Kim Rosenstock DRA ’10 just recently started decorating the walls of her New York apartment, even though she’s been living there since July.
That’s because Rosenstock has been preoccupied with the New York opening of her play, “Tigers Be Still.” The play, which is being produced by the prominent Roundabout Theatre Company, opened on Oct. 5 and has received a warm reception from theater critics of many major publications, including the New York Times. The show’s run has since been extended by a week, allowing for seven additional performances that end on Nov. 28. And already, many of the shows have nearly sold out.
The play, which Rosenstock said is loosely based on events from her early 20s, is about a young woman named Sherry Wickman who, after graduating with an MFA in art therapy, becomes a middle school art teacher. The show is being produced as part of Roundabout’s Underground series, an initiative dedicated to producing shows by emerging playwrights. Jill Rafson, the associate producer for “Tigers Be Still,” said Roundabout chose the play because of Rosenstock’s unique voice. The theater decided to produce “Tigers Be Still” in February of this year.
“As soon as you read it, you knew the next time you read a play from Kim, you’d know who the playwright was,” Rafson said, who cited Rosenstock’s innovative use of direct address as one stylistic element that distinguished her work.
Charles Isherwood, a notoriously tough theater critic for the New York Times, picked up on this characteristic in Rosenstock’s work when he reviewed the “quirk-addicted but heartfelt comedy,” as he put it. Isherwood gave the play, its director and its actors an overall positive review, as did critics from Variety, Backstage and other major publications.
Professor Donald Margulies, whose play “Time Stands Still” currently appears alongside “Tigers Be Still” on the Critics’ Picks list on the Times’ website, got to know Rosenstock when she was a teaching assistant for his playwriting class. He commended the “remarkable absence of cynicism” in Rosenstock’s play, saying that her writing demonstrates both a high level of skill and a large amount of compassion for her characters.
Margulies added that one cannot underestimate the impact a good review can have, especially on a show by a young playwright.
“[Isherwood] gave her a very respectful, welcoming review, which is not something a young playwright always gets,” Margulies said. “I can speak from experience.”
Rosenstock said she had pledged not to read the review at all. But at the opening night cast part following the show, after her karaoke performance was interrupted by congratulatory e-mails and phone calls, she decided to see what all the buzz was about. Later that night, she purchased her first print copy of the New York Times from a corner grocery store.
Rosenstock said she was “touched” by Isherwood’s description of her main character Sherry and how well it mirrored the way Rosenstock thought about the character as well.
“It’s not something I thought everyone would get,” Rosenstock said. “I was worried that I had just had a long therapy session with a Word document, so the fact that I was reading these words from a critic who’s pretty harsh on new plays and playwrights really hit me.”
Margulies said that from his perspective, the play seemed like it had been “very capably and very lovingly produced” by the creative team lead by director Sam Gold.
Associate Producer Josh Fiedler, who has worked with several other young playwrights through the Underground Series, echoed Margulies’ sentiments, adding that the relationship between playwright and director was particularly strong in this production.
“Kim and Sam Gold, the director, had a perfect marriage,” Fiedler said.
Fiedler and Rafson said that the positive responses of critics and audiences led to Roundabout’s recent announcement that the show would run for an extra week. Rosenstock noted that this extension was tentatively on the schedule from the beginning of rehearsals.
After the show closes, Rosenstock said she hopes to spend some time writing a new play funded by a commission from the Roundabout Theatre, which is part of Roundabout’s continuing commitment to the playwrights whose work is produced through its Underground series, Rafson said.
“We’re already beginning to see the fruits of the commissions of some of the first Underground writers, so hopefully Kim will jut continue that trend,” Rafson said. “We’re eager to see what she writes next.”
One of her other plays, “99 Ways to F— a Swan,” is being produced by two separate theaters on the West Coast. She is also in the process of developing a musical with two of her classmates from the School of Drama.