Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Judson Jones Speaks with Students at NYU—Gallatin

At Theatre East, we welcome any opportunity to connect with the educational community. So when he was invited to speak with students at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study following his curtain speech at the workshop presentation of THE SOLDIER DREAMS, artistic director Judson Jones jumped at the chance.

The students are enrolled in the course PHILOSOPHES AND FOLLIES: THEATER IN THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT, taught by playwright Christopher Cartmill. As per Professor Cartmill:

"The class is about the 18th century theater and the connections to Art, Politics, Philosophy, etc. We are looking at the works of Voltaire, Lessing, Lillo, Goldsmith, Gozzi, Diderot, Gottsched and the like. The class is structured like a salon and guests are always welcomed. For our first class I invited Judson, director Nicole A. Watson and actress Kathleen Chalfant—she was nominated for Broadway’s 1993 Tony Award as Best Actress (Featured Role - Play) for her role in the original production of Tony Kushner's ANGELS IN AMERICA: MILLENNIUM APPROACHES—to discuss the responsibility of the artist for the works they create and put out into the world. The question of the power and responsibility of the theater was a big issue in philosophic circles in the 18th century and I wanted to drive home that many of those questions remain unanswered today."
We look forward to any opportunities to interact with educators and will keep you posted about it here. If you are an educator who would like to work with us, contact us here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

THE SOLDIER DREAMS Workshop Curtain Speech

Artistic Director Judson Jones shared some of Theatre East's history & accomplishments as well as some thoughts on why we've chosen THE SOLDIER DREAMS as our next production in his introductory curtain speech:

Last year, right around this time we began rehearsals on our inaugural production EYE OF GOD by Tim Blake Nelson. We thought it best to start off light and easy by tackling issues like a woman’s right to choose, western religious extremism, and the question of “Where is God?” Stage and Cinema said “it seems [we] founded Theatre East to bridge differences in our community and tackle subjects that are universal." Theatremania called it a “successful, dangerous play.”

We then thought it best to relax, take it slow and launch an unprecedented educational program, the New Rites Collective, which is a residency program that provides at-risk, disenfranchised and marginalized youth the opportunity to use the power of the arts to connect notions of their own "self" to the world and foster social and cultural change. The program ran for three weeks at the Louis Brandeis Campus where students not only earned high school credits, they experienced play writing, dance, sculpture, Japanese Butoh, movement, Shakespeare, mask work, painting, video and sound design along with mentoring and counseling. In fact you can see some of the pieces the students created in the lounge after the reading. The program was such a success that the school has invited us to continue the program throughout the school year. Like I said before, we wanted to relax.

We continue to believe that theatre serves a communal purpose, both on stage and off. Whether it’s volunteering for causes like the 2010 MS Walk for a Cure or the upcoming March for Marriage Equality; we have a desire to not only be a part of our community but to serve it.

We also desire to serve our community by choosing scripts that deliver an urgent social message, explore our mortality and the shared human experience. This was the case with EYE OF GOD, the reading of PRETTY CHIN UP and with the upcoming production of THE SOLDIER DREAMS.

Of course none of this would be possible without continued support. As a non-profit organization we rely on financial support from our community. This is how we bring programs to schools, this is how we produce, this is how we survive. Tonight we celebrate those in our community that have supported us in so many ways. We would not be here without them. Their names are listed on the back of the program, in the lobby and also on our website. And I would be remiss if I didn’t say that you too can be listed as a supporter of Theatre East.

So why THE SOLDIER DREAMS, why now? A line from the play reads “Even when the soldier dreams the war goes on.” In November 2009 the New York Senate decisively rejected a bill that would have allowed gay couples to wed. Over 30 states have amended their constitutions banning same sex marriage. Is this play a battle cry? Is it the gauntlet thrown at the feet of demagogues? No. This is simply a face. This is the flesh, the tears, the joy, the heartbreak, the loss, the passion of these human experiences. It’s that undeniable thread that touches us all. This is a story of family, of loss, of love. It’s also a celebration of the unique, indefinable, true relationships we have with one another. It’s about our stories and our memories and our tears and our laughter. We recall that special thing; that special bond. We remember how extraordinary they made us feel. And we feel so incredibly fortunate to have walked with them, if only for a little while. And we smile, and we weep and cradle ourselves and bask in the glow of a beautiful life that…is. And forever will be.

Thank you again for coming. Your presence truly means so much. And now, THE SOLDIER DREAMS by Daniel MacIvor.

Monday, September 13, 2010

THE SOLDIER DREAMS is a Hit with the Audience

We were very happy to share THE SOLDIER DREAMS with an enthusiastic audience of almost 100 Theatre East community members on Thursday, September 9 in the June Havoc Theatre in the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex.

The workshop was directed by Artistic Director Judson Jones (you can read his curtain speech here), featured music & sound design by
Resident Composer & Sound Designer Scott O'Brien, lighting design by Resident Lighting Designer Jessica M. Burgess and featured William Franke, Heather Hill, Christa Kimlicko Jones, Denny Lawrence, Helen Merino, Tom Pacio, Joseph Parks & Matt Savins.

"I can't wait for the full production!"
—Sarah B.

We are working inexorably toward a full Off Broadway production of this wonderfully touching play. Help us make this DREAM a reality! Support Theatre East. Learn more about the play here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welcome to the New Theatre East Blog!

Heading into our 2010-2011 season—our 2nd—we want to reboot the blog experience for the Theatre East community. This blog will be a place to tell you more about Theatre East—what we're doing, who we are, what we believe. We'll also be talking about the arts in general and about news & current events that relate to our current production (as we did on the EYE OF GOD blog).

We also want to hear from you of course. If there are questions you have—about us, about the current production, about theatre in general—please let us know!