Coni Koepfinger & Dan Carter: LIVE FROM THE BARDO: My Dinner With Mary

The Greeks believed that theatre was threefold: to entertain, to educate, and exalt the human spirit. And if we’re going to exalt the human spirit we’re gonna have to understand that we can only do that through love. ~Coni Koepfinger

Coni Koepfinger, a 2021 recipient of the Olwen Wymark Award by the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, is currently playwright-in-residence at both Manhattan Rep and Cosmic Orchid and has worked with several other notable NYC companies such as Theatre for the New City, The Secret Theatre, the New York Unfringed Fest, Broadway Bound Festival and Pan Asian Rep. She has connected hundreds through her virtual programs Airplay and Determined Women. She is a member of the Dramatist Guild, a former board member of the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) and a chair for the League Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) and currently sits as Media Advisory Board of the Lifeboat Foundation. As a very prolific indie artist, Coni’s work has been published and produced all over the globe.

Dan Carter served over thirty years as a university theatre administrator at Penn State, Florida State, and Illinois State, also serving as Artistic Director of Pennsylvania Centre Stage, Producing Director of Illinois Shakespeare Festival, and co-founder and Artistic Director of Appalachian Theatre Ensemble. He is Past President of the National Theatre Conference and the National Association of Schools of Theatre and is Immediate Past Dean of the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. He served Actors’ Equity Association for four years as Area Liaison from the State of Florida and is a recipient of the Society of American Fight Directors’ Patrick Crean Award. As a long-standing member of the National Theatre Conference, Dan Carter can be seen in the video archive of their Living Legacy Project.

Ever since I was a little girl, I felt that there was more to the story.  That a curtain would lift and, well, something more would be revealed.  My sister swore that I used to go into my bedroom closet and disappear, then show up again several hours later. As I grew up, I continued the practice, but localized my travels in dreams.  It wasn’t until college that my waking life and fantasies began to merge… And thus, my quest became clear- the theatre of the awakened dream. Walking into your dreamlife, can be risky… so I decided to bring my dreams to life.

Writing plays became my way of communicating with all life-  from the ordinary people to the sublime consciousness… all of which seemed to operate on the same plane for me.  It was clear that we are all human life forms that can conform, reform or deform to the energetic stimulus around us-  but when we PERForm- we are able perfect the form, taking it to a higher creative state. I was always surrounded by art. My sister, my cousin, my uncles… Music, painting, drawing was like bread and water. Passion, yes. Madness, yes. But I wanted to know more…  What was   beyond the curtain?  Why is art so important to the human experience? 

It was not until this play, LIVE FROM THE BARDO: MY DINNER WITH MARY, with the help of my brilliant co-author, Dan Carter, that I now have an answer.

The search for the inexplicable and metaphysical began influencing my playwriting in the early 1990s… In the play CANDLEDANCING, about the voice of St. Julian of Norwich, a medieval anchoress, there is a line… “ When you ask God to be your dance partner- the music never stops.” Well that sure makes life simpler but where exactly is God when I am in question? In 2019, I began to explore the concept of the Bardo-  a Tibetan Book of the Dead term that explains the Christian notion of purgatory, the place in between this life and next. It became clear to me that there in the Bardo, existed THE BARDO THEATRE, the place where the scenes of life were crafted by the ascended artists for those still living on Earth. So what does this have to do with Art here and now.  Hmmmm…

LIVE FROM THE BARDO: My Dinner with Mary is a new, provocative show that dares to peek beyond the stage doors of death. In this evolutionary look at life, death, memory, and imagination, two veteran actresses are now mysteriously reunited over the brainchild of creating art from their real lives. Revisiting their separate and disparate memories, they weave a tale worthy of their upcoming appearances in eternity at The Bardo Theatre, just beyond the veil in the Great Hall of the Players Club. As conduits of Divine Destiny, the spirits of legendary actors Joseph Jefferson, Helen Hayes, Katharine Hepburn, and Jose Ferrer emerge from their portraits to inspire these actresses as they move into their next incarnations onto a higher stage of existence and offer us a refreshing look at what’s beyond the stars. Written by Coni Koepfinger and Dan Carter, starring Mary Ellen Ashley and Mary Tierney, and directed by Dan Carter, this exciting new play will be presented by Theater for the New City January 13-23, 2022.

In  MY DINNER WITH MARY, two estranged friends, Mary and Mary Ellen, reunite.  We ask why?   I say to Dan, “Maybe Mary is dying?” He says, “Write the scene.”   I do and it starts to work. Then he says, “What if Mary Ellen is already dead?” Perfect! And of course, I imagine her in the Bardo. She’s auditioning for the “role of a lifetime” at The Bardo Theatre. But how does she communicate with these great, eternal artists?  What do they sound like to us?  To the audience. Where is this voice of the great beyond? The play is set in a dream, a fever dream, but dinner begins at THE PLAYERS CLUB. Here we are surrounded by memory of the actors whose portraits don the walls of The Great Hall.  And once again Helen Hayes, Jose Ferrer, Katharine Hepburn, Joseph Jefferson begin to speak beyond the walls of time… As they speak to us through Art.

