Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Krampus: A Christmas Play

Happy Holidays and a Merry Krampusnacht!

In lieu of an actual, live D3C event this month, we are happy to offer you a free, original, Christmas radio play for your downloading pleasure. 

This play, The Krampus, will soon be featured on D3C's Podcast channel (more information on that to come) and will contain some additional talking and context by the producer, writer, and director.

So grab a scotch, light a fire, and gather around the ol' laptop, the way we did when we were kids, and enjoy this decidedly non-kidfriendly Christmas play.


Written by Stephen Gracia
Directed by Michael LoPorto
Produced by Edie Nugent
With Sound Design By Da Archutek/Archutek Communications, LLC

John Gazzale as Dylan 
Jason Jacoby as Kevin
Aidan Koehler as Rebecca
Sean Meehan as Eric
Greg Skura as Doug
Jennifer Skura as Jane
Jennie West as Diane
Steve Weinblatt as The Narator

Dialogue with Three Chords would like to thank our amazing cast, who came together, three days before Christmas, to rehearse and record The Krampus all in one night.

As Christmas miracles go, that one was pretty spectacular.

Creative Commons License
The Krampus by Stephen Gracia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Winter Intersession

Dialogue with Three Chords is on break until January 26th, 2012 when we will return with brand new plays (from Stephen as well other playwrights), music, poetry, and more.

We at D3C would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who came out to support new theatre, and we hope to see you next year.

D3C exists as a monthly event because of the generosity of Donal Dennehy, the Dennehy family, and Jennifer and Greg Skura. They have been fantastic hosts and inspirations.

Our patrons knew that these were happening because of the tireless devotion of our PR Person, Edie Nugent.

D3C, as a concept, was influenced by the New York theatre movement of the 60’s, and the New York Punk Rock scene of the 70’s. La MaMa and Max’s Kansas City. Sam Shepard and Richard Hell. Growing up in Brooklyn, we idolized and romanticized that time, when actors mixed with artists, mixed with musicians, mixed with poets. We spent our youth hoping to join a scene, and as adults, we figured we’d start our own, throw wide the doors, and invite everyone down to the basement to join in. We were Hardcore kids; we know a thing or two about the power of a gang chorus.

Our postcards are flyers. Our programs are setlists.

As we start the holiday season, it’s hard not to get boldly sentimental. We at D3C are thankful for everyone who came out to support the kind of theatre that excites us; it's nice to know that we're not alone, and we're thankful for all the actors and musicians who contributed their time and passion to these plays: those we’ve worked with in the past and those we met during these four months.

We look forward to making you say unspeakable things in 2012.

We also look forward to getting even more actors, more writers, and more musicians involved next season.

While we’re away, Stephen will be working on new scripts, workshopping old ones, and blogging here about the process. He will also be soliciting short play scripts, so check back for announcements.

D3C may be dark for the next couple of months, but our friends won’t be, please go and support these brave, forward thinking companies and events:

Abraxas Stage Company

Monk Parrots

Barefoot Theatre Company

Look at the Fish Theatre

Glitterbox Burlesque

See you in the dead of Winter.

Dress in layers, because the basement gets toasty.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hello Central! - "Deleted" Scenes from NEXT

 From the press release, because our publicist, Edie, said it more succinctly than I ever could: 

"Dialogue with Three Chords will host a benefit night for On Behalf of a Grateful Nation, an organization that raises funds for wounded veterans and military families. HELLO CENTRAL Deleted Scenes from NEXT is written by Stephen Gracia and directed by Michael LoPorto. It is an expansion of NEXT, produced by Abraxas Theatre Company at HERE Arts Center, which follows a group of WWII soldiers as they wait for their turn at a military-sponsored whorehouse. It includes a burlesque performance and starts at 8PM on October 27, Downstairs at Mr. Dennehy's pub on 63 Carmine Street in Greenwich Village. Admission is $10."

I never though that I would return to NEXT in quite this way.
I had no doubt that I would return with a new arsenal of editing tools once I let the version that ran at HERE Arts Center in February, 2011 settle for a while. The visuals conceived by Michael LoPorto and the creative team had inspired new additions to the narrative, and I planned to sit down and change the script accordingly. 

I knew that the character of Danny would need a bit of a rewrite. It took me the three week run, the month of rehearsals prior, and the almost year of discussion   that led to the process and production to really understand the characters I had created, and I now had clearer idea of how to tell their stories. 

