Diamond Lil, Queen of the Bowery

by LindaAnn Loschiavo, Dramatist

My entire childhood was influenced by The Arts.

Even before I entered first grade, I worried that I could never oil paint as well as my grandfather nor sketch as quickly and delightfully as my aunt much less compete with those framed masterpieces hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art where my parents would take me on Sunday. My grandfather had painted a wide landscape that my grandmother hung at the base of the stairs, so I felt like I was walking into it. It was supposed to be Dante’s encounter with Beatrice. My aunts explained that it was Paradise and Dante could not actually touch her. That was confusing because the bridges looked like Venice, not Heaven. Anyway I suspected my small portion of talent wouldn’t take me too far.

From the age of 2 years old, I was listening to opera and, more importantly, the loud arguments over who had sung each aria the best, which conductor interpreted the narrative most faithfully, who had received more encores during a farewell performance. My grandmother, who had met Enrico Caruso in person, often won the arguments. I adored opera, too, but felt ashamed that my voice would never be greeted with the cheers and foot stomping that made paint flake from the ceiling.

From the age of 4 years old, I was taken to Broadway musicals. Even as I felt privileged to be sitting in the orchestra section, reading my Playbill by the beam of the courtesy seat light, I suspected I could never belt out a song like Ethel Merman nor dance like Gwen Verdon. Poor me, not good enough.

Surrounded by the best ARTS BUFFET Manhattan had to offer, what little corner could I slice off as my portion? Writing seemed to be the answer. Even as a child, I had the ability to dash off effective complaint letters, so my family gave me that responsibility. I branched out into greeting cards, doing a watercolor design on the front and writing a poem inside. Then I wrote sonnets for class projects, which merited a star and got pinned up. My parents refused to buy a home encyclopedia, which forced me into the library every Wednesday; I’d borrow seven books, read one a day, and resume the cycle the following Wednesday. The librarians showed me where the published plays were kept. It was fun to memorize dramatic scenes and recite these for my family after supper.

After reading the novel “Little Women” and discussing it with the librarians, I was annoyed that very few of my classmates were familiar with this classic. I decided to dramatize part of the book to make it come alive. “New Little Women” became my first one-act play. The four March sisters (Meg, Amy, Beth, and feisty Jo) and their mother Marmee were the cast and I typed each copy of the script on my manual typewriter. Each “actress” had to promise to rehearse and, more importantly, swear on her life not to lose the script. Since my aunts worked in the garment industry, they had leftover velveteen fabric to make five long skirts and I borrowed the “scenery”: an old rocking chair. My 50-minute play, produced in Brooklyn, NY, ran for close to 18 months. What a lovely sound: the applause of a roomful of attentive strangers.

My most recent play “Diamond Lil, Queen of the Bowery” (runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes) had a simple set (1 stool, 2 chairs, and a small table), and a cast of eight. Set in 1895, this was easy to costume: long skirts and corsets for the actresses, derbies, bowties, and shirt garters for the actors. My drama ran in Manhattan on West 46th Street from August 17th, 2013 – – November 24th, 2013.

My appetite for the arts continues. My latest book has a section on opera before the Civil War and I attend the theatre
2 -3 times a week. Blame it on Broadway biting me when I was a wide-eyed child.

“Diamond Lil” was entered into NYC’s Fringe Festival.

First Online With Fran: 7,388 Views

First Online With Fran is endorsed by the African American Playwrights Exchange!

ff12_katori_hall[1]Friday, February 22, 2013
Cherry Lane Theatre playwright mentoring program (NYC)

Katori Hall

First Online With Fran is a TV talk show dedicated solely to arts advocacy as a means to raise sustainable national attention to the Arts. Hosted by Frances McGarry, the pilot episode features an interview with Angelina Fiordellisi, Artistic Director and Founder of the renowned Cherry Lane Theatre in NYC. It’s worth a watch for a couple of reasons because 1) playwright Katori Hall gets a plug, 2) you get to meet the person behind the playwright mentoring program, and 3) it helps support Ms. McGarry’s goal of creating the first TV talk show dedicated solely to arts advocacy– and us.

First Online With Fran Pilot Episode

The pilot episode of First Online With Fran with featured guest, Angelina Fiordellisi is posted on The Cherry Lane Theatre’s website. Take a look and learn more about The 15th Anniversary of The Mentor Project…

Pilot Episode: First Online With Fran with Angelina Fiordellisi

“I think that one of our greatest responsibilities as theater providers,” asserts Angelina Fiordellisi, “is to sensitize the tribe . . . deepening our primal connections, our primal needs, our primal impulses and what Shakespeare calls ‘holding the mirror up to society’.” This poignant insight is particularly significant since the tragic course of events this past week in Newtown, Connecticut.

On November 19th, 2012 First Online With Fran featured Artistic Director and founder of the Cherry Lane Theatre, Angelina Fiordellisi. Listen to her reflect on the work at the Cherry Lane Theatre, most notably the 2013 Mentor Project, among others, and how they contribute to cultivating an urban artist colony, honor its ground-breaking heritage, create theater that illuminates contemporary issues and transforms the human spirit.

First Online With Fran was shot and edited by The New York Film Shop, Andrea Bertola, Artistic Director.

SUBSCRIBE NOW: http://www.youtube.com/user/FrancesMcgarry

John Chatterton Presents…

Short Play Lab Program A
Saturday, October 27, 2012 through Sunday, October 28, 2012

Good things come in small packages!  I will be performing in THE REASON FOR PLAY written by Lavinia Roberts.

Length: 2 hrs 00 mins
Intermission: None
Seating: General Admission
You choose your seats when you get to the theater.

Program A: Sat. at 7 pm and Sun. at 4 pm
A VIRGIN’S TALE Written and directed by Michael Ray Robinov. Starring Michael Ray Robinov & Anina von Haeften. When Will’s goal to lose his virginity comes true, it is not at all how he expected… in a soccer goal, in the middle of a cold night and with a condom full of doubts!
ORNAMENT by Lawrence Schwabacher, starring Sharlene Hartman&Roger Davis. What happens when your creation comes back demand something from you?
KOALAS FROM DENMARK written & directed by Christy Bunner. Starring Tom Burka, Subhash Mandal and Melisa Annis. Academic philosophy can be so..violent.
ALICE AND BILL written and directed by Paul Marx. Starring Jeannette Marx, Paul Marx, and Carlos Cardenas. The wife wants the X-rated photos taken down. The husband wants them up. They argue until….
THE REASON FOR PLAY written by Lavinia Roberts. Directed by Evan F. Caccioppoli.
LITTLE DONKEYS AND ELEPHANTS by Johnathan Joy. Directed by Tressa Preston. Starring Tressa Preston & Michael Thomas. A political Christmas comedy that shows two kids puppeting the conservative and liberal ideas of their parents while creating a Christmas wish list for Santa.
LOVE LABOR LOST written by Steve Becker. It’s Valentine’s Day and Cupido has a problem.
DEADLY HABITS written by Kevin Lasenberry
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE written by Peter Kapsales, directed by Tom Thornton. A misguided playwright devises a plot loaded with absurd characters that assures universal acceptance of his play.
AMATEUR VIDEO Written by JE Phelan.

Here is the link to buy tickets for Saturday/Sunday: