For a dozen years, Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions has made you laugh … then think … hard.
Founded in 2006 by the brilliant Ms. Jake Lipman, Tongue in Cheek Theater’s mission is to produce and create thought-provoking comedic works, that – through the ease laughter brings – opens the mind to new ideals. Each of their productions have garnered well-deserved accolades with their 2015 adaptation of the best-selling novel, The Inn at Lake Devine, by Elinor Lipman (praised by The Huffington Post) and the 2014 premiere, and subsequent 2017 revival, of Buffalo Heights (nominated for multiple awards at Planet Connections Theatre Festivity) lead the pack.
With Susan Gross Miller at the Planet Awards 2018. TIC’s play, Ruby, was nominated.
Now Lipman and co. present the world premiere of the comedy she penned, RELENTLESSLY PLEASANT, performing at Theatre 54 @ Shetler Studios, 244 West 54th Street, 12th Floor, October 10-27, 2018 on Wednesday-Saturday nights at 7:30 PM and Sunday matinees at 2:30 PM. Ms. Lipman directs as well.
The plot exemplifies the humor and “aha moments” TIC productions provide. We are brought to the launch of HER(E) SHE, a new all-female co-working space. Co-founders, Alison (Deanna Henson) and Gina (Maria Maloney) and the staff are hard at work, everything is looking great … Until a series of unforeseen calamities threaten to derail the space – from their keynote speaker canceling, to a #MeToo incident. Can these women lean in to the conflicts while maintaining their composure?
“I wanted to create a feminist piece about women and work, and I wanted it to be funny. I started with two sources of inspiration. Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In” talks about women lacking the confidence to sit at the head of a table in meetings, and A.R. Gurney’s play The Dining Room offers a series of comedic interactions set entirely around a dining room table. By setting my piece around a conference room table in a new female-only co-working space, the table becomes both an impediment and a soap box for the characters’ ambitions.”
Ms. Lipman, we want to hear more.
Jake Lipman in BUFFALO HEIGHTS (2017)
Tell us about yourself as an artist.
I moved to NYC to be an actor, and discovered after getting an MFA that I was going to need to produce theater to ensure I was working on projects I really loved. I discovered I was good at producing. What’s more, I enjoyed it. One of the best things about founding my own production company, Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions (www.tictheater.com), is that I have been able to delve into all aspects of theater-making: writing, directing, devising, and yes, acting. I also love casting, and designing the art for my shows, and working with all kinds of other creatives. It’s never boring, and always edifying. I love being a multi-hyphenated artist.
What was your inspiration in writing this play?
After the 2016 election, I felt lost. How could someone so bright and qualified be passed over, in favor of a man with little curiosity or merit? This got me thinking about something Mary Sue Coleman said: at work, women have to be “relentlessly pleasant” to get ahead. These two ideas were on my mind when I reached out to a group of women theater artists to talk about women and work and power dynamics. We met a handful of times, and these sessions were cathartic and a lot of fun. We told stories of bad bosses, good bosses, money, negotiating, apologizing, and ambition. From those sessions, I started writing a play that was both feminist and funny. The Puffin Foundation awarded me a grant to develop the piece, and I workshopped it over the last nine months, often pulling these same women back into the room to read the play aloud. The resulting play, RELENTLESSLY PLEASANT, is a set in an all-female co-working space on the eve of its launch. A series of calamities threaten to derail their hard work and feminist ideals.
This is very timely, but how do you think it will be viewed in 10 years?
Frankly, I did not set out to write something ‘timely.’ I wanted to write something personal and deeply felt, and I have. I drew from my own experiences as a woman at work, and the stories of those around me. How do we want to be perceived, how we have fallen short or reached our goals, who has helped us, who has impeded us? I’m excited to have audiences see RELENTLESSLY PLEASANT and to see and hear how they respond to the stories of the 8 women onstage. In 10 years, I hope this play seems of a bygone era. What if we had equal representation as leaders of organizations, in government positions, and pay parity by 2028? That’s something to aim for.
What’s next for this play and what’s next for you?
We have 14 performances, October 10-27, 2018 @ Theatre 54 at Shetler Studios, 244 West 54th Street, 12th Floor (tickets: www.tictheater.com). I am hoping to draw women’s groups to see the show and we are offering talk backs and podcast interviews after several performances. After this run, I am developing the script into a TV pilot and shooting it! Lastly, I am looking to bring this play to co-working and corporate environments as part of their Learning & Development offerings — the stories and characters in this play can spark productive conversations about anti-harassment, hiring best practices, and creating a safe and supportive work environment.
Wed. Oct. 10 @ 7:30 PM; Thur. Oct. 11 @ 7:30 PM; Fri. Oct. 12 @ 7:30 PM; Sat. Oct. 13 @ 7:30 PM – with reception following in Shetler’s Penthouse 1 space; Sun. Oct. 14 @ 2:30 PM – matinee; Wed. Oct. 17 @ 7:30 PM; Thur. Oct. 18 @ 7:30 PM; Fri. Oct. 19 @ 7:30 PM; Sat. Oct. 20 @ 7:30 PM; Sun. Oct. 21 @ 2:30 PM – matinee; Wed. Oct. 24 @ 7:30 PM; Thur. Oct. 25 @ 7:30 PM; Fri. Oct. 26 @ 7:30 PM; Sat. Oct. 27 @ 7:30 PM
$20 tickets: http://www.tictheater.com ($25 on Sat. Oct. 13 performance with reception following)