The World According to Maddy

13686715_10206425757341133_1526627002619004894_nMaddie Campbell, one of the creators behind the visually stunning new play, THE COWARD, premiering at the 20th Anniversary Fringe Festival this year shared a few out-of-this-world thoughts on his out-of-this-world art. 
We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?
People. Actors specifically. Knowing who is going to play a part that I’m writing- or rewriting- is really exciting. For example, I wrote The Demon Queen Gregory for my pArtner and good friend Matt. I mess with him on some lines, I give him jokes I know he can nail and I love giving him a challenge. People are funny far more than some stupid word on a page. And I am inspired by funny people.
Tell us about your play … and why you wrote it?
The Coward 2I wrote this play because I didn’t know how to talk about my anxiety and depression. I’m a clown and a comedian and these are extremely dour subjects. Everyone’s face gets super serious when you talk about mental illness cause you know… Taboos. But why can’t it be funny? I think the world is funny and stupid and full of an inability to talk about things that are really not that big of a deal. I couldn’t talk about it for years and still have trouble. So I wanted to create a really fun piece about this stupid funny thing called mental illness that everyone is so scared and sad about. Because it’s just chemistry in your dumb brain.
What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”
I want to make people laugh. Cry too I suppose. But I like it when people laugh. I’ve known a lot of darkness and sadness in my old age of 25 (that’s a joke…) and the thing that I appreciate most in this world is when someone makes me laugh. Not a good answer, because I’m ambitious and fame would be fine – just don’t bother me too much. I wanna go home and watch TV, you stupid paparazzi! I’d be a really grumpy famous person.
Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?
The Coward 1I’m a smart cookie- terribly pretentious of me, I know – but I am perfectly able to work in an office, learn a trade, or climb mountains. Well maybe not mountains… I got a bad knee from ballet.. But my point is is that I can do whatever I put my mind to. But I art well. I’ve been arting since I was very young. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. ( I listened to Les Mis on tape in my room alone… I wasn’t what you would call.. A ‘cool kid’). So I’ll answer your quote with a quote: ‘it is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are. Far more than our abilities’ – Albus Dumbledore
Along those lines, if you couldn’t so this, what would you do?
Okay that’s fair. I’d play with puppies or something. I really like puppies.
Last words

I’ve learned most from this project that the world is stupid and beautiful and doing art with your friend is the best and no process should be without lots of confetti, fart jokes and blood packs.

Coward Postcard  FRONT

Can I quote you on that? 

War Winning Women: June Ballinger and “Remembrance Day”

We’re honored to get a few minutes of June Ballinger’s time.

June headshot 2015-16The British-American actress has worked on Broadway, off-Broadway, regional theatre and television. She is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre for over two decades and a member of The Actors Center. She helms The Passage Theatre Company in Trenton, NJ workshopping quality works since 1997. She also teaches the craft in her community. Her latest project, which came from Passage Theatre is Remembrance Day. A daring one-person piece about someone who helped change the course of history and basically save the world during WWII. Incidentally, that person was her mother. She will present this at New York’s legendary 13th Street Repertory Theater this September. 

We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspires you?

My inspiration comes from trust in my intuition… someone once referred to it as ‘magical thinking’.  I get an intuitive notion about something and follow it.

I missed the event of my mother’s death almost 4 years ago after being by her the bedside for two months. I had snuck into NYC for a writing workshop fully expecting to see her once home in the afternoon.  I told myself immediately that she died whilst I was away writing about her so I am to write her story…of which I had only fragments.  This play is what came from acting upon that intuition. Intuition is a theme in Remembrance Day.  My mother was born in North Shields, a seaport town in the North of England. She was born with a caul – a thin membrane – covering her face. Her Scottish Father was furious when the midwife tossed it in the fire.  There is a lot of superstition surrounding those born with a caul such as they’ll  never drown (handy being born near the sea).  And a caul bearer  has the gift of second sight.  Well, my mother always told my brother and I to trust our intuition so I assume her caul legend inspired that from.

This is a true story inspired by the life of my mother and discovered through letters, clippings photos a personal diary and a deep investigation on my part into personal memories, dreams, a lot of research and a trust that if I am inspired to write something I could not support it might be true.  It was quite eerie to then discover in later research that what I had “created”  for the sake of the drama actually was the truth. I feel I have given my mother the voice she could not use during her lifetime.


Tell us about your play … and why you wrote it?

I think I explained the “why” so here is the “what.”

It’s about secrets, memory, regrets, romance, loss, principles, fate, heroes, war and ghosts. It’s about failing to achieve what one wants but being ennobled in the effort.


But to elaborate, Remembrance Day centers on a British woman, Nancy Annan, who had been a Wren in the Royal Navy during her youth in WWII England.  She was smart and of a certain character and was selected to work on Ultra Secret at Bletchley Park in a privileged circle. She signed the Official Secrets Act thereby swearing to erase her identity and all mention of the contribution she made in ending the war in Britain…a lifetime vow.  She would never be able to share her stories and achievements with children and friends.

