Description: After a late night visit from a pregnant and anxious Lily, Angelica, recovering from an emotionally crippling still-birth, finds herself lactating, but without child; meanwhile her stay-at-home husband, Hank, struggles to make sense of a potentially vile rumor about his best friend Izzy.
First Produced: 2013
Date Added: 9/22/2013
Content Advisory: Nudity, strong language, drug use
Art and Artists ·
Social Issues ·
Drug Use and Abuse ·
Characters are Mostly Married/With Families ·
Gender Identity ·
Small Cast Size
2 Acts, 120 Minutes
2 Females, 2 Males
Carroll Gardens Aborning is fully protected by copyright law and is subject to royalty. All inquiries concerning production, publication, reprinting or use of this play in any form should be addressed to Rochelle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Author:
Playwright's Note (Included in the program):
"This might be the last play I ever write. No, seriously. Or maybe not. It’s too hard to tell; I really don’t know! The truth is, heart-breaking, terrifying, and wonderful, I’m not sure it matters as much anymore. It’s difficult to explain, but. Being a parent is really hard! And colossally rewarding, at the same time. And maybe things (dreams, goals, personal enjoyment!), they’re less necessary than I’d originally (for 33 years) thought. (Or maybe that’s just the cognitive dissonance I’ve constructed from the Stockholm Syndrome that is the daily life of stay-at-home parent.) But!
Ask your mother. Ask your father. Where did the dreams they imagined in their twenties go? They’ll tell you it was YOU. That it’s not morose; it’s not sad. And if you open your eyes, really open them WIDE, you’ll maybe, only partially realize a glimpse. That it’s all right around the corner. And it’s not what you expect. Your life. Unpredictable. Childishly changing course from the destination only your stubborn vanity any longer tries to seek. (Try to get a kid to do anything you want! Impossible!) You just gotta go with it.
At what point does it become the moral responsibility of a parent to give up on their past? I’m not sure if that was the question I’d originally asked myself when I began writing this play. But I’ve ended up here, feeling like a stranger come to town, wondering if this is exactly the type of place a new play is born."
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Original Production Information
CARROLL GARDENS ABORNING received its first workshop production as part of the New York International Fringe Festival, produced by the LabRats Theater Company (Lindsay Joy, James Fauvell Artistic Directors), opening August 11, 2013. The cast was as follows:
ANGELICA: Melissa Rosenberger*
HANK: James Fauvell
LILY: Nika Ezell Pappas
IZZY: Reuben Barsky
Director: Liam Billingham
Set Design: Scott Tedmon-Jone
Costume Design: Daniela Mastropietro
Lighting Design: Greg Goff
Sound Design: Lawrence Dial and Adam Cohen
Stage Manager: Katie Santos.
*Best Female Performance New York International Fringe Festival.
It is a rare occasion that I leave a theatre after a show, turn to my theatre audience companion, and we simultaneously say 'Let's take the long way to the train. I want to talk about this."
This is what happened Sunday night, after my buddy and I saw Carroll Gardens Aborning. The train was only half a block away, so we circled for a while and then landed near the entrance, next to a pile of trash, and talked for another 30 minutes. Once we settled, we could spot other audience members who seemed to have made similar choices, chatting on corners, leaning against roll gates, unable to go separate ways without a little back and forth about the play we just saw.
Regardless of where any of these audience members, myself included, landed (if they ever did land), the fact that theatre can garner this kind of reaction is a great argument for the survival of the art form. It is beyond agreeing or disagreeing, liking or disliking. It got brainwheels spinning and conversations tumbling.
Carroll Gardens Aborning follows four characters in a non-linear narrative, a rather coming-of-age-for-NYers-in-their-30/40s story. It is a different pain, passion, sacrifice, impossibility of existence than the teenage stories that reach to the core of us, delving into what it is to be so new to the world, and how we emerge somehow into adulthood. It is far more complicated. These characters are human towers of experiences and choices, layers upon layers. When they look down from where they are in the present, they can see who they once were, but they can also see every layer upon layer on top of that 18 year old self they are looking down at. They have not lost themselves, they are just not so simple any more.
I do not want to say more about the plot, as the structure and content are valuable to an audience who enters with no expectations of what they think a domestic drama IS.
I shall say, that there is only one scene that I wish was cut. In the entire two hours, it is the only time that I felt a gross twinge of being told what to think and it allllllmost came off as prolife in a way that really bothered me, but I felt that was not the intent, regardless of the effect. One of the characters even says something along the lines of, "well you are leaving, so I am going to say exactly what I think about you right now."
The rest of the play brilliantly avoids answering questions. Answering questions, in my opinion which may not be shared I know, in the theatre is the least honest thing possible. It is automatically false and forced and a little propagandistic. Carroll Gardens Aborning presents the complications of being a human beautifully and specifically, with great attention to detail. The characters have viewpoints. Much happens. However, it remains complicated and in the end, I did not utter my least favorite words to say about art - "Oh yah, I totally get it."
Equally stunning (perhaps even more so) to the strength of the piece itself is the ensemble work of the cast. I would have put money on all of them having worked together for years. However, they are simply ridiculously skilled artists, working together for the first time. At once natural and theatrical, spontaneous and precise, their focus and connection to the work, each other, and the audience was mesmerizing.
Nika Ezell Pappas is a master of nuance, every moment of her presence full but subtle. Reuben Barsky has the most complicated role, as he is talked about by everyone before we see him, and all have different opinions about his persona. As his character unfolds, we are able to see where each outside opinion, contradictory as they may seem, finds footing in a rich portrait of a charming and devastating man. Melissa Rosenberger is a revelation the first time the narrative breaks. She is consistent and yet my reaction to her was constantly changing. She really got to the darkness while still giving us glimpses of hope. James Fauvell is perhaps the most likable performer I have seen this year. He is a showman without screaming "Look at me!", he does this sort of natural slapstick that seems impossible, and each moment resonated with honesty.
reviewed at the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival
Review by Adrienne Urbanski in Theatre is Easy
BOTTOM LINE: This play remains compelling from start to finish thanks to a well written script and strong performances from the entire cast.
Read the review.
Carroll Gardens Aborning
(Over.) Yeah, an easy decision, right? Keep the baby? I want it, so why not? Easy for you. When you have everything.
I don’t have everything, Lily. And it wasn’t an easy decision for me.
An amazing apartment with like adult furniture in like the best school district in the city. You’ve got like a real job. A career. With insurance, and. And Cassy—! Oh Jesus, Cassy! She’s perfect. I’ve never seen a kid so terribly perfect. And I mean that Angelica…
I know it can seem all perfect—.
And Hank! Somehow—I have no idea how. But somehow, you found like the most greatest, sweetest guy on the entire planet. And then you convinced him to marry you. And have your children!
(This idea souring in her.) Alright stop, Lily. I don’t have everything.
And I know it feels that way to you. And I’m sure that if your baby had been born? Whatever you were going to name him—.
(Warningly.) He was born.
He would have been perfect too. Like a diamond inside a diamond or something? —Oh god, I don’t know, but—.
That’s right. You don’t know. Anything about it, okay? No one knows. Because there wasn’t a problem? Some perfect or imperfect thing in him. There wasn’t anything. They had no clue what was wrong with him. I still don’t know—I’ll never know. (Then.) You think I’m miserable? I’ll tell you what. I’m beyond fucking misery, okay? Because that’s what happens after seven months they tell you your baby’s dead. And you still have to give birth to it.
(Mewling.) I’m sorry! I am! …But still if I thought, for like one second. One second. That there was a way to like take all that from you? And to like make it mine? I would.