Category Archives: Around the Region

4th Annual Athena Film Festival. A Celebration of Women and Leadership

The 2014 Athena Film Festival at Barnard College, February 6-9th.

The 2014 Athena Film Festival at Barnard College, February 6-9th.

The fourth year of the Athena Film Festival, held at Barnard College February 6-9th, was an incredible experience for women and men. Foremost, the festival organizers and participants collaborated in their appreciation and recognition of those who have taken an active part in raising the banner of global film movements. Panel presenters, filmmakers, audience members, and sponsors gathered with the hope that as they express their dynamism in whatever talents and walks of life they embrace through film, they will continue to motivate women toward leadership, autonomy, creativity, and inspiration. Ultimately, doing so will only benefit culture and society as a whole.

L to R: Melissa Silverstein (Women and Hollywood) and Kathryn Kolbert (Athena Center for Leadership Studies Barnard College). At the screening of Belle.

L to R: Melissa Silverstein (Women and Hollywood) and Kathryn Kolbert (Athena Center for Leadership Studies Barnard College). At the screening of Belle, opening night..

Co-Founders Kathryn Kolbert (Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College) and Melissa Silverstein (Women and Hollywood) introduced many of the screenings and master classes. The films included a wide range of features, documentaries, shorts, and “works-in-progress” for critical review.. There were master classes for filmmakers, panels and special events: opening film after-party, luncheons and receptions and the Athena Film Festival Award Ceremony..

Festival highlights included the awards bestowed. On hand for the ceremony was Debora Spar, President of Barnard College, Regina K. Scully, CEO and Founder of Artemis Rising Foundation-the Athena Film Festival’s founding sponsor, Festival Co-Chairs, Co-Founders, illustrious recipients and others.

L to R: Melissa Silverstein (Co-Founder), Callie Khouri, Kasi Lemmons, Debra Martin Chase (Festival Co-Chair), 2014 Athena Film Festival.

L to R: Melissa Silverstein (Co-Founder), Callie Khouri, Kasi Lemmons, Debra Martin Chase (Festival Co-Chair), 2014 Athena Film Festival.

This year Sherry Lansing was the recipient of the Laura Ziskin Lifetime  Achievement Award given to a women in the film industry whose leadership demonstrated vision and courage and set a standard for other women to follow. 2014 Awards went to Callie Khouri, Oscar-Winning writer and film and TV creator and director, Kasi Lemmons, gifted actress, director and writer and Keri Putnam, Executive Director of the Sundance Institute. Each of these women is responsible for their groundbreaking achievements assisting women in gaining voice and power to maintain leadership positions. They continue to make a tremendous impact for women in the media industry with current projects.

These women have helped other women begin to move among their male counterparts. However, the statistics the festival reported are not as encouraging as one would hope. Among the films shown at Sundance in 2013, 29% of filmmakers were women and 71% were men.

Statistics taken from the festival opening.

Photo taken from the festival introduction short film.

There is a lot that must be accomplished and with the gap in economies of scale and increasing difficulty in achieving funding, women will be challenged more than ever to be innovative, forward thinking, and ahead of the curve, finding partnerships with others who recognize the acute sensibilities and resonances women can contribute to touching a cultural wellspring of film audiences that are increasingly dominated by women.

This 4th Annual Athena Film Festival article first appeared on Blogcritics.

One Night by Charles Fuller at the Cherry Lane Theatre

Rutina Wesley and Grantham Graham in One Night at the Cherry Lane Theatre

Rutina Wesley and Grantham Coleman in One Night at the Cherry Lane Theatre

The U.S. has been at war for more than a decade. In that time period lives have been lost for a cause that many question and that more feel was trumped up to justify the monetary benefit of an elite few, oil barons, as well as the lords of war and those supporting and fueling the military industrial complex. The casualties who have died for a cause that St. Thomas Aquinas would not have labeled just for its length of continuance, mismanagement and malfeasance are at peace. Those casualties who have remained alive and are scarred physically and emotionally are legion.

