Valerie David: The Pink Hulk, a One-Woman Warrior’s survival story from cancer

 

Put on your Super Hero Cape when you listen to Valerie David’s podcast: The Pink Hulk, a One-Woman Warrior’s survival story from cancer. But her show is NOT just about cancer; it is about conquering our fears, our anxieties, our despair during the pandemic and removing our metaphorical masks to voice the racial injustices of Black Lives Matter.

 

Valerie David - Headshot - pc David Perlman Photography

Photo Credit David Perlman Photography

 

Valerie David is the writer and performer of the award-winning, critically acclaimed The Pink Hulk: One Woman’s Journey to Find the Superhero Within, which chronicles her journey to become a three-time cancer survivor with a combination of humor and drama to inspire and empower her audiences.

Valerie is also an improviser, published writer, editor and motivational speaker. A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts-Manhattan Campus and James Madison University, her credits include many productions such as the Off-Broadway musical A Stoop on Orchard Street, Rumors and Claudia Shear’s Blown Sideways Through Life. Films: How I Became that Jewish Guy and Bridges and Tunnels. Memberships: Dramatists Guild, TRU, League of Professional Theatre Women, AEA and SAG-AFTRA. With more than 20 years of experience as a writer and an editor, she also teaches improv and writing classes across the country and worldwide. Valerie is currently developing her new solo show Baggage from BaghDAD about her father and his family fleeing Iraq in 1941 from religious persecution—and how their survival shaped who she is today.

Upcoming Pink Hulk virtual performance: Excerpts with a special talkback in the Reykjavik Fringe Festival, Monday, July 6, 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm (Iceland time 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm)

Broadway World Play Review of The Pink Hulk:
https://www.broadwayworld.com/off-off-broadway/article/BWW-Review-Living-Life-to-the-Fullest-with-Valerie-Davids-THE-PINK-HULK-20191013

Valerie’s article in Broadway World regarding the coronavirus:
https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/BWW-Feature-A-Three-Time-Cancer-Survivors-Inspirational-Perspective-on-the-Coronavirus-by-Performer-Valerie-David-20200417

Website: https://pinkhulkplay.com/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pinkhulkplay/

Twitter: @pinkhulkplay

IG: @pinkhulkplay

 

The Calamari Sisters Sing “Somewhere”

 

Just in case you need a little love, here are The Calamari Sisters to soothe your soul. There IS a place for us. Peace and love and justice for all.

 

The Calamari Sisters: A Recipe for Coping with the Coronavirus

Feeling trapped during the COVID-19 self-quarantine? Here’s a pair of Italian Sisters, Delphine and Carmela, cooking up concoctions that will soothe your soul. Listen to their hilarious spin of how The Arts (and food) can cure what ails ya! 

The Calamari Sisters bill themselves as the only all-singing, all-dancing, all-cooking cooking show around.  Delphine & Carmela Calamari are two plus size Italian sisters from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn that began touring the country in 2009 with their stage shows.  Their irreverent comedy and outrageous kitchen antics have had people in stitches from California to Florida to Chicago to New York for the past decade.  They are currently in lockdown together and are looking forward to being with a live audience again.

Adopt a Nurse

Adopt A Nurse Campaign: Click on the link

Venmo:  @Delphine-Calamari
Paypal:  Email us at CalamariCookware@gmail.com telling us how many nurses you want to “adopt” and we’ll send you a PayPal request using that email address.

 

Facebook

Instagram:  @thecalamarisisters
 
 
First Online With Fran’s There’s No Place Like Art podcasts are produced by
March Hare Media + Wheatsheaf Studio Productions marchharemedia.com

Coping with Covid-19: Just Get Messy!

An interview with children’s author Rita Meade

The impact of reading out loud books to kids is transformative in so many different ways.  Children respond differently to the “messy message” and extrapolate solutions for Edward’s dilemma.

Covid-19 has changed our lives forever; in fact, it could be devastating. But Rita Meade’s prescient message in her 2016 award-winning book Edward Gets Messy offers a way for us to cope with the stress and confusion of social distancing by delving into our artistic souls to discover a stronger, self-confident version of our selves.

