Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CONVERSATION | Jean-Guy Lecat kicks off "Creating Theatre for a New Audience" series in Brooklyn, Jan. 5th

Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn

BROOKLYN, NY |   In 2000, Harvey Lichtenstein, recently retired executive director of BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), invited Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA), a modern classical theatre, to build its first home in what was previously known as the BAM Cultural District.

Established in 1979, TFANA produces Shakespeare alongside a wide range of other major authors. Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director, wanted a space that would be both intimate and epic, but without one fixed perspective, so that artists could change the configuration of the stage and audience depending upon the needs of a particular play and production. The Cottesloe at London's Royal National Theatre inspired Horowitz.

A team consisting of architects Hugh Hardy and Geoff Lynch (H3 Collaboration Architecture), theatre consultants Jean-Guy Lecat and Richard Pilbrow, acoustician Russell Todd, and graphic artist Milton Glaser collaborated with Horowitz on designing the 299-seat Scripps Main Stage and 50-seat Rogers Studio.

Over the next year, TFANA will host a series of free public discussions, which will focus on each team member's exploration of how theatrical design can support art.

I am honored to kick off Part One: A Conversation with Jean-Guy Lecat, an exploration on space, architecture and performance design.

Our conversation talk is set for Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 5:30pm at the Theatre for a New Audience at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn.

FREE EVENT. For further information, contact humanities@tfana.org or visit www.tfana.org.

Peter Brook calls Jean-Guy "Monsieur Space."

Jean-Guy Lecat is a French scenic designer and architectural consultant for Peter Brook's Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris, BAM Harvey Theater, and consultant to Jeffrey Horowitz.

I see Jean-Guy more properly as a space designer and a developer of architecture. Why? Because Jean-Guy devotes himself fully to the transformation of space for performance.  He is untiring in his exploration of the interaction of theater and architecture, design and performance, space and storytelling.

Jean-Guy Lecat

Jean-Guy Lecat's guiding hand can be gleaned in the construction of Teatro Azul de Almada in Lisbon, the building of the New Young Vic in London, the major renovation of the historic Abbey Theatre in Dublin, the conversion of an old Norway factory into theatre spaces and schools, the remaking of the Naves del Antiguo Matadero into a performing arts space in Madrid -- and now the construction of Theatre for a New Audience's new home at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn.

Prior to the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, Lecat was known in New York for transforming a literally crumbling 1904 space, two blocks from the Brooklyn Academy of Music (formerly the Majestic, it had been boarded up for 20 years) into the BAM Harvey Theater. The newly refurbished Harvey was built specifically to house Peter Brook’s nine-hour production of The Mahabharata and his subsequent The Cherry Orchard.

In an award-winning magazine profile of Jean-Guy Lecat, "The Further Adventures of Monsieur Space" (American Theatre, January 2009), I wrote, "Although the term 'maverick' has become much-abused in the media nowadays, it is actually an apt description of Lecat's place in the pantheon. On the occasion of the publication of 'The Open Circle,' Brook dubbed Lecat 'Mr. Space,' because he thrives in the avant-garde of an entirely new profession that is neither scenic design nor architecture--call it space design. Perhaps another way of looking at Lecat's trade is that he is a stage manager of space, whose simultaneous aims are to lift the theatre experience to a new level, to bring the text forward, and to stimulate 'the imaginary,' which he views as the real current and lifeblood of theatre.' "

BAM Cultural District

In a period of 25 years, Lecat designed approximately 200 performance spaces for Brook around the world, as well as many others in cooperation with international theatre makers and architects. Lecat began his career as a stage design assistant in the Theatre du Vieux-Colombier in Paris and as an architectural assistant at the Avignon festival. Lecat has worked as a stage manager, scenographer and light designer for Jean Vilar, Jorge Lavell, The Living Theatre, La MaMa, Jean-Marie Serreau, Luca Ronconi, Jean-Louis Barrault, Dario Fo, Roger Blin and Samuel Beckett.

Friday, December 20, 2013

NEWS FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS | A Great Review...and an Official Government Seal of Approval

NEW YORK CITY |  See that "Philippine Transparency Seal?" That's a government seal of approval from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) of the Republic of the Philippines.

It was already very nice of the DFA to publish an article that reviewed my recent performance at the Philippine Consulate General of New York's Kalayaan Hall. But it was a whole other matter to get an Official Seal of Approval from the state.

That means that the article reprinted in its entirety below was thoroughly and completely vetted by every stakeholder inside the DFA before they published it on their official website.

