VOLUME 003 THE eNEWSLETTER OF ALL STARS PROJECT INC.
eNewsletter Archives
 September 22, 2004
Theatre for the Whole City: the All Stars Project Performs New York City

Promotion for Stealin' Home

While Diane Stiles was talking recently about the upcoming season at the All Stars Project’s performing arts and learning center on 42nd Street, she reflected on the “community bridge” mural that graces an entire wall in the center’s lobby. Diane, the managing director of the off-Broadway Castillo Theatre, pointed out the mix of donors, volunteers and community activists — young and old, black, white, Asian and Latino — pictured in the mural. “That wonderful and diverse mix of people that form a ‘human bridge’ in the mural is emblematic of the All Stars’ mission,” said Stiles, “to build bridges between the people throughout the diverse communities of the New York metropolitan area.”

“One of the things that is unique about Castillo is that it has grown up side-by-side with the All Stars Talent Show Network (ASTSN), and the performances created there by New York City’s youth. As a production house, the All Stars Project [the parent non-profit that sponsors both Castillo and the ASTSN] produces really varied performances in (and for) our diverse communities; that’s what we mean by Theatre for the Whole City. And our new 42nd Street theatre complex serves as a hub. It connects thousands of young community artists to New York City culture.”

About the upcoming season, Stiles said, “Our first season on 42nd Street featured artistic director, Fred Newman’s directing while the upcoming (2004-2005) season, features Newman as a playwright and director.

Stealin’ Home, our first production, is, in my opinion, one of Fred’s most beautifully written plays,” continues Stiles. “Stealin’ Home is a structurally fascinating piece. It poetically explores sexuality, baseball, and icons. As with all of Newman’s plays, it tackles a philosophical issue, in this case the gap between who we are and how others see us. That gap exists not only for the famous, but for all of us. The cast of fresh, young actors, all of whom are new to the Castillo stage, portray three characters: Sojourner, who represents/personifies the African-American community and reappears throughout the play in different guises, Jackie Robinson, and his friend and teammate, PeeWee. Stealin’ Home opens Castillo’s second 42nd Street season October 8.”

In the spring, Castillo presents Revising Germany, under the direction of Gabrielle L. Kurlander. In this play Newman looks at the life of the great German playwright, Bertolt Brecht, and his intimate relations with several women. It is a montage of performed conversations with songs and dance featuring the character of Brecht, who is the second most produced playwright in the world (second only to Shakespeare). Brecht has been a controversial figure for a number of years and the play engages some of these controversies head-on, including his “sell-out” of progressive politics and the fact that some of his best-known plays may actually have been penned by several women with whom he was close.

The origins of The Therapy Plays: Newman’s Postmodern Follies, can be traced to 1996 when Fred was first asked to give a talk at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association. The subject of the talk was to be: ‘Critical Psychology: Working on new ways of helping people.’ However, rather than write a talk, Fred chose to write a short play. In fact, the play would become the first of six short plays that have been written for and performed at as many APA meetings over the years. Along the way, such deep thinkers as Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka, Karl Marx, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Jesus Christ have made appearances as characters in these plays. Using these plays as raw material, Fred and Castillo’s dramaturg Dan Friedman, have created a ‘postmodern Vaudevillian review.’ A lot of the history of the 20th century will be covered in this play/review allowing many of the heavy hitters of the time to make their debut on 42nd Street!

In addition, sprinkled throughout the Castillo season, will be more performances of This is Your Ridiculous Life! Word is out and the show is becoming an underground sensation! By the end of the summer just ended, over a thousand people had attended the improv comedy show.

Youth Onstage!, which just had its inaugural season, has four productions on deck for 2004-05. It will present an All Stars Hip-Hop Cabaret, in conjunction with the All Stars Talent Show Network in the fall and spring, an experimental workshop in October and Robin Hood: A Political Romance opens at the end of February.

