LETTERS FROM THE INSIDE TELLS THE STORY OF SUCH A POTENTIAL KILLER FROM THE STANDPOINT OF HIS TERRIFIED SISTER, WHO CANNOT CONVINCE HER FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF THE DANGER.
BASED ON THE AWARD-WINNING EPISTOLARY NOVEL BY AUSTRALIAN WRITER, JOHN MARSDEN, LETTERS FROM THE INSIDE IS A POWERFUL AND MOVING TWO-CHARACTER DRAMA DEALING WITH THE EFFECTS OF VIOLENCE ON THE LIVES OF TWO TEENAGE GIRLS.
The growing number of violent crimes perpetrated by teenagers has made Marsden's 1991 novel even more relevant today. And in Robert Armin's faithful adaptation, one of the girls has been Americanized to bring the story even closer to home.
Mandy is a seemingly typical fifteen-year-old American girl, with two hard-working parents, a brother, a sister, and a dog. In an Australian teen magazine, she discovers a request for a pen-pal from another girl and sends off a first, tentative letter. Tracey, the Australian girl, responds enthusiastically. She appears to have an idyllic life, with loving, generous parents and emotionally supportive siblings, a cat, two dogs, and a horse. But both Mandy and Tracey are withholding important secrets about themselves, secrets that are revealed slowly and painfully in a series of emotionally charged letters. The New York Times called the novel "a direct and penetrating dramatization of the troubling hidden lives of two teen-age girls" and Publisher's Weekly called it a "chilling psychological drama" with a "heart-wrenching conclusion." On stage, this tragedy of two shattered lives is even more powerful.
The January 2007 production at the Blairstown Theater Festival in Blairstown, New Jersey was selected as one of the top five new plays of the 2006-2007 New Jersey theater season by the Newark Star-Ledger.
If you represent a school,
organization or theatre company
Playwright/Director Robert Armin will present a special performance of his 1999 two-character play, Letters From the Inside, atBenjamin N. Carodozo High School in Bayside, Queens on May 9, 2006 for Grade 9 and 10 students. Based upon the award-winning epistolary novel by Australian writer, John Marsden, this powerful and emotionally charged drama deals with domestic violence and its effect on the lives of two teenage girls, Mandy and Tracey, living on opposite sides of the world. This unique production, created specifically for Cardozo, will present Armin's production to students who enthusiastically read and analyzed the novel in their Grade 9 Reading/Writing Seminar class. The opportunity for Cardozo to sponsor the production arose through a year-long email correspondence that developed between the director and the Grade 9 reading/writing teacher at Cardozo, Nancy Orens, who first introduced the novel to her 9th grade students during the Spring 2005 term. Mrs. Orens says, "My students cannot wait to see the book come to life! Students from my class last year are still talking about the book! Many of the students could not put the book down until they finished reading it!"
Armin first learned about John Marsden's novel, Letters From The Inside, by reading a November 1994 review in the Sunday Book Review section of The New York Times. Described as a “direct and penetrating dramatization of the troubling hidden lives of two teen-age girls,” Armin rushed out to buy a copy of the book minutes before the store closed and completed reading it by nightfall. The next morning, he began his quest to secure the American stage rights to the book, a quest which ended successfully several years later when he contacted Marsden through an email address he found on the Internet. Marsden granted Armin permission to adapt the novel into a play and enthusiastically supported Armin's idea of Americanizing the character of Mandy.
Armin met actress Jenny Zerke, who plays Mandy in the stage adaptation of Letters From The Inside, when she attended a performance of Armin's recent NYC revival of the musical, What Makes Sammy Run? at the West End Theatre in Manhattan. Upon being introduced to her after the show, Armin immediately knew that he had found his Mandy and offered her the role after a single audition. Zerke, who graduated from Georgetown University last May, most recently appeared in a D.C. play festival with Washington Women in Theatre and will be making her New York stage debut in Letters From The Inside.
Gretchen Poulos, who playsTracey, the angry young Australian girl, is a New York City actress who recently appeared in Saddam: The Musical at the Arthur Seelen Theatre. A graduate of Cornell University, Poulos auditioned for What Makes Sammy Run? and, although she wasn’t cast in that show, found herself the director’s first and only choice for the role of Tracey.
The upcoming performance at Cardoso High will mark the first production of the play since its New York City premierein 1999, but Armin looks forward to many more performances in the future. "I'd like to see an off-Broadway production of Letters From The Inside for regular theatergoers," Armin said, "with special matinee performances for student audiences. It's unusual to find a drama that appeals equally to both teenagers and their parents," he added, “but Marsden’s characters and themes are pretty much universal.”
Zerke (Mandy) and Gretchen Poulos (Tracey)
If you represent a
theatre company interested in staging
If you represent a
theatre company interested in staging
Make sure you see Robert Armin's "Letters From The Inside." And bring your teenagers, too. Everyone needs to see this sweet yet harrowing study of two high schoolers -- one American, one Australian - who become pen-pals... Thanks to two extraordinarily gifted actresses and Armin's taut direction, the show never flags, and keeps us engrossed. We yearn to learn more and more about the kids, all the while wishing what they're telling us could be more idyllic. But what they say and how they react to it is true and real, and in touch with what's happening in today's world. A terrific achievement all around.
Peter Filichia, Star-Ledger
Featured on the audio recording
of LETTERS FROM THE INSIDE
Robert Armin directed a performance of his two-character play Letters From The Inside on Sunday, June 18, 2006, as part of UNTIL THE VIOLENCE STOPS: NYC, a festival of theater, spoken word, performance and community events created to bring the issue of violence against women and girls front and center in the culture and the community.
Based on the award-winning epistolary novel by Australian writer, John Marsden, this powerful and emotionally charged drama deals with domestic violence and its effect on the lives of two teenage girls living on opposite sides of the world.
This production of Letters From The Inside, starring Gretchen Poulos as Tracey and Jenny Zerke as Mandy, was created for and performed especially for students of Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Bayside, Queens on May 9, 2006. Many of the school's Ninth and Tenth Graders have read John Marsden's novel and enthusiastically rallied for this exclusive production.
"A terrific achievement all
"...moves beyond unsettling;
it is deeply, lingeringly disturbing."
"... a chilling
"... honest and
The novel was voted one of
the "100 Best of the Best for the 21st Century"
For more information about the only
authorized American dramatization of
started on August 25, 1999