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Brookside Writer Laura Cohen Debuts New Play


Laura Cohen, a Brookside resident, professional writer and longtime member of the Ebell of Los Angeles, was inspired by the club’s launch of its Playwright Prize two years ago to try her hand at writing for the stage. Her first full-length play, Worldly Possessions, was a finalist in the first Ebell contest and was also workshopped this summer at Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon. “That was a great experience!” she says.  (And, we might add, not bad for a first-time playwright.)

lauracohencropA few months ago, energized by her new pursuits, Cohen joined the Neo Ensemble Theatre, based at the Lounge Theatre on Santa Monica Blvd. The group had just launched a new writer’s division under its new artistic director, Paul Elliott, whom Cohen knew from an old association with another theater company.  As the writers group got rolling, Elliott asked the the members to submit 10-minute sketches that take place in an airport.  He received 26 entries…including one from Cohen titled “‘Til Flight Do Us Part,” about a couple returning from a vacation and confronting the end of their marriage.  Cohen’s piece was eventually one of ten selected for production in a collective show called Airport Encounters, which will debut at the Lounge on September 30.

Altogether, including Cohen’s segment (which will be her first produced play), the show has 10 stories, eight writers and two directors (each of them handling five of the 10 vignettes), which sounds like a lot to manage for a new theater company.  But Artistic Director Elliott said in a recent press release that it was a challenge he welcomed. “With all of Neo’s growth and excitement, the Neo board and I chose Airport Encounters as our first production because we wanted to utilize the talents of the entire company. This show does that.” Director Richard Pierce – who directed Cohen’s segment – agreed, saying “What better setting is there to explore stories and relationships where the full spectrum of emotions is on display.”

Cohen said Pierce “has held more than 24 hours of rehearsals on my piece alone – and surely as many have been held for the other pieces. In fact, I went to one yesterday and there are still a couple more before rehearsals of the full show start later this week. The dedication is just mind-blowing. There are two actors, Bob Telford and Marina Palmier, who, with the director, have found layers in this brief piece I didn’t even know were in there. It’s been a true collaboration.”

The only frustration for Cohen is the fact that she will actually be out of town for the play’s entire September 30-October 16 run…and will only get to see it in performance if it’s so popular that it gets held over for a fourth week.

The 10 stories told in the show include:

CONNECTIONS (written by Jessica Mathews): A neurotic accountant’s surprise encounter with the actress he idolizes is interrupted when a puzzling black duffle bag is left in their midst.
TERMINAL SITUATION (Larry Gene Fortin): Mama and Shirl are flying to a funeral…if they can survive each other’s company.
BORDER TOWNS (Starina Johnson): A woman struggling with a tough diagnosis meets a stranger who has surprising advice.
THE STATISTICIAN (Beth Polsky): An obsessive/compulsive mathematician must face his inner demons at the airport.
THERAPY DOG (Scott Mullen): When a nervous flyer meets the airport’s therapy dog, it goes in a direction he doesn’t expect.
SIMPLE AIR (Nancy Van Iderstine): As an Amish couple prepares to board an airplane for the first time, an outrageous secret is revealed that could turn their lives upside-down.
STUCK (Scott Mullen): A young waitress’s life changes when she meets a peculiar stranger who has been living in the airport.
‘TIL FLIGHT DO US PART (Laura Huntt Foti): A couple attempts to hold their strained marriage together after a very rocky second honeymoon.
THE TEST (Rom Watson): A college student’s questions about his sexuality may be answered by taking “The Test.”
MEAD AND STU AT THE AIRPORT (Rom Watson): Two airport janitor’s friendship is challenged when one has an epiphany that he is genetically altered.

“Neo has a renowned history in doing plays that examine the human condition through comedy,” Elliott said. “And nowhere are there more stories thrown into one space than an airport. This show is truly a laugh-out-loud comedy, with some drama, that also shows how a group of talented writers can develop individual stories that work together to create a whole.”

And if enough of you go to see it, it’s possible they’d extend the run…and then Cohen could see it too.

The Lounge Theatre
6201 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

General Admission: $15 (in advance), $20 (at the door)
Senior Citizens: $12



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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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