The Next Generation

Produced by Theater for the New City, New York, 1997.
Directed by Lisa Marjorie Barnes

Martha………………………….Barbara Kahn
Alice………………………Marina Lisa Pulido
Alice’s mother ……………Jackie S. Freeman
Flyer design…….Virginia Asman, Illuminage
Photo services………………….…….Joe Bly

Excerpt: In front of an apartment building on the Lower East Side, New York City. The present.


    I was late with my rent for the first time ever. That was enough for their fancy lawyer to get me evicted. But I’m not finished. Not me. Not yet. My mother used to say, “Life may get you down, but you’re only out if you wanna be.” And I don’t want handouts from anybody. That’s not the kind of person I am. I come here every day. Right out here in front of the building that was my home for 28 years. And I sell a few things. Enough to get by. And then the owners all complain about me to the cops. None of the neighbors are left here anymore. They’re all strangers. Owners. They paid a lot of money to buy a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan. And they don’t want to know the kind of poor person who used to live there before they renovated.

    My friend Arlo says that downtown is working so hard to be uptown, pretty soon there won’t be any place left for poor honest people to live. Arlo stays over by Avenue C. Everybody likes Arlo. He’s got a hole in his tongue–he got it pierced–and he’s getting his whole body tattooed, he told me. Right now he’s just down to the elbows–he doesn’t have the money to go further just yet. Arlo’s a real nice boy. He looks out for me. He told me when he gets down to his right hand, he’s going to put my name there. He says that way he’ll think of me whenever he reaches out to people. I told him he should be thinking about a woman his own age, I could be his mother, but he just laughs and says I’m his favorite woman and anyway, he likes other boys. That’s all right with me. My mother said there’s room for everyone in this world, and people should just live and let live.

    This morning Arlo told me that he heard talk that they’re going to build a big fancy hotel and office building between Avenue A and B., near the restaurant where I used to work. Oh, it’s called a “cafe” now–all the restaurants are. I always thought cafes were places for sitting outside and drinking when you’re in Paris, like they show in the movies, but here they’re calling all the new restaurants and even some of the old ones, cafes. Like maybe people from out of town won’t know the difference and think maybe they’re in France instead of on East Fourth Street on the Lower East Side in New York City.

In front of an apartment building on the Lower East Side, New York City. The present.


Mrs. Finklestein lived in 2F. And every day that it didn’t rain, she would take a chair sort of like this one and sit here exactly where I’m sitting now and watch the world go by. When my mother started forgetting things, it would scare her, especially if I wasn’t home, and she would go outside to look for me. I had to work after school. And Mrs. Finklestein would stop her and keep her here until I got home. Mrs.Finklestein would say, “Maybe it’s God’s blessing, Fanny, making you forget things. Maybe they’re things it’s better for you not to know. Or maybe God is making room in your memory for all the good things he has planned for you.” And Mom would smile and sometimes even laugh. By the time I got home, the two of them were out here talking up a storm…