Toni Schlesinger

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Toni Schlesinger is a Chicago-native, New York City-based journalist and theater artist. She is best known for her long running “Shelter” column in The Village Voice (1997–2006) and New York Observer (2006–07);[1] a selection of the Voice pieces are gathered in the book Five Flights Up (Princeton Architectural Press 2006). Previously, Schlesinger was a writer and columnist for the Chicago Reader (1977–1992).

Schlesinger's theatrical career as a writer, designer and performer—though obviously an influence on her interviewing style—holds a unique position in New York City's Off-Off Broadway tradition.

Among her produced works include:

  • "The Mystery of Pearl Street" at Dixon Place, 2014; inspired her seventeen-year investigation of the real-life 1997 disappearance and presumed murder of artists Camden Sylvia and Michael Sullivan following a dispute with their landlord.[2]

Reviewing the play, Village Voice critic Alexis Soloski observed that "material is genuinely fascinating" but that "the playwright seems strangely uncomfortable onstage, which is odd, as she's confidently presented many charming puppetry pieces." [3]

  • "The Mystery of Oyster Street" at Dixon Place, 2012; a fictional, two-person interrogation play starring Drew Hildebrand and Esme Von Hoffman
  • "When The World Broke In Two: A Visit With Willa Cather" Metropolitan Playhouse, 2010 [4]
  • "The Toni Schlesinger Show," Puppet Lab at St Ann's Warehouse, 2007 [5]
  • "Lobster Village," at HERE's Dream Music Puppetry Program at the Great Small Works Toy Festival, 2003, for two puppets.


  1. ^ "Toni Schlesinger". Archived from the original on 7 April 2015.
  2. ^ New York Times article on disappearance
  3. ^ |publisher=The Village Voice
  4. ^ Willa Cather Foundation
  5. ^ Brooklyn Paper preview