Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Pretty Filthy Podcast, Part II

Back in the world of adult entertainment, we have another episode crafted from our interviews with professionals in the San Fernando Valley and Las Vegas. This performance was recorded at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles. This week features Sam Shelton as a female performer, Steven Weber as male talent Jack Lawrence, and Michael Friedman singing his song "These Girls," which is from an interview with an agent.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Revolution Will Not be Televised

This last semester, our fabulous Associate Artists Emily Ackerman and Michael Friedman were teaching artists in the drama class at the Brooklyn High School of the Arts. The students spent their semester conducting their own investigation with Emily and Michael's guidance. They focused on the topic of the sixties, and they interviewed local Brooklynites about what it was like back then and asked particular questions about some of the major events of the decade. They worked with a social studies class at the school to research the history that they were examining, and crafted a play from the interview material that they collected.

We've got video clips of the performance! Students at the school painted the art work that you see on stage, plus there is a video at the beginning that features some of the interviewees, auditions, and other behind-the-scenes glimpses. We couldn't be prouder of all the great work these students did last semester!

Check out the monologue, drumming, and dancing in this clip!

This clip focuses on the Civil Rights Movement. These students did not shy away from heavy or difficult material. Don't miss the monologue at the end of the clip - it's an amazing story about racism in the sixties that the students did a great job with!

Here's a clip with their interviews about Vietnam.

Plus, they cover music in the sixties, the space race, and more!
For all of the videos, visit our YouTube channel HERE, and congratulations again to this incredible group of high schoolers!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Atlantic Yards Podcast - Part II

We're back in Brooklyn this week with our investigation into Atlantic Yards, which is the largest development project in Brooklyn's history where the new Nets basketball stadium is currently being built, and the subject of our show In the Footprint, which will be at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia in a few weeks! In this episode, Billy Eugene Jones plays a homeowner who lived in the footprint talking about the process of negotiating with Forest City Ratner (the developer). Marsha Stephanie Blake plays City Council Member Letitia James who opposes Atlantic Yards. Sam Breslin Wright plays Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, and Billy Eugene Jones returns to sing "The Circle Song" by Michael Friedman. Enjoy!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This Week's Podcast: Crime, Part I

Our weekly podcast series continues with its the performance of an interview conducted for Crime, USA: a new play exploring issues related to crime in America. This project is helmed by our Associate Artist and R&D Group member Alix Lambert. In her investigation for this project, she has interviewed lawyers, FBI agents, criminals, gang members, pawn shop owners, and more. This episode features actor Frank Harts as Antonio, a former gang member, talking about about the first time he got in a fight, the first time he carried a gun, his experiences as a gang member, and his life outside the gang. The material was recorded in our cabaret at Joe's Pub last year.

This episode contains some language and content that may not be appropriate for children under the age of 18.


Monday, December 12, 2011

This Week In Occupy

Last month's removal of occupiers from Zuccotti Park left a lot of people wondering what's next for the Occupy movement - is it true what protesters' signs claim, that "you can't evict an idea," or was the symbolic home a central part of Occupy's efficacy? As the Movement continues to change and its dynamics shift, The Civilians' artists are out documenting the process, as told by its participants, at Occupy GAs and events around New York City.

From an interview one artist conducted with a retiree visiting the GA from Florida, on what he thinks about the future of the movement:  

"Yeah, it's difficult to know, because I mean the movement could fail! The movement could sputter out and - and - and, at least in a lot of places. And every, you know, a lot of us are gonna hedge our bets. I mean, I, like I said, I'm a semi-retired person. I just am lucky enough to have a period in my life where I have a lot of time and I don't have to, you know I only spend a little bit of it making money. And so I spend half of my time as a union organizer for the faculty union in Florida, right? That's what I've been doing for the last two or three years. So I'm takin' time away from THAT for THIS....Anyway, um, so yeah, I guess - I guess what I want on an ind-just on a personal level is to have the movement become VIABLE enough that I,'s still worth me taking time away from other important things as well, you know? (Laughs) And that's really, uh, that's uh, a tall order. That's a tall order. You know, it's, um, and you know, it's the, uh... we don't really know where this is going. And its...sometimes it just, it makes me crazy - and I'm sure there's a lot of very smart and very able people who have walked AWAY from it, and we gotta figure out how to get a lot of those people back."

