Presidential Proclamation — National Arts and Humanities Month, 2016

This month, we acknowledge all those who have proudly and passionately dedicated their lives to these diverse, beautiful, and often challenging forms of expression. In our increasingly global economy, we recognize the power of the arts and humanities to connect people around the world. Be it through the pen of a poet, the voice of a singer, or the canvas of a painter, let us continue to harness the unparalleled ways the arts and humanities bring people together.

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NATIONAL ARTS AND HUMANITIES MONTH, 2016

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

 

 

Throughout history, the arts and humanities have been at the forefront of progress. In diverse mediums and methods — whether through the themes of a novel, the movement of a dancer, or a monologue on a stage — the arts enrich our souls, inspire us to chase our dreams, and challenge us to see things through a different lens. During National Arts and Humanities Month, we celebrate the important role the arts and humanities have played in shaping the American narrative.

Our achievements as a society and a culture go hand-in-hand. The arts embody who we are as a people and have long helped drive the success of our country. They provoke thought and encourage our citizenry to reach new heights in creativity and innovation; they lift up our identities, connecting what is most profound within us to our collective human experiences.

In seeking to break down barriers and challenge our assumptions, we must continue promoting and prioritizing the arts and humanities, especially for our young people. In many ways, the arts and humanities reflect our national soul. They are central to who we are as Americans — as dreamers and storytellers, creators and visionaries. By investing in the arts, we can chart a course for the future in which the threads of our common humanity are bound together with creative empathy and openness. When we engage with the arts, we instill principles that, at their core, make us truer to ourselves.

This month, we acknowledge all those who have proudly and passionately dedicated their lives to these diverse, beautiful, and often challenging forms of expression. In our increasingly global economy, we recognize the power of the arts and humanities to connect people around the world. Be it through the pen of a poet, the voice of a singer, or the canvas of a painter, let us continue to harness the unparalleled ways the arts and humanities bring people together.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2016 as National Arts and Humanities Month. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs to celebrate the arts and the humanities in America.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.

BARACK OBAMA

Lady Liberty Theater Festival 2016

Theatre Educates:  New Festival Dedicated to Fighting Islamophobia

The Lady Liberty Theater Festival presents a trio of exciting immigration short plays aimed at curing the disease of Islamophobia in America, tied together by the ideals represented in the Statue of Liberty.

LLTF promo poster June 24Good Works Productions, in association with Aizzah Fatima, present the premiere of The Lady Liberty Theater Festival, featuring Fatima’s critically-acclaimed solo show Dirty Paki Lingerie, presented alongside two short plays by Monica Bauer, Lady Liberty’s Worst Day Ever and No Irish Need Apply. The three week limited engagement will take place at Urban Stages (259 West 30th Street, New York, NY 10001) from Wednesday, September 7th through Sunday, September 25th, 2016. On Sunday, September 11th, 2016 the festival will present a day of free staged readings that focus on the Muslim experience in America.

 

 

Dirty Paki Lingerie by Aizzah Fatima, directed by Erica Gould, interweaves the stories of six American-Muslim women, aged 6 to 65, all portrayed by Fatima in a virtuosic performance. Drawing from real-life incidents and one-on-one interviews with Pakistani-American women.

Joining Dirty Paki Lingerie are two shorts by award-winning playwright Monica Bauer, directed by Cheryl King:

  • Lady Liberty’s Worst Day Ever, starring Frances McGarry as the Statue of Liberty, and J. Dolan Byrnes as her agent, Vinnie. He breaks the news to Lady Liberty that she’s been purchased by Donald Trump, and is going to be rebranded as the Trump Statue of Liberty. Watch her fight back!
  • No Irish Need Apply (recently seen at The Kennedy Center in DC, and the Irish Arts Center in Manhattan), starring Ali Andre Ali as a Syrian refugee looking for a job in Queens, and Frances McGarry as Joan Fitzgerald, a crusty old woman who needs help running her bodega.

