Category Archives: Poetry

Voices Without Borders: It’s Possible

This fall has had so many amazing happenings. It feels as though I have been at the helm of many projects: my daughter’s first birthday, my husband’s 40th birthday party, getting back in shape, running a race and my part-time marketing business. I also have two full-length plays in development, many articles due and then there is this crazy rouge project that you must go to!

Back in March when I thought I wasn’t going to work for awhile, but be a stay at home mommy, I was in search of the perfect volunteer project.  I was looking for something that was outside of me, but still me.  So I signed up to be the producer of what was then called Voices of Africa, part of The Estrogenius Festival at Manhattan Theatre Source.  By June I had gotten really busy, taking on private clients that I never expected and the Voices project seemed dead in the water. We had no script coming from Africa this year. I was about to call it a day and forget about it. Then things shifted and Jen Thatcher, this year’s Estrogenius producer put me in touch with Jessica Morris, who is the executive producer of a kick-ass group of young women performers called Project Girl Collective that is all about empowering young women through performance. Jessica also happens to be one of the most courageous, driven and inspiring people who I have ever met.

Welcome to Voices Without Borders: Project Girl Congo. I am one of what feels like 50 producers who helped shape this piece.  Led by hip hop artist Toni Blackman, the Project Girl girls’ have developed monologues, poetry, song and dance numbers inspired by stories told by the Man Up delegates working in the Congo, who in this case, are men who are working tirelessly to stop violence against women in the Congo every single day. These men have lost wives, mothers and sisters to violence, lack of education and health care. Many women die giving birth since there is little to no access to maternal health care. These men are standing up for women, as are the young women/performers of Project Girl who are taking time away from school and their social lives to stand up for women in the Congo. What are they giving? Their time, their hearts, their energies. What are we asking of you? To give the same. Be aware of what’s going on in other parts of the world. Watch our show, which is a fundraiser.  Every penny of the proceeds goes back to the Congo to stop violence against women and girls. If you cannot come to the show, please log onto,, to support this worthy cause.

“Just about every kid in America is told that they can make a difference in this world,” says Project Girl performer Alexa Winston, age 17. “Now I have a real opportunity with Project Girl: Congo. For the first time, I have heard first-hand accounts about what life is like for girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  These stories are the bedrock of our show.  I know exactly where our donations are going and am proud to support the courageous young leaders who are “manning up” in the DRC.”

This ground-breaking show will be a staged reading performed at Manhattan Theatre Source as part of the Estrogenius Festival on Oct 29th and 30th in New York City. The show tells the stories of young girls in The Congo and helps us all realize that we can do something right here, right now by just being aware.

I never knew, for example, that the fear of being raped is a fact of life for women in the Congo and that being permanently damaged (or “ruined”) from a rape is a common occurrence there.  However, what trumps all of this violence is the fear of being killed as a result of living in a war-zone where child soldiers are shown with precision how to abuse women as part of their military training.

Through education and enlightenment, it is our hope as producers that we are encouraging awareness about what is going on for women in the Congo and for women right here in our community who are affected by gender-based violence.  The statistic is 1:3 women and girls around the world are victims of violence.  Clearly, this is a universal travesty that our youth-led theater company, Project Girl Performance Collective and Man Up, a youth led movement to stop violence against women and girls are working to change.

Voices Without Borders with be performed in connection with Congo Week, which is October 17-23, 2010, and Voices Without Borders will be co-produced by Congolese human rights organizers, Ally Malumba and Jean de Dieu Tshileu and Lewis Kasindi.

Proceeds from this year’s Voices Without Borders ticket sales and donations will benefit Man Up Campaign’s global anti-violence work in the Congo.

For more information and ticket sales, please visit Estrogenius Festival (, ManUp Campaign (, Project Girl Performance Collective (

