ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS’ AUGUST SHOWCASE at THE CELL, TUESDAY, AUGUST 25TH.

“They (Artists Without Walls) create the space—literally and figuratively—for artists of all stripes to be their best selves, to push boundaries, to experiment, to collaborate in a safe, nurturing environment. They are also the glorious pied pipers who keeps bringing us back again and again to these marvelous events.” Connie Roberts author of Little Witness. 

—–

.

Walter Parks

Walter Parks

Over the past three decades, Walter Parks has forged a distinctive international career as the lead guitarist for Woodstock legend Richie Havens, half of the folk-duo The Nudes, and guitarist and leader of the swamp/blues-outfit Swamp Cabbage. His original music is inspired by the swampy gospel blues that wails from storefront churches and roadhouses in and around the southeast Georgia low country. We’re looking forward to Walter’s first appearance at an AWoW Showcase. 

 

 

Melissa Ritz

Melissa Ritz

Actor/dancer/singer/writer Melissa Ritz will perform an excerpt from her award-winning one-woman show Journey of a Bombshell: The Ina Ray Hutton Story, which is now appearing at the Soho Theatre in New York City. Based on true events, 1930’s famed Big-Band leader Ina Ray Hutton found success and heartache on the stages of Broadway and beyond, with a secret she couldn’t afford to reveal at that time.

 

 

Mary Deady

Mary Deady

 

Mary Deady, a member of the National Folk Theatre of Ireland for many years, will also be appearing at her first Showcase this Tuesday.  Mary has performed extensively throughout Ireland, Europe, the United States and Canada. A resident of New York City, Mary has appeared in a wide variety of venues and, most recently, with Jeff Cubeta on piano, at the Laurie Beechman Theatre/West Bank Café, where she musically traced her journey from Ireland to America through the richness of the American songbook.

 

 

Jack O'Connell

Jack O’Connell

 

Veteran stage, film and television actor Jack O’Connell, an AWoW charter member and frequent performer, will soon be starring in “Stoopdreamers,” which will be directed by Kira Simring and will be running through the month of September at The Cell Theatre. Jack will be performing a short scene from “Stoopdreamers” during Tuesday’s Showcase.  Jack has appeared in many popular TV programs including The Sopranos, Law and Order, Blue Bloods, and Boardwalk Empire and films such as Doubt with Meryl Streep and Men In Black 3.

 

 

Mary Tierney

Mary Tierney

Mary Tierney, Ron Ryan and Larry Fleischman will be performing in a short play, The Perfect Cup of Coffee, written by award winning playwright David Loughlin at Tuesday’s Showcase at The Cell Theatre.  Gus and Shorty, two cowboys from Wyoming, set-off across America in search of the perfect cup of coffee. After more than a hundred disappointments, they end-up in Sally’s Place, a diner in Vermont, wondering if they’re searching for something that doesn’t exist—the perfect cup of coffee. Playwright: David Loughlin is a member of the HB Studio Playwright’s Unit, The Dramatist Guild, and The Pulse Ensemble Theater’s Playwright’s Lab. His award-winning plays have been produced from New York to Brooklyn, Florida, California, and beyond.

 

 

Charles R. Hale

Charles R. Hale

Charles R. Hale’s show “The Musical History of the Lower East Side” was performed by AWoW members at Rockwood Music Hall in the Spring. Charles has created a companion piece film, which he will debuting at AWoW’s Showcase. Charles is a co-founder and artistic director of Artists Without Walls. 

 

Join us on Tuesday, August 25th for an evening of great fun and conviviality at The Cell Theatre, 338 W23rd St., NYC. The doors and bar open at 6:45. We hope to see you there. 

MARY DEADY and JEFF CUBETA PERFORMING at ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS’ AUGUST SHOWCASE at THE CELL THEATRE

Mary Deady

Mary Deady 

Artists Without Walls is pleased to announce that Mary Deady, a member of the National Folk Theatre of Ireland for many years, will be appearing at its August Showcase at The Cell, Tuesday, August 25th.

 

Mary has performed extensively throughout Ireland, Europe, the United States and Canada. A resident of New York City, Mary has appeared in a wide variety of venues and, most recently, with Jeff Cubeta on piano, at the Laurie Beechman Theatre/West Bank Café, where she musically traced her journey from Ireland to America through the richness of the American songbook.

