September Spotlight on Women in the Arts: Natalie Menna

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Natalie Menna is an award-winning playwright and actress living in downtown Brooklyn.

A native New Yorker, she recently won Outstanding Overall Production of a Play and Best Actor for her full-length drama Committed at Planet Connections Theatre Festivity 2015. Now running at the Theater of the 14th Street Y, Committed, received six nominations, including Outstanding Production of a Staged Reading, Outstanding Playwright For A New Play in a Reading, Best Director, Best Actress, and Two Nominations for Best Actor.

She was nominated for Outstanding Writer for her full-length comedy ZEN A.M. in Planet Connections Theatre Festivity 2014. Her solo show ROBERTA! was featured in United Solo Theatre Festival, Theatre Row, in November 2014. Select previous awards include The Nettie Award for Best Solo Show for her play i-POD in the Network One-Act Festival, and Best Actress for i-POD in The Midtown International Theatre Festival.

Robertai-POD, and Zen A.M. were recently published by indietheaternow.com and are available to purchase.

We spoke with this club kid at heart after a victorious opening weekend of COMMITTED.

Tell us about yourself:  I’m a native New Yorker.  My latest play Occasionally Nothing was nominated for Planet Connections Best Sequel 2017.  I am a resident playwright at Stindberg Rep and adapted Stug Dalager’s Journey in Light and Shadow in 2017.  My solo show I-pod won awards for Best Solo Show in MITF and Outstanding Actress in The Nettie’s 2011-12.  For more info and awards, please visit www.nataliemenna.com

What’s it like being a female  playwright in NYC?:  Exhilarating! I started as an actress, and while I still love performing, playwriting provides an opportunity to right the wrongs of the universe, or ar least attempt to.

Do you find there are more/less opportunities because you are a woman?:   All playwrights face the same challenges.  I don’t think opportunities are particularly based on gender anymore.  Income seems to play the determining role in a playwright’s opportunities, which is a disturbing trend.  However, the disparity in income between men and women does make it harder for women to gain a foothold in this field.

What influences your choice of subject?  Has to be incredibly hilarious or horrifying to motivate me.

What happens the day the play closes?: The sun comes up. ( Pause). Hopefully.

committed-posterTell us about COMMITTED: I was fascinated when I first heard the story of Theo Van Gogh’s life-death.  This was the first historical fiction piece I wrote.  It was a challenge to write about a person whose behavior was offensive on so many levels, while maintaining the integrity of his character.  Of course there is a natural reluctance even to approach a character with such abhorrent views, yet I felt compelled to write about such a character and also to address his underlying humanity.  I hope this play may raise consciousness of otherness and the damaging role of aspersions cast upon others.  I would like this play to reach a wider audience to realize the destructive role of prejudice and unchecked people.  I hope it might open up a significant societal discourse on free speech and the role of responsibility in public discourse.

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