League of Professional Theatre’s NETWORKING MONDAYS; Meet the Music Makers!

In our continuing effort to develop and promote women in the professional theatre  we invite you to . . .

Networking Logo

NETWORKING MONDAYS

 Insights, Information, and Inspiration

Join your colleagues, expand your networks, bring a potential new member!

Monday, October 5, 2015, 6pm-8pm

Meet the Music Makers: Composers & Lyricists and

Special Guests discussing the Creative, Legal, and Financial Aspects of Songwriting


 Ripley Grier Studios 520 8th Avenue, Studio 16T

 Panelists include GEORGIA STITT (Snow Child, My Lifelong Love); DONNA MOORE (Cougar The Musical); JUNE RACHELSON-OSPA & ALLISON BREWSTER-FRANZETTI (The True Colors of Weedle); CARMEL OWEN (Asylum: The Strange Case of Mary Lincoln); PAMELA GOLINSKI (Entertainment Attorney FGR & S PLLC); and TED CHAPIN (President, Rodgers & Hammerstein)

Light Refreshments Available

RSVP: Networking@TheatreWomen.Org

SAVE THE DATES

Monday February 29, 2016, 6pm-8pm

Unsung Heroes:  Backstage Professionals

Monday, May 9, 2016, 6pm-8pm

New Wave:  Young Members and their Projects

LPTW Members: FREE                   Non-Members $15                        Non-Members with Theatrical Union Affiliation $10

The Power of Words…and Girls

Posted: 07/29/2015 6:22 pm EDT Updated: 07/30/2015 1:59 pm EDT

On a warm summer evening in Bedford, New York, surrounded by rolling hills and a warm audience of supporters, the girls introduced themselves, in all their diversity and honesty: “I’m yellow.” “I’m white.” “I’m caramel.” “I’m bi.”

The bullied girl who found school “the scariest place to be,” who “went to the blade because I felt afraid.” Jewel.

The girl who “just because I’m in seventh grade doesn’t mean I’m any less discriminated against.” Emma.

The girl whose dad “beat my mom for 15 years, [but though] she was down she brought herself up.” “Elizabeth.”

“Sticks and stones can break your bones,” finished one, but words can hurt you.”

Words are the currency, and the power, of the young performers of Girl Be Heard, artists and activists who bring global issues affecting girls center stage in cutting-edge theatre. The nonprofit company has performed at the White House, the United Nations, the State Department, TED conferences, and in underserved communities locally and globally. Major original productions have addressed homelessness, the rape epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sex trafficking, and gun violence.

Girl Be HeardIt always starts with the personal. When Hazel joined Girl Be Heard, she heard the story of Melanie, whose brother was shot and killed in 2010–something she could not have experienced otherwise. So she shared her stories too. “Society teaches us to gulp down pain and not be vulnerable,” Hazel says. “Girl Be Heard gives us a place where we can be vulnerable.” As Executive Director and Co-Founder Jessica Greer Morris pronounces, “We take the shame out of the equation…and show that you can rise above adversity.”

And they change lives. “I owe this group so much,” says Alexandra Saali, a founding member from 2008 who now serves as a Young Professionals “Amplifer” for Girl Be Heard. Hearing about the plights of Congolese women and the other girls gave her “purpose, mission, and the drive that kept me on track through the crazy years of growing up.” Alexandra is bound for medical school after she graduates from Brown University.

Brmuda

Julienne Lusenge (r), President of Female Solidarity for Integrated Peace and Development, a coalition of 40 women’s organizations in DR Congo, so believes in Girl Be Heard that her daughter Raissa is joining. Also at the Bedford home of Chairperson Jackie Shapiro was former Premier of Bermuda Dame Pamela Gordon-Banks (l), to be honored at this year’s “Gotta Love Girls” Gala.

In Bermuda, she said, “We have a saying: ‘For each one, reach one, teach one.'” She went on to share the impact of Girl Be Heard performing in Bermuda, “where, being a small country, people can be quiet. These young ladies made it possible for people to realize they can have a voice, and that everyone has a story. With a support system you can do and be anything. The sky is the limit.”

Which is at the core of Girl Be Heard’s philosophy: if a girl can change her own life, she can change the lives of girls everywhere.

