Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Intelligent, Clever, Funny

About the show

softFocus presents the world premiere of this satire starring Tony nominee Austin Pendleton as a veteran theater professor of an MFA playwriting program.

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Ward Stein (Pendleton) presides over his class. Posters from old productions of his plays adorn the walls. There's a framed Obie Award, bookcases crammed with tomes, a table, chairs, and a boombox. His students range in age from early to late 20s. Kris and Zorick get ready to read Riley's play as the other students look on...

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The New York Times

“The dialogue is a succession of quick jabs and uppercuts, and references abound…At the same time, ‘The Workshop’ does not feel overly insidery…As an incisive and insightful tale of ambition and envy, inspiration and mediocrity, the show should resonate with a wide swath of theatergoers…The writing, bolstered by Mr. Pendleton’s poignant performance, transcends the chuckles as it depicts a man staring at the abyss of his failure.” Full Review

Time Out New York

“You can tell Torrey Townsend has studied his craft…You can tell because the very idea of studying art fills him with both affection and revulsion…‘The Workshop's’ desultory portrait of their semester lasts two and a half hours, yet somehow rarely feels long. Townsend’s well-performed play is bracingly cynical…Adams’s intimate production tucks us close enough that we can smell the spilled coffee. The scorched odor of dying dreams, though, is the thing that keep us awake.” Full Review

Village Voice

"Townsend’s bitingly funny demolition of writerly ambition...What elevates the material over drive-by satire is Townsend’s mixed love and disgust for stage dinosaurs like Stein...Townsend’s script could stand to lose 20 minutes...There are also minor false notes...But the intimate, tight-focus staging by director Adams is perfectly scaled...The young ensemble is appealing and precise in their character typing, and Pendleton does Pendleton—the elvish, shambolic shaman—surpassingly well." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

“It’s the kind of raw, audacious evisceration that only someone who truly loves the messy, awful art of the stage could perform…This combustion of frustration and exhilaration makes for one hell of an evening of theater. Directed with a deft and unaffected hand by Adams and featuring a shattering central performance by Pendleton…‘The Workshop’ is a breathtaking study of an Ego…The uncomfortable brilliance of ‘The Workshop’ is that it won’t let us pat ourselves on the back.” Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Beautifully written, acted and directed new play

See it if you won't want to miss A. Pendleton's superb performance as a Eugene O"Neill coulda-been in a play that should see many future productions.

Don't see it if you're not inclined to like an "insider's" take on playwriting or art-making generally.

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Niche

See it if this is a play for theatre people, and a smart/witty one at that. Superbly acted with a centerpiece performance by Pendleton.

Don't see it if I can imagine most of the show not being nearly as entertaining if you weren't in the theatre. The script could also stand to loose 15 min.

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if You want to see a well written show about the world of theatre with characters to care about

Don't see it if You do not know much about the theatre world

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy witty dialogue laced with references to famous playwrights in an intimate setting.

Don't see it if Prefer elaborate staging with music/dancing.

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if you luurrrrrrve theater and well written, well-crafted plays. Loved the insider jokes, the sarcasm, the sadness and the great performances.

Don't see it if you don't have strong opinions of NYT theater critics - really don't.

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great writing

See it if You want to see wonderful acting. Plot is a Master's Playwrighting Workshop. Love Austin Pendleton. Very funny, moving, exciting. See it!

Don't see it if You hate small venues and intimate setting.

Ambitious, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a show with great potential but still needing work

Don't see it if a show needing entire scenes to be struck severely disappoints you

Also it is almost always a mistake to introduce secondary characters that d... Read more Read less

Funny, Absorbing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if You want to sit in on an instructor and students of theater-slice of life scenes depicting playwriting process. Intimate setting.

Don't see it if You are uninterested in the creative process of developing plays and the numerous references to theater. I found this work very engaging.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing

See it if Smart, intimate, and real. You feel like you're in the room, but without the threat of audience participation. Pendleton & Co. all very good

Don't see it if You won't get as much out of this play if your theatre/lit knowledge is subpar. This play works best for well-read urban sophisticates.

