and features the tagline indie | united – in recognition of the formation of both a FringeNYC Alumni Association and a marketing co-op for NYC indie performance. Additional information about these new projects will be forthcoming via this website.  The NEW York International Fringe Festival is a production of The Present Theatre Company, Inc.under the leadership of Producing Artistic Director Elena K. Holy.

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Yes, Pie was indeed served before the doors of the theater opened and, yes, it was delicious. More importantly, during the performance lessons were served in a most entertaining way. Alyssa Emily Marvin is delightful as the curious pre-teen who respectfully and dutifully caries out her father’s wishes by concentrating on her studies every night after school. She may not fully understand why he’s impressing all of this on her but as time goes on she begins to appreciate it more and I think she begins to realize he has many reasons motivating him to motivate her to continue to remember her history.

Robert Meksin’s performance as Mr Levski (the father) impressed on me the importance of knowing our history (which, these days, seems to be a common theme in much of our art. It’s sad that we are in these times but thank goodness for the artists who continue to address it all.) While the character never shares in detail why his daughter needs to know about the horrible parts of our history, he delivers haunting moments where you can see his memories are consuming him and his fears arise.

Jenne Vath delivers a most excellent example of a mom during the time the play is set (late 1950’s to early 1960’s) in Mrs Levski. She conveyed the perfect amount of quiet support, motherly nourishing, and superior strength mothers posses and possessed even when they had to do so behind the scenes.

I saw Pie Lessons at the end of this run but if and when it comes back or comes to a theater near you, I would suggest picking up a ticket, enjoying a great piece of pie, and reminding yourself why we all need to keep the history lessons going.

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