The Theater of Everything: It’s All About the People

-Written by Shelby Pickelny

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.  ~Oscar Wilde

In the theater of politics, people are everything. Like live theater, production is made possible by a team of technical engineers, creative designers, directors, and actors, and the pivotal component that constitutes theater – both dramatic and political – is an audience. 

Now more than ever, in the dawn of the coming presidential election, and in the midst of the ongoing global pandemic, it is important to think critically and with compassion. To act in the best interest of one person or one group is not what benefits the public on a larger scale. Namely, today’s political, social, and economic climate calls attention to the pertinent issue of immigration reform.

In the modern political stage, immigration is a signature issue for President Trump, and a point of contention between his administration and the American audience. One of the most notable and devastating policies Trump enacted was his zero-tolerance policy for illegal border crossings in 2018 that displaced 2,500 minors from their parents and caregivers. (After enough support from the Republicans, Democrats, and other worldly leaders like Pope Francis, Trump eventually signed a policy that prohibited the separation of families moving forward.) Even still, by 2021 he will have reduced legal immigration by 49% since becoming president. A 2020 Forbes article Reviews Trump’s Immigration Policy:  “Reducing legal immigration most harms refugees, employers and Americans who want to live with their spouses, parents or children, but it also affects the country’s future labor force and economic growth: “Average annual labor force growth, a key component of the nation’s economic growth, will be approximately 59% lower as a result of the administration’s immigration policies, if the policies continue,” according to the National Foundation for American Policy.” For a consolidated, non-partisan list of the presidential candidates and their positions on global issues, click here.

Many Americans fail to understand the hardships of being permanently separated from your family. Of course that’s a hard pill to swallow (especially if you have the luxury of benefiting under the current socio-political machine). 

This is the benefit of theater: it is the priority of the dramatic arts to communicate one person’s truth to another. 

María Irene Fornés, a cuban-American playwright of the 20th century, puts her emigration experience to the United States on the table. Seen throughout her over 30 plays, musicals, and operas, Fornés uses her characters, their energies, and the space that exists around them to offer her audience a vantage point into misunderstood lives that would otherwise go unknown.  In her autobiographical play Letters from Cuba, the exchange of letters between a brother who remains in Cuba and his sister in New York establishes an emotional undercurrent that conveys the loneliness of a family divided by borders. 

The play is set in both New York and Cuba. Inside of a small apartment, Fran (whom Fornés claims is her alter-ego) and her two roommates Marc and Joseph convey the epitome of NYC living: contemplating life and death and wondering how to make good art inside of an apartment that’s shared between three roommates. On the roof of the apartment is Cuba. The set proposes physical barriers to the characters who long to be reunited, and juxtaposes the differences in freedom, in separation, and in their sense of home.

Production photo from the Chicago premier of Letters from Cuba at the Halcyon Theater in 2010.

Fornés awards us some answers. With the one of two other characters who are in Cuba, Luis tells us why not. Why not just move to America? Why not just visit? The reasons, of course, are complex. “For some it’s harder to leave… separating ourselves from what we know… and [what is] close to our hearts,” he says.  

In an interview with the New York Times back in 2000, Fornés reflects on her brother’s choice to stay in Cuba, noting that, “it has to do with attachment… Usually you love a person and you cannot live without them. People have an attachment to their animals, their dogs, there’s a love there. But the love for place is so hard and so beautiful.” On an emotional level, he is content enough to stay in Cuba despite missing the rest of his family. What Fornés leaves to the audience to infer is the unavoidable risk that emigrating imposes under the communist regime of Fidel Castro. 

“But the love for place is so hard and so beautiful.”

  • María Irene Fornés

To juxtapose the appreciation and contentment Luis has for his home in Cuba, Marc, Fran’s American roommate, suggests that he and Joseph should value life more. They dismiss the possibility of a heaven, a place where they would want to go but deem impossible, and conclude that life is valuable because, “Death is a fact.” Void of any feelings of attachment to the cosmetics of their shoebox apartment, the boys only pine after a romantic love they, too, feel is inaccessible to them. In the space where her characters want what they can’t have, Fornés highlights the emotional desires and realistic shortcomings immigrants and Americans experience together.

