THE FOUNDING OF RED PRODUCTIONS EVENTS.
In 2009, Gordon Farrell teamed up with Tatiana Gelfand and launched Red Productions Events. The two were both privy to a number of extraordinary stories that women had shared over the years. Farrell, who holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, would eventually go on to co-author "The Lifespan of a Fact," which starred Daniel Radcliffe on Broadway. But in the meantime, many of the women who shared their stories with Farrell had already approached him about putting those stories on the stage. He took their stories and turned them into monologues and working with Gelfand staged them at the Upstairs Cabaret at People Lounge on NYC's Lower East Side.
This series of monologue plays was called "In the Red Room: Every Woman/Dances for Someone," eventually becoming known simply as "The Red Anthology." From 2009 through 2014, "The Red Anthology" attracted large audiences to our LES performance space, and numerous women came forward with their own stories, stories they felt needed to be shared with the world. More monologues were written, more were performed, with the women themselves sometimes acting in their own stories on stage.
Julia Pugachevsky in the Washington Square News described the event this way:
"‘In The Red Room: Every Woman/Dances For Someone’ starts off with an invitation. It is a cordial summoning, calmly echoed by a chorus of eight women circling the stage in a provocative, dance-like manner. Like sirens, the women snare us almost immediately, but we stay in their world, ironically, because they appear to offer escape. The play, written by Gordon Farrell, tells the true stories of eight women whom he has known throughout his life. Each story’s speaker commands full attention as she shares her secrets. Stories of heartbreak, helplessness and crises of faith intertwine to form a cycle of self-discovery and reinvention. Together, they create an atmosphere of vulnerability and honesty, a space of healing for all to see.”
As a result of the excitement generated by the Washington Square News, the show became a favorite of many NYU students. Among them was Mollie Heckerling... and this was the beginning of the project's next evolution.
In 2015, People Lounge and its Upstairs Cabaret lost their lease. So Farrell and Gelfand put their heads together. Something had to be done to preserve and transmit the stories they had been entrusted with. As Farrell said, "We're like people in 'A Handmaid's Tale' entrusted with June Osborne's packet of stories and testimonials, and somehow we have to get them out and into the world." So the two collaborators decided to create a fully enacted, fully dramatized presentation of what had previously been only monologues.
The new, fully-scripted approach to "Girls Who Walked on Glass" began with a story given to Farrell by Mollie Heckerling. Heckerling is a writer, a mother, a filmmaker -- and the daughter of Amy Heckerling ("Clueless," the movie and the musical) and Harold Ramis ("Ghostbusters," "Groundhog Day").
Heckerling's story was first told in an unpublished personal memoir which she gave to Farrell to consider. In this true account from Heckerling's life, she is known as Bridget, a desperately lonely student in NYC risking her health and her life to find love, getting entangled with a burned-out HIV-positive comedian twice her age, who had in his own right become a New York City legend.
From two other contributors (who wish to remain anonymous) came the true stories of a young woman's struggle to deal with the aftermath of sexual assault, and of a teenager's alienation from her physically abusive father. Both were added to this powerful trio of harrowing journeys that lead us through hope, fear and personal triumph.
The final ingredient was Gelfand's brainchild: Making the play a walkthrough immersive experience that presents all three stories simultaneously, as two different audiences follow the characters through seven rooms and multiple corridors. When Farrell located The Alchemical Studios on 14th Street , they knew they had found the perfect space to stage it in.
The immersive, walkthrough idea turned out to be the magic ingredient. When the Alleyway Theater of Buffalo, NY, heard this pitch, they agreed immediately to produce the play in tandem with Red Productions Events. It was presented for four weeks in the spring of 2019. This was our trial by fire, the test of whether or not this idea could work and how audiences would respond.
Suffice it to say the play sold out its entire run. Here's what the press reported:
"Truly an immersive experience and a unique one!"
-Ann Marie Cusella, Buffalo Vibe Online (May 31, 2019)
"A rare and special theatrical event..."
- Anthony Chase, Buffalo News (June 7, 2019)
"It’s immersive, intense, and in your face, and it’s a play that will stay with you."
-Peter Hall, Buffalo Rising Magazine (June 12, 2019)
After several delays due to COVID-19, we were finally clear to produce "Girls Who Walked on Glass" in New York City. In November of 2021, headline NYC comic, Sean Lynch, signed on to play Mike B, Mollie Heckerling's HIV-positive lover. Based on the stand up comic Mike DeStefano, a legend on the NY comedy scene, Mike B is infused with Lynch's own memories of friendship with the now-deceased Destefano. Wikipedia describes the legendary comic in this way: "Mike DeStefano was an American stand-up comedian. He used material from his heroin addiction, which began at age 15, and his recovery in brutally honest, profanity-laced routines. He was also a drug counselor to others."
In December of 2021, the sought-after Vogue model and up-and-coming Amazon Prime star Chelsea LeSage took the leading role of Katrina. LeSage, a classically trained actor, also co-produces the noted off-off Broadway Shakespeare company, Stag and Lion, where she recently portrayed Lady Macbeth. The cast continued to fill out with seasoned NYC and Buffalo actors including veteran film and TV actor/producer Ron Barba, and Daniel J. Greer in the role of Arturo, a role he originated in Buffalo.
Veteran Broadway set designer Raymond Recht signed on to create the visual feel and flow of the many rooms in which these stories play out. Sharon Ellman of Momentum Medium accepted the position of publicist, and seasoned event manager/producer Andrea Canacci came aboard as General Manager.
We are ready and running towards our invited preview/final dress on April 6th, and our gala opening night on April 7th. Performances will run only through April 10th, seven shows in total, at The Alchemical Studios on 14th Street in the heart of New York. On the south side of the street. So you know it's a full-on downtown experience.