An Interview with Tricia McDermott

The Little Theater Who Could…
An Interview with Tricia McDermott.
Founder/Producing Artistic Director Airmid Theatre Company.

This following article recently appeared in the 2012 January/February Arts and Entertainment issue of GEM Magazine.

Despite arts advocacy groups’ efforts to prevent the decline of arts inclusion, the budgetary solution remains to be that the arts are perceived as an amenity. To challenge that notion, my blog First Online With Fran interviews ordinary people doing extraordinary things in The Arts to make our world a richer, deeper, better place to live. The Founder and Producing Artistic Director of the Airmid Theatre Company, Tricia McDermott shared her thoughts and vision for women in the theater and how the work at Airmid enriches our community.

Although Tricia was adamantabout NEVER starting her own theater company, the professional director/producer/consultant/educatorfelt compelled to promote classical works of women playwrights when theopportunity arose.  After the success ofthe Broadway revival of Ibsen’s A Doll’sHouse reaped Tony-Award winning accolades with Janet McTeer’s performance,McDermott found an original source called TrueWomen and wanted to present the play. When she was unable to find aproducer she pioneered the idea of a production company that would bespecifically devoted to classics by women. Founded in 2000, Airmid Theatre Company creates a safe home for womenartists, igniting broad public recognition of the essential contribution womenhave made to the worlds of theatre and dramatic literature.

One of Airmid’s missions isto establish the history of playwriting by women by professionally producingtheir work with actors of both genders, and to thereby broaden discussions ofwomen’s roles today.  Tricia shared ananecdote of a 60 year-old man who supported the theater and attended a readingof a piece called Making a Scene, acompilation of scenes of 16th to the 20th century womenplaywrights.  Although he consideredhimself to be a male feminist, and believed that he saw women as equals, “hedidn’t quite do that as much as he thought he should.”  In an email he told Tricia “He recognized thatseeing this same event told through the eyes and experience of a woman [made it]a different world.”

Airmid has an intern programwith college age students and works with some high school students in variousprograms.  A public reading of two playswritten by the German nun from the tenth century, Hrosvita of Gandersheim, wasattended by a high school English and Drama class from Babylon High School.Students were enlightened to learn through the reading that “all things of areligious nature are not strictly about religion.”

Tricia commented on thevalue of the arts, particularly the theater: “Theater lands in a very unique place. It makes people well-rounded.  Andno matter what time you start your child off, or even yourself, and getinvolved in theater, you get an opportunity to collaborate with people andcreate a team.”  As far as the new CommonCore Standards is implemented across the nation’s curriculums to prepare studentsfor college readiness Tricia felt that working in the theater fulfills thatgoal:  “You have to do it on a lot ofimagination and very little money.  Youhave to work within a budget.  You oftenhave to create something out of nothing. And you then have to market it and sell it to the world.  Theaters have an accounting office and oftena contracts department, a development department that writes grants.  We have every other aspect of business; itjust happens to be that the product is a piece of art.” 

This construct is to createjobs, to create an economic and tourist destination. Tricia explained howtheater is community based:  “The communityhas to be engaged.  It’s people speakingto each other, breathing each other’s air. It’s experiencing the same moment. For me, there is a great affinity to finding a spiritual life within thetheater whether it’s as a participant or as an audience member. But whetheryou’re participating in the actual creation or the experience of it, there’s acommunion that happens.  And you findyourself engaged with people in a way that you don’t in any other art form.”
Let us Know:  Airmidcontinues its search for performance space and is presently looking at sitesboth on the South and North shores of Long Island.  To learn more about Airmid and their programofferings go to www.airmidtheatre.org

If you’re an ordinary persondoing extraordinary things in the arts, then be sure to arrange an interviewwith First Online With Fran at www.francesmcgarry.com

Testimonial #8: Theresa Salerno

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

The arts, to me, growing up was my savior. Being able to perform and take myself out of my world to be in another was life saving to me. I enjoyed so much all of my school musicals. I also enjoyed the flute, marching at Hofstra with my sax, and my weekly piano lessons. I truly feel without my music and performing I would have never made it. As you read along your notes on a page you are instantly into the magic of the arts.

I also feel that music will heal you. To this day, I am thankful that I was able to enjoy and appreciate the gift of music .With this blog you can make a difference and leave your foot print on this earth to let people know that there is hope. Many kids today don’t have an out. Music and performing must go on!!!! Maybe it will help them to escape from the real world for a little and have fun exploring another.

Still Advocating for Arts

Still Advocating for Arts
by Lisa Mancuso.
Northport Observer.
December 12, 2011.