Many who have returned with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder now number in the hundreds of thousands. Statistics suggest that only half of them have sought treatment. There are many wounded warriors and returning vets who do not go for help because they feel therapies offered are ineffective. They remain hopeless and feel victimized by a government that is uncaring and callous and a culture that is indifferent, fatuous and ignorant. Oftentimes, their emotional state and symptoms of anger, drinking, drugging, hyper aggression, depression, anxiety, jumpiness, sleeplessness, restiveness spill out on their family, spouses and children.  If coaxed to seek help, the suggestion is ignored or provokes an angry response. The tragedy is that PTSD is never eliminated. However, there is hope if a wounded warrior seeks help.  Chances are with the right type of sustained assistance from a network of individuals using a variety of therapies, PTSD will be mitigated. One only has to reach out.

Cast of One Night at the Cherry Lane

Cast of One Night at the Cherry Lane

This is easier said then done. The problem, then, is not being at war, it is coming home from the war, forever. Such is the subject of Charles Fuller’s play, One Night which opens to a World Premiere in NYC on November 6th. The Cherry Lane Theatre commissioned the play and the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of A Soldier’s Play answered the call. The play delivers a powerful and important message that we must be alerted to. For our men and women veterans are returning home but what are they returning to? A life of meaning and purpose, or one of emptiness and continual anxiety, stress, dislocation and fury?

Certainly, if they have seen combat, have seen their buddies sharded or incinerated by mines and explosive, have seen themselves or others losing limbs, if they have suffered Traumatic Brain Injury or worse, have walked away unscathed physically, only to labor under delusive aftershocks of heightened oppression, guilt, flashbacks, suicidal/violent thoughts and more, they are experiencing PTSD.

Non profit the play is supporting with a percentage of its receipts.

Non profit, IAVA, the play is supporting with a percentage of its ticket proceeds.

How do they cope? Will they seek help or slip into the convenient or overlooked statistic? One Night covers all of this and shadows how a woman responds in recompense to an unjust act effected by soldiers, themselves suffering from an inability to deal with their own trauma to act humanely. The sufferers unload onto the perceived weaker sex and the woman like many women who serve in the U.S. military ends up battling an additional enemy ones wearing the same uniform. War turns men and women against each other eliciting the worst in times of stress. It can happen in many times during a decade, it can happen “one night,” but if it happens woe to all it happens to.

The World Premiere of One Night is being presented by the Cherry Lane Theatre and the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.

One Night directed by Clinton Turner Davis will be at the Cherry Lane Theatre from November 6 to December 15.

Mon and Tues at 7 pm., Thurs and Fri. at 8 pm,  Sat. at 2 pm and 8 pm, Sun. at 3 pm.

Featuring
Grantham Coleman, K.K. Moggie, Matthew Montelongo, Cortez Nance Jr., Rutina Wesley

Set John McDermott, Costumes Jessica Jahn, Lighting Nicole Pearce, Sound Sean O’Halloran, Video Gil Sperling, Fights UnkleDave’s Fight-House, Props Starlet Jacobs, Stage Manager C. Renee Alexander, Assistant Stage Manager Kristin Pfeifer

Running time is 2 hours with one 10 minute intermission.

FOR TICKETS CLICK HERE.

5% of ticket proceeds benefit IAVA, the first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Learn more and support the Next Greatest Generation at IAVA.org.


21st Annual Hamptons International Film Festival Audience Awards

Guild Hall, one of the screening and red carpet venues.

Guild Hall, one of the screening and red carpet venues.

The 21st year of the Hamptons International Film Festival has seen its share of great feature films, documentaries, shorts, world cinema offerings, and UK favorites. This year’s festival was highlighted by visits from celebrities like Ralph Fiennes, Bruce Dern, Will Forte, David Duchovny, Hope Davis, Timothy Hutton, Ralph Macchio, Helena Bonham Carter, Bryan Greenberg, and actors to watch like Dane Dehaan. These individuals graciously offered their time with the audience in Q & As and helped to support their films some of which were either World Premiers or East Coast Premiers.

