Lady Liberty’s Worst Day Ever: Art Imitating Life? Life Imitating Art?

Art Imitating Life? Life Imitating Art?  LADY LIBERTY’S WORST DAY EVER, by Monica Bauer.  Lady Liberty played by MOI who’s told by her agent, Vinnie, played by J. Dolan Byrnes that she’s been bought by Trump and is being rebranded.  Tickets to the LADY LIBERTY FESTIVAL http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2579422 Runs September 7-25th at Urban Stages Theater. 
Cartoon Liberty

Former Northport teacher impacts students decade after retiring

League of Professional Theatre Frances McGarry taught English and theater in the Northport-East Northport school district until 2004. Her former students include Tony and Emmy winner Edie Falco, a graduate of Northport High School and a star of “The Sopranos” and “Nurse Jackie.” Photo Credit: Blanche Mackey image[1]

Updated June 18, 2016 10:18 AM
By Joe Diglio  joe.diglio@newsday.com

The biggest piece of advice Frances McGarry gave students over the course of her 30-year teaching career — take risks and don’t be afraid of failure — was crystalized in one young man who overcame his fears and found his voice.

McGarry said an eighth-grade student she once had was terrified of a public speaking assignment because of a speech impediment. His mother asked that he not participate, but McGarry refused. She worked with him to overcome his barriers.

“By the end of the year, he was speaking freely and confidently,” McGarry said. The student had revealed himself to be “a bright kid who had a lot to share and was eager to voice his opinions.”

McGarry, who taught English and theater in the Northport-East Northport Union Free School District until 2004, said she was fortunate to come across many students with whom she could share her passion of literature and the arts. Often, the roles between McGarry and her students reversed.

“The honors English classes’ literary discussions kept me on my feet and taught me to listen and guide their queries and observations,” McGarry said.

A decade after retiring, though, McGarry still is heavily involved in both teaching and theater. She continues to work as an actress, most recently performing in the off-Broadway musical “Votes.” As a board member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, she serves as a mentor to young actresses. McGarry also runs an arts advocacy blog called “First Online with Fran.”

She said it’s been rewarding to see her impact on those she taught.

One former student went on to become a famous actress of stage and screen. In a 2013 Broadway.com interview, she said McGarry was the teacher who inspired her to pursue acting.

High praise for the teacher, but to McGarry, she was still Edie Falco, the shy teenager who graduated from Northport High School. McGarry said she maintains a relationship with the former “Sopranos” star to this day and attends many of her performances.

“She’s just ‘Edie’ to me,” McGarry said.

Other students have reached out to her over the years, submitting testimonials on her blog about how the arts — and McGarry — have transformed their lives. Considering her continued involvement in theater and the lasting connections she has maintained with her students, it’s no wonder McGarry said she doesn’t miss teaching.

“I’m always amazed at the lives I’ve touched,” McGarry said. “There are so many paybacks to being a teacher.”

Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series on the careers of retired Long Island teachers and where they are now. If you are a retired Long Island teacher and would like to share your story, click on the Newsday  link.

 

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.

The Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University Honor Teachers with the Excellence in Theatre Education Award

Behind every great performance is inspiration, and behind that inspiration is a great teacher. Carnegie Mellon University and the Tony Awards have announced Corey Mitchell, theater arts teacher at the Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, N.C., as the inaugural winner of the Excellence in Theatre Education Award.

This special honor recognizes a K-12 theatre educator in the U.S. who has demonstrated monumental impact on the lives of students and who embodies the highest standards of the profession. More than 4,000 applications were received for this year’s educator award.

Mitchell, a 20-year veteran of the classroom, receives the Excellence in Theatre Education Award during the 69th Annual Tony Awards telecast on June 7, 2015.

Testimonial #39: David McGinnis, Theatre Professor

I would never have finished high school without it. Period. I have no idea what I would be doing without theatre.”

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?

To be blunt, I only finished high school because of arts, and I definitely only pursued postsecondary and further education because arts were an option. Focusing on high school, though, I was not what you might call the “well-behaved” student…or even the usually present one. I attended when I felt like it and did what work I felt like until I discovered the interconnectedness of the arts with other disciplines. I then studied physics in high school because I wanted to learn how to build better set pieces and operate/repair lighting equipment. I buckled down and focused on my writing and literary studies because I kept stumbling upon references in the theatre and I wanted to understand them more fully. I worked harder on math because of its usefulness in the shop. I even began to care more about PE because I needed to stay fit in order to keep performing some of the work that the theatre required. I found myself more interested in my economics and civics studies because of the prevalence of such thought in theatrical literature, and beginning my 11th grade year, I even began to opt into courses like psychology for no more reason than the curiosity that I developed because of arts, theatre in particular. I would never have finished high school without it. Period. I have no idea what I would be doing without theatre, but because of what I gained from it, I am now a theatre professor, and I find that what I received is not at all an uncommon gift. Education without arts quite literally is education without passion, and education without passion prepares the learned arm for bondage.