John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

Doing the right thing


When I was growing up in Ansonia Ct. in the 1960s, every now and then I would go down to Ted’s market, a neighborhood place on the corner of North State and 5th streets, and buy a box of candy cigarettes. For those of you too young to remember candy cigarettes were just that; cigarettes made of candy.

I’ll pause here and give the PC crowd time to pick themselves up off the floor.

Were candy cigarettes a stupid thing? Yes of course they were, but placed in the correct historical perspective…well actually, now that I think about it in mid-sentence….even in historical perspective candy cigarettes were stupid, but in those days, the full facts of the dangers of tobacco weren’t yet known and were popular with our parent’s generation who smoked and smoked a lot actually.

And cigarettes were a part of daily lives. The road ways were lined with billboards that boasted about the flavor of one brand or another, elaborate cigarette ads were a staple of television and actors in movies and TV smoked on screen and off.

In all fairness I need to point out that not all parents found candy cigarettes charming and wouldn’t allow their kids to buy them.  Anyway, candy cigarettes have now gone the way of Ted’s and all other neighborhood markets.

What is still around Ansonia, however, is cancer.

An unusually high number of Ansonians, spread out over several generation are suffering and dying from what I suspect is “Smoke stack effect cancer.” And in this, I’m referring only to the unusually high number of cancer related deaths of Ansonians who didn’t work in the factories but lived close enough to them to possible die from the effects of smoke stack cancer and related maladies.

Bear in mind that in those days, the 1960s, factory pollution was a way of life, not only in Ansonia but across the state of Connecticut and particularly in the heavy industrialized Naugatuck Valley towns as far north as Torrington. And it was everywhere and in everything. Dyes dumped into the water further up the valley from Ansonia caused the Mad and Naugatuck Rivers to change colors. In a number of the mill towns the shops let out clouds of smoke into the night sky when they would go unnoticed unless there was humid weather and the smoke smelled like rotten eggs were burning. It was almost impossible to drive through, near or around the entire town of Naugatuck without being overpowered by the powerful stench bleaching out from the rubber shop.

The Naugatuck River in those days was highly polluted from factory waste and it looked it. The water smelled and changed colors depending on what was dumped in that week by one of the mills who made no apologies for what they were doing. In fact, I recall that for years Farrell’s had a large signed posted on the edge of the river just below the Maple Street Bridge that read, in effect, “We’ll pour anything we like into the river and if you don’t like it, too bad for you.”

And it wasn’t just Farrell’s, American Brass was another long time blatant polluter.

Almost every factory in the valley, including Ansonia, used finishing chemicals, usually arsenic and formaldehyde and God only knows what else, in their products. All of these by products and chemicals found their way into not only our water systems, but into the ground and the air for an unknown number of decades.  I remember asking a neighbor with a big yard why he didn’t have a garden and he replied that he was afraid of what would grow out of it.  (However, delicious blue berries grew wild in a place called Renahan’s wood between North Cliff, Summer and Johnson Streets and there was a fairly large corn field way up on Old Ansonia Road above Colony Pond, which is also polluted)

Younger readers need to know that it wasn’t always that way.  In the 1930s, Ansonians swam in the Naugatuck near Coe Pond and I swam in Colony Pond as a kid. The one body of water not polluted by the factories was the reservoir, which, oddly enough, was owned by the same guys who owned the foundries.  

I remember playing at recess when I was in the Assumption School and the factory on North Main and Liberty Streets, just below the school, would open its smoke stack and pour thousands of tiny black specs into the air and for a while the sky was covered in these specs to the point that it looked like a black snow shower. Whatever those black specs were, they rained down on us and permanently stained the white shirts we were required to wear as part of our uniforms.

