Coming to a virtual screen near you - courtesy of The Rogue Theater Festival opening next week - is a new play about toilet paper written by a chef.
Two Ply, a new comedy by Chef Rossi, is the story of two women, from very different walks of life, who collide in the toilet paper aisle during the pandemic and have an emotional and physical tug of war over the very last pack of two-ply toilet paper.
You can imagine the scene. You probably saw similar confrontations at your local supermarket or bodega, or even online at places like Walmart early last year when everyone lost their minds and rushed the shelves. Americans, as we know, truly value the luxury of being able to wipe their butts comfortably, and some little killer virus was not about to interrupt that privilege. It sounds surreal…but it was very real.
“It felt like we went from living a normal life (whatever that is) to living in a science fiction movie, when Covid landed on our doorstep,” Says Rossi. “The day I walked into my local grocery store and all the toilet paper was gone, was a particularly low point for me. I’m Jewish after all.” In a way, I think we can all relate.
Rossi, interestingly, is more than just a playwright, or a writer for that matter. The hugely successful, award winning fusion-chef is a caterer, who offers up a fascinating lineup of dishes tailored to any event, with influences from Korea, Japan, Thailand, Cuba, South Carolina, New Orleans, Morocco, Jamaica, India, Puerto Rico, The South-West, The Middle-East, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and her own mom’s Hungarian Yiddish home cooking. Sounds like a handful of work, but for Rossi, it’s a joy.
“I’ve always been a personal essay and memoir writer, mostly because my life is so bizarre. Honey. Trust me on that one. My favorite thing to write is dialogue. A lot of writers shy away from dialogue, but I love it. Talking is my jam. I store fabulous bits of conversation in my brain for a rainy day. Plays are all about the dialogue. The moment I tried my hand at writing plays I felt liberated. Those gems came exploding out of me! Wooosh! My favorite way to write is to use comedy to coat painful, uncomfortable subjects with a blanket. I love to get you so busy laughing that by the time you calm down, the racism, homophobia and sexism has already washed over you. In everything I do, from my radio shows, to my memoirs, to my plays, to my podcast and even my catering career, I try to change the world. Okay. Yeah. It’s pretty hard to change the world. But you know, a little, itty bitty, teeny weeny bit.. for the better.”:
Yes, it’s that kind of energy, creativity, and drive that led her to this year’s Rogue Theater Festival.
Rossi’s support of anything that would keep theatre alive during a pandemic actually kept her going, even before this year’s version of the festival. Last year, when the festival introduced their virtual approach to theatre festivals, Rossi actually did a show at the 13th Street Rep, live and recorded onstage and played after in the virtual world that is now The Rogue. “I love it all, but I’m an old school girl. I love to read newspapers and get ink on my fingers. I love books with pages you can turn. Give me live theater any day.”
Committed to the arts, Rossi finished her second memoir, “Queen of the Jews!,” which she is now adapting for the stage and screen. “It’s a truly insane, wild-ass story about me! I ran away from home as a punk rock teenager on the Jersey shore, got busted by the cops and shipped off to the Chasidic Jews in Crown Heights Brooklyn in 1981. What ensued will knock you on your tuchas! I am going to be fine tuning the play as the playwright in residence at Passaic Community College and I am thrilled!"
Then there is “Raging Skillet” the play which a friend, Jacques Lamarre, adapted from her personal memoir “The Raging Skillet,” which is coming to Sedona, Arizona, with talk that it will make its way to NYC. "What a love train this book and play has been. I gotta thank my mom, Harriet, for all of this. I know she’s up there at an all-you-can-eat Salad bar in heaven.”
Eternally grateful to her mom, she adds, “For the record, my mother loved two-ply toilet paper. The apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree. Except hers was old-world Yiddish and mine was closer to Joan Jett.”
You can learn more about Chef Rossi, her works, and her food, at www.theragingskillet.com.
Tickets for Two Ply debuts Friday, July 23rd at 8:30PM, and tickets can be found by going to this link: https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/53778. Or see an encore presentation available for streaming, the week following by visiting https://www.roguetheaterfestival.com/.