Strange  Fruit
                         Strange Fruit
           A Profile of Playwright/Producer Alex Ladd
           by Kessa De Santis

          A Shakespeare enthusiast, and the author of the recently
          revived NICETOWN, a thoroughly modern farce, there is
          nothing stereotypical about Alex Ladd.  Neither maverick
          isolationist, nor sycophant, he has created opportunities for
          himself, and others, where he has found them lacking.  In a
          city plagued with cutbacks and dwindling budgets, he has
          become, perhaps unwittingly, among the pioneers in the
          future of local theater.  An advocate of collaboration, Ladd
          exudes a palpable passion when speaking about his chosen
          craft, an art for which he has genuine talent.
          "To be, or not to be, that is the question..."
          Ladd, who became a journalist after studying at NYU, and
          who currently works as a translator, has been writing plays
          for five years.  To date, three of his works have been
          produced in New York City.  Both NICETOWN and
          COUNTRYMEN were part of Present Tense Production's
          1998 series The Soho Triptych.  In 1999, RIGOLETTO ON
          THE RANCH was part of The Lord Strange Troupe's first
          season, in a showcase called Strange Plays Indeed.
          As an up and coming artist, Ladd quickly became frustrated
          with the perceived lack of any coherent theatrical "scene" in
          New York City that was nurturing of the creative process. 
          So, he set out to invent his own.  Having gone through a
          stage of working alone, Ladd now embraces a collaborative
          model of creativity that suits him well.  Along with Beth
          Holden, he is the co-founder and co-artistic director of The
          Lord Strange Troupe, a group which seeks to attract and
          nurture a talented community of writers, actors and directors. 
          Following their inaugural year, in 2000 the group has already
          begun to sponsor readings by guest playwrights.  They will
          produce another showcase in the Fall.
          Ladd, a proud fan of The Bard, has also affiliated himself, as
          associate producer, with Judith Shakespeare Company
          (Joanne Zipay, artistic director).  During their Festival 2000,
          June 25 through July 22, the award-winning group will be
          staging productions of both JULIUS CAESAR and
          COMEDY OF ERRORS.  Alex Ladd informed me of the
          group effort that has gone into producing these plays, noting,
          "I think that it is an interesting model in these times of
          Not surprisingly, The Lord Strange Troupe, in its original
          incarnation, included William Shakespeare among its
          members.  The modern group has, as its philosophy, a
          commitment to producing quality plays that are strange only
          in the sense of their originality.  Also in favor of staging plays
          that challenge assumptions and conventions, Judith
          Shakespeare Company has cast this year's JULIUS CAESAR
          to be completely reverse-gender.  Perhaps a natural blending
          of approaches, these two theater groups seem obvious cousins
          in the universe of the innovative.
          Alex Ladd's 1998 comedy NICETOWN had a well deserved,
          if too short, revival in May of 2000.(see review in Off-Broadway) 
          Having had the pleasure of reviewing the original
          version, presented as part of The Soho Triptych, as well as the
          updated one, I was curious about Ladd's take on the different
          interpretations.  He stated quite emphatically that he was
          humbled the second time around, as he witnessed his play
          being reinvented by an entirely new cast.  He seems to
          embrace the changes, and the possibility of various, even
          disparate, stagings of any given work, rather than consider
          them to be intrusions upon his singular artistic vision. 
          Among his complaints was the short, six performance run
          NICETOWN was limited to this time around.  "...these
          productions are always so ephemeral.  Six performances are
          not enough!"
          "All the world's a stage..."
          When the opportunity to interview Alex Ladd arose,
          naturally I inquired about his particular creative process. 
          Ladd admits to being an avid eavesdropper.  In fact, he
          credits this tendency with supplying one fount of inspiration. 
          Specifically, he can vividly trace the genesis of NICETOWN
          to a 1997 encounter he witnessed in a Soho bar.  He is also
          affected by literature.  His next group of plays will be a
          trilogy.  The first of the group, GREATER THAN
          MAGELLAN, was inspired by lines in Portuguese author
          Fernando Pessoa's Book of Disquietude.
          Ladd, when articulating his particular process, demonstrates
          that essential quality which enables him to begin with the
          slimmest kernel of an idea, and through sheer creativity,
          expand it into a coherent, satisfying piece of theater.  He also
          admits to the necessity of accepting the often combative
          relationship between playwright and director, rather than
          shying away from confrontation.  Having identified this
          dynamic as an essential part of the process, Ladd seems
          willing to accept the stresses that accompany any mounting
          of a theatrical production.
          Alex Ladd's labors have begun to bear fruit.  His instinct to
          embrace and nurture a collaborative model may soon tangibly
          reward him on the business side of the artistic plane.  On
          June 6, Ladd was notified that GREATER THAN
          MAGELLAN will be presented as part of the prestigious Sam
          French Festival on July 10.  In my opinion, it is an accolade
          that is well deserved.          
          For more information about:
          - Alex Ladd, e-mail him at
          - The Lord Strange Troupe, write to:
                    708 Boulevard East, C7
                    Weehawken, NJ 07087

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