Tag Archives: Theatre

The Great Bare: The Celebrity of Adah Menken


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Adah Menken, dubbed “The Great Bare” by writer/admirer Mark Twain, was the first media celebrity, who was known around the world as “The Naked Lady” because her stage show featured her nude (in a sheer body stocking).

Her star power inspired poets like Walt Whitman and writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who used Menken as the basis for the classic Sherlock Holmes supporting character of Irene Adler. Her popularity was fueled by a new advent of the period, mass circulation newspapers.

Their reporters couldn’t wait to write about her latest adventure, according to biographers Michael and Barbara Foster, who call her the originator of the modern celebrity femme fatale.

In a century remembered for Victorian restraint, Menken’s modern flair for action, scandal, and unpopular causes – especially that of the Jewish people – revolutionized show business. On stage, she was the first actress to bare all. Off stage, she originated the front-page scandal and became the world’s most highly paid actress—celebrated on Broadway, as well as in San Francisco, London, and Paris. At thirty-three, she mysteriously died.

“Menken was an original who pioneered in several areas we now take for granted,” said the Fosters, authors of the newly published A Dangerous Woman: The Life, Loves and Scandals of Adah Isaacs Menken, 1835 – 1868 (Lyons Press, 2012). “Adah invented ‘stardom’ in the modern, media-driven sense, making use of the newly invented newspaper, the telegraph, photography, railroads and steamships to become the first global superstar — number one on Broadway, the rage of gold rush San Francisco, the toast of Victorian London and Paris. Onstage, Adah risked her life every evening in the Civil War sensation Mazeppa, in which apparently stripped naked she rode up a four-story stage mountain tied to a stallion. The mix of sexuality and danger made her the Civil War siren, the highest paid actress in the world, and caused her death at 33.”

Moreover, it wasn’t that Adah did these things to garner attention or as cheap publicity stunts. The Fosters believe that “Swimming Against the Current”–an essay she wrote in defense of Walt Whitman–was an essential part of her personality. There was nothing contrived about her.

A Dangerous Woman is the first book to tell Menken’s fascinating story. Born in New Orleans to a “kept woman of color” and to a father whose identity is debated, Menken eventually moved to the Midwest, where she became an outspoken protégé of the rabbi who founded Reform Judaism. In New York City, she became Walt Whitman’s disciple. During the Civil War she was arrested as a Confederate agent—and became America’s first pin-up superstar. Menken married and left five husbands.

Michael Foster is a historian, novelist and biographer. A Dangerous Woman is his fifth book. Barbara Foster is an associate professor of women’s studies at City University of New York.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama Planned


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Kyle Jenks, producer of Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama is a native of Albany, NY. His outdoor drama will pay homage to iconic American author Walter D. Edmonds, noted for his historically accurate novels, including the popular Drums Along the Mohawk (1936). This American classic was made into a highly successful Technicolor feature film in 1939. Directed by John Ford, it starred Hollywood legends Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert. Edmonds was born in 1903 in Boonville (in Oneida County, NY) and died in 1998.

The world premiere of Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama coincides with the British Brigade and Continental Line’s national Revolutionary War encampment at Gelston Castle Estate. Located at 350 Galina Lane, Mohawk, NY the estate will be home to an estimated 1,000 Revolutionary War reenactors. The theme of the weekend long festivities will be to honor the 235th anniversary of the Battle of Oriskany.

One hallmark feature of a great outdoor drama is the unique way in which the story and the site are inextricably intertwined. Historic Gelston Castle Estate is located at the epicenter of a hotbed of America’s Revolutionary War activity.

After moving to Ohio, Mr. Jenks found a concentration of outdoor historical dramas there. Once he attended a performance of Tecumseh!, in Chillicothe, OH, his vision to produce his own outdoor drama instantly materialized. According to the prestigious Institute for Outdoor Drama, outdoor dramas have the potential to make a significanhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gift impact on the local economy. Besides creating a way to increase total economic dollars to the Mohawk Valley, Mr. Jenks envisions the project to be an exciting way to connect the local citizenry with a feeling of ownership to this classic American story.

