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Community News: Health Insurance SAG/AFTRA, Backyard Big Screen, Composting, I Put a Spell on You, Playwright Murray Schisgal, Dear New York: We All Need A Laugh

Community News: Health Insurance SAG/AFTRA, Backyard Big Screen, Composting, I Put a Spell on You, Playwright Murray Schisgal, Dear New York: We All Need A Laugh

Before SAG merged with AFTRA, it was known as providing the very BEST health insurance for all their members in comparison to other theatrical unions. Now they are dropping their senior coverage? Confused? Upset? Angry? Do you feel abandoned? Are we seniors being sacrificed for their “bottom line”…???

Experience the Backyard Big Screen featuring movies in partnership with Tribeca Film Festival, live sports and more on the Public Square & Gardens. Scroll down for this weekend’s schedule

Wireless, sanitized headphones will be provided upon check-in. If you’d prefer to wear your own, a QR code to download a listening app will be available in your pod. Wired headphones recommended for listening app; Bluetooth may experience a small delay.

October 15th at 4:00pm Elf. At 7:30pm Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. On October 16th at 4:00pm Madagascar and at 7:30pm Inside Man.

Composting back in Hell’s Kitchen at 44th Street and 12th Ave and also 55th Street.

A bewitchingly cinematic extravaganza awaits when I Put a Spell on You, the annual sold-out Halloween concert-meets-party, moves online Thursday, October 29, in a fully produced spectacle streaming at 8 pm Eastern. The virtual Halloween blowout, presented by Con Limón Productions and Jay Armstrong Johnson, will benefit Broadway Cares.Celebrate Halloween with Cinematic Concert of I Put a Spell On You:

The Sanderson Sisters Break the Internet. This annual event to haunt online with Performances by Todrick Hall, Robyn Hurder, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Eva Noblezada, Will Swenson and More. broadwaycares.org/spell

October 3.
“Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” – Mark Twain

Today an old friend and colleague of mine died. Playwright Murray Schisgal. Always persnickety, I was overjoyed when he approved of the work I had done directing a staged reading of his play ‘The Japanese Foreign Trade Minister’ at The Playwright Directors Unit of The Actor’s Studio (The mayor of Duckworth, New Jersey and his colleagues are convinced that the arrival of Japanese investors and their lucre will make them all fortunes when an Asian-looking couple is discovered in the local park and the town wines and dines them knowing their ship has come in. The fact that they are actually a pair of unemployed actors from the cast of Miss Saigon is the engine for the hilarity that follows. It’s in the best Marx Brothers tradition.). And the season before I had directed another of Murray’s plays ‘ Wall Street Fandango’ about a Bernie Madoff kind of character and it was received in the PD Unit to exuberant cheers – everybody loved to hate Bernie. But this time when our staged reading of the new comedy had ended and even though waves of laughter rippled through the house during the performance, an uneasy silence settled on the room. Could the play have wandered dangerously close to the politically incorrect Hell of lambasting New Jersey suburbanites or worse and more particularly, Asians? As Murray and I sat before the grimly quiet audience and before anyone could see which way the weather vane would point Murray broke out with this: “The first obligation a playwright has is to entertain himself. The rest of you can go screw (not the word he used) yourself.’ That brought the house down. BTW. It may not be insignificant that Murray was a man of his time and was on a navy ship during the naval battle of Okinawa in which more U.S. sailors were lost than any other naval battle in U.S. history. Or it just could have been Murray being Murray – and being wickedly funny. That’s what I think. It also should be mentioned that around the same time the play had a very successful four month sold out run in Paris. Not here alas. I only hope that Mark Twain was right and that Murray’s voice sings into the future.But there’s more to it than that: Some time ago I had gathered together a line up of important NY playwrights for a panel on the decline of the number of Off Off Bway theater companies in Manhattan. Most of them you’ve never heard of but there were over two hundred and forty companies of them in the 80’s when I was coming up. Gentrification has impacted on that arena a lot with the major institutional theater companies receiving most of the funding and with the mom and pop ( I use the term advisedly), small if not tiny theater companies in storefronts, basements, lofts etc. basically disappearing. That arena was free wheeling and drenched in idiosyncrasy and a million miles from Broadway (even though measured by cement it was only forty blocks distant) but it was where some of us developed theater chops. (that includes all of the playwrights on the panel). Sam Shepard was a regular at Cafe Cino, for example. NYU eventually even gave a class in how to get a production up for sixty bucks. (they must have asked some of us who were there : dumpsters, the sidewalk etc etc). So Murray sat with Mario Fratti, Israel Horovitz, Donna Demateo, Richard Vetere, Quincy Long and Stephen Adly Guirgis who had barreled down from Albany to participate. But Murray who was in fine fettle – stole the show – the eternal wise-ass tossing out one liners to any serious question I asked and which I wish I could now duplicate but alas, there was only one Murray. But when an article about the symposium was published in The New York Times, no mention was made of the moderator. I was low man on the totem pole I guess….Ce’st la Guerre. Now as a dedicated citi-bike cyclist I’m very experienced (since H.S. – a long time ago) and I’m quick to warn people that cycling in the city can be hazardous. I’ll say ”Don’t wear earplugs and keep looking over your shoulder (both sides) and start off in Central Park to get the hang of the thing.” Well, last Thursday night at approx. 9:30PM I had just finished doing a loop (and getting passed like I was standing still by two high tech cyclists speaking in French like it was the Tour de France). I got off at 113St/CPW to dock but it was full. After turning around I might have gone back into the park. Don’t know. Because I only have a hazy memory of two blue clad EMT women in the back of the ambulance I was in and the first real waking moment I had was being wheeled down the hallway of the Emergency Room at Mt.Sinai. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life – to totally lose consciousness for a period of time and then wake up in a different place. When I came to enough to speak with the nurse who was really sympathetic and warm, I was told I had been hit by another cyclist and that it wasn’t my fault, that the EKG results were coming and if they looked OK I could go home. Two hours later, I walked out to the street. (You don’t want to hang out in an Emergency Unit more than you have to – even a good one.).
Anyway the next morning my right eye and cheek were an angry, fiery red – a color so vivid that I looked like I was wearing a Halloween mask. So the real danger is from what you don’t see coming : no swerving out of danger, no warning. Nothing. The takeaway is that even if you have a lot of miles under your belt: Be alert. Be careful…And what an incredible coincidence that on that same day I would finally be mentioned in the NYT obit for Murray as the moderator of that playwrights symposium I had produced and that Murray had shined so brightly in. Unfortunately, they named me as sitting at the end of the line of playwrights in the photo confusing me with Stephen Adly Guirgis who was sitting there. That kind of serendipity was Murray’s kind of wicked humor. Who knows, maybe he sent that zinger down from theater heaven where I’m sure he would have been awarded his wings. May he live forever in our thoughts about theater…
Stephan Morrow

