Synopsis: An "Ionesco God of Carnage," The Chess Lesson features three very different parents who have come to take a chess class with their children’s teacher. Four strangers all at a crossroads in their life alone together in a children's classroom have no choice but to examine who they are, and remember who they were and who they thought they'd be. (2W/2M) Free chess lessons were offered onsite. The Chess Lesson was published on IndieTheaterNow.
If you're a performer who's also writing a play, here's a valuable lesson: create a good part for yourself. That's what the delightfully daffy Sari Caine has done in The Chess Lesson, her 65-minute one-act now at IRT. This offbeat performer, who resembles a younger Carol Kane, easily makes audiences guffaw with the antics of her wacky, somewhat unhinged children's teacher, who is trying desperately to impart the basics of playing chess to three less-than-appealing adults. She proves to be both a gifted physical actress, pratfalling immediately upon her entrance to the meticulously designed classroom (created by Slightly Altered States and director Elizabeth Miller), and one who can find emotional truth in everything from the venting of her pent-up sexual frustration to the realization that her dreams have long been deferred.
The Chess Lesson is a delightful and wise comic one-act about indulging in childlike flights of fancy and why we need to do that in the face of sadness or loneliness or bitterness. I recommend it highly.
Martin Denton of nytheatre.com
[A] delightful trope for humankind’s inveterate attempt to understand 'how things came to be.
David Roberts of Theatre Reviews Limited
It's less God of Carnage and... more Step Brothers... moments when the characters behave like adults are gold. They are simple, real-life, human moments that taught me more about who these people are than any of their screwball antics. Isabella: “You swept me off my feet.” // Paul: “I was drunk.” Love it.
Theater Is Easy
[T]he performances that director Elizabeth Miller gets from her cast are filled with intimate emotional details... The Chess Lesson is one of those multifaceted finds that rewards those who bravely search out new plays at small theaters.
Dan Callahan of L Magazine
Ok, so I got up at 3 this morning to write this, to say you have to see The Chess Lesson at the IRT theater, a tiny tiny place for which you have to wait out in the hall before it opens, and please go and wait and go in, and have a glass of wine ( no intermission, so have it NOW or then after, and tell your friends) That's about it: and the dance at the end will either bring tears to your eyes or you perhaps don't get it, and that's ok too. I love it when the highlight of the season, one of them at least, is in a theatre way downtown (154 Christopher, third floor, don't be discouraged, get there), well, get there.
The Thing About Dan
The Cafe Plays are comprised of 3 shorts that require 3 female actors for each one. They can be performed together or alone. The Cafe Plays are based off screwball comedies that have been gender switched over the course of various workshops. Gender roles in screwball comedies emphasize stereotypical male/female behavior. This behavior is taken for granted when it is joined with the “expected” gender; the purpose of these plays is to be able to actually clearly see what is “obvious” behavior that we take for granted by separating the behavior from the gender. It forces the observer to reexamine and question regular gender roles in an entertaining and known format. The setting is purposely simple and can be performed site specifically or in a theater, requiring simply 1 table and 2 or 3 chairs. A live band is encouraged but not necessary. These plays pair excellently with food and drink.
Brunch!: Emily wants Brunch; Harrietta wants to do the crossword. Will their lives ever be the same?
The Three Men Play: Three men with ambiguous identities engage in a life or death power struggle over cups of coffee.
The Proposal: Kitty drinks the same drink at the same table in the same chair every day except this one. When Martina arrives to propose to her girlfriend at the exact site of their first date, she finds Kitty seated there. The two women force each other to examine their habits and desires and what they believe is necessary to love and live.
The Pickle Jar Play, a 10 minute play
Production: Jimmy's No. 43 (2012) Directed by David Rigo
Slightly Altered States Salon Nights featuring music, improv, non-fiction, and short play series.
Synopsis: Robert attempts to extricate himself from his trapped marriage only to find himself trapped in a pickle jar. What traps do we set for ourselves and which do we set for others? (5 people, gender fluid / Short play)
CRYSTAL, a one woman play
Production: 5th annual East Village Theater Festival / OBIE award-winning Metropolitan Playhouse, Director Yvonne Conybeare
The Alphabet City solo performances are unlike any other theatrical experience in their marriage of true-life and performance: derived ... from interviews with local residents, the monologues celebrate the lives and philosophies of current East Village neighbors in their own words, as portrayed by actor/interviewers. This year’s performers are Sari Caine as Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Theater for the New City, Crystal Field.
The Birthday (a short film script) Autistic-inclusive.
On the day of his 89th birthday, a man who has been caring for his two special needs adult children and wife with growing dementia makes a choice that will change everybody's lives.
Zed (a short film script) Autistic-inclusive.
A young teacher struggling in her own life has an encounter with one of her special needs high school students that will change one of their lives forever.
The Seagull (a short film script)
An acting class gone hay-wire. A reclusive famed teacher comes out of retirement to teach 1 workshop. A mysterious man enrolls and is given the part of Trigorin from the classic Trigorin and Nina scene in The Seagull. 1 dead bird, 1 loaded gun, and a tragedy from the past make this workshop one no one could have expected.
Money Shot (Pilot developed with Weekend At Bernie's 2 producer Bill Paul)
Based on a real story. A young film student from a wealthy family suddenly finds himself supporting his parents and younger sister. He becomes a producer and writer for the burgeoning porn industry, which -it being 1980- is still illegal. Money Shot follows Bill as he is thrown into this very real and salacious world of high finance, mobsters, porn stars, sex-drugs-&rocknroll, the behind the scenes writing room of a porn production company, even the CIA. It is also an homage to the now vanished world of NYC in the '80s.
Making It (episodic) Autistic-inclusive. Differently-abled inclusive.
A young woman and her business partner are about to lose their new 20,000 square foot performance venue in NYC that is currently active as a concert, theatrical space, and art gallery and home to over two dozen working artists. The only thing that can save it? Her celebrity mom, from whom she's been estranged for the last ten years.
Articles / Non Fiction
Grammys Are America. And America is Complicated. DMNDR.com
For non-fiction short stories or to read an excerpt of The Boho Girls, Sari's account of traveling cross country visiting intentional communities and New Orleans strip clubs interwoven with historical accounts of 19th century Utopian Societies, please use the contact form.