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Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the tag “Broadway”

Joan D. Firestone

Joan D. FirestoneExecutive Director, The Moth
New York, New York USA

I was born into a family that prized creativity and the arts, where the pursuit of any artistic discipline was supported over acquiring property of any kind. Growing up in New York supported that value system and whether it was a visit to the Met or MOMA, a chamber music concert at the Frick Museum, a concert heard from the fifth tier of Carnegie Hall, a dance concert from the third balcony of City Center, or a play on Broadway for $1.95 in the balcony – they all became an essential part of my life.

I’m not sure when I encountered a bias against the arts – as frivolous and without intellectual or practical merit. It was probably dealing in the political arena during my tenure at the New York State Council on the Arts, where outside of a few exceptionally committed legislators, the arts received little attention and even less funding. The public schools were the first to suffer the diminishing priority and lack of funds. The arts disappeared from the curriculum and, sadder still, the teaching institutions stopped offering training in the arts.

For the past several decades arts advocates have fought back with resources and ingenuity and I am part of the battle scene. Inspired by Dr. Maxine Greene, a mentor who held the John Dewey Chair of Aesthetics at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Agnes Gund, Chairman Emeritus of MOMA, current Chair of P.S.1 and founder of Studio In A School, I found the inspiration to fight for the rights of all children to find self-expression in the arts. Following efforts at school reform from within the system, I have found in The Moth, the acclaimed storytelling organization, an invaluable teaching tool in storytelling that engages students, and gives them a voice and an identity in an otherwise anonymous environment. Thanks to an army of devoted arts advocates and providers representing all arts disciplines, new possibilities are opening to the current generation of students.

Joan D. Firestone. Executive Director, The Moth; former Co-President League of Professional Theatre Women; Independent Producer; former Board Chair, Cherry Lane Theatre; passionate arts advocate in government and education.

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Antoinette LaVecchia

Antoinette LaVecchia, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenPerformer / Writer / Director
New York, New York USA

I am inspired by everything that happens around me.  I love storytelling and I see stories in everything that touches my life.

The plays that changed my life were written by Tennessee Williams and Shakespeare.  I was in Junior High School when I was introduced to these plays, and I’ve been a rabid fan ever since.  In fact, playing Amanda in GLASS MENAGERIE at the wise old age of 15 helped me realize that I HAD to be in the theater for the rest of my life (saying the lines “deception, deception, deception” was one of the most divine moments of my young life).

I dream of having an infinite amount of resources to create my own work whenever and wherever I want.  Bliss!

I feel most like myself when I sing.

My best escape is walking alone in the woods and listening to the sounds of the wind moving through the trees.

The thing nobody knows about me will remain a secret for now….

Antoinette LaVecchia has performed on Broadway in A View From The Bridge, in many Off Broadway houses, Carnegie Hall and regionally. Film/TV: Delirious, Jesus’ Son, The Sopranos, Law & Order, L&O:SVU and others. Fox Fellowship, Anna Sosenko Grant, Drama League Fellow. Taught at NYU’s Grad Acting Program, The Actor’s Center and others. Currently: You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up REVIEW

Cindy Cooper (Cynthia L. Cooper)

Cindy Cooper, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenDramatist, Producer
New York, New York USA

I managed to get myself to The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe on Broadway more than once. After first being dazzled by Lily Tomlin’s character portrayals, I paid closer attention to Jane Wagner’s script — especially an amazing moment at the end that still comes to me when I question why I ever bothered with theater.

Trudy, a central character, reports her space alien chums’ curiosity about the “goose bump experience.” It turns out that the phenomenon is critical to their earthly explorations, and Trudy hits upon the idea of sending them to the theater. The sensation occurs as they stand in the back: the space chums discover ecstasy and art – but not in the expected place. “It wasn’t the play gave ‘em goose bumps, it was the audience,” says Trudy. “Yeah, to see a group of strangers sitting together in the dark, laughing and crying about the same things … that just knocked ‘em out.”

The audiences:  that, for me, is the essence and the allure of theater. When I touch audiences – with an insight by a woman in sports, the strength of a victim who finds reconciliation, the unknown story of a fighter for rights – I experience elation, too. I see the possibilities of growth, exchange, and, sometimes, maybe sometimes, transformation.

Where ideas generated by television and newsprint and blogs can readily fade, the arts have eloquence and power. Pundits could not match the visceral embrace of An American Rendition, a dance-theater piece by Jane Comfort and Joan La Barbara that draws audiences into the interplay of government torture and “reality” television. The live performance is riveting.

As foolish as it may seem, I hold out the hope that stories and words and bodies in motion can give us nourishment, inner guidance, fortitude — that theatre can make a difference in the drive for universal human rights and equality. The theater, after all, is about humanity, and all of us have it. And the theater, it seems, can even cause goose bumps. Perhaps it is all an allusion, but — isn’t it worth trying?

Cindy Cooper is an award-winning playwright, journalist and author. How She Played the Game was produced at the Women’s Project, Primary Stages, 80 more. Words of Choice traveled to 20 states; other plays in Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, L.A., Israel. A two-time Jerome Fellow, her plays are in 15 books. www.cyncooperwriter.net

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