Plainview Playwright Stages Movement

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The “#MeToo” movement is one of the biggest cultural events to occur this decade and, because it’s led to so many famous individuals being caught for their acts of sexual harassment and assault, the world has become more aware of the magnitude of the problem. Even though most of the coverage has been on the major names that are being accused, there are also smaller workplaces that are dealing with situations similar to that.

In Claude Solnik’s new play, Grace Is Good, the audience is placed in the middle of an office that starts its own internal investigation.

“This play isn’t like other ‘Me Too’ stories out there,” said Solnik, a resident of Plainview.

“It’s more about what happens when you think there’s a ‘Me Too’ [story] unfolding around you. How would you react? Who would you help? Would you help? And what is your role? The play looks at how the movement has affected relationships in the workplace.”

The play follows Grace, a young journalist who just landed a job at an aviation publication. The managing editor at the company, Warren, decides to take Grace under his wing and mentor her. Their growing bond raises the suspicions of many co-workers at the business, leading to them trying to find out if there’s more than just a friendship between their boss and the new girl.

“[The audience] doesn’t know if anything really is happening for quite a while,” said Solnik. “It’s about how the co-workers react to the perception of the relationship unfolding around them. These people spend so much time trying to find out what’s going on [in aviation], and then they start trying to find out what’s happening in their workplace.”

Solnik’s play is meant to show that there are layers to every story, especially when it comes to the “Me Too” movement. It goes beyond just those who are accused and the suspected victims of sexual misconduct, but also how those around a situation like that get involved with it and deal with what happens.

“I had the actors over my house for a reading and at the end of the meeting, some of the actors were ready to leave, and I was like ‘Wait, wait, wait, let’s talk about it.’ We ended up having some of the female actors talking about some of the things that have happened to them in the workplace and, as a man, I was pretty shocked. Some of those topics are now part of the play, and are really important parts of the play.”

Arielle Mandelberg stars in the play as Grace while Scott David Reeves, who also directs the play, plays the role of Warren. Other cast members include Atticus Cain, Mike Cesarano, Remy Muloway, Dana Segal and Jillie Simon.

“We sent out an ad online for actors and we got hundreds of replies. We wanted a cast that was reliable and could work together. At the end of all the auditions, [Reeves] handed me headshots and said ‘here’s the cast.’ I think it’s great. The whole group brings something different.”

Grace Is Good performs every Thursday through Sunday until June 17. The play is running at the Cabaret Theater, located at 155 First Ave. in New York City. The venue is part of the “Theater For The New City” institution, which helps new playwrights put their work on stage. Another play by Solnik, A Walk On The Beach, is set to open four days after Grace Is Good closes on June 21 at the same location. For more information and to purchase tickets for either show, visit theaterforthenewcity.net.

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