Who will play Dorothy Day’s culmination?

The search is on for an actress to play Dorothy Day in “Dorothy Day and Cesar Chavez Answer Your Letters from Jail,” a new play.
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She must be at this stage of life, and ready to open up the depth of her experience, while speaking Dorothy Day’s words in answer to letters sent to the 21st century visages of Dorothy and Cesar Chavez in jail.
We time hop Dorothy’s last arrest to now, as jail gives the legendary friends the luxury of time to grapple with questions of today in bins of letters they receive.
A new protest singer serenades, and a jailer attempts to keep things by the book under pressure to crack down.
We will be seeking the right Latino man to play Cesar, too, but for now we are looking for a director (preferably female) and a septuagenarian to be Dorothy Day.

Finally in Iowa – Part 2

The Feast of Jovi Bono is about a lot of things, not the least of which is…dinner. Three days of performances after hours upon hours of rehearsal, and we launched Estherville Community Dinners. The first one is Apr. 24 at the Estherville VFW (they have graciously donated their space on the last Monday of the month as part of their ongoing community service).

This is what we do. We develop a story, we act it with the best artistry possible, and we perform it , and then we live it. Now and into the future.

 

Finally in Iowa (part 1)

We did it! The chef, Jovi, Adrian, Malcolm, Kevin, Olivia, Zara, Kat, Tawny & Deb were all on stage. Audience feedback was terrific. For the first time in Iowa, we did it. Our presenters, Excel! Estherville Arts & Culture connected us with Luke Slaughter, a diligent tech director.

The production was fraught with issues, beginning with our director getting transferred to Wyoming and various cast members having life-searing family and personal issues.

The point of art, as with many ventures, is to never, ever, ever, ever give up. And we didn’t. A director from New York, originally from Iowa, made a wonderful suggestion that perhaps the work could be presented as a workshop, with a focus on audience talkback. We present the story and a great audience experience (thanks to Ed Peterson, the Estherville Lincoln Central School District, and a bevy of high school students earning purple cord hours for the amazing set) and from there build a production just for Iowa.

It’s much harder to get a presentation in Iowa than in New York and Boston, until you begin asking for help. Then in some ways it is easier, but still monumental. I cannot get over my gratefulness at the energy shown by the actors and our backstage crew.

The issues and crunch of time made some things imperfect, but were we not put on the earth as artists to have perfection emanate from our fingertips. We were put on earth to scale each wall, to march into each fray with fearlessness, or with a modicum of fear, but the knowledge that it would all be what it was meant to be.

I spent years on the script, and do rewrites and edits each year to make it magnificent. Audiences and cast members fall in love, and that’s also the intent.

Work harder than everyone else. Be fearless. Climb the mountain. Move the obstacles.

Yes, develop your technical prowess, too.

That. That is theater. That is art. Keep going.

How we’re doing TFOJB for 2016.

TFOJB2016

Bring TFOJB to your town! Help to make it the next Fantasticks with an audience, cast and crew revolution! First, you go out and make a difference for others and in yourself, then be part of it.

Have you been observing the progress of TFOJB Boston TFOJB Pittsburgh TFOJB New York TFOJB Seattle from afar? You no longer have permission to be an innocent bystander. Do something to alleviate homelessness, post about it ‪#‎tfojbstrong‬ and be part of it. We could be the next perennial show like The Fantasticks — somewhere, and also start a revolution! #tfojbstrong

To people already in the trenches working on the issue of homelessness: I’m out attempting to raise volunteers for you, who will be audience, cast and crew of my play. We’re taking a theatrical approach (collaboration, group bonding, taking on the issue of social isolation) and hope to be a perennial theater performance so we can bring in people actually doing something about homelessness over a long period of time. What can we rock together?

 

Two weeks! Support the public reading in Jamaica Plain, Boston w/Open Theatre Project

The Feast of Jovi Bono is going up before a live theater audience on July 23 at 8pm. That’s really very soon. It’s a public reading — actors with script in hand — and a talkback — you tell us what you think. Then we get ready for a November full production. Making this happen requires at the core, Laurie Riihimaki the artistic director, Marina Silva the activism leader, a stage manager, a production manager (someone to handle the logistics so Laurie and Marina can focus on tasks at which they rock) eleven actors, and Open Theatre Project’s great performance space at St. John’s Episcopal in JP.

Watch this, and if you’re in Boston, please attend. We have great guests coming from the Dramatist’s Guild — Massachusetts and from ArtsImpulse. We want to hear a variety of voices and viewpoints at the talkback. Hop on the Orange line to Green Street and take it in.

Theater is collaborative — TFOJB is ready for you!

Boston

The week we were set to have auditions for TFOJB – Boston the unprecedented snowstorms hit and no one was going anywhere. Except that our directors, Laurie Riihimaki and Marina Silva went places. They volunteered with #BostonWarm, making sandwiches and getting to know the people who are homeless in Boston. Over the spring, we have worked to regroup, and connected with Open Theatre Project, who loves our mission and has opened their doors for a late autumn production at their place in Jamaica Plain.

In early May, Laurie, Marina, Dustin from OTP, and I met at Blue State Coffee to strategize. We are so ready — with a mountain of things to yet do! Coming soon: an outreach/promotional video, audition schedule, more about the chance for audience, cast and crew to dig in and do something about homelessness in Jamaica Plain.

What we seek now — funding, audience support (Like us here, reach out to offer any assistance from your wheelhouse, be ready for a public reading this summer and production in November), and resources.

New York

Exciting as Boston is, it was really a 24 hour side trip from my trip to New York, where I met with director John Gabriele. A multi-hyphenate bag of talent and diverse experience, John and I had our meeting in Rudy’s, the best dive bar in Manhattan. With Dean Komondorea from the original cast of The Feast of Jovi Bono at Manhattan Rep in 2013, and Dean’s wife, Barbara, we volunteered at the soup kitchen operated by St. Luke’s Theatre (one owned by Edmund Gaynes) and created connections.

What the New York production needs: a patron, friend, or group who believes collaborative, social justice theatre, and engaging the audience, cast and crew after (or before) the performance is a way to build on the artistry that already shines thanks to the actors and directors who have already loved and poured their souls into the words.

Pittsburgh

We have a great team, and support from the office of a state legislator. Life events have stood in the way of making this great. We may have a few surprise friends of our Pittsburgh effort waiting in the wings.

I started this in November, 2013 with nothing but a phone call from Manhattan Rep that said, “We like your play. Come on down. Since then, this show has received a lot of love from places all over (though none from my home base in Iowa) and it just needs a little infusion to take it over the top and change little pieces of the world, one bit of one city at a time. We have also had director interest in Detroit, Chicago and Oakland, CA.

We are told it would be a great show for high school or college actors to take on in conjunction with a community outreach project, too. I hadn’t considered that. What I do know is that the team members who have started volunteering with homelessness organizations even before major work on the production begins, have become more focused, engaged and empowered in launching the production.

It is my hope that more people and places will step in and say, “Why don’t we give it a try?” and that we can be part of ending homelessness through our partnerships with organizations already working on just that.