 

Mary Deady

Mary Deady

In March and July of last year Mary sang to sold-out audiences at off-Broadway’s Irish Repertory Theatre with Mr. Cubeta. On October 4th and 7th, Mary and Jeff will return to the Laurie Beechman Theatre in a new show, My Love is a Wanderer, in which Mary portrays a witty and worldly woman who travels widely – sometimes aimlessly – in search of fulfilment.

 

Jeff Cubeta

Jeff Cubeta

Jeff Cubeta is a songwriter, vocalist, pianist, and musical director. He has directed shows for celebrated concert/cabaret performers such as Eric Michael Gillett, La Tanya Hall and Mary. In 2012, Mr. Cubeta produced Songs in the Key of LGBT, A Cabaret Benefit for Ali Forney Center, and in 2013 he produced a show of original songs entitled Sing This, which featured several guest singers.

 

Join Mary and Artists Without Walls for a great night of entertainment and conviviality at The Cell Theatre, 338 W23rd St, August 25th. The doors open at 6:45

 

LIV MAMMONE’S “ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS SHOWCASE at THE CELL” WRAP-UP

 

LIV MAMMONE’S “ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS SHOWCASE at THE CELL” WRAP-UP

——

Niamh Hyland, Sasha Papernik, Anette Homann and Noel Lawlor

Niamh Hyland, Sasha Papernik, Annette Homann and Noel Lawlor

This month’s Artists Without Walls’ Showcase at The Cell Theatre really exemplified our organization’s core values of both diversity and community, bringing a set of fresh, new, young artists amidst seasoned veterans of the AWoW stage. The whole evening was filled with the warmth and the welcoming atmosphere we have come to expect from these gatherings. The Cell itself feels as though it’s growing smaller and more intimate with each passing month, as this family of faces come together to support, sustain, and shine. But the circuit never closes, always making room for more.

 

Richard Stillman

Richard Stillman

First up, Richard Stillman gave us all a laugh with two musically accompanied story recitations. One, a comical rhyme about a young highland lad named Angus with a prominent honker he puts to use in a bagpipe band; the other, a Peruvian pied piper tale about a young man who uses the forgotten tradition of pan flute playing to rid his mountain town of a scourge of slimy frogs and finds his place among them. Richard, too, has embraced an art form not seen often these days with his oral storytelling and showed us why it is still vivid and necessary. (How on Earth did he make that bubble sound?)

 

Ed Romanoff and I.S. Jones

Ed Romanoff and I.S. Jones

I.S. Jones shimmered with grace and grit reciting three spoken word poems; a gripping piece about racist language; the sensual “Kingdom of Touching”; and a gloriously uplifting ode to those forces in her life which have tried and tested her. I.S. had worried that her work would be “a little risky” for the audience, but we were jolted and moved by the elegant truth in her work. Her calmness and refined manner acts as a prism through which torrents of feeling are focused. Her risk was rewarded and we would welcome her future work.

 

Noah Hoffeld

Noah Hoffeld

Cellist, pianist, and songwriter Noah Hoffeld demonstrated his incredible range, favoring us with a melodic ballad, a rocking ode to the music that shaped his youth, and an utterly heartrending classically inspired solo to return us to his Juilliard roots. His vocals are reminiscent of Matthew Good, at once tender and rough-edged. It was a roller coaster of feeling to be witness to just a fraction of what he is capable.

 

Eithne Nic An Riogh

Eithne Nic An Riogh

In a happy accident, we were then joined by Eithne Nic An Riogh, just this week transplanted from Ireland. She had reached out to fellow University College Dublin alum Niamh Hyland looking for a cello and we were most fortunate that, instead, she wound up with a slot. Borrowing Noah’s, Eithne treated us to a million dollar smile and two beautiful pieces, a cello standard as well as a deeply moving Irish song about a woman who cannot be buried on the island of her choice. It was heartwarming to see how these fellow performers came together on a spur of the moment to share her talent with us.

 

Nicholas Garr

Nicholas Garr

Have you ever wondered what would happen if the Sopranos’ Chris Moltisanti was given the psychic powers of John Edwards? Character actor Nicholas Garr has finally given us the answer and it is as hilarious as you would expect. Watching how Nick has altered his body language especially is truly evidence of his gift. He left us in stitches. A pilot should be sent to HBO now that its gangster show niche has a void.

