Sunday, January 31, 2016

Toni Schlesinger's The Fifth Woman, Metropolitan Playhouse, NYC, January 2016
Performed by Benjamin Russell*, Tess Frazer*, Brian Poteat*/Michael Hardart*
Concept/Writing/Direction/Design: Toni Schlesinger

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dixon Place Presents
The World Premiere of

Toni Schlesinger's The Mystery of Pearl Street
February 2014

Friday & Saturday nights, Feb 7-22, 2014

“Genuinely fascinating...”
– Alexis Sosloki,  The Village Voice

– Jenny Davidson, Columbia University professor and author

“A perfect fit for her obsessive need to form a single, satisfactory picture from a million scattered puzzle pieces.”
– Scott Sifftler, The Villager

©2014 Jim R. Moore /
 A three-person play, set in the mysterious Blue Room ---  playwright, performer, and journalist Toni Schlesinger pursues the unsolved real-life story of two artists who disappeared in 1997 from their 19th century loft near the East River on one of the oldest streets in Manhattan.

    The double mystery, is a wildly visual, psychological, and philosophical exploration of terror, romance, police procedure, money, real estate, and the city's history, from the ruthless colonists and clipper ships to the booms on Wall Street. Pearl Street is finally a story of love and loss, loss that no one saw coming--the oldest story in the book--and the Valentine dinner when one could not have known what a large and horrific turn life could take.

Open for critical review
Contact Tim Ranney, 212.219.0736 ext. 4;

7:30 curtain
161A Chrystie Street, NYC [directions]

$16 Advance ( / $20 Door / $12 Students & Seniors 
anytime / 212-219-0736
The cocktail Lounge is always open before, during, and after the show!

Tax-deductible contributions --- separate from ticket purchases --- go directly to artists:
If you prefer to send a check, please make out to Dixon Place
earmark: Toni Schlesinger. Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street, NYC 10002.

©2014 Jim R Moore /
Writer/Designer/Dixon Place Artist’s Resident & Commissioned Artist: Toni Schlesinger
Director: Will Detlefsen
Performers: Toni Schlesinger, Heather Thiry,  & Carl Fengler
Set: Mary Griswold
Original Music: Nicholas Pavkovic
Stage Manager: Carolyn Cutillo 
Assistant Producers: Richard Tan & Harrison Kaufman
Assistant Director: Elias Duncan
Photographer: Jim Moore
Lighting Designer: Rob Lariviere
Co-graphic Designer: You-Young Kim

This commission is supported with private funds by The Jerome Foundation, The Peg Santwood Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, The Puffin Foundation, and Catherine Morrison Golden. 

Public funds, in part, are from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Creative Team:
Toni Schlesinger (Writer, Designer, Performer, Dixon Place Artist Resident & Commissioned Artist) is a New York City-based playwright, theater designer, fiction writer, and journalist.  She has written, designed, and often performed in more of her original 25 stage works at theaters including Dixon Place, St. Ann’s Warehouse, HERE, The Metropolitan Playhouse, and more. She was the creator of the weekly, award-winning “Shelter” column that ran for eight years in the Village Voice, a columnist for the New York Observer, and a longtime reporter for the Chicago Reader and more. Her journalism has also been published in The New York Times and Slate’s Double X. Her book, Five Flights Up, a collection of her Voice columns, was published by Princeton Architectural Press and praised by actor/director Tom Hanks in Entertainment Weekly as a “must read.”  She is the creator of the graphic serial, Kansas O’Flaherty: Secret Agent, with drawings by The New Yorker magazine artist Tom Bachtell.

Will Detlefsen (Director) most recently directed the revival of the late British playwright Sarah Kane's Blasted in New York City (2013). He was awarded the 2013 Drama League Fellowship and directed Wendy Dann's The Stranger Plays, A Year With Frog & Toad, and a stage adaptation of Jean-Luc Godard's film, Breathless , at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York. Detlefsen is also the artistic director of New York-based theatre company, MultiPurposeRoom, for which he directed Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party, Televise THIS!, and the upcoming YEAR of the HIPPO. Detlefsen’s assisting credits include Rachel Chavkin, Young Jean Lee, and Robert Moss. He is a graduate of New York University  where he studied Directing at the Playwrights Horizons Theatre School. 