Without giving a spoiler alert, the story features Edward the pig who never EVER gets messy.  But what happens when a big tub of paint falls on Edward’s perfectly neat little head?  Getting messy has its upsides, too. Here’s how this metaphorical spin of spilled paint can offer us some perspective during this pandemic…

The Arts helps you do well academically Over the course of Rita’s educational K-12 journey, she participated in numerous art-related programs from elementary school enrichment activities to singing in the choir, learning to play musical instruments, to performing in high school children’s theatre productions.  All of this accumulated academic knowledge coalesced to help her to see the importance of children’s literature and how it could impact people’s lives. 

Despite her passion for pursuing acting as a career, she always loved telling stories. By “taking all the experiences from high school and beyond” she channeled her performance skills to be a children’s librarian and picture book author.  One of her favorite parts of being a children’s book author was visiting schools and interacting with children. The “impact of reading out loud books to kids is transformative in so many different ways.” 

Photo credit M. Bialaszewski

Children respond differently to the “messy message” and extrapolate solutions for Edward’s dilemma:  “Well, he can take a bath!” They insightfully perceive the situation as temporary and that this, too, will pass.  Ah, a lesson we can all embrace during this viral pandemic. Perhaps, we can all take stock of where we are academically in our lives and how we can use this time to reassess where our talents lie and weigh-in on where life will take us after the “paint has been spilled” ? Look to the future. You might just be surprised at the possibilities of seeking new career paths? New alternatives to adapting skill sets you might have otherwise shelved? After earning her Masters in teaching English Rita believed that this was the logical career path; to her dismay it was not.  And why . . .

The Arts strengthens problem solving and critical thinking skills.  For an A-Type personality demanding perfection, Rita, as you can imagine, was absolutely distraught. Resisting her mother’s earlier suggestion to become a public librarian Rita decided to give it a try.  She attended Queen’s College to earn a Master’s degree in Library Science.  “This is it!” eventually leading her to her current employment at Brooklyn Public Library. There were many “ups and downs,” along the way but Rita “learned a lot [through her failures and successes].”  Having to close the library due to the coronavirus was a paradox for her:  continue to comply with her conviction that libraries serve as centers of communities or close for the safety and well-being of its patrons?  Similarly, this juxtaposed Edward’s challenging crossroad to either wallow in the inevitable or rise to the occasion? When all programs had been cancelled, on the day before the library closed, Rita brought her guitar for children to strum, sing, and savor the joys of music.  During the session one little boy remarked how it was “the first time [he] ever played a guitar!”  By adjusting inevitable outcomes of separation from her prodigies, Rita realized how “the Arts change people’s brains in good way; it inspires hope, really. What else are we trying to do, you know?”  So, use this time of separation to shift gears:  think about taking out that guitar, the recorder you had in first grade, playing the piano.  Listen to your favorite tunes that got you to think about the world in a way that moved you to dance and celebrate life! Music will not only soothe your soul and ease your troubled thoughts, but also wipe away some of those cobwebs:  reading music, listening, BEING.   Memorize lines from a favorite poem. Read a play.  Sort through your bookshelf.  Re-read some of your favorite texts.  Remind yourself of what you once knew and valued.  Revisit that file of shelved things to do…

The Arts helps you to express your emotions.  Publishing a book is an arduous process. It requires trust, perseverance and humility.  Despite having a clear vision for the book, Rita learned to express her emotions through her art:   “It’s a lot of vulnerability . . . and you have to grow a thick skin.”  Besides trusting her editor with revisions, she had to learn to let go of some of her ideas.  For example, Rita had initially wanted the story to take place in a library, but after an exchange with the professionals, Rita decided to trust their judgement.   Kristin [her editor] gave her “a lot of great changes; a lot of great editing that [she] wouldn’t have thought of [herself]. Ultimately, it made the story better.”  Coping with criticism is another challenge. “People are going to read the book and will have opinions,” she said, “and you can’t control that.  Once the book goes out into the world it doesn’t belong to the writer; it belongs to the reader now.”   This was a challenge for Rita since she “sometimes just wants people to like [her].”  Trying to please others has always been part of her nature, but she knew it was something she needed to overcome.  And she did! “I can’t take it all personally . .  . [I’ll] just try to absorb all the good stuff and not the negative stuff.”  Good advice to heed during our solitary quarantine.  Sometimes, being alone allows us to be still, be patient, and listen.  Take a personal inventory of where you are at this stage of your life.  How much have you grown emotionally? What regrets can be amended? Introspection can offer time to examine our behaviors and what motivates us to be who we are. Make a list. What do you like about yourself? What do you need to change? What are some of your fears? Anxieties that keep you from taking a leap to a new job? Starting a new relationship?  Carpe Diem! Seize the day like Edward and Rita, to “[be] distraught and unsure of what to do…But Wait . . . “

