MY JOURNEY FROM ECONOMIST TO PLAYWRIGHT
By Anthony E. Gallo
Often I am asked. Why did you become a playwright?
Most people have never known economist who at the height of his career abandoned it, and become a playwright? And a religious (Judeo-Christian) playwright at that. Well that is my story. Started at age 58, mind you
Therefore, for my own assessment and to answer that question so often posed to me I have decided to collect my thoughts on that journey, how it came about, and where I am today.
What lead to the Decision?
Fifteen years ago, I realized that I had been an economist for nearly forty years as I approached my sixtieth birthday.
The career had been rewarding. But it was time for a career change. My younger boss’ decision to become a farmer and fisherman, after forty years as an economist also influenced me. As he so aptly said: “You spend your first thirty years acquiring an education and starting your career, then thirty years in that career. I intend to spend the last thirty years doing something totally different.”
Then my good friend Herbert Stein, President Nixon’s Chief Economic Advisor and chair of our Book Discussion Group at the Cosmos Club, repeated what he had so often said: “Economics is a path and not an end all. Philosophy is the next step. , I think you should do something different for the rest of your life.” I admired Dr. Stein tremendously. He really set the wheels in motion for me.
As a Federal Economist I had published nearly 240 articles in the field of Food Marketing and had been economics editor of the Food Marketing Review, following my stint as a college economics professor and banker. Forty years was too long a time to be in one profession. Yes I would become an annuitant, but retirement for this Alpha type male was not an option.. Consulting as a career would be more of the same. And I had been a businessman, being an early pioneer in renovating historic homes in what became the Capitol Hill Historic District. I did not want more of the same again.
The decision was made: My “economist” days would be over.
But what next? I then gave myself several parameters. First, the new career had to be public service oriented. Second, monetary considerations would be of secondary importance. Through investment and frugality and a pension, my income would be sufficient. Third, my new endeavor would be a career and not a hobby. I hade plenty of hobbies---ballroom dancing, bridge, extensive travel, historic preservation, antiques, history, music, swimming, bicycling among other. . I wanted a career which required a real level of output. I wanted the new career to make use of my interest in history, philosophy, religion, biblical studies, theatre, and music.
Zippo! After several weeks of reflection, my decision was made. I would go into religion. Yes, religion! I would become a Judeo-Christian playwright, composing secular plays rooted on that tradition, and meant for secular audiences. I Anthony E. Gallo the playwright.
And then I started thinking about it. . Was I sure? It had all started 17 years earlier when I took a purely secular trip to
. I was an agnostic’ I took a purely secular trip to Israel
and had a religious s experience. Tony All of a sudden a greater power came
over me . God came into my life. I began ferociously reading the Bible. . I Turned to God. Then I read the Bible every day and visited
all the churches and became re-Christianized . I visited many churches, but
then want back to the church of my childhood. From that day on, I communicated
with God every single day. Life began to change Israel
Now that that decision was made how should I proceed. I considered several avenues
Study theology. This was not what I really wanted to d. . I had already spent too many years in study o my PhD in economics. Go into the clergy? That simply would not work
Become a deacon? Absolutely not. Become a missionary? Not in my blood.
Finally,, I decided to become a playwright. Why. The theatre would be my pulpit. Did I have any theater experience. Well back in the late 1960s, I was a part time professional actor which started off a a hobby in the id sixties, and then became professional. I became an economist by day---banker first and then college professor. Eventually I became a part time professional actor and a member of Actors Equity and the Screen Actors Guild. Also was working on a PhD in economics following. . Did many roles but decided that in 1970 I would become either a professional economist or a professional actor. I wisely chose the economist route. Thank God. My last role was as the Paul the lawyer in born yesterday. And I remember my last speech to the cast and crew in 1969 which ending by my saying I will never act again.
Parameters and Learning A New Profession?
