In Tales from Red Vienna, a Manhattan Theatre Club presentation at New York City Center, a financially strapped Viennese society lady whose husband was killed in World War I is forced to take up prostitution in the former capital of the collapsed Austro-Hungarian empire. The production, directed by Kate Whoriskey, features a cast headed by a formidable troika of New York actresses: Nina Arianda (Tony Award winner for Venus in Fur), Tina Benko (Jackie), and Kathleen Chalfant (an Obie Award winner for Wit). The playwright, David Grimm, has a flair for bringing a witty and theatrical perspective to noteworthy moments in world history, and his work shows eclectic range: Kit Marlowe, a spirited bio of the rakish Elizabethan playwright, spy, and sexual outlaw; Measure for Pleasure, a the bawdy, gender-bending Restoration farce; Steve and Idi, in which the ghost of the notorious African dictator commissions a play from a struggling gay writer; and The Learned Ladies of Park Avenue, a Moliere comedy reset in Jazz Age New York. Most recently, he provided additional dialogue for River of Fundament, Matthew Barney's visionary take on Norman Mailer's Ancient Evenings and the Egyptian Book of the Dead. "I can't see a rock that I can't pick up, look underneath, and say, 'Take a look at this—let's put that on stage,'" says Grimm about his interest in poking underneath the surfaces of history. When I met with the playwright, I asked him about the origins of Tales from Vienna and his interest in carnal activities in the context of world history.