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Courtroom drama is almost a genre in itself, but how much do legal training and dramaturgy have in common? A lot for Peter Zablotsky, 45, a law school professor and playwright whose play, “Off the Meter,” is running through July at the Hudson Guild Theater in New York City. “Off the Meter,” which opened on June 22, is a character study of a taxi driver and an investment banker. The two overworked and underappreciated men exchange insider stock tips while finding out that they have a lot more in common than either of them would have guessed. According to Zablotsky, his inspiration for the play came from a newspaper article he read in the late 1980s about a lawyer passing stock tips to an elevator operator. How could this happen, Zablotsky wondered, and then he created a way. In his play, it is not just greed that draws both men to crime, but stress and mistreatment in their jobs that pushes them to extremes, he said. “This is a slice of life that is not very high profile,” said Zablotsky about his work. “I try to find the most universal human reaction I can … and then tell the story in the smallest way possible. I think the smaller stories are easier to relate to,” he said. Paul Morer, who produced Zablotsky’s play, said “I found ["Off the Meter"] to be a fascinating character study with an interesting and fast-moving plot. I was further impressed with the number of awards that the play has won.” “Off the Meter” was one of the 12 works chosen from 1,500 entries for a staged reading at the 24th Annual Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference and was selected as one of the best one-act plays in the United States during the Samuel French/DoubleImage 14th Annual Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival. This is the second play that Zablotsky has had produced in New York. The first, “H. Finn Esq.,” ran at the Kaufman Theatre in 1997. It told the tale of the great-great-grandsons of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, the former a con artist, the latter a public defender who gets Tom out of a jam. STORY OF HIS LIFE To explain the actions of the characters in “Off the Meter,” Zablotsky had to draw on a bit of his own personal experience. After graduating from Columbia Law School in 1980, Zablotsky was an associate for about three years for a couple of large, now defunct New York firms. At that time he became intimately familiar with long hours, job-related stress and demanding bosses. Unhappy with law firm work, he joined academia in 1983, as a writing instructor at New York Law School, and then in 1986 as faculty at the Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center at Touro College, where he teaches torts, product liability and entertainment law. He is a very popular professor, according to Marianne Artusio, director of clinical education at Touro Law School. “There are few teachers who captivate students like Peter Zablotsky. He weaves humor and human interest stories into his classes, while using current issues in the news to illustrate and explore legal doctrine,” she said. “Our students rush to sign up for his courses.” Zablotsky said he is committed to both of his careers, and has been pursuing them in tandem since the early 1980s. He never gave one up for the other, he said, because he loves to teach and to write, but finds writing plays “too isolating by itself.” “From a personal level, I always thought being a lawyer is empowering,” he said. But writing is essential to him. Around the time he got his teaching job at Touro, he also had his first play, “The Pool With Five Porches,” performed in Georgia, where it won the Georgia National One-Act Play Contest. “Off the Meter,” is running at the Hudson Guild Theater on West 26th Street in Manhattan through July.

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