Wednesday, January 29, 2014


 Seeing Color: Casting African Americans in Shakespeare
 Sunday, February 9th, 6:30pm

  Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY

In this 50th anniversary year of the Civil Rights Amendment of 1964, Theatre for a New Audience presents “Seeing Color: Casting African Americans in Shakespeare.”

The panel includes actress, poet, and playwright NEHAISSAIU DeGANNES, actor JACOB MING-TRENT, Shakespeare and ‘race performance’ scholar AYANNA THOMPSON (George Washington University), and award-winning actor JOHN DOUGLAS THOMPSON. Moderating the panel will be KATHARINE GOODLAND (College of Staten Island), who has interviewed hundreds of actors, directors, producers and artists for her groundbreaking project, “Mythologizing Cultural Trauma: Representing Blackness in Contemporary American Shakespeare Productions."

"Seeing Color" is intended to cut to the heart of colorblind casting in Shakespeare today, asking not ‘do we see color’ but ‘should we see color,’ especially in Shakespeare. Focusing specifically on the performance history of African Americans in Shakespeare and the experience of black actors and theatre professionals today, we will explore these and other questions in a determined attempt to define and question our perceptions of race.

The event will take place on Sunday, February 9th, 6:30pm, at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY.

To RSVP or for further information, contact or visit

Thursday, January 09, 2014


You might know BRIC as the force behind the Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival held in Prospect Park.  They've been running that show since 1979, but they've also acted as a creative home for Brooklyn's arts and artists.

BRIC is about three main things - contemporary art, performing arts, and community media.  Up until recently, these three divisions have been housed in 3 separate places.  But now, happily, each component lives under one big roof called BRIC House.

Located at 647 Fulton Street  (at Rockwell Place), BRIC House sits amongst other great art organizations and instituations like BAM Harvey and 651 Arts, Mark Morris Dance Center, and Theatre for a New Audience.
Here is a description of BRIC's spaces, taken directly from their website:

  • A flexible Performance Space (240 seated to 400 standing capacity), known as the BRIC House Ballroom, equipped with a sprung floor for dance and flexible seating to accommodate a wide variety of configurations and performance styles. An entirely new professional resource for the performing arts in Brooklyn, the Ballroom also features dressing rooms, a green room for artists and state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment –supporting high-quality production values.
  • An intimate, flexible Artist Studio dedicated to emerging and mid-career artists, with an audience capacity of 75 for rehearsals and performances in workshop settings. This space can also transform into a workspace for visual artists.
  • 3,000-square-foot Gallery with dramatic 18-foot ceilings permits major exhibitions focused on emerging and mid-career artists and curators. A Project Room adjacent to the gallery will be an added resource for video work, BRIC’s emerging curator program, small-scale exhibitions and experimental curatorial projects.
  • state-of-the-art public access television center includes a new glass-walled studio and control room on the ground floor of the facility (fully visible to the public), as well as fully renovated and upgraded studios, editing suites, public equipment and media training lab on the second floor.
  • The Stoop, an all-new public cultural gathering space, featuring free, drop-in programming for all ages.
  • A café from Hungry Ghost, a Brooklyn-based coffee bar and café.
  • Classroom space to expand BRIC’s media education program.
  • All programming spaces, as well as the lobby, are to be fully wired to the master control room to support live cablecasts of select events to over 500,000 Brooklyn households and beyond on the web.
  • BRIC House is open every day. Free admission to the facility. 


I was looking for ways to experience BRIC House, "a multidisciplinary arts and media center designed to support artists and engage the public."

So when I read on BRIC's Facebook Page that they would be filming an all-women's AfroBrazilian Samba Reggae drumming band live and that the public could attend for FREE, I jumped at the opportunity to be there.  

Wow, so glad I ventured out in the cold!  These women produced some seriously powerful and joyful sounds.  Their director explained that there are many Batala bands all around the world, but only 5 of them are all women; New York's group is one of the 5. 

Turns out that two of my friends - Anne Pope and Keka Marzagao - are in the group. What a great surprise!

One nice thing to note about BRIC's new space is that there is a beautiful cafe where you can grab a tea or some grub and enjoy it while you watch a performance right there at The Stoop.

BatalaNYC has shared the bill with the likes of Reggie Watts and Cyndi Lauper.  They've also opened for The Rolling Stones50th Anniversary Tour.  They've performed at the NYC Figment Festival, The World Maker Faire, The Museum Mile Festival, The Mermaid Parade, and many more big events.

BatalaNYC gives some of their background info on their site:
The music of Batala originates in Salvador de Bahia, in North Eastern Brazil.  The international Batalá family owes its existence to Giba Gonçalves, a drummer and composer from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. In Brazil, he was one of the founders of Cortejo Afro, an arts education project to help underserved young people living in poor communities.  When he moved to Paris in 1997, he started up Batalá in Paris as the European wing of the project. Batala has since spread to over 30 international cities.

Thursday, January 02, 2014


Creating a Theatre for a New Audience: The Intersection of Architecture, Design, and Theatre

Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 5:30pm
Theatre for a New Audience
at Polonsky Shakespeare Center
262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn
In 2000, Harvey Lichtenstein, recently retired executive director of BAM, 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 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.

Over the next year, TFANA will host a series of free public discussions, which will focus on how theatrical design can support art. Part One of the Series is a conversation between Jean-Guy Lecatscenic designer and architectural consultant for Peter Brook’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris and BAM Harvey Theater, and consultant to Jeffrey Horowitz on the Scripps Mainstage at TFANA's Polonsky Shakespeare Centerand Randy Gener, award-winning editor, writer, critic, and artist