Heather Thiry (Performer) is a New York City-based actress and dancer originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has a BFA in drama from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she studied at the Stella Adler Studio, the Experimental Theatre Wing, and RADA in London. She has worked as a member of the Bats, the resident acting company at The Flea Theatre, and has performed in productions at The Brick, Columbia Stages, and Manhattan Repertory Theatre 

Carl Fengler (Performer) is a native of Burlington, Vermont and has performed numerous lead roles in independent films that have found success in film festivals including Jeremiah Chase in Quantum Wave at Slam Dance. Among Carl’s Off Broadway performances, Carl originated the role of Leon, the romantic lead from the play Rite of Return at Theater for the New City and played Stanley in a production of Richard III for Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. Recent New York City roles include originating the role of Seth in Divorce First Class at The Gallery Players as well as playing Mark in The Shadow Box in a special Tisch, NYU production directed by Kenneth Noel Mitchell. Favorite regional theater roles include Andrew Rally in I Hate Hamlet at NJ Castle Shakespeare Repertory.  Carl graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA in Acting from University of Connecticut and earned a Masters in Counseling Psychology from Fordham University.

Mary Griswold (Set), a longtime collaborator with Toni Schlesinger, was most recently the puppet builder of Schlesinger’s The Woman Who Lives By The Sea (2012) at Dixon Place. She has been the principal set designer and scenic artist for the Eastman Opera Theater in Rochester for 30 some productions since 1995. Her first professional credit was the Organic Theater Company’s premiere of David Mamet’s Sexual Perversity in Chicago followed by productions at the Goodman Theater (She Always Said Pablo), the Kennedy Center, and more.

Nicholas Pavkovic (Original Music), a longtime collaborator with Toni Schlesinger, is a prolific composer for film, scored more than two dozen narrative features and shorts, and was named a Sundance Composers Lab fellow (2008). In the same year his Concertino for Piano and Percussion received the grand prize in the Percussive Arts Society composition competition. After receiving a degree in mathematics at the University of Chicago, he completed his graduate studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he now teaches musicianship and music theory. His chamber opera, Sredni Vashtar, premiered in 2010, and his orchestral composition, Angelus Novus, received the Conservatory's James Highsmith Award in 2011. Pavkovic is General Manager of the concert series “Curious Flights” and Executive Director of the Ross McKee Foundation for the Musical Arts.

Richard Tan (Assistant Producer) is an actor and an assistant director for narrative and documentary features in New York. He was born in Singapore, raised in London, and graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. He holds a Master's degree in Film and Psychology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. 

Harrison Kaufman (Assistant Producer) is currently an undergraduate in the B. F. A. Drama program at New York University, studying in the Playwrights Horizons Theater School.  Previously, he studied Theater and Performance Studies, as well as Playwriting, at The University of Chicago. There, he wrote and performed as a member of the 27th Generation of Off-Off Campus, the university’s renowned sketch and improv comedy troupe.  He also wrote/devised for readings, festivals, and even a translation of a French Mozart-based musical entitled “Mozart: L’Opera Rock.”  Primarily an actor, he was just involved in a web series Plan B, as one of the leading protagonists: Tom.   As a writer, Fable, composed by Christopher Anselmo, has been produced as a staged reading at Northwestern University, and The Actors Training Center in Wilmette, IL, and will be done as a full production here in NYC in July.  His short play Feelin’ Good will be produced by Tisch New Theatre in the Spring.  Harrison is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

Carolyn Cutillo (Stage Manager) is a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Primarily an actor, she has written, directed, and stage managed at Playwrights Horizons Theater School, and continued studying acting at the Experimental Theater Wing and Stonestreet Screen Acting Studio. Currently she is the Company Manager of Boxed Wine Productions, which she founded over three years ago. Carolyn last stage managed director Will Detlefsen's The Birthday Party; and produced her company's pageant, Jolly The Christmas Walrus. Recent performance credits include Safe at last summer's Edinburgh Fringe Festival and at 59E59; 100 Saints You Should Know; Matt & Ben; Dog Sees God; and numerous original plays and films with BWP. She can be seen on YouTube in web series AnnieCam as fictional video blogger Annie Price.