I had four parameters. FirstI wanted to incorporate my knowledge of history religion philosophy and allow me to transpose these to the performing arts. More importantly, my life from early childhood was on of conflict. And that would be incorporated in my playwriting. And now I would be writing for the stage and screen First, all success would be measured by spiritual growth. I have been able to uphold that. Second would be Judeo- Christian playwright. Third all works would be written for general audience. I would not be a Sunday school playwright. Fourth, what my father taught me fifty years before: That there are a million roads to God, and I hope I am on one of them. Then I began writing plays.
But who was I to learn the new profession. . Playwriting is a craft, not only an art. Therfore I would have to learn a whole new profession. I would have to start from scratch and learn the new art of drama, but more importantly the craft of writing drama. I began reading immediately. Then I took courses at the writers center, online, and at the Dramatist Forum. The playwrights collaborative and many other which taught me the sill of the profession. Above all I would write and write. And I wrote a lot of junk. I also read a lot of plays and a lot of theatre
Then one day we had an assignment to writer about a situation that was highly unlikely but could possibly happen. I wrote a scene about a pope who decided it was all nonsense and converted to Judaism. Then someone pointed out about the Chief Rabbi of
Rome during the holocaust in . I took an avid interest in the subject and
within a year I wrote my first holocaust play, Eugenio. One of the characters in the play was thrown
out, and I gave her own play. Margherita,
the story of Benito Mussolini and his Jewish Margherita Sarfatti, is my moist successful work. Italy
Well then I knew I had to writer plays about my favorite monarchs, King David and King Solomon, and this began my first two biblical plays, And I would on the spur of the moment make a decision to write on a certain subject and proceed. Thus began my
plays. Lincoln and God, Vandergrift My home town), Americana Resifted(about
life), The Botticelli cruise( about identity) and then came back to the
Bible. Who was the most influential theologian
of all time?, I tookook on the impossible task of writing a play about Charleston .
Decision To Self Produce Plays, Books, and Motion Pictures
Every playwright goes through the dread of submitting plays. I have hundreds of them. I certainly did send plays out beginning in 2002. After years of rejection I did what the Dramatists Guild of America strongly suggested., self production . It wasn’t easy. Between 2002 and 2006 I had had no production, but many readings of plays
Beginning 2007 I hired several outside directors to produce my plays. Hence I was self-producing. I then began my own company which produced all of my plays I have now had a total of 111 stagings.
I now have three companies. In addition to the Seventh Street Playhouse, Browns Court Publishing Company publishes all of my plays which are now available from Amazon. The Eastern Market Studios is my motion picture company. We have competed one motion picture, Charleston Revisited based on my stage play. I also have 24 web pages. Visit http://Aegallo.com
Hee is what my website says about the Seventh Street Playhouse. .
The Seventh Street Playhouse is a small critically acclaimed non-profit showcase ensemble repertory theater company comprised of experienced actors, designers, directors, theatre technicians and musical directors. Our mission is guided by a statement made by Albert Einstein: "There are two ways to live life. The first is as if nothing is a miracle. The second is as if everything is a miracle."
Our productions and workshops either have been or will be performed in
Washington, DC, New York City, Virginia, Maryland, and .
