Thursday, June 13, 2019 - 11:45am
Dobbs Ferry Campus
Bronx Campus
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The show is called “Last Man Club,” but Mercy College Communication Studies Instructor Marc Palmieri is the right-hand man to writer/director Randy Sharp as the production’s dramaturge.

Palmieri has worked with the New York City-based Axis Theatre Company, which is home to the production, since 2004. He has been an actor and director there, as well as having two of his own plays premiere there.

“Last Man Club” runs from June 5 through June 28 and is the story of a conflicted family that chooses to remain in the Dust Bowl-afflicted area of Oklahoma and Texas during the 1930s. The show received a positive write-up in The New York Times and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award in 2013.

“Traditionally, the dramaturge would be the ‘scholar’ on a production, authenticating anything that required research – and that could be in the writing as well as the production design,” explained Palmieri, who also serves as an advisor to Mercy’s Theatre Club. “The position has now evolved into more of a literary editor, concerned with the structuring of a new script. Most theatre companies that develop new work have a resident dramaturge.

“One challenge for me, and it’s a healthy one, is that I’m primarily a playwright. So, when I work with another writer as dramaturge, I am both imposing my own style as a storyteller while respecting any differences in the other person’s style. My collaborations with Randy have led to wonderful friction in that way, since we are quite different as writers. We often meet somewhere in the middle on an idea, and my own imagination is expanded.”

Palmieri teaches an Introduction to Playwriting class at Mercy and sees how his classroom lessons apply to his role as dramaturge and vice versa.

“While I certainly present certain theatrical orthodoxies in the class – the students create their own stories, plots, characters, etc. – and so, as it is with my work at Axis, my suggestions are always up for debate,” he said. “Ultimately, we try to consider what the audience is experiencing, what information we need them to have to follow and appreciate the characters’ journey across the plays. In the class, we have all the students’ work read aloud so they can ‘hear’ what they’ve created for the stage, simulating the art form’s final product as best we can.”

He continued: “While I provide examples and dramatic situation prompts for students who may not immediately have an ‘idea’ for what to write about, they all ultimately present their own, persona, unique stories and characters – and we together discover different possibilities in these experiments. My work as a dramaturge on so many plays at Axis has helped me develop a sense for searching out these possibilities, seeing challenges confronted, solutions invented, etc. Being so consistently exposed to the ‘language’ of playwriting provides me so much to share in the classroom.”

Many of Palmieri’s students and members of the Theatre Club have attended his shows at the Axis Theatre Company. He hopes they see his love for the work and how he is constantly learning new things. Most of all, he hopes they find something they, too, are passionate about.

“There are so many opportunities to experience theatre being so close to New York City,” noted Palmieri, who recently completed the first draft of “To Every Season,” his latest play. “I discovered a love for theatre when I was an undergrad myself, so I also hope that they see what wonderful new parts of themselves they, too, can discover in a Liberal Arts education.”

Mercy College students may receive complimentary tickets to see “Last Man Club” by reaching out to Palmieri at mpalmieri2@mercy.edu. The Axis Theatre Company is located at 1 Sheridan Square, in the heart of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.