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Updated: Nov 29, 2023

The Instant Shakespeare Company

and the

First Flight Theatre Company


a play reading of


by Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings

Saturday, December 2, 2023

at 1pm

at the 53rd St. Library, NYC



Act I, Scene 1

A room in a French farmhouse--now a U.S. Marine company headquarters. 


Act 1 Scene 2

Late afternoon, eight days later. The scene is unchanged.


Act 2

A cellar in a disputed town of a prosperous farmhouse on the edge of a village in France.



A tavern, known colloquially as COGNAC PETE’S. Evening, two days later.


TIME: 1917 – 1918



Directed by Frank Farrell


Corporal Gowdy… Jacqueline Margolis*

Corporal Kiper… Asher Susswein

Corporal Lipinsky… Richard Roche

First Sergeant Quirt… Danny Crawford*

Captain Flagg… Paul Singleton*

Charmaine De La Cognac… Claudia Egli*

Private Lewisohn… Hannah Simpson

Lieutenant Aldrich… Jovanny Jacobo

Lieutenant Moore… Hannah Simpson

Gunnery Sergeant Sockkel… Mark Gering

Private Mulcahy… Joseph Bowen*

Sergeant Ferguson… Mark Gering

A Brigade Runner… Frank Farrell*

Monsieur Pete De La Cognac… Victoria Devany*

Brigadier General Cokeley… Jacqueline Margolis*

A Colonel, Headquarters Staff… Duncan Maxwell Anderson

A Captain, Headquarters Staff… Yascha-Janet Bilan

A Lieutenant, Headquarters Staff… Lynn Manuell

A Chaplain… Jennifer Kim

Spike… Jennifer Kim

Pharmacist’s Mate… Joseph Bowen*

Lieutenant Cunningham… Mark Gering

Lieutenant Lundstrom… Hannah Simpson

* Indicates Actors are members of Actors’ Equity Association.



DUNCAN MAXWELL ANDERSON (A Colonel - Headquarters Staff), one of Maxwell Anderson’s many grandsons, was active in college plays and musicals. His work since then has been in journalism and publishing. 



YASHA-JANET BILAN (A Captain - Headquarters Staff) has been working in theater arts for over forty years. She was a founding member of Clay Stevenson’s Performers’ Workshop Ensemble at Henry Street Settlement. The company presented the rarely seen Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window by Lorraine Hansberry. She was a member of Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble, where she played Simone de Beauvoir in Howard Pflanzer’s Living with History, and regularly performed with the Butch Morris ensemble Chorus of Poets. She has also taught music, dance and theater in NYC public schools.



JOSEPH BOWEN (Mulcahy & Pharmacist's Mate) moved to New York in 2013, and has since worked with APAC (Merrily We Roll Along), Project Shaw (The Devil’s Disciple), The Mechanicals (As You Like It and Twelfth Night), Cherry Lane (Harold and Rodney Play Chess) and Hamlet Isn’t Dead (Measure for Measure and King Lear). In Chicago, he did 17 shows with ShawChicago, Sunday in the Park with George at the Ravinia Festival, as well as a good deal of Regional Theater (PlayMakers Rep, New Harmony Theater, Meadow Brook Theater and Mill Mountain Theater.



VICTORIA DEVANY (Monsieur Pete De La Cognac) has been a professional performer since she was a teenager. She also works as an acting/vocal coach, dramaturg/playwright and assistant director. Vicky has performed in venues such as City Center, Symphony Space, Carnegie Hall, Wolf Trap, and others, including tours in New England, the Midwest, CA -- and performances in England and Japan. Her solo cabaret show has been performed in Chiba Prefecture, and in NYC. She is delighted to participate with First Flight Theatre Company and thanks everyone involved in the production. Member: AEA/DGA. Contact:




DANNY CRAWFORD (First Sergeant Quirt) is thrilled to have another opportunity to work with First Flight Theatre Company. His previous touring and regional theatre credits include Luke in The Lighting Thief, Brom Bones in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Angelo in Measure for Measure and Laertes in Hamlet to name a few. Film/TV credits include “Redrum,” “Scorned,” “The Perfect Murder,” and “Playbook 360” amongst others.



