Meet WalkUpArts and odysseus tied to the masT

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Tell us about you. 
WalkUpArts is a theatre company founded in 2014. We are dedicated to exploring the audience-artist relationship through multi-disciplinary, intimate, and communal experiences and creating a space for people to make eye contact in. The core WalkUpArts team is Audrey Frischman, Matt Engle, Stefanie Harris, and myself, Philip Santos Schaffer. For odysseus tied to the masT, we are working with Sarah Stites (director) and Andres Santiago Pina (performer). We also have a team that has been working on all five shows, including Taylor Riccio (set), Jorge Olivo (sound), Christopher Cancel-Pomales (light), Maureen Freedman (costume), and Anna Woodruff (dramaturg). Our stage manager is Dan Kelly. I’m a theatre artist, and the writer of the five plays in this series. I am interested in creating theatrical events in which the audience’s participation is a vital part of the success of the production. I recently graduated with my MFA in Dramaturgy from Columbia University, and outside of WalkUpArts, I am the incoming Literary and Community Manager of Pipeline Theatre Company and an Artistic Associate, Associate Archivist, and Ensemble Member with The Living Theatre.
Tell us about your current project? 
odysseus tied to the masT is the fifth play in SMALL PLAYS FOR GIANTS – a five play series of highly interactive solo performances for intimate audiences, which we have been producing between February and July of this year. Odysseus is determined to hear the sirens’ song. But first, he needs the audience’s help to ensure he won’t jump to his death. odysseus tied to the masT is a play about the drive for immortality and the desire to control our own legacies. Can the blood-soaked Odysseus survive the experience of absolute beauty, and if he does, will he finally feel clean enough to return home? In the words of the director, “It’s like an Instagram Live story about what Odysseus is thinking before he listens to the sirens! It’s also like the “Blow winds!” monologue from Lear! It’s also like a Drake video (well, things to aspire to…)!”
Where are you performing your show and why is it a good fit for your production? 
3 of the 5 plays in SMALL PLAYS FOR GIANTS, including odysseus, have been or will be performed at The Tank (the other two tour to audience members’ bathtubs and closets). The Tank has been an ideal space for us to work in for this series. The folks at The Tank have always been incredibly welcoming, and have worked with us to make sure we are able to bring our plays to life in all the ways we envision. It’s exciting to be in the building, there’s a constant buzz and energy, and it’s thrilling to be a part of it all. I also have to mention that the design team for this series is absolutely doing an amazing job in transforming the theatre and world of the play with each performance we do. For this one, they’ve completely upended the “normal” layout and set-up of the theatre, and created a vivid and wonderful world for the audience to step in to. I’m really excited for enter into what they have created.
What’s next for you? 
This is the last play in SMALL PLAYS FOR GIANTS, and closes out our season. Our next step is to talk about the past five months, figure out what worked, and make our next plans. We’ve always got projects in the works, and at any time any one of them may spring up and become the next big thing, but we haven’t committed to anything just yet. Personally, I’m excited to have time to focus on some writing projects that I’ve had to put on hold as I focused on editing and producing the past few months. I’ve had a nice research and gestation period (which is to say, I read books that may be influential on the train and before I fall asleep), and I feel ready to begin putting that into action.
What is the name of the last show you saw? 
Outside of WalkUpArts, I’m also a part of Pipeline Theatre Company, and I saw five play readings that came out of the PlayLab, at the Jefferson Market Library. These plays came out of a year of development with Pipeline, and it was really exciting to see completed drafts of plays I’ve been seeing bits and pieces of all year!
Any advice for your peers?
My peers have taught me a whole lot of what I “know,” so I’m not sure what I have to teach them back. I will say this – a lot of my best projects have started off as my worst ideas. The WalkUpArts tagline is “Follow your what-ifs,” and I think this mentality has brought us far. We try to jump on the dream, and sometimes it works in ways that none of us can initially imagine. Certainly doing five plays over the course of six months seemed to be an impossible task when we first started talking about it. But here we are, about to open the last play in the series. And it’s definitely been exhausting, but also one of the best experiences of my life.

Show Information:

Dates: July 14, 2018, 9:30 p.m. July 17, 2018, 7 p.m. July 19, 2018, 9:30 p.m. July 23, 2018, 7 p.m.
Venue: The Tank 312 West 36th Street / First Floor / New York, NY 10018

Festival Lineup Announced for Speak Up, Rise Up

Festival Lineup Announced for
Speak Up, Rise Up
Second Annual Storytelling Festival to Play The Tank, August 6 – 12
Speak Up, Rise Up, is pleased to announce their festival lineup which features a diverse group of over 100 artists featuring a wide range of ethnicities and races with the majority of the performers being women.