The play begins in 2005 when 80yr old Nancy returns to England for a Remembrance Day ceremony with her daughter, June. Remembrance Day is a national holiday in which one remembers and honors soldiers of past wars during a 2-minute silence (like our Veterans Day only the entire nation comes to a full stop). It is June’s hope that after this visit her mother will be inspired to finally tell her all the secrets of her life before memory fails.  Nancy wonders how she will be remembered, when so much essential to herself she felt required to keep to herself.

The “memories” Nancy recalls are silently realized during the “two – minute” silence utilizing the audience as her witness.  Nancy’s story gives an intimate look inside Bletchley and the code-breaking machines, an insight into Nancy’s pride in her work with the team that created the world’s first electronic computer, her romances, tragedies and unfailing resilience throughout. Her postwar migration to America as a war bride brings implosion and silence for Nancy.  Like many women of the 50s and 60s she is discouraged-  forbidden– to work and had to content herself with motherhood. Keep the peace became her motto.  Don’t make a fuss. And keep the secret.  But looking back at her life from old age she see’s where she was complicit in what became a life of compromise.  She has a discovery at the end, however, that helps her make a decision.


What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

To regularly work in the theatre! I have been blessed to always have a career in live theatre as I am artistic director of a small Equity theatre in Trenton, NJ.  But I stepped away from acting for 15 years to produce and build this theatre. I returned to acting 7 years ago so it’s now a somewhat double life for me that swings more heavily towards the performing these days. Now I am in my 60s, I find myself busier as an actor….”I crossed the Crone Barrier” I tell people.


Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession… “it’s all I can do.” Is this all you can do?

It’s not all I can do but it’s all I want to do right now. I continue produce and I enjoy that but my true joy is in performing. What keeps my interest, as an Artistic Director is the socially responsible mission of my theatre and its ability to make changes in community. But as a friend pointed out the other day, I can take that value with me in all I do.


Along those lines, if you couldn’t do this, what would you do?

If God forbid I could not act I would go deeper with exploring my voice as a writer. My experience of myself as a writer is newer to me.


Last words? 

Men as well as women like this play due to its subject…WWII enthusiasts, cypher experts and historians and particularly women.  It has been described (by a man) as “the finest feminist play written without the anger…a woman who loses her destiny but never her  character”  I think this play can serve a a reminder of what many women  endured during the “mad men” era and how we must own our voices if we are going to move forward.

Some historical bits- Nancy had worked on Ultra Secret directly under Max Newman, mentor to Alan Turing, at Bletchley Park’s Newmanry.  Because she signed the Official Secrets Act with an oath to keep all her work secret for the rest of her life.  She, like all British people, took this to heart.  So none of our family knew about Bletchley Park until it was revealed through a shocking book titled Ultra Secret published in the 1970s.  That book rocked the world as no one had any idea that the British had won the war thanks to their astonishing code breaking abilities and the creation of what was actually the world’s first electronic computer. So not until my 20s did I finally know WHERE she had worked during the war….but very little else.  She told me she was “taking the secret to her grave” and that books such as Enigma and more said “a lot but NOT everything”. I dare not make up what is still under wraps but I just returned from Bletchley this July and a conversation with the Bletchley Park historian.  He verified that some of the work around Colossus is still classified but could not tell me what…. he is in the dark as well.


Remembrance Day e-image final

A Word with a World Artist: Director Joan Kane

Joan Kane is a superhero who uses her powers for good.
She is a prominent international stage director celebrated for tackling power issues in well-written works. Her most recent is a powerful drama called DEBRIEFING, garnering great praise at this year’s Fringe Festival. Being the 20th anniversary of the play fest, one would expect them to pull out their big guns. Joan’s presence proves that.

We were able to finally get a few words out of her on her journey. Her company, Ego Actus is bringing high-quality art to the masses as near as NYC and as far as Prague so her time was at a premium.


We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspired you?

I am inspired by art, nature and a good cannoli.  Living in NYC I am fortunate because I can visit museums and galleries frequently exploring the work of past and contemporary artists. I also find inspiration in nature: walking the High Line Park and hiking in northern New York. When I walk in nature I’m able to put aside all the demands of everyday life and let my imagination roam free. If I do these activities while eating a cannoli then my life is truly blessed.


Tell us about your “scheme” . . .  what have you discovered working on the text ?

When I direct I always ask, “Why is this play relevant now?” The situation in the Middle East is terrifying. Debriefing sheds light on the current situation the world is experiencing and the fear that terrorism invokes. The question that is guiding me in directing Max Gill’s play is, “Where is the humanity in war? “  The characters of Waleed, Finch, Reed, Aliya struggle with their duty to their country versus their feelings of humanity and empathy for “the other.”  They are looking for that part of themselves that gets lost in the battle between religious extremism versus modern warfare technology and trying to resolve the conflicts in which modern people on both sides get hurt.

The collaborative  process with my cast: Page Clements, Adeel Ahmend, Andrew Rothkin and Nazli Sarpkaya and my team of designers Lytza Colon, Cat Fisher, Bruce A Kraemer and Jacob Sobotnik  was instrumental in creating and telling this story. I discovered that a dedicated team of artists was  what was needed to bring this frightening story from the page to the stage. I am truly grateful for this amazing group of artists.


