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Archive for November 2014

Must See for Kids and Your Inner Child: Swamp Juice, 3 D shadow puppet show

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I always figure if I ever go to prison I can still make theater with dancing my hand against the cell wall. But that would imply a room with a view so that light could   shine in— I guess I better not get busted till I tire of the magic of shadow puppetry.

Jeff Achtem is the creator and star of “Swamp Juice”, an interactive, immersive shadow puppet show that is having its North American premiere at the Barrow Street Theatre. His swamp is inhabited by a biological community of crossovers from Dr. Seuss and South Park, all over lorded by his imperial weirdness, Mr. Achtem.  A virtual whirligig of motion, crazed sound effects and otherworldly dialogue, Achtem stirs up his delicious brew right before our eyes, in front of a bare light bulb swampjuice_4766_byAndrewWuttke.

Theoriginal score is composed by David Henry, Nick Carver and Tristan Kelley.

His puppets are created from bits of rubbish and standard household items. Very green. Nothing wasted. The audience is encouraged to get involved and once the first kid yells out ‘Wedding!’, anything goes for the ‘adults.

At the show’s remarkable finale, retro 3-D glasses allow audience members to virtually leap into the world. Survival of the fittest was never this much fun before and Mr. Acthem, who also sells kits to take home, really understands the point of 3-D. You want to duck your head before the flying whatchamacallit takes off your toupee or else it just ain’t 3d.
This adorable show gives new meaning to multi-tasking and left me with the thrill of having won 10,000 points on a pinball machine.
“Swamp Juice” plays 32 performances at The Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow Street, from November 28 to January 4, with an Off-Broadway opening on Tuesday December 2 at 7:30pm

Written by nancykoan

November 30, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Thanks, for No More Violence Against Women

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As the latest news of rapes on college campuses and <strong>Bill Cosby’s </strong>’audition’ tactics hit the airwaves, I am thankful that there is indeed an International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This global issue needs as much attention as possible to give victims a public forum to tell their stories in safety and to eradicate the crimes which have become a way of life for so many women and often their children.

Last week women from ten chapters of  <strong>IAWRT</strong>.  (International Association of Women in Radio and Television) met in Granada, Nicaragua for a regional conference. This was held in collaboration with <strong>Puntos de Encuentro</strong>, a Managua-based NGO that uses multimedia and communication for social change. Under the strategic banner of South to South Cooperation, we shared experiences, skills and strategies to respond to and end violence against women around the globe.

I was surrounded by media makers from Uganda to Honduras. The IAWRT board members have about two hundred years of media experience amongst them, from documentaries, to radio and television, and print. The opportunity to hear from seasoned journalists about one, their experiences of violence in their home countries, and two, issues of safety when trying to report the news, was hugely important for the young women from Central America who living under the veil of machismo, need the support to grapple with their problems.
In a world where Virgin Galactic customers are planning recreational trips to galaxies beyond, it is completely unfathomable that our earthlings still permit men to hurt women. From brides being punished or killed for inadequate dowries in India to genital mutilation in Tanzania to rapes in Honduras to long-earned maternity- leave rights being reduced in Norway, no country is free from the endemic quality of gender violence.
At this conference in still recovering yet hospitable Nicaragua, we learned how to protect ourselves while gathering a story, how to shoot a film on an iPhone and shared various styles of storytelling for their effectiveness. <strong>CEDAW</strong> (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) was explained to the attendees. This national conference will take place in many cities throughout the US next year with a goal to get municipalities to adopt CEDAW as a city ordinance as part of Beijing Plus 20. (
There is a lot of power behind the push to wake up and tell the stories, but there are institutions that try to stand in the way. Policemen in Honduras systematically rape women and ignore their complaints, instilling fear of retaliation as a punishment for telling the truth. When I asked a woman from Guatemala if the church was helpful, she called it ‘the oppressor”. In private she told me of women beaten by their husbands are told that “they must take it, as that is marriage”, or even worse, “only God can change their husbands.”

