If Peter Welch’s existentialist comedy got an airing on Netflix, he would defer in favor of calling the production a dramady – and with good reason. “People wouldn’t know what you were talking about and no one would watch it,” he says of Autumn Stage, which will get a seven night run at the Theater for the New City in September. Following three “spiritually disconnected” people who take to an abandoned stage in search of themselves, the trio’s imaginary billing still leaves things open to interpretation, but the premise of his production suffers no such doubt, Welch believes.
“Everybody play acts,” he says of the production that begins on September 4. “We all live vicariously through some other thing.”
He doesn’t situate the necessity to a healthy form of dreaming, though. “Is life that bad that I have to do this. Maybe it is?” Welch wonders aloud.
The sentiment obviously explains the constant need to get lost in the latest film, TV show or musical number, but he came to the realization through his cumulative experience on the other end. “You’re always searching for something that is absent in your life so we try to discover what it is through the artistic process,” says Welch.
HIs lost souls find a light in a summer stage that lays fallow because of a union strike. “They’ve lost touch with their identity,” says Welch. “They can’t find anyone or anything that they can touch and say, ‘that’s me. I understand this. I fit in.’”
Nonetheless, Autumn Stage puts their journey on the clock. “The strike is ending the next day, and this is the last night for them to figure out their problems,” he says.
The audience also travels this ambiguous journey in wait of the curtain call. “Saying they are a janitor or a nurse would be inaccurate. They are constantly changing their identity until the end of the play reveals who they really are,” says the New York City writer/actor/photographer.
Welch originally aired one scene of his play at the Lower East Side Festival for the Arts in 2013 and has since had two readings. “This is still a work in progress,” he says.
On this turn, he’s allowing season’s change to fall where it may. “You have to let go,” he says as Jonathan Weber will take the director’s chair.
Thus, Welch writer understands the importance of opening up art to the ideas of others. At the same time, being on stage means the urge to act out doesn’t really come up over any possible differences. “I have to worry about lines and connecting with the other actors, but if I was just watching, I would probably be more neurotic.”
The same goes for just being in the industry. “You’re always looking for a new job. One thing ends and you got to get something else,” he says. “It’s endless.”
That creates plenty of potential for spiritual disconnection in its own right. In other careers, people stay in your life for longer periods. They don’t just disappear they way they do when a project ends,” says Welch
On other hand, NYC helps fill the void. “Even though projects end, that’s always there,” he says. “There’s plenty of friends that go with it.”
Sounds like his journey does have meaning and maybe the Autumn Stage players will arrive at a similar destination.
Show Dates for “Autumn Stage” are:
Sunday, September 4th @ 2:00 PM
Monday September 5th @ 9:00 PM
Tuesday September 6th @ 6:30 PM
Wednesday September 7th @ 6:30 PM
THursday September 8th @ 9:00 PM
Saturday September 10th @ 8:00 PM
Sunday September 11th @ 5:00 PM.
The Theater for the New City is located at 155 1st Avenue in Manhattan
Rich Monetti lives in Somers, New York. He graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Plattsburgh State but changed careers to journalism in 2003. When not working on features, he's honing a screenplay loosely and humorously based on Richard III, and the events that led up to his demise. You can follow him on his blog.