Will Forte and Bruce Dern in the Q & A for Nebraska. Both were very generous with their time.

Will Forte and Bruce Dern in the Q & A for Nebraska. Both were very generous with their time.

By Monday, the last day of the festival which ran from Thursday October 10th through October 14th, audience ballots were calculated, the choices finalized. The Hamptons International Film Festival audience win fofor Narrative went to the UK and the US brought in the Documentary wins, both the full-length and the short which both had their premiers at the festival.

Ralph Fiennes answering a question about close-ups in his film. With Artistic Director of the HIFF David Nugent.

Ralph Fiennes answering a question about close-ups in his film The Invisible Woman. With Artistic Director of the HIFF David Nugent.

Judi Dench in Philomena

Judi Dench in Philomena

Philomena won the Audience Narrative Award. Tickets were difficult to come by because of the star, the beloved Judi Dench, and its haunting subject (unwed mothers in Catholic Ireland) which has been touched upon in films like the Magdalene Sisters. In the 1950s Ireland’s Catholic Church held sway in maintaining paternalism, placing the worst of the double standards of male chauvinism at the forefront of the cultural ethos. Philomena Lee (portrayed with poignant, touching humor by Dame Judi Dench) was a victim of repression when Church officials forced her to put up her child for adoption because the man bed her but didn’t wed her. Stigmatized by the community of good men and women and trapped by societal norms, Philomena gave up her son for adoption despite her best intentions to keep him. Years later, Philomena attempts to right her wrong. She goes on a journey to find her son with the help of a BBC reporter and their travels are endearing and fun.  Stephen Frears directed the film whose screenplay is adapted from the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith.

Desert Runners

Desert Runners directed by Jennifer Steinman

Desert Runners, having its East Coast Premiere at the festival won the Audience Award for Documentary. The film chronicles individuals who sign up for and run the entire Desert Ultramarathon series which must be done in one year. This is a series where challengers run 150-mile ultra-marathons through four of the world’s most brutal and dangerous deserts: the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi Desert in China, the Sahara in Egypt, and after all that heat, the desert of ice in Antarctica. How do these individuals deal with hurdles, success and failure as they run the extremes of life’s call to their souls? How do they canvass and balance their internal peaks and valleys in the beautiful and deadly environments that force their physical, mental and emotional range to their limit? It is a well told tale which shows individuals who have a need to go up against nature’s extremes for the honor of a race well run.

One Last Hug (…and a few smooches) Three Days at Grief Camp directed by Oscar nominee Irene Taylor Brodsky won the Audience Award for Short Documentary. How does one grieve the loss of a loved one? Internalize it, shut down, and move on? Cry? How does a child grieve the loss of a mother, a father, a brother, a sister? This documentary shows how. With an objective and non maudlin, overly sentimental approach, which is even more touching and powerful, the viewer immediately connects with the children’s stories as they tell who died in their families. The documentary short moves in real time with the guides who help the kids through activities designed to safely allow them to express the multiple emotions that come when confronting a loved one’s material absence and final abandonment. As the kids express their feelings, they are comforted and learn to comfort one another to relieve their pain. It is a powerful reminder that with loss there is also the comfort of others and another type of love found.

For more on the 21st Annual Hamptons International Film Festival please go to this link: Hamptons International Film Festival 2013

THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON BLOGCRITICS AT THE LINK BELOW

 http://blogcritics.org/21st-hamptons-international-film-festival-audience-award-winners/

An Amazing Conference at Omega Institute: Press Release

Picture from the Omega Institute catalogue for 2013

Picture from the Omega Institute catalogue for 2013

Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. Beginning tomorrow there will be an amazing conference on Sustainability. President Bill Clinton is giving the Keynote address. It can be live streamed for free. (details are below) I will be attending on Saturday and perhaps a bit of Sunday. I do love it at Omega. The reason is because of their ethics, principles and mission. The individuals from the top down care about the planet and embrace this care in every aspect of Omega Institute: people, practices, lifestyle. When I say care, Omega’s mission is a sacred one; it is obvious the moment one steps onto the campus. I pray that more places will follow their example. One step…who was it that said great things have little beginnings? Omega may appear to be at a turning point, but they are striving to make a difference which they have done for years. They are a global model for sustainability. This conference is more than a beginning.