Today, in the dawn of the 2020 Presidential election and the continued calamities of the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to bear in mind the truths of American immigrants and the emotional importance that rests in staying connected to your loved ones. By communicating your emotions and holding space for others’s experiences, one can find a piece of theater wherever they go (or in whatever they write).

References:

https://halcyontheatre.org/productions/alcyone10/lettersfromcuba

Mask-Debate. New Normal.

COVID-19: The mask debate

As lockdown eases down and we become used to the “new normal” we still have to remind ourselves that the pandemic is far from over.

With fresh cases are being recorded every day, a lot of countries are now making face covering mandatory. In the UK alone, the government is investing £14m for firms to make ‘million face masks’ a week.

Whatever your thoughts about masks, whether your argument public health, civil liberties and personal freedom, prevention is always better than cure.

 

Check out below how to wear your mask properly.

Jessie Fahay

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Ripple Effect Artists Remounts a Performance to honor the African American Experience.

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Hello to all,

 

In light of the recent murder of George Floyd, we at Ripple Effect Artists are remounting a Spoken-Word Performance from 2018 via the radio–www.wpkn.org.   In her expository life stories and provocative poetry, Dawn Speaks will give a full spectrum of her life as an African American woman both personally and professionally.   When listening, we laugh, we cry, and we can begin to understand.   We are so honored to have Dawn perform with Ripple Effect Artists and WPKN.org.  Tune in to http://www.wpkn.org on Saturday, July 11th at 2PM.

 

We would also like to introduce this website/resource to all:

https://gottostopllc.com

Erika Ewing, The Founder of GOT TO STOP will be speaking during this Radio show.

Thank you all for following Ripple Blog Talk.

 

“Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.” -Martin Luther King.

 

 

 

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It delights us to announce that multi-ethnic writer and director Jonathan Libman will direct our production of ROSE COLORED GLASS.

 
Born and raised in New York City, his plays include Accidents Waiting to Happen, Please Leave the Light On, The Metro Section, The Men Upstairs, Self-Generated Friction, The Haitian Sensation, Shall I Fetch the Apparatus and other one acts. 
 
Recently Johnathan has been directing THE MUSHROOM CURE written and performed by Adam Strauss at The Cherry Lane Theater.
 
“I am usually interested in stories and characters who get overlooked, marginalised or worse. I will never ignore or deprive character of their essence and language because that is their in my lifehood,”.
 
We cannot wait to see what Johnathan does with our production of Sue Bigelow and Janice L. Goldberg’s Rose Colored Glass in July 2020.

 

Seasons Greetings!

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Season greetings to you all!

 

All of us at Ripple effect Artists want to send everyone an enormous thank you for supporting us on Giving Tuesday (4th December). Together we raised over $4000 from Tuesday alone.

 

 

However big or small your donation, this achievement was all because of you!

 

 

Your money now means we are much closer to producing our rendition of Rose Color Glass next year. All profits from our production will benefit The Road to Hope [https://www.theroadtohope.org], a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting self-sustaining development in Haiti, with a special emphasis on protecting children.

 

 

 

Simply put, if it wasn’t for faithful supporters, we wouldn’t exist. So thank you again for granting the funds for our next production that we need to make a difference in the lives children, families, and communities break the cycle of poverty in the US and Haiti.

 

We will keep you all posted on everything related to this production in 2020.

 

Again we could not thank you enough. Enjoy the holidays and have a happy new year.

 

Image : https://pixabay.com/photos/french-fries-potato-thank-you-18726/

Happy Almost Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving: An American Immigrant tale

 

 

 

Autumn is now in full swing and it’s the time of the year we give thanks.

