News and Updates
Ginny reflects on Curtain Call 2015
Wednesday, March 04, 2015 12:00 AM

Executive Director, Ginny Louloudes // Photo by Robert Kidd

Last week at Curtain Call, I discussed my concerns for the health and spirit of our city after the Eric Garner verdict, the shooting of Officers Liu and Ramirez by a mad man in retaliation, and the behavior that followed these events. I explained that, for me, the image of the Woods in the Sondheim musical, Into The Woods, symbolizes a place where we can take risks, learn about the deepest parts of ourselves, and grow. I also shared that I have found myself stumbling in the Woods, and invited you to come with me, so we can demonstrate the power theatre has to foster necessary conversations on race, inequality, and diversity together. I noted that post-performance discussions could enhance the power of plays with themes of social justice to a greater level, and cited examples. I also mentioned Darren Walker's essay, “A New Testament of Hope”, in which Darren shared the resurgence of hope he felt during the protests at the sight of hundreds of diverse young people who joined the marches.

 

Then, this week I got to see all of those themes in action when A.R.T./New York Board Member and Artistic Director of Downtown Art, Ryan Gilliam, invited me to her production of To Kill A Mockingbird. One of the joys of attending a Downtown Art production is that Ryan always shares her motivation with the audience through a written thought piece. For To Kill A Mockingbird, she wrote this:

 

Atticus Finch says, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

There’s both hopefulness in that…and tragedy.  Tragedy because you know and I know that this is the only skin I’ll ever actually wear.  Hopefulness because it means that understanding relies on imagination – a detailed, in-depth, fully realized imagination.  And that’s hopeful because human beings love imagining.

Read the rest of Ryan Gilliam's speech

 

To help demonstrate this point, Ryan directed a cast of seven girls, (black, white, Asian and Latino), who seamlessly moved from one part to another. Through this method, each girl got to know what it felt like to be in the skin of all the characters, from Scout to Atticus, to Calpurnia.

 

The simple yet beautiful production was followed by a moderated post-show discussion, with special guests from El Puente’s Center for Arts and Culture. El Puente’s young actors come from all 5 boroughs, and their teacher taught them to question everything. While the young artists from Downtown Art and El Puente saw that in some cases, the racism depicted in To Kill A Mockingbird continues today, they also saw hope. "I always say good morning to the police who watch my building," said one girl, adding, "I posted on my FaceBook page that the police helped a lot of people on 9/11." Like Darren Walker, these young people gave me a burst of optimism. 

 

According to Ryan, Downtown Art had several local activists and organizers there who also chose to stay silent in order to listen to them. She told me, "It was a night I will definitely remember for quite a while."  

 

And so will I.

 

-Ginny Louloudes, Executive Director

 
Curtain Call 2015
Friday, February 27, 2015 12:00 AM

Executive Director, Ginny Louloudes // Photo by Robert Kidd

There is something special about Curtain Call, our annual member event, which is worth giving up a precious free Monday night for. There is a certain quality to the evening that makes us all forget the bitter cold outside. There is a magic to it. Curtain Call is a singular evening because we so rarely take a step back and truly celebrate and honor the work we do as a community.

Todd Haimes kicked off the evening with a warm welcome. It was a delight to see him emerge from the gorgeous set of Fiasco Theater's production of Into The Woods. What better place could there be to celebrate theatre than on a stage brimming with theatrical possibility thanks to Roundabout's presentation of Fiasco's thrilling work. As Todd introduced Ginny Louloudes, we were reminded of a reason many of us are so committed to the theatre: lifelong friendships.

A.R.T./New York Executive Director, Ginny Louloudes, gave great care to her speech Monday evening. Refining and editing it until the final moments. Some of us even saw her with a pen and note cards, fine-tuning her speech in the lobby before the house opened. Her dedication shined through in a speech that highlighted the power of theatre to create social change and what we can accomplish when we work together. She left us with Sondheim's famous lyrics, "Someone is on your side. No one is alone."

The DeWitt Stern Local Hero Awards are always a delight. Architects, restaurateurs, massage therapists, press reps, and fashion designers were among this year's eclectic group of local heroes. Awards in hand, the heroes lit up the stage as José Cheo Oliveras’ and DeWitt Stern's Joseph Bower’s charm warmed the room.

While we work in the trenches of nonprofit theatre, it can be easy to forget that what we do is worth celebrating. Perhaps that is why the first big idea of Lear deBessonet's keynote speech, "theatre is a public good," resonated so strongly with the crowd. Lear introduced us all to radical inclusivity and redefined the idea of a V.I.P. She stirred the crowd and left us thrilled about the possibilities of theatre as we flooded into the lobby for a reception full of laughter and intense conversation.

Even as the A.R.T./New York staff began to clean up, camaraderie and excitement permeated the theatre. Staff and members alike spilled out into the streets, pubs, and apartments of New York still talking about the ideas of the evening. That is the magic of Curtain Call. It is an evening that brings the community together and focuses us, energizes us. It was an evening that prepared us for the hard and rewarding work ahead.

 

-Kati Frazier, Communications and Membership Coordinator


 All photos by Robert Kidd

 
From Crisis To Creation
Thursday, February 19, 2015 12:00 AM

On February 9, A.R.T./New York had the privilege of presenting at the CUNY Graduate Center at a gathering entitled “Crisis to Creation: A Town Hall on the Future of New York City Theatre.” The event, organized by Brad Burgess in collaboration with Frank Hentschker, was centered around strategies to sustain theatres and theatre artists in New York City in the wake of the financial crisis and the seemingly endless challenges facing artists who live and make work in the city today. The evening culminated in the presentation of the inaugural Segal Award to Majority Leader of the New York City Council Jimmy Van Bramer, and remarks from DCA Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, both champions of NYC’s arts and culture.

The evening featured a number of speakers, all of whom make theatre or provide services to theatres in New York City. These range from the local (4th Street Arts Block) to the national (Theatre Communication Group) and many in between, including the Asian American Arts Alliance and One Percent for Culture. The evening opened with an invocation in the form of a 'letter' from Ellen Stewart, the deeply missed founder of LaMama Experimental Theatre in the East Village, read by their current Artistic Director Mia Yoo. Stewart’s was not a typical path to the theatre, and what she created at LaMama reflected her unique personality, sense of style, and vibrant artistry. She used the metaphor of the pushcart, which was returned to during the evening, as a way to describe our theatre community and what we have to offer one another as we move forward. Generosity was the watchword of the evening, inspired by Ellen.

The presentations were each unique and interesting (props to Jennifer Wright Cook from The Field for being my personal Powerpoint hero), covering topics ranging from The League of Independent Theaters’ Charter Barter program in schools to National BlackFest’s upcoming presentations at The Lark to ArtsPool’s launch of its collective insourcing services (you know we’re big fans of theirs here at A.R.T./New York). But what was most exciting was the breadth of the services and support that are available to theatres and artists here in New York City. The sheer number of committed, passionate, generous administrators and artists who are creating work and connecting artists with services is outstanding. Being in a room with Gus Schulenburg from N.E.T., nobody could believe that theatre is in crisis. Rather, we are pushing the cart forward, if slowly.

Is it enough? No. Can we do more? Of course. But there are solutions being enacted. One of A.R.T./New York’s responses, and the one that was presented on Monday, are the two state-of-the-art performance spaces we will open on West 53rd Street in the summer of 2016, which you can read about here. Affordable space is one of many responses to the crisis of 2008. As one audience member described the theatre project after the event—“So, you want artists to have more, for less? Usually it’s the other way around.” That sounds about right.

Ann Marie Lonsdale, Director of Programs

 
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