CLAUDIA EGLI (Charmaine De La Cognac) actor and singer has performed with the Light Opera of Manhattan in several of their past productions. She has appeared in film and TV productions including all five seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. For the past five years Claudia has been discovering the plays of 20th Century American playwright Maxwell Anderson performing with the First Flight Theatre Company and appearing in staged readings of his plays including Valley Forge, Elizabeth the Queen, Mary of Scotland (in the title role), The Masque of Queens, The Eve of St. Marks, The Feast of Ortolans, Second Overture, The Miracle of the Danube, White Desert and Sea-Wife. She stage-managed the company's production of Forgotten Soldiers performed at two churches in the Washington Heights area of Manhattan in 2018. This past August she appeared in the company's production of Shakespeare's Deaths as part of the Little Shakespeare Festival at the UNDER St. Marks Theater in NYC. Currently she can also be heard in the podcast Songs of the Pogo as Miz Ma'm'selle Hepzibah, a beautiful, coy French skunk frequently baking pies or preparing picnic baskets for her many admirers in Walt Kelly’s Okefenokee Swamp. Claudia also reads Shakespeare plays at the New York Public Libraries in collaboration with the Instant Shakespeare Company.



FRANK FARRELL (Brigade Runners, Director & Artistic Director of First Flight Theatre Company) most recently directed First Flight Theatre Company’s productions of Shakespeare’s Ladies at Tea and Shakespeare’s Deaths in NYC and Little Women at The Hermitage in Bergen County, NJ.  He was an actor in Chicago for 40 years receiving three Joseph Jefferson acting nominations and recently returned to NYC where he was born. While in Chicago he directed and produced plays for Free Shakespeare Theatre Company, Temporary Theatre, Shakespeare’s Herd, Steppenwolf Theater, Raven Theatre, Equity Library Theater Chicago, the North Lakeside Players and Theatre-Hikes. For Citadel Theatre in Lake Forest, IL he directed outdoor productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Spoon River Anthology, Romeo and Juliet and Scapin. Frank has formed six theater companies along the way including Theatre-Hikes in Chicago and, in Grand Haven, Michigan, the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company.  In NYC he wrote, directed and produced Forgotten Soldiers from Our Forgotten War for the First Flight Theatre Company, the seventh theatre group he has formed.  For First Flight he also coordinated several stage readings of Maxwell Anderson’s plays in New York City and Chicago. Frank directed and produced last summer’s First Flight production of Maxwell Anderson’s play Valley Forge at The Hermitage Mansion in Bergen County, New Jersey.  His Zoom film In the Garden of Live Flowers recently won Best Biopic at the Green Academy Awards Film Festival.



MARK GERING (Gunnery Sergeant Sockkel, Sergeant Ferguson & Lieutenant Cunningham) is a Painter, Actor, and Craftsman. He was a member of Medicine Show Theatre Ensemble from 1997 to 2018, during which time he acted in 30 full-run productions with the Company. He also was a longtime member of Butch Morris’ music ensemble “Chorus of Poets”; and, with the Instant Shakespeare Company, has participated in well over 100 readings of Shakespeare’s plays from 2009 to the present.




JOVANNY JACOBO (Lieutenant Aldrich) hit the stage in 2011 and hasn't stopped since. He has played a multitude of characters.  Appearing in plays such as Crossroads as the abusive Eugene, fun loving Darius Jennings in both A Christmas Without Him and The Jennings Family Reunion, to co-starring with Melba Moore in Straight To The Head at the Newark Symphony Hall. Jovanny also was the lead character David in Cybersex, a play about an adult after being abused by a family member. Then played troubled Joshua in The Last Hour written and directed by J Marshall Evans. The pandemic did not stop the passion for performing. He was in two Zoom Plays, 12 Incompetent Jurors and 10 Ways to Survive Life in Quarantine, both plays produced by the AlphaNYC Theater. In December of 2022 he played the iconic role of Ebenezer Scrooge and other roles in Dickens by Candlelight: A Christmas Carol. Jovanny dedicates this and all his performances to his sons, Jovanny Jr. and Jaxson, two major inspirations in his life. Special thanks to the audience and First Flight Theatre Company. It is an honor to perform on the stage!



JENNIFER KIM (A Chaplain & Spike) is a NYC-based actress. Her recent roles include several roles in Shakespeare’s Ladies a Tea and Shakespeare’s Deaths, Beth in Little Women, two roles in Thornton Wilder's short plays (Linda in Love and How to Cure It and Diana in Cement Hands); Neil in Maxwell Anderson's Valley Forge; Juliet in the comedy, How to Survive a Shakespeare Play; Lady Torminster in Alfred Sutro's The Open Door; Announcer #2 in a public reading of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds; Bob Cratchit, Marley, and others in a three-actor performance of Dickens by Candlelight: A Christmas Carol; and Denaya in the NY Summerfest short play Take the R Train.