For more information about the drama, contact Kyle Jenks at 216 509 7502 or www.AmericanHeritageLivingHistoryProductions. Visit www.oriskany235th.org to learn more about the National reenactment weekend. Jenks is also offering an associated six day bicycle tour that visits the historic sites included in the plotline of the drama (See www.AmericanHeritageBicycleTours.com). Food, period sutlers (merchants), vendors and entertainers will also be present during the weekend.

Westport’s Historic Depot Theatre Looks to 2012


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The historic Depot Theatre in Westport on Lake Champlain will celebrate its 33rd year with a new managing director, a new volunteer guild and four shows for the 2012 season. The popular professional theatre company was founded in 1979 by Carol Buchanan, former President of the Westport Historical Society, which maintained stewardship over the historic Westport train station.

The Historical Society saw the potential for cultural activity in the partially renovated D & H Railroad station, and turned first to a Wednesday Night Bingo game to reach the goal. In 1985, the Depot Theatre stepped out from under the Historical Society’s umbrella to become its own separate not-for-profit entity (the theatre company turned professional in 1988 under an agreement with Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers. In 2006, the Depot Theatre also became a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for professional, non-profit theaters.

Since 1979, the Depot Theatre has produced over 170 plays in its handicap accessible, 136 seat performance space (the former D&H freight room, now fully air conditioned.) In 1995, the Depot Theatre was recognized with a Park Heritage Award from the Adirondack Council and in 2000 with an Adirondack Architectural Heritage Award which recognized major renovation and restoration work to the historical building.

Though Delaware and Hudson is no longer in operation, AMTRAK continues to service rail passengers on the Adirondack Line between NYC and Montreal. The Westport stop is a gateway to the Adirondack Park, and the train station and the Theatre have developed a unique partnership to keep this historical space maintained – the Depot Theatre serves as steward of the historical site.

The Depot has launched a national search to replace outgoing managing director Chris Casquilho who is moving to Ogden, Utah with his family to work for Weber State University.

The Board of Trustees has said it’s approaching this leadership transition as an opportunity to realign operations to focus on the Depot’s long range plan. “We’re looking for an individual who can help grow the operating budget in order to nurture our commitment to exploring new work alongside the canon of American Theatre,” explained Artistic Director Shami McCormick, whose involvement spans the organization’s history. The annual operating budget recently ranges between $300,000 and $350,000, but McCormick is says there is room and demand for growth.

“There’s something quite magical about being behind the scenes in a live theatre atmosphere,” said Kim Rielly, board trustee. “And in 2012, we plan to ramp up our Volunteer Guild, with new opportunities for community members to take a real hands-on role in the operation of our hometown Theatre, and earn some great perks to go along with it.”

The 2012 season will feature four main stage shows including a Country/Blues Love Story, a fast-paced comedy, a 1950‘s musical with classic favorites, a funny story of five full-figured women racing to meet nearly impossible production deadlines, plus a full season’s worth of mid-week and special events.

For more information, season subscriptions, tickets and a complete schedule, contact the Box Office at 518.962.4449 or visit depottheatre.org.

Olana Presenting The Life of Emily Dickinson


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The Olana Partnership will present “To See a Summer Sky,” a one-woman theatrical performance based on the life of Emily Dickinson. Excerpted from William Luce’s play “The Belle of Amherst,” on Saturday, July 2 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. The performance will take place at Cosy Cottage, the first home of Hudson River School painter Frederic E. Church located in the historic farm complex at Olana State Historic Site.

The production, performed by Triple Shadow actress Mari Andrejco as Emily Dickinson, and directed by Beth Skinner, focuses on Dickinson’s quiet life of transcendent reflection. Dickinson’s poems were inspired by a circumscribed world of home, garden, and village of Amherst. Andrejco says the play is “created for family audiences and allows them to learn about Emily Dickinson as if they were living at that time period (1830-1886).”

Triple Shadow creates visual theater challenging artistic boundaries, revealing the interconnectedness between human cultures and nature. The collaborative process is intercultural and interdisciplinary, affecting audiences in sensory and subconscious ways creating new perceptions of time and memory.

Mari Andrejco trained with Sanford Meiser at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. She has performed in Europe, Mexico, Egypt, and the United States. Andrejco has done stage acting, television, and video including appearing as Queen Elizabeth I and Susan B. Anthony for PBS. She has worked with Shakespeare and Company, Triple Shadow, and the Pleiades Company and has taught at the Institute for Arts in Education in the Albany schools.