 

Alex Shapiro

Alex Shapiro

The second poet of the night, Alex Shapiro, was brand new to the AWoW stage, and brought a bouquet of lively, thought provoking, philosophical musings. These poems as quick and sharp as shots of whiskey. Alex inhabited his whole body for his reading, giving off an air of approachability and an enviable talent for memorization. We are lucky to have caught him before he heads out to the Midwest to continue his writer’s journey.

 

 

Niamh Hyland and Allison Sylvia

Niamh Hyland and Allison Sylvia

Ed Romanoff is never less than awe inspiring and was a perfect closer for our evening. Ed has performed a great deal with AWoW and is an integral part of its nature, but those who were in the audience last night hearing him for the first time are to be envied. He demonstrated his prowess as a lyricist and his signature sound–steady as a train and sharp like a razor–in three tracks. The first was new, the story of a boxer and his shiftless women. His second choice was a deeply personal gesture for fellow member Connie Roberts, a song called “Orphan King.” Niamh and Noah then joined Ed for his song “Two Yellow Roses,” giving an already breathtaking number a level of depth we as audience members were held in thrall by. It is always an indescribable pleasure when showcase performers come together in impromptu collaborations. This is part of the magic of the space and there is nothing else like it.

 

We hope that you could be present and that you’ll join us for the next Showcase on August 25th, at The Cell Theatre. 

MULTI-TALENTED LINE UP ON TAP at AWOW’S SHOWCASE at THE CELL, TUESDAY, JULY 28th.

“We are given the opportunity to share our creative work and be received by a truly supportive and empathetic audience of fellow AWoW members and their guests. AWoW’s talented artists revitalize my spirit giving me strength and passion as I pursue my craft.” Michelle Macau

 

Noah Hoffeld

Noah Hoffeld

A great lineup of talent has been assembled for Artists Without Walls’ July Showcase at The Cell Theatre beginning with cellist Noah Hoffeld.  The soulful maturity of Noah’s new album Play Human belies the fact that Noah comes from a life in Classical Music. But playing Classical was never everything to Noah. Before graduating from Juilliard, he began pushing the limits by improvising, bringing rock and pop to the cello, and asking questions that would push his career beyond the ordinary. Cellist Noah has played for the likes of Renee Fleming, Philip Glass, Bebel Gilberto, and Brad Mehldau and records solos for films and television such as The Skeleton Twins (starring Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader), and Showtime’s Happyish. Noah will be singing a few songs from his new album and accompanying himself on piano and cello.

 

Richard Stillman

Richard Stillman

Richard Stillman is an all around performer. As an actor he has performed on Broadway, the Kennedy Center and in regional theater. These days he is mostly performing his own shows in schools, libraries and care centers. He will be telling at the New Jersey Storytelling Festival on Sept. 20th and will be performing his Spirit of Vaudeville show in Summit, NJ on Sept. 27th. During Tuesday,’s Showcase Richard will be telling two of his own stories. One is from the highlands of Scotland and the other is from the highlands of Peru.  

 

 

I.S. Jones

I.S. Jones

With a commanding stage presence and stirring poems of triumph, tribute, and forgiveness, I.S. Jones’s poetry stunned the audience into roaring “amens” at AWoW’s March Showcase. If you missed her you have a chance to meet her and hear her work at this Tuesday’s Showcase at The Cell.  I.S. is recent transplant from Southern California, is currently a graduate candidate at Hofstra University and she is a teaching colleague of Connie Roberts. I.S. was recently asked to come onboard as an editor-in-chief at Encore Radio Show, a show that delves into the culture and history of hip-hop. She is the winner of the Power Poetry Scholarship and publishes in several other literary magazines such as Harpoon Review, Chaparral, and Fat City Review.

 

Nick Garr (center)

Nick Garr (center)

 

Nick Garr, whose photo left was taken while performing Jerome Robbins” “Broadway” will be presenting  a character from his show “The Mob Psychic” and presenting it in a way that will be completely new and original to an AWoW Showcase.  Sam Adelman has been working with Nick on his web series, and will be shooting Nick’s scene for his series. Get ready for some real excitement. 

 

Ed Romanoff

Ed Romanoff

Ed Romanoff, whose song “St Vincent de Paul” won Song of the Year from the Nashville Songwriters Association, and whose  self-titled debut was a Roots Radio Top 100 for 2012, and ranked as high as number 12 on the European Americana Charts.  Ed will be performing a not yet recorded “old tune” about the claddagh ring (might Niamh Hyland join him?) and possibly a song he recently wrote which “…was inspired by Connie Robert’s moving book launch,” said Ed.

