An Attempt to Heal in the Contemporary World

a full-length play written and directed by David E. Tolchinsky

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Dave has a problem: He feels that something is wrong with his body, but he can’t quite point to what. Can the bizarre theories of 1950s rogue scientist Wilhelm Reich help before everything in his life crumbles? A dark, screwball comedy.

Premiered October 16, 2018 at the NY International Fringe Festival, New York, New York

An Institutional Quality Productions Presentation in association with Beware of Sharks Productions

Jessy Lynn, Producer

Visual Design by Dan Silverstein

Lighting Design by Emily Sheehan 

Starring Andrea Peterson, Paul Obedzinski, Riley Austin Scott, Sergio Fuenzalida, and Paul Weissman

Poster/postcard designed by Ken Pagni

Photo by Alisha Spielmann

Supported by Northwestern University Center for Interdisciplinary Research in the Arts / Undergraduate Research Assistant Program

An Attempt to Heal in theContemporary World will be performed at 685 Washington Street (follow the dark blue flag):Tues Oct 16 at 415: Thursday October 18 at 9:15p; Thursday October 25 at 9:15p;Saturday October 27 at 2p; Sunday October 28 at 12p


Read about us in

Read about us in the Daily Northwestern.

Read about us in Broadway World

Read about us in Broadway World. (An earlier article).

Read about us in Splash Magazine.


I've been fascinated more and more by illnesses that are somewhere between the physical and psychological, that are not easily explainable, illnesses that unfortunately may define the contemporary world. In that terrain, for years, I’ve been wanting to write something about Wilhelm Reich, who believed there was something inherently wrong with our bodies, who was in Freud’s inner circle until Reich rejected the talking cure in favor of direct body work. Some say Reich went psychotic (with his theories about “orgone” energy and orgone accumulators and machines that could make rain!), others say we still value much of what Reich proposed (free birth control, preventative medicine, massage therapy, the therapeutic value of sex), although we don’t connect any of it to Reich. Some might wonder how could such a man exist and will enjoy his extreme personality. Others will ponder: How do we know when to accept or reject radical new theories? Reich saw himself in the same terrain as other innovators as Freud and Einstein.  And should Wilhelm Reich’s theories be disregarded because of his supposed mental illness and his abusiveness? Or should we separate the personal life of the scientist from his work? This is a question which is more relevant than ever given recent and ongoing revelations about previously well-respected artists who have been accused of sexually abusive behaviors. As the work turned out, it’s also deeply personal – I incorporate my own family history (my father was an extreme character in some ways like Reich) and love of 1950s movies, as I explore Reich’s life and work and 1940s/50s conceptions of the brain, the world, wellness, and science. And ultimately the cosmos.  Enjoy!  -- David E. Tolchinsky



Jessy Lynn, Producer and CEO, Breware of Sharks Productions

Jessy is a New York based theatre maker. Her producing history includes Jacqueline McLaren’s Apartment Complex which premiered at Manhattan Repertory Theatre and Dave Tolchinsky's Where's the Rest of Me?. She graduated from the University of Puget Sound with her BA in Theatre and English Literature with an emphasis on Shakespearean studies in 2013. There she took part in the development of Rosalind Bell’s play 1620 Bank Street. She currently does freelance theatre work throughout the city. When not working in theatre Jessy works in leadership for one of largest technology companies. She is excited to be working with Dave Tolchinsky again.


photo by Joe Mazza/

David E. Tolchinsky, Writer/Director

David E. Tolchinsky is the Founder/Director of Northwestern University's MFA in Writing for Screen+Stage program, a longtime screenwriter and curator and a fairly new playwright and director.  Lately, his work has been centering on health and illness in the modern world, especially illnesses that are not easily explainable. In 2015, he was voted Best Director for the New York production of his play, Where's the Rest of Me? (which was nominated for Best Play and chosen to be included in the anthology, The Best Plays from the Strawberry One-Act Festival Vol. 8). His play Clear was published in Issue 3 2015 of Proscenium Journal. He was No. 8 on New City's Film 50 2015: Chicago’s Screen Gems, co-curated Sick by Seven (seven plays/films about mental health in the modern world) at A Red Orchid Theatre in Chicago as part of its Incubator Series, and was no. 7 on New City's Film 50 2017: Chicago Screen Gems. Where’s the Rest of Me? was also included in The Road Theatre’s 2018 Summer Playwrights Festival in Los Angeles. His film credits include the film Creature Companion (producer, world premiere 64th International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Germany, winner, Special Mention of the International Jury; US premiere  BAMCinemafest, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY); the short Cassandra (writer/director, currently in post production), the feature film Fast Talk (co-producer, on iTunes), the short The Coming of Age (producer/screenwriter, currently on ShortsTV, Silver Award Recipient, Los Angeles Film Review), the feature film Girl (associate producer/screenwriter, from Sony, starring Selma Blair and Tara Reid, on iTunes), and the short St. Catherine’s Wedding Ring (co-producer/co-director, premiered at Sundance). He is also associate producing Debra Tolchinsky’s documentary True Memories and Other Falsehoods (currently in production). As a curator, Dave co-curated The Horror Show at Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs, Shimon Attie: The Neighbor Next Door at the Block Museum, The Presence of Absence at the Hairpin Arts Center, and Sick by Seven at A Red Orchid Theatre. He is the founder/director of Northwestern University’s MFA in Writing for Screen+Stage program, a graduate of Yale University (BA) and USC School of Cinematic Arts (MFA).  He’s excited to be working with Jessy Lynn, and Kelly Sener again, who were all part of the New York production of Where’s the Rest of Me?  He’s collaborated with Dan Silverstein on museum projects, but this is their first theatre project together. More at 