This upcoming season, the girls will address eating disorders and the $55-billion-dollar-a-year diet industry in a documentary theatre and dance piece called Embodi(ED). They also have workshops, school groups, and ensembles. When girls audition, Artistic Director and Co-Founder Ashley Marinaccio is looking for “raw talent, passion, and the potential to develop as an artist and thinker.” Most important: “someone with something to say.”

Mom & Daughter

Girl Be Heard takes it from there. “Our job is to put Miracle-Gro on these young talents,” says Greer Morris, to empower young women to become brave, socially conscious leaders in their communities. They also build lasting and invaluable community–family, really–for the girls. “Once you’re a member of Girl Be Heard…you’re with Girl Be Heard for life.” Full disclosure–my daughter (r) is a proud member of Girl Be Heard. I’m a proud mom, who also works in philanthropy and knows “making a difference” when I see it.

Girl Be Heard is the real thing. They make a difference. They change lives. And they speak to us all.

On the Red Carpet at SOHO International Film Festival

First Online With Fran got to ask the official participants and attendees of the 2015 SOHO International Film Festival how the arts play a vital role in our society. Listen to what they had to say…

Connecting Communities: as easy as ABC

The Alphabet Series at Metropolitan Playhouse

Lillian Rodriguez as Jonas Mekas
Lillian Rodriguez as Jonas Mekas

 

Jason C. Brown as Jeanise Aviles

Jason C. Brown as Jeanise Aviles

Tammy McNeill as Jimmy Webb

Tammy McNeill as Jimmy Webb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by the community of people who inhabit the East Village, Alex Roe, Artistic Director of Metropolitan Playhouse crafted the Alphabet City series, a theatrical production that captures snapshots of local personalities whose personal stories make for a fascinating dramatic presentation. For the past eleven years, Alex carries on with this endeavor to “celebrate unheralded lives in a way that is unique” through its most recent creation The Indelible, a collection of solo performances comprised of six new monologues based on interviews with locals told entirely in their own words.

The process has pretty much remained the same. Alex has the actors seek out “someone who is like them or unlike them, but [to] make a connection with them and then try to identify as best they can with that person’s aspirations, their history, their both physical manifest and more hidden selves. . . And then transform their words through a performance that tries to capture that person’s spirit into a portrait of them. And that very act of meeting someone bonding with them in a sense and then telling their story . . . is a transformative event.”

Actor Lillian Rodriguez speaks of how 92 year-old Jonas Mekas has left his “indelible” mark by founding Anthology Film Archives and “he’s just got a very unique personality and interesting story coming from Europe, escaping from a forced labor camp [and] then coming to America pursuing his dream which was to film what he loves.” Similarly, Jeanise Aviles: hair artist/color specialist/wig maker/performance artist/knit bomber personified by Jason Brown is “just an indelible character all around. Your subject has to have an indelible kind of impression on you for you to be magnetized by them and their story enough to spend all this time with them discovering them, transcribing what they say and creating a monologue around them.” Tammy McNeill as Jimmy Webb, manager and buyer at Trash and Vaudeville (AKA the punk Peter Pan), considers her subject’s unique history is how he leaves his indelible impression: “Jimmy has so much history, it’s brought him to an incredible place in his life, and he’s so much a part of the neighborhood that people recognize him. They know who he is and what he’s been through, but also how his story is a part of the culture in the East Village. His journey and his connection to the neighborhood make him unforgettable.”

Audiences are drawn to this project for its humanity. Director Chris Harcum devised the combination of monologues by focusing on each “character’s” need to tell: “It’s two-third intuition and one-third dealing with what’s being brought to you. Of these three in particular you could literally put this in any order and have something happen, to a degree.” The process is open-ended in that the selection process is entirely left up to the actors; yet, in spite of their not being “assigned a list” actors’ sensibilities guide them to achieve their objective. “Part of it is finding the right people to do this,” says Chris. “Alex trusted me with this project because I’d performed in it twice and we’ve known each other for ten years now. Each of these actors are very different actors; none of these actors have the same process; none of the actors have the same background; they all kind of attack things differently. So my process was how much do I come into this? How much do I back off? I try to steer the ship in a way of project management – this has to happen at this point and we have to have these things. I had to put the people together to make 2 evenings. I was doing that before they actually printed out the monologues. I heard some of the audio recordings at that point. ‘Well, it’s probably going to be these 3 and I’ll see if anything kind of jumps out at me to not be right about that decision and move forward from there’; and so, that’s what we did.”

