Playwrights workshop in Bath Beach

Students of workshop show their stuff

The Brooklyn Paper
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Southern Brooklyn theater’s got bite.

Down the street from the Belt Parkway, a community center on a quiet block with not much else but a line of parked cars is putting on an edgy on-book performance of short plays about Vietnam vets, the Arab-American experience, and deceased fathers.

The playwrights are students of a small writing workshop, but the instructor, and director of the evening of staged readings of new works at the Block Institute, insists Manhattan’s theater district’s got nothing on these talents.

“I’ve seen so many original works with so much money behind them, yet with no rhyme or reason, no pulse, and they’re not saying anything at all,” said Robert Liebowitz, who worked together with writers Mohammed Said Ali and Ted Montouri.

“These plays are simple, one act, one place, one day — it’s not the Allies landing in Normandy, but they tell a story, they have a beginning, middle, and end.”

Ali’s works, “Untitled” and “Yusef,” both explore the Arab-American experience, from youths hanging out on the Coney Island Boardwalk to a woman’s unexpected pregnancy. Montouri’s play “Webbs,” is about two young men in the military, one white, one black, when the war in Vietnam erupts.

Liebowitz said that the plays reflect the tumultuous times the country and the city face, and that he was proud of the work — especially when compared to other contemporary works.

“The issue is that there is local talent in Brooklyn that is just as good if not better than what you see in Manhattan,” said Liebowitz.

“I’ve seen hundreds if not thousands of plays in Manhattan, and the the work is generally ka-ka.”

“RidgeWrites” at the Block Institute [376 Bay 44th St. between Shore Parkway and Hunter Avenue, in Bath Beach (347) 492–0534]. Nov. 10, 7 pm, $10.

Updated 5:37 pm, July 9, 2018
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