This press release is courtesy of Chrissa Pullicino

This photograph of President is from the Omega catalogue for 2013...courtesy of Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY

This photograph of President is from the Omega catalogue for 2013…courtesy of Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            Contact: Chrissa Pullicino

September 25, 2013                                                                          Office: 845.266.4444, ext. 404

 

President Bill Clinton to Deliver Keynote Address at Omega Conference

 

Where We Go From Here Conference Will Examine Sustainability as a Question of Values & a Challenge of Systems Design—Now Including Conference Live Stream

 

RHINEBECK, NY—Nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy demonstrated just how real the threat of climate change is, the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL) is hosting Where We Go From Here: Opportunities & Solutions for an Interdependent World, a conference that addresses the imperative for examining sustainability issues from a holistic perspective based on the interconnection between human behavior, economic and social systems, and the environment. The conference will be held October 4–6, 2013, and will feature keynote speaker President Bill Clinton, 2005 MacArthur Fellow Majora Carter, environmentalist Paul Hawken, economist Jeremy Rifkin, and other major leaders in sustainability. The conference also will be available free to the public via live stream on Saturday, October 5, and Sunday, October 6.

 

As the problems of climate change and dwindling resources manifest themselves more clearly and urgently, the conference will assess the shortcomings of current sustainability efforts—and create a road map for going forward that places whole-systems thinking front and center.

 

“With ever more frequency and intensity, we are seeing the effects of being out of balance with the earth and each other. We cannot solve this problem without considering the whole—understanding the big picture and finding our place within it,” said Robert “Skip” Backus, chief executive officer at Omega and the visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL). “We are thrilled that President Clinton will deliver the keynote speech. Omega is proud to initiate the discussion about where we go from here, and to serve as a model for a whole-systems approach to sustainability.”

 

Founded four years ago, the OCSL includes the first green building in America to receive both LEED® Platinum and Living Building Challenge™ certifications, and has evolved into an emerging environmental leader, offering programs that teach the regenerative environmental practices modeled by the building. Omega Institute is integrating similar designs into other facilities on its Rhinebeck, New York campus. A recent addition to the Omega Women’s Leadership Center is the first commercial project in the United States to meet Passive House certification standards—the building uses very little energy and the space is designed to reduce heating costs by 75%.

 

“Recognizing our interdependence—to each other and to the planet—is key to finding solutions to our pressing environmental challenges,” said Backus.

 

 

 

Where We Go From Here will include keynote talks, panel discussions, stories from the field, and a tour of the award-winning Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

 

Leading economists, environmentalists, philanthropists, designers, architects, and activists round out the list of speakers, including:

 

·         President Bill Clinton, Founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States, was the first Democratic president in six decades to be elected twice, and led the U.S. to the longest economic expansion in American history, including the creation of more than 22 million jobs. After the leading the White House, President Clinton established the Clinton Foundation with the mission to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote healthier childhoods, and protect the environment by fostering partnerships among governments, businesses, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and private citizens to turn good intentions into measurable results. clintonfoundation.org

 

·         Jeremy Rifkin, president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, is an authority on economic sustainability. His books include The Third Industrial Revolution and The Empathic Civilization. foet.org

 

·         Janine Benyus, a biologist, consultant, and author of six books, including the classic Biomimicry, is cofounder of the Biomimicry Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes the study and imitation of nature’s remarkably efficient designs. biomimicry.net

 

·         David W. Orr is a professor, founder of the Oberlin Project, and author of Ecological Literacy. oberlinproject.org

 

·         Majora Carter, recipient of a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship, founded Sustainable South Bronx in 2001 when few were talking about sustainability, and even fewer, in places like the South Bronx. Since 2008, her consulting company, Majora Carter Group, has exported climate adaptation, urban micro-agribusiness, and leadership development strategies for business, government, foundations, universities, and economically underperforming communities. majoracartergroup.com