Ah The Summer Winds

Ah, The Summer Winds
This past weekend before I left the city for some fresh summer winds of my own, I was determined to get off my butt and support one of my friend’s plays.  If you are an artist in NYC, part of the job and fun is going to support your friends’ when they do plays and such, even if they don’t always go to your plays and even if the production values are sometimes rather drab.
Lately, because I haven’t been feeling well, I’ve all but stopped the process of seeing any plays at all (friends included).  I’m just hoping that my many years of good service will pay off and my fellow theatre artists will forgive me for my recent slight of their work.  But since I am starting to feel better, this weekend I made a point to see a friend’s play, The Summer Winds a revival of the 1991 published work by Frank Pugliese.
Who was the lucky friend?  Ian Streicher, a talented director who I’ve worked with several times. I also knew the writer, Frank who was my playwriting instructor when I studied at the New School for Drama in 2005. I had never seen his work, so I was interested in seeing the show.  Also, there were two good actors who I’ve worked with: Nannette Deasy and Robert Baumgardner, so I figured this wouldn’t be a waste of my time, and it wasn’t.
The Summer Winds is being produced by Family Tree Collective, a group of actors who are interested in “artistic growth through performance.” It’s playing at the very bohemian Nuyorican Poet’s Café in the East Village, on 3rd Avenue between Avenue B&C. Not the greatest neighborhood in the world, but a pretty good place to produce the show as it turns out.  The Summer Winds is a collection of short plays and monologues about “losers” in NYC – from Brooklyn to the Bronx. Pugliese seems to know this world well and he covers all types: a couple who have been married for six years and have nothing to hope for anymore, a dancer who never made it, a lonely garbage collector who spent time in prison and a woman who married the wrong guy.  All real New Yorkers – the ones who are sad, the ones we don’t talk so much about, but who we know well because we see them, hear them – and they are ingrained in us.  For every success there have been failures and for those of us who live day-to-day in New York, we know it’s tough and it sure as hell isn’t for the weak. These characters are strong and despite having lost sight of their dreams they still want to fight.
The plays hang together by a comedian and talented singer, Brian Murphy, who pulls off some Frank Sinatra greats, culminating with the song: The Summer Winds.  The material is unusual.  It takes a very skilled writer to write plays like this and truly great actors to bring them to life.
At times I had trouble seeing the action (the seating is not great at the Nuyorican, which is sort of like a bar) and I often  wished for a more comfortable chair.  Despite those minor inconveniences, the material, direction and cast of The Summer Winds is well worth your time.

The Summer Winds by Frank Pugliese

May 29, 30 at 7PM and May 31st at 6PM.  Tickets $15 at or call 212-505-8183

Nuyorican Poets Cafe – 236 E. 3rd between b&c

Oh, and if you want to see one of my plays? My one-act Without is part of the The Looking Glass Theatre’s Spring Writer/Director forum June 4th-7th.  To buy tickets: 212-352-3101 or go to their website at

The Magic of Inverness

I think Inverness is my favorite place on earth.  With its rolling forest covered hills, Oak and Bay trees, calm ocean inlets, chirping birds and wild life – it’s simply majestic.   I love everything about being home in the Bay Area.  From driving in my mom’s car, to stopping at the Apple Box in Petaluma, to walking the dog (must do that) up on the mountain, to wine tasting in Sonoma – it’s all great.  But nothing beats Inverness and Pt. Reyes.  I grew up on Sonoma Mountain, so the wine country (the more arid country) was familiar to me.  But Inverness was introduced to me when I became friends with Helena when I was about 20.   Helena and I had a lot in common.  We had both recently moved back to northern California after living in France.  We both liked theater.  I think we met in an acting class, which given how different our lives have become seems odd.

Random, but just as I was writing this, I found this article on Yahoo.  I woke up in Inverness and spent the morning drinking coffee in Pt. Reyes.  I love this town!

Point Reyes Station, Calif.

Population: 818
Nearest City: San Francisco, 39 miles
The dilemma in Point Reyes Station is what to do first: explore Point Reyes National Seashore or just wander around and eat. At Toby’s Feed Barn, second-generation owner Christian Giacomini runs a farmers market, gallery, and yoga studio, while still selling hay and salt licks. Also inside, the baristas at Toby’s CoffeeBar pour cappuccinos with rippled hearts in the foam. Nearby, Cowgirl Creamery produces excellent soft-ripened cheeses, such as the Pierce Point, which is made from organic whole milk, washed in organic Riesling, and rolled in herbs. When you’re ready to experience some nature, Chicago native Laurie Manarik leads hiking trips to see seal pups and conducts nighttime kayaking excursions to check out bioluminescence in nearby Tomales Bay. The bay’s oysters, it must be said, are the best around. Eat them where locals do—up the road at The Marshall Store. The beautiful scenery may make you want to put down roots. “After my first visit after college, I spent the rest of my life figuring out how to live here,” Manarik says. — Scott Hutchins