New Year’s Eve at Grandma’s House is inspired by parties that took place every New Year’s Eve at playwright John Frank’s grandmother’s house in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn.
Park Slope in 1960 wasn’t the trendy young family mecca it is today. Rather, it was a typical New York melting pot neighborhood where established Irish families were looking wearily at the Italians who were moving up from below Fifth Avenue while the Italians themselves were looking over their shoulders at the influx of Puerto Rican immigrants staking out their piece of the American dream.
The country was about to get a new president and many hoped it would signal an end to the gray-flannel-suit mentality of the Eisenhower years. Little did they realize how much the country was about to change over the next decade.
Characters in the play are inspired by Frank’s aunts, uncles, parents and, of course, his grandmother. Some characters have the same names as real-life people, but all have morphed a bit into characters to aid in our storytelling. While elements of reality permeate the play, the focus has evolved from its older, one-act version to look at the American immigrant experience in this new two-act version.
What does the American dream mean to an immigrant, to that person’s children who are born and/or grew up in the United States but feel torn between the old world and the new? And what does acceptance in their new homeland look like?
Those are questions you’ll see examined when you come to see New Year’s Eve at Grandma’s House Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons from Nov. 3 through November 18 at Northminster Church’s theater in Evanston. Buy tickets in advance to secure the online $5 per ticket discount. Tickets are $17 in advance, $22 at the door. Simply click here to buy yours today.
At those New Year’s eve parties so long ago, the children were normally in the living room watching television while the adults sat in the dining room and regaled each other with familiar stories.
Luckily, Frank often went into that wonderful room to hear those stories. You can see him in the background in the photo here, listening for the day when he would create New Year’s Eve at Grandma’s House.