SONY DSC

the photo was taken the day after the accident and as an independent artist loathe to lose an opportunity – in the mode of the character Marko T in ‘The Assassination of J. Kaisaar and the Rise of Augustus’ in his ‘war face’ soon to be made into an independent film.  

The John A. Reisenbach Foundation (JAR), an organization dedicated to rebuilding a better and safer New York, is partnering with the Upper West Side’s storied Triad Theatre to livestream a 90-minute virtual comedy event, Dear New York: We All Need A Laugh. The event will take place on Thursday, October 22 at 6:30pm EST to bring attention to and raise funds for New Yorkers who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and those who were vulnerable before the pandemic. 

Standup comedian Jessica Kirson (HBO’s Crashing, The Comedian with Robert DeNiro, The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon) will be the headliner for the evening, which will be hosted by Alvin Irby (StandUp NBC Finalist). It also will feature Gina Brillon (new 1 hour special The Floor is Lava now available on Amazon Prime, along with her first one-hour special, Pacifically Speaking, produced by Gabriel Iglesias, StandUp NBC Winner, Comedy Central’s Live at Gotham, The Late Show with Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel Live!), Vladamir Caamaño (NBC’s Superstore, Marvel’s Runaways, Top 10 Comics to Watch by Variety, Jimmy Kimmel Live!), and a performance from the Simmer-Downs Improv Group: Ashley Brooke (Ask Me Another on NPR), Steve O’Brien (directed at UCB, written for Comedy Central, performed on MTV), Sarah Ollemache (Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central’s Roast Battle and Live at GothamThe Late Show with Stephen Colbert,The Late Late Show with James Corden) and Natasha Vaynblat (Comedy Central, UCB).

The event will be broadcast via Zoom and a link will be sent out 24-hours prior to the event to all who have donated through the GoFundMe page. While there is no set ticket price for the event, in order to receive the livestream link to Dear New York: We All Need A Laugh, a donation to JAR is required. Funds raised will benefit underserved communities in New York City, and support JAR’s pandemic relief efforts.

Events

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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