How My Grandparents Fell In Love
It’s the cold winter of 1933, and Charlie, a young Jewish immigrant, has returned to Poland in search of a wife. Then he meets savvy, sarcastic Chava in a hat shop. “How My Grandparents Fell in Love” is a screwball romantic comedy set against the backdrop of a perilous time.
Cary Gitter’s plays include “The Virtuous Life of Joseph Andrews” (Penguin Rep Theatre, Stony Point, NY) and “The Sabbath Girl” (off-Broadway, 59E59 Theaters; Penguin Rep Theatre; Theatre Ariel, Philadelphia; upcoming, Invisible Theatre, Tucson), which is published and licensed by Stage Rights. His play “How My Grandparents Fell in Love” was a New York Times Critic’s Pick as part of the Ensemble Studio Theatre’s 36th Marathon of One-Act Plays and aired on the acclaimed podcast “Playing on Air.” His work has been developed at the Berkshire Playwrights Lab, the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and New Jersey Repertory Company, among others. He has received commissions from the EST/Sloan Project and Penguin Rep. He is a two-time O’Neill semifinalist and Jewish Plays Project finalist, and an alumnus of the Obie Award-winning EST/Youngblood playwrights’ group. His work has been published in anthologies from Smith & Kraus and Applause Books. BFA, MA: NYU. carygitter.com
A BIT ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
I wrote my first one-act play when I was 16, for a student playwriting competition. When I saw my work in front of an audience for the first time—trembling with nerves, of course—I caught the bug, and I haven’t looked back since.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I originally wrote “How My Grandparents Fell in Love” for an immigration-themed theater event as a member of the EST/Youngblood playwrights’ group at the Ensemble Studio Theatre. The play was inspired by the true story of my paternal grandparents. My grandfather, who had already immigrated to America, returned to Poland in the early 1930s to find a wife, met my grandmother and married her, and brought her back here with him. As a result, she ended up being the only member of her family who survived the Holocaust. I decided to write the piece using contemporary language and slang to keep it fresh and funny, but also to capture the timeliness and universality of my grandparents’ situation.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Funny, human, relatable—I hope.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
My biggest influence is probably my parents. I grew up in northern New Jersey, and they regularly took me into New York City when I was a kid and exposed me to a thrilling world of plays, movies, museums, and music. Those formative experiences shaped who I am and ignited my desire to be a writer. I’ve also been greatly influenced by my background as an American Jew. Jewish writers and artists have deeply informed my outlook and identity, and I find myself returning to Jewish themes and subject matter again and again in my own work—whether or not I intend to!
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
They probably wouldn’t guess that I studied Yiddish, the language of my paternal grandparents, for several years at the 92nd Street Y, where I used to work. Or maybe they would.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
That’s tough; there are so many. But here are three I really love: “The Flick” by Annie Baker, “This Is Our Youth” by Kenneth Lonergan, and “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” by August Wilson.
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
My new play “The Virtuous Life of Joseph Andrews,” a bawdy comic romp based on the 18th-century English novel by Henry Fielding (who famously wrote “Tom Jones”), runs at Penguin Rep Theatre in Stony Point, New York, from August 12 to September 4. And I’m currently working with composer/lyricist Neil Berg and director Joe Brancato on adapting my play “The Sabbath Girl” into a musical that will hopefully be produced next year.