Now in its second year, Speak Up, Rise Up will present a diverse range of topics on The Tanks two stages with multiple shows running in the evening and on the weekend. Playing August 6 – 12, Speak Up, Rise Up, aims to amplify the voices of communities and people we don’t often hear from.
The festival will present over 40 shows with a wide range of topics and performers including WNYC’s Nancy Podcast, 15 year-old storyteller Maeve Press, comic/storyteller Josh Johnson whose credits include The Tonight Show and comedy specials with Comedy Central and Netflix, Drae Campbell’s Tell and Bobby Hankinson’s  KWEENDON, both shows feature evenings of Queer Storytelling, Average Women with Average Rage featuring Leah Bonnema, Ophira Eisenberg, and Negin Farsad, Sydnee Washington’s solo show, Death of a Bottle Girl, OutsideIn – a storytelling show that focuses on the prison system, Shalewa Sharpe’s solo show Don’t Reach in the Bag, and Comedy Central and HBO comic Aparna Nancherla, among many other talented performers.
Spotify is the lead sponsor of this years Speak Up, Rise Up Festival.
2018 Lineup
Monday, August 6 
Main Stage @ 6:30 pm
NYC Veterans Alliance – Community Showcase
The NYC Veterans Alliance achieves community wellness and access to services for all veterans in New York City and beyond, regardless of service era or discharge status. We empower veterans, families, and civilian allies to connect as a community, advocate for improved policies, and advance as civic leaders. The showcase will feature Veteran’s sharing their stories onstage.
Side Stage @ 7:00 pm
Tell, Queer Storytelling Show – Storytelling
Curated & hosted by Drae Campbell
TELL is a queer storytelling show featuring a line-up of queer folks telling their own stories on their own terms. The storytellers include Danielle Earle,
Azure D. Osborne-Lee, David Reyes, Sara Jane Stoner, and Foxy Squire.
Main Stage @ 8:00 pm
Average Women with Average Rage – Storytelling
Written & performed by Leah Bonnema, Ophira Eisenberg, and Negin Farsad.
Three of New York City’s best comics blend personal stories with political commentary as they attempt to dismantle the patriarchy in one 60-minute show. (You know women, such overachievers…)
Side Stage @ 9:00 pm
I’m Just Fine – Solo show
Written & performed by Nina Mozes
A stand-up style solo show that asks you to laugh at my pain. Pain is a personal and private experience, but it is also universal. So, let’s talk about it. And joke about it. Because when we laugh, nothing hurts.
Main Stage @ 9:30 pm
Calvin Cato Has Daddy Issues – Solo show
Written & performed by Calvin Cato
Watch Calvin S. Cato work out his daddy issues in real time as he tells a tale of unfortunate hookups, misleading mentors, and a formative moment with his dad that will change his life.
Tuesday, August 7 
Side Stage @ 7:00 pm
It’s nice to feel wanted – Solo show
Written & performed by Sammie James
Comedian Sammie explores some of the more awkward and in some cases traumatic experiences. Bad dates, bad relationships, health issues, and uncomfortable conversations, are all in there and yeah, some silly jokes about animals and movies will be there too.
Main Stage @ 8:00 pm
WNYC’s Nancy Podcast live show – Storytelling/Podcast
With Tobin Low and Kathy Tu
Nancy is a critically-acclaimed podcast featuring queer stories and conversations, and hosted by two best friends, neither of whom are named Nancy. It’s a podcast about how we define ourselves, and the journey it takes to get there.
Main Stage @ 9:30 pm
Faith No More – Solo show
Written and performed by Matthew Dicks
A boy whose faith in God is absolute finds himself suddenly lost after his faith in a higher power is tragically stripped away. As he becomes a man, he struggles for the return of his faith as the universe attempts to kill him (literally) at seemingly every turn.
Wednesday, July 8
Main Stage @ 6:00 pm
No One Left Behind – Community Showcase
No One Left Behind helps America’s Wartime Allies with Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) resettle safely in the United States. They bridge the gap that exists between current State Department and NGO refugee relief programs, and provide assistance with housing, employment and cultural adaptation. They treat their clients as the heroic veterans they are.
Side Stage @ 7:00 pm
Woody’s Order! Concert Version – Solo show
Written & performed by Ann Talman
How can you live your own destiny if you’re “Woody’s Order!”, and have been told since birth that your destiny is to be thy brother’s keeper? A screening of the documentary with excerpts of the play introduces Ann, Woody, Mom, Dad, Elizabeth Taylor, and special souls who helped Ann come to grips with what real destiny means.