 

Alex Shapiro

Alex Shapiro

And rounding out the evening’s entertainment is first time AWoW presenter, Alex Shapiro. Alex is a poet born and raised in Beacon, New York. Having completed his undergraduate studies at Northeastern University this past May, he will be moving to the Midwest this Fall to pursue his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

 

Join emcees Niamh Hyland and Charles R. Hale for a great night of fun an entertainment The Cell Theatre, Tuesday, July 28th, 338 W23rd St. The doors open at 6:45pm.

 

 

 

 

A KATE McLEOD, E.L DOCTOROW, KEN BURNS’ STORY

A Kate McLeod, E.L. Doctorow, Ken Burns Story

by Kate McLeod

—–

 

When I was with Time Magazine, I was doing a special section on the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island anniversary. I wrote to E.L. Doctorow and a few other luminaries and finally asked E. L. (Edgar) to write the piece for me.

 

Kate McLeod

Kate McLeod

We had lunch and I talked about how I saw the essay. We left the lunch in agreement. I had about a month to put the piece to bed, but a week after I’d met with E.L. he called me. He’d read something in the paper about Lee Iacocca’s involvement in the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation, (Iacocca, who was running Chrylser a the time, raised money and the awareness of that project.) which completely set him off. He told me he was changing the essay so as to rail against corporate interests and Iacocca in particular.

 

“That’s not what we had in mind here at Time,” I said. “What we want is a celebration of how immigration made America great.” But he was determined to rail. So we came to an impasse. Now I’m thinking, I have three weeks and I am in a complete panic—heart-racing-panic.

 

My husband, Jerry Flint, after listening to my tale of woe, said, “You know I saw this film on PBS and it seems to me that film includes all of the stuff you want for the essay.”

 

E. L. Doctorow

E. L. Doctorow

“Great,” I said, “But it’s a film on PBS. What’s that going do for me?”

 

Jerry said, “I’ll get a copy of it and we’ll watch it.”

 

We did. It was a film by some guy named Ken Burns who was from New Hampshire. I called Florentine Films in Walpole, NH and I got Ken on the phone and told him that I would like to take his film, put it into essay form and publish it in Time Magazine. He was coming to New York the next week so we agreed to get together and have dinner. Ken, Jerry and I had dinner and talked about it. Ken said go ahead; he agreed to make an essay.

 

Ken Burns

Ken Burns

With two weeks before my deadline, Jerry, an award-winning journalist for Forbes Magazine, sat down at the computer and made an incredibly beautiful essay out of Ken’s film, for which he wouldn’t take a dime. In those days we paid writers and artists real money in my department so I gave the money to Florentine Films and I took Jerry to dinner at Lutece, where its much celebrated owner, Andre Soltner, came to the table to visit.

 

It was quite a project. The essay was very beautiful, everything I had hoped it would be for the readers. And we even obtained historic photos from a stock photo company, which I think became the now very well known supplier of photos, Corbis. I always felt bad about parting company with Doctorow but, other than that, it was a wonderful project and a great experience.

ARE YOU A GOOD CONVERSATIONALIST?

ARE YOU A GOOD CONVERSATIONALIST?

by Charles R. Hale

 

Are you a good conversationalist? Ask yourself these two questions: Am I more concerned with being interesting or interested? Am I listening or waiting to speak, constantly on the verge of interruption? I know this: The person who is speaking will understand if we’re paying attention or not. You know when someone isn’t really paying attention, don’t you?

 

Has a friend ever said to you, “We must talk,” and then, after an hour or so, the friend says, “Gee, thanks, that was a great conversation. Very helpful, I really enjoyed it.” And you walk away saying to yourself, “Great conversation? It seems I hardly said a word.

 

good-listenersWell, maybe you’re a good listener. Do you listen? Aren’t the best conversationalists also the best listeners?  They are easy to pick out; you know them. They acknowledge by nodding, and adding, “I see,” and “umm hmm.” They may ask questions or paraphrase something you’ve said, indicating they know exactly what you are speaking about.