Often if women progress in the work field and the men in their lives don’t move forward, the men take out their frustration on the easiest target. And when the 99 percent struggle to hold on under UC (Unfettered Capitalism), it is the women and children and Mother Nature who take the biggest hit.
When the IAWRT organized a parade around the Granada, I wasn’t sure if it made sense. But I needn’t have worried. The act of making the signs for the demonstration was incredibly bonding and when everyone dressed up in their native costumes stepped onto the square, it was a powerful demonstration with just a touch of Fellini. I carried a Citizen of Woodstock Nation sign so that Abbie Hoffman could make an appearance. The crowd was sparse because of the rain, but when seeing the little school children look out their classroom windows, it all made sense. They got the message right away: that courageous mothers and sisters were standing up for their rights.

Because stories then create a desire for facts, here are a few from the UN:
• 35% of women and girls globally experience some form of physical and or sexual violence in their lifetime with up to seven in ten women facing this abuse in some countries.
• It is estimated that up to 30 million girls under the age of 15 remain at risk from FGM/C, and more than 130 million girls and women have undergone the procedure worldwide.
• Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children, 250 million of whom were married before the age of 15. Girls who marry before the age of 18 are less likely to complete their education and more likely to experience domestic violence and complications in childbirth

It is the duty and privilege for women in the media to report on these stories and to do it with impunity. In the wonderful documentary Gulabi Gang, (,an intrepid village activist in Bundelkhand, India valiantly purses cases of violence against women, forming her own vigilante group, hitting men with a stick and taking the cases are far as she can in the legal system. Pink Power.
The more women have the opportunity to talk and share stories, the more chance they have to challenge their situations, create better lives, and improve the world for all us.
I say Thank You on this holiday week to my new sisters in strength: Racheal, Valerie, Liz, Rose, Gerd, Samina, Sue Ann, Sheila, Khedija, Martha, Adriana, Debbie Ann, Ananya, Violet, Leticia, Amy, Patricia, Eunice, Vanessa, Maria, Roscio, and all the other wonderful women who shared this important time with me. And to Howard for his help and Cesar our driver with his own daughters… you are pretty cool, too.

Written by nancykoan

November 25, 2014 at 2:49 am

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Inspecting Romeo & Juliet

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Heart%20on%20Fire_200Raymond Chandler does Romeo and Juliet. Not quite, but there is a lively sense of street to this Onomatopoeia Production at the Gene Frankel Theater, directed by Thomas R. Gordon. From Tybalt as played by a redheaded, switchblade rat catcher, (Paige Kresge) to Mercutio’s (Sean Fitzharris) constant  stream of phallic jokes, this small company brings something fresh to the Montagu/Capulet clan. Though performers went up on their lines a bit in the beginning, when Juliet (Kate Gunther), appears, magic hits the stage. She is lithe, with a blonde short do that gives her a perky sultriness mixed with the real yearnings of a teen. This all shifts when she meets  swarthy Romeo (Matt Bloch) and her hormones grow up in front of us. Her nurse (Lauriel Friedman), though a young actress, gives a salty performance as she lives vicariously through her young ward.  This is a couple who look forward to a marriage, but you know they’re really thinking of sex.

We are asked before the start of the play which direction we‘d like to see different characters play, i.e., should Romeo be aggressive or really peace-loving. The audience voted for aggressive and indeed, his attempts at making peace with his enemy seemed untrue…as if he really didn’t want to, no matter that he was in love. That’s what I realized about the play for the first time… it didn’t’ really seem to be a play about romantic love anymore, but a play about the lack of love. Sure, the famous couple are stung by a hyped up cupid … but who knows how long it would have lasted if they had been allowed to live happily ever after? Today, I saw the story much more in terms of   the families who thrive on resentments and rage. Old wounds become new wounds. How so like our entire planet today…from macro to micro. The energy of hate fuels so many of the lives and gives purpose as it does to Shakespeare’s characters.  What kind of sacrifice will it take to stop our global feuds?

All the players   of this Verona do a good job and will get better when they are more relaxed with the text.  In keeping with the Chandler-type mood, jazzy musical l interlude work very well as does Brian Henderson’s lighting.



Written by nancykoan

November 15, 2014 at 4:28 am

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