What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”

Wealth is what I would most want from my profession because If I have wealth I can direct and produce more plays. I am especially interested in directing and creating a place for the voices of the  contemporary female playwright. Many theaters throughout the USA are producing  plays mainly by male playwrights. I’d like to even out the playing field and offer more opportunities for the woman’s voice to be heard. This takes resources and if I am wealthy I have a better chance to reach my goal.  Sometimes wishes do come true . . .


Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession . . . “It’s all I can do.” 

Is this all you can do?

No, I can do and have done a lot of things. I have worked in retail and in restaurants. I have been a museum educator, a free-lance arts educator. I am a daughter, a sister, a spouse, and a mother. At this particular point I choose to live the life of an artist who directs plays.


Along those lines, if you couldn’t do this, what would you do?

I could see being a brain research scientist or a film maker.


Last words?

I have directed plays in different festivals in NYC and Europe. Directing in the 20th year of the NY Fringe has been wonderful. Everyone is organized and helpful and we are having a blast.


Joan, you had me with “creating a place for the voices of the  contemporary female playwright.” When I have money, I’ll donate to Ego Actus to help our mutual cause!

Natasha Dawsen, editor. 



Chanting, Humming, Singing Bowls, Percussion, Harps, Drones… direct from antiquity … The Sound of the Future!

Reverend Mary and her company of healers are preparing for a first of its kind. Summer Soul Sounds: a concert of musicians and performance arts entertaining … and healing an audience. The legendary 13th Street Repertory Theater, home to LINE, the longest running play in history (and it’s still running) has opened its doors to the event. Artistic director Joe Battista could not be more thrilled to help present such a  ground-breaking  event.

Reverend Mary says this about Sound Healing:

“We all know that music or sound can set a mood. The music in a club can get us dancing with it strong beat and repetitive sound.  Many use music or sound for running or working out, many say it adds to their workout and it inspires them to work harder.  It can also help us to concentrate or find peace or an inner quiet. Think yoga class, meditation, mantra chanting and even prayer or song in church or synagogue.  Sound also has a powerful effect on how we feel throughout the day. Our bodies and minds react differently to the unrelenting noise of a jackhammer than to a trickle of water in a creek or the sound of a baby crying.

The truth is some sounds make us feel better than others.  Even if our conscious minds are not paying attention our bodies take their cues from sounds and rhythms

Now, a growing body of research suggests that when used in a directed way, sound can help us to reduce stress, create a deep sense of well-being and even promote healing.  People are using music in sound now in more of a directed way, from playing Bach in the nursery to chanting in the oncologist’s office.  Sound therapy is gaining a following and being used both as a preventative and a complement to more known treatments.  Research has shown that it is not only good for the body but for the mind as well.  It has been shown to lift depression, clear sinuses, and help people to recover from chemotherapy; it has also been used for people with Alzheimer’s disease with good results.

Rev. Mary on ancient instruments with renowned Harpist, Richard Spendio, in rehearsal for Sunday’s early evening concert.



Of course, the idea that sound can affect the health of the mind, body and spirit is certainly NOT a new thing.  Chanting and mantra recitation have been part of Hindu spirituality for thousands of years and it has been used not only for Yoga but for healing and spirituality in every corner of the earth!

So, Sound healing….exactly what is it?

Sound and music healers use the human voice and objects that resonate to stimulate healing.  They use things like tuning forks, chimes, bells, harps, singing bowls and traditional instruments from all over the world. According to physics, everything vibrates; the chair you’re sitting in, the food you eat, the rocks and trees.

“Whether or not we hear it, everything has a sound, a vibration all its own,” writes Joshua Leeds in The Power of Sound (Healing Arts Press, 2001).

That sound he is referring to is called resonance.  It is the frequency at which an object naturally vibrates.  Each part of our body has a natural resonance too.  This is what some of vibrational medicine is based.  Some believe that disease is a result of those natural resonances getting out of tune…if you will. This results in stress and illness.

Sound healers do not use highly focused and fast vibrations now used in some ultrasound (a technology already used in some hospitals to break up kidney stones or see a growing baby in the uterus) but use gentle therapies many find as effective to return the body’s own vibrations to their natural states.

TUNing up!

Does it really work?  YES, say sound healers, who have successfully treated everything from stress to Parkinson’s disease to hormonal problems.  Many use tuning forks and singing bowls on clients and are able to watch many maladies dissolve by “tuning” their client’s bodies! Many say their clients have experienced “relief from pain and discomfort, clearing of sinuses, shifting out of depression, (improved) ability to sleep, revitalization and clarity, feeling of well-being, great connectedness, and deep personal transformation.”

Sounds good!  Maybe a little strange?

“Using forks and bowls for anything other than dinner may seem to some people like New Age nonsense,” writes Stephanie Rosenbloom in a November 2005 article in The New York Times. “But healers, sometimes called sounders, argue that sound can have physiological effects because its vibrations are not merely heard but also felt. And vibrations, they say, can lower heart-rate variability, relax brain-wave patterns and reduce respiratory rates.”

