When playwright Kimberly Rosenstock DRA ’10 first got an agent, she gave him two plays to send to potential producers. The first was a piece called “99 Ways to F*** a Swan” and featured a large cast and scenes set in Ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, Victorian England and modern-day Manhattan.
Though this extravagant and ambitious piece did not interest theaters, producers were intrigued by Rosenstock’s voice and wanted to hear more about her other work, “Tigers Be Still,” which earned her admission to the Yale School of Drama three years ago.
Now, this play has become Rosenstock’s ticket out of graduate school and into the real world of New York theater.
The prominent Roundabout Theatre Company announced last week that they will produce “Tigers Be Still” next fall as part of an initiative promoting the works of up and coming theater artists.
“ ‘Tigers Be Still’ simply stood out as a fantastically original play that finds frank, hilarious ways of looking at an often sad world,” wrote Roundabout Artistic Director Todd Haimes on the theater’s Web site.
Rosenstock said she is still in disbelief that her play has been selected by the prestigious theater.
“It’s amazing and incredible that when I go back to New York it will fully be as a playwright,” Rosenstock said. “I get to see my play fully realized and embodied and designed.”
The play, loosely based on events from Rosenstock’s early 20s, is about a young woman who recently graduated with an MFA in art therapy. Unable to find a job in her field of study, she returns home and takes a job as a substitute teacher. She lives with her mother who, due to personal issues, hasn’t left her room in months.
The mother’s character never appears on stage; all interactions with her, such as telephone conversations, are presented exclusively from the daughter’s perspective.
“It was my way of sort of dealing with everything,” Rosenstock said and added that the mother in the play was inspired by her own mother — a well-liked elementary school art teacher who was forced into retirement in her early 50s because of an unidentified disease.
Through her work, Rosenstock said she tries to explore how people deal with loved ones who are experiencing a personal crisis and are inconsolable.
She added, however, that “Tigers Be Still” isn’t entirely without humor: The play’s secondary characters include the protagonist’s sister who has taken to the bottle after being dumped by her fiancée for his podiatrist, and a gun-wielding teacher who is trying to protect the school from a tiger on the loose in town.
“I love a Greek tragedy, but I also love to laugh” Rosenstock said.
One of the keys to her development as a playwright, she said, has been her experiences over the past three years at the School of Drama where student playwrights have the opportunity to see their works on stage at least once a year if not more often.
“Playwrights have significant opportunities to see their plays in production in the school and at the Yale Cabaret, where students make all of the programming and production decisions,” said James Bundy DRA ’95, dean of the School of Drama and artistic director of the Yale Repertory Theatre. “We’re thrilled for Kimberly — the visibility of a New York production by a major nonprofit theatre is a wonderful opportunity for her.”
Michael Mitnick DRA ’10, one of the two other third-year playwriting students at the school and a close personal friend of Rosenstock, said there are few writers who are categorized as “emerging” that deserve the honor more than she does.
“Kim’s way of writing makes you see the world in a new way and she does it with such a light touch,” Mitnick said.
Roundabout selected the play after a January reading of the work. This coming fall’s production will be directed by Sam Gold, who received glowing reviews for his production of “The Circle Mirror Transformation” at Playwrights Horizons last fall.
Rosenstock will also participate in the upcoming Carlotta Festival of New Plays at Yale in May where she will present her senior thesis work “Every Other Hamlet in the Universe.”