“I grew up in Tokyo,” says Laura Brienza, the author of The Bunk Bed in Heaven. “A priest there once gave a homily hypothesizing that Heaven and Hell were identical rooms with long tables and chopsticks so enormous that you couldn't use them to feed yourself. In Heaven, everyone fed each other across the table. But in Hell, everyone starved.”
Brienza’s 53-page script explores the afterlife, but is really about human relationships. The titular bunk bed is shared by Natalie and her estranged mother, Ellen. Director Thomas Brown was immediately drawn to the unique format and the themes of forgiveness and redemption. “The story unfolds beautifully in the hands of some very intricate and compelling characters,” he says.
Brown will face the challenge of differentiating two “worlds” within the play, with scenes alternating between Heaven and Earth. Like each of the New Plays Festival productions, he’ll do so with very few technical elements. “I intend to do a ‘glorified staged reading’,” says Brown, “meaning there will be scripts in hand with some very minimal blocking, lighting, and props.” The main emphasis will be on performance, story, and dialogue. “I have a very talented set of actors from different backgrounds, and I think the chemistry between them promises to bring some fantastic results.”
Brienza is a rising star in theatre, television, and film. Says www.nytheatre.com: “Brienza has vision, talent, a unique point of view, and an exciting dynamic voice. She’s also got a playwright’s ability to make her audience think, without preaching at them.” This even-handed quality is not surprising, considering Brienza’s take on her characters in The Bunk Bed in Heaven. “There’s two sides to everything,” she says. “A little empathy goes a long way.”
NOTE: The Bunk Bed in Heaven will be performed on Saturday, April 18 only.