Stress hormones decrease under these conditions, which is great news, but especially for people with serious illness.  This is one reason Doctors like Mitchell Gaynor, an oncologist and assistant clinical professor at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College in New York has used singing bowls with his cancer patients.  Gaynor sees sound as a part of a broader trend toward the humanization of medicine in which the whole person, not just the part that’s broken, is addressed. “I believe that sound can play a role in virtually any medical disorder, since it redresses imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning,” he writes in his book The Healing Power of Sound: Recovery from Life-Threatening Illness Using Sound, Voice and Music (Shambhala, 1999).

The Sound of the future

Many experts say that Sound therapy is at the very cutting edge of healing.  Many believe that just like Yoga and meditation it will enter the mainstream.

You are probably using sound therapy already! Several years ago, three out of four people who responded to a Prevention Magazine health survey said that they listen to music to ease tension and stress. Of those, 82 percent reported that it brought them significant relief.

Maybe you aren’t interested in buying a tuning fork or a singing bowl but sound healing is still available to you in the form of a song that lifts your sprits or a walk in nature!


Sound healers can make music and sound in many different ways.  Here are some common techniques:

Classical Music. Classical music has been show by some to increase the rate of development of synaptic connections in young children’s minds. It also helps fuel creativity and enhances joy in adults. Classical music can even help address physical ailments like high blood pressure and muscle tension.

Humming. Humming not only lifts your spirits, it clears your mind too. According to a study conducted by Swedish researcher, and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, humming may actually help keep your sinuses clear and healthy.

Singing Bowls. Whether metal or quartz crystal, a singing bowl sings when you run a felt-tipped mallet around its edge. Along with rhythms produced by striking the edge of the bowl, the vibrations and tones slow down breathing, brain waves and heart rates, producing a deep sense of calm and well-being.

Tuning Forks. Originally used to tune musical instruments to the proper pitch, tuning forks have long been used by orthopedists to detect stress fractures in large bones. Now, sound therapists use the vibrations of tuning forks to increase the amount of energy in parts of the body they are trying to heal or energize. These good vibes can support relaxation, balance our nervous systems and increase physical energy.

Yogic Chanting and “Om”ing. Chanting, the first step to meditation is also a means of maintaining health and well-being. Research shows that chanting can stabilize heart rate, lower blood pressure, improve circulation, produce endorphins and aid the process of metabolism. Chanting can also help the mind focus, which alleviates stress levels. For example, repeating the syllable “om,” considered one of the most important mantras in yoga, is said to foster a deep mental clarity and promote a sense of connectedness with a higher power.

Sacred Singing.  For centuries chanting, singing and celebrating in a sacred space helps relieve tension and open one up to feelings of euphoria and joy.

Sound Soaks and Events.  Like ours! Soul Sounds.  Many go to experience these types of healing together in groups all over the world.”

Inola @ TheatreLab for VISITING HOURS



“Visiting Hours,” written by Joshua Kaplan, directed by Dina Vovsi; stage managed by Ryan Keller; starring Richarda Abrams, Adam Bemis, Amy Gaipa, Michael Grew, Karen Tsen Lee, Maureen Shannon, Joel Stigliano, and Dan Grimaldi.

DSCF9403The audience sees Jonah and the nurse as they enter the waiting area of a hospital, and he makes himself useful in the lobby area.  He moves and organizes a few magazines from the floor and on the stand, and he places them in the rack.  He also adjusts a picture frame on the wall.  The doctor approaches Jonah and he gives him an update on his mother, Linda’s medical condition.  In Linda’s case, the grim reaper is on his way for her.  Jonah becomes agitated with the doctor’s remarks, but the nurse’s kindness makes a better impression with him.  She helps to make his time at the facility pleasant, and she offers him the opportunity to use the LAN line to make his telephone calls.  The nurse allows him to see his mother who lies motionless on her hospital bed, and she sings the theme song for the Broadway show Oklahoma.

Jonah explains to the nurse that his mother is a serial complainer.  Jonah claims that if his mother were able to communicate at that moment, she would have complained about everything and the nurse, too.  Jonah continues to reveal himself to the nurse, and he tells her all about his mother’s reaction when he made his sexuality known to her.  He states that after his coming out, his mother sent him a list of all of the sexually transmitted diseases that relate to his lifestyle.

Soon after, Meredith, Jonah’s sister, arrives at the facility; and she brings her male friend, Zack, with her.  He assures her to be calm before she sees her brother and mother.  Meredith enters her mother’s room and she and Jonah begin to argue about her coming to the nursing home, and she walks out of the room.  Zack kicks the garbage container accidentally before he confronts Jonah about his behavior towards his sister before he picks up the garbage.  Jonah seems unaffected by Zack’s comments.

