Hygienic Theaterwerks debuts with Michael R. McGuire's edgy new drama

Most developmental theaters have certain lofty goals for plays.

Meaning regional theater, national tour, or - God and producers willing - Broadway.

But, realistically, most dramas will never make it all the way to a big tour or the Great White Way.

A fresh program at the Hygienic is taking what founder James Stidfole describes as a longer view. What the Hygienic Theaterwerks production company is doing is giving local writers a little help toward getting their plays into script catalogs used by community theaters and schools.

"I know that every high school drama coach and every community theater group in the country is pawing through Samuel French and Pioneer catalogs, hunting for something to do. Because there are only so many times you can do 'The Odd Couple' or 'The Sunshine Boys,'" Stidfole says.

If they decide to do one of the plays, they pay the play-publishing-catalog company, and the writers get a portion of those profits.

Stidfole says that, in general, for a play to be submitted for consideration for a catalog, it needs to have had a full production and to present the stage manager's run script, with all the lighting cues, sounds cues and prop lists.

"It's like, wow, if we do real productions and hand the playwrights these tools - now, of course, it's up the playwrights to follow through - but at least they now have the tools," Stidfole says.

Hygienic Theaterwerks thus plans to start regularly producing quality and perhaps edgy works by regional playwrights.

First up is Michael R. McGuire's "Heartbreaker," which is being staged tonight and tomorrow at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford. (This isn't an O'Neill production; Hygienic Theaterwerks is renting the space.)

"Heartbreaker" is set in a strip club - the publicity for it is clear that it's rated R and contains topless nudity. Its thought-provoking plotline is loosely inspired by the Duke University lacrosse team incident of 2006. Two African-American strippers from a strip club are hired for a frat party, leading to an accusation of rape and a firestorm of controversy.

"The thing that interested me about that was that it hit all the hot points in American culture of sex and race and class. They were all there in that one story," McGuire says.

It was interesting, too, in the sense that there was more going on than it first seemed.

As for the Hygienic Theaterwerks' efforts of helping locally written dramas find their way into catalogs, McGuire says, "It's great to get it in a catalog. I have plays that are in catalogs, and they do generate some money but not that much. It's more exciting just to get it in front of an audience."

It's not only that, he says, but also having a new play get a full production, not just a reading.

"Heartbreaker" - which was a semi-finalist for the O'Neill's National Playwrights Conference - drew the interest of Sarah Coleman, who is directing the piece and is Hygienic Theaterwerks' artistic director. She first worked with McGuire on the Hygienic's 24-hour play project last year, and then staged his "Bad Boys" at the Golden Street Gallery.

While Coleman is an actress - she worked as one in L.A. from 2000 to 2008 - she has studied directing before with her mentor, Oscar-nominated actress Lindsay Crouse. With the 24-hour project, she began pursuing more directing.

She has pulled together a cast primarily from New York City


After winning an online casting contest on the film's Facebook page, actor and Back Stage reader Leonard Dozier has joined the star-studded cast of the animated film "Dorothy of Oz," a CG sequel to "The Wizard of Oz" starring Lea Michele ("Glee") as Dorothy.

Read full interview


"Herald Loomis, played by Leonard Dozier in what may be considered as one of the most harrowing performances of the season". Quote from excellent review of Joe Turner's Come and Gone starring Leonard Dozier. Read full review

IT'S OFFICIAL! Leonard Dozier will be joining the cast of Lea Michele, Hugh Dancy, Megan Hilty, Jim Belushi, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, Oliver Platt and Patrick Stewart with new music by Bryan Adams in the new 3D, CG animated film "DOROTHY OF OZ" due out next year worldwide. The producers campaigned all over the world for actors and he was selected based on his audition.The film is due out next year. Stay tuned for the behind the scenes footage and Leonard at work in the film. Thanks for all the support.

About Dorothy of Oz

DOROTHY OF OZ is an animated musical feature-film, based on one of the world’s most popular and beloved fairy tales, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum, and the further adventure books written by his great-grandson, Roger S. Baum. Produced with state-of-the-art computer graphics and the latest 3D stereoscopic techniques for animation, this latest chapter in the... Oz legacy will be entertaining to a whole new generation of fans.

The plot begins as Dorothy returns to Kansas to find it devastated by the tornado that sent her to Oz. Before she can react to the destruction of her home, she is transported back to Oz, where her three friends (Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man) have disappeared. She meets a charming man made of marshmallows who can’t quite think for himself, a tiny china doll princess whose bossiness is a cover for her fragility, and a tugboat with as many personalities as he has pieces. Dorothy must help this group band together against the Jester, a wicked new villain who believes that all of Oz should be under his control.

From the newsroom

24 May 2019
Leonard Dozier
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