Beth Skinner has premiered ten productions at La Mama E.T.C. in New York City with support from the theater programs of National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts and Massachusetts Cultural Council as well as grants from NEA Opera and NEA Presenting Program. The company has toured in Egypt, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Canada, and Indonesia and collaborated with artists from Japan, China, Korea, Hungary, Romania, Indonesia, Mexico, and Russia.

The performance will take place at Olana State Historic Site 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, NY.

Cost of the play is $5.00 per person for non-members and free for members of The Olana Partnership. A $5.00 entry fee per vehicle will be charged (fee is waived for members of The Olana Partnership). This fee may be credited toward a house tour as long as house tour tickets are available. Please bring blankets and lawn chairs for seating. For more information contact Sarah Hasbrook, Education Coordinator for The Olana Partnership, at shasbrook@olana.org or call (518) 828-1872 x 109.

This program is made possible in part through support provided by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency; the Hudson River Bank & Trust Foundation; the Educational Foundation of America; the John Wilmerding Educational Initiative, and the members of The Olana Partnership.

Shakespeare Co Launches Preservation Effort


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Adirondack Shakespeare Company (ADK Shakes) is returning to the Adirondack region for its second full Summer Festival Season. The company plans to follow last summer’s presentations of As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth with an all-new expanded season featuring ADK Shakes’ daring and adrenaline-fueled RAW performance style which strips the Bard down to the bare bones.

This year, the company will present A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Merchant of Venice, along with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield and Theseus and the Minotaur, an original children’s production by Sean Adams.

In addition to their full season, ADK Shakes has taken on a new challenge. The company is determined to revitalize the outdoor amphitheater at Scaroon Manor Day-Use Facility (formerly Taylor’s Point). This historic landmark was once a vibrant destination for locals as well as tourists looking to take in professional theatre amidst the beauty of the Adirondack Mountains. ADK Shakes’ Artistic Board has made it their mission to get the outdoor amphitheater on New York’s list of historic sites.

“One of the reasons we are looking to establish a Shakespeare company in the Adirondacks is to save this amazing outdoor amphitheater,” says Artistic Director Tara Bradway. The company’s plans to raise awareness during the course of the season include public presentations and petitions in the Adirondack region.

The Adirondack region tour of The Complete Works will begin July 4th, while the Mainstage Season opens July 21st and will run through August 7th. Performances of the children’s show Theseus and the Minotaur are set to run from July 27th through August 6th. Performances will take place primarily at the Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake Village, as well as the Little Theater on the Farm in Fort Edward and LARAC Gallery in Glen Falls. Weather permitting, the final weekend of performances will be held at the outdoor amphitheater at Scaroon Manor.

This event is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Program, administered locally by the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council. For more information, a full performance schedule and to purchase tickets, visit www.adkshakes.org. Email inquiries may be sent to info@adkshakes.org.

Illustration: Postcard of the historic Sacroon Manor outdoor amphitheater, Schroon Lake, NY.

Live Theater Returns to Ellis Island


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Sing a Song of Freedom: The Story of Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty, a new play celebrating Lady Liberty’s 125th year, dramatizes how the writer’s poem “The New Colossus” transformed the beloved Statue into a symbol of welcome. The show opens at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum’s intimate Living Theater for a limited run beginning April 16 through Labor Day weekend. Written by playwright/director Ken Urban, the 30-minute play also features stories of immigration.

Produced and funded by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, the show will be presented April 16 through June 27 on Monday and Wednesday through Saturday. Beginning June 28, the show will run Thursday through Monday. Show times are 10:45; 11:30; 12:15; 1:00; 2:30; 3:15; and 4:00. Admission is $6.00.

A gift from France to the American people, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated October 28, 1886. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Lee Iacocca to head up a private sector effort to restore the Statue of Liberty for her centennial. Fundraising began for the $87 million restoration under a public/private partnership between the National Park Service and The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., and on July 5, 1986 the newly restored Statue re-opened to the public during Liberty Weekend. The famous sonnet written by poet and essayist Emma Lazarus (shown here) in 1883 is engraved on a bronze plaque which has been affixed to the inner walls of the pedestal since the early 1900′s.