 

·         Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, author, and entrepreneur who founded some of the first natural food companies in America to rely solely on sustainable agriculture. paulhawken.com

 

·         Bob Berkebile is an influential sustainable design architect and community planner, a founding principal of BNIM Architects, and a board member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the Nature Conservancy, and the Center for Global Community. bnim.com

 

·         Michael E. Reynolds is an architect and founder of EarthshipBiotecture. earthship.com

 

 

·         Robert “Skip” Backus is chief executive officer of Omega and the visionary behind the Omega Center for Sustainable Living (OCSL). He helped lay the foundation for Omega’s environmental and conservation initiatives, including campus recycling and composting, sustainable purchasing and support of local agriculture, water conservation, and 100% sourcing of campus electricity from wind and solar technology.

 

·         Carla Goldstein, JD, is Omega Institute’s chief external affairs officer and cofounder of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center. An attorney with 25 years of experience in public interest advocacy, she has contributed to more than 100 city, state, and federal laws, and has worked extensively on issues related to women’s rights, poverty, public health, and social justice.

 

·         Peter Buffett is an Emmy Award-winning musician, composer, philanthropist, and author of the New York Times best-seller Life Is What You Make It. peterbuffett.com

 

·         Maya Azucena is an award-winning singer, activist, and cultural ambassador. At the 2010 United Nations Summit, she was selected by the Office of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon as the exclusive performer at the Every Woman, Every Child event. She is also a cofounder of the multimedia website MDGFive.com, which raises awareness for maternal health. mayaazucena.com

·         Rob Hopkins, author of The Power of Just Doing Stuff and The Transition Handbook, is cofounder of the International Transition Network, a charitable environmental organization. The Independent lists him as one of the top environmentalists in the United Kingdom. The Observer calls him “one of Britain’s 50 New Radicals.”

 

Speakers are subject to change.

 

People can join the conversation about where we go from here on Twitter @Omega_Institute (conference hashtag #OCSL2013), and on Facebook.com/Omega.OCSL.

 

For complete details or to register, visit eOmega.org/ocsl2013 or call 800.944.1001.

 

About Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Founded in 1977, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is the nation’s most trusted source for wellness and personal growth. As a nonprofit organization, Omega offers diverse and innovative educational experiences that inspire an integrated approach to personal and social change. Located on 200 acres in the beautiful Hudson Valley, Omega welcomes more than 23,000 people to its workshops, conferences, and retreats in Rhinebeck, New York, and at exceptional locations

Westchester Collaborative Theater! 2013 Summerfest Success

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WCT 2013 Summerfest cast and Artistic Director, Alan Lutwin (far right)

The Westchester Collaborative Theater‘s innovative work never fails to amaze me. A collaborative of mostly professional artists, directors, actors and writers who gather each month to share, develop, promote and exchange ideas about their work, they are a vibrant regional theater laboratory. Instead of trying to “reinvent” shows that have been done before, often with lackluster results (I’ve seen more than my share of regional theater revivals and few are worth the trip and the time.) this group has persisted in what it does best: experiments, creates, dares to risk.

WCT premiers works, mostly one act plays, some longer. Many of these are developed through the lab which is the petri dish through which all the collaborators can hone their skills and perfect their craft. Oftentimes, the works continue being developed after premiers at their performance base in Ossining, with the thought of entering them in festivals in NYC and/or in other areas of the country or developing them further perhaps into full length works.

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2013 Summerfest cast of the Westchester Collaborative Theater

The WCT holds two major performances of plays, one in the summer and the other in the winter. This 2013 Summerfest of 5 one-act plays which was produced in late June reveals how far this collaborative has extended its reach, creativity and will. Each of the one-act productions showed the collaborators’ manifest effort and enjoyment with expressing their talent and artistry. It was obvious they were having fun and the crowd which was the largest I have seen to date at the WCT, demonstrated their enthusiasm and pleasure with the offerings.

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Artistic Director of the WCT, Alan Lutwin. Here he is making the introductory remarks for the evening.