Main Stage @ 8:00 pm
Late Night Talkers – Variety Show
Hosted & curated by Chelsea Davison
Writers and performers from late night TV share stand-up and stories in a show you don’t have to stay up late for. LINEUP: Chelsea Davison (The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon), Alingon Mitra (Conan), Aaron Jackson (The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper), Alison Leiby (The President Show).Late Night Talkers
Side Stage @ 9:00 pm
Come Fly with me! Let’s fly away! – Storytelling
Curated & hosted by Tarik Daniels
They say you shouldn’t run away from your problems but sometimes your problems are due to horrible people or a terrible place. All storytellers will tell a tale about running away from what they knew wasn’t good for them. They all escaped to have a brighter, more beautiful life.
Main Stage @ 9:30
You Got Left – Solo show
Written & performed by Andrew Collin
When Andrew Collin was 24, he made over $250,000 in one deal. He was working in Florida real estate during the wild days of the early 2000s. But when the recession hit, Andrew found himself scrambling to find the next big score. You’ll laugh and shake your head along with this tale of fancy cars, bottle service and paper bags full of cash.
Thursday, July 9
Main Stage @ 6:30 pm
Center for Popular Democracy – Community Showcase
The Center for Popular Democracy works to create equity, opportunity and a dynamic democracy in partnership with high-impact base-building organizations, organizing alliances, and progressive unions. CPD strengthens our collective capacity to envision and win an innovative pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda.
Side Stage @ 7:00 pm
The Sound of MUltiple SensItivities to Chemicals – Solo show
Written & performed by Jacqueline Peters
Jackie was an extroverted gal until a mold exposure left her sick, hypersensitive to chemicals, and spending way too much time home alone with just her imagination for company. Join her as she escapes into the things that comfort her: singing, laughing, the Sound of Music, and being the center of attention
Main Stage @ 8:00 pm
Aparna Nancherla – Stand-up/Storytelling
Written & performed by Aparna Nancherla
Catch Aparna Nancherla before she goes on her Fall tour. Aparna’s credits include a comedy special with Netflix, performing on Two Dope Queens on HBO and was the voice of Hollyhock on the most recent season of Bojack Horseman. Other acting credits include Crashing, Master of None, Love, and Inside Amy Schumer. Aparna was also named one of “The 50 Funniest People Right Now” by Rolling Stone. She also co-hosted the 2018 Women’s March Rally in NYC.
Side Stage @ 9:00 pm
SELFISH JUSTICE – Two 30-minute Stories
Written & performed by Courtney Antonioli & Lindsay Hoffman
Lindsay Hoffman’s aggressive leap into real responsibility. She builds the Teen Center with the help of her friends in her hometown of Clawson, Michigan. A place where teens can be themselves, create art, find themselves, and have a team of dedicated people there to help them through the process of growing up. Join her through bouts with the city council, superiors, parents and schools. She and the community fight to keep one of the greatest achievements of her life alive and untouched.
Courtney Antonioli asks, why can you MagicBand turkey legs, but not tampons in the women’s restrooms in Disney World?  When will society embrace periods as valid experience that needs to be recognized?  What happens when women stop accepting the menstruation as their “burden” and start to hold men and companies accountable? This happens.
Main Stage 9:30 pm
Written & performed by Shalewa Sharpe
A young woman applies for a job at an adult video store because she figures the dress code will be lax. Such naivete. Shalewa Sharpe presents a show about growing and showing, inspired by her six-year stint at a porn store.
Friday, July 10
Side Stage @ 7:00 pm
Our True Voice Now: stories of resistance from New Jersey – Storytelling
Hosted & curated by Angel Ling
Four suburban Jersey women share heartfelt, personal stories of what it has meant to be “woke” since November 2016. How are we likely/unlikely political organizers and leaders, at this moment in our American history? We will share stories of success, pitfalls, and of personal becoming. Stories by Rachel Barry, Lisa Ferraro, Rachel Goldstein, and Angel Ling.
Main Stage @ 8:00 pm
I’m Choking (and other excuses to leave a party) – Solo show
Written & performed by Josh Johnson
Whether it was the wedding of someone we don’t like, or the housewarming of someone we don’t know, we’ve all been at that point at a party where we ask ourselves… what am I doing here? What Josh answer those questions for himself, and maybe for you too. From hilarious surprises to accidental deaths he’ll cover all the reasons you’d want to leave a party, and the reasons you might want to stay.
Main Stage @ 9:30 pm
College Sucks! – Solo show
Written & performed by Anita Flores
Turns out, college isn’t like the movies. This show illustrates the comedic high and lows of what it’s like to attend 4 different colleges. From a small, overpriced private school to a “party school” to NYU, one thing’s for sure: Sallie Mae is a bitch. This is one woman’s journey finding a place to belong.
