Scene4 Magazine - "Theater Gifts" by Polly Frost

by Polly Frost

Dear Polly Frost,

As a long-term friend of the Gauntlet Theater Company, your commitment to supporting our creativity matches our own artistic commitment.

You don't need to be told how important our work is. For years, we've been rearranging the landscape of American drama with our confrontational psychodramas, our absurdist narrative arcs, and our scenery-threatening performing style. As no less than Ben Brantley has written:

    Gauntlet always sends the audience out of the theater in need of stronger mood drugs than they went in on.

However, my database program informs me that you -- one of our longest-term supporters! --haven't yet sent us a monetary gift this year.

Perhaps you feel that confrontational psychodrama isn't the kind of theater you're in the mood for right now. In these trying economic times, it might be a comfort to know that you aren't alone. We've heard similar sentiments from many of our patrons.

In fact, it's in response to your strongly expressed needs and tastes that we've decided that our next production will be a revival of "Annie Get Your Gun."

Rest assured: Gauntlet will never stop being uncompromising. But a big part of not compromising is responding to the times. And what the culture is demanding in 2009 is uncompromising escapism.

Come back to us before it's too late!

Abigail Stepplemeier Director of Financial Commitment, Gauntlet Theater Company


Dear Anti-Globalist Theater Supporter,
If you renew your sponsorship to only one theater company this year, make it Rocket Posse

Productions. Never has the need been greater for uncompromising, hard-hitting exposes of the malfeasances of our globalizing elites. But hurry: Money you send us by May 15 will be put to use helping mount a production of our most populist drama yet: "Guilty!"

This uncompromising, hard-hitting expose tells the story of a played-out movie star. Once an idealist who created a political theater company with his NYU friends, he happens through no talent of his own to hit it big. For a few years, he balances inane action dramas with a continued commitment to political theater. But then his ego blows out of control. He gives an interview to Vanity Fair accusing his friends of riding on his coattails, marries a French starlet, sinks his money into gold bullion, and establishes residency in Shanghai for sleazy tax purposes. His friends are left having to choose between ending either their award-winning high school residency programs or their acclaimed week-long social-consciousness intensives.

Although we haven't yet received your contribution for this season, there's still time for you to avoid Endangered Benefactor Status. Help make sure no one hires this globalizing backstabber ever again.

Remember: "Guilty!" needs you!

Sasha Zuckerman Protest Coordinator, Rocket Posse Productions



As a Founding Member of the West Broadway Group, I'm reaching out to remind you about your annual donation which did not yet arrive this year.

The West Broadway Group knows that you've been transformed by the way we always challenge the traditional director/actor relationship, and by our never-ending commitment to the ensemble.

That's why I'm proud to announce that the West Broadway Group --in a provocative gesture responding to the unprecedented economic climate -- is presenting a solo show for the first time in its thirty-year history. Instead of multiple video screens and sonic feedback blasting apart traditional theater space , "Slow/Dissolve" will feature me at home in my SoHo loft.

Remember, no matter how many banks collapse, the West Broadway Group will always defy dictatorial theater. Directors are Nazis. Writers are facists.

I order you to send me your donation. The moment is now.

Cole Slade Collaborator, West Broadway Group

PS: I'm thinking maybe you're the same Polly Frost I hooked up with on Ludlow Street last Thursday? Fabulous night we spent together, wasn't it? Or maybe you're the Polly who did tech for the Group back in the '80s and said she wanted to act? Or the society blonde who hit on me backstage and told me how hot my nude crucifixion scene in "Architectonic Temptations of St. Genesius" got her?

Whichever Polly Frost you are, ignore the b.s. in the form letter above, OK? My consultant says that's the way these things have to be written to maintain tax-exempt status.

Polly, I'm going to share a personal moment. The last year has been hard on the West Broadway Group. In fact, that's what "Slow/Dissolve" is about: How avant-garde poseurs react when the market takes a serious nosedive. Michael Beller took at staff job at BAM and gloats about having health insurance. Pak-Linn Adams and Deb Trayland moved to Cape Breton and run a b&b for lesbian theater fans. Katerina Lutosia made off with our sound system and is working as a DJ in Krakow.

Point is, I'm all that remains of the West Broadway Group. So send me a check already. If you're one of the Polly Frosts I think you are, I'll put on a special performance just for you. Wear your foxiest outfit and come prepared to have your notions about theater upended.


From: To:

what do you mean you aren't going to be supporting my international theater explorations any longer, aunt polly? you hurt my feelings when you wrote that all i've been using your money for was "putting on orgies with a trust-funded sex slave."

if you weren't blinded by outmoded western thought processes, you'd be able to appreciate the archetypal movement research that rahul and i have devoted ourselves to. you of all people should respect our commitment. it took me eight months to heal fully from my fire-walking studies.

despite the hurtful things you wrote, i still remember you as the generous relative who took me to see "naked boys singing" when i was twelve. so, in honor of that seminal event in my theatercreating life, i've decided to overlook your pettiness and allow you to donate once more. quarterly payments to my paypal link would work. another option: why not create an open account for me with whole foods? bali rocks, but frankly i'm getting a little tired of shrimp satay and curried rice.


yr nephew damian


Sweet Baby of Mine,

Jeremy, here.

You know what I'm thinking of at this moment? The view you and I had from our penthouse. Park Avenue ... Central Park ... The midtown skyline ...

You know what the view from my current window is? Concrete workout court ... Guys with too many tattoos ... Armed guards ...

It wasn't like I was the only person who couldn't understand what a credit-default swap was. Nobody did. That's why everyone got so excited about them. And you ... Well, I used to get so hot watching you put your theater gifts to work, seducing the over-rich into investing in our clever little pyramid scheme.

Baby, you really were something, the way you could make unrealistic returns sound so plausible ... Good times.

And what a performance you gave at the trial ...

Grossly unfair though the verdicts were, I still shake my head over your beauty and talent. You really should have had that acting career you talked about so much, no question about it.

But don't think I'm bitter just because I'm in jail and you're not. I'm making good use of my time. Not studying legal textbooks like the other cons ... But being inspired by you.

Been taking a playwriting-as-rehabilitation workshop they offer. In fact, included in this envelope is a draft of a full-length drama I'm very proud of. It's entitled "Serving Time For You, Baby." You may notice some resemblances in it to our story ...

I'm so enthusiastic about my work that I'm about to send copies of it to the Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, and the Manhattan D.A.'s office. But first, out of respect for what you and I have shared ... and haven't ... I want to offer you a chance to look at it first.

So here's my proposal: Take half of the money I'm sure you skimmed off and put it in an offshore account you'll set up for me. I hear the Bahamas are most welcoming to discreet investors these days. You can't spend it anyway, and I'm sure you agree that I deserve to have something waiting for me when I'm a free man again.

In these trying times, we theater lovers have got to look out for each other.

Scene4 Magazine-inSight

September 2009


View other readers' comments in the Readers Blog

©2009 Polly Frost
©2009 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Polly Frost's humor has been published in The New Yorker, the New York Times and The Atlantic. Her collection of erotic horror monologues, "Deep Inside," was published by Tor in 2007, and with her husband, Ray Sawhill, and director Matt Lambert, Polly co-wrote and co-produced the sci fi burlesque webseries, "The Fold".
Visit: for more.


Scene4 Magazine - Arts and Media

September 2009

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