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Before Vinson

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Saturday, September 16, 2023 @ 7:30PM

General AdmissionTickets:

$15 in advance, $20 at the Door


Before Vinson

by Michael O’Daly

Produced by Josh Gladstone

It's early spring in 1949, and a young attorney named Bernard is about to argue his first case before the United States Supreme Court. As he makes his final preparations for oral argument, however, he learns that the outcome of the case will depend not upon his legal acumen, but on backyard tennis games, men's fashion, breakfast pastries - and a certain traveling salesman who lived next door when Bernard was growing up. A companion piece to Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, Before Vinson was featured this June at the Valdez Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska. Prior to that, it was workshopped by the Dead Playwrights Society and thru the Tuesdays at Nine reading program of the Naked Angels theatre company.

The Cast


Erik Ransom

Myron Pankhardt

Josh Gladstone


Ariana Johns

The Stranger

Scott Brieden

Playwright's Note

“One of the formative theatre experiences of my youth (well, theatre-adjacent at any rate) was watching the network broadcast of the Dustin Hoffman production of Death of a Salesman, back when network television still did things like that.  I was the sort of nerdy teenager who would spend days anticipating such a broadcast, and it was my introduction to the play - and I still remember the nerdy neighbor kid character of Bernard, the character closest to myself at the time, and my mounting sense of dread and horror as Bernard was not only mocked and tormented throughout the piece, but mocked and tormented by the defining character in American dramatic literature.

Which is not to say that I don't like Death of a Salesman, because I do, or that it's not a masterpiece, because it is.  But the great plays conjure up vast and enormous worlds, of which we only ever see the tiniest corner.  And I've wondered about Bernard's corner of the world ever since that fateful telecast.  How did he become the man we see at the end of Act 2, on his way to argue before the Supreme Court?  What temptations did he experience along the way?  Did he overcome them?  And what does his story have to tell us, here and now?  Classic plays are always a conversation between past and present, between the playwright in his time and us, reading or watching, in ours.  In putting together Before Vinson, my take on Bernard's Supreme Court case and a (completely unasked for) riff on Salesman, I tried strictly adhering to the late 40s setting of Miller's original play, but the story I came up with - about the temptations of wealth and power, and about who's actually running this nation of ours - seems to become more relevant and contemporary every time I open the newspaper.

I workshopped an earlier version of Before Vinson at this summer's Valdez Theatre Conference, which takes place on the shores of Prince William Sound in Valdez, Alaska, surrounded by the magical landscape of the Chugach mountains, developing this piece in a calm, bucolic retreat.  Before that, I brought excerpts of the piece to the cold reading series I co-manage, Tuesdays at Nine, which takes place somewhere in the Lower East Side surrounded by brazen rats and neurotic arts professionals, developing this piece in a raucous, boisterous theatre.  And I am thrilled to be bringing this piece for further development here with my friends from Dead Playwrights Society - which kept a number of us sane throughout the long pandemic with classics readings that kept the conversation between past and present alive - and Josh Gladstone, my college classmate, who was there when I first started exploring the corners of theater myself.”


- Michael C. O’Day

Michael C. O’Day


Michael C. O’Day is a theatre artist based in New York City. His work last appeared in the Hamptons at the John Drew Theatre, where his play The Tragedy of King John Falstaff was presented in a developmental workshop. King John Falstaff was also one of two of his plays, along with Wolf Crossing, named as a finalist in the Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries competition. He made his playwriting debut with Dragon’s Breath, which was produced as part of the 2014 New York International Fringe Festival. His full-length play An Arctic Confederate Christmas was featured at the 2022 Valdez Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska. Other short plays of his have been performed at the Lower East Side Festival of the Arts, the Secret Theatre in Woodside, the Kraine Theater, the Core Artist Ensemble, and Boston University’s Stage Troupe. Also an actor, he was a company member of the Obie award-winning Classical Theatre of Harlem, appearing in eight of their productions as well as their installment of Suzan Lori-Parks’ 365 Days/365 Plays at the Public Theater. He has served as co-Creative Director of Naked Angels’ Tuesdays at Nine cold reading series for the past four years.

The Playwrights' Theatre of East Hampton was founded by Mitzi and Perry Pazer.

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