Written by Chris Boyle, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 18 July 2014 00:00
One local playwright and his company — The Plainview Project — seem to be headed to the big leagues.
Claude Solnik of Plainview, the Plainview Project’s writer, is married with two children. While he has a master’s degree in dramatic writing from New York University, after graduating he ended up going into journalism, which currently remains his day job. But in his free time he indulged in his true passion, hammering out numerous play scripts until the day they he realized that he needed to stop sitting on these works he was creating and put them in the hands of actors that could give them life.
Thus, about five years ago, Solnik started having readings with various Long Island talent — the Plainview Project was born.
The Plainview Project regularly meets at the Plainview-Old Bethpage Library to stage rehearsals and brainstorm script ideas for plays they hold in various venues around Long Island. Solnik notes that the library is a vital resource and an important hub for the local community.
“It’s very difficult for theater groups to find places to rehearse or even do readings,” he said. “But the Plainview Library is a community center, and they are great partners. They let us come here and do readings for a long time, and now we’re at the point where we’re starting to present our plays, they let us rehearse here. It’s a wonderful place.”
The Plainview Project’s newest work, The Falls, is a two-actor production. The play chronicles the meeting of a man and a woman at a bar and the emotional journey that they engage in as they make a spur-of-the-moment decision to hop in a car and drive to Niagara Falls. The two actors, Michael Schlapp of Levittown and Stephanie Tapoler of Bethpage, both jumped at the chance to act out a script that they found both refreshing and emotional.
Deborah Rupy, a Hicksville resident and long-time actress who has studied at the Abby Theater in Ireland is serving as producer on The Falls. She said that she was drawn to the sheer talent that Solnik displays with the written word.
“I handle the production aspect of the show...writers write the script, the director handles the actors, rehearsals, and characters, but the producer handles publicity, hiring the production staff, acquiring the venue,” she said. “Everyone involved in the Plainview Project all have one thread in common...we all love Claude’s writing. It’s very real...his shows are very raw, they’re different...there’s something really, really special and touching about them.”
Since its inception, the Plainview Project has put on productions consisting solely of original works penned by Solnik, which have been performed at local theaters across Long Island. However, one recent production — The Lady from Limerick — was held at the Theater for the New City in Manhattan, as was his production of The Falls.
“It’s great...it will bring our work to a much wider audience,” he said. “I mean, our last play was being performed side-by-side with Pulitzer Prize-winning productions. Theater for the New City is giving us a home, which we’ve never had before.”
Solnik said that he doesn’t just write stories, he tries to come up with subject matter that people can identify with. Being able to display his work on a stage as well-regarded as the Theater for the New City represents the pinnacle of his career...at least, so far.
“I can tailor what I’m writing to what I think people are interested in,” he said. “Being able to do this in Manhattan...I remember with the last play, I was just sitting there in the back of the theater on the floor, watching the audience, and I couldn’t believe that they came and were enjoying the play. It’s such a great feeling.”
To find out more about the Plainview Project, visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net.