LYNN MANUELL (A Lieutenant - Headquarters Staff) has appeared in over 50 shows in New York, London and Chicago.  She has appeared in numerous shows for Genoveva Productions, FACT Theatre and First Flight. Favorite roles include Mts. March in Little Women, Tess in Vanishing Tess, Miss Lovely in Umbrella in the Snow, Martha in If the Pink Pump Fits. Celia in As You Like It and Mama in High Button Shoes at the Illinois Theater Center. Her cd RETURN TO LOVE is on original cast records. Her book Standing Tall - the emails and creative writings of 9/11 is available on Amazon and was made into a play to raise money for the 9/11 Fund.


JACQUELINE MARGOLIS (Corporal Gowdy & Brigadier General Cokeley) has performed in many plays with Love Creek Productions in NYC including the role of Antigone in the Oresteia and Mother in The Transparent Veil and with this company she has played and sang in various Christmas plays. She performed a one women monologue entitled "Hartford Circus Fires" at the Samuel French Festival.  She was in Vassa Zheleznova in the role of Dunya at Horizon Rep, The Mother in Uncle Vanya and the Prostitute in Silence of The Gun, both for the Off-Bank theater at Abbington Square theater, a Romanian Tour Guide in Unleashed at TSI, The Good Doctor with the Midlantic Theatre Company, Lulu’s Back in Town at Common Basis Theater and SFF, and Trust Me at Pulse theater. She has also played the nurse in Titus Andronicus, Mother in Beyond the Horizon and was in various versions of Lysistrata. She sang, whirled and played many parts in The Golden Bear at Theater for the New City. Currently working on Shakespeare with The Instant Shakespeare Company performing staged readings at NYC public libraries. Most loved stage role is the Grandmother in Eleemosynary. Jacqueline will be seen in the feature film The End of the Line in which she plays executive secretary, Barbara, opposite her husband Mark Margolis and John Polito. She has a small encounter as The Widow with Jacqueline Bisset in the film Death in Love, and has appeared in the TV Soap Another World and commercials. AEA & SAG-AFTRA - 212-227-3109


RICHARD ROCHE (Corporal Lipinsky) This is Richard’s inaugural season with the Instant Shakespeare Company, having made a memorable first appearance as Messenger Number 3 this fall in Antony and Cleopatra.  He attended Franklin & Marshall College, where he appeared in a variety of student productions.  A recently retired attorney, he is well acquainted with improvisionational performing.


HANNAH SIMPSON (Private Lewisohn, Lieutenant Moore & Lieutenant Lundstrom) After receiving her BA in Theatre from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Hannah studied Shakespeare at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in NYC, and made Brooklyn her home with her cat Tybalt. She was last seen at the Little Shakespeare Festival performing with First Flight Theatre Co. Select past NYC credits include: Emma in Curse of the Starving Class, Launcelet in The Merchant of Venice, and Tumnus in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. You can follow her @han_simpson2.


PAUL SINGLETON (Captain Flagg) appeared in Henry IV Part 1, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, Pride and Prejudice, Antony and Cleopatra, Richard II, and Henry VI with Hudson Classical Theater Company.  New York Theater includes: Shakespeare at the Greene Space ‑ Brutus in Julius Caesar (New York Public Radio); Grit in a Sensitive Instrument (one-man play, Vineyard Theater – Cable TV also); When I Grow Up (lead, Playwright’s Horizons Festival); Careless Love (by John Olive – NY premiere), The Winter’s Tale, The Blue Carbuncle (also Theatre Encino, Los Angeles).  Regional includes The Tempest, Idiot’s Delight, The Golden Age, Fallen Angels, The School for Scandal, P.S. Your Cat is Dead, Bedroom Farce.  TV includes:  “Conan O’Brien,” “All My Children,” “One Life to Live” and Comedy Central.  Performances with First Flight include play readings of Valley Forge, Timon of Athens (as Timon), and Saturday’s Children. 


ASHER SUSSWEIN (Corporal Kiper) began "treading the boards" in grade school, continued into high school and college. At some later date he began checking the "trades" for casting calls. This led to numerous dinner theater gigs in the likes of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama, etc.  For a number of years now he has been active in Instant Shakespeare Company and now First Flight Theatre Company. Asher is currently a member of Geoffrey Owens' Shakespeare Workshop.