Ellis Island Living Theater performances, which are both educational and entertaining, are especially popular with students, scout troops, day campers, religious groups, senior clubs, and families. Reservations for Sing a Song of Freedom: The Story of Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty are accepted for groups of 10 or more. Since the theater seats 56 people, some groups may have to schedule multiple shows. Please note that the National Park Service, which administers Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, requires one chaperone for every ten children. Individuals without reservations are encouraged to purchase their tickets upon entering the museum.

For more information or to make reservations, contact The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation at 212-561-4500, ext. 0 or theater@ellisisland.org. More on Sing a Song of Freedom: The Story of Emma Lazarus and the Statue of Liberty can be found online.

For ferry tickets and schedules, call Statue Cruises at 1-877-LADY TIX or go online.

The Actors employed in this production are members of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Cayuga Museum Celebrating 75 Years


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2011 is the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the Cayuga Museum of History and Art. The Museum’s celebration kicks off with a gala dinner dance at the Holiday Inn in Auburn, NY on Saturday, May 7.

The Cayuga Museum opened its doors in the former Willard-Case Mansion on October 16, 1936. It was the culmination of a vision by founding director Walter Long, an art professor at Syracuse University, and representatives of many of the leading families of Auburn, to create a permanent home for the arts in Cayuga County.

The Museum was started with four divisions: Art, History, Industry and Children’s Activities. These four divisions have given rise to other great arts institutions in our community. The Merry-go-Round Playhouse started in the Children’s division of the Cayuga Museum; and the Art division was critical in the founding of the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center. Over the years, the Cayuga Museum has played a vital role in celebrating, preserving, and defining the history and culture of our area. Tens of thousands of people have visited the Museum exhibits; and thousands of families and businesses have donated objects to the Museum collection.

The Museum is coming full circle back to its earliest years, when the mansion’s carriage house was transformed into a community theater through a collaboration between the museum and the Community Players. Known then as the Cayuga Museum Annex, the theater was a popular venue for a variety of programs from the early 40’s through the early 70’s. Used primarily for storage for the past several decades, the carriage house is presently undergoing a major restoration that will return it to life. The second floor sound studio, where Theodore Case filmed some of the world’s first sound movies, will be open to the public for the first time. The main floor theater will be available for shows, concerts, and parties year ‘round, as well as being one of the venues of the summer Musical Theater Festival.

The Museum’s 75th Anniversary Dinner kicks off a celebration of this important milestone. The dinner will be May 7, at the Holiday Inn. Guests can dine on filet mignon, crab-stuffed sole or stuffed Portobello mushroom, and dance to the music of the Soul Traders. Tickets are $75 each and benefit the Museum’s operating fund.

This Fall, the Museum will host an exhibit on its own 75 years in the community, from the earliest discussions about creating a museum to the present, and showcasing treasures from the Museum collection. The Museum is asking the public to share their own memories or photographs of the Museum over the years. To reserve tickets to the dinner, or to share your memories, call the Museum at 253-8051.

CANCELLED: Burgoyne’s Gold, A Murder Mystery Event


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On Saturday, April 9 from 7pm to 9pm in Saratoga Town Hall on Spring Street (Rte 29) in Schuylerville, “Burgoyne’s Gold – A Murder Mystery” set in an 18th-century candle-lit “tavern,” with light refreshments, merriment, mystery, and murder. Tickets cost $17.77 with all proceeds benefiting the Friends of Saratoga Battlefield.

Shortly after the American victory in the Battles of Saratoga people are searching for the rumored fortune in gold that British General John Burgoyne buried before his surrender in 1777. Participants will be asked to put on their detective caps for an evening of unique entertainment by blending the lore of British General John Burgoyne’s hidden gold with portrayals of local historical figures, stirring in fictional characters and adding a dash of “homicide.”

Written by O’Connor’s Murder by Design, Diane and Steven O’Connor have produced interactive murder mystery fundraisers since 1989, raising over $200,000 for local non-profits.

Light refreshments using 18th-century recipes include meat and vegetable pasties made by BOCES Culinary School and cookies made by Doris Olszewski, plus tea, coffee and apple cider. For more information about the event call 664.9821 ext. 227.

Reservations must be made in advance by emailing megan stevens@nps.gov or calling 518.664.9821 ext 219. Sorry, no walk-ins allowed.

Saratoga National Historical Park and the Friends of Saratoga Battlefield work together to foster awareness, enjoyment and preservation of Saratoga Battlefield.