I recognized the need for tweaks and changes, and when the idea of doing a fundraising event for On Behalf of a Grateful Nation (the not-for-profit organization we partnered with in February) came up, I thought that throwing together a collection of “scenes that you didn’t see”-- conversations that were happening simultaneously or, at most, just before or just after the action you saw on stage -– would be fun. What ended up happening was entirely different.

“Hello Central” is less a hodge-podge of scenes and more of an entire second play-- taking place before, during, and well after the war. It’s a full companion piece, and that’s shocking. Revisiting characters like this, telling another story using the same people…crafting a sequel, of all things, seems somehow wrong. If I did it right the first time, I thought, then the story should be over. There should be nothing else to say.

But then, If I’m completely honest with myself, NEXT is less of a straight narrative, with a beginning, middle, and end, and more of a collections of moments that hang within a structure of two or three themes. There’s resolution at the end, and little journeys that move throughout both acts, but the acts are completely separate, with entirely different tones and pacing, and even within the acts, action and journey are broken up by narration.

This structure made it easier to write a re-visitation with those characters. It was a matter of finding moments between the ones you saw in the original production. And, naturally, those moments between seemed to necessitate visiting a moment months before the play and a moment years after. Looking at NEXT this way, through the lens of the new Hello Central!, has put me in mind of a quote from Gravity’s Rainbow, (Pynchon in general and GR in particular had a huge influence on NEXT, though I’m not sure that’s obvious.)
"It's been a prevalent notion. Fallen sparks. Fragments of vessels broken at the Creation. And someday, somehow, before the end, a gathering back to home. A messenger from the Kingdom, arriving at the last moment. But I tell you there is no such message, no such home — only the millions of last moments... nothing more. Our history is an aggregate of last moments."

NEXT and Hello Central are just that: aggregates of last moments, which is the nature of writing fiction about war. There is no kingdom, no home, nothing but the “now.” And that now is terrifying, and it’s the moments of peace, of pleasure—of laughing or drinking, of fantasy and sexual release that break up the moments where death feels imminent.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

D3C Playlist - An Ugly, Lovely Town

When Dylan Thomas referred to the area of Wales where he grew up as "an ugly, lovely town" in "Reminisces of Childhood" he both set a future tone and gave perfect voice to a long held belief (at least in the rest of the UK): Wales is a beautiful country populated by hard people.

Welsh popular music then, is an interesting thing. Its two most well known exports are:

Two of the biggest voices out there. Beautiful and booming. Nary a rough edge to be seen. Odd, since the Welsh accent is considered quite harsh (given the overload of consonants).

Even when we move into the Punk, Post-Punk, and Indie Rock eras, the sweetness remains. Even when the lyrics are about death:

If the person filming this had widened the shot a bit, you'd absolutely see me standing in the audience, stage right, jumping around like a buffoon. So, I remain thankful that he/she stayed focused on Jon Langford. Langford, a newport boy and one of the greatest, most prolific musicians to come out of the first wave of UK Punk (seriously, I refer you to the Mekons, The Waco Brothers, The Three Johns, The Pine Valley Cosmonauts, and his solo stuff, unreservedly. I have seen him play NY, in various incarnations, 4 times in the last 3 years, and I already have my Mekons ticket for next month) is the patron saint of this play. His book about growing up in Wales, Skull Orchard, provided every detail I needed.

The Ugly/Lovely balance is evident in Langford's lyrics about his working class upbringing conveyed in a rich, melodic vocal, in the same way the "soul of the Sex Pistols in the body of Guns N' Roses' body" dynamic works for Wales's favorite sons, The Manic Street Preachers.

which is the loveliest Brit Pop song to ever begin with words as despairing as:

"Culture sucks down words
Itemise loathing and feed yourself smiles
Organise your safe tribal war
Hurt maim kill and enslave the ghetto.."

The contribution of Wales to UK Pop seems to be giving it a knife edge, an act never more brilliantly realized than by the latest Welsh band to inspire devotion, Los Campesinos. 

"We are Beautiful; We are Doomed", a distinctly Welsh concept born in an "ugly, lovely town", complete with a gang chorus/pub singalong: 

"Oh, we kid ourselves, there's future in the fuckingBut there is no fucking future..." 

All of these artists were played constantly during the (relatively short) writing process because in the space of just over ten pages I wanted to get at this dichotomy: this love and indifference toward the same place. (Thomas was later quoted as saying "Wales is the land of my fathers, and my fathers can have it." which, in structure, is both a searing indictment and wistful rememberance) 

In the play, "An Ugly, Lovely Town", there is no fucking, but there's love and indifference, there's a romantic past and a bleak future and a protagonist who's willing to love both equally. 

