Artists Without Walls’ May Showcase by Vincent Nauheimer
The attendees at Tuesday night’s Artists Without Walls’ performance at the Cell were richly rewarded by a diverse group of artists and, for a number of the performers, a debut in grand style.
The evening started out with a heart-warming story told in spoken word and song by first time Artists Without Walls’ presenter, Mary Catherine Bolster, or MC as she is known. She was accompanied on the piano by Gabriel Charles. In a beautiful voice, MC recalled how she and her sister grew up with music and then moved on with their lives in separate directions. The one thing that was quite obvious from her words, emotion and song, was that the love they had for each other never diminished. Her performance ended with a beautiful rendition of the Ave Marie in tribute to her now deceased sister.
Cynthia Neale, who was in New York this week to celebrate the early release of her book, “The Irish Milliner” at McSorley’s Old Ale House, followed MC. Cynthia, together with our own Charles Hale, (Co-founder of Artist’s Without Walls) performed a scene from her play, which revolved around the prejudice shown to both the Irish and women in the 1850’s. The irony of the scene is that it depicted a woman trying to get a drink in McSorley’s and the bartender played by, Charles, promptly showing her the door. The scene ended with Cynthia and Charles doing a modified version of the Irish Jig which would have made Fred and Ginger envious!
Peter Stoopack, also a first time Artists Without Walls’ performer, added drama to the evening, delivering two engaging pieces. Peter’s first piece was Robert Frost’s poem, “Death of the Hired Man.” Skillfully delivered, the poem examines what the word home means and recounts Frost’s tale of the hired hand coming back, to what he considered his home, to die. Next, Peter launched into the famous St. Crispin’s Day monologue from Shakespeare’s “Henry V.” It was a rousing performance of Henry the V’s call to his army to beat the French at Agincourt. If Peter had been Henry, we would have followed him into battle following his amazing delivery of this emotional charged speech.
Next to take center stage was Patrick Bamburak, who is best known as a founding member of the indie-rock band, bait-oven, (pronounced “Beethoven” – as a pun on the composer’s name.), but is also globally recognized as a contributing editor for Black Belt Magazine. Patrick, a veteran artist, songwriter and singer played three of his own compositions including his opening number, America Can’t Last and then added, Without Love. He recognizes that it is the artists who are called to be the keepers of the flame and speak their truth especially concerning the power of love and compassion. Patrick finished up his set with a splendid rendition of another appropriate song for the times, “America” by Simon & Garfunkel.
Gui Augustini and Christina Jolie Breza extracted numerous belly laughs from the audience in a hilarious scene from “Sight Unseen” by Donald Margulies. The action began as a first time artist’s model, played by Christine, cajoles the artist, Gui, to show her his sketches. She then comes on strongly to the rather timid artist, who obviously doesn’t know what to make of it. This was an amazing, high energy performance, playing off each other so incredibly well, which the scene’s hilarity. It was a pleasure watching these two perform and judging by the abilities displayed at the Cell, we will be hearing and seeing a lot more of them.
The final performance was comedic, one that included an underlying message of great importance. Jennifer Rawlings was welcomed for the first time to the Artists Without Walls’ stage by Niamh Hyland, co-founder of Artists Without Walls. Jennifer,who has appeared on Comedy Central, CMT, PBS, FOX, VH-1, A&E, CNN, Joy Behar and TEDx talks, highlighted the pain and suffering of mothers and women in warzones and asked the question, “What am I/we going to do about it?” Jennifer then proceeded to discuss the making of her documentary “I Only Smoke in War Zones” which documents the effects of war on women. The underlying theme was a magnificent and inspirational story about the power one woman wielded when she set her mind to it. A brilliant ending to a wonderful evening. And lastly, as a veteran, I would like to personally thank Jennifer for the over 300 shows she has done for members of our armed forces all over the globe.
Photos by Vera Hoar