 

 

 

We thank our veterans and serving military for 2 minutes every November 11 and at the end of the month we celebrate thanksgiving.

 

 

 

The Pilgrims celebrated “First Thanksgiving” October 1621. It’s the original American immigration story. Europeans came to another country with no support, no idea if it would work. All they knew it was going to a better opportunity. When things got bad, the locals with food welcomed them. It was the first harvest and success story for these immigrants.

 

 

 

It’s a story we tell and carrying on this story every year of thanks. It’s a tradition that came from a dinner that happened nearly 400 years ago.

 

 

 

Over the next year we at ripple effects Artists will carry on with our immigration stories. With award-winning writer Ina Chadwick’s “where the streets a paved with gold” evening on November 18th {https://ripple-effect-artists-inc.ticketleap.com/when-the-streets/dates/Nov-18-2019_at_0800PM} to our production of Sue Bigelow and Janice Goldberg ROSE COLORED GLASS in 2020.

 

 

 

Join us to make ripples and Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Launch of Season 10. How do we practice ethical and responsible immigration?

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As we take on Story-Telling events and go into our 10th season, there is much to share!

We launch our season with the event above in which with a mix of poetry, music, and story-telling, we will hear heartwarming and poetic tales of immigration.  This year, we will continue to share stories, facts, and details about the topic of immigration and how to make the biggest impact in the year 2020.

 

We would like to pay a special acknowledgment to Board Member, Ina Chadwick who put this important event together.

 

Thank you for reading!

 

 

Spotlight on Designer of 2071 Al Kucsar

FROST SET PIX

This set from FROST/NIXON is one of the many designs of our featured Set Designer of “2071: The  World We’ll Leave Our Grandchildren.”

Alexander Kulcsar has been designing sets for the stage since 1993, and has been resident set designer for Rainbow Theatre in Stamford, CT (an Equity company), and Square One Theatre in Stratford, CT. He is a also a graphic designer, writer, actor, documentarian and videographer. In 2015 he received an award from Square One for Outstanding Contribution to the Theatre.

SET FOR FROST/NIXON (2013, Westport Community Theatre; directed by Bob Johnson).  What I liked most about this set was its flexibility for becoming many different locations with minimal furnishing; the platforms Right and Left gave characters who commented on the action an elevated space; the pixelated design on the back wall opened to allow entrances and exits. The live video screen was not as big as I liked, but I think it all worked well with our small space and limited resources.

Al, we thank you for your extensive work with Ripple Effect Artists and your commitment to our mission.

One last chance to see these amazing designs in Ripple Effect Artists’ Production of 2071 on August 29th!

Link HERE.

Here’s to designers creating ripples….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on our Lead actor of 2071–Robert Meksin

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With such a vast array of theatrical experience and passion for his work, we are proud to produce Robert Meksin!

This show marks Robert’s debut with Ripple Effect Artists. Theatrical
credits include Off-Broadway appearances in the title role of The
Canterville Ghost and performances in workshops with Playwrights
Horizons and Ensemble Studio Theatre. Performances in regional
theaters and various venues outside of NYC include: Great Lakes Theater
(OH), Cleveland Play House, Gretna Theatre (PA), Virginia Shakespeare
Festival, Greenbrier Valley Theatre (WV), Bagaduce Theatre (ME), and
Playwrights Theater of NJ. Festival appearances include: NYC Fringe,
Strindberg NY, FringeArts (Philadelphia), GayFest NYC, EstroGenius
(NYC), and West Village Musical Theatre. His Off-Off Broadway credits
consist of numerous roles, some of which are Buckingham (Richard III),
Autolycus (The Winter’s Tale), and Vanya (Uncle Vanya). Robert’s film
and TV work includes the lead role in Blind Date, winner of the Alliance
Media Northeast award. Robert is a member of The WorkShop Theater, in
NYC, AEA and SAG-AFTRA.

 

We are thrilled to have him!