What the article does not mention is that the evening I participated in raised some $40,000 in funds that will go directly to the Philippine Jesuit Foundation in New York, which will hand over the funds to Gawad Kalinga in the Philippines. The evening was a launch of a Build a Shelter program that would allow for actual homes to be built for all those Filipinos in central Visayas who lost their homes.

In the initial aftermath of the typhoon, people around the world gave money. However, those funds were geared for emergency relief. This flash funding will not specifically address the actual re-building efforts that needs to be undertaken long after the world has moved forward and the victims of the super typhoon stop becoming a huge part of the current news agenda. By then, it will become even more necessary to re-build new homes, perhaps even schools and buildings, in central Visayas and other regions severely impacted.

Build a Shelter Program (BASP) is a continuing program. For the time being, companies, organizations and individuals that would like to support the BASP can contact the Philippine Consulate General at email address: phcongen.newyork@gmail.com. They may also send check (with “Build a Shelter Project Fund” written in the memo line) to the Philippine Jesuit Foundation, 39 East 83rd St., New York, NY 10028.

It was a pleasure to be part of this important and necessary evening. How very nice of the DFA to say nice things about my performance and giving it a stamp of approval.


Filipinos in New York Celebrate
150th Birth Anniversary  
of Andres Bonifacio 
with Poetry Reading, Film Screening

05 December 2013 – Love for country and hope for a better future was the theme of the Philippine Consulate General’s celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio last November 26 at the Philippine Center in New York City.

A fundraising town hall to launch the Build-A-Shelter Program for typhoon Yolanda victims took place earlier in the evening, where Consul General Mario L. De Leon, Jr. spoke about how ordinary citizens can emerge as a hero during times of crisis, much like Andres Bonifacio during the Spanish era.  The audience were then entertained and educated with a program in commemoration of the man oftentimes called the “Father of Philippine Revolution.”

Theatre actress Debralee Daco, who appeared in the Imelda Marcos bio-musical “Here Lies Love” read excerpts from the Lakambini ng Katipunan, Gregoria De Jesus’ life account that describes her marriage and family life with the Supremo and her participation in the Katipunan.

A poem written by Gat Andres himself, “Pag Ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa” was brought to life by a rousing interpretation by Randy Gener.

The highlight of the program was a film showing of “Prologo to the Great Desaparecido,” by Lav Diaz.  The movie depicts Gregoria De Jesus’ desperate search for her husband’s body in the mountains for 30 days.

To relate the celebration to community fundraising efforts, Vice Consul Khrys Corpuz highlighted some messages in the film that resound to the community post-Yolanda: that we must not lose hope and that as a community we will find a cure for our kababayans’ misery.

The evening ended with Debralee and Randy reading Gregoria De Jesus’ 10 Advices to the Philippine Youth. END

Sunday, December 15, 2013

TYPHOON RELIEF EFFORT | Artist Collective and La MaMa host #HaiyanRelief performance and art auction on Dec.18th

NEW YORK CITY |  La Mama e.t.c and Kinding Sindaw are presenting a #HaiyanRelief fundraising benefit. I will serve as the host.

The event will benefit the victims of Haiyan/Yolanda. All proceeds will go to NAFCONUSA #HaiyanRelief fund# nafconusa.org

NAFCON is a national multi-issue alliance of Filipino organizations and individuals in the United States serving to protect the rights and welfare of Filipinos by fighting for social, economic, and racial justice and equality. At present, NAFCON members encompass over 23 cities in the United States.

Featured artist performers are: Yusef Abdus-Salaam || Maria Elena Anaya || Kilusan Bautista || Michael Dadap || Christian Harmon and Juan Torregoza || Interstellar Sex Machine || Kanttara || Kinding Sindaw || Makalina || Saung Budaya || Scientific Soul Band || Substance || 10Tecomai || Amir Vahab.

You can find more detailed information about each artist performer on Facebook herehttps://www.facebook.com/events/1439586276261709/

There will also be an art auction featuring work by: Corky Lee || Crude Things || Funkologist || Bob Gruen || Caitlin Keegan ||Alan Ket || Jayne Lies || Alice Mizrachi || Jaclyn Reyes || Sarita Louise Moore || Venus In Orbit || And more!

