The 2nd Act Players are taking their original drama The Institute to New York for staged readings January 25 and January 26 at the school which inspired the play, Xavier High School in Manhattan.
Xavier High School President Jack Raslowsky put the two theaters in touch with each other and offered the school’s new theater space for performances. “Without Jack, this simply could not be happening,” says 2nd Act Cofounder and play author John N. Frank. “He’s been a backer of this project since he first heard about my play in 2016.”
“This is a special story about a special place at a special time — what was then a Catholic military school on the edge of Greenwich Village during the height of the Vietnam War,” says Frank. “We produced it at our Evanston theater in 2016 to rave reviews. To be able to produce it at the place that inspired the story is incredibly special for me.” Frank will direct the New York production.
Frank wrote the play based on his years at Xavier. He has written a revised version for the New York production, thanks to input from Xavier Theatre and Film’s Joe Hoover, S.J., himself an actor and playwright.
The story begins at the 45th reunion of The Institute class of 1971 and follows its characters back in time to their high school years, detailing the trials and tribulations they faced as they came of age during the turbulent Vietnam era.
“The country was as divided then as it is today, perhaps more so,” explains Frank. “The play looks at how such divisions can arise and how they can be overcome.”
The story also touches on the special place that was the fictional Institute in that era. “Think of the school in Dead Poets Society transported to the middle of Manhattan in one of the most unsettled times in U.S. history, the Vietnam era,” explains Frank of his story. “Add in that all students had to be in ROTC and you can see the inherent tensions and drama in the story.”
Admission to the readings will be free. “We’re asking people for donations to cover the massive cost of us bringing our production team to New York for 10 days to pull this off,” says Frank. “Those who donate $30 or more will receive a show poster as a thank you. This show is costing us thousands and thousands of dollars, so we need everyone’s help to make it happen.”
To donate, simply click here or use the donate button on the 2nd Act Players’ website.