Entries in Alex Hersler (1)




The Athena Theatre Company has been crafting great theatre for more than a decade. This past January, a group of ten playwrights were chosen by the company as the playwriting group “Athena Writes” and got started on each crafting ten-minute pieces. The results were presented on May 17th at Symphony Space in the Upper West Side, where a sold out, packed audience were able to see what they came up with.

Nora Sørena Casey, Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich, Sari Caine, Veronica Cooper, Alex Hersler, Mateo Moreno, Lia Romeo, Kenzie Ross, Marianna Staroselsky, and Xavier Toby each debuted a short work at Symphony Space on Tuesday night, all based on a common theme: AN UNSEEN VISITOR (also the name of the evening). It was apparent watching these that Athena Theatre excels in their mission to create “contemporary, off-beat and irreverent psychological dramas and dark comedies that challenge traditional stereotypes.”

One standout was Hersler’s ACI which chronicles a dispute between an artist (Tyler Jakes) passionate about his work, and his agent (Lana Young) who has started taking on new and philosophically controversial clients. Artificial Creative Intelligence may already be upon us (there’s already free apps on your phone that basically create art), but Hersler did a stellar job giving a voice to both sides of the debate while Jakes fiercely and Young--with a palpable ambivalence--gave it life.

Lia Romeo’s “Unseen Visitor” brought together an unseen raven flying on our side of the fourth wall and the fear and doubt that sinks into any relationship in her contribution to the night SIGNS. Tom and Kerry are out for a picnic. Sounds lovely. But the couple (well played by Veronique Ory and Perri Yaniv) are plagued by Tom’s ongoing sad obsession with superstition. Simple natural realities and sophisticated coincidences give her an insight that makes her go the other way. Of note here, while we got to see Ory as a sweet girl turn Jersey strong in SIGNS she was equally good as an oddball waitress in PAPER AIRPLANES by Mateo Moreno. The words that came out of Ory’s bizarre but well-meaning waitress made me even me feel like a normal fella.

What drew some of the biggest laughs of the night was Veronica Cooper’s THE BRIGHT SIDE OF KEURIG. Joanie Anderson was on stage alone for this one...or was she? Turns out An Unseen Visitor can lead to existential questions and Anderson does the best job I’ve ever seen at arguing with a coffee maker. And we’ve all seen someone doing exactly that.

Athena Theatre Company and more specifically this Athena Writes Project put a great night together this week. Rumor has it one of these pieces may get the greenlight to become a full-length play, and the group of budding playwrights might work together to make it so. I’ll be a visible visitor that night and can’t wait to see what this talented group comes up with next.

Photos by Nestor Correa.

"ATHENA WRITES 2016" is made up of ten selected  playwright/actors assembled for a one-year exploration of the theme: “An Unseen Visitor,” and is centered on Athena Theatre’s commitment to supporting new work which pushes at the boundaries of live theatre. The Athena Theatre Playwright Group of 2016 is:

Nora Sørena Casey (Athena Theatre Playwright-in-Residence), Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich, Sari Caine, Veronica Cooper, Alex Hersler, Mateo Moreno, Lia Romeo, Kenzie Ross, Marianna Staroselsky and Xavier Toby. For more information about "Athena Writes" and Athena Theatre please visit: http://www.athenatheatre.com/


DEREK JORDEN is an actor currently living and working in New York City. He, his wife, their new little one and their dog all live on a Spaceship on the top of a building, which makes for some interesting dinner parties.