Jackson Heights director's play hits the big stage
by Melissa Bozin
Oct 06, 2011 | 19786 views | 0 0 comments | 1264 1264 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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"The Family Room" is centered around a rebellious teenage boy named David who is the child of two psychologists. Photo credit: Coco Martin
As the rain hit the pavement on a gloomy Friday afternoon, Gwenyth Reitz walked into a diner, “Ricky’s Café,” located on 75th Street and 37th avenue in Jackson Heights, to discuss the latest play she and long time friend Aron Eli Coleite have collaborated on. Showing much enthusiasm, Reitz lit up as she began to describe what she referred to as “a sweet, sad beautiful play that was my favorite out of the plays I have directed.”

The play, which took about a year to enter the New York scene from Los Angeles, took only one month of rehearsals before its debut on September 30. It is centered around a rebellious teenage boy named David who is the child of two psychologists. David illegally tapes a video session between his father and a lonely schoolmate named Jenifer. In hopes of “fixing” Jenifer he decides to date her and eventually learns the meaning of love.

“The characters in the play, you believe in and hope for,” said Reitz. The play deals with real-life issues ranging from a marriage on the rocks to budding teenage first loves, while showing the ups and downs of life. It drives home the point that no one is perfect and everyone has their share of baggage.

The inspiration for the play was based upon the fact the writers’ parents were shrinks themselves.

Throughout the play all of the characters, including David’s parents, transition in and out of therapy, (even though they too are therapists) realizing, “all of the people they talk to are just as troubled as them,” said Reitz. She describes the play as “witty.”

“There’s a lot of back and forth repartee,” she said. So much so, the designers, she said, even cried during the play rehearsals

Born in Sri Lanka to two American parents, Reitz claims her childhood, “was what some people may say is out of the ordinary but to me felt normal growing up.”

Reminiscing on her childhood, she remembered traveling to various places since her father’s career allowed for the family to move and visit a variety of countries around the world.

“Growing up I would have random and weird objects in my house like an elephant trunk and I thought it was normal,” said Reitz.

She always enjoyed being surrounded by different people of a multitude of cultures, which is why she and her husband decided to settle down in the diverse community of Jackson Heights.

“I love Jackson Heights, it is an affordable community and you get everything here,” she said.

Having worked as an actress prior and even appearing in an E- Harmony commercial, Reitz has always preferred directing. She has directed roughly 20 plays before this.

“As a director you get to be a part of the whole picture, the director is who makes all the puzzle pieces come together,” she said.

Part of the reason Reitz is so passionate about directing is because she “loves creative problem solving, I think it is what keeps life interesting.”

Before having moved to Jackson Heights, Reitz previously lived in Seattle and prior to that, grew up on the west coast in California. There she attended the University of California, Santa Cruz and she began her friendship with Aron Eli Coleite.

The two developed their relationship through out the years after having a theater company together in graduate school. Coleite, writer of “The Family Room,” initially wrote the play with the intentions of it being a success in Los Angeles in 2004.

He never imagined seven years later it would make its New York City debut. However when the play made its way into the hands of its soon-to-be director, Reitz, her initial reaction was, “New York needs to see this play.”

“The Family Room” is playing at the ArcLight Theater, located at 152 W. 71st Street, in New York City.

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