Byline: Sari Botton

The voice on Jonathan Marc Sherman's answering machine instructs: "Leave a message for Jonathan; don't leave a message for Fritz."
Fritz is not a roommate. He's an imaginary companion left over from childhood who comes in handy at times like this, when the young playwright/actor/director--who turned 26 on Monday--has little time to socialize with real people.
"My apartment is messy, and most of my friends hate me because I never call them back," says Sherman, who at least gets to work with chums Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard and Frank Whaley in the Malaparte Theater Co. they co-founded.
This fall Sherman is doing the theater's equivalent of a triathlon: acting, writing and directing at Malaparte and in other places all at once, which doesn't leave much time for sleep, let alone friendly get-togethers.
"It's like exercising different muscles at the same time," Sherman says. "This is the way I work best."
While he's acting in Israel Horovitz's "Unexpected Tenderness" at the WPA Theater, Sherman's play "Veins and Thumbtacks" is simultaneously running at the Theatre Row Theater until Oct. 23. A Malaparte production, "Veins," features Whaley and is directed by Hawke.
Sherman is also the creative director for Malaparte's next play, Matthew Weiss's "Hesh," starring Hawke and Whaley, running Nov. 4-12. And he'll act with Hawke, Whaley and Leonard in Nicole Berdette's "The Great Unwashed," the third in his troupe's fall trilogy, Nov. 18-Dec. 4. All this while he adapts another of his plays, "Sophistry," for the screen.
He does not keep this hectic agenda to pay bills--he's doing much of this work for free.
"Malaparte is totally a labor of love," Sherman says. "All of us volunteer, simply because we want to be there." After acting in commercials, plays and after-school specials, Sherman tried his hand at playwriting. At 18, his play "Women and Wallace" won Playwright's Horizon's Young Playwright's Competition, giving him a label he likes: "At one point, I thought of myself much more as an actor, but now I think, 'I'm a writer,' and get a kick out of it."

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