Sometimes a play seems to have a mind of its own, and like an independent child, leaves its warm nurturing nest, wins awards across the country, and, in this case, gets turned into a film. That’s what happened to ‘Neitzsche’ Ate Here by local playwright Roy C. Berkowitz which returns home to DC for a special showing Saturday, March 9th.
Crafted, workshopped, and developed during the heady days of the original Source Theatre Festival, ‘Neitzsche’ captivated audiences because of its attention to human interaction, and clarifying moments of truth.
The short one-act depicts a chance meeting in a run-down diner outside Manassas, VA between Cheryl, a sarcastic street-wise waitress, and Paul, an esteemed attorney from DC. Both face their trepidations about each other and themselves as an event upsets their world. Steven Carpenter and Rena Cherry Brown originated the roles at Source.
Roy’s sweet nuggets of enlightenment come from a very dear place—they are deeply rooted in principles of Unity and his constantly evolving faith. When asked how his play was selected to be reworked into a movie, Roy responds that he didn’t expect it to happen. Any of it.
Gail Griffith and Bruce Jacklin performed Neitzsche in 2001 in Ohio. Director Matt Starr realized that the play resonated and touched people and ten years later, he directed the play in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. He found he was still so smitten by the play, he felt it simply had to be seen by as many people as possible. With an enormous leap of faith and determination, he became the movie’s director and producer, raised $20,000 and made the short film.
“So much of the donor base for this project came from the D.C. area along with the East Coast,” said Starr. “I can’t wait for all of the people who have believed in this story, Roy, and us to see this film. It is by far the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my career, and I’m quite proud of it and the team that made it come together.”
When I asked Roy what advice he has for new playwrights writing ten-minute plays who want to achieve more, he suggests – don’t stress about going beyond what feels right. Just keep building on what you do, let life unfold, and stay open to possibilities. Watching his script morph into a movie was just such a learning experience. Onstage, Cheryl looks out the window and sees something. In the movie, the camera follows her gaze and the audience can literally see it along with her.
Roy loves how the audience “fills in the spaces” in his plays, working through segments in their own minds, connecting the dots, and coming up with their own conclusions, sometimes even gasping with sudden recognition in seeing aspects of themselves and loved ones in similar moments.
He appreciates those who have been a part of the entire creative experience, including his original Source actors and, of course, the late wonderful Paul MacWhorter who was the first director for most of Roy’s plays and brought a team approach to the experience, along with honesty, grace, and a loving sincerity.
Roy looks forward to screening ‘Neitzsche’ Ate Here in DC where it all began. With a special affection for Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, he seems to be clicking his ruby slippers while chanting, “There’s No place like Home” to show his first film, with hopefully more to come.
Roy Berkowitz along with the two cast members and the film’s editor are planning to be here on the 9th to offer their insights about the experience. The screening will be Saturday, March 9 in the theater at DC Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th Street, N.W., Washington, DC. The event is free. The doors open at 1:30pm. First come first seated!