Jim Moore (Photographer) has been photographing the eccentric performing arts for over 30 years. He was a personal friend of Michael Sullivan who disappeared in 1997. He and Michael created and rehearsed a theatrical piece "Nouveau Recluse" with composer Craig Gordon that was never performed. Moore was also part of the Oscar- winning documentary Man On Wire as Philippe Petit's NYC contact/photographer. His photographs occupy the first half of the film.

Elias Duncan (Assistant Director)
is an acting and writing student at the Tisch School of Arts at New York University. He produces, writes, and performs works of Neo-Futurism and Theater of the Oppressed. He is zealous about experimental theater and performance art. He believes that new creative works like Pearl Street are pushing boundaries through exploring the capabilities of theatrical expression. 


Dylan Golden (Mystery) works for film director Darren Aronofsky at Protozoa Pictures. Mr. Golden is a graduate of the New York University Gallatin School where he wrote his thesis on “Authoring Mystery.” 

Dave Kehr (Magic) is the Adjunct Curator of Film at the Museum of Modern Art, a long time film columnist for the New York Times, Film Comment, the Chicago Reader, and many more publications and the author of When Movies Mattered (University of Chicago Press).

Lawrence Gulotta (Real Estate, Loft Movement, Urban Planning) is a Project Manager at the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation, a former New York City Loft Board member, and a contributor to Dissent magazine.

Juan Diaz (Spanish Dialect & South American Culture), born and raised in Colombia, is a New York-based photographer, DJ, architectural studies student, and Apple Genius.

Jeffrey D. Kidder (Reproductive Biology), Director of Education at the Black Rock Forest Consortium in Cornwall, New York, was formerly assistant professor at the Rutgers University Newark campus and at the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus and executive director of the not-for-profit Science Discovery in Boulder. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University.

Linda Nelson (Visual & Marketing) is a communications professional, known for integrated marketing campaigns, awarded a regional TELLY for an industrial video, and a consultant on matters of taste and visual aesthetic.  Additionally she secured a national grant to develop community gardens in Tucson, Arizona.

Zara Golden (Investigative & Marketing) is a freelance writer and editor in New York who has contributed to the Huffington Post, BlackBook, Village Voice, VH1 and the FADER. She graduated from NYU’s Gallatin School. 

Image credit: Nicholas Pavkovic

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Two Vanish From Their New York Loft — Toni Schlesinger’s play — The Mystery of Oyster Street, Sat, September 15, 2012, one night only preview — Dixon Place Presentation

Tickets on sale now for Sat. Sept 15, 7:30 pm — Toni Schlesinger's The Mystery of Oyster Street - a full-length performance of detection about a mystery within a mystery --- a murder, a love affair, and several vanishings from New York’s oldest street inspired by Toni’s years of researching the real-life 1997 disappearance of two artists from their NYC Pearl Street loft though all names, characters, places, and incidents in this play are the product of Toni’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Written & Designed by Toni Schlesinger. Co-Directed by Toni Schlesinger & Jeremy Bloom. Starring Drew Hildebrand and Esme Von Hoffman. Set pieces by Mary Griswold. Mystery consultant: Dylan Golden. Tickets: or OvationTix customer service toll-free:866-811-4111. ($12 in advance, $15 at door-$10 student & senior); Lower East Side NYC, 161A Chrystie Street between Rivington & Delancey,212.219.0736 F train to Second Avenue, 6 to Spring, & more
The Dixon Place Lounge, in the air conditioned, renovated Dixon Place is open before, during, and after the show. (6 pm-midnight) Proceeds directly support Dixon Place’s artists and mission. You can bring drinks in and drink during the show.

