the pawnbroker

Our Fringe Encore Series Picks

There’s this wonderful thing where if you missed the Fringe festival because, let’s say, you were having an awesome scuba-diving vacation or you chose to spend your days so as to avoid tourists at any means possible, you can still catch some of the festival’s most popular and highly-rated shows. Some of our favorites have ended up in this year’s Encore Series, performed at Soho Playhouse and Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, so catch them before they’re gone for good!

Hoaxacaust! by Barry Levey

This one-man show about Holocaust deniers had so many enjoyable and provocative twists and ideas that left us in its grips for days. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a one-person show that was as thrilling and absorbing as this. Final Encores performance plays at Baruch PAC on 9/24 at 7:30pm

Gary Busey’s One-Man Hamlet (as performed by David Carl)

One of the biggest successes at Fringe, this playful, hilarious, and absurd show was an absolute joy. Interviewing David Carl was also one of the highlights of our festival coverage. Final performances play at Baruch PAC on 9/26 and 10/3 at 9pm

Octavia Chavez-Richmond (Sophie) and Gary De Mattei (lawyer Isaac) in No One Asked Me
Octavia Chavez-Richmond (Sophie) and Gary De Mattei (lawyer Isaac) in No One Asked Me

No One Asked Me by Kate Ballen

This focused and realistic new play draws on Ballen’s work with undocumented public high school students in New York City as they look towards college, citizenship, and bettering their families’ lives. It’s striking and intimate, the kind of work that could open people’s eyes to the everyday challenges of immigration in the city. Opens at Soho Playhouse on 9/26.

Absolutely Filthy by Brendan Hunt

This dark comedy imagines the iconic Peanuts characters as adults gathering for their friend’s funeral. But it’s also so much more than that. Brendan Hunt gives the festival’s most acclaimed performance, and its simple yet ambitious message of growing up and taking charge of your decisions is stunning to watch unfold. Opens at Soho Playhouse on 10/3


The Pawbroker: Lies, Lovers, and Bertolt Brecht by Katelin Wilcox

This one-women show about Brecht’s lovers and their influences on his most famous works expertly blends biography and entertainment, making it one of the festival’s surprise hits. It’s a must-see for anyone remotely familiar with Brecht or interested in theater*cough* you *cough* Final performance at Baruch PAC on 9/28


You can find information on these and other Encores shows at the Soho Playhouse and Baruch PAC websites.

“The Pawnbroker” Delves into Untold Stories of Bertolt Brecht

As much as I love the New York Fringe Festival, I was only able to see one production in this year’s fest. I was spending the rest of August engaging with theatre in a very different–albeit sweeter–way, as I reprised the role of Jenna in Vital Theatre’s production of Peace, Love, and Cupcakes The Musical. The one FringeNYC show I was able to see was directed by my PLC director, Jennifer Curfman, and it made my short foray into this year’s Fringe Festival totally worth it.


The Pawnbroker: Lies, Lovers, and Bertolt Brecht’s tagline is “the controversial story of Brecht’s legend–and what five women lost to create it.” Actress and playwright Katelin Wilcox portrays all five women, who not only had romantic affiliations with Brecht, but also shaped the plays he wrote–and were forever shaped by him in return.

I’m not going to lie: one-person shows fill me with a sense of trepidation, unless your first name is John and your last name is Leguizamo. I would rather see the drama of a theatrical performance take place because of a conflict created by more than one character on stage. (This is almost a conundrum regarding fringe festivals, as a good portion of their programming includes solo acts.)

Despite my fears, The Pawnbroker exceeds all expectations. Katelin Wilcox transitions seamlessly from woman to woman throughout the piece, using distinctive red accents for each character she inhabits: a flower pin, a knit hat, a pencil, a handkerchief, and silk scarf. Wilcox’s performance is nuanced and fully-lived. With every woman she portrays, she is not just becoming another character: she is taking on their circumstances, experiencing their triumphs and tragedies, and giving voices to their untold stories. While I’ve read and enjoyed many of Brecht’s plays–especially for their complex and intriguing female characters–I had no idea how many women collaborated on his works. While I was grinning at the sly comedy in The Threepenny Opera, I didn’t know that Elisabeth Hauptmann, a German writer, was Brecht’s key collaborator on the book and lyrics. When I empathizing with the plight of Shen Te in The Good Person of Szechwan, I wasn’t aware her story wouldn’t have been the same without the collaboration of Margarete Steffin, a German writer, and Ruth Berlau, a Danish writer, director, and actress. What makes their absence in Brecht’s legacy even more striking in The Pawnbroker is a series of Brecht-style projections that feature quotes from theatre greats (such as Peter Brook and Tony Kushner) praising Brecht for his achievements in the theatre. While Brecht’s achievements should continue to be known, understood and celebrated, The Pawnbroker makes the excellent case that the women who created with him should spend as much time in the spotlight.

Even though FringeNYC has closed its doors for another year, The Pawnbroker returns as part of FringeNYC’s Encore Series. Learn more about its extended run here.

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