DONATE TO “MY DINNER WITH MARY” https://theaterforthenewcity.net/donate/

In  MY DINNER WITH MARY, two estranged friends, Mary and Mary Ellen, reunite.  We ask why?   I say to Dan, “Maybe Mary is dying?” He says, “Write the scene.”   I do and it starts to work. Then he says, “What if Mary Ellen is already dead?” Perfect! And of course, I imagine her in the Bardo. She’s auditioning for the “role of a lifetime” at The Bardo Theatre. But how does she communicate with these great, eternal artists?  What do they sound like to us?  To the audience. Where is this voice of the great beyond? The play is set in a dream, a fever dream, but dinner begins at THE PLAYERS CLUB. Here we are surrounded by memory of the actors whose portraits don the walls of The Great Hall.  And once again Helen Hayes, Jose Ferrer, Katharine Hepburn, Joseph Jefferson begin to speak beyond the walls of time… As they speak to us through Art.

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Holly Savas: Mom, Artist, VP Creative Action Network: An Artists’ Conduit for Change

I needed to use what I knew about working with big companies, my own company . . . to spread the word that art can change the world. . . Having something to do that spreads good in the world that makes me not focus on [my children] so much [so] that they can go out and do their own thing so they can become more autonomous in the world.

Creative Action Network (CAN) is the go-to online marketplace for social impact art and merchandise that supports independent artists and worthy social causes, via the products we sell on our website. We believe art can change the world, and it’s our mission to keep spreading that message while giving back to organizations we care about. 

Holly Savas is a mom, artist and VP of Brand, Art & Community at Creative Action Network. She’s a passionate supporter of artists and of universal arts education in schools and makes it her mission to raise awareness and give back to her community whenever possible. Her job at CAN is the perfect combo of all of those things rolled into one.

ART CAN CHANGE THE WORLD…

Creative Action Network doesn’t keep their opinions to themselves, and neither should you! When it comes to speaking out about important issues like gun reform, racial justice and gender equality (just to name a few) they’re getting louder by the day.

Raising our voices together means we can create lasting change, and their global community has put together a beautifully designed collection of activist posters that gets our messages across, all the while supporting hardworking social organizations like The Dream Corps. Head to their shop for the latest and choose from thousands of posters depicting the causes you care about! ~ Team CAN

https://creativeaction.network/ (sign up for our email newsletter to get the latest!) https://www.instagram.com/creativeactionnetwork/
https://www.facebook.com/CreativeActionNetwork/
https://twitter.com/thecreativeact
Latest product (here are two): Mother’s Day 20% off sale starts 4/2  Green New Deal poster book that gives back to Sunrise MovementFeminist Socks including a new “Thanks Mom” variety 5-pack of famous feminist moms for Mother’s Day, with sales supporting UltraViolet organization

 Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 9th! Head to Creative Action Network for a collection of meaningful gifts that celebrate mom, including feminist socks (think RBG!) books that are chock full of beautiful activist art and so much more. Every gift supports a worthy social cause like women’s rights, the environment and civil justice. Take 20% off everything at CAN + free shipping over $50 until Mother’s Day.”


We partner with non-profit and cause-based organizations to help tell stories and engage community. We also donate 1% of sales revenue to our non-profit partners. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to partner on a campaign! 

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

 

Aizzah Fatima airing her “Dirty Paki Lingerie”

 

So, what’s a young Muslim woman born in Saudi Arabia, raised as a US citizen in Mississippi, only to defy all the odds by moving to NYC to become a one-woman sensation in her highly- acclaimed show Dirty Paki Lingerie? Listen in to her airing an authentic assessment of how women, women of color, Muslim women break all the boundaries of what it means to be an American today.

AizzahFatima-097

 

Aizzah is an actress and writer from New York City by way of Mississippi. After training as a Microbiologist and working as an ads engineer at Google, she traded in her Google perks for the arts, and hasn’t looked back.

 

Dirty Paki Lingerie will stream on Facebook and YouTube through the Family Festival: Galactic Women on June 6, 2020.

Aizzah Fatima has been featured on NPR, The Guardian, Women’s Hour (BBC), The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post. Her comedy one woman play ‘Dirty Paki Lingerie’ has toured in the UK, Italy, Canada, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She co-produced the feature film ‘Horror Time’ with James Franco, and is currently in post production on her feature film American.ish. She wrote and starred in short films Off Duty, Doff Thy Name, and Stuff opposite Annette O’Tolle. TV acting credits include High Maintenance (HBO), The Good Wife (CBD), The Code (CBS), Mr. Robot (USA Network), Patrice O’Neal’s Guide to White People (Comedy Central pilot), and Matae Jaan (HUM TV, Pakistan). She is currently developing a comedy TV pilot titled ‘Muslim Girls DTF: Discuss Their Faith’ based on the webseries of the same name.

Here is a link to a short Dirty Paki Lingerie promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z3gc7fMqY4

IG/Twitter:  @AizzahFatima

#MPAC   #Muslimartists   #DirtyPakiLingerie

 

 

 

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.

 

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Instagram:  @thecalamarisisters
 
 
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