Another Assumption alumni, who attended the school in the 1940s, recalled “The most significant memory that I have is that about 2-4 pm every day that Farrell's would vent their casting furnace which was just West of Assumption School. It was an immense plume of yellow/black smoke containing dissolved metals that had to be very toxic. Given the prevailing westerly wind it would come directly over the school and church. I am sure we all ingested some of that toxic stuff. I attended that school from 1941 to 1949, 8 years. Amazing that I'm still alive at 80”

“I used to clean the black soot off the snow before eating it” one resident who lived near the school recalled “Soot was on our window sills, cars, everywhere”

In the late 1960s, soot from the foundries was scraped off of the Eagle Hose Fire Company building, the Assumption School and the Library giving both historic building a new look. One long time Ansonia recalls “Webster and Fountain (Hose Co.) were cleaned too and I would think the school buildings were done too. They all looked like they had been in a big fire”

Today Ansonia has a nearly perfect clean bill of health as far as pollution is concerned but I think we need to pay attention to the last generation that grew up in an industrialized Ansonia, especially those who grew up within walking distance to the mills and foundries because an unusually high number of them seem to be dying off at relatively young ages from cancer, including my younger brother and my old friend Brian Browning who lived on the corner of North Main and 4th.

One North Cliff Street resident said “Just about every house on North Cliff Street was stricken by cancer. You can start with my Mom - breast cancer. Each house was affected by either breast cancer, lung cancer or leukemia. If you remember any of these families: Ventres, Reyer, Bennett, Skodian, Lionettie, Mahoney, Larkin, Soter, Renehan, Shay, all effected. I recommended a class action suit against Farrell Foundry 15 years ago when my mom was first diagnosed. If you check with older families on South Cliff, you will find the same thing.

How many death overall and how do their deaths compare to the national average?

I don’t know.

And that’s the point, I don’t think anybody knows. But they should know. I should know if I grew up in what was, in effect, a giant Petri dish gone wrong. A study should be done to look at the cancer rates within a half–mile radius of the big factories in town. If the numbers hold up than the offenders should pay the aggrieved. It’s the least they can do.    

Playwright opportunities

NYCPlaywrights September 24, 2016

Sat 9/24, 5:10 PM
NYCPlaywrights (nycplaywrights_group@googlegroups.com)
Getting too much email from Nancy_GMAIL? You can unsubscribe
Greetings NYCPlaywrights


The question was “Have you ever had one of your plays produced?” and the answers are:

 4%   Yes (self-production)
47%  Yes (produced by others)
36%  Yes (both self-production and produced by others)
11%  Not yet
 2%  I’m not a playwright

Thanks to everybody who participated.


by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Christopher Romero Wilson
September 28- October 1, 2016
September 28, 2016 | 6:30 pm
October 1, 2016 | 5:00 pm
An adaptation of Williams’ play about a brother-sister acting duo, who’s theatre company abandons them with nothing but a few set pieces and their imaginations. The play explores identity, fear, and consciousness, by delving into the minds of these two outlandish characters. The cast includes Saima Huq and Vishaal Reddy, in the role of Felice and Claire Devoto, respectively.
If you would like tickets, contact Vishaal Reddy at vishaalreddy1@gmail.com and indicate the date of the performance you want, and how many tickets.


By N.C. Hunter
Directed by Austin Pendleton
The Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row – 410 West 42nd Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues
A Day by the Sea is a warm, human and often humorous depiction of the "crisis" of middle age. Julian Anson, a once-promising Foreign Service employee, confronts professional disappointment and personal failure while picnicking along the English seaside. Jolted into the realization that maybe it’s not too late - he seizes an opportunity to correct his past mistakes and start fresh - but will the results be any different?

For more information on the discount tickets go to


November 12-13: ARTISTIC STATEMENT WORKSHOP: In this 2-day workshop at Primary Stages ESPA, JILL RAFSON (Director of New Play Development at Roundabout, who personally shepherded the original commission and development of the Tony-winning/Pulitzer-nominated THE HUMANS) will help you conquer the overwhelming task of writing about yourself and your work. She will share practical tips on how to articulate what makes your work vital and provide a font of knowledge about how to make your statement—and your application as a whole, including log lines and plot synopses—more competitive.  Use code DEPOSIT to secure your spot for just $50.
Payment plans available.



BEST PLAY $2,500

Best Director, Actress, Actor and Singer $500 each

Best Musical Score $300

Best Original Play, Stage Manager and Set Designer $200.

All genres are welcome, including MUSICALS.