DSCF9073Linda’s ex-husband, Stanley, and his new wife, Cindy, enter the waiting room with hospital gowns in their hands.  Stanley puts on his gown over his clothes, and he enters Linda’s room.  The audience witnesses an awkward reunion among a fractured family.  Stanley cuts his time in the room short and he leaves the room.  Stanley’s presence in the waiting area forces Cindy to take action, and she goes into the room to see Linda in her dying bed.  Jonah is livid and he leaves the room.

Cindy says her Buddhist’s chant in Linda’s hospital room as Stanley, Meredith, and Zack talk in the room.  After, Cindy takes Meredith and Zack out of the room with her.  She wants Stanley to get an opportunity to settle things with his ex-wife on her death bed.  The audience witnesses when he talks about their blame game, and he reminds himself that she still scare the shit out of him while she is sick and in a coma.  He gives her the 4-1-1 about their old friends, and he reminisce about their trip to California and their meeting of Ray Charles while they were in the state.

Cindy, Meredith and Zack come back to the room with coffee.  In a few minutes later, Jonah comes back with a folder, and he tells them all about what he can do to get rid of all of the people in the room except his sister, Meredith.  They move to the lobby!  Meredith and Zack sit in the room.  Jonah and Stanley look at television in the lobby, and Cindy does her Yoga on the floor.  Stanley and Jonah argue with each other about not seeing each other in 15 years.  Cindy assures Jonah that he’s welcome to visit them at their home.

The nurse wants to change her patient, Linda.  Jonah and Stanley exchange pleasantries over the real reason why he left the family.  Jonah concludes that his father was not thrown out of their home by his mother, but he left the family on his own accord.  There were too many packed boxes, so Jonah summarizes that the move was an orchestrated one on his father’s part.

The doctor returns to consult with the family, and he informs them about Linda’s wishes with a signed document.  Meredith and Stanley become irate with Jonah, and they leave in order to find him.  Cindy and the nurse get the opportunity to bond about family crises in the hospital.  The family discusses Linda’s situation, and Stanley agrees with Jonah; and Meredith becomes upset with them.  Jonah looks at the television as a distraction.  Meredith leaves and she returns to the waiting room.

The audience looks at Meredith and Jonah as they talk about what ails the family.  Jonah forces Meredith to come clean and let him know the reason for her resentment towards him.  Meredith’s response shakes the core of the audience.  She states that the family was wholesome before he came along.  Jonah pushes his sister for the truth, her honesty; and she tells him how his birth broke the family apart.  Jonah learns that he had taken all of the oxygen out of the room for a very long time.

Meredith unburdens herself and it enables her to see things clearer.  She gives her mother a manicure, and she fixes her up with all of her jewelry and make up.  She talks to her mother as she makes her pretty, and she pulls the drapes around her bed.  In the meantime, Jonah and Zack chitchat in the lobby, and Jonah doesn’t want to answer Zack’s questions.  Zack talks about the death of his mother, and Jonah contemplates on his next move for he doesn’t know much about himself.  Jonah goes to his mother’s room, and he assists his sister, Meredith, to put the finishes touches on their mother.  Jonah shows his sister that their mother’s locket on the chain has Meredith’s picture in it.  Meredith reminisces about her pre-teen competition in the Chappaqua Beauty Pageant in New York State.

The audience witnesses how these two squabbling siblings conduct a sensible conversation while dressing their mother.  Jonah plays his voicemail and he listens to his mother’s message with her usual complaints.  Jonah wants the family to stay in the room, for he agrees to pull the plug on his mother.  It’s the nurse’s job to pull the plug.  The members of the family say their goodbyes to Linda.  The nurse checks the monitor in the room.  Linda dies on her own!  There is no need for the pulling of the plug.  They sing the theme song of the show Oklahoma, and Jonah lets the others know how he hates the song.  Meredith takes on the responsibility to bury her mother, and she wants to know why her mother called her Joseph.  Her father Stanley tells Meredith that her mother was in love with Joseph McCarthy, former American senator.  Jonah, says he wrote to Ronald Reagan.  The family settles their differences and Jonah stays a little longer in the room with his mother’s body.  Cindy enters the room to see Linda’s body, and Jonah startles her.

The writer gets his message across to the audience, for it witnesses the dysfunctional behavior among Stanley, Jonah and Meredith.  Zack and Cindy realize the foolishness between the siblings.  The end of Linda’s life brings some closure to the animosity between her children.  In Stanley’s case, he finds refuge with his second wife, Cindy.

The reviewer’s point of view:  Some people enjoy being foolish as in Jonah’s case.  He has a perverse disposition that allows him to suck all of the oxygen out of the room.  In the end, Jonah comes to his senses and the audience witnesses a tidbit of redemption in his mannerism.  In Meredith’s case, she reminds me of a poor little rich girl who had suffered from the negative complaints’ of her mother.

Inola @ MITF: Grey Is the New Black

“Grey Is the New Black” written by Jay Michaels and Mary Elizabeth Micari, directed by Jay Michaels and Mary Elizabeth Micari; musical direction by Dan Furman; starring Dave Richards, Christine Conway, and Emmy Pai.

The audience notices three employees in an office setting at their desk, and one of them makes the announcements on the completion of files #364, #365, and #366. There is an impending consolidation of companies, and one of the employees gets creative and she lives out her fantasy.

