Anne Hamilton/Hamilton Dramaturgy

Tom Cavanaugh’s 100 Cups of Coffee

Tom Cavanaugh’s 100 Cups of Coffee

By Anne Hamilton

I have been saddened, along with the rest of the country, by the horrific shootings of twenty children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The tragedy of their deaths is almost unbearable. Listening to the breaking news, I felt like September 11th was unfolding all over again. All of us are trying to deal with our grief.

With the reports of the number of dead and injured came the question, “What can I possibly do to help at a time like this?”

My friend Tom Cavanaugh asked himself the same question and picked up the phone to do something. Out of empathy for the families and community whom he wanted to support, he thought of the daily needs they would have, and what would help them try to regain a sense of normalcy. “What do you do on a normal day?” he asked himself. “You go out for breakfast. I couldn’t afford to buy everyone breakfast, but I thought, ‘I could buy them a cup of coffee.’” He recalled seeing an image of the Newtown General Store on TV, and called them up. He paid for 100 cups of coffee for anyone stopping in the store. His compassion brought the store’s manager to tears.

The store put up a sign in the window that said, “Coffee today has been donated by Tom Cavanaugh of Los Angeles, California”. His kindness sparked a pay-it-forward mentality that has led many others to call businesses in Newtown and pay for other items like hot chocolate and candy for children and meals for law enforcement workers. Tom appeared on three television news programs, and the story has gone viral on the internet.

Tom has been one of my best friends for fifteen years. This gesture is typical of his caring attitude. For twenty years, he has been an overnight 911 operator, helping countless people during their emergencies. He uses downtime in the middle of the night to write plays, screenplays and novels. As a playwright, Tom always writes about subjects that matter, and he shows an uncanny ability to anticipate topics that matter to Americans. I have served as Tom’s dramaturg for fifteen years, helping him to develop all of his scripts.

[This section has been removed out of respect for the Newtown victims, family members, and their community. It will be inserted in the future.]

I have always believed that plays should deal with important and worthy subjects in a skilled manner. It’s important to put something meaningful on the stage. As artists, we must use our power and opportunities to communicate insight and meaning. That is our privilege and our responsibility as artists and muses. We serve the nation as interpreters of national events and trends, and we can help our communities to process them. We ask the questions, and give some answers, but most important, we let our audiences draw their own conclusions. As theatre artists, my colleagues and I must continue to push the conversation and the nation’s sensibilities forward. We do have an impact on our country’s history and development.

It is so important to communicate our grief at this time, as well as our questions and feelings. Literature which deals with the topic of grief can be very helpful in times like these.

Let’s share whatever resources we have, whether it’s a good story, a conversation, or a cup of coffee. I wish great strength to everyone in this difficult time.

Download this article here: Tom Cavanaugh’s 100 Cups of Coffee

THE Show to See This Holiday Season

If you’re only going to see one show this holiday season, I highly recommend Rock Wilk’s BROKE WIDE OPEN.  I have been following the development of this show, and Rock is one of my favorite TALFs (Theatre Artists I Love to Follow). Check out the show in midtown now through January 11th.


500 NAMES and Rain Pryor proudly present


directed by Stephen Bishop Seely

The 45th Street Theatre

354 W 45th St, NYC

Get your tickets here:

Review from The Huffington Post:

“With an electrifying stage presence and a grace that escapes many a seasoned Broadway performer, he tells of his life search for identity and home simply and eloquently. Like the piece of scaffolding he pushes, climbs on, and spins, he builds his life up only to have it tumble back down. Then he simply picks up the pieces and builds again, each time searching, hoping, and experiencing life with a resilient bravura.

Every-changing, every-building, ever-reaching. That’s scaffolding. That’s New York. That’s Rock Wilk in Broke Wide Open.”- Lisa Bernier, Huffington Post

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Indie Theater Now

Hamilton Dramaturgy is very lucky to publish this exclusive article by Martin Denton. It will also appear in ScriptForward! #27. Thank you, Martin!