The Lady Liberty Theater Festival will also include back to back free staged readings on Sunday, September 11th, 2016 from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Confirmed readings include What They Heard by Mona Mansour, directed by Kareem Fahmy; The Higher Education of Khalid Amir and Anne Frank in the Gaza Strip by Monica Bauer, directed by Glory Kadigan. The readings are free but donations will be collected on behalf of the International Rescue Committee for their work with Syrian refugees. For schedule information and full line up visit www.ladylibertytheaterfestival.com

The Lady Liberty Theater Festival plays the following schedule through September 25th**:

Wednesdays at 8:00 pm
Thursdays at 8:00 pm
Fridays at 8:00 pm
Saturdays at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 2:00 pm

**Schedule Exceptions: On Sunday, September 11th from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm the festival will present various staged readings. On this day there will be no performances of Dirty Paki Lingerie, Lady Liberty’s Worst Day or No Irish Need Apply. There will no performances on Friday, September 16th.

Tickets range from $15.00 -$30.00.

Urban Stages is located at 259 West 30th Street, New York, NY 10001.

Running Time: Two hours with one intermission (Running time of readings vary).

Continuing the Conversation with. . . Marisa Vitali: Part II

 Marisa Vitali returns home to Northport, LI to show the premier screening of her movie, GRACE at the John W. Engeman Theater.  To raise awareness of the plight of recovering addicts Marisa shares her film and her courageous story of recovery in order to donate funds for the Northport-East Northport Drug & Alcohol Task Force. Listen to  interviews about the debut of GRACE:  Marisa Vitali (Actor, Producer, Writer GRACE),, Kevin O’Neill(Managing Director John W. Engeman Theater), Scott Norcott (Public Relations Coordinator, Npt.-E Npt Drug & Alcohol Task Force), Gabriel Manzueta (Sra NY Natl. Guard Counterdrug Civil Operations), Carissa A Cantone (SSG, NY Natl. Guard, Counterdrug Civil Operations), Irene McLaughlin(Asst. Supt. Human Resource Npt-ENpt School Dist), Darryl St. George(HS History Teacher Npt.-ENpt School Dist) and Anthony Ferrandino(Chariperson, Npt-ENpt Community Drug & Alcohol Task Force).

 

 

Take it Away! GRACE, the movie at the John W. Engeman Theater

 

The premier of the movie GRACE at the John W. Engemann Theater was held on June 7, 2016 to raise funds for the Northport-East Northport Drug & Alcohol Task Force.  Here are some of the reactions audience members”Took Away” with them after seeing the movie.

 Max Fulton-Peluffo, Video Editor

Sound Bites 3.0 Festival 10 Musicals – One Night Only!

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Friend What Are You Waiting For?

I will be performing in the new musical comedy WE HAVE APPLES as the Nurse

January 18th 7 pm 47th Street Theater! It’s a 10-minute showcase that will be sure to please.  Hope you can make it!

Stay tuned for a First Online With Fran interview with Rachel Griffin. .

Jane, a quirky 18-year-old writer, has no choice but to admit herself to a psychiatric hospital when her depression (personified by a female actor) becomes more than she can handle on her own. Bored with the cheesy and condescending group sessions, Jane and another talented patient, Jack, start a writing group. Tension heightens between staff and patients and corruption and mistreatment in the ward start to make everyone wonder: who is really sane here after all?

Music, lyrics, and book by Rachel Ford Griffin

Directed by Branden Huldeen

Music Director/Additional Music Aron Accurso

Go to the We Have Apples show page

Subject: Friend what are you waiting for? 10 Musicals – One Night Only!

Good seats still available BUT HURRY, they’re going fast!
10 Musicals – One Night Only!