 

Active listening, as opposed to hearing sounds, is not unlike looking at a photograph of a scene as opposed to a painting. A photograph offers us what the photographer wants us to see. There are many other angles but we see only one; we focus on one aspect captured with the lens of the camera. That’s what we do when we hear “words.” We focus on one aspect of the “entire” conversation.


guernica01

 

A painting, however, allows the artist more freedom. The entire experience may be seen simultaneously. An example of this would be Pablo Picasso’s painting, “Guernica.” Painted in response to the aerial bombardment of the Basque town, Guernica, during the Spanish Civil War, Picasso shows the suffering that war inflicts on innocent civilians. The painting doesn’t capture a single moment, but rather a number of scenes and events, allowing the viewer to experience the multiplicity of feelings and emotions expressed in the painting. It’s the simultaneity of the whole painting that creates the impact.

 

securedownload-5Similarly, a good listener interprets the entire conversation, absorbing and interpreting movement, facial expressions, empty spaces, sounds and silences. They “hear” the story that is being “painted.”

 

Years ago my sister said of a picture of me—I was on a boat near Nantucket—“That’s your listening face. That’s when I know you are really paying attention. Your head tilts to one side, your face tightens a bit, you don’t say much, but it seems as if you are looking through my words.”

 

At times I need to remind myself to allow others the space in which they can explore their thoughts and emotions. I need to resist the temptation of jumping in with solutions. Perhaps in silence and understanding I can create an environment where the speaker can look through his or her words, hear them, process them, and see the solutions to problems that reside within.

 

Then at last a voice in the gloom

Seemed to cry I hear you.

I hear your fears

Your torment and your tears.

.

“No One Would Listen” from The Phantom of the Opera

GREAT MUSIC and ITS HISTORY

GREAT MUSIC and ITS HISTORY

by Charles R. Hale

 

Recently, a  friend asked how I developed an interest in classical music.  My mother gets the credit for that one.  When I was a young boy in Glen Oaks, Queens, the local supermarket had classical albums for sale at the check out counter. Every so often my mother would buy one and thus, at any early age, I was introduced to classical music, including the works of Beethoven, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Bach and others. By the time I reached my teens, however, I rarely listened to classical music and, like most teens, I soaked up the music of the era, The Beatles, the Beach Boys, the  Rolling Stones, the Shirelles and many others. 

 

During my senior year in college, for reasons I can’t recall, I bought a ticket to a New York Philharmonic concert at Lincoln Center. The only thing I remember about the program was that it included Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. I was hooked. Soon I was attending concert after concert at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the 92nd Street Y. My interest in this musical genre has remained keen ever since.

 

Occasionally, a friend might say, “I’d like to begin building a classical music library. Can you send me a list of your favorite classical music recordings?” There are too many to include in a list of favorites, but typically I’ll start with a few that are not only great works but have an interesting history, which also interests me. Here’s a sampling: Four great works, out of hundreds in the classical repertory, including some great recordings of each.

 

Anton Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, Op. 104: Dvorak began work on this concerto in his East 17th St. apartment in NYC in 1884 and finished it in Prague the following year. On March 28, 1937, George Szell, conducting the Czech Philharmonic, along with cellist Pablo Casals, who was at the peak of his powers, his playing ennobling and lyrical, unleashed a stunning performance of the concerto. The recording is a tour de force, from the rapier life thrust of the cello in the opening movement, all the way to the concluding sinuous duet between cello and orchestra, and ending in a blaze of glory. I’ve often wondered what impact the political stirrings of the day had on this recording: Ethnic tensions were running high in Czechoslovakia and the scent of war was in the air; the Wermacht was planning an invasion of Czechoslovakia, and a year later the Munich agreement was signed ceding the Sudetenland to Germany.

 

 

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92. In 1936 Arturo Toscanini announced that he was leaving his post as the musical director of the New York Philharmonic after an eight-year stay. On April 9, shortly before his farewell performance at Carnegie Hall, Toscanini conducted a recording of Beethoven’s Seventh, which captures the clarity and propulsion that stamped his music and became known as the “Toscanini sound.” It’s also interesting to note the connection with Nazi Germany, since many feel that Toscanini’s performances and recordings of Beethoven’s symphonies were a public and musical repudiation of Nazi tyranny. The second movement marked “Allegretto,” was used to great effect in the recent film “The King’s Speech.” Here’s Toscanini conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, November 10, 1951. 