She imagines that she and Mario are in a relationship, and she dances to the music in a very sensual manner. Emma flaunts what she has to show the world with the audience.

There is a consensus among the employees that consolidation is not good for their line of business. They reevaluate their career options in songs and with their own backstories. The audience realizes that the workers on the job need to reduce their levels of stress, and it surmises that the employees have to find a way out of their current employment.

Dave shares his story with the audience as to how he became an employee at his present job. He recognizes that there is nothing permanent. He tells the audience all about his life before his existing employment which reminds it about the on-going transition in life. He hints a fond appreciation for his grandfather, for he recognizes his contribution to his family.

Emma gives the audience a passionate detail about her career choice before she migrated to the United States of America, and she talks about the ups-and downs in her personal life. Her words of wisdom resonate like music to the ears for the audience.

Catherine’s story entertains the audience about her earlier years as an actress and her job opportunities, and it sees a real prospect for her if she considers acting as her next career choice.

Her performance on stages speaks for itself, and she has what it takes to make it.

These employees empower themselves and they reorganized their plans for pre-retirement buy outs. There is power in numbers! The audience pays close attention to the three performers who have what it take to foster a positive transition in their lives.

The writers get their message across to the audience. The show lets it be known that there is nothing more temporary than a permanent job. The theatre goers become aware that their career shelf life can be prolonged with adequate skills, training, and opportunities.

The reviewer’s point of view: It is always expedient to update ones skills regardless to how confident and secure the employment maybe on the surface.

Inola @ MITF: Either/Or

Either Or” written by Dayle Ann Hunt, directed by Rachel Flynn; stage managed by Laura Hirschberg; starring Courtney Bess, Mimi Bessette, Kathleen Clancy, Ken Perlstein, and Joseph Rose.

The audience sees a not-so-organized apartment, and Deni sleeps on the floor on a mattress. The apartment looks like a transient person occupies it. It’s Deni’s 40th birthday! Deni’s mother calls her and the telephone rings, and she searches through her items to find her cellular telephone. Mother and daughter exchange unenthusiastic pleasantries.

Deni’s pregnant sister, Lorraine, visits her at her apartment; and the sisters discuss the impending birthday dinner at their parents’ home. The audience witnesses how these two sisters talk about their lives in a not too excited manner. Deni shows up at her parents’ home for dinner, and her mother, Mrs. Rutland, gets her to help with the finishing touches before the special dinner is served.

Herbert Pop Rutland takes his beer container with him close to the dinner table, and the audience sees him in a groggy disposition with a foul mouth. Besides Pop, Lorraine, Deni, and Mrs. Rutland sit at the table; and Raymond joins the family. Edie, Mrs. Rutland, tries her best to keep the peace at the table; but Pop tells the world how he feels about his two unmarried daughters. Deni tries to hold her own at the table with her father’s insults, and Lorraine defends her position in the family, too.

Raymond sits in the middle of a family feud, and Mrs. Rutland attempts to down play her family dynamics. Raymond reflects on his own family drama without uttering a word! Pop lets his daughters, Deni and Lorraine, know how he really feels about them. The audience hears when he refers to his daughters as two bad eggs. Mrs. Rutland brings a box with articles from her other daughter to show them to Raymond, and she brags about her daughter’s marriage and her professional success.

Between Deni and Lorraine, the truth about their sister’s life affects Pop Rutland in a negative way, and he passes out from the news about his daughter’s unconventional marriage. Lorraine on the other hand begins to feel labor pain, and two ambulances take the father and the daughter to the same hospital. Deni and Raymond share their life stories with each other, and they commiserate with each other on family matters.

Raymond’s mother dies, and he wants a new start. He volunteers to go with Deni on her trip to California. Pop Rutland’s behavior towards his daughter sends her on a roller coaster of emotional turmoil, and the audience hopes for a new start for a 40-year old. Deni gets a new start with Raymond by her side. They need each other!

The writer gets her message across to the audience, and it is a very spirited one that deserves to be told in the society. Bad behavior from some parents has contributed to the emotional damaged in the

development of their children. The Rutland’s’ daughters represent the fallout from the mental abuse children have received from one or both parents while they were growing up in the household. I recommend this show to theatre goers because it resonates the truth about some of the tribulations in society.

The reviewer’s point of view: It is very essential for the mental health professionals to recognize this epidemic. Society needs more plays like this one to remind the public that negative words serve as a dagger in the hearts and souls of children.

Inola @ MITF: Acute…Girl

Acute…Girl” written by Julia Sun, directed by Christine Renee Miller; starring Julia Sun.

The audience welcomes the performer on stage with her one-woman show. She chronicles her life growing up in the state of Massachusetts, and she states how she envied a young girl by the name of Stephanie in her 3rd grade class. The performer tells the anxious audience that Stephanie had two friends and the Glamor squad met on Fridays. She reiterates how the day for homework was on Thursdays, and the performer sat next to Stephanie at their meeting place. She lets it be known that she felt very much invisible in her friend’s eyes.