I brought along three of my friends who are Broadway goers and who enjoy live theater. They are not dilettantes and each has a discerning nature and circumspect opinions. In other words they do not suffer through mediocre theater eagerly and two of them are “walk-outs.” They would rather sit in the lobby or go home than sustain performances that are slap-dash with little deliberation and effort or those that are misguided and whose logic is so skewed, the production just doesn’t work to uplift, entertain or enlighten.

They agreed that the night they spent at WCT was so much better than paid performances they’ve attended in Queens and even some on Broadway. (One walked out of Mary Stuart, and the other fell asleep during Beyond Miss Julie, to name a few.) Two of them especially expressed surprise at the energy, camaraderie and esprit de corps of the company which is a testament that not only is regional theater not a bust, it is thriving in the New York City area. They agreed with me that a collaborative is the right way to go, offering a continuum of progression that is free and integrated away from the constraints of ego machinations, financials and politics that unfortunately stifle NYC theater’s creative, innovative, risk-taking. In NYC though celebrity names are king, they do not provide insurance against ill-conceived or misdirected productions circled by fans and tourists out for a night of forgettable entertainment that is more for “show” and tourist talk-back to friends at home. Off Broadway presents more innovation, still with the caveat of expenses.

Here was WCT’s 2013 Summerfest roundup, all varying degrees of delightful, insightful, humorous, telling and clever.

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2013-06-28 06.46.43Facebook Friends by Marshall Fine, directed by Karina Ramsey revisits for all school graduates the possibility of reunions with former lovers and friends awakened by the Facebook revolution. Facebook has brought us “face-to-face” online with those we thought we might never see again, and if we take it further, like characters Simon (Sherman Alpert) and Arlene (Tracey McAllister) do, we’ll dare to meet them in person with funny, poignant and awkward moments and final or not so final resolutions to part ways or see each other again.

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Sandra Lucas and Deacon Hoy

Wander Inn by Virginia Reynolds, directed by Elaine Hartel is every woman’s dream of vindication come true. Charlotte (Sandra Lucas) returns to visit a former partner Tim (Deacon Hoy) at his financially down-and-out Wander Inn. She continually surprises him with a series of truths which peel back the onion on their past. Charlotte’s revelations are gleefully, ironically delivered and she relishes  her triumphs over her past and him. Each reveal jolts him like a prod leading him to the final realization that he has made a complete mess of his life. It is a reversal of fortune with Charlotte on the top ladder rung and Tim on the bottom. When she proclaims that her final order will be to torch the place (She became the owner unbeknownst to him.) where their past was staged and he’s been in a cage ever since (at the Wander Inn) we are shocked and somehow relieved. Things can only get better for both of them, unless Tim devolves further. Based upon the clues, the play leaves it for us to decide the probabilities.

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Matt Silver and Sara Colton (as the newly weds, with invasive parents, from left to right, Nick Pascarella, Nancy Intrator Jim Coakley and Janice Kirkel)

Excess Baggage by Carol Mark and directed by Joe Lima is a joyful, humorous play with which all can identify, especially if they come from a larger family which is the clinging type whether in one’s mind or in actuality. Steve (Matt Silver) and Pam (Sara Colten) are on their honeymoon but their parents,  Francine-Janice Kirkel, Edward-Jim Coakley, Margaret-Nancy Intrator, Chuck-Nick Pascarella, show up at the newlyweds’ hotel room to watch, supervise and help  launch the marriage. The couple, ready for this “big night,” have to contend with their folks who interject, proclaim and interfere until they’re over themselves, and are ejected so Steve and Pam can finally be alone together. However, the question remains, will Steve and Pam ever be able to shed the carcass of childhood and parental intrusion? We are reminded, as the title suggests, that when we are united with our significant others, we also bring along the generations that have gone before us and this baggage, for good or ill, remains in ourselves and our relationships, unless we “jettison” it. The underlying message affirms that when it gets to be “crazy” with all the competing voices in our heads and our interactions and self become befuddled, then we need to take charge as Steve and Pam humorously and finally do. Do the couple continue this path during their marriage? The answer leaves us smiling and shaking our heads.

