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One of the Year's Most Important Environmental and Theatrical Events

  • HB Studio 124 Bank Street New York, NY USA (map)

One of the Year's Most Important Environmental and Theatrical Events    

HB Studio • 124 Bank Street, New York, NY (map)
September 13th, 14th, & 15th at 7:30pm


Written by Luigi Laraia
Directed by Pablo Andrade

Featuring Dan Owen & Richard Tanenbaum 
With Music by Paul Critser

Too Close is a pointed vision of our modern technology-driven life, its successes and its considerable failures. Tense, resonant, riveting, on stage or off, the play shines a light on how far we have come—and how much further we have to go.
— Amanda Shaw
This is pure Rod Serling, or Rod Serling salted with a bit of Samuel Beckett.
— Tim Treanor
In true Hitchcockian style, the author sets the play in an everyday space and invites the audience to share it with the actors.. Claustrophobic, gripping, relevant.
— Capital Fringe Festival
Great art should do more than entertain—great art should provoke thought and critical discourse, engage the audience, and build a safe, strong sense of community through the exploration of important issues.
— Dr. Eugene Rogers, University of Michigan


The play, TOO CLOSE is a parable about climate change and its impact on two unsuspecting individuals trapped in an elevator in a modern-day high rise.  At its simplest level, it is a microcosm of a world in which depletion of resources leads to the inhumanity of man against man, and nothing in the play prepares you for its shocking outcome.

Each performance is followed by a symposium that confronts the role of climate change on diminishing resources throughout the world, the plight of affected countries, and its ultimate impact on each and every one of us.

Presented at the HB Studios, the evening features leading scientists, writers and climate change activists who will discuss the global impact of climate change as it begins to affect our daily lives and ultimately the relationships within our community.

TOO CLOSE demonstrates the power of theatre to inspire, activate and make change in the world around us.


Celia Wren, The Washington Post

An odd-couple pairing takes a grim turn in “Too Close,” Luigi Laraia’s parable about technology’s effects on the planet. Anthony Keller (Dan Owen) and Dylan Salles (Richard Tanenbaum) are a philosophical and temperamental mismatch: The former is a hyper-rationalist environmental engineer who idealizes science, and the latter is a dweeby history professor who believes in the power of love and the triumph of the human spirit. In another play, the two would trade amusingly barbed quips en route to a reluctant but firm friendship.  But in Laraia’s smart, intense, depressing two-hander, Keller and Salles are strangers who, finding themselves stuck in an elevator in a modern high-rise, distract themselves with talk that amounts to a now-joking, now-entreating, now-brutal war of ideas. 

Days pass and no rescuers appear. Amidst rationed sips of water and the canny skirting of personal secrets (which eventuallyemerge), the conversation touches on topics that include Marx, Einstein, the cathedral builders of the Middle Ages, the joys of mountain climbing, and the poetry of Dylan Thomas. Bursts of levity and panic buffet the characters periodically; despite the isolation of his characters and the stark setting, despite the isolation of his characters and the stark setting, Laraia has given his scenes a commendable range of moods


Tim Treanor, DC Theatre Scene

Two men get onto an elevator. Anthony Keller (Daniel Owen) is a restrained, self-controlled man, an environmental engineer who routinely engineers his own environment. Dylan Salles (Dr. Richard Tanenbaum) is a history professor with a penchant for self-revelation — or, to a certain degree, self-fabrication. They set the elevator for the 39th floor.  And then the elevator lurches to a stop.

Baffled, the two men try phone calls, texting, emails. But nothing works, since they are, as Anthony points out, trapped in a steel box. They cannot pry the doors open. No one responds to the alarm.

The hours pass. The men grow more desperate. They begin to discuss their theories of  the impact of society upon progress, and vice versa. They talk about themselves —Anthony’s faith in science, the medical crisis which Dylan’s daughter faces, the insubstantiality of loneliness, the insubstantiality of love.

The play’s uncredited technical is spot-on, especially in capturing the lurching sounds of an elevator in crisis. (“We apologize for the delay,” a pre-recorded voice says at one point, after they had been trapped for days.) 



The cast and creative team for TOO CLOSE bring a first hand, eye-witness background of experience in human rights, economic development, and world population growth to their accomplishments in the theatre.


Dan Owen, (Anthony Keller) born and bred in London, had a ten-year hiatus from the stage before returning in the 2016 Capital Fringe Festival, playing Anthony in Too Close. More recently, he played Professor Henry Higgins in George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion” with the British Players. Previous stage work includes playing Deeley in Harold Pinter’s “Old Times” at DCAC (Onaemoda Productions), Henry VIII in the “Royal Gambit” with the Embassy Players and Starkwedder in “The Unexpected Guest” at Dominion Stage with the Arlington Players. When not stuck in a lift, he works as a Sr. Social Development specialist at the World Bank, currently focusing on the Africa region and work divided between conflict demobilization and reintegration and labor standards. This play brings back not so pleasant memories of being stuck in elevators during power cuts in Maputo, Mozambique and Luanda, Angola.