Saturday, July 11
Main Stage @ 12:00 pm
Stage the Change – Storytelling
Written & performed by Stage the Change Players (A troupe of high school students from Long Island)
Stage the Change is an organization dedicated to enabling high school students to use their voices to make a difference in the world. Through creativity and mentoring these students began to create a body of work that expresses their ideas and approaches issues of race, social justice, gender and sexual equality, bullying and a variety of other social and emotional issues that influence their lives.
Side Stage @ 1:00 pm
The ‘Hoodwink – Solo show
Written & performed by Melanee Murray-Hunt
Albie Davis is a singer with a heart of soul.  But the world doesn’t seem to be ready for Albie’s blend of outspoken word, creative freedom and righteous take on pop culture, hip-hop and hair weaves.
Main Stage @ 2:00 pm
MASHUP- Stories Into Song – Storytelling
Hosted & curated by Jude Treder-Wolff
Great stories have words, ideas and an emotional energy which create a kind of music. In this show some of New York’s finest storytellers perform, followed by an original song co-written by writer/performer and singer/songwriter Jude Treder-Wolff and composer Wells Hanley which was inspired by their story. Storytellers include Robin Bady, Richard Cardillo, Michele Carlo, and Vernon Payne.
Side Stage @ 3:00 pm
That’s Not How It Happened – Solo show
Written & performed by Colleen Hindsley
Colleen began her journey in storytelling a few years ago after the deaths of her parents, two larger-than-life figures who raised her and five older siblings in and around their Irish pub. It was a childhood spent listening to the wild stories of the characters there – Colleen’s parents being the most important of them all.
Main Stage @ 4:00 pm
Lil’ Mama – Solo show
Written & performed by Emily Reese
The only child in a town of six residents, Reese, was raised by her bear hunter father, Zeus, and her artist mother, Mary Jo. Reese takes us on a memorable trip through pivotal moments in her life. Her story is sure to be unlike any you’ve heard before. ​
Main Stage @ 6:00 pm
Women of Color for Progress – Community Showcase
Women of Color for Progress (WCP) is a multi-strategy political organization founded by women of color for women of color. WCP empowers women of color to excel, lead, represent, and be heard. Ultimately, WCP hopes to not only elect women of color into public office but also create a pipeline of women of color political leaders.
Side Stage @ 5:00 pm
Trampoline – Solo show
Written & performed by Christina Blacken
Christina Blacken is a storyteller, performer, and founder of, a platform + consultancy with 1M social media impressions to date that teaches storytelling for change. Her stories showcase the subtle ways we other one another through our beliefs and are inspired by her experience growing up as an extreme minority in Utah. As a Utah native & NYC resident for the past 9 years, she knows far more uses for jello than she’d like to admit.
Side Stage @ 7:00 pm
Singleling – Storytelling/Podcast
Vanessa Valerio
Singleling is a podcast and live series show that showcases love and dating stories from regular people around the world and the best comedians and storytellers in the country.
Main Stage @ 8:00 pm
Death of a Bottle Girl – Solo show
Written & performed by Sydnee Washington
After a decade of working in NYC nightlife, Sydnee decided to hang up her cocktail dress forever. Reminiscent of “MTV Diaries” meets “20/20”, this hilariously authentic solo show exposes the ups & downs of the fast life as a bottle waitress.
Side Stage @ 9:00 pm
You Roar, I Roar – Storytelling
Hosted & curated by Becca Beberaggi
You Roar, I Roar is a storytelling show featuring women of color, queer and trans performers from NYC. The show is inspired by the #METOO movement and #timesup movement. Women and survivors are finally having their voices heard. We are roaring like never before! Storytellers include Zubaira Ahmed, Michelle Carlo, Andrea Coleman, And Veronica Garza, and Sammie James.
Main Stage @ 10:00 pm
KWEENDOM – Storytelling
Hosted & curated by Bobby Hankinson
KWEENDOM is a long-running comedy and storytelling showcase featuring some of New York City’s most beloved LGBTQ writers and performers. With a fervent commitment to diversity, KWEENDOM has provided space for underrepresented performers to share their stories for nearly three years.
Sunday, July 12
Main Stage @ 12:00 pm
Town of Islip Anti-bias Ambassadors – Community Showcase
The Town of Islip (Suffolk County, NY) sponsors an Anti-bias Ambassadors Program for youth which encompasses approximately ten school districts. Students from participating schools attend leadership conferences where they hear speakers who have endured racism and bigotry. As their final project this year at Sayville High School, they held a story slam featuring six students who performed for English classes over the course of two consecutive 40 minute periods.