The audience hears all about the performer’s visit to Stephanie’s home, and how she was exposed to a Hollywood style lifestyle in Massachusetts. Stephanie’s mother lived the lifestyle of a movie star with a good life and a good house. She tells the audience that Stephanie was well liked by others. The audience hears all about the trip the performer took with her grandfather to the mall, and she articulates how she wanted a watch with all of her heart, but she states that she was told by her grandfather that she didn’t need it. A month later, for her 10th birthday, she received a gift from her parents. She reminds the audience that she completed her homework before she opened the box, and the gift wasn’t the pink watch.

The performer continues to talk about her life and her love interest, David; and she mentions how she asked Stephanie for an outfit to wear on a special occasion. Stephanie gave her an outfit, and she tried it on in the school and she felt like a princess. She lets the audience know that she knew how Kate Middleton feels to be a princess. She reiterates how she tried to use makeup on her face, and she practiced with the application of it at home. The audience learns that common household items were not good enough for the face. She checked her mom’s closet for clothes to wear and she looked great in them. The performer provides all of the juicy information about her date, David, who picked her up at 6:00 pm; and he made her feel special. When she returned home, her mother raced to get the dress off of her.

The audience gets an update about the performer’s life story as a freshman in high school, and how she got a job behind her father’s back, unknown to him. She was a receptionist and she was able to buy clothes from Urban Outfitter. She provides additional information about her chance meeting with a worker who introduced her into the world of modeling. The modeling coach was a man who was slightly overweight, bald, and over 40 years old. She shares a few of his antidotes with the audience and she reiterates them. The coach said to the performer that she had to carry herself with poise at all times. He assured the student that the way in which she opened the door can make or break her. The performer practices in front of the audience to illustrate her story.

The performer brings the audience into the world of modeling with her stories, and she tells the tale of her aspirations to model for Forever 21. Her modeling assignments were confined to leotards, and she felt special at that time. A friend of the performer influenced her to get into pageantry, and she embarked on the quest. She entered a teen pageant and she traveled to a southern state, and the experience reminded her of a thirdworld country. Her cab ride was the longest one in her life, and when she got to the location; Miss Georgia wanted to know more about her life. She continues to let the anxious audience know how she was able to evade the curious southern beauty’s question. The performer excused herself and blamed it on being jet log.

She hints to the audience that there was a seasoned pageantry contestant in the competition, and the performer relates to it how she mimicked Miss Teen Nevada in her presentation. She danced like someone who was trained in ballet, and this experience was the turning point in her life. Her dreams and realities of Tiaras and Rhinestones took a back seat. Her boyfriend wanted to attend Princeton University in New Jersey, and the performer evaluated her priorities and career choice. Although she can be who she wants to be, it is still a time consuming endeavor that requires time, energy, and money.

The writer gets her message across to the audience, for it is always a good thing to work with what you have. The need for nicer clothes and other special items surely put a lot of pressure on the performer when she was growing up. I will recommend this show to other theatre goers who may appreciate a heart wrenching reality check and a story to share with others.

The reviewer’s point of view: It’s disconcerting to know that most people are not comfortable in their own skin. Parents must reinforce to their children that they have to work with what they have, and they must try their best to aspire educationally. Education is the only yardstick.

Inola @ MITF: The Funny Thing About Blood

The Funny Thing About Bloodwritten and directed by Mary Elizabeth Gilbert; starring Mary Elizabeth Gilbert, Victoria Rulle, Kim Taff, and Toby Irving.

The audience sees an object behind a screen, and it surmises that the picture is a representation of a sonorgram. Soon after, three young women playfully run around the stage with balloons in their hands. The image from behind the screen becomes visible. She’s a living person in the flesh. The performer moves two boxes around in order to use their tops. She places a bottle of alcohol, a glass, a pack of cigarette and a lighter on it, and she sits on the other. She tells the audience all about her trip to Poughkeepsie, New York to get an abortion. A library was misguidedly taken for a clinic. Perhaps both buildings had the same architectural designer in Poughkeepsie.

A second young woman shares her story with the audience, and she lets it be known how Huggies commercial for baby’s diapers has put a strain on the mental psyche of some women who had abortions. Expectant mothers in a higher socio-economical strata surely embrace this type of commercial. Another young woman draws the audience’s attention to all of the political wrangling that involves science, culture, education and government. In today’s political climate, we all hear the dialogue about the rights of women to choose and it dictates what is best for them.

The audience hears all about a second procedure by the third young woman. This information gives a rise to the discourse that an abortion is her method of birth control, and it ponders how protesters at abortion clinics do serve as a deterrence for some women not to terminate their pregnancies. Protesters have tried to minimize the number of abortion performed by doctors in the United States of America. Most young women have to endure the name calling and label as baby killers.

One of the performers shows some magazines that promote motherhood to the first young woman from behind the screen with a cord attached to her body, and she refuses to look at them at length. She doesn’t want to read these magazines that promote motherhood. She tells the audience about her encounter with the nurse who wanted her to see the sonogram of her pregnancy.