Toni awarded Dixon Place Artist-In-Residency “for exceptional artists” to develop her 90-minute play Five Flights Up

The October-December Dixon Place residency will be followed by a run of Five Flights Up (working title) in February 2014. Above: Raniah Day as the Reporter interviewing The Woman Who Lives By The Sea. This special workshop preview of a scene from Five Flights Up was presented by Dixon Place on May 2, 2012 and funded by The Jim Henson Foundation and The Puffin Foundation.
PHOTO: Richard Termine

 Toni’s fiction just published in Significant Objects anthology (Fantagraphics Books)

Toni’s fiction, “4-Tile” and the stories of Neil LaBute, William Gibson, Ed Park, Jenny Davidson, Luc Sante, Ben Greenman, and many more were just published in a very unusual book, about surprising responses to the challenge of manufacturing significance. Editors: Joshua Glenn & Rob Walker... com/Significant-Objects-Jason-Grote/dp/1606995251

Monday, April 9, 2012

Toni Schlesinger's 75,000-act play cycle -- Five Flights Up ---May 2 only!

Dixon Place Theater Presents

Act I of Five Flights Up (a 75,000-act play cycle)

7:30 pm, Wednesday, May 2, one night only
Conceived, Written, & Designed By Toni Schlesinger
Directed by Toni Schlesinger and Jeremy Bloom
With performers, co-theater artists, & designers: Cory Antiel, Raniah Day, Hal Eagar, Mary Griswold, Drew Hildebrand, Chris Maresca, Yoko Myoi, Nicholas Pavkovic, Meghan Maureen Williams, Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, & more.
Not so long ago, Toni Schlesinger visited the homes of New Yorkers to find out how they live and survive. Tonight the exploration is more meta-mythological-archetypical as the Reporter meets "The Woman Who Lives By The Sea," a tall, pre-Raphaelite with Chekovian longing and no ears, her romantic octopus, and Philosopher Fish who never stop thinking, in a creaky house on the Island of the Alone.
The full-length cycle, with large-scale puppets, actors, & projections, inspired by Toni’s collection of Village Voice “Shelter” columns in her book, Five Flights Up (Princeton Architectural Press) is in development and will not be presented in its entirety until 2013-2014. This one-night preview was made possible by a grant from The Jim Henson Foundation.
Lower East Side, NYC: 161A Chrystie Street between Rivington and Delancey --- F train to Second Avenue, 6 to Spring, & others:
Tickets: or OvationTix toll-free: 866-811-4111. The box office opens half an hour before the show. Call 212.219.0736 for reservations. The highly affordable $12 tickets ($10 student & senior) may sell fast because, in the second part of the evening, "Toni Schlesinger Interviews Comedian Reno Who Will Confess Everything". Toni last saw Reno on the street on September 11, 2001, with three water bottles and her dog --- an account of this is in Five Flights Up. The Dixon Place Lounge is open before, during, and after the show. (6 pm-midnight) Proceeds directly support Dixon Place’s artists and mission. You can bring drinks in and drink during the show.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Toni in "Beach Boys" performance Jan 23 & 24 NYC

A Puppet Playlist “Beach Boys” night — a presentation of Sinking Ship Productions and The Tank, a brilliant group. (Founders and curators and producers: Josh Luxenberg, Jon Levin, Brendan Yi-Fu Tay) There are a number of acts in the evening with many musicians, singers, puppeteers. Toni’s piece is:
“Good Vibrations: How High We Were
And A Brief Discussion Of The Theremin”
Written and designed by Toni, performed by Toni and Bobby Brower.
The Tank@Kraine Theater, above KGB Bar, 85 E 4th Street, NYC,
Monday, January 23: 8:00 p.m and Tues, January 24: 7:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
Puppet Playlist/Sinking Ship tickets sell out fast!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Jim Henson Foundation grant awarded for stage adaptation of Five Flights Up

The Jim Henson Foundation just awarded a grant to Toni for her concept, writing, and design of a five-act, large scale puppet work for the stage, a fictional adaptation of her book Five Flights Up (Princeton Architectural Press), the collection of her award-winning columns from the Village Voice about how people live and survive in the city.
Act I, "The Woman Who Lives By The Sea," will be developed to present in Spring 2012. Dates, times, place, actors, puppeteers TBA. The full length work including "The Richest Man In The World," "The Many," "Mr. and Mrs. Kalabash," and "The Man With The Knife In The Wall," will be presented in 2013-2014.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Toni's New York Times cruise ship stories & a Pearl Street story