Velvet Ropes

Velvet Ropes

Author: Joshua Scher

Description: A tale of two innocents trapped in an art museum. They contemplate the nature of humor, performance and art in this hilarious one-act play.
Year Written/Copyrighted: 1999
Date Added: 9/25/2013
Content Advisory: NA
Keywords: Art and Artists · Comedy · Meta · Pop Culture · Postmodern · Single Set · Small Cast Size · Surrealism/Absurdism
This play is in the following collections: FringeNYC 2000-2001
1 Act
3 Gender Neutral Characters
Read an excerpt

NOTE: Velvet Ropes 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

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Original Production Information

Velvet Ropes was first produced by The Hangar Theatre (Mark Ramont, Artistic Director) on August 6, 1999, in Ithaca, New York, with the following cast and credits:

Everyone: Brian Silaman
Everybody: Keith Powell
Individual with Museum Headphones: Brian Croty

Directed by: Matt August

The New York City premiere of Velvet Ropes was on August 18, 2000, produced by The Drama League as part of the 2000 New York International Fringe Festival (John Clancy, Artistic Director; Elena K. Holy, Producing Director), with the following cast and credits:

Everyone: Royden Mills
Everybody: Jonathan Uffelman
Individual with Museum Headphones: Doug Lockwood
The Museum: Richard Kass, Allegra Libonatti, Doug Lockwood

Directed by: Matt August
Set designed by: Jill Beckman and Matt August
Sound by: Matt Urban
Costumes by: Matthew Schworer
Lightning by: Gwen Grossman
Stage Manager: Matt Urban
Publicity: David Gersten

ITN Review by Martin Denton

Joshua Scher's new play Velvet Ropes is almost certainly the sharpest new comedy in Fringe NYC; his is likewise the most original new comic voice to emerge in quite some time. The premise of this hilarious yet cerebral homage to Waiting for Godot is simple: two naifs, called Everyone and Everybody, get trapped in a modern art gallery. At first, they amuse themselves trying to figure out what they're looking at: a painting identified as a nude, for example, yields some serious scrutiny until one of them finally shouts out "I think I see a breast!"

But it's not long before their superficial perusal of art gives way to Superficial Perusal of Art; and now all of us, along with Everyone and Everybody, have to figure out what we're looking at. Velvet Ropes slyly and cannily plays with ideas about what constitutes art, humor, and theatre, disguising the whole ontological debate shrewdly as a vaudeville comedy turn. Yet when its two heroes contemplate themselves in a mirror ("disturbing," one of them comments); or when they find themselves trapped inside the museum's omnipresent velvet ropes and seem to become Art themselves--well, there's never any question that there's more going on here than non-stop hilarity.

Velvet Ropes has been beautifully directed by Matt August, and it's played to perfection by the remarkable young actors Royden Mills and Jonathan Uffelman. These two natural clowns lock gears so precisely that you'd think they'd been working together for decades; their performances are incontestably among the best at this year's Festival. Ditto Scher's smart, startling writing: I predict we'll be hearing more from all three of these young men in the seasons to come.

reviewed at the 2000 New York International Fringe Festival