“This Cabaret is very hard hitting!” says Antoine Joyce, co-director, with Dan Friedman of Hip-Hop Cabaret [a co-production of Youth Onstage! and the All Stars Talent Show Network]. Opening September 10, the new Hip-Hop Cabaret consists of three acts returning from last season’s first hit Cabaret including: the poet Squeak; the dance group Fully Loaded and rapper Charlie Biggs. The new acts are all alumni of the ASTSN, including the rap group The Dead; the long-time All Stars sensation, Dance Factory; singer Aron Lewis and Big Will (who often emcees at All Stars Talent Shows), who will perform a monologue from Fred Newman’s 1993 play, Billie & Malcolm: A Demonstration. “With terrorism and the elections in the air and poverty increasing at home, many of these pieces will be very political,” reported Cabaret co-director, Joyce. “At the same time, it will be a lot of fun. We’ll be doing lots of things to get crowd participation going and hope to have people dancing in their seats!” There will be five Cabaret performances, September 10, 11 and the following three Fridays.

Beginning on October 29, Youth Onstage! (YO!) will present an experimental workshop that YO!’s artistic director Dan Friedman is creating with ten young performers. “The cast consists of dedicated young actors who have something to say and are willing to take risks to say it,” says Friedman. “Be prepared to experience an engaging pastiche of performance styles and philosophical musings.”

In February YO! will present its third production of the season, Robin Hood: A Political Romance, written by Friedman. “This is a version of the story that undercuts the typical romanticizing of Robin Hood and puts the hard political issues inherent in the legend center stage,” the author says.

Five Points Presents, a consortium of community theatres and artists, opens its second season at the All Stars 42nd Street center February 4 with Day of Reckoning, by a young African-American playwright, Melody Cooper. This historical drama tells the true story of Lucy and Albert Parsons, an interracial couple of American anarchists who campaigned for worker’s rights in the 19th Century. Recently the play won a playwriting award at the annual conference of the Association for Theater in Higher Education.

BACK TO SCHOOL: If you are not a friend, relative or neighbor of one of the young people participating in the All Stars Talent Show Network process, you can sign up for Back-to-School and get in on one of the hottest shows in town! Back-to-School is the event that brings the All Stars’ adult community to see (and support) the young people in action at the ASTSN’s auditions, workshops and talent shows.

According to Christina DiChiara, Program Director, Back-to-School “is one of our most exciting performances!” The young hosts, all recruits from the Development School for Youth, meet the Back-to- School audience at the All Stars center on 42nd Street. Audience members are given tours of the center as well as a brief introduction both to the center’s programs and to the young hosts. Then everyone climbs on a chartered bus to go “back-to-school” — wherever that day’s event is taking place. The Back-to- School audience is invited to mingle with the local community and during the course of the event is given the opportunity to stand up and take a bow to show their support for all the hard work that the young people put into these exciting shows. After seeing several acts, everyone gets on the bus to ride back to the All Stars on 42nd Street.

Attending a Back-to-School trip is the best way to see the All Stars’ Theater for the Whole City at work all around town while showing your support for New York City’s young people. “It’s the best ticket in town!” The next Back-to-School trip is Saturday, October 16. For information, contact Christina DiChiara at 212-941-9400 ext. 326.

AROUND THE COUNTRY: As the ASTSN’s new National Producer, Antoine Joyce is particularly well placed to comment on performance activities of All Stars branches around the country. “The national work is going great,” according to Joyce. Recently both Pam Lewis and Antoine visited Boston to lead an All Stars workshop — with Pam organizing the adults and Antoine leading a youth workshop with 20 young people. Atlanta recently held a one-day event consisting of auditions, workshop and talent show. Oakland California is in its 6th cycle and will be holding its second annual fundraiser October 6. (Note: for more reports on All Stars’ regional operations and affiliates, see the front page of this eNewsletter).

If you would like to order tickets for a play or get more information about any of the events mentioned in this article, please call the All Stars box office at 212-941-1234. Or visit the box office in person at 543 West 42nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. Box office hours are: 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. You can also order tickets online at www.theatermania.com or www.castillo.org.

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