And the audience experience is transformative: “It’s like ordinary people doing extraordinary things” injects Jason. “When you’re (initially interviewing) a real live human being you really don’t think about them in a theatrical context and using the arts and putting them into a theatrical context [with] the subject becoming “CHARACTER” and having a voice and speaking to the audience and imparting these messages. I think the one through-line between all 3 of these folks is they talk a lot about hope; they’re very positive; they all have these kind of aphorisms about life that are just kind of universal that the audience relates to and by theatricalizing these people they will go back in their own lives and look at people who impact them in a different way.” Tammy received a Facebook message from an audience member to say how much she enjoyed seeing her portrayal of Jimmy. She said that she would not have understood someone like that; would not have gotten to know someone like that and came away from it with a more open mind; an open heartedness. It was interesting because “I hadn’t even thought of that. I’d been so wrapped up in Jimmy’s story, and thinking ‘this guy’s so great’, that I hadn’t even considered that somebody would come in not immediately agreeing with me, not knowing who he might be.”

“We feature all kinds of people” Alex adds. “Artists, more violent people, more gentle people, healers; invariably, I think, in everyone’s life the way that they put one foot in front of the other and make their way through the world is an inspiration to people who see it. It’s a special combination of actor/storyteller who are telling someone else’s story, but in their persona. And that makes it all possible. And people who get past these superficial who they are, past their details of our history and into something that is human and aspirational, inspirational.”

It is also transformative for the actor. Alex mentioned how actors are not the same having done this project: “I would guarantee they’ll look at things a little bit differently. But when you’re really looking at someone – why did that person choose that word and going down into that really specific place and then that act of absorbing all that material and bringing that out to people. The challenge is not everybody can do this. I think at different places they were challenged to a point of – in a way that they have not been previously and it was something that in some ways really makes you confront yourself in a different way. And so I feel like this will carry on with them in whatever they may do in the future.”

Connecting individuals to each other not only sustains the mission of this project at Metropolitan Playhouse, and one that “we’ll continue to do as an important part of our season,” asserts Alex, but also impacts those communities beyond the East Village: “What has really excited me most is that actors who have done it before have taken it elsewhere and disseminated it as if it were another community. One of the people who went off and did this, as I remember, did it for a camp for LGBT high school students and it was extremely meaningful to them to connect with their own identity and the other people that they interviewed. I’ve heard of other people doing it with family members, particularly, or with homeless members of their community.

Theater provides an opportunity for audiences to witness ordinary people doing extraordinary things and as an Artistic Director, Alex Roe envisions “using this art to not only do all the things that theater does – create a space for ritual performance for a society to examine itself, but actually connect people to one another . . . so that everybody in the room feels that connection whatever they do is incredibly exciting to me. If I could see that happen elsewhere with different communities and see more communities find the virtue in this art and how it brings them together and softens their hearts, brings them to tears and transforms them, then I can’t really imagine anything else I’d rather see and have it go.”

It’s as simple as A-B-C.

East Side Stories
The Indelible
April 14 – May 3, 2015
Metropolitan Playhouse
http://www.metropolitanplayhouse.org/

That’s How Angels Arranged
Written and performed by Lillian Rodriguez as Jonas Mekas,
Filmmaker, poet, and artist. Founder the Film-Makers’ Cooperative and the Film Makers’ Cinematheque, now the Anthology Film Archives http://www.jonasmekas.com

COLORBOMB!
Written and performed by Jason Brown as Jeanise Aviles
Hair Artist/Color Specialist/Wig Maker/Performance Artist/Knit Bomber

Gimme Life
Written and performed by Tammy McNeill as Jimmy Webb
Manager and buyer at Trash and Vaudeville (A.K.A. the punk Peter Pan)

Christ Harcum, Director
Alex Roe, Artistic Director

Continuing the Conversation with. . . Marisa Vitali, actor/screenwriter/producer

SOHO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL WINNER
SOHO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL WINNER

In 2013, Marisa Vitali, Alysia Reiner and I sat down to talk about GRACE, the movie:  its message, its momentum and its moving evolutionary progress.  To bring you all up to date on GRACE, the movie, now with a SOHO International Film Festival premiere, Marisa and I talked about the inspirational arc of this project.

