characters

DR. BORE, f, 40s to 60s, art history professor
KITTY KATZ, 18, our heroine, blossoming American pie MOTHER (double-cast as HOMELESS WOMAN), 40-something lush and brazen crazy
FATHER (double-cast as HOMELESS MAN), 40-something, gay
TONI-O, 18-20, ethnically ambiguous street tough with a soft side
EDWARD, m, 18-20, bright and sensitive paint-eater
MS. HAMM, f, 40ish, warm, bumbling drawing teacher
MR. MANNE, m, 30ish to 40ish, pompous and perverted painting teacher
MISS ST. HELEN, f, late 20s, mousy woman, bold teacher ENSEMBLE, 2 men, 1 woman, various roles

NOTE: this piece is completely open to and can absolutely benefit from racial and gender-blind, non-traditional casting. It should be a joyous melting pot.

story
18-YEAR OLD KITTY KATZ MAY be from the suburbs, but she’s no carbon copy. She klutzes and cringes her way through high school, hiding out, painting her bedroom walls over and over again, knowing there must be something bleepin’ special outside her gated community. So the day she gets accepted into the Ghetto Art School, she doesn’t hesitate, grabbing her sketchbook, hopping on the A-train, and leaving her lush mother and gay father behind for what she hopes will be a lifetime.

Initial encounters with the seamy downtown underbelly don’t do much for her confidence, until she meets Toni-O, an ambiguously-ethnic street artist, and Edward, a precocious odd-ball who eats paint. Within an hour, she’s been hazed by art student “gangs” (led by “the Michelangelos”), narrated by an art historian named Dr. Bore who appears at will, and moved into her single room bathed in the red glow of the school’s neon sign. Fear kicks in with a vengeance.

The first day of class shows no sign of letting up: figure drawing features a bumbling Brit, painting is led by a Parisian Texan with a fondling fetish, and basic design finishes off with a gospel-style call-to-art from a waif-ish newbie. The message is the same throughout: let go, dig in, and create. Kitty, uptight and in check, wonders if she’ll fit or fall.

The eve of the first big critique, she’s been virtually paralyzed by self-doubt and a look at her classmates’ bizarre artistic endeavors. Sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, Kitty has delirious visions of friends and family who accept her defeat with ease, and she finds her fear turning into anger and her frustration into an uninhibited artist outburst; the result: a psychedelic mural on the school’s outer wall. When her painting is met with ecstatic praise, she’s left feeling strangely worried. How did I do that? she wonders. And can I do it again? This time, it’s her mother who appears, her face drunkenly drawn all over with lipstick, and bearing a simple message: shut up and commit. Kitty realizes the urge to avoid her past has been holding her back and that to be a true artist, she must first be her true self, even if that’s a certifiable nut.

The rest of the term breezes through a cornucopia of colorful experiences, lots of art, and ends with the ultimate reward: a spot in a gallery show in SHoHo. Kitty, decked out in her own over-the-top lipstick, and her friends Toni-O and Edward, empowered by their success, reveal their work to the public for the first time. How do we respond? Who cares. It’s art, it’s theirs, and it’s here. Pop it open.