Life of Fugitive Slave Lavinia Bell to be Presented


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One hundred and fifty years ago, few knew about Lavinia Bell, a fugitive from slavery who trekked from a Texas plantation to Rouses Point, New York, in search of freedom in Canada. Now, for the first time, her experiences will be presented to the public in “Never Give Up: The Story of Lavinia Bell,” reenacted by Melissa Waddy-Thibodeaux at Plattsburgh State University’s Krinovitz Recital Hall. The presentation will begin at 7:00 PM on February 11, 2011. The event is free and open to the public.

Ms. Thibodeaux’s visit to Plattsburgh in February will be her first to the North Country. She has already earned national acclaim for her sensitive depictions of Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. The North Country location of the premiere of Mrs. Bell’s story, in the region where her vision was at last realized, is as fitting as are the sponsoring organizations: the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, Plattsburgh State University, and Clinton Community College.

Ms. Thibodeaux will also offer performance workshops for university and college students during her stay in Plattsburgh. On February 12, she will cross into Canada
where, under the sponsorship of the Negro Community Center in Montreal, she will
introduce Mrs. Bell to a waiting audience.

To see Ms. Thibodeaux portray Harriet Tubman visit You Tube.

To learn more about this event, contact Don Papson at NCUGRHA@aol.com or
(518) 561-0277.

Mettawee River Theatre at Johnson Hall


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The Friends of Johnson Hall State Historic Site, 139 Hall Avenue, in Johnstown, NY, will host the Mettawee River Theatre on Thursday evening, August 5, 8:00 p.m., on the lawn under the black walnut trees – this popular annual theatre company presented their first production at Johnson Hall over 30 years ago. This year’s 35th anniversary production is an Iroquois creation story. Bring chairs, blankets, snacks, and bug spray – but no pets, please.

Mettawee’s outdoor production for the summer of 2010 is The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, which was originally produced in 1997. It is drawn from the Iroquois creation tale in which the Sky Woman falls from the spirit world and lands on the back of a turtle. Water animals bring up mud from the bottom of the sea so the earth can grow. The character Sapling creates all the earth’s delightful things; his brother Flint brings us mosquitoes and thorns and sharp rocks. The abrupt arrival of Hodu’i, a whimsical crack-pot who claims to have created it all, spells the readiness of the earth for the arrival of human beings. The production will incorporate many puppets representing the spirits and creatures of this young world.

According to Mettawee Artistic Director Ralph Lee, “At this time, when serious concerns about the state of our environment weigh heavily on us, it’s nourishing to hear these clear voices from the beginning of the world, reminding us of the gifts we’ve been given.”

For further information, contact Wanda Burch at 518-762-8712 or wanda.burch@oprhp.state.ny.us

Dance Theatre of Harlem History Exhibit at NYPL


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Shortly after the assassination of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Arthur Mitchell was inspired to start a ballet school that would offer African American and Latino children — especially those in Harlem, the community in which he was born — the opportunity to study dance and the allied arts. In 1969, a year later, Mitchell and Karel Shook, founded the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) which the New York Times called “one of ballet’s most exciting undertakings”. Now in its fourth decade, DTH has grown into a multi-cultural dance institution and national treasure. Armed with an extraordinary legacy of training exceptional artists, DTH continues to set the standard for artistic excellence in the performing arts.

Through a rich and colorful mix of spectacular costumes, stage props, posters, programs, intimate photographs and video recordings, Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts traces the history of the company, its community outreach, renowned productions and cast of legendary dancers, fans and supporters. The free exhibition is on display in the Vincent Astor Gallery of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, February 11 through May 9, 2009. The Library is also presenting related free public programs at the Library for the Performing Arts and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

In a time when black dancers were all but invisible in mainstream ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook, brought ballet to the neighborhood and black dancers to the main stage. Since its inception the company has continued to cross social and geographic barriers by introducing the ballet world to a Creole Giselle, inviting audiences to a Caribbean wedding in Dougla, bringing black dancers to the international stage through programs such as Dancing Through Barriers® and bringing ballet to Harlem with education and community outreach.

Many of the stories behind the achievements of the company were artfully documented in photographs by Martha Swope, Marbeth and others. Those on display include photos of guests such as Hillary Clinton and Congressman Charles Rangel attending the company’s monthly open houses where performers of all arts and from other organizations showcase their talents to captivated audiences seated on folding chairs and sometimes on the floor.