- Stephen 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 22nd's D3C - If I Never Look Upon This Land Again & An Ugly, Lovely Town

During the talk back for last month’s D3C, I spoke a bit about why someone named “Gracia” would be writing a bloody family drama about the last days of the New York Irish mob. My reasoning was that my mother’s family is Irish, and those are the relatives I know and love. My father’s Spanish side is an unknown element.
Of course, that’s not the full family history. My maternal grandmother’s family came from county Down, and she was every bit an Irish women (in “Absolute Beginners” there’s a story about a character’s mom being unable to stay in the apartment when the downstairs Italian neighbors were cooking with garlic and onion and basil, and that was my grandma, through and through), but my grandfather’s family had been sailing back and forth from England to the colonies since the Mayflower.
The most recent branch of that particular tree seems to reach from somewhere in Wales to Bristol, which is where my great-grandfather emigrated from. 
I was fortunate enough to visit Bristol during the summer of 2010, and while there, I spent the afternoon walking through the SS Great Britain (which has been turned into a museum), and while there, I read the story of Captain Gray: a beloved captain who disappeared from the Britain mid-voyage.
This, I thought, would be an interesting play. After we left the museum, I made my notes while sitting with my wife and her friends, drinking authentic Bristol alcoholic cider (a local specialty that, unlike the American variety, is not carbonated, not sweet and has a distinctly bile-like consistency when you start in on a pint, but, also unlike the sickly-sweet American cider, really does improve once you get used to it.) I originally thought the play would focus on Captain Gray: his life aboard the ship and his reasons for suicide (I had decided to treat the disappearance as suicide). Soon, a second act was planned that focused on the wife that was waiting for him on the dock…then it was his wife in a tavern by the docks, and soon, Gray was removed from the play all together and the focus shifted to those waiting for the Britain and what that ship meant to them.
In the end, “If I Never Look Upon This Land Again” is only about those who are left behind, those looking for a second (or third) chance, and those who are “redeemed by faith alone.”
This Dialogue with Three Chords is the most Punk Rock one so far, which seems strange to say about a play that takes place during the Victorian era, but this is a one-take and hit the stage night. “If I never Look Upon This Land Again” and the curtain raiser “An Ugly, Lovely Town” are brand new and will be rehearsed/workshop for two nights prior. These pieces will find their legs in front of an audience.
“An Ugly, Lovely Town” is set in present day South Wales, in a town called, Newport. Specifically, in Pillgwenlly, a spot under a transporter bridge that straddles the river Usk.  It’s about a bar called “The Wild Hunt”, a young man and woman meeting for the first time, and a dead place named for a redeemed pirate saint.
It’s set in Wales because it’s close to Bristol, and because the people of that region, to quote Raymond Williams, “talked about ‘the English’ who were not us, and also ‘the Welsh’ who were not us.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Influences and Inspirations : Garth Ennis and Violent Morality

"The guy who taught me to fight was the same guy who shot my dad in front of my eyes. That will tend to focus your concentration."
- Jesse Custer, in Garth Ennis's "Preacher"

Violence is at the heart of "Absolute Beginners", and it's a narrative lesson I learned from Garth Ennis. It's easy enough to let the extremes of violence push a narrative forward. There is no shortage of books and movies that show violence at its most extreme and most casual, but it's the work of Ennis, who writes primarily in the realm of comic books, that best conveys the fluidity of morality at a crisis point.

Ennis's protagonists are complex, ranging from a hitman who only kills criminals, to a soldier, haunted by the memory of discovering Auschwitz, manipulating world events and racking up a lifetime of dead bodies, to a preacher on a mission to make God pay for abandoning his creation. Every single one born or reborn in brutality but driven by a strict moral code. That's what makes his stories work, and it's what I'm trying to bring to the characters in Absolute Beginners, the idea that a morality that finds its beginnings in violence is a morality that's most easily compromised.

The brothers (and best friend) in Absolute Beginners act out of a desire to protect their family/tradition/neighborhood and in doing so, cause untold chaos because at the heart of each thing they're trying to protect is immeasurable brutality and cruelty.

One of the greatest characters Ennis has ever written for (though it's not one he created) is John Constantine, a man who fancies himself a defender of humanity against all of hell...

