Turn Out the Lights, the sixth book by Saugertiesian Laura Lonshein Ludwig, promises to contain “a new wave of movies that are as good as the classics of the Gold and Silver Age” on its jacket. In vignettes spanning from the 1700s to the modern day over a smattering of genres, Ludwig offers readers a varied cast of characters: Martians who meddle in elections, a disabled 19th century painter who consorts with Van Gogh, King Louis XVI and his disgruntled bride and a recently institutionalized man-turned-God, spurred on by visions brought to him by eating spoiled chicken.
“Man, woman, dogs, cats and bugs were created with a brain and a heart,” professes the messianic figure Jacob Paul Buddaman in The Man on the Street is Without a Prayer, who ultimately becomes the center of the Amen Mena Pause religion. “Everyone has feelings. Man sometimes has feelings too. If your heart hurts, cushion yourself with your arm. If your arm aches, seek refuge in the fly overheard. If the fly does not bring comfort, lie down and dream. If your dream is to build a hill, build it as high as your strength allows. If there is love in your life, build a mountain effortlessly. Do not steal from the poor and give to yourself. Do not sell your mother in law into slavery, even if they promise to let her outlive her usefulness. … Above all, don’t become a Republican. It is harder for a Republican to see the light of a sunny day than it is for a snake to say, ‘Good morning, how would you like your toast?’”
Does it all work? Not necessarily. Is it captivating? Absolutely.
Another of the plays, Nights Thinking of Paris, is a modern-day mystery following the plight of a middle-aged woman caught in the trappings of a handsome con artist who simultaneously steals her valuables and attempts to swindle her into marriage. According to Ludwig, it was recently performed at the Rivoli Theater in South Fallsburg to a “great audience response.”
Ludwig hosts a monthly poetry reading at Inquiring Minds Book Store on Partition Street on the last Saturday of every month; copies of her new title will be available at the store, of which she will read segments at 6:30 p.m. at the March 31 session before the readings of featured poets Laurel Manly and Michelle Decicco. In addition to her writings, Ludwig has a hand in acting and directing. She produced Earth is Not on Tape, a well-acclaimed Brooklyn public access television show that ran from 1994 until 2002 and featured New York artists. She is the recipient of four New York State Council of Art awards, received while employed at the Museum of Sound Recording. Other titles by Ludwig include Robo Sapiens, Sounds Like a Plot, Reflections for the Renaissance and The Haunted House and Stolen Gold and Gulliver of New York. Each contains plays fit for the screen and stage; all can be purchased on Amazon, or at the publisher’s website www.xlibris.com.