a TACK of an American Conscience:

an attempt to catch up

A newFangled theatReR production

The Kraine Theatre, New York City, November 2006

Playwright, Director & Producer

Trapped in a labyrinth of public education, George finds himself in a world that has been reduced to rubble. As his wife pleads with him to give up his futile quest for knowledge and come home, and as his uncle entangles him in a web of dead-end American dream schemes, time begins to accelerate at a dizzying pace. But, George can only dig—sifting, often quite literally, through a life-sized crater in the center of his world. a TACK follows an American everyman's life-long search for meaning in his country's fabricated history.

2006 Production Archive

the AmerikAn trip, tik: a prequel of plays

A newFangled theatReR production

Stuart Street 2nd Stage, Boston, April 2004 

The Red Room, New York City, October 2005

The Kraine Theatre, New York City, August 2006

Playwright, Director & Producer

An abrupt power outage causes the lights to go out on King Kristopher’s great idea, sending him into a tragic downward spiral.  His arch-rival and successor, Sam, takes control of the land with one not-so-hidden agenda—to wash away all memory of Kristopher, the man who stole his land and his lady. the AmerikAn trip, tik is an epic caricature of American politics that defies the structures of time in order to create a picture of how a country’s past has shaped its future—an amalgamation of history in which time loops and overlaps .

2004 Production Archive        2005 Production Archive        2006 Prouction Archive

The Burial At Thebes By Seamus Heaney

City University of New York, Brooklyn College Department of Theatre

New Workshop Theatre, Brooklyn, December 2005


Produced as my MFA Thesis production, Seamus Heaney’s new verse translation of Sophocles’ Antigone, written in 2004 for the centenary of the Abbey Theatre and in response to the invasion of Iraq; the play stands as a reminder of the conflict between the defense of state security and the protection of basic human rights. 

Production Archive

The Dragon Awakens: The Tail of the Dragon

Funded by Open House Hvar (OHH)

Soline Beach, Jelsa, Hvar, Croatia, August 2016

Playwright & Director

In the summer of 2016, I was commissioned by Open House Hvar (OHH) to lead and participate in the creation of a site-specific promenade performance at Soline Beach. Building on OHH’s tradition and ethos of community engagement, we developed and devised the performance on the beach with locals, tourists and the OHH Team, spearheaded by Edina Husanovic and Ben Rattenbury, along with Alex Brown and Sarah Cody. The first half of the fable was developed the previous summer, by Edina and the local children in Jelsa. I revised and completed the tale, later adapting the story into a flexible performance score, which was used as a starting point during the public workshops at the beach. Ultimately, the fable itself became the primary performance text, as the performance focused on the building, traveling and movement of the dragon; parading the peninsula and stopping at particular locations for moments of oral storytelling.

Project Archive

gentlefucknation: a beautification

A newFangled theatReR production in collaboration with The Railroad Playhouse

Railroad Playhouse, Newburgh, NY, May 2011

Playwright & Director


The Process Group ‘s Required Reading Series @ The Workshop Theater, NYC (2011)

Players Time & WritingBloc’s October Leaves Reading Series @ Access Theater (2008)

Received Honorable Mention in 2008 New Works of Merit Contest, NYC

The play follows the inner and outer workings of Akkiz, a Middle Eastern laundry woman from "Far Faraway Lands" who is being haunted by La Cucaracha, a man dressed as a pink cockroach. As we wash through the residents of this community, a suspenseful plot unfolds. The ever-changing weather pushes against a variety of urban locales presenting designers with an exciting palette of creative possibilities. ‘gentlefucknation,’ grapples with themes of gentrification, ecology and cultural exchange using the laundromat as a metaphor to explore the gentrification of a neighborhood.

The Railroad Playhouse hosted newFangled for a R&D residency to develop the play and present a work-in-progress to an invited audience. Under Rossi’s direction, the group explored the challenge of juxtaposing realistic dialogue with poetic verse and  immersing The Audience in a whirlwind meditation of music, words and imagery.

Project Archive

Harm’s Way By Mac Wellman

A newFangled theatReR & HorseTRADE co-production

UNDER St. Mark’s, New York City, March 2007* (NY FRIGID Festival) & October 2007


*Winner of FRIGID New York Audience Choice Award

The Fangs take part in HorseTRADE’s inaugural year of the NYFrigid Festival with Rossi’s revival of Wellman’s 1978 play, which takes place in a mythical American West chronicling the fantastical adventures of Santouche, a very angry person, who attempts to make sense of his understanding of law and order in a world of other angry persons. The action does not unfold in any specific time or place. However, all the characters drink from the same poisoned well, which is recognizably American and western. Following the FRIGID run, the Fangs engaged in a summer-long intensive Lab to take their work with the play further. After critical acclaim and being awarded the FRIGID Audience Choice Award, the ensemble decided to continue exploring the piece. Rossi led the group in a self-designed Summer ‘LAB’ at HorseTRADE, pulling apart the play and re-exploring the themes, characters and settings. The LAB work was presented as an improvised staged reading where the actors did not receive their role until they entered the stage. The following Fall, Harm's Way was re-mounted and re-conceived in a co-production with HorseTRADE for a month-long run at UNDER St. Mark's.