One of the centerpieces of the show is an eight-foot-long three-dimensional puzzle that took artist Frank Bara two years to create. Completed in 1989, it was commissioned by Arthur Mitchell to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. Each layer of the puzzle, crafted entirely from wood, depicts a different aspect of the company’s first two decades in intricate detail, from ballet casts and music to floor plans and blueprints.

From the ceiling of the gallery hang original character costumes such as Firebird’s firebird and monster created by Geoffrey Holder and the wedding canopy from Dougla. Also on display are examples of tights and pointe shoes illustrating Mr. Mitchell’s ground-breaking insistence that they be dyed to match each dancer’s skin tones. Pictures from Footprints in Red document the stunning costumes designed by Salvatore Ferragamo, which needed to be such a specific blue that craftsmen were flown from Italy to Harlem to dye them just the right shade.

There are also many photographs that show rehearsals in churches and other borrowed spaces that were used before Dance Theatre of Harlem had a home of its own. Other pictures document the world-wide appeal of the company’s talent and show its famous fans like Nelson Mandela after a performance in South Africa and Princess Diana back stage in London.

Dance Theatre of Harlem’s dedication to dance and community has inspired support from a wide range of renowned figures from the world of dance. On view are pictures of candid moments in master classes being taught by such prominent dancers as Rosella Hightower and Carmen de Lavallade; William Dollar, who is coaching young ballerinas for Combat; Alexandra Danilova and Joseph Wyatt who are shown rehearsing Paquita; and Gregory Hines who is pictured tapping with children from the DTH school.

Throughout the gallery, cases exhibit show programs and tour materials including the Australian tour scrapbook that contains newspaper clips from the local press punctuated by negative stereotypes less commonly found in press coverage from the United States.

Also on view are a series of film clips including performances of Giselle and Streetcar Named Desire and a compilation of interviews with those close to the Dance Theatre of Harlem and press coverage the company has received over the years.

Free Public Programs Related to the Exhibition at the Library for the Performing Arts:

Thursday, February 12, 2009, 5:30 p.m.
Inspired by a Dream: The Dance Theatre of Harlem Story
Panel moderated by Anna Kisselgoff. With Robert Garland, Virginia Johnson and others.

Thursday, March 12, 2009, 3:00 p.m.
Dance Theatre of Harlem: Classically American
Panel moderated by Alastair Macaulay. With Frederic Franklin, Lorraine Graves, Suzanne Farrell, and others.

Thursday, March 12, 2009, 5:30 p.m.
The Stories I Could Tell: Arthur Mitchell at 75
The Founding Artistic Director of the Dance Theatre of Harlem in Conversation
with Robert Greskovic.

Thursday, May 7, 5:30 p.m.
African American Choreographers
Panel discussion on making work for Dance Theatre of Harlem

Free Public Programs Related to the Exhibition at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Thursday, April 16, 2009, 7:00 p.m.
Where are the Black Swans?
A panel discussion.

Theatre Production Explores Rise of Free Press in NY


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Theatre Askew’s production of William M. Hoffman (As Is; Ghosts of Versailles) and Anthony Holland’s Cornbury: The Queen’s Governor is more than an entertaining romp. In relating the story of Lord Cornbury, one of New York’s first governors and a rumored cross-dresser, Theatre Askew is leading an in-depth exploration of how the rise of a free press in colonial New York affected the cultural framework in the city and how the dynamic of that early press compares to the recent rise in new media. A panel entitled “The Buzz in Olde New York” will be hosted in collaboration with The New York Historical Society and will feature public historian Kathleen Hulser, Nicholas F. Benton, publisher and editor of the alternative newspaper The Falls Church News-Press, and new media scholar Chris Anderson.

The panel will discuss the role of a free press in establishing a cultural milieu of NY, while simultaneously perpetuating rumors and political viewpoints, particularly the myth of Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury, the English governor of New York and New Jersey, from 1701-1708. A controversial figure, Cornbury was remembered for centuries for his rumored habit of dressing as his first cousin, Queen Anne. The rumor of Cornbury’s cross-dressing was perpetuated through the recently de-regulated press of the day and bears remarkable similarity to the way rumors are now spread about modern political candidates online.