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Howard Weintraub in control and on high as the boss. Enid Breis as the demur secretary

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With roles reversed: Enid Breis and Howard Weintraub

Hedge Fund by Csaba Teglas, directed by Richard Manichello is a humorous look at the Venus/Mars relationship between men and women against the backdrop of the not so recent financial debacle and fiduciary mismanagement prevalent during the Lehman, Bear Sterns, Washington Mutual, Countrywide Financial mess which is most likely still occurring today in varying degrees. Miss Prune (Enid Breis) is the demur secretary of James (Howard Weintraub) the preeminent, arrogant, know-it-all boss. Miss Prune acts the subservient, dutiful, coffee-making assistant until the tables are turned and we discover she has been surreptitiously brilliant while James and others have been twiddling their thumbs while the Roman market has been burning. Only Miss Prune was prescient and common sensical enough to take clever positions, short and long the market, and walk away with millions while the blindly incompetent “professionals, didn’t see looming disaster on the horizon.By degrees, Miss Prune sheds her demur, “button-down” collar to reveal the hottie she is, single-handedly saving the firm and her boss with the ultimate final position, taking over fiduciary responsibility and setting herself up to be his rich girlfriend (a mild tweak on sexual harassment). By the end of the play, she is in the catbird seat and James is getting her coffee. All the women in the audience applauded loudly. One of my friends thought the play might go the distance adding another act and developing the premise.

2013-06-28 08.07.32You Were Awesome by Bob Zaslow and directed by Michael Muldoon explores the hangover theme. Steven  (Jeff Virgo) had a fabulous party but can’t remember any of it, in a stoned blackout of alcohol reeling brain bombing. Ruthie (Suzanne Ochs) was there and has a memory for explicit details, though she didn’t party as insanely as Steven. Anyway, someone has to chronicle the events, “spill the beans,” and get her man. Ruthie is joined by partiers Leesa (Shelley Lerea) and Dirk (Femi Alao) and their expose grows as Steven hangovers his head in shame. Ruthie in a partial state of disrobement (tying in what probably happened between them.) gives Steven each “blow by blow” description of his humiliatingly funny antics on this wild, drunken spree.

Jeff Virgo, Suzanne Ochs encouraging Femi Alao sitting in front, Shelley Lerea

Jeff Virgo, Suzanne Ochs encouraging Femi Alao sitting in front, Shelley Lerea

Ruthie underwrites each mounting event description with, “You were awesome!” By the play’s end after we have laughed at the excesses we put ourselves through, knowing that, like Steve, we’ll regret it in the morning, we come to this realization. Yeah, maybe it was awesome. During a spree we might be able to shed restrictive, up-tightness and be ourselves. In vino veritas! Too bad we need the alcohol or whatever to “Be Awesome!”

2013 Summerfest cast

2013 Summerfest cast

WCT has scheduled events in addition to their bi-monthly labs, development of new work and guest speakers. In July guests Ossining Mayor William Hanauer (July 11th) and renown theater director Mara Mills (July 18th) spoke. Make sure to mark your calendar and try to attend the fun events and meet the WCT directors, playwrights and actors. This regional theater group enjoys schmoozing with the public and discovering those who appreciate the arts and innovative theater. Their annual fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday September 28 at 7:30PM at the OAC Steamer Firehouse, 117 Main St. in Ossining. Entertainment for the event will be cabaret inspired.

For the month of October, the WCT will present a Living Art Exhibit in conjunction with the Ossining Arts Council. The Exhibit is being held on Saturday October 19. Playwrights have selected artworks to inspire their imagination in creating new plays.  They have been busily completing their submissions for an August 1 deadline.

Regional theater on the move, WCT will continue with its winter programs and labs. If you are in the area and are interested, first check out their Facebook page. You will always be welcome as a visitor to their performances and you may always donate as the WCT is a non profit and is carried along solely by public donations.  And if you are a director, actor or playwright, you may apply to join the talented innovators of this collaborative.