Our 10th  Festival Season
There is no question why NYWINTERFEST has taken the world of playwrighting festivals by storm, becoming one of the largest festival in the country in just 6 years.

for more info



M. T. Pockets Theatre 4th Annual One-Act Play Contest
Limit TWO entries per playwright.
Each entry must:
▪ be unpublished, with 3 or less productions
▪ (excluding readings, self-productions and/or contest productions);
▪ require two to four (2 to 4) characters
▪ be no more than 10 minutes in running time
▪ require minimal props and costumes
▪ excluding the title and cast pages, be no more than ten (10) pages long.


The University of Houston School of Theatre & Dance is excited to announce our third annual 10-Minute Play Festival for spring of 2017. We will begin accepting submissions for this festival on August 15, 2016; the submission period closes on October 31, 2016. Nine selected 10-minute plays will receive productions as part of a multi-evening festival, produced in the newly upgraded José Quintero Theatre on the University of Houston campus. This festival is open to all applicants, amateur or professional.


Rover Dramawerks announces our third annual 10-Minute Play Contest! We are seeking 10-minute comedies or farces to be a part of our Seventeenth Season.
Submissions will be accepted from September 20 to October 20.
Only the first 300 10-minute plays will be accepted.
No musicals.
Plays may have been produced previously but not in the DFW Metroplex.
Plays may not be published.
Playwrights may submit only one 10-minute play. Additional plays submitted by a single person will result in disqualification.

*** FOR MORE INFORMATION about these and other playwrights opportunities see the web site at http://www.nycplaywrights.org ***


Why are you so often cast as wives and mothers?
Amy Ryan: There’s just not a lot of variety. Wives. Ex-wives. Ex-wives who are understanding. I’m bored of the wifey-poos. I’d like to see the reverse. Let the men hold the laundry basket, listen to the problems and be the sounding board.



Margot Robbie rose to national prominence in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, where she played the perfectly coiffed trophy wife to Leonardo DiCaprio’s charismatic stockbroker lizard man. Since then, she’s had a certain tendency to take major film roles—Focus, Z For Zachariah—where her characters were largely defined by their relationships with men. (Even her big superhero vehicle, this summer’s Suicide Squad, sees Harley Quinn potentially overshadowed by her creepy, used condom-mailing ex-boyfriend.)



…Hindi film heroines still get little chance to take on the burden of a film and end up playing wife, girlfriend or love interest, says actor-producer Lara Dutta, explaining that the name of her production company Bhigi Basanti is a tongue-in-cheek take on how they are viewed in Bollywood. 'Basanti obviously came from Sholay and it's also a typical Hindi film heroine name. I think Bhigi Basanti is a very quintessential, typical image of a Hindi film heroine that has been in cinema across time. For me, it was a little bit of a tongue-in-cheek take also on how heroines are viewed in the Hindi film industry,' said Lara.



Study Finds Fewer Lead Roles for Women in Hollywood

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I,” “Gone Girl” and “Maleficent” are powered by indelible female protagonists and rank among the biggest films of last year, but women are still treated like second-class citizens when it comes to most Hollywood movies, according to a new study.
They’re the girlfriend, the mother or the wife. Their value is determined in relation to the people they bed, marry or birth.

The gender gap is documented in new research by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University that found that females comprised a paltry 12% of protagonists in the top-grossing films of 2014. Over the past decade, the situation has gotten worse, not better. The latest figures represent a drop of three percentage points from 2013 and a fall of four percentage points from 2002.



Seventy-nine percent of television shows studied featured casts of characters where men outnumbered women. Casts where woman comprised the majority made up a meager 16 percent of the programs reviewed; casts featuring equal numbers of men and women appeared in only 5. But women don’t just appear less frequently than men—they also hold fewer prominent roles. Thirty-nine percent of the speaking characters studied were women, a percentage which indicates a marginal decrease from previous years. Women—when they’re actually on-screen—also continue to be portrayed in line with gender stereotypes: Female characters were more likely to be concerned with romantic relationships and caregiving and less likely to be shown in work environments or depicted as possessing work-related goals.