The panel will take place on January 25 at 3:00 p.m., preceding the 5:00 p.m. performance of Cornbury: The Queen’s Governor. Two other panels will include a conversation with a group made up of multiple generations of Queer NY Writers and a discussion about questions of gender inspired by the play. For more information visit: www.cornburytheplay.com

Details of the gender panel and show:

Cornbury: The Queen’s Governor
At the Hudson Guild Theatre 441 West 26th St., New York, NY
January 24 – February 8, 2009 (no performances 1/27 & 2/3)
Mon., Wed – Sat.: 8:00 p.m.
Sat. Matinee: 2:00 p.m.
Sun. Matinee: 5:00 p.m.

Panel Description: The Buzz in Olde New York – January 25; 3:00 p.m.
The first take on history is defined by the press, which often focuses the lens through which future generations will interpret events and public figures. This panel discusses the impact of an early free press on shaping the myth of Lord Cornbury, the political and cultural evolution of the young city of New York, and how the rise of that early press parallels the advent of alternative media and online journalism practiced today.

About the panelists:

Kathleen Hulser: Kathleen Hulser’s background includes work as a public historian, college teacher, museum administrator, exhibitions curator, public programs director, writer, editor, and media producer. Recent museum projects include such programs & exhibits as: Grant and Lee in War and Peace; Legacies: Contemporary Artists Reflect on Slavery; The Rosenbergs Reconsidered: The Death Penalty in the Cold War Era; Up on the Roof: New York on the Rooftops and Reading Uncle Tom’s Image. Ms. Hulser recently produced New Captivity Narratives, a video installation that juxtaposes modern testimony from the enslaved with classic narratives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs. In 2007, she produced “The French Revolution, Lafayette and the Guillotine” for the exhibition French Founding Father: Lafayette’s Return to Washington’s America. On iTunes University, you may view her latest production of an iPod tour, “Frederick Douglass and the Underground Railroad in New York.” Ms. Hulser maintains an active leadership role in the public history field by delivering many papers at professional meetings, organizing conferences, guest lecturing, and leading collection initiatives and community collaborations. Ms. Hulser can be seen making public history appearances on CBS, BBC, PBS, History Channel, NY1, Discovery Channel, Paxton Network, and NPR.

Nicholas F. Benton: Nicholas F. Benton is the founder, owner and editor-in-chief of, and national affairs columnist for, the Falls Church News-Press, a Northern Virginia weekly that since 1991 has gained a widespread reputation as the most progressive newspaper in the state. Circulated inside the “Washington D.C. beltway,” it was the only newspaper in Northern Virginia to endorse Barack Obama last year, and its core distribution area provided more than the total margin of victory for Obama statewide, as Virginia went Democratic in a presidential election for the first time since 1964. A native of California and graduate of Westmont College (A.B.) in his Santa Barbara hometown, and the Pacific School of Religion (M.Div.) in Berkeley, Benton was a leading San Francisco Bay-area activist in the earliest post-Stonewall days of the gay liberation movement. As an openly gay and politically active newspaper owner, Benton was named “Businessman of the Year” for 2007 by the Falls Church City Council, which also twice been named his newspaper “Business of the Year” (1991 and 2001). He’s served two terms as president of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, named the recipient of its “Pillar of the Community” award twice (1992 and 2003). Last year, the City Paper in Washington, D.C., named his paper the “Best Remnant of the Liberal Media” in its annual “Best of D.C.” edition.

Chris Anderson: A long-time reporter and editor with New York City Indymedia and The New York Indypendent, Chris Anderson is in his final year of a PhD in communications at Columbia University, where he is studying journalistic authority, media history, and the emergence of new media technologies. Anderson’s dissertation, “Networking the News: Work, Knowledge and Occupational Authority in the New Metropolitan Journalism,” focuses on the impact new technologies are having on the media by examining newsrooms practices used by traditional news organizations, bloggers, and citizen media projects in Philadelphia, Pa. Anderson is the co-author of “News Production and Organizations: Professionalism, Objectivity, and Truth Seeking,” published in the Handbook of Journalism Studies. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Indiana University, a MA and MPhil from Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner Jessica and two mischievous cats.