Production Archive Review by Ross Chapell

Operation Ajax and The Country Behind The Curtain: a plunged up particle from the bowels of America’s wholly unimaginable and un-writable history

Prospect Theatre, New York City, February 2007

‘Short Kutz & Forks,’ newFangled theatReR, The Red Room, New York City, June 2009

The Brecht Forum, New York City,  June 2010

Playwright & Director

This short piece was initually produced for Prospect Theatre’s Dark Night Series (2006) which called for theatre-makers to devise a performance piece from found texts. Rossi used inspiration from Stephen Kinzer’s ALL THE SHAH’S MEN about the American coup in Iran. The play is composed of texts from a Rumi poem, speeches from Madelaine Albright, New York City street signs and Kinzer’s book, set in a terrorized New York City, with a Wizard of Oz motif. The play was performed at Prospect Theatre by Esra Cizmeci and Jason ‘SweetTooth’ Williams, and was revived in 2009 for newFangled theatReR’s SHORT KUTZ & FORKS (performed by Cizmeci and Seth Reich). In 2010, the piece was re-mounted for a political festival at The Brecht Forum, performed by Rima Najdi and Danny O’Connor.

2010 Production Archive

RUMI HIGH: an intifada  

Workshop Presentations:

University of Reading, UK, December 2012

Vital Theatre Company, NYC, January 2013 

University of Reading, UK, June 2013

Playwright & Director

Accessible at , this is an online interactive play developed through a series of work-in-progress performance presentations. The play has yet to be fully produced in its entirety.

Rumi High is set in an unspecified time period in the fictitious town of ‘Loose Leaf in New Hampsterdamned, AmerikA.’ The school, ‘Mevlana Jeluladdin Rumi High S’kool (Ω910),’ is a failing small-school in danger of being ‘phased out’ and transformed, ironically, back into a large school. A first year poetry teacher, DEBI` , arrives at Rumi High on the first day of school to the news that her schedule has been changed, and that she will be teaching Drama, a topic which she has no formal knowledge of. She is pointed in the direction of her new classroom, Room D-421, referred to as ‘The Dungeon,’ which is filled with dust, broken furniture and several copies of The Crucible. As the play progresses, the school itself boils up into its own crucible of controversy, as interactions between characters, readers and site, encourage the reader to consider critically their own definitions of education, learning and schools.

Doctoral Thesis: Collabowrighting the Hyper(play)text: A Postdramatic Digital Poetics

Project Archive

Short Kutz & Forks

A newFangled theatReR production

The Red Room, New York City, June 2009

Playwright, Co-Director & Producer

The little rascals of theatReR-making return to the Red Room with thirteen short plays written by founding artistic director, johnmichael rossi. Transforming space, body and object, the Fangs take the audience on a playful journey-shifting perspectives, scratching surfaces, questioning norms and provoking imagination. Rehearsed in just seven days, the ensemble stretched their acting and designing muscles, mounting an 80-minute evening of new works designed out of cardboard and fabric with ensemble members playing up to 10 roles each.

Production Archive

Sincerity Forever By Mac Wellman

City University of New York, Brooklyn College Department of Theatre

New Workshop Theatre, Brooklyn, April 2005


Produced as part of Brooklyn College’s annual one-act festival, Rossi directs undergraduate BFA Acting students in Wellman’s 1991 Obie Award-winning play that skewers the social malignancy of ignorance. In Sincerity Forever, a 'mystic furball' has infected Hillsbottom. The framework of the play is fantasy as Wellman's savage comedy about everyday lunacies in America, begins with two adolescent girls in a dirt-poor Southern town calmly accepting the order of the universe. Like everyone else in Hillsbottom, they are wearing Ku Klux Klan costumes. They are blissful in their brainlessness, confessing they cannot tell good art from bad art and do not know why junk bonds are junky. The conversation dwells on important matters like boyfriends rather than on child abuse or the plutonium-poisoned water that is killing their community.

Production Archive

Trial of the Mariner

A LOTOS Collective production

Hoxton Hall, London, May 2011


Set in 2111, ‘Trial of the Mariner’ presents a crew of 8 sailors who encounter the Plastic Continent floating in the North Pacific gyre. The production was an interactive event with a mix of acting, large-scale puppetry, clowning and music that respond to the destruction of our oceans and its effect on climate change; inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Lewis’ Carroll’s The Hunting of The Snark. Rossi functioned as the company’s Wordsmith, leading collaborative writing workshops, and penning the play’s final act, The Plastic Courtroom.

Production Archive

Triangulated City

A LOTOS Collective production in collaboration with Zoukak Theatre & Cultural Association

Beirut, Lebanon, August 2009

Workshop Leader, Site-Facilitator and Composer

Recipent of Theatre Communications Group’s Overseas Research Travel Award, 2009

‘Triangulated City’ was a multi-location live art event that investigated notions of exchange within the urban environment through the secrets, rumors, messages, myths and memories circulating in the city.  The project sought to create a cultural platform of exchange through artistic collaboration and a celebration of cultural heritage, a dialogue between international cities: Beirutis, Londoners and New Yorkers (and a variety of other cultures represented by some of the participants who were not natives of Beirut). The performance took place over three days, in three locations unfolding simultaneously each evening. The three performance sites, two within walking distance and one on the other side of the city created a superimposed scalene triangle over the urban area. The three sites were secret locations and spectators had to choose from three advertised meeting points from where they were then led to one of the three sites. Through each performance, clues and messages would provoke spectators to seek out the other two locations. Some received the clue and ventured to another section of Beirut, while others attended one site each night.

*Triangulated City was a case study for R.M. Sanchez-Camus’ practice-led PhD at Brunel University entitled: 'Applied Live Art: co-authorship in socially engaged and site-responsive performance practice.'

Project Archive

Up On A-Farm:

An Orwellian Ode To The Times That Are

A newFangled theatReR & Blank Collective co-production

The Secret Community Garden, New York City,  June 2004

Playwright & Director

In response and protest to the Republican National Convention’s residency in NYC, and its promotion of President George W. Bush’s re-election, Rossi adapts and stages George Orwell’s 1984, set in The Secret Community Garden on the Lower East Side, with puppet, mask and multi-media; a mixture of entertainment and candid warnings for the local community.

Project Archive