It’s a Festival A-Gogo and You’re Invited

theater-comedy-tragedyToday I finally took the first step in planning my summer-of-theatre viewing tour. Once there is acceptance that my life will be even more devoted to the theatre for this summer, I had to take the first step:

Look at the guides for the festivals! Oh my world. There are three festivals that are on my radar this summer because I’m directly working on them. I am the Marketing Director for:

However, that means I also need to find out what shows my friends are performing in and throw that into the schedule. I really do hope that you get a chance to support independent theatre this summer. You never know what your take away from a performance will be. And that’s exciting.

See you at the show!

 

Free in NYC? Yes, Please

It’s Tuesday. The 4th of July is coming upon us. Here are some fun things to do for FREE!

Check out NYCGO. They have my favorite list: Capture

Museums that are “either always free, free on specific days of the week or free for select hours”. 

CaptureNYC.gov offers the best of what’s happening. This week’s latest episode includes movies at Bryant Park, Karaoke on the Coney Island Boardwalk. and Dancing Under the Stars (which I spied from my window).

This one is super fun and I hope to get to a show this summer. I mean, THE WHO, played the Forest Hill Stadium a month ago.Check out DNA.infoCapture

I live near Forest Park and there is always something a-happening. Zumba, free concerts, CaptureMAGIC!

My Three Hats: Producer, Director, Publicist

CaptureOver the last few weeks, I have had several conversations on my contribution to the world of theatre. My favorite description of my experience is one I use in many a bio:

She’s served the theatre in many aspects of which she’s very proud – actress, director, producer, stage manager, costume designer, prop designer, theatre reviewer, publicist, radio presenter, and writer/monologist.

I remember thinking that it seems very broad. The cliche “a Jill of all trades, a master of none” sometimes crosses my mind but then I think to myself that I have been on an amazing journey. I learned so much about what I love and what I excel in and what I am not comfortable with and not as passionate about anymore.

I love is creating and promoting theatre. I love producing as I get to figure out how I am going to make a show happen. When I direct, I am lost in the words of the playwright and get to collaborate with actors and designers on bringing a show to life. If I am producing and directing, I am innately promoting. That’s my personality and as a result, all three resonate strongly within me.

When I decided to become a director in undergrad, I knew I wanted to go to grad school. I knew it was the only way I would be able to immerse my mind, body, spirit in the craft. My MFA in Directing at the Actors Studio Drama School was the foundation I needed before embarking on the next leg of my journey.

After graduation, my husband, Ian, some friends and I started Black Henna Productions. For 12 years and counting, I learned how to be a producer and a publicist. All of it through trial and error and taking a class here and there. When you are running a company, directing the show, and promoting it, you get really good at a few things:

  1. Creating a schedule;
  2. Building a team; and
  3. Developing a product.

After the death of my best friend and co-collaborator, Cas, I took a step back to see my vision. I thought I had to have one role in this world. However, my one vision for my world of theatre is a to be able to promote and support artists in their truth and craft so that they can pay it forward to the next artist. All too often we forget about why we create by focusing on competition rather than specialization. My mentors, Michael Roderick and Ken Davenport, said that to me years ago and I never forgot it. It’s a personal mantra. And with that, when I am working with any artist as a producer, director, and/or publicist, I ask: Why are you doing this show? The answer then propels me to ask: What sets you apart from the several other shows being produced?

These are the questions I ask myself and my team when are developing any project. Then without fail, I sit down and draft the schedule. Then I set out to build the team. Then we begin developing the product. What ties us together is the vision and trust. If we don’t have either then we have a rough road ahead of us.

In a conversation with a fellow producer, we touched on some points about why I created Theatre Beyond Broadway, my PR company and community. I created it so there would be a connection and the fostering of relationships. I told her about my 3 hats and she said, ” We have three people doing your job.” I said, “I know. It’s a lot to juggle but I love it”.

Truth: I didn’t have a choice. I jumped in and just did it. As I continue to do this day.

The Experience is Sometimes Not Knowing 

Last night I spent the evening with a theatre company that produced a show of which I wasn’t familiar. I love seeing shows that I don’t know. I had seen a show earlier in the week in the same fashion. I received an invite and I didn’t ask what I was seeing. It was really pretty awesome. I walked into the both spaces as a visitor in a new locale. I stepped in and took it all in – the space, the seating, the set. Then I sat down and was curious about what was going to happen. Both spaces were not conventional. The audience was a part of the action, the story, and the show. Yet, not intrusive. Subtle. I had no preconceived notions and was not wearing any of my hats (producer, director, publicist). I was just an audience member there for the ride. 
However, once curtain came down (metaphorically) I was able to appreciate how it was produced, directed and promoted. I was also able to really appreciate artists telling stories. That’s why I love theater so much. Why do this if it isn’t going to move someone? Who knows who’s in the audience who really needed that inspiration. 

This summer is full with great theater. I am thrilled to be on the production team on some amazing shows. Continue creating and see you at the show!