“I’m the one who steps from the shadows, all trench coat and cigarette and arrogance, ready to deal with the madness. Oh, I've got it all sewn up. I can save you. If it takes the last drop of your blood, I'll drive your demons away. I'll kick them in the bollocks and spit on them when they're down and then I'll be gone back into darkness, leaving only a nod and a wink and a wisecrack. I walk my path alone... who would walk with me?"

…who has managed to kill off every single friend he’s ever had (and more than a few lovers), and that’s what makes him, and characters like him, so compelling.

The deals and the mistakes, the blood and the horror, all of it in service to a greater good, but even that good thing is flawed.

The best moments of literary or theatrical violence come when everyone is trying to be the hero, but nobody succeeds at being noble.

- Stephen

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Absolute Beginners - Cast

The cast has been finalized for this month's D3C event:

Sean Meehan as Sean Ballard
Matthew Ferretti as Pat Ballard
Charle Everett as Bobby Shannon
Jennifer Skura as Mary Conry
Carol LoPorto as Kathleen Conry

With special guest musician, Ridley Parson. 

Absolute Beginners is a never-before-seen play about violence as family tradition and self-destruction as cultural heritage. 

It's about New York Irish Gangster in the mid-80's and siblings who take very different paths toward redemption. 

Dialogue with Three Chords
Downstairs at Mr. Dennehy's Irish Pub
63 Carmine Street, NYC

Monday, August 8, 2011

Dialogue with Three Chords Playlist: Avail

The D3C Playlist: What we're listening to this week. 

I'm revisiting Avail right now, a 90's band that fit neatly into the Punk Rock/Positive Hardcore sound pioneered by bands like 7 Seconds and Gorilla Biscuits. No dogma, just honest, heartfelt lyrics for us kids who missed the first (and second wave) of Hardcore but still felt earnest, dammit.

Their first two albums, Satiate and Dixie, didn't leave my stereo for two solid years. Their songs absolutely raged and swung: aggressive post punk guitars (the bass line that begins Bob's Crew is an obvious nod to Public Image Limited) mixed with a heavy crunch, the clear but slightly hoarse vocals, and goddamn, the build-ups and breakdowns just demanded you move. Try and sit still during Connection.

I was lucky enough to see Avail tour to support Dixie, and what made it even more amazing was that they were on a bill with two of my other favorite 90's Punk Bands: Rancid and The Queers. It was during NYC's CMJ fest, so I remember standing on a ridiculously long line outside of The Wetlands (a long defunct venue) while journalists, insiders, and people way hipper than I'll ever be filed in before us. (Much to the grumbling of the skinheads and guys in Poison Idea shirts ahead of us.)

The Queers opened and were great, and, in fact, are probably one of the only bands to pull off the "we sound just like the Ramones" shtick with anything approaching style and good humor, but when Avail hit the (too damn small) stage, it was the first time I felt like I was in an audience that functioned as a unit, that sang and danced as one. A feeling that has only been replicated for me two or three times since then.

Satiate was a blast of catchy Punk Rock, but Dixie was more aggressive, musically complex, and dealt, lyrically, with issues that not many Hardcore bands touched on, notably, body image:

As an alienated Punk , already uncomfortable  in his own skin, that song resonated with me, so much so, that I bought one of their t-shirts. A bold move for a fat kid, since the only shirts they had were white.

Of course, I never wore it, too damn self conscious, so instead, I cut off the front image, and pinned it onto the back of my jacket, after carefully lettering these lyrics from Model onto it:

                      Big is a scar; you'd better get thin; the tanner you are, the more you fit in 
               Bullshit! You've got a disease. You follow the trends like the rest of the sheep! 

Defiant enough, I felt. 

Energized by that experience, I returned to my teenage dream of fronting a band. I wrote a bunch of lyrics that, looking back, weren't completely embarrassing, booked some studio time, and screamed my lungs out for a couple of years in the mid-90's. Nothing came of it, but it was an action at a time when every single thing in my life demanded I "sit down and shut the fuck up." 

Punk and Hardcore taught me to be contrary, as Crass so brilliantly put it, "Punk was once an answer to years of crap, a way of saying 'No!', when we'd always said 'Yes.'", but it also taught me to think bigger and broader and that there was a network of kids out there feeling the same way, and at the time, they all wanted to create something too, to find direction. There were scenes, of course, and dogma crept in, but the central maxim at the root of it all was: "Yeah, you can be a part of something, but isn't it better to start something?" 

