Fielding Edlow Offers “Something-Nothing”

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The Something-Nothing, produced by Racquel Lehrman for Theatre Planners.  Opens Sept. 19; plays Thurs.-Sat., 8 pm; through Oct. 24. Tickets: $20. The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; 323.960.7721 or plays411.com/something-nothing

In the opening paragraph of the 2004 Daily Variety review of Fielding Edlow’s one-person play, Coke Free J.A.P., at the 55-seat Complex Dorie Theater in Hollywood, the critic wrote, “What can be said about a 22-year-old Gotham-bred Jewish-American princess who has been off her joy powder for 92 days and is about to go on her first blind date? A lot, according to gifted scripter Fielding Edlow and her memorable alter ego, Sage Saperstein. Ragingly insecure, profoundly profane and seamlessly articulate, Sage is an unrelenting motor mouth who, over the course of an evening, travels an emotionally treacherous path to overcome her demons. Edlow occasionally stumbles over her virtuoso material but offers a captivating portrayal of a soul in crisis.”

“Same demons, different location,” chuckles Edlow, who is in pre-production on her latest work, the world premiere outing of her three-character play, Something-Nothing. “Coke Free J.A.P. was set in the Upper East Side and this new play is set in the West Village. But the characters are just as screwed up.”

Marks and Cohen
Marks and Cohen

Coke Free was a hit at the NYC Fringe Festival, earning the “Best of Fringe award” from BackStage. It subsequently enjoyed a four-month, sold-out run in LA. When asked if her plays come more from experience, objective observation or pure imagination, she quickly replies, “It is a confluence of all three.”

Edlow’s brief description of Something-Nothing is certainly indicative of her creative process: “Set in the West Village, three lost 27 year-old narcissists are enmeshed in a web of E-mails, poetic diatribes and gallons of Jim Beam. We are plunged into an unrequited love triangle between a drunken lesbian stage manager, Mr. Sensitive ponytail man and a raging people pleaser.”

Fielding Edlow
Fielding Edlow

She affirms, “A lot of the emotional turmoil I went through in my early 20s comes out in my work but nothing is truly autobiographical, although I was E-mail obsessive like the characters in this play. I am also fascinated with observing certain types of personalities, like the stage manager, who is such a New York character. Pure imagination comes into it because I, personally, could never be as emboldened and audacious as the characters I create. I live vicariously through them. They teach me.”

Edlow workshopped the play at the Lounge Theatre with the Mineral Theatre Company. She readily admits the workshop process has been vital to her development as a playwright. “It is essential,” she says.

“I had written the first act when I was doing Coke Free here in LA. It was a semi-finalist in the Attic Theatre Festival out here. I kept developing it through a series of writing groups. Thank God for them. Through the feedback I got, I was encouraged to expand it into a full length play. Other writers were always saying to me, ‘These are great characters.  Let’s see where this can go.’

“Writing is an innately solitary process. I get lonely. I want to get out there and hear my work. Naked Angels has a reading series, Tuesdays at 9. I developed my newest play, Admissions, there. I would bring 10 pages every week and would just absorb the feedback. I have also participated in other workshops. Basically, it is a community of writers that adhere to putting yourself on the line, seeing what works and doesn’t work, and getting the encouragement to keep moving forward.”

Though still in development, Admissions was a semi-finalist in Reverie Productions, 2008 Next Generation Playwriting Contest and was workshopped at NY Stage & Film with John Pankow.

“I write comedy,” says Edlow, “even though I aim for darkness and poignancy. I believe, in the creative process, comedy has to be done in front of people so you see what jokes don’t work.  Also, absorbing feedback from others toughens you. I have learned to take what is useful and to leave the rest behind.”

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Rubenstone and Marks

For its premiere staging at the Lounge Theatre, Something-Nothing stars Robyn Cohen, Annika Marks and Michael Rubenstone. It is being staged by Kiff Scholl, who most recently directed Bill Robens’ critically acclaimed Kill Me, Deadly at Theatre of NOTE and Don’t Forget to Remember by Patricia Parker at The Lounge. Scholl also helmed the multiple award-winning La Bête by David Hirson at Sacred Fools, garnering an LA Weekly award, a Drama Critics Circle award and six BackStage West Garlands, including Best Production and Best Director.

“I am still getting used to the fact Something-Nothing now has a great director, a phenomenal cast and a date to open,” says Edlow. “I have been living with this play for a long time. I let it sit in my computer for a year and a half. Left on my own, I would probably keep doing readings. But my husband told me he was not going to sit through another reading of my work. And once my producer Racquel Lehrman got hold of it, she said, ‘I’ve got dates. Let’s do this thing.’ I’ve got such a great support system. And I am ready to have the work speak for itself.”

Images by Ed Krieger

Article by Julio Martinez

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Julio Martinez

Julio Martinez

Julio pens the weekly LA STAGE Insider column for @ This Stage Magazine, as well as the monthly LA STAGE History column. He is a recurring contributor to Written By (the monthly publication of the Writer’s Guild of America) and is the TeleVision columnist for Latin Heat Entertainment. On air, he hosts the weekly Arts in Review program for KPFK 90.7 FM. An active journalist for over 30 years, Julio’s articles and reviews have appeared in Los Angeles Times Magazine, Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, L.A. Weekly, Stage Raw, Backstage West, Westways Magazine, and Drama-Logue Magazine, among others.