Evolution of Theater at the Mentor Project NYC

Evolution is a new play about personal development, growth, and madness within a family of women, written and performed by Patricia Buckley. The new play is part of the Mentor Project at Cherry Lane Theatre in the West Village in New York City, a little theater with a big heart. Cherry Lane is a cultural gem with a grand history that is very much alive today and definitely evolving. I hope their new shows will survive the pressures of natural selection and breed more new theater for us to learn from and enjoy for generations.

For the Mentor Project, established playwright, Jean-Claude van Itallie, paired up with emerging playwright Patricia Buckley, to create this new one-act play. It was expertly directed by Michele Chivu and included an eclectic stage that served as home, hospital, research lab, auditorium, and sea.  The close relationships of sisters, and how they change over time, runs right alongside descriptions of whale evolution in the fascinating story line.  The photo, from the Cherry Lane Theatre Facebook page, shows Patricia as the younger sister in the nuclear family of women. She imagines or believes or possibly only wishes that she is a fish. This creates initial comedy but increasingly, tragedy for her and her family. The older sister, more fully integrated into society, studies fish – specifically whale evolution.

  • Why did whales, who were once land creatures, want to go back to the sea?
  • Why do any of us feel called back to the sea?
  • When does the desire to merge with the ocean cross over into abnormal behavior?
  • Why do we abandon our family members when they leave normal life and enter into madness?
  • What do we leave behind when we pursue our careers and leave no time for the family?

These are a  few of the questions without clear answers the playwright/actor raises and plays with during her one-woman show. It is a play that comes back to me every free moment with a new question. The content of the play is thought-provoking and soul-searching material. I hope the play will move from the Mentor Project on into regular productions in the near future. And if it does, it is a play I recommend to anyone with a sister, a mother, a science career, an interest in mental health.

Mentor Project is ongoing, and the next show up that I will hope to see is Mama Roma, about my favorite actor of all time, Anna Magnani.

What do you think about the Mentor Project model? Do you have something like this in your work community?

Please leave a comment to share views. I’ll look forward to hearing from you.

3 responses to “Evolution of Theater at the Mentor Project NYC”

  1. It’s interesting to hear a scientist’s point of view on the play. I loved it as well, and in particular I took away a lot from the exploration of the sisters’ relationship with one another.

    “I hope their new shows will survive the pressures of natural selection and breed more new theater for us to learn from and enjoy for generations.” – Well put and made me laugh. I feel this way about Cherry Lane Theatre too, and I hope it will be around for decades to come.


    • Although I used to live in the West Village, I had not caught a play at Cherry Lane Theatre before this one. I will be looking for more new talent at this cherished, historic theater now. Thanks for the invitation Lillian, to the great show.



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