MAXWELL ANDERSON (Playwright 1888 - 1959) His plays include White Desert (1923), What Price Glory (1924), First Flight (1925), Elizabeth the Queen (1930), Both Your Houses (1933), Mary of Scotland (1933), Valley Forge (1934), Winterset (1935), High Tor (1937), Knickerbocker Holiday (1938), Key Largo (1939); The Eve of St. Mark (1942), Truckline Café (1945), Joan of Lorraine (1946), Anne of the Thousand Days (1947), Lost in the Stars (1949), The Masque of Queens (1954), The Bad Seed (1954), Richard and Anne (1955) and The Golden Six (1961). Anderson also worked on numerous screenplays, including All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, Washington Merry-Go-Round (1932), Rain (1932), Death Takes a Holiday (1934), and So Red the Rose (1935). Plays of his that were turned into movies were Mary of Scotland (1936), Saturday's Children, which was filmed three times (once as Maybe It's Love), Winterset (1936), Elizabeth the Queen, which became The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), The Eve of St. Mark (1944), Knickerbocker Holiday (1944). Key Largo (1948), Joan of Lorraine, which became Joan of Arc (1948), The Bad Seed (1956), The Devil's Hornpipe, which became Never Steal Anything Small (1959), and Anne of the Thousand Days (1969). What Price Glory was made into a silent film in 1926 and was remade by John Ford in 1952. Maxwell Anderson published two books of poetry, "You Who Have Dreams" in 1925, and "Notes on a Dream," published posthumously in 1972. Anderson also published two collections of essays, "The Essence of Tragedy and Other Footnotes and Papers" (1939) and "Off Broadway Essays About the Theatre" (1947). His play Both Your Houses won the Pulitzer Prize in 1933 and Winterset and High Tor both won the Drama Critics Circle Award for 1935 & 1937.


LAURENCE STALLINGS (Playwright 1894 - 1968) was an American playwright, screenwriter, lyricist, literary critic, journalist, novelist, and photographer. Best known for his collaboration with Maxwell Anderson on the 1924 play What Price Glory, Stallings also produced a groundbreaking autobiographical novelPlumes, about his service in World War I, and published an award-winning book of photographs, The First World War: A Photographic History.




The Instant Shakespeare Company is dedicated to the proposition that Shakespeare is for Everyone! The company organizes annual readings of ALL of Shakespeare's plays using original Folio & Quarto texts. Founded and run by Paul Sugarman, the company is now in their 24th Season of reading Shakespeare's plays. They have also branched out to doing readings of other writers in the Public Domain and some new plays as well.






FIRST FLIGHT THEATRE COMPANY is a not-for-profit founded by Frank Farrell in 2018 and is devoted to presenting the plays of 20th century American playwright Maxwell Anderson as well as other playwrights who instill poetry in their writing. The company has performed live staged readings of Anderson’s plays in New Jersey, New York City and Chicago including Valley Forge, Elizabeth the Queen, Mary of Scotland, Sea-Wife, The Masque of Queens, White Desert and The Eve of St. Mark. During the recent pandemic, First Flight presented play readings on Zoom for the public as benefits for various not-for-profits featuring actors from all over the United States and England. Productions streamed included Maxwell Anderson’s one-act plays The Feast of Ortolans, Second Overture, The Miracle of the Danube and Letter to Jackie. Also streamed were A Vampire Kiss in the Plague of 1666 written by James Fitzmaurice, which went on to win many awards on the film festival circuit; Salvador, a play about Salvador Dalí by Richard Young, another film festival winner; and a streaming version of Anderson’s first Broadway production White Desert. Post pandemic the company presented at The Hermitage in New Jersey outdoor productions of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Maxwell Anderson’s Valley Forge followed by indoor performances of Mina, based on Dracula and a third reprise of Dickens by Candlelight: A Christmas Carol. For Earth Day in April of 2023 the First Flight Theatre Company presented streaming performances of In the Garden of Live Flowers, a play about Rachel Carson, which went on to be a winner at the Green Academy Award Film Festival. In June 2023 First Flight’s production of Little Women at The Hermitage was a well-attended outdoor success. In August 2023 it presented the double bill Shakespeare’s Ladies at Tea and Shakespeare’s Deaths as part of FRIGID’s Little Shakespeare Festival in NYC. In September 2023 the Chicago branch of First Flight presented a staged reading of Saturday’s Children by Maxwell Anderson. In October 2023 at The Hermitage in New Jersey and at the UNDER St. Marks Theater in NYC the company produced the one-woman play Mina play based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In November 2023 First Flight again presented a staged reading of Saturday’s Children at the Under St. Marks Theater in NYC. In addition, the company and the Instant Shakespeare Company have recently joined forces presenting play readings at New York City’s various public libraries including Anderson’s White Desert and Sea-Wife and in December 2023, Maxwell Anderson’s 1924 play What Price Glory.


For more about First Flight visit


First Flight Theatre Company©2023


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