Richard Tannenbaum (Dylan Salles) performed in Luigi Laraia’s “NEDA Wants to Die” – a play about genderbased violence - in various venues here and abroad, and in Laraia’s “HEARD” – a play that focuses on international development. He has an eclectic and varied background in the performing arts as an actor in dramas and musical comedy, television producer, classical and pop singer and most recently as a producer of Spanish and Italian lyric opera ( He has produced and hosted innovative educational television programming for children and adults - his program, “Dr. T. and Company” aired nationally with a viewing audience of over 4 million. In Richard’s parallel life as a psychologist, he provides executive coaching and leadership/organization development consultation to individuals and organizations including multilateral institutions, hospital systems and the entertainment industry.



Pablo Andrade (Director) is a Venezuelan-born actor and director. He is Founder and Artistic Director of Corezon (NY) and Teatropeyo (Caracas, Venezuela); Actor at the Spanish Repertory Theater (NY), and faculty member at HB Studio (NY). Andrade has directed Cuentos de Guerra para Dormir en Paz (2013), El Rey de Francia (2015), Lo que Kurt Cobain se llevó (2016), Too Close (2016), Lost Heroes (2017) and Seis (2017). Major awards include: Fuerza Award for Best Director (2017), Latin ACE Award for Best Actor Drama (2015), and HOLA Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor (2014). 


Luigi Laraia (Playwright) has worked as a World Bank Board Member since 2010. He graduated with his MA in Sociology and earned his BA in Development at the London School of Economics. He is a dedicated development practitioner and passionate writer. He has written several plays, among them, Esma, a play on thev‘disappeared’ during the “dirty war” in Argentina; Heard, a discussion on the complex interests of development stakeholders; and Neda Wants to Die, a play about sexual violence. 

Paul Critser (Musician) is a commercial musician living in Pittsburgh. In addition to his work as a composer, arranger and studio musician, he plays cello with the Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Ballet and Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera orchestras.


Thursday, September 13

Lester Brown, voice of the environmental movement, author of more than 54 books, and founder of the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute, will be interviewed by Arlie Schardt, chair of Friends of the Earth on what he sees as the most pressing issue of the moment. “With food scarcity driven by falling water tables, eroding soils, and rising temperatures, control of arable land and water resources is moving to center stage,” Brown says. 

Panel Discussion with MARGARET KLEIN SALAMON, MAHER NASSER, and more to be announced
Friday, September 14

Margaret Klein Salamon is the founder and director of The Climate Mobilization, a volunteer-powered organization that advocates a WWII-scale mobilization to rapidly transform our economy  and restore a safe climate. Margaret earned her PhD in clinical psychology from Adelphi University and also holds a BA in social anthropology from Harvard. Though she loved being a therapist, Margaret felt called to apply her psychological and anthropological knowledge to solving climate change. She is the author of the blog The Climate Psychologist.

Maher Nasser has over 31 years of work experience in the United Nations System. In the last six years, Mr. Nasser was appointed three times as Acting Under-Secretary-General in charge of the Department of Public Information (April to August 2012, August 2014 to February 2015, and most recently as Acting Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications from 1 April to 31 August 2017). Mr. Nasser took up his current position as Director of DPI’s Outreach Division in February 2011. Prior to his current posting, he has worked in various capacities with the UN Department of Public Information, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) in Vienna, Cairo, Amman, Jerusalem and Gaza.

Saturday, September 15

David Fenton, the nation’s leading expert on climate communications, will describe the challenge of communicating the reality of climate change in a way that awakens the public’s sense of urgency.  Fenton, who has created PR campaigns for, Nelson Mandela and worked with Al Gore and the UN on climate change, says: “Our communications as a climate movement is way too complicated.  It’s as if Paul Revere has not made his ride.”


HB Studio
Founded by Viennese actor/director Herbert Berghof in 1945, HB Studio is one of the original New York acting studios, providing training and practice in the performing arts. We are a nonprofit organization that supports vigorous, lifelong practice in the theater, based on a solid foundation of practical training. HB is open to any person with a serious interest in the theater and its related disciplines. Our students, faculty, and alumni form a vibrant community of actors, playwrights, and directors, active in all aspects of the performing arts.

LakeArts Foundation
The LakeArts Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to the development and presentation of global innovation in the arts and technology through the LakeArts Festival, the LakeArts Media Arts Programs, and the LakeArts Foundation Incubator. Led by former Disney Executive Margaret Johnson and Broadway Producer Bonnie Nelson Schwartz, LakeArts collaborates with world renowned entities including The Tribeca Film Festival, the Shaw Festival, Carnegie Mellon University, the Disney Corporation, and the Toronto International Film Festival to present new and exciting collaborations between the media and performing arts.