Keira Knightley: “It’s very rare that I get offered interesting roles”

…Explaining why she was happy to take a pay-cut, Knightley told The Hollywood Reporter: “It’s very rare that I get offered interesting roles; there are very, very few out there for women.”
In the production, Knightley plays Therese, a woman who escapes an unhappy marriage through a murder plot with a new lover.
“When something like this comes along, you go, ‘I can sink my teeth into it and not just be the supportive girlfriend or wife,’ which can get rather boring,” she said.
Knightley had previously been offered the role in two other adaptations of the play, but turned them down.



Trying to predict who’ll win an Oscar this year?
Well, this should make it easier.
Ever since the Academy Awards launched in 1929, most Best Actress awards have gone to women who played the roles of wife, widow or prostitute.



When the new season of True Detective kicks off June 21, Rachel McAdams will be playing one of the leads. But don't expect her character to have much in common with the types she plays in movies – or, for that matter, with female characters in the first season of the show.
"I love that she's not the girlfriend or the wife," McAdams, 36, says in the June issue of Marie Claire about her character, a Ventura, California, police officer named Ani Bezzerides. "She doesn't really care what everyone thinks; she feels no responsibility for other people's feelings. She's not trying to be charming, which isn't always the case with a leading lady."



Women’s stories need to be told – and we need more female acting roles available to be able to do that properly.  According to some researchers, only one out of three acting roles in theatrical productions go to women – despite the fact that theatre audiences are almost always overwhelmingly female.

As actresses, we always face greater competition at auditions than our male counterparts do – and part of the reason for this is an abundance of plays where the number of male roles far outweighs the number of female roles.  We can all tell stories of being cast in a show, and rehearsals can’t start for a couple of weeks because the director is still having trouble finding enough men for the male roles.

In addition, we often run into the issue that, when there are female roles available, they are very stereotypical, one-dimensional roles. Part of the fun of acting is finding a “meaty,” challenging role to sink our teeth into. We actresses are so tired of playing “the girlfriend,” who has no relevance to the plot and no personality of her own outside of being the male character’s arm candy.



Reese Witherspoon revealed the day she decided to stop chasing "awful roles" and become more selective about the movies she makes – even if that meant making fewer movies.
"About four years ago I got sent an awful terrible script," she explained. "And this male star was starring in it, and there was a girlfriend part. And I thought, 'You've got to be kidding me. No, I'm not interested.' "
Without naming the movie, the actress, 39, goes on to explain that the filmmakers tried to pursue her by telling her that "three Oscar winners and two huge box office leading ladies" were also going for the role.

But instead of motivating her to take the part, it opened Witherspoon's eyes to a more alarming problem for women in Hollywood.
"I thought, 'Oh, that's where we're at? You're fighting to be the girlfriend in a dumb comedy? For what?' "



Diverse and well-defined parts such as the ones Theron enjoys—a ruthless killer in one film, a dying woman in love in another—aren’t offered to Viola Davis, nor are well-paid endorsement deals with Christian Dior. In the world Davis lives in, you take a role like the one of Aibileen in The Help because you’ve long given up on the notion that more balanced, nuanced parts about women who look like you are on the horizon. You understand that even in major films that feature African-American male stars, you may not get to costar as the wife, girlfriend, or partner because big studios get more “bang for their buck” when the female is of another race.



The Women Nominated For 2016 Emmy Awards Are Playing More Than Just Wives

If you're a woman looking to get a Best Actress Oscar nomination, you should probably play a wife. In a study from earlier this year, Fusion looked at every Best Actress Oscar winner over the Academy Awards' 88-year history and found that 16 percent of women who took home the statue did so for playing wives. A role that could be a complicated one, but in most cases, meant these women were defined by their relationship to their husbands, who were the real stars of the film. (Only two Best Actor winners were playing husbands.) But, if you're a woman looking to win an Emmy, you have a lot more options. Looking at the 2016 Emmy nominees for Best Actress in Drama and in Comedy, you may notice "wife" is not the only word that would be used to define any of this year's 12 nominees.


Brave soul meets a gentle soul

I took these near Richmond Virginia. This brave little boy was terrified of Bart, who is the gentlest soul in the animal kingdom. After a lot of soul searching, the boy got up the gumption to pet Bart and was amazed to feel fur, I think for the first time.


Photos from a Sunday drive around Shepherdstown, West Virginia where I live now