The Arts gives you confidence.  Visiting schools has served to instill and inspire young audiences.  “If I can do it, “she says to her young charges, “you can do it. “ By being “live” Rita de-mystifies the persona of the author:  “Authors aren’t these mystical creatures; we’re people just like YOU!”  It is instilling this kind of confidence that made one child exclaim, “Now I want to write a book because I know that you did!”  To offer some sustainability once she has left the classroom, Rita provides her contact information to encourage her young prodigies to keep in touch.  For this teacher of Rita Meade, there is nothing more satisfying than to have a former student acknowledge how I might have played a part in the pursuit of her career. And why, during the corona virus we can look back on those teachers whose lessons have long ago shaped who we are and are grateful for their tutelage.  Write a note to that teacher.  Look them up on social media.  Thank them for their “art” of molding you into the human being you are today.  And why…

The Arts are an investmentNikki Haley former UN Ambassador recently shot off a tweet denouncing the emergency funding given to the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Kennedy Center as irresponsible and queried:  “How many more people could have been helped with this money?”  Rita would definitively tell her how “lucky she [Rita] is to see every day the difference that the arts make in children’s lives. . . if I’m doing story time or we’re doing an arts and crafts class you can see how it stimulates the children’s creativity and their thought processes and learning and just their emotional happiness.”  There is no doubt that the arts are fun for kids. Diving into those finger paints and making a beautiful picture to hang on the fridge is awesome. Acting in a play is exhilarating.  Ensure that they continue to shape and inspire our souls.  Use this time to donate to your favorite art institution, be it the playful Paperbag Players or Lincoln Center.  It’s what makes us humane. It is what will be our legacy.  We will survive this pandemic. With the Arts, anything is possible; because after all,   “Edward knows that it’s okay even for particular pigs to get messy. . . . “

Coda:  Frances McGarry, Ph.D. is a dedicated arts advocate committed to raising awareness of how The Arts Rejuvenate. The Arts Restore. The Arts are our Supernatural Gift.  It is the force that unites us as a single, breathing, living entity that connects every human being to be all that is good and pure.  She created a blog and podcast First Online With Fran to raise awareness of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the Arts like Rita Meade and so many others. What will YOU do during this pandemic to make our world a richer, better place to be?

Rita Meade is a public librarian who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She has a background in youth services, has professionally reviewed children’s books for “School Library Journal,” and has written for literary sites including Book Riot and Reading Rainbow. Her debut picture book Edward Gets Messy was published in 2016 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers and in 2017, it won the first ever Anna Dewdney Read-Together Award which recognizes a picture book that is “both a superb read aloud and also sparks compassion, empathy, and connection.”

Email: RitaMeadeAuthor@gmail.com

Twitter: @ScrewyDecimal

Instagram: @ScrewyDecimal

Edward Gets Messy

Winner of The Anna Dewdney Read Together Award

School Library Journal ‘Popular Pick’ 

Atlanta Parent ‘Best Book’

References & Resources…

10 Reasons Why Arts in Education Is so Important for Kids

Is your student looking to become more involved in the arts? Not only do K12 online public schools offer their students art and music courses, K12 has individual art classes for purchase. For more information on K12  and our programs that encourage student involvement in the arts, you can contact our enrollment team at 877.895.1754 or request to receive more information online.

Americans For The Arts

Alexa: Play First Online!

First Online With Fran’s podcast There’s No Place Like Art is now live on Alexa!

Just say “First Online” and the podcast will play! Let me know what you think! Over 1,130 downloads. Stay tuned for a series of episodes on one-woman shows and how they move the political needle forward. Surprise celebrity guests…
Media Statistics Summary
First Online With Fran
Total Downloads:
1,590
Downloads this past week:
488
Downloads on week ending Saturday, February 8:
23