The primary Stages Off-Broadway Oral history Project

Celebrating the visionaries who created New York's vibrant Off- and Off-Off-Broadway theater.

David Rothenberg

David Rothenberg

Founder of The Fortune Society, Press Agent
Born on Saturday, August 19, 1933

Interviewed on: Thursday, December 18, 2014
Location: Primary Stages Offices
Interviewed by: Sally Plass
Interview #21
"I suddenly realized how easy it was to get into that world…all you had to do was do your work, laugh at the right time, and that the theatre was very democratic."
David Rothenberg Highlights
Video Length: 5 minutes, 31 seconds
David Rothenberg Interview
Video Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

David Rothenberg began his Off-Broadway career working as a press representative for LITTLE MARY SUNSHINE (1959) at the Orpheum Theatre. He continued as a press representative for various other Off-Broadway productions, such as: VIET ROCK (1966), FORTUNE AND MEN’S EYES (1967), THE BOYS IN THE BAND (1968), TONY N’ TINA’S WEDDING (1988), MAMBO MOUTH (1990), FINKEL’S FOLLIES (1991),  BLUE MAN GROUP (1991), BUYA AFRICA(1993), and BEIN’ WITH BEHAN (1996). FORTUNE AND MEN’S EYES is a play about a young man’s experience in the prison system, with themes of homosexuality and sexual slavery. A “Talk Back” began after the initial performances, where former prisoners began to share their own experiences within the system and answer audience questions. This was the first time that there was an open dialogue between members of the production and the audience. This development resulted in “Talk Back Tuesdays,” where audience questions are answered by the cast/creative team after a performance.

In addition to Off-Broadway, Rothenberg has worked as a press representative for many Broadway shows, such as: Beyond the Fringe (1962), Cabaret (1966), and Hair (1968). During his time with FORTUNE AND MEN’S EYES, he founded The Fortune Society in 1967. The Fortune Society’s mission is to help incarcerated or formerly incarcerated people become positive, contributing members of society. The society runs various employment services, education classes, mental health services, substance abuse treatments, and family services.

Mentioned in Interview

Bob Ullman, Alexander H. Cohen, John Leguizamo, Diahann Carroll, Bette Davis, Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Actors Playhouse, American Place Theatre, Bouwerie Lane Theatre, The Castle, New World Stages, MAMBO MOUTH, TONY N’ TINA’S WEDDING, THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, NAMEDROPPING, OKAY, THE BOYS IN THE BAND, WINTER’S TALE. LITTLE MARY SUNSHINE, VIET ROCK, FORTUNE AND MEN’S EYES