OUL Professor’s Play Advances to New York Festival Semi-Final

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Ohio University Lancaster's adjunct professor Robert Cooperman. (Submitted)
Ohio University Lancaster’s adjunct professor Robert Cooperman. (Submitted)

Instaurito, a play by Ohio University Lancaster adjunct professor Robert Cooperman was selected by the New York New Works Festival 2016 in New York City and has advanced to the semi-final round. The next performance is Sept. 22. Three Ohio University Lancaster students, Tyler Shahan, Caroline Schmelzer and Hunter Allen star in the play.

For the playwright, the origin of play goes back a long way. “I know the term as a Roman practice for any formal ceremony when something went wrong they would start all over again,” said Cooperman. “My play is about two actors who are rehearsing a short play for a prestigious theatre festival, but the playwright refuses to let any minor mistake go unnoticed and the actors must repeat the entire play at every wrong turn. It’s funny, it’s different, and it comments upon modern writing and the pretentiousness of playwrights who think they have something important to say.”

Cooperman’s calling began at an early age. “I have always been interested in creating shows and theatrical productions: in elementary school I dreamed about producing a space extravaganza during assembly,” he said. “I used to write parodies and sketches and then tried my hand at playwriting when I was in high school.  When I saw that my writing could make people laugh or cry, I was hooked.  I also was always interested in theatre and acting, so both my interests combined led naturally to playwriting.”

Cooperman has taught English and Theatre classes at Ohio University Lancaster since 2011. Originally from Queens, New York, Cooperman moved to Ohio in 1991 to earn his Ph.D. He had plays produced in Columbus and New York City: a full-length play produced by the Evolution Theatre Company in 2014 and a one-act play produced at the New York New Works Theatre Festival last year. In October, Cooperman will have four staged readings with the Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative.  He also serves as the Director of Stage Right Theatrics, Inc., a non-profit organization that promotes conservative plays and playwrights.

The New York New Works Theatre Festival receives over 1,000 entries annually and select the top 25-30 finalists for the first round of performances with all productions judged by theatre professionals.