Aspiring Playwright? Need a Mentor? Read This

  Before you say “wait a minute, another festival!”, read first. I am thrilled to be on the team of the New York New Works Theatre Festival which returns for a second year. What attracted me to them is their mission: “Bringing aspiring playwrights and Broadway producers together”. As someone who loves theater and loves seeing the potential and success of others, I had to say yes. This is in line with my vision for artists. 

Over the next couple of months, you’ll be hearing more about the festival. I’m the meantime, if you have a play then send it. There no fee! Win/win. 

Please mention me in your submission letter as their Publicist. Good luck!
There’s only 3 weeks left to submit your work to the New York New Works Theatre Festival. After a spectacular 2014 season, THE NEW YORK NEW WORKS THEATRE FESTIVAL announces that they are accepting submissions for 2015! Gene Fisch, Jr. has aggregated a panel of Tony Award Winners, Emmy Award winners, and Broadway Producers as a giveback project to the arts community to review / judge short plays and musicals (25 minute maximum). NO APPLICATION FEE, please visit http://www.nynwtheatrefestival.com for details!  Check out all the amazing panelists and their bios listed on the website. They are all DONATING their time and have a vested interest in helping writers succeed. Application deadline is JUNE 20th. 

 

The Connecting Project: Will You Eat Today?

History-of-statue-of-liberty-1I am currently enrolled in Leadership Training at Momentum and one the many gifts that has come out of my work has been the connection to the number of people who are homeless and/or hungry.

A few have reached out to me regarding my volunteer work with God’s Love We Deliver. They are one of many wonderful organizations providing meals for those who can’t provide for themselves.

Below is a brief list of organizations that need volunteers!  You can click on the name for more info. And if you are familiar with more, please comment.

Happy Holidays, folks!

New York Cares’ Breakfast at St. Bart’s

Soup Kitchen at the Church of St. Joseph

Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Volunteer Match (List of Soup Kitchens in Brooklyn)

The Meatloaf Kitchen

New York City Coalition Against Hunger

All Souls Friday Soup Kitchen

The Queens Galley

Food Bank NYC

The Connecting Project: 16 Days of People Doing Interesting Things

UntitledJust in case you didn’t get the memo, there’s 10 days till Christmas and 16 until the end of the year. Egads!

This has been such a great year for me in terms of giving back and all the cool stuff that people are doing. I learned about new platforms of giving as well as wonderful organizations that are doing some terrific work. So I decided that starting today until the end of the year, I am going to share information about organizations that my friends are connected to in order to bring awareness to their causes. I am also going to share some of their projects that may be of interest to you.
First up is ME! My personal charities are the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation for which I am participating in the Climb for the Cause and God’s Love We Deliver for which I have been volunteering. I will be climbing 66 flights of stairs in Rockefeller Center in March. If you would like to join my team or would like to support the cause, I’d love you on board. You can read my story on The Good News Project called Following My Dreams Through the Valley of the Shadow of MS.
I have also been delivering food for God’s Love We Deliver. It just happened to be the worst days we have experienced weather wise here in New York City. However, how lucky am I to be able to walk and be of service when others are sick and home bound. That’s what I kept fresh in my mind when I was knocking on doors and chatting with these wonderful people.
Happy Holidays!

Guest Blogger: Alice Shapiro on mini Broadway bites

MiniBroadwayBites Large (1)I have never met Alice Shapiro. She and I struck up a relationship via email as we are both women artists and she working on bringing her show, mini Broadway bites, to New York City. I assumed she was based here in New York but alas I was wrong. Alice creates her art in the countryside of Georgia. We had a lovely telephone conversation about her small town that is now starting to have a theatre scene. Imagine that. They are so lucky to have her and she is lucky to be in a place where art is being discovered. Today she tells us about how this all transpired.

I’m writing this story from a gazebo in the midst of tranquil woodlands outside the Dog River Library on Highway 5. Being an abstract person by nature, it is easier for me to write a play than tell you what it is about. When I’m literal others talk in parables; when I make up stories others are literal. Welcome to my world!

In 2011, I received an email from the Estrogenius Festival in NYC seeking volunteers. At the time, I was living in Georgia but helped remotely to gain rehearsal space for their productions. Fast forward to 2013 when another email from The International Women Artists Salon (IWAS) announced that an Estrogenius Festival-affiliated member had formed a new group where women artists from around the world could meet in person and via Skype to share their activities. At the first meeting, Heidi Russell, the IWAS founder, graciously invited me to exhibit the set design paintings from my mini BROADWAY bites musicals at their Off Off Broadway partner venue, The Producers’ Club. Heidi also helped connect me with the venue to mount a showcase of two of the mini musicals. I was suddenly an Off Off Broadway producer/playwright catapulted into a new world of magical possibility. After that amazing sold-out performance experience I was captivated by the bright lights and encouraged to reach out again. Miraculously, we are now presenting the mini BROADWAY bites exclusively at Planet Hollywood Times Square in their Off Broadway Screening Room on Broadway and 45th Street, merely one block away from where we started…. in less than 6 months time!