The thirty venues include: The U.S. Department of State, The Kennedy Center for
the Performing Arts, the Harvard Club of Boston, The National Press Club, the
Universalist Stage, The Dramatists Guild of America, Cosmos Theatre,
Playwrights Forum, Knollwood, New York University, the Warehouse Theatre, Casa
Italiana, Peter Marshall Stage at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church,
Capital Fringe/ Woolley Mammoth Theatre, Capital Fringe/ Universalist Stage,
Silver Spring Stage/PF, Where Eagles Dare Theatre(NYC), , The Arts Club of
Washington, New York International Midtown Festival/Dorothy Strelsin Stage,
Abingdon Theatre (NYC), The New Kensington Civic Theatre, St. John's
Church(MD), The Corner Store Stage on Capitol Hill, Seventh Street Playhouse,
Casino Theatre, St. Mary Armenian Church, the Greenbelt Arts Center in
Maryland, The Armed Services Retirement Home in Washington, and Ingleside at
Rock Creek. (See Stagings by Venue) Pennsylvania
Our productions and workshops either have been or will be performed in
The Seventh Street Playhouse- LLC, which was founded in 1998, is located steps from the Old Eastern Market in the Capitol Hill District in
Seventh Street Playhouse dramas are will covered by the press, his work having been referred to over 700 times during the past decade in both local and National publications. These include Washington Post, The City Newspaper, The Dramatist Guild Diary and e Letter, Prince Georges Sentinel, The Prince Georges Gazette, the Greenbelt New, The Vandergrift News, The Cosmos Bulletin, The Washington Examiner, The Washington imes, Theatre Talk, Brian Draganuk, Theatre Digest, Capitol Hill Yahoo Group, DC Theatre News, DC Arts, The Wire. The National Press Club, The Green Room, The Lincolnia Newsletter, State Department News, The Hill Rag., The William and Mary Magazine, The Wharton Magazine, The University of Pennsylvania Magazine, Il Voce Italiana, and Winding Streets, the Arts Club of Washington Newsletter, The Lincolnia Bulletin, the Knollwood Bulletin, the Corner Store Newsletter, and the Washington Express
What Is Happening Now. The Twenty Four Day
How much do I like my newest career? Well as an economist I worked an average of eight hours a day. t When I became a businessman in 1973 that changed to sixteen hours a day. As a playwright, I work twenty four hours a day. Only a small portion of that is spent at the computer. The rest is observing all around me , including what I hear people say all around me, what I read, what I see and situations I find myself in.
I am grateful to all my supports. Many have been with me throughout my fifteen year journey. And In 2007 a new woman came into my life. Susan. She is my strongest supporter, and has been an invaluable assist. Thanks Susan
I have read the Bible every day of my life since 1980, which also serves as an inspiration. I also make sure that each day I spend any number of hours at my favorite hobbies: bridge, ballroom dancing, bicycling, swimming, historic preservation, reading, gardening, and extensive travel, both domestic and abroad with Susan.
.I am also a very active member of the Dramatists Guild of America. Often go to
. And I had never even though of a Broadway
production . Well it happened. Broadway
at Last. I signed a contract with the Nederlander
family in New York City
. Margherita (premiered
at the Cosmos Club in 2002) is under contract to Browne-Nederlander Productions
in New York . New York City
I am now celebrating my fifteenth year as a playwright; I like to call myself a playwright-economist, which brings on guffaws I have a total body of about 80 works, ranging from screenplays to dramas to librettos to essays. However only a small portion of them will eer see the light of day. As of now I have 16 copyrighted plays which have been performed 112 times, including eleven productions. And we have had a large number of paid productions.
My plays include whose fourteen copyrighted, published, and produced dramas include – in addition to the above trilogy – Margherita, Eugenio, Better than the Best, Vandergrift!, Lincoln and God, Charleston Revisited, The Botticelli Cruise, Paul, The Springfield Boys, motion picture Charleston Revisited, and folk operas Lincoln and God and David. works. My plays have been staged 110 times in thirty venues in
Washington, Maryland, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania,
and . I’m alsoalso artistic director of the Seventh Street Playhouse and Eastern Market Studios. Margherita
(premiered at the Cosmos Club in 2002) is under contract to
Browne-Nederlander Productions in Massachusetts . New
What commonality do I see. as the great commonality between playwriting and economics. What happens when the equilibrium situation is disturbed?
I will die a playwright. . Will I go back to being an economist? No I don’t think so even though once an economist always an economist. The same does not apply to playwrights. I wonder why. I think I shall continue writing plays until my last droop of breath fails me. And of course I say this knowing the first commandment that every actor playwright and director producer knows. The theater is an evil mother. It is even more so for a Judeo-Christian playwright. .