Dr. Frances McGarry taught English and theater in the Northport‑East Northport school district for more than 25 years and loved every minute of it. She loved helping her students discover their hidden talents, cultivate their creativity and instill in them a love of the arts.

During her long, successful career in the district, Dr. McGarry, 60, taught such courses as Playwriting and Literature Appreciation. She created theater programs for her junior high school students and eventually brought the programs to the high school: Theatreworks Troupe for 11th and 12th graders and Theatreworks for students in grades 9‑12.

“I was born and raised inNorthport, my son went to Northport schools and my husband, also a retiredNorthport teacher, was born and raised here,” said Dr. McGarry. “I had amazingteachers at Northport. They were truly my inspiration.” Dr. McGarry said shewas a shy girl, but an English teacher encouraged her to try acting and afterplaying a Holocaust survivor in a classroom improvisation and receivingapplause for her efforts, she was hooked. “I was always grateful to my teachersand always wanted to come back to Northport to teach,” she said.
But teaching wasn’t the 5’2”Northport native’s only focus. Along the way, she earned her doctorate ineducational theater at NYU, directed and acted in plays, did voice‑over workand taught as an adjunct and visiting professor in a number of collegesincluding NYU, Nassau Community College and Brooklyn College.
In 2005, Dr. McGarry decidedto retire. It was time to move on, she told herself. Although sad to leavebehind her students, Dr. McGarry was excited to begin a new chapter of herlife. She knew she wanted to remain active in the arts so she decided to pursuea career with not‑for‑profit arts organizations. She landed her dream ob as aneducation director but after four years, the position was eliminated due tobudget cuts.
Losing that positionconvinced Dr. McGarry even more that the arts in schools was in danger and isoften perceived as a luxury and not a necessity especially in these tougheconomic times. Never one to remain inactive for too long, Dr. McGarry decidedto fight back. She turned her energy and efforts to create a website whosemission is to advocate for the arts not only in the classroom, but in the homeand in the world.
After working on it for a fewmonths, Dr. McGarry launched her website, http://www.francesmcgarry.com and she isexcited for what she hopes to accomplish through her new venture. The site isfilled with information and resources pertaining to the arts and includes alink to Dr. McGarry’s latest project, her blog ‘First on Line with Fran’ whereshe asks people to “. . . join me in discussions on how ordinary people aredoing extraordinary things in The Arts to make our world a richer, deeper,better place to live.” Dr. McGarry is hopeful the blog may turn into atelevision talk show in the near future. She has also started ‘The First 100Stories Campaign’ on her website and here you can tell Dr. McGarry your ownstory about how the arts have impacted your life. (Check out the testimonialfrom one of Dr. McGarry’s former pupils, actress and Northport native EdieFalco.)
Although maintaining herwebsite is nearly a full‑time job, Dr. McGarry is also continuing to pursue heracting career and will soon begin a film project “Ava’s Short” in January. Sheis also currently appearing on stage in New York City this weekend in a production of At the Topof Our Lungs: An Uncensored Collection of Scenes, Songs & Monologues at theTriad Theater, 158 W. 72nd Street.For tickets to the upcoming show and more information, visit Dr. McGarry’swebsite.

At the Top of Our Lungs Opens This Week!

In case you haven’t heard, there are fourteen fabulous women shouting, At The Top of Our Lungs! opens this week.” It’s sassy, it’s smart, it’s good for the soul.  Support our mission to raise money and revitalize the spirit of local organizations that empower under-served women & girls.
Thursday, December 8 at 7 PM 
Saturday, December 10 at 9:30

Sunday, December 11 at 3 PM

Click here for more info and to buy tickets:
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/209106


viBe Benefit Performance

“At the Top of Our Lungs”
ogues
Directed by
viBe Board Andrea Bertola
Assistant Directed by Lauren Balaban
girls.

At The Top of Our Lungs is a lively production aimed attackling stereotypes that women confront. It’s hysterical and heartwarming,sassy and uplifting. This show is an eclectic mix featuring pop songs, Broadwayfavorites, spoken word poetry, monologues, burlesque and more! Grab a tablewith friends, enjoy some cocktails and be entertained by this insanely talentedcast.

FEATURING!!!

Christine Marie Evans…Courtney Nolan Smith…JustineBeirne…Jena Ellenwood…Dana Fortunato…Michelle Wilson…JessicaEdwards…Sue Dubrovich…Frances McGarry…Cindy Keenan…LindsayBracco…Jessica Stewart…Dee Dee Katchen…Jillian Hassett

PerformDat……es:

December
at Triad Theater
158 W. 72nd St. 2nd Floor

Click here for more info and to buy $15-20 tickets:

https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/209106