It is my pleasure to announce, that this week we have been in rehearsals for a workshop of "The Penalty" by Clay Mcleod Chapman and Robert M. Johanson that will culminate in a closed, invite only reading at The Public Theater here in New York City.
The Public Theater has been working with us every step of the way. It's a true exchange, one where both organizations are learning a great deal from each other while working collaboratively to present the best work possible.
We have an incredible, integrated cast of eight actors, four musicians and a musical director who have been working on bringing this play to life throughout the week.
My own personal biography is filled with mixed feelings and emotions towards doctors and the medical community. For most of my life, I was led to believe that my disability was a direct result of medical malfeasance. When I first saw "The Penalty" I couldn't help but draw parallels between what I perceived to be the story of my own "botched birth" and that of Blizzard, the criminal kingpin who vows revenge against the doctor who wrongfully amputates his legs following a childhood accident.
It wasn't hard to see that there was something fascinating about Chaney himself. I knew very little about him before seeing the PBS special and subsequent research on my own. First and foremost, Lon Chaney contradicted the Hollywood ideal of beauty, glamour and romance. Both his parents were deaf, and it was through non verbal communication with them with which he credits his mastery of the art of pantomime. In addition, Chaney's second wife, Hazel's previous husband was a double amputee.
Beyond these real life coincidences however (or maybe because of them), throughout his career Chaney played myriad disabled characters imbuing each and every one of them with great strength and determination.
Check out Lon Chaney as the nefarious, Blizzard
Like Lon Chaney, I have always felt a great affinity for the monsters and the villains. As he (Chaney), eloquently stated in response to a fan letter inquiring why he played such dark, detestable characters, "...No matter how evil the characters are there's some redeeming spot of good in them."
Blizzard has overcome a great deal of adversity in his world to become a great power on the Lower East Side. He is challenging because he is dark, complex and let's face it- EVIL. Underneath the universe of blood, thunder and tears however, beats a human heart.
Thanks to all who have made this chamber version of "The Penalty" possible.
Gregg Mozgala, Artistic Director