 

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K466. Mozart composed fifteen piano concertos between the years 1782 and 1786, including the D Minor, premiered by Mozart himself, in February 1875. During this stretch, which may have been the peak of Mozart’s creative powers, he often performed one new work each week. The second movement marked, “Romanze” is brilliant. The movement begins with a simple theme and then (at the 4:05 mark in the recording I’ve provided) there is an outburst in the piano and orchestra with gorgeous exchanges between the piano and the oboes, flutes and bassoons, which is followed (at 6:43 in the recording) by the return of the original theme. This is a sublime work and may be my favorite two and one-half-minutes of music of any kind. The recording I’ve enjoyed most through the years is Daniel Barenboim’s with the English Chamber Orchestra, which isn’t available on youtube. The performance I’ve selected features pianist Friedrich Gulda with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. 

 

 

Jean Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Op.82. Sibelius’s early works were often nationalistic in nature, in fact, his most popular work, Finlandia, was banned by the Russian czar during times of unrest. Sibelius began work on his Fifth Symphony during the early years of WWI and premiered it in December of 1915. He was not satisfied with the work and rewrote it at least twice, the final version being completed in 1918. As with much of Sibelius’s work there is strong feel of nature and the North country. I find the last movement, which begins with the whirrings of the string section and ending magisterially, particularly moving. Many consider Serge Koussevitzky’s recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra the preeminent recording of this work. The recording here, led by Esa Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is a very fine recording of Sibelius’s work.

 

 

 

 

I CONCENTRATE ON YOU

 

I CONCENTRATE ON YOU

by Charles R. Hale

 

 

Cole Porter

Cole Porter

Cole Porter wrote “I Concentrate on You” on the eve of America’s entrance into WWII.  During the war Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist, and author of “Man’s Search For Meaning,” and his wife, Tilly, spent time in a number of concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. I never considered the parallel nature of Porter’s lyrics or the words Frankl penned until quite recently.

 

Frankl recorded his memories in his book after the war ended.  At the core of Frankl’s theory is the belief that man’s primary motivational force is his search for meaning.

 

Man's Search for Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning

Here’s a passage from his book:

 

I was struggling to find the reason for my sufferings, my slow dying.  In a last violent protest against the helplessness of imminent death, I sensed my spirit piercing through the enveloping gloom.  I felt it transcend that hopeless, meaningless world, and from somewhere I heard a victorious “Yes” in answer to my question of the existence of an ultimate purpose….For hours I stood hacking at the icy ground.  The guard passed by, insulting me, and once again I communed with my beloved.  More and more I felt that she was present, that she was with me: I had the feeling that I was able to touch her, able to stretch out my hand and grasp hers.  The feeling was very strong: she was there.”

 

Frankl was continually seeking solace in the last thing he had control of, the only freedom he hadn’t relinquished, his capacity to love.  When his only positive achievement was enduring his suffering, when in utter desolation he was surrounded by death, he clung to the thought of his beloved wife, Tilly, who died in Bergen-Belsen at the age of twenty-four.  They stripped him of his writings and research, his clothing, and even his hair; he retained the freedom of his private thoughts.  He created his own reality. That sustained him.

 

Cole Porter (right)

Cole Porter (right)

I thought of this passage one morning while I was working out Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You” on the piano. I was familiar with the song; I’d heard a number of artists perform it, including Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. But this time, as I began playing the song, I spoke the words aloud and they moved me in a way they never had.

 

Whenever skies look gray to me and trouble begins to brew

Whenever the winter-winds become too strong, I Concentrate on You

On your smile so sweet, so tender. when at first your kiss I decline.

On the light in your eyes when you surrender and once again our arms intertwine.

 

When fortune cries “nay, nay” to me and people declare, “You’re through,”

Whenever the blues become my only song, I Concentrate on You.

And so when wise men say to me that love’s young dream never comes true.

To prove that even wise men can be wrong, I concentrate, and concentrate on you.

 

Tilly and Viktor Frankl

Tilly and Viktor Frankl

During the war years Porter moved between Hollywood and New York City, while Frankl moved between camps in Theresienstadt, in what is now the Czech Republic, Auschwitz, Poland, and Turkheim in Bavaria, Germany. For years I thought of Porter’s lyrics as everyday words of love and adoration, painted with loving attention. Yet, when I read Frankl’s words describing the profound love he felt for his wife, Tilly, words that are quite similar to Porter’s, somehow I felt his words were sacred. And now I wonder, why do I make distinctions between the sacred and the everyday? There are none.