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Indie Theater Now

by Martin Denton

Indie Theater Now (ITN) is an online service that presents and preserves new American plays in script form. Our vision is to be both comprehensive and inclusive. ITN is kind of like a traditional review/preview site, but on steroids: Instead of simply just writing ABOUT a play that excites us, we share the full text of that play, along with dynamic, continually updated content that provides background and context—e.g., podcasts, interviews, reviews, videos, photos, etc.—created by the playwrights themselves as well as other artists and ITN staff. In this way readers can discover the work more fully, wherever they are, at their convenience.  It’s also kind of like traditional play publishing, but on a massively larger scale (i.e., hundreds of new plays published per year rather than a few dozen) and at comparative warp-speed: the “Now” in Indie Theater Now reflects our ability to publish work days, not months or years, after its initial presentation on stage.

I started 16 years ago in order to share my excitement about drama in general and many amazing but underrated/unappreciated/unknown new plays in particular. Playwright Kirk Bromley once said that was “an engine of enthusiasm for the art”—a phrasing I particularly like.

I think of Indie Theater Now as a much more robust engine – not just of enthusiasm but of genuine discovery; one that enables teachers, students, actors, directors, producers, and artists of every stripe, as well as those not involved in the theater, to experience the fruits of indie drama as close to first-hand as possible.

As I said, our vision for Indie Theater Now is to be inclusive, but without sacrificing quality. To that end, our curatorial policy is rooted in the notion of community. We publish plays by playwrights whose work we have seen or previously published, as well as playwrights whose work is recommended to us by those we have already published.  Because of resource constraints we do not accept submissions. Once a playwright is on the Indie Theater Now roster, s/he is invited to publish any produced plays – we think there’s real value in having many works by each of our playwrights, providing context and perspective for their individual styles and aesthetics, not to mention demonstrating their versatility and growth as artists.

Indie Theater Now provides opportunities for publication to playwrights who are at the very beginnings of their careers, as well as more mature artists. The “Indie” in Indie Theater Now reflects the importance to us of publishing work from the non-commercial sector of theater, which embraces and emphasizes experimentation, innovation, originality, and diversity of every stripe.

An important point about ITN, by the way, is that it is structured to provide tangible value for the playwrights published here.  This was always pre-eminent in our minds as we built the site: we wanted to ensure that playwrights would be paid for their work. The royalty is modest – 30 cents per digital copy sold – but the message it sends is significant – that this work has value and the artists who create it are being remunerated for it. We believe that as ITN grows and attains a customer base in the hundreds of thousands, our playwrights will start to see some serious money from the program.

Indie Theater Now has been around for a bit more than a year, and we’re extremely gratified by its success. We’ve published more than 480 plays that represent the work of more than 200 playwrights. One play was adopted as a required text in four different classes at 2 different NYC universities; while at Williams College, one professor established Indie Theater Now as a mandatory resource for students in his theatre class, requiring them to read a number of plays on the site for an assigned project. We are working to develop the adoption of ITN in academia, because as a source of mostly heretofore unavailable monologues, scenes, and plays, it provides a valuable resource to students and teachers.

Indie Theater Now is the culmination of everything NYTE has been working toward since we began operations back in 1996, and is the accomplishment that I am personally proudest of in my professional career.  I am excited to make this service stronger and better, and hope that all of our colleagues (playwrights, reviewers, theater artists) will work with us to build a lasting resource that will nurture, promote, disseminate, and preserve the foundational art created by America’s indie theater creators. If I can tell you more about Indie Theater Now, don’t hesitate to email me at

MARTIN DENTON is the Executive Director of The New York Theatre Experience, Inc., a nonprofit theatre services organization. He is founder, editor, and chief reviewer of; editor of 14 play anthologies; and founder/curator of Indie Theater Now. Martin received an OTTY (Our Town Thanks You) Award for contributions to the community in 2008; and with NYTE’s Managing Director Rochelle Denton, he was honored with the 2008 Stewardship Award from the New York Innovative Theatre Foundation.


Anne Reads Her Poetry at the Cherry Lane
Just a reminder, WOMEN’S WORDS has been postponed to Wednesday, December 12th.   Hope to see you at the Cherry Lane at 7:00 This is a fund raiser for the League of Professional Theatre Women.  Seniors are $12 and General Admission is $20 at the box office.