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Theatre News: Free Shakespeare in the Park, The Soap Myth, Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation, Broadway Association

Theatre News: Free Shakespeare in the Park, The Soap Myth, Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation, Broadway Association

This year, we must stand together in keeping our city and each other safe. This means our summer season of Free Shakespeare in the Park will not be possible, and we must cancel our planned productions of RICHARD II and Public Works’ AS YOU LIKE IT.  We must also suspend our remaining season of programs and events at our flagship home at Astor Place through August 31.

This is a time of immense shared loss, throughout our city and throughout the world. The Public will bear financial losses, reductions in our staffing, and most heartbreakingly, the loss of our ability to gather and share stories together.  

In observation of Yom Ha-Shoah and to foster an ongoing sense of community during these isolating times, Temple Emanuel Streicker Center will host a special live-stream panel discussion on Monday, April 20 at 6:30pm (EST). The discussion will be introduced by Temple Emanuel Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson and National Jewish Theater Foundation President Arnold Mittelman. Taking questions from the worldwide virtual audience, the panel will include stars Ed Asner and Tovah Feldshuh, playwright Jeff Cohen, historian and Project Director for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Michael Berenbaum and the Obama Administration’s Special Envoy for Combatting Anti-Semitism Ira Forman. Moderating the panel discussion will be Richard Salomon, Vice President of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. The panel discussion is free but registration is required via the Temple Emanuel Streicker website.

The 85-minute play The Soap Myth was taped on April 22, 2019 at the Center for Jewish History/YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. A program of PBS/WNET and the ALL ARTS channel’s “House Seats” series, it can be viewed free-of-charge on any of the ALL ARTS streaming platforms.
Alongside Ed Asner as Holocaust survivor Milton Saltzman, Tovah Feldshuh plays the dual roles of Holocaust scholar Esther Feinman and Holocaust denier Brenda Goodsen. Also in the cast are Liba Vaynberg as journalist Annie Blumberg and Ned Eisenberg portraying five roles, including Holocaust scholar Daniel Silver. The play reading was directed by Pamela Berlin.

The performance of The Soap Myth is a part of the National Jewish Theater Foundation/Holocaust Theatre International Initiative program “Remembrance Readings” to honor and commemorate the Holocaust through works of theater. The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center is the educational partner of The Soap Myth.

The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation has announced the recipients of their special COVID-19 response grants for playwrights, composers, lyricists and librettists who have had a full professional production cancelled, closed, or indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 closures. Earlier this month, in response to theater closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Foundation announced its decision to reinvent the means by which it would distribute funds allocated for its 2020 Idea Award for Theatre. Supplemental funding from the Venturous Theater Fund of the Tides Foundation supports additional grants to playwrights, through administrative services provided by New DramatistsThe Foundation has awarded 80 grants of $2,500, a total of $200,000, for theater writers impacted by the crisis.
The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation COVID-19 response grant recipients: Raquel Almazan, Kevin Artigue, Hilary Bettis,Liza Birkenmeier, Seth Bisen-Hersh, Jessica Blank & Erik Jensen, Carlyle Brown, Darcy Bruce, Diana Burbano, Heather Chrisler, Heather Christian, J. Julian Christopher, Kate Cortesi, Patricia Cotter, Nathan Davis, Guadalís Del Carmen, Jeremy Desmon, Noah Diaz, Christopher Dimond, Sarah Einspanier, Will Eno, Bonnie Gleicher, Daniel Goldstein, Kirsten Greenidge, Katori Hall, Kate Hamill, Jessica Huang, Caroline Hewitt, Justin Huertas, Anthony Hudson, Ruben Santiago Hudson, Candrice Jones, Sukari Jones, Barbara Kahn, Nambi E. Kelley, Hannah Kohl, Abe Koogler, Michael A. Kooman, Michael John LaChiusa, Rehana Lew Mirza, Haruna Lee, Melissa Li, Ethan Lipton, David M Lutken, Steven Lutvak, Caroline V. McGraw, Aaron Meicht, Omar Vélez Meléndez, Tony Meneses, Anna Moench, Nahal Navidar, Ronan Noone, Yea Bin Diana Oh, Matthew Paul Olmos, Marisela Orta, Andrew Palermo, Zach Redler, Gab Reisman, Marco Antonio Rodriguez, Steph Del Rosso, Elyssa Samsel, Laura Schein, Madhuri Shekar, Mat Smart, Celine Song, Gary Soto, Caridad Svich, Alexandra Tatarsky, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Melisa Tien, Jillian Walker, Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters, Cheryl L. West, Whitney White, Jason Odell Williams, Sam Willmott, Chris Wiseman, Nathan J. Yungerberg, Karen Zacarias and Daniel Zaitchik.