I like to think of the WCT as riding over the top of the Philistines who have done much to suppress wonderful artists, writers, actors, playwrights by insisting on curtailing funding programs to the arts.  Live theater inspires our humanity and keeps us involved, enlightened and purposeful in our culture. Whether you are an audience member, actor, playwright or director, the feeling communication is electric during a live performance. Here is a theater group which can be supported for their daring and enthusiasm in putting on quality shows, and doing it on the good graces of their supporters. Bravo WCT!

Brian Schorn Exhibit at Omega Institute

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Visitor Center
Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York

Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York is an amazing center for wellness, holistic studies and  sustainable living programs and practices. Omega’s beautiful environs and campus must be experienced to be believed. The institute offers workshops, conferences, online learning, retreats and getaways and  hosts programs in New York City and Costa Rica. Omega encompasses the world; it is a global community that “awakens the best in the human spirit and cultivates the extraordinary potential” that is in all of us.

My first visit to Omega was with a friend, Rosary O’Neill, who is teaching a scriptwriting workshop July 7-12, 2013. With her I had the opportunity to tour the campus and discover more about Omega’s mission and its programs. After my brief time there, I realized that Omega represents everything I embrace and have endorsed for a good part of my life, starting with health and wellness. I especially appreciate their forward momentum in implementing ways to support and integrate a sustainable lifestyle that replenishes, renews and regenerates a culture that is in harmony with the environment.

One of the opportunities open to me as I walked through the gardens and followed pathways over the stream (after a delicious organic cappuccino in the cafe) was to see Brian Schorn’s exhibit at the Ram Dass Library. Brian was one of the individuals Rosary and I met in the cafe and after sharing with us his journey of how he arrived at Omega, I was convinced that this accomplished Renaissance man who has engaged his senses in all realms of the fine arts and media is perfecting his life’s work, and that indeed, his life path is an artistic work unfolding.

To be able to let ourselves release into freedom is one of the greatest achievements we can attain as human beings. Often intense personal restrictions (after psychological cleansing) prevent us from “going over the cliff.” and finding ourselves. Over the cliff is not the great fall to fear. It is the free space allowing us to fly. Sharing time with Brian, I could easily see that he was soaring and I was gobsmacked at his courage to break out from the entangling personal labyrinths, to move to the edge and then leap.

And after the leap? New directions for his art some of which is currently being exhibited at Omega’s Ram Dass Library. Spurred by opportunities to live in the mountains of Colorado and Vermont, Schorn focused on his connection to the natural world. In the seclusion and beauty of various terrains, he could explore and delve into environmental art, deep ecology, natural history and outdoor adventure.  Previous artist residencies included Ox-Bow in Saugatuck, MI and I-Park Artists Enclave in East Haddam, CT. In a ‘fusion complement’ his experiences with natural environments directly informed a new body of work: audio field recordings, electronic music composition, outdoor performance, calligraphy, sculpture with natural materials, photography and computer-generated imaging.

Brian’s exhibit at the Ram Dass Library is entitled “Lost and Found.” His work includes sculpture, assemblages and calligraphy. To whet your appetite, a few examples are below.

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Brian Schorn
Heaven, Earth & Man Navigating Fear, I, II, III
sumi ink on paper

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Brian Schorn
Dirt Calligraphy I (left)
pine island dirt, smoke on paper
Enso (center)
sumi ink on paper
Dirt Calligraphy II
pine island dirt, smoke on paper

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Brian Schorn
Acorn Yin Yang
wood, acorns, acrylic, enamel

Brian Schorn’s exhibition opened Memorial Day to an enthusiastic reception. The selection of works and their presentation offer Brian’s unique vision and integrated approach employing a dichotomy of natural elements in a juxtaposition of artistic mediums. His works will be exhibited throughout the summer and into September. If you are in the area, drop by the library after availing yourself of a look see at Omega Institute’s Visitor’s Center to check out this phenomenal venue tucked away in the Hudson River Valley. You will thank yourself that you did.

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