- Stephen 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

This Month!

Two brothers bear witness to the end of a bloody family tradition as their neighborhood slowly becomes unrecognizable.

This new play by Stephen Gracia is set in the Hell's Kitchen of 1983. The Westies are falling apart, gentrification is coming on quick, and there's a dead body in the bathtub that someone needs to atone for.

Join us on August 25th at Mr. Dennehy's Irish Pub, 63 Carmine Street for this never before seen staged reading.

Start time: 8pm.

Cast and guest musician to be announced.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


The first Dialogue with Three Chords at Mr. Dennehy's Irish Pub, 63 Carmine Street, NYC.

8pm start time. 

Four short plays by Stephen Gracia, live music by Tommy Lombardozzi, and a talk back with the playwright, director, and actors.

($3 Suggested Donation)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tiny Hooks - Notes on the First Piece

The piece that opens this Thursday's D3C, "Tiny Hooks", was written to solve a problem.

The four plays that comprise the inaugural night of D3C are part of  a slightly larger collection, currently titled "We Lose Our Place & Begin Again", and the first play in this collection ends with the stage covered in thick, gray dust. This, of course. makes staging these plays difficult. "Tiny Hooks" was one the first plays I've ever written with a specific goal in mind: to get the stage cleaned up. It begins:

Setting: A stage covered with dust.
Two chairs tipped over and laying on the floor.
Emily enters
She has a blue-tooth headset in.
                             She begins sweeping up the dust and speaking into the headset.  

Simple enough, really, the actors in the previous piece leave their set behind: a table and two chairs, an ungodly amount of dust, and it's up to the next actor to set things right (or as close as possible) as she delivers a monologue on the nature and limits of mature love. 

Thematically,  it follows the piece before it, "We Find Our Own Level" (previously known as "Assfuck Brooklyn" for reasons of rebellious youth), in that it is tied to a very specific New York tragedy without directly addressing it. It's a part of the landscape. And in most plays, landscape and environment are characters themselves, but I like to think of them as characters the way Pinter-esque dread is its own character -- lingering just off-stage, psychologically weighing everyone down. 

Now, the follow-up, the afterthought, the what-the-hell-are-we-going-to-do-about-all-that-dust fix, has become the starting point, and I get to see it stand on its own. 

Dust or no, the dread's still there, I think. 

- Stephen 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

D3C - Cast List and Featured Musician

The first D3C will feature the acting talents of
Matthew Ferretti, Dan Graff, Kendra Leigh Landon, TJ Lombardo, Sean Meehan, Ridley Parson, and Susanne Stewart

Live music, before and after the performance will be provided by Tommy Lombardozzi.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

D3C Youtube Channel

Dialogue with Three Chords

A place for the words and music that influence the series, and eventually, some live clips.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The first Dialogue with Three Chords

The play line-up for our first night has been set!

We will be performing, on our feet with scripts in hand:

Tiny Hooks  

The Rebel Sound of Fuckin' Around

Instructions for Dancing

Fast Food Strategies

The first three are premiering at D3C. Fast Food Strategies has been work-shopped in front of an audience twice by Barefoot Theatre Company.

Cast list and Musical performer to be announced.

Dialogue with Three Chords
July 28th, 2011, 8pm - 10pm 
$3 Suggested Donation

Downstairs at Mr. Dennehy's Pub
63, Carmine Street,
Between 6th and 7th Avenue

Monday, June 20, 2011

Announcing a Monthly Event

The fourth Thursday  of every month, Downstairs at Dennehy’s will host 

A monthly collaboration between
playwright Stephen Gracia and director Michael LoPorto. 

D3C will feature new plays by Stephen, plus live music, poetry, 
and short plays by emerging playwrights. 

Start Date: Thursday, July 28th, 2011 8pm-10pm 

Mr. Dennehy's Irish Pub
Mr. Dennehys
63, Carmine Street,
New York, NY 10014
(212) 414 1223

Monday, May 16, 2011

Manifestos on Bathroom Walls.

Theatre can be many things. It can be spectacle: puppets and costumes and sets and huge casts. It can sprawl across three acts.

It can also be two people talking.

It can be street clothes and bare stages. It can be done in ten minutes. It just needs to be effective; it needs to communicate; it needs to transform.

Spectacle is good; it envelops you and thunders across you; it's arena rock. It's main stage magic.

This isn't that. This is basement theatre. This is dialogue with three chords.

Punks don't do fake Magik.

A Start.