About the playwright and company: William M. Hoffman (playwright) is best known for his groundbreaking play about the AIDS epidemic, As Is, for which he was nominated for the Tony and Pulitzer Prize and received the OBIE and Drama Desk awards. New York Magazine recently named it one of the most significant New York cultural works of the past 40 years. He also wrote the libretto for the Metropolitan Opera’s The Ghosts of Versailles with music by John Corigliano. Commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in honor of its centennial.

Theatre Askew’s inaugural production, Bald Diva! earned unanimous critical acclaim over its several runs, including a GLAAD Media Award nomination for Outstanding Off-Off Broadway Play and a “Best of 2004” nod from Theater Mania. Their follow-up show was the hit serial I, Claudius Live. Last year they received their second GLAAD Media Award nomination for the world-premiere production of Jason Schafer’s i google myself. For their work on that show, the company was named 2007 People of the Year by nytheatre.com.

NYPL Acquires Papers of Theatrical Legends


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The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center has acquired the papers of renowned performers and acting teachers Uta Hagen and Herbert Berghof. The collection consists of thousands of pages of unpublished correspondence, diaries, scripts and manuscripts, photographs, clippings and other documentation relating to the dynamic theatrical careers of both Hagen and Berghof. This collection of professional and personal papers, spanning nearly 100 years of theater history, is being made public for the first time. To celebrate the bequest, the Library is planning a series of eight free public programs featuring many close friends and colleagues of Ms. Hagen and Mr. Berghof’s including such figures as Harold Prince, Edward Albee, David Hyde Pierce and Eli Wallach.

The collection consists of 99 boxes of papers totaling 49 linear feet and provides in-depth insight about Ms. Hagen and Mr. Berghof’s personal life, their working processes in various theater productions, and their renowned acting school HB Studio, and includes correspondence from esteemed personalities such as Katharine Hepburn, Tennessee Williams, José Ferrer, David O. Selznik and Thornton Wilder.

Ms. Hagen’s papers include correspondence to and from her family, as well as other Hagen family papers. Her letters to her father Oskar Hagen – whom she playfully refers to many times as “papalop” – reveals new details of her personal and professional life. Of particular interest are various letters mentioning segregation during the Othello tour (1943-1945) with Paul Robeson and her then-husband, José Ferrer, and her diaries and notebooks which detail character studies for many of her roles. A notebook Hagen kept during rehearsals of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is overrun with a range of notes and observations regarding character motivation and psychology. In one section, she writes: “Attacking George for being a failure all the time. Motive; ashamed of his dependence on my father….aware of his subservience.”

Mr. Berghof’s papers document the many productions which he performed in, directed, adapted, translated, or developed. The productions and projects span his entire career from the late 1920s to his final project in 1990. Included are materials and correspondence with Samuel Beckett regarding Waiting for Godot.

The collection, entitled the “Uta Hagen/Herbert Berghof Papers” was bequeathed by Uta Hagen to the Billy Rose Theatre Division in 2007. It will be housed in the Billy Rose Theatre Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.

A tour de force in the theater world for over seven decades, Uta Hagen’s numerous leading roles included Martha in the original Broadway production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1962 (for which she won a Tony Award), Desdemona opposite Paul Robeson’s Othello, and Blanche DuBois opposite Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire. She taught at the tremendously influential acting school HB Studio, where her students included Matthew Broderick, Robert DeNiro, Liza Minnelli, Al Pacino, Amanda Peet, and Jason Robards. Ms. Hagen married its founder, the actor, director and writer Herbert Berghof in 1957.

Mr. Berghof, who died in 1990, remains one of the most revered acting coaches in theater history. During the years he presided over HB Studio, the roster of alumni included – in addition to the ones mentioned above – actors such as Anne Bancroft, Geraldine Page, and Fritz Weaver. Mr. Berghof also had immense success outside of the school, and garnered much praise for directing the American premiere on Broadway of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in 1956 and the first all-Black cast version of the play in 1957.

Free Public Programs for Uta Hagen/Herbert Berghof Papers will take place in the Bruno Walter Auditorium in The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center located at 111 Amsterdam Avenue (between 64th and 65th streets). Admission to all programs is free and first come, first served. For information, please call (212) 642-0142 or visit www.nypl.org/lpaprograms. Programs are curated by Alan Pally, Manager of Public Programs at the Library for the Performing Arts.