From the nearly 300 eligible theater artists who have applied, The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation COVID-19 response grant recipients were selected randomly by electronic  lottery. Eligible playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists were those who had a professional production canceled should submit their name and proof of a professional show’s closure. (“Professional,” in this case, is defined as LORT, Off Broadway, or Broadway).  With a submission deadline of April 14, The Foundation aimed to make funds available to artists as quickly as possible, as many artists are already in dire need. “The Bret Adams & Paul Reisch Foundation’s mission as a charitable foundation is to give money to writers with ‘big ideas.’ This year, our ‘big idea’ is our declaration that we must help those who have had productions cancelled” says Bruce Ostler, V.P. and Board Member of The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation. “In no uncertain terms, the business of theatre today has ground to a shocking halt due to the pandemic. Playwrights are not salaried workers and therefore are NOT eligible for unemployment for a cancelled production. We want to get money to people who need it NOW.   At the very moment when  theatres began announcing they were canceling productions and shows started closing, a small group of concerned theatre samaritans ran towards the emerging doom to put forward the simple but ‘big’ idea that together we can and should help those in need.  Today at 7PM, when all New Yorkers shout and cheer out our windows for first responders, I know I will be thinking of these theatre first responders: Kate Bussert, Sheilah Rae, Terry Bernstein, Ben Pesner, Emily Morse, Joel Ruark, Mark Orsini, Bonnie Davis, Beth Blickers, Melissa Crespo and Sarah Ruhl.  I am proud and honored to be associated with these nimble humanitarians.” 

Theatrical Agent Bret Adams and his partner Dr. Paul Reisch loved the theatre with great passion. As a theatrical agent, Bret shepherded the careers of many actors, writers and directors and designers, including Phylicia Rashad, Judy Kaye, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Sherman Helmsley, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Eve Arden, Christine Ebersole, Kathleen Marshall, Jayne Wyman, Andre DeShields, Kathy Bates, Susan H. Schulman, Jack Heifner, Philip McKinley and Robert Harling, among many others. After Bret and Paul’s passing, in 2006 and 2015 respectively, their eponymous foundation was created at their bequest. The Bret Adams and Paul Reisch Foundation champions visionary playwrights in their creation of expansive, illuminating, and idea-driven theatre.  Embracing diversity in all its forms, The Foundation encourages artists with fresh perspectives – particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds – to create idea-driven new plays and musicals reflecting on multivalent  themes including science, history, philosophy, gender, race, politics, sexual orientation, technology, religion, money, global warming, and medicine, among others. For more information, visit

Broadway Association Zoom meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 21st at 12:30 pm. As the public health crisis continues, the Broadway Association invites you to our April virtual meeting to continue the dialogue regarding the impacts of COVID-19 and how the Broadway Association community can access support and how many in our community are providing valuable resources.

We are pleased to be joined by:

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  • Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League, who will provide a briefing in regard to the current suspension of all Broadway performances. 
  • Joe Benincasa, President and CEO of the Actors Fund, who will discuss the various Actors Fund initiatives and programs to provide relief to the Broadway community.
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Our featured speaker will be Jumaane D. WilliamsNYC Public Advocate, who will discuss his connection to the performing arts and his current work and initiatives to help impacted individuals and small businesses.

The meeting will begin promptly at 12:30PM. If you are new to ZOOM, please visit or download the free app and RSVP to Alexandra Byrne,, who will then share the Zoom meeting information with you. 


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:

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