Dan Silverstein, Visual Designer    

Silverstein is an artist and the Associate Director of Exhibitions and Collections Logistics at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art in Evanston, IL where he designs, plans, researches, and installs exhibitions, often working closely with artists to help them actualize their works in specific gallery spaces. As an artist, he works with both objects and video. Recently, his installations have been seen at Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in New York City, the Evanston Art Center in Evanston, IL, and the UFVA New Media Exhibit at Columbia College, Chicago. He has produced and directed videos, including a feature length documentary, “Tomorrow’s New Light: The Bill Lowe Story.” He has a BFA from Northern Illinois University, and enjoys traveling extensively in support of his freelance curatorial efforts and installations. Silverstein has spent the last 10 years developing a working relationship with Dave Tolchinsky through various projects, first as both a designer and installer for some of his earlier work, then eventually as a collaborator on several projects that they developed in tandem. See

Emily Sheehan, Lighting Designer

Emma is thrilled and honored to be working on An Attempt to Heal as the Lighting Designer! Most recently, she designed lights for the Onomatopoeia Theatre Company’s production of Betty’s Summer Vacation. The past two summers she has worked as the Master Electrician at the Winnipesaukee Playhouse in Meredith, New Hampshire, but is happy to be back in the city designing, which she loves doing the most. She is a proud graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.

James Dean Palmer, Assistant Director

James is a New York based director and educator.  In 2010 he was awarded a Joseph Jefferson award for Best Direction of The Love of the Nightingale.  He has worked with Steppenwolf Theatre, Roundabout Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, American Theater Company, The Texas Shakespeare Festival, Asolo Rep, NYU, Fordham, Chautauqua Theatre, and Chicago Dramatists, among others.  For nine seasons he served as the Artistic Director of Chicago’s Red Tape Theatre.  He was the assistant to the Artistic Director at Steppenwolf Theatre and served on the Board of Directors at the League of Chicago Theaters.  James has recieved fellowships from the Drama League, SDCF, Chautauqua Theatre Company and is a Peter Kaplan Fellow.  He holds an MFA in Directing from Brown University and is a full member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers union.  James teaches Acting and Voice and Speech at the Professional Performing Arts School in midtown Manhattan.  He has taught directing at Playwrights Horizons and acting at Trinity Repertory Company's Young Adult Summer Institute as well as teaching Viewpoints and Suzuki at Red Tape Theatre in Chicago.

Kelley Sener, Stage Manager 

Kelley was born and raised in Southern California and somehow found herself in the Pacific Northwest at the University of Puget Sound where she majored in Theatre. While there she was cast in a number of productions, such as “Spring Awakening” and “Lear’s Daughters” to name a few. She also made herself useful behind the scenes, as an ASM and production manager. Since moving to NYC she has gotten a job at the Apple Store, but is thrilled to be finding her way back to her theatrical roots. She was an assistant stage manager on Dave Tolchinsky's Where's The Rest Of Me? and is excited to be working with Dave, Jessy Lynn, and Greg Peace again.

Erika Degraffinreaidt, Costume Designer

Erika began her studies at the International Academy of Design in her hometown Chicago, where she studied fashion merchandising and interned for numerous brands, designers, and magazines. After graduating, Erika began working with designers, music artists, filmmakers, and magazine editors to push their brands to the forefront of the New York, Los Angeles, and Paris and London markets, which she continues to do to this day via French Vendette (, the styling company she founded. Erika Degraffinreaidt made her first theatrical costume designer debut for the play Where’s the Rest of Me and since then she has worked as assistant costume designer for Ozark (Season 1 episode 1) and the Off-Broadway musical called The Goldsteins.