One of the other ladies gives the audience her reason for her abortion, and she states how she had to assume the role of mother to her sibling at a tender age of eight years old. When her brother was scared, she had to be there for him. Her mother was not acting as a mother with children, and she had to mother herself, too. It was difficult for her to broach the subject of abortion to her parents. Some parents do not want to miss out on the opportunity to become grandparents.

Now, it’s back to the young woman’s story who shares her experience in Poughkeepsie with the audience. She takes the audience into the tiny room mentally, and she mentions asking the nurse to hold her hand. This is the same nurse who held the needle with the medication. The performer severs the

cord for the audience to see on the stage, and the other three performers play jump rope with it. Next, the young ladies run around the room with their balloons one more time.

Each of the young women continues to take turn in telling her story, and the audience gets the 4-1-1 on why one of them had an abortion. She states that her baby’s daddy didn’t have what it takes to be a father to her baby, for he had his own demons to contend with in his own life. She reveals further that he slept around with both boys and girls. Back to the young woman’s story who had the procedure done at the clinic in Poughkeepsie, New York; she resumes her story from being in the recovery room after the actual abortion, and she talks about the nurse’s asking her if she wanted to see the sonogram. She said yes to the nurse! She looked at it! She put the abortion behind her. Her focus is on 10 years from now when it is going to be the best day of her life when she has the right man in her life and probably pregnant again.

The writer gets her message across to the audience, for the topic of abortion is still a very deep and sensitive subject that has divided this country since the Roe v Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) landmark decision by the Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. Politicians have been flip flopping on this decision, but it still remains the woman’s choice to choose her options. The writer brings it home to the audience, and it allows it to analyze the different scenarios in this national debate. This show is a must-see performance that requires to be performed on a regular basis.

The reviewer’s point of view: The government cannot continue to legislate the reproductive organs of women without controversy. In some instances, many young women could have prevented their unwanted pregnancies, but promiscuity among young people in this country is as American as apple pie and baseball.

Inola @ MITF: Lamariya

Lamariya” written by Crystal Rae, directed by Troy Scheid, stage managed by Danitra Luers; starring Byran Jacquet, Brenda “Bebe” Wilson, Kyle Anthony Mosley, Jarred Tettey, LaKeisha Randle, John Hall III, Adrian Cardell Porter, Samuel Harvey, and Rita L. Hughes.

The audience gets a ring-side view of a woman in an African outfit and a couple with a young boy in the midst of them. The young boy wants an answer for one of the world’s oldest and most important question as to where babies come from. His mother blushes and she tells him all about the African experience.

In another scene, the audience observes four performers on stage and they dress in Afro-centric attires. They talk about life, and the youngster wants to know all about the birds and bees before he goes to bed. One performer leaves and the other follows him. The son returns with a baby in his possession, and he talks with his mother. The other performers enter and they converse with each other before the mother advises her son on his survival and the death of a stark. The mother tells her son that not every bird needs to fly, for the clipping of his wingsmaybe the best thing to do in order to guarantee his safety.

The audience sees the husband and his wife as they catch up on each other activity during the day, and she relates her encounter with the green grocer to her husband. This green grocer apparently commits adultery in the community with other women, and it is common knowledge to some of the residents of Lamariya, Mississippi in the 1940s. The wife states how she asked him about his wife, and he gave her extra potatoes and onions. Perhaps the green grocer wanted to keep his customer happy for asking him about his wife. It could have been a friendly inquiry or a threat to his marriage because the lady knows about his shenanigans in the community.

The African mother tells her son about life, and she explains to him the purpose of the delivery of babies. She articulates to her son that he must trust his compass. The audience sees the boy with his wings as he portrays a stark, and he sees a black woman who questions him. She tries to protect him! Another woman comes in with a baby wraps in her arm. She mutters certain words about flying Starks to the audience, and she mentions certain geographical locations like Cuba and Mississippi. The husband and his wife sing a duet that mention Starks who deliver babies and how they are called envoys!

The woman in an African outfit walks around the stage, and she perform her hocuspocus for the audience to see. The husband and his wife communicate with each other, and they look at the newspaper and read the printed news in it about an accidental drowning and the killing of a baby. The woman with the baby in her arm holds it next to the boy with the wings. The boy with his wings has a

job to do, but his family wants to curb his quest in the baby delivery business. He depicts the young stark with the answer to the burning question about babies, and the other youngster wants an answer to his question about where babies come from. Some adults have never been comfortable to discuss the birds and the bees with their children, so they rely heavily on the story about the Stark to soften the blow around the real deal.

The writer gets her message across to the audience, and I will surely recommend this performance to all die-hard theatre goers. It is a story that allows a mature audience to reflect on its own enlightenment about the birds and bees. Children need to know the truth about their real passage into this world when they are capable and old enough to deal with this reality of life.

The reviewer’s point of view. We are living in a very enlightened world, so parents can use technology to help them in the explaining of the birds and bees to their children. There are so many technological advancement in medicine today, so if a woman does want to become pregnant the old fashion way, there are other alternatives available to her. In this case, society may have to hold on the Nancy story for a bit longer.