Good acting, Very meta, Interesting premise, little development, Too drawn out

See it if Self-referential play about MFA playwriting class that uses up all ideas in act 1: emo needy has-been prof, inappropriate relationship, in-

Don't see it if articulate & illiterate would-be authors, preening successes but ignores only student of color. Even MFA students can leave at intermission.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you want to see some very talented actors (incl. the masterful Austin Pendleton) play out a fascinating polemic on the art of playwriting.

Don't see it if you have no interest in modern drama or the insight into the writing process; you're uneasy in intimate settings (ie, an audience of 40).

Also Extra points are given to the cast for powering through and overcoming... Read more Read less

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if You want insight into theater writing, and how success and failure affects the writer,while being entertained. Sitting close draws you in.

Don't see it if If you have no patience for witnessing a process, which includes long speeches. One character not fleshed out as well as the others.

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if You like small, intimate productions.

Don't see it if you are looking for a glitzy, action packed theatre production.

Also Theatre is small and intimate with about 30 seats. Unfortunately, a wo... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you love theater and what makes theater.. Austin Pendleton is superb. The setting is great. It is perfect for anyone who wants to write .. .

Don't see it if Only about 40 seats Only two more weeks to the run.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Indulgent, Entertaining

See it if you love intimate theatre (the actors are so close, you can touch them), ensemble pieces about relationships, and episodic structure.

Don't see it if you're not a fan of the "Annie Baker" school of playwriting (narratives that gradually unspool, often in real time) & like plot-driven shows

Clever, Intellectual, Talky, Rambling, For theater buffs

See it if you like plays about theater. TW is compelling w/ focus on writers (not actors). Fine ensemble acting, but Pnd'ton had some trouble w/lines.

Don't see it if discussions of theater seem pretentious .Or digressions annoy you (long one re: child molestation). TW needs cutting. Easily 30 mins.

Also I had fun at TW. I wanted a notepad and pen to take notes. Pendleton's... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if You're up for an intense character study about a college prof who is a hero or a villain to the students he helps or warps. You decide.

Don't see it if All talk but almost no physical action is not your idea of a satisfying evening of theater. I was mesmerized.

Clever, Great acting, Intense, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if You enjoy theatre about the theatre. You like satire. You enjoy site-specific theatre. You like being up close to the performers.

Don't see it if You have no interest in theatre that talks about itself. You dislike small performing spaces. You don't like theatre about the process.

Also And now a word about theatre etiquette: if you have an annoying laugh ... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Relevant

See it if you're interested in "academic" theatre; are a theatre professional;have read /seen many famous American plays; are an Austin Pendleton fan.

Don't see it if you want somethng light; don't have a fairly good background in American theatre history; don't like "talky" plays.

Funny, Intelligent, Riveting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You have a good knowledge of theatre and its history. You want to see characters with interesting stories

Don't see it if Want something easy and light

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense

See it if You like to see new works by young playwrights. Great cast led by Austin Pendleton.

Don't see it if You're not a drama fan or do not like being in a very small theater.

Also I'd guess there are less than 40 seats in a small area very close to t... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Must see, Resonant, As good as it gets

See it if You want to see a compelling, tender, and real story told by a master actor and his ensemble.

Don't see it if You can't sit for 2 1/2 hours in a tiny space, virtually on top of the actors.

Also This play was riveting from the start. It's the story of a playwright ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Funny with good bits of drama, Fine ensemble acting

See it if You like smart ideas that are written, acted & staged well. It helps if you are versed in lit & dramaturgy, but it's compelling regardless.

Don't see it if Don't like teensy spaces where you're on top of actors. Not lots of action, & talky by design. Profanity/raunchy sex talk (lots) 1st scene.

Also Runtime is 2.5 hours, but I didn't feel it. Was impressed with the pre... Read more Read less

Funny, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you can appreciate a funny, intelligent take on the conflict between millennials and baby boomers and how they define theater.

Don't see it if you have no familiarity with theater history.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent

See it if austin was outstanding while the other actors were mixed the day we saw it.

Don't see it if you don't like intelligent shows

Cast & Creatives (9)