Side Stage @ 1:00 pm
Dis(is)Respect with Maeve
Written & performed by Maeve Press
With a combination of observational comedy, unpredictable, honest and saucy storytelling and good old-fashioned rebellion, Dis(is)Respect is fifteen-year-old Maeve Press’ invitation to look deeper, remember when, embrace ourselves in all of our warped craziness and confusion and slap some DAMN RESPECT and a little LOVE into our lives.
Side Stage @ 2:00 pm
Cheating Death: Magic, Memoirs & Mortality
Created & performed by Nelson Lugo – Storytelling & Magic
A personal examination of one magician’s life – or more specifically – his many brushes with death.
Main Stage @ 4:00 pm
No, We Won’t Shut Up! – Storytelling
Curated by Robin Bady
There’s still a whole lot wrong in the world today and these women have something to say about it.  And you can’t stop them, because their time is NOW!  With issues ranging from white privilege to wage theft to racism to gentrification to sexual harassment by the police, these women share their personal—and ultimately inspiring – stories. Storytellers include Robin Bady, Michele Carlo, Nicole Ferarro, Dawn Frasier, and Angel Yau.
Side Stage @ 5:00 pm
OutsideIn – Storytelling
Curated & hosted by Nisse Greenberg
The boundaries that bind us and separate us have come into question. In this storytelling discussion we will tell stories of what it feels like to be inside and outside these boundaries – whether literal, as in the bars of the jail cell, or figurative, as in the alienation of immigration. The storytelling discussion/panel includes Juan Franco, Tazmin Uddin, and Michael Majok Kuch.
Main Stage @ 6:00 pm
The Dean’s Choice – Solo show
Written & performed by Thomas Conroy
My scholarship award was my first association with the dean of my undergraduate college at a state university in Ohio. It did not come without strings attached. It is 30 years later, and I speak for the first time … about the encounters, about the lies, about the murder, and about coming out in Ohio in the late 80s.
Side Stage @ 7:00 pm
Now You’re Talking!” Presents The Baby Boom Meets #MeToo – A Reckoning – Storytelling
Hosted & curated by Tracey Segerra
The #metoo movement is powerful and palpable. But how are the women over 50 who came of age during the Women’s Liberation movement handling this paradigm shift? Four women face their pasts and reckon with the future of sexual harassment via deeply personal stories. Storytellers include Renee Joshua-Porter, Tracy Rowland, and Julie Threlkeld.
Main Stage @ 8:00 pm
Serpent’s Tooth – Storytelling
Written & performed by Gianmarco Soresi
“How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!” New York’s best storytellers air their dirty laundry, share some f*cked up family secrets, and don’t ask for their parents’ permission. Come for a night that would make King Lear feel lucky.
All performances take place at The Tank, 312 West 36th Street (between 8th & 9th avenues), 4th Floor, New York, New York 10018. Subways: 1, 2, 3, 7, A, C, E, N, R, Q, W to 34th Street. Tickets are $17 in advance, $20 at the door and are available at
About Speak Up, Rise Up
The first Speak Up, Rise Up festival was held in August 2017 at the off-Broadway venue, the Connelly Theater on the Lower East Side. Over the course of a week, over 100 people took the stage. The shows highlighted diversity in subject matter including stories about immigration, LGBTQ rights, and stories from the incarcerated. The line-up featured a diverse mix of performers with the majority of them being female and people of color.
Speak Up, Rise Up’s mission is to create a network of stories, sharing, and workshops to elevate disenfranchised communities’ stories via personal storytelling. Through live events, workshops, and connection to local community groups to tie people to community actions. Providing a space for people to develop, express, and share their stories that we don’t get to hear from. The festival offers storytelling workshops to various community groups in preparation of the next live festival.
Asher Novek (Founder/Producer) is a community organizer, tech designer, media producer, storyteller, storytelling coach, and occasional wedding officiant. He is involved in local political and community organizing and newly minted President of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democratic Club. Asher also serves as a steering committee member of Get Organized Brooklyn and is passionate about community engagement in local issues and working with communities to amplify their voices.
As a storyteller, Asher has performed and produced comedy and storytelling for the last 5 years including the monthly storytelling show he produces, So What Happened Was, in Park Slope. Asher also co-hosts and co-produces the podcast, the Whole Story, and has been featured on the Risk! podcast, Yum’s the Word, and the Bady House Concert Series. He has also led storytelling workshops with the Moth, the Field Innovation Team, Civic Hall, SVA, and recently began 1 on 1 coaching.