Tickets are $20.00

Tickets can be purchased in advance online at http://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/9861504 or at the box office.  Box Office: (212) 475-7710

All proceeds will go to NAFCONUSA #HaiyanRelief fund# nafconusa.org

For more info: info@kindingsindaw.org

Kinding Sindaw Melayu Heritage
47 Great Jones St., New York NY 10012

Lamama ETC

INTRODUCTION OF HOST – Angela Torregoza, Executive Director of Kinding Sindaw
INTRODUCTION – Mia Yoo, Artistic Director of Lamama ETC
INVOCATION – Tom Porter, Mohawk Elder
WELCOME– Potri Ranka Manis, Founder & Artistic Director of Kinding Sindaw
WELCOME DANCE (Silong Sa Ganding) – Kinding Sindaw

Scientific Soul Band (soul)
Kanttara (vocals)
Lotus Fine Arts Presents: MAKALINA (Hawaiian)
Yusef Abdus Salaam (Spoken Word)

Silent Auction #1

Michael Dadap (Guitar)
Maria Elena Anaya (Flamenco)
Amir Vahab (Tanbour)
Kilusan Bautista (Multimedia)

Silent Auction #2

10Tecomai (YOSOKAI Dance Group)
Substance (vocals)
Saung Budaya (Indonesian Dance)
Christian Harmon and Juan Torregoza (Vocals and Guitar)

Silent Auction #3
Lotus Fine Arts Presents: AJNA DANCE GROUP (Indian Dance)
Interstellar Sex Machine (Downtempo)

Friday, December 6, 2013

NEW YORK DIARY | Remembering Nelson Mandela for Arise America TV

NEW YORK |  Tonight I was a guest on Arise America's TV prime-time news program. I spoke about Nelson Mandela's impact on my life, on American youth and on South Africa's arts community. It was a live show!

Arise News was founded by Nigerian publisher Nduka Obaigbena. He dreamed of a global news channel connecting all the colors and shades of news around the globe. With a team of world-class journalists, behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera, Arise News covers the compelling issues of our time in a way no one else can.

I was honored to be asked to speak my mind in Nduka Obaigbena's enterprising news network. It was a rainy Friday night, almost 24 hours after I reported about Mandela's death in The Journalist.ie and posted my story six minutes after his death was confirmed by South African President Jacob Zuma.

I recalled my student days when I drove five hours to Oakland Coliseum to see in person Nelson Mandela who had just been released from prison where he spent 27 years. We paid $5 for the ticket. My fellow students joined 75,000 of our closest friends in the Bay Area to see Mandela on what was his last stop in an eight-city tour. It was a glorious sun-drenched day. He did not speak very long, but he spoke directly to us, telling us that we students and the laborers and longshoremen in the Bay Area were in the forefront of the anti-apartheid movement here in the U.S. by agitating for the U.S., especially American universities, to divest their South African investments, which at the time totaled $12 billion. 

As I said on TV on Arise America, his speech at that Oakland Coliseum confirmed that we were fighting the good fight and connected our student agitation to this larger, greater and global fight against apartheid. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

TYPHOON RELIEF EFFORT | AAJA-NY Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fundraiser with the Asian Affinity Roundtable

NEW YORK CITY |  I am a member of AAJA-NY (Asian American Journalists Association of New York). The group is holding a Typhoon Haiyan relief fundraiser with the Asian Affinity Roundtable.

I urge you to go. There will be free food, free drinks (up to a point, during happy hour), plus a silent auction and raffle which explains the $10 suggested donation.

Here are the details:

AAJA-NY Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fundraiser
with the Asian Affinity Roundtable

Wednesday, December 4, 2013, 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Location: Katra Lounge, 217 Bowery Street, NYC
Event information: http://typhoonrelief.eventbrite.com

This event is open to the public.

Proceeds will go to International Rescue Committee (rescue.org)

Emcee: Ti-Hua Chang, WNYW/Fox 5 / Performances by: FanAlex, Mary Josephine, and IZZY / Music by DJ VinnyRomance
Free drinks for the first 100 attendees and happy hour drink specials
Free food until 7PM
Silent Auction and Raffle
$10 donation at the door; Event information: http://typhoonrelief.eventbrite.com

Donations will be matched 1 for 1 by Time Warner Inc. and will be donated to the International Rescue Committee.

Silent Auction Items: Reebok sneakers, Real Simple beauty gift basket, Knicks tickets, Restaurant gift certificates, Cookware, Books, Theater tickets and MORE

Co-sponsored by APEX of Time Warner, A3 of Time Inc. and Aspire of JPMorgan, AHG of Interpublic, Asian American Journalists Association of New York (AAJA-NY), APA@NBCUniversal, Asian Connection NY of Wells Fargo, AMP of Viacom, APEX of McGraw-Hill Companies/S&P Capital IQ, TurnerAsia of Turner Broadcasting. This is event is not sponsored by JPMorgan Chase