The 47th Street Theatre
304 West 47th Street off Eighth Avenue, NYC

www.TNNY.org

Click To BUY TICKETS NOW

Go to the SOUND BITES 3.0 Festival main page

The ten finalists, listed in alphabetical order, featured at this year’s Sound Bites are…

A Cappella Love

A Cappella Love, performed by eight triple-threat singers-actors-dancers (four men, four women) without instrumental accompaniment, is a new musical that, through song, dance, and comedy, explores the universal experiences of falling in, being in, and stumbling out of – what else? – love. The romance! The passion! The brazen innuendo…all a cappella!

music by Nelson Kole, lyrics by Mark Browning Milner, and book by Mark Browning Milner, Lorrie Kole, and Nelson Kole

Go to the A Cappella Love show page

Baked Goods

Gertie may be the worst girl scout the troop has ever seen. When her mother (who is also her troop leader) gives her the ultimatum of selling 100 boxes to continue her girl scout membership, Gertie does her best to rise to the occasion, with a little help from a new friend.

music by Helen Park, lyrics by Christyn Budzyna, and book by Charles Cohen

Go to the Baked Goods show page

Burning Up

A New York City couple awake one morning, burning up with fevers, while their babysitter and their handyman are sizzling with a fever of a different kind. Chaos and Kleenex reign, in this classic yet contemporary tale of love and flu-like symptoms.

music by Rick Bassett, lyrics by Pamela Weiler Grayson, and book by Pamela Weiler Grayson and Rick Bassett

Go to the Burning Up show page

Fictitious

Fictitious is a 90-minute musical comedy inspired by the life of Arnold Schwarzenegger that traces the unlikely success story of an immigrant bodybuilder turned actor turned politician who marries into America’s political royal family and eventually becomes president.

music, lyrics, and book by Paul Cozby and Tom Hyndman

Go to the Fictitious show Page

Gorgonzola

A progressive Sicilian town is thrown into turmoil when they discover they have a rule that the oldest person in town is always right

music by Nolan Livesay, book and lyrics by Gregory Bonsignore

Go to the Gorgonzola show page

Hipster Sister

Brooklyn, 2015. Chelsea is getting fed up with her slacker singer-songwriter sister, Jackie, and it’s time she moved out.

music, lyrics, and book by Andy Roninson

Go to The Hipster Sister show page

Houdin

Eric, a young, failed magician (circa 1902) barters his soul to travel back in time to Paris, circa 1880, to study with the great, Father of Magic, Eugene Robert-Houdin. Eric meets Houdin’s hiding, reclusive daughter, and love complications ensue. “Brigadoon” meets “Damn Yankees”.

music, lyrics, and book by Marcus Pelegrin, additional music by Gio Dormero

Go to the Houdin show page

On Your Mark!

A contemporary re-imagining of the Aesop Fable ‘The Tortoise and the Hare,’ this fun new show takes the familiar classic and exposes the truth behind this infamous woodland race.

music by Aaron Kenny, book and lyrics by Danny K. Bernstein

Go to the On Your Mark show page

Too Much Coffee Man Opera

Too Much Coffee Man Opera is a collaboration between Eisner Award winner and New Yorker cartoonist Shannon Wheeler and Emmy Award winning composer Daniel Steven Crafts, the first of what is now called Gonzo Opera. Too Much Coffee Man hangs around the coffee shop waxing prolific about life, love, the universe. Secretly in love with the barista, he has always been too shy to say anything to her. Today, however, he decides to throw caution to the wind…

music by Daniel Steven Crafts, book by Shannon Wheeler

Go to the Too Much Coffee Man Opera show page

We Have Apples

We Have Apples is a musical comedy set in a psychiatric hospital. Jane must overcome her depression (which is portrayed by another character) to be with the man she falls in love with, who happens to be her psychiatrist’s son.

music, lyrics, and book by Rachel Ford Griffin

Go to the We Have Apples show page

graphic design by Lauren Draper / illustrations by Carlos Zamora

Click To BUY TICKETS NOW

SOUND BITES is sponsored in part by…

Theatre Now New York is a professional theatre company whose history originates with two established companies: the Genesius Theatre Guild in New York City and ReVision Theatre in Asbury Park, NJ. Theatre Now New York brings together the founding principles of both these companies: developmental work and main stage theatrical productions.

The mission of Theatre Now New York is to facilitate the creation and development of new theatrical works, the reimagining of previously produced known titles and the reinterpretation of classic works through readings, productions, workshops and work-in-progress presentations and to promote the understanding and appreciation of live theatre and its process by the general public. TNNY provides opportunities for emerging, mid-career and established theatre professional in their ongoing creative process.

