Rittberg Play Set For New York Performances

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Ellen Pober Rittberg’s play was chosen for inclusion in the New York Theater Festival’s Summerfest. (Photo courtesy of Ellen Pober Rittberg)

Village of East Hills resident Ellen Pober Rittberg has long made her name as an author, with the 2010 publication of 35 Things Your Teen Won’t Tell You, So I Will. Before writing books, the prolific Rittberg was a playwright. Twenty five years ago, Rittberg wrote a play, SCI FI about an upper-class household in a totalitarian society.

“When I wrote the play, I wondered what would happen if knowledge were suppressed and the government convinced its citizens a mass slaughter of workers was justified,” she told The Roslyn News. “I drew upon my imagination and my knowledge of the Holocaust and then-apartheid society of South Africa. But now, sadly, in light of recent events over the past few years, SCI FI poses the question: how far does a society have to go before it reaches the point of no return and freedom is lost forever?”

Part love story, part cautionary tale, part thriller, SCI FI takes place in a totalitarian society, where classes are rigidly separated and communication between classes is strictly forbidden. When it was first written, SCI FI had a staged reading at the Nassau County Festival of the Arts in Roslyn. It had a subsequent reading at the Jewish Arts Festival in Commack.

“At the time I was a journalist, but I decided to go to law school. SCI FI had a small professional production at Long Island University Brooklyn’s black box theater. Then I set the play aside. I went to law school and I had three young children. But I knew its time would come.”

SCI FI was chosen for inclusion in New York Theater Festival’s Summerfest (July 29, 6:15 p.m. Aug. 2, 9 p.m. and Aug. 4 at 4 p.m., held at the Hudson Guild Theater, 441 West 26th St., New York City.) Dale Davidson, a New York Fringe Festival veteran, is directing. Tickets are $23.

Rittberg’s play was conceived on Long Island, where Rittberg grew up, raised her family and got her start as a playwright.

“At a young age, I was running to the city to see all kinds of plays: Sam Shepard, David Mamet. My first job out of college was in the William Morris Agency theater department. When my three children were very little, I saw a blurb in Newsday that playwright Ann Early was giving a free playwriting course in Great Neck. I got to see a portion of my first play performed. Ms. Early encouraged me to write more. And I did. I was hooked.” She went on to write two more plays while living in Plainview.

An award-winning journalist and published author, Rittberg’s essays and features have appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, Huffington Post, New York Daily News and Reader’s Digest. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in journals and anthologies.

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Joe Scotchie is the editor of both The Roslyn News and New Hyde Park Illustrated News. In 2009, he won a New York State Press Association award for a sports feature. Joseph Scotchie’s past publications include biographies of Thomas Wolfe and Richard Weaver and a comprehensive history of the city of Asheville, North Carolina.

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