Review: Parental Guidance Suggested

Parental Guidance Suggested.rtfdIrene Hernandez’s Parental Guidance Suggested

at The Dream Up Festival

by Marcina Zaccaria

What is it like to be a daycare teacher?  Is it a demeaning routine that leaves one without hope, with the shouting, the screaming, the bottles, and toys everywhere?  Is it impossible?

That’s exactly what Writer/ Director/ Actor Irene Hernandez explores in her new play, Parental Guidance Suggested, at The Dream Up Festival at Theater for the New City.  Billed as a “True Musical Dramedy,” it’s a boisterous 65 minutes, with plenty of complaints, dilemmas, and desperation.

Irene works with real children on this play, and it was largely a success.  The other “elder” actress in the play, named Miss Perfect, was convincing, dressed in a costume that represents East Village funk.  Similarly, the writing is succinct, and includes the everyday struggle involved in minimum wage work.  Irene somehow suffers mightily, while experiencing incredible growth through the process.  The moment-to-moment directing and acting are actually quite tight.  In fact, Hernandez’s interdisciplinary skills provide the greatest source of strength in this piece.

Hernandez, the daughter of Cuban immigrants, has an incredibly loud, resonant singing voice, and in fact, it would have been a joy to hear her sing a bit more.  The depths of despair are something to get loud about, and Hernandez does it with a grim disposition, but every force of will.  Eventually, she makes a terrific exit, when her character gets fired and walks out the door.  It’s a great release, after all the strain and daily trials of teaching.  In true cabaret form, she makes the most of it, posing at the exit door.

Parental Guidance Suggested ran from August 27th – September 12th at the Cabaret Theater at Theater for New City, located at 155 First Avenue in New York City.

Review: Village, My Home at the Community Theater

VillageMediumVillage, My Home Review: In The Chaos of New York City, Is This A Village We Can Search Our Home?

By Irene Hernandez

A sepia shaded, vintage silent film of tree roots, on a constant loop, is projected on a small screen above a simple set of a small stoop of stairs begins the 40 minute journey of Marcina Zaccaria’s Village, My Home at the Community Theater  at Theater For The New City for the Dream Up Festival in the East Village.

The silence and roots will elude the various characters cluttering the stage, especially the lead character, played by Frances McGarry. The sassy redhead’s claim of brilliance, beauty and basically knowing all is less self-confidence and more arrogant combativeness. Indeed, most of the characters in various vignettes in this production have an urgent need to be heard and yet aren’t paying much attention to those around them in a similar plight.

In other words, these characters are New Yorkers.

The archetypical characters, portrayed by an energetic ensemble, are the types of people you would come across on a subway platform or Union Square. The unnamed characters span generations and language but have a common strand: they all look outside themselves for meaning, identity, and a sense of home, filling the spaces in their lives with constant movement and sound to attempt avoiding their dissatisfaction.

One element of the show is how our digital era – fax machines, email, printers – can add to our frustration, while the use of laptops and cell phones – to text, or take pictures or video – detaches us from living in the moment and our sense of community and connection.

Consistently projected on the small screen is the statement: I built my home. Have these contemporary New Yorkers built a home or a prison of chronic dissatisfaction?

Offering perspective throughout the play is a Greek Chorus of mature hippies, played by Marjorie Conn, Madalyn McKay and Maile Souza. This elegant trio of actresses introduced rhythm, music and dance, suggesting that simplicity, creating with your body and building something from the ground up with those you care for, your village, can be the closest we get to building a home, even if it falls apart. This idea is easily relatable in our current times.

Special mention to Lindsay Shields for her varied video work that subtly underlined the story elements in the play’s opening and transitions as well as Maria Ortiz Proveda’s costume design, with the refreshing inclusion of Greek puppetry.  I  don’t think I’ll forget the giant puppet head of Sadaam Hussein anytime soon.

With so many themes and interesting elements within 40 minutes of the production, I’m curious if Zaccaria’s intent is to keep the show as a short flow of ideas or to expand and organize the hustle and bustle rhythms and refreshing earthy elements into a full length play. Either way, Marcina Zaccaria’s Village, My Home will make you consider to slow down and rethink what home really is.

Irene Hernandez is an actor, playwright, director, producer, singer, songwriter, designing artisan, poet, art model, teaching artist and artistic director of Dancing Frog Theater Company.

Where: Theater for the New City on 155 First Avenue

Friday, September 1 at 9PM
Saturday, September 2 at 2PM
Sunday, September 3 at 8PM

Tickets are available at SmartTix.


Meet Marcina Zaccaria & Village, My Home

Name: Marcina Zaccaria

What is your current project?
My new provocative and timely new drama Village, My Home
Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production?
Performances of “Village, My Home” — about diverse New Yorkers confronting political and cultural uncertainties — will run Sunday, August 27 at 5PM; Tuesday, August 29 at 9PM; Thursday, August 31 at 9PM; Friday, September 1 at 9PM; Saturday, September 2 at 2PM; and Sunday, September 3 at 8PM at the Theater for the New City on 155 First Avenue in Manhattan.
In a chaotic business world, do we know the difference between astrophysics and Buddha? Can it all be solved with yoga? Featuring characters at various points of their lives, Village, My Home questions how we choose New York City and what are the comforts that draw us back home. We meet the Old Woman, a matriarch who loves to paint and remembers the horrors of greater storms. We get a glimpse of out-of-towners and travelers from other boroughs, willing to take the City. Just when you yearn for your fax machine, we meet a new school, techno-tribal Computer Geek who threatens to interrupt the very subways that connect us every day. With theatrical movement and state-of-the-art sound design, “Village, My Home” promises to warm the heart and calm the most unsettling times The Theater for the New City is a terrific theater which has been presenting plays since the 1970s. And the 8th Annual Dream Up Festival is an ultimate new work festival, dedicated to the joy of discovering new authors and edgy, innovative performances
I am the Event Coordinator for an organization called LIT, the League of Independent Theater. We are hosting programs for indie theater artists in September and October.
What is the name of the last show you saw?
“My Dear Watson” at the New York Musical Festival
Create every day! Have many, many friends.
Marcina Zaccaria is a writer, director, and arts administrator. She has directed readings and performances in venues that include New Dramatists, TheaterLab, HERE Arts Center, 13th Street Repertory Theatre, Soho Rep, Dance Theater Workshop, The Brick Theater, and the Ohio Theater. She curated a Salon at Dixon Place, which featured visual artists, spoken word artists, dancers, filmmakers, and theater artists. Zaccaria has written monologues, published in InterJACtions: Monologues from the Heart of Human Nature (Vol. II), available on Amazon. She is published in the New Crit section of Howl Round, and her clips can be found on Twitter. An editor at The Theatre Times, Marcina is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Show Information:

Where: Theater for the New City on 155 First Avenue
  • Sunday, August 27 at 5PM
  • Tuesday, August 29 at 9PM
  • Thursday, August 31 at 9PM
  • Friday, September 1 at 9PM
  • Saturday, September 2 at 2PM
  • Sunday, September 3 at 8PM
Tickets are available at SmartTix.
“Village, My Home” stars Frances McGarry; Marjorie Conn*; Michael C. O’Day*; Kelsey Shapira; Jeff Burchfield*; Madalyn McKay; Christina Ashby; Maile Souza Sean Evans; Maria Severny; Stephanie Roseman; Meaghan Adawe McLeod; Rebecca Genéve, and Catherine Luciani. Jak Prince is the lighting designer. Maria Ortiz Poveda is the costume designer. Dana Robbins is stage managing.