Theatre Now New York is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization and all donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Members of Theatre Now New York receive 20% or more off all ticket purchases for a year, plus priority seating at productions and events, VIP invitations to special events and Members Only pre-sale opportunities on future events.

Georgia Stitt: Her Need to Tell. . . through Music

Georgia Picture

Her love of literature coupled with a flair for creating her own melodies as a child pianist coalesced into becoming the career choice for composer/lyricist Georgia Stitt.  “I have always been a musician.  When I was seven years-old, I remember trying to play Bach and then [wanting to] improve it.”  Her innate talent to invent variations on a theme became the natural course for Georgia’s professional pursuit as a musician; nevertheless, she did not even realize that it was something you could actually DO for a career. “It was ‘extra-curricular’.” And it wasn’t until college that music would be something she considered undertaking as a livelihood.  Her passion for all types of music and a fervent love of reading convinced Georgia musical theater was “all the things that I loved [coming] together. It was really a light bulb going off when I realized that you could tell stories with music, and the more you knew about musical structure and narrative structure the more they fed each other.”

And storyteller she is!  Her focus is not so much on what stories she likes to tell through music, but “what kind of story can I tell?”  The two current projects she’s working on illustrate the range of her fascination for interesting tales to tell; one, Snow Child, commissioned by Arena Stage to be directed by Molly Smith, is set in 1920s Alaska. The score is Bluegrass because “that is what the music of Alaska is and was – that’s what they would have had – banjos and mandolins, fiddles.” While her other piece is a WW II swing band and “there is no way that music for one of them could fit into the score of the other because that’s not who those people are; that’s not the world we’re creating.  The sound of the show is very specific to the world that you’re creating, the people you’re creating and that’s interesting to me.  That calls on all the skills I have as a classical musician and as a pop musician, as a listener of all kinds of music- understanding musically what the differences are in those worlds, but also character-wise.”

Like a playwright, Georgia begins with crafting a character.  “Who are these characters and what are they involved in, what are they trying to do?  And then, what do they sound like? What music do they sound like?” Snow Child has a husband and a wife from Pennsylvania who move to Alaska during the 1920s to homestead the land.  “They’re new to Alaska and they’re trying to find their way.  And then, their neighbors are people who have been in Alaska for a long time and so they have a much more laid-back vocabulary.  They don’t speak in such big wordy sentences.  It’s like when you write New Yorker characters and they talk more quickly than non-New Yorkers. There’s less space in their language and that sort of thing.  So we have a little more folk music for the characters from Alaska as opposed to these people who are finding their way into Alaska.  And part of the synthesis of the sound is, musically, you watch these characters find their way.  Whether you are aware of it as an audience member or not I can’t say, but I think you feel it – you feel the ‘otherness’ in the music just as much as you do in the language, the costumes, in the way that characters behave and all those things.  The music is telling as much of the story as all the other elements.”

When working with students, Georgia credits her experience as a Musical Director to process a breakdown of a song.  “I think a lot of what I know about writing is because I had to sit in a rehearsal room and explain something to an actor. ‘But why do I come in on beat 4? I want to come in on the downbeat?’ And I want to explain not just that you do, but why you do.  Why has the composer anticipated—is your character anticipating something? Is your character in a hurry?”  Those are conscious, literal decisions composers make.  “Are you back-phrasing because you are reluctant to get where you’re going? Is it because we’ve got 4 bar phrase-4 bar phrase-4 bar phrase and then we’ve got a 6 bar phrase? What are those 2 bars about? Why are they there?” And so as a Music Director I’m dissecting those things, and that made me start thinking about what a composer has to do to put those clues in there for actors to dissect.  A good actor– a good singing actor– knows to look for them.”