Here are some clips from our conversation:

Fran:  Oh my goodness.  It’s been quite a while since our last interview.  And it looks like you’re on fast forward here and I’m so excited about GRACE being at the Soho International Film Festival. So, how did it get there? What happened?

Marisa:  I’m really excited, too; actually, it’s like a week away, at this point. Just through the festival submission process.  Soho was on my list of festivals that I wanted to submit to right here in NYC and just patiently waited to hear back.

Fran:  When did you hear?

 M:  I think it was probably about the second week in March which is awesome because most festivals you hear back from like 3 weeks before the festival.  So, I feel that I’ve had enough time to prepare for the festival and the festival run.  So I’m really excited about that.

F:  And this is the first time you’re doing

 M:  Yes, this is the first time GRACE is coming out into the world.  Yes. It’s her premier; we’ll be screening here in New York and really I’m just kind of over the moon about it.  I can’t believe it’s happening.  It’s surreal.

F:  And it is happening!  And now that it’s happening, how about some updates? How has this process given you clarity in terms of your objective?

 M:  I realize more and more that this film is not my film in the fact that I realize it’s so much bigger than me.  And, yes, I’ve taken all the actions I could possibly take in having her come out into the world, to tell this story, and show up for her.  But at the end of the day, it’s totally in God’s hands, you know, and I really, really truly believe that.  And I feel that as I’ve gone on this journey since we last spoke I see that and believe that, and have trust in that more and more.

F:  And in terms of your original intent of this movie, about this movie being about a movie about hope and about celebration.  Could you talk a little bit about that?

 M:  I really feel that there is a billion dollar industry built around the problem of addiction and I really want to be part of the solution.  And in talking with a lot of people it’s always kind of brought up about addiction and the problem and I really want to change that and talk about the solution.  I feel that in being in the hope and being GRACE, a story of recovery, it kind of allows us to settle into that conversation.

F:  What is it about film, as a genre, that can affect change and achieve that objective?

 M:  I think there is something to be said about sitting in a dark room filled with people you know and people you don’t know, and it being comforting in a way.  But, at the same time having your own experience watching a story unfold and that it’s safe to be able to kind of go on this journey and to find identification with these characters and kind of see how you really feel about addiction, and recovery, and like what you question, and what you think about it. And the fact that you are in this dark room with all of these people, it’s safe to explore your own feelings about that.

F:  How is GRACE  your way to measure success by taking positive action?

 M:  It’s so interesting that you say that because going into the last week before the festival is really what I’ve been sitting with is this idea of celebration.  I have really truly come to understand that every tear, every joy, every defeat, every victory in my life has been leading me to this one point.  Of GRACE.  And so, with that thought that I’ve been sitting with is just kind of being open to that kind of experience.  And really celebrating that life which has led me to this point.

F:  People have watched your film.  How do you know GRACE has already been a success by taking positive action?

M:  Well, I can share one story in the fact that there was a young man that had seen the film and it was in a business situation so he had seen the film and I was speaking with someone else, and there was no comment, no feedback given about the film and then when the other person was no longer present this person began to share with me his own journey of sobriety and how only his family knows about it and how professionally he hasn’t come out and shared it with anyone.  I just thought that was so beautiful that here is this stranger that I’m somewhat working with who felt comfortable enough to share his own experience and his own journey and how he was moved by GRACE and that in itself touched me so much.  I felt that by sharing GRACE with him that he had an opportunity to kind of come out and share his experience.  Intellectually, you know that will happen that’s what you desire to happen when you’re creating something, but not until you’re actually in that moment with that person and just sharing that unspoken bond does it really have a whole effect kind of thing.  And it was just so beautiful.  We kind of just stood in silence and we both shared a tear and a hug and it was like I didn’t even need to know all the details of his story.  We just both knew.  I think that is the beauty of recovery and being on the other side of all of this and what I shared with this young man is that bringing compassion to this disease and allowing ourselves to feel that much more comfortable talking about it, expressing our feelings about it.  I think that’s really beautiful.

F:  And you’re really beautiful.  See you on the red carpet!

http://www.grace-the-movie.com/

http://www.grace-the-movie.com/trailer

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