Originally the scripts were written first as an outline based on scripture from the Bible. This became the structure for all ten plays in the series so that each play has its own theme with a beginning middle and ending while at the same time keeping continuity throughout all ten plays as one linear story.  The songs are from sheet music found in the University of West Georgia Special Collections Library and are popular public domain pieces from the turn-of-the-century.  Making the musical theatre performances into a film with Pridek Studios was an exciting adventure in creativity. We wanted to build something different than a static filming of an on-stage performance so it had to be more movie-like. We hope we captured the essence of both mediums in an exciting new way in our first Musical Film Short, Fountain of Youth.

KC photo TCLF IMG_4175 (1)Alice Shapiro is an award-winning playwright and author of four books with a fifth forthcoming in 2014. A native New Yorker, Alice now lives in a small town in Georgia. You can reach her at www.minibroadwaybites.com

 

Q Told My Story (Update)

10429245_10152783038412092_4622897408695920207_nIt’s not too often that I hear about a show, plan to see it, the opportunity passes and then the opportunity reappears. Last summer, They Call Me Q was on my list but I just couldn’t make it with all the shows on my summer tour. When I saw that Q (Qurrat Ann Kadwani) was doing an Off-Broadway run, I knew I was going to make it happen. And I did and Theatre Beyond Broadway became a sponsor. All very fast and very exciting.

Why this show? Well, there isn’t a one woman show written by and starring an Indian actress from the Bronx who talks like a New Yorker. This is something I can relate to as I am an Indian actress from Manhattan who talks like a New Yorker. There aren’t that many of us from our generation (born mid-70s – early 80s) who talk about being the only little Indian girl in our neighborhood.

Q flawlessly transitions through 13 characters (her homegirls, her friends in India, her parents, her caucasian teachers and more) to tell the story of her upbringing in this urban jungle while trying to maintain her Indian heritage. As she transforms, one sees that the true experiences of her past either enhanced or affected her. Q tells her story on a simple set using a few costume pieces to differentiate the characters. The performance is subtly  highlighted by sound and lighting which enhances her storytelling. Under the co-direction of her brother, Obaid Kadwani and Claudia Gaspar, Q is pushed to integrate all aspects of her life in this one woman show.

So what I’ll say is the same thing I said when I started my interview with Q on Salon Radio:

1. If you are in New York City, go see this show.

2. If you are a New Yorker, go see this show.

3. If you are a New Yorker of Indian descent (Southeast Asian, Trinidadian, Guyanese, St. Vincent, etc.), go see this show.

And guess what? Q has three shows left.


TBB subscribers! Get 50% off tickets by using Discount Code: MQSpecial

.

OBAID KADWANI in association with EDMUND GAYNES
Presents

They Call me Q, written and performed by Qurrat Ann Kadwani

FINAL SHOWS!!

11/23 @ 2pm

11/30 @ 2pm

12/7 @ 2pm

St. Luke‘s Theatre, 308 West 46th Street (just west of Eighth Ave.)

For more information, visit www.theycallmeQshow.com.

Tix for $35.50 with discount code  (Telecharge price $59.50+fees)
Discount Code: MQSpecial
Full reviews/trailer at: www.theycallmeQshow.com
FB, Instagram, Twitter @theycallmeQshow

 

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Stop! Go! Wait!

Picture courtesy of Rob Zukowski
Picture courtesy of Rob Zukowski

Mixed signals are very difficult to process  if you are the one receiving them. It paralyzes because you don’t know how to react, respond. The synapses stop firing and you’re a deer in headlights. You get frustrated and freak out or you completely shut down (please replace you with I).

I don’t have the exact answer for dealing with a difficult situation.  However, I have found some techniques which have helped me. Hopefully, they will help you too. After all, why keep all of life’s secrets.
I find that one of the ways that has helped me in this area is by taking care of myself for a few hours. That means shutting the world out. I usually have one day that’s dedicated to my spiritual practice. That sets the tone for the week.  I write, watch Super Soul Sunday, nap, hang with my cat.
I also have a health regimen which includes visits to the chiropractor, physical therapist and most recently,  an acupuncturist. Those visits help my MS and back pain. It also forces me to be still for a period of time. Time to reflect and sometimes even nap.
I also have a hobby that, believe it or not,  is not theater. Besides writing this blog, I also write poetry. That has been a really amazing outlet. These days my poems have been New York City inspired.  I walk through the city with a different pair of glasses.
The Artists’ Way is a great book to read if you are experiencing a block.  I started to doing the work in it which includes stream of consciousness writing every morning and going on an artist date (see above). I also read one inspirational passage from a book or site.
I try a few times a day to meditate. It’s not sitting cross-legged- fingers- touching- chanting- ohm mediation. Though I have done that. It’s usually just taking a pause and be aware of the present moment.
These practices help me not go off the deep end or into Crazy Town. They help me to listen and to respond in a normal manner. And when none of those work, I just rant for x minutes and try my best to move forward.