Oftentimes, Georgia will take away the music and have students translate the lyrics into a story, “put it in [their] own language.  Explain the journey of the song in [their] own words that don’t rhyme and don’t have meter so we can be clear what we want.”  Part of the job of a songwriter is to craft a song so that an actor can identify the highest climactic moment of the song.  “Songs are structured and the bridge is the middle point and that is usually where the meat of the song is.” A character must have a Need to Tell; she refers to this as “I Want” songs where early on in the show especially a lead character will say ‘I want this and I can’t have it.’ And then the whole show is about how do I get that thing?  And it’s really that basic.  You can look at almost any successful musical where there is a character who wants something and the whole show is about how they get it.”

Wanting to be the best in her field is no easy task, especially for women.  Jeanine Tesori said at the Tony Awards, “You have to see it to be it.”  Despite Georgia not having many female archetypes, she credits the support of teachers and parents for her success. “Nobody told me I couldn’t do it.”  Her advice is straightforward in terms of making it happen:  “I have learned you can’t wait for someone to call you and say, ‘I have a job for you.’  You have to look around for whatever opportunity and say, “I should be doing that job. Who do I call to get that job? How do I MAKE that job? What do I do to make sure they think of me in that context?”

Georgia raises awareness of the plight of parity for women composer/lyricists as a Board member of the Lilly Awards.   Six years ago, as a way to recognize female playwrights who were being overlooked, Marsha Norman, Julia Jordan, and Theresa Rebeck started this not-for-profit organization to honor their work.  It’s not just an Award Ceremony, but it has “grown to [represent] the statistical analysis of what the numbers really are all around the country.  How many women are being produced? How many directors are being hired? How many female composers are being hired? And how many female lyricists/playwrights/etc.? How many female protagonists are in the show? What are the stories being told? And the number hovers around 22% female, which is unbelievable when you think about how many women are in the audiences and how many female playwrights there are.”

Programs range from providing writing retreats to a mentorship program, led by Susan Stroman.  A Fall Fundraiser is scheduled every year. Georgia is the co-producer and music director for the November 9th event, The Lilly Awards Broadway Cabaret, which features Broadway stars performing the works of women writers. You can learn more about this event at http://www.thelillyawards.org/thelillyawards/.

What Georgia loves most about being a composer/lyricist is communicating.  “I love using music to communicate an idea and then having someone say afterwards, ‘I really get what you were trying to say.’” We DO get it. Thank you, Georgia for making us all feel something special through your music!

Georgia Stitt is Composer/Lyricist and a Music Director. Her musicals currently in development include Snow Child (commissioned by Arena Stage); A.Jax (written for Waterwell with Kevin Townley and Hanna Cheek); Tempest Rock (written with Hunter Foster); The Danger Year (a revue of original songs, directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle); Big Red Sun (NAMT Festival winner in 2010, Harold Arlen Award in 2005 and written with John Jiler); The Water (winner of the 2008 ANMT Search for New Voices in American Musical Theatre and written with Jeff Hylton and Tim Werenko); and Mosaic (commissioned for Off-Broadway in 2010 and written with Cheri Steinkellner). She has released three albums of her music: This Ordinary Thursday: The Songs Of Georgia Stitt, Alphabet City Cycle and My Lifelong Love. Her songs and arrangements are represented on the solo albums of Susan Egan, Lauren Kennedy, Kate Baldwin, Robert Creighton, Stuart Matthew Price, Caroline Sheen, Daniel Boys, Kevin Odekirk and composer Sam Davis. Her choral piece with hope and virtue (using text from President Obama‘s 2009 inauguration speech) was featured on NPR as part of Judith Clurman‘s Dear Mister President cycle, and her most recent orchestral piece, Waiting for Wings, co-written with husband Jason Robert Brown, was commissioned by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and premiered there with conductor John Morris Russell. Georgia has degrees from Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music and NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts. She is on the theater faculty at Pace University the Board of Directors for The Lilly Awards. Other fun credits include being the music supervisor of the Anna Kendrick/Jeremy Jordan film The Last Five Years, conducting Little Shop of Horrors on Broadway, writing arrangements for Tony Bennett‘s 80th birthday party and playing a nun in The Sound Of Music Live! on NBC with Carrie Underwood and Audra McDonald. www.georgiastitt.com