 

STELLAR PERFORMANCES at ARTISTS WITHOUT WALLS’ JUNE SHOWCASE at THE CELL THEATRE

“Performing at Artists Without Walls is a deep privilege and a pleasure.  To appear as part of a lineup of such talented artists is simultaneously thrilling and humbling.  I always leave AWoW with a soaring spirit, full of gratitude for the gifts of my fellow artists, and newly energized and encouraged in my own work. Mille Grazie to Charles Hale and Niamh Hyland for creating this warm, welcoming community.” Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, poet/author

 

—–

 

Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell began Artists Without Walls’ June Showcase at The Cell Theatre by delighting the crowd with her recitation of “Crossing Irish,”  a sequence of poems exploring her predicament as a Sicilian woman fatally in love with Ireland.  Full of echoes of Irish poetry and the music of everyday speech, the poems were by turns sharp-witted and humorous, poignant and full of longing, culminating in a final recognition of her double-minded state: “I don’t belong. / I could make myself a life there.”  (This sequence of poems appeared on Artists Without Walls blog in March 2014.)

 

 

Michelle Macau and Sarah Hammer

Michelle Macau and Sarah Hammer

Michelle Macau and Sarah Hammer brought to vivid life the story of a break-up in Burying Elephant, a one-act play by Robin Rice Lichtig.  The dramatic and vibrant performances were genuine and poignant, bringing as some viewers remarked, laughter and a few tears.  “Artists Without Walls is a muse, a gift to artists stimulating the creative life energy,” said Michelle. “We are given the opportunity to share our creative work and be received by a truly supportive and empathetic audience of fellow AWoW members and their guests. AWoW’s talented artists revitalize my spirit giving me strength and passion as I pursue my craft.”

 

 

Scott Brieden, Phoebe Farber and Ruby Hankey

Scott Brieden, Phoebe Farber and Ruby Hankey

First time performer and new member Phoebe Farber presented a wonderful short play, Class Reunion, about a high school reunion that goes awry– starring two fine actors Ruby Hankey and Scott Breiden.  “I had a great time at AWoW’s Showcase. So wonderful to be in the midst of talented and supportive artists.  I’m hooked!” said Phoebe. 

 

 

Allison Sylvia

Allison Sylvia

Allison Sylvia performed two more pieces – L to the A and aDAm(BEcoming)eDEn – for an appreciative audience, once again incorporating spoken word, song, chant and dance.  Said, Allison, “Artists Without Walls is a warm supportive community of fellow artists – every showcase brings in new, exciting talent and new work from familiar faces. It is always an event to look forward to for inspiration.”

 

Serena Jost

Serena Jost

 

 

 

Serena Jost wowed AWoW with her new whimsical voice-cello songs. She also sang an affecting ballad commemorating the 100th anniversary of WW1.  “Performing for an always attentive AWoW audience inspires me,” said Serena.  “Every showcase is a delight!”

 

 

Michael Muller, Niamh Hyland, Deni Bonet and Cecil Hooker

Michael Muller, Niamh Hyland, Deni Bonet and Cecil Hooker

 

The final act of this great night, Too Many Lauras, featured AWoW members singer/songwriter Peter Nolan (aka Peter Chance) on guitar, Cecil Hooker on violin and Mike Muller on bass, performing original compositions.  The songs range from discovering new love to life as a vampire to helping a distressed friend.  A big surprise was spoken word artist Allison Sylvia returning during the third song, “Holding On,” to dance during the solo and sing on the last verse and chorus. The showcase ended with a cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” with Niamh Hyland and Deni Bonet joining the band and the entire audience singing along in the refrains.  

 

 

Peter Nolan aka Peter Chance

Peter Nolan aka Peter Chance

Another brilliant evening.

 

The next Artists Without Walls’ Showcase will be on July 28th, 6:45pm at The Cell Theatre, 338 W23rd St. 

 

All photos by Vera Hoar

VERA HOAR’S PHOTOS from AWoW’S JUNE SHOWCASE at THE CELL THEATRE

Vera Hoar’s photos from the Artists Without Walls’ June Showcase.

 

Michael Muller

Michael Muller

Scott Brieden, Phoebe Farber and Ruby Hankey

Scott Brieden, Phoebe Farber and Ruby Hankey

Allison Sylvia

Allison Sylvia

 

Peter Chance, Niamh Hyland, Michael Muller, Cecil Hooker and Deni Bonet

Peter Chance, Niamh Hyland, Michael Muller, Cecil Hooker and Deni Bonet

Michelle Macau and Sarah Hammer

Michelle Macau and Sarah Hammer

Connie Roberts and Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

Connie Roberts and Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

Serena Jost

Serena Jost