And here's a conversation with an actor who helped co-ordinate Occupy Broadway, on her performing at the event (click here if you missed the post about The Civilians' performance at Occupy Broadway!):

"I did some, uh, dramatic karaoke. (Laughs) So, it's this awesome idea, and I was so glad to see it -  because I had this idea - like, okay, joking with my friends -  like saying song lyrics, like you know, (dramatic voice) "At first I was afraid. I was petrified. Kept thinking I could never live without you by  my side." So you know, that kind of thing - I used to joke with friends with that. And so tonight I was like, "Oh my God! Dramatic karaoke! I gotta do that." So, I did, um, a Rage Against the Machine song, um, "Bulls on Parade" - I don't - I wasn't too familiar with the song, "Come wit it now, come wit it now, come wit it now," and then there's this, um, I wish I could remember it, but, um, it ends with "bulls on parade." Which is so funny you know - bears, bulls wall street, you know? So, yeah there was a line in there about, um, about libraries and how they you know - about being reduced to rubble and the books being burned, which is you know very relevant to what happened with the raid."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Simple Gifts

In September, Steve Cosson and a team of artists were in Colombia conducting research and interviews about the beauty pageant that happens every year in the national women's prison in Bogotá. They spent about three weeks talking to the women in the prison, including the participants in the pageant (one woman is selected to compete from each cell block), the women watching, past winners, the prison staff, and more. They learned a lot about both the pageant and day-to-day life for the inmates. One of the pretty striking aspects of the daily routine at the prison is that the women don't have easy access to some things that are pretty important to daily life, like toilet paper. There are two ways that the women can get toilet paper and other similar items: if they have money, they can purchase them from the prison store, but more often, the women will have a family member or friend who will visit once a week and bring them what they need. So those who don't have family nearby are left to figure out how to get this stuff on their own.

So Steve and the team went to the Bogotá version of Costco, where they raised some eyebrows by buying around 560 feminine napkins, hundreds of rolls of toilet paper and bars of soap, and lots of laundry soap and bocadillo (a Colombian guava candy).

They put divided up all the stuff into bags (each including two rolls of toilet paper and seven feminine napkins, plus the soaps and candy), and divided the bags by cell block for distribution.

As you might recall from earlier posts, it's not that easy to get into the prison. Each bag had to be individually checked by security before the team was allowed to proceed to the Education Building to distribute everything. Each interviewee and international inmate received a bag. To claim their bag, they got a piece of paper from the prison staff with their name on it. When their name was called by the prison staff, they were allowed to enter the courtyard, walk to Steve who was stationed in the center, hand Steve their slip, he would hand them their bag, and they would then proceed to exit the courtyard and return to the Education Building. The Japanese inmate, who didn't speak much Spanish, seemed pretty confused about the whole thing.

Check out the skyline in the background! 

And be sure to take a look at our photos posted this week on Flickr HERE of the pageant! Here's a few to whet the appetite - they're really incredible!

Check out the detail on this sequin work; it's  incredible!

Costumes are made from recycled materials.

From the folk dancing competition

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, Part III

This week's podcast episode closes out our three-part series about Occupy Wall Street. This episode features Emily Ackerman as Michele Kelley, an experienced activist; Billy Eugene Jones and Jordan Mahome as Omar Omes and Michael Curtis, two teamsters; and a group of young protesters played by Matt Dellapina, Kelly McCreary, Dan Domingues, and Matt Stadelmann. Michael Friedman then leads the cast in a sing-along of "Dump the Bosses Off Your Back" by John Brill, written in 1911.

Our artists are still out conducting interviews, so we hope to have more news about this project for you soon. Stay tuned for next Wednesday's episode from another of our exciting investigations!

Check out the project in:
The New York Times
The Washington Post
The Wall Street Journal
And check out the photos on Flickr from the live show!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Occupy Broadway

Our artists, including Michael Friedman, Matt Dellapina, and Quincy Tyler Bernstine, along with Greg Hildreth and Celia Keenan-Bolger, performed yesterday at the very beginning of Occupy Broadway, which is "a 24-hour performance occupation" a few blocks north of Time Square. It's still going on, so if you're around, be sure to check out all of the great stuff packed into the remaining hours!

Here are some photos of Matt Dellapina singing to the crowd:

And here is the finale of The Civilians' performance: Michael Friedman leading the crowd in a sing-along of "Dump the Bosses Off Your Back," a song of discontent and protest from 1911. The lyrics below so you can sing along at home!

Are you poor, forlorn and hungry?
Are there lots of things you lack?
Is your life made up of misery?
Then dump the bosses off your back.

Are your clothes all patched and tattered?
Are you living in a shack?
Would you have your troubles scattered?
Then dump the bosses off your back.

Are you almost split asunder?
Loaded like a long-eared jack?
Boob - why don't you buck like thunder,
And dump the bosses off your back?

All the agonies you suffer
You can end with one good whack;
Stiffen up, you orn'ry duffer
And dump the bosses off your back.