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Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Archive for the tag “Lily Tomlin”

Lorca Peress

Lorca Peress, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenTheatre Director, Artistic Director, Producer
New York, New York USA

Where do you look for inspiration?
I am inspired by everything around us.  As an artist (visual as well as theatre), I believe in merging disciplines to create exciting new works. The work that inspires me is a fusion of art forms ranging from the language of a play or poem to the visual and stylized physical elements we create in collaboration. I am stimulated by vision and transformation, the unknown, the unexpected. Ideas abound, and art emerges. As a woman of mixed cultures, I have always been drawn to the stories and perceptions of others. I seek out new voices and worlds to bring to the stage, and aim to challenge the audience and the artists involved. I founded MultiStages as a means to explore this work.

What play or production changed your life?
I was introduced to theatre, music and literature through my family: my grandmother was a performer, mother is a poet, and my father is a music conductor.  As a child, I was onstage in various operas. I watched my father conduct Bernstein’s MASS at the Kennedy Center, and Candide with Madeline Kahn; both productions changed my life. There have been many straight plays that have inspired me. One that stands out is Athol Fugard’s Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, which I saw in London as a girl. I found Margaret Edson’s W;t (WIT) riveting with the amazing Kathleen Chalfant, who I was fortunate to direct a few years ago for the LPTW New Play Festival. Both these plays brought nudity onto the stage that was human and visceral. Angels in America also made a huge impact on me, as did Jane Wagner’s Search for Intelligent Signs of Life… with Lily Tomlin, and led me to create my own one-woman show, Women Under Glass.

What is your best escape?
The NY Times crossword puzzles.

Lorca Peress is Co-President of LPTW and MultiStages Founder/Artistic Director, where she has developed multicultural and multidisciplinary new works since 1997. Awards: La MaMa Inky, MCAF (LMCC DOCA), Dramatists Guild Fund, et al. Bennington College and NTI graduate; Teacher at NYU Strasberg Studio and Strasberg Institute. AFTRA, SAG, AEA, SDC. www.eljallartsannex.com/multistages.htm

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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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