One of my favorite childhood fables was the story of Henny Penny. What always stuck with me was the repeated use of the phrase, “The sky is falling.” It was the first time I was ever confronted with a tale that dealt with hysteria. How could I had known that one day I would feel driven to scream those exact words, but when I saw the twin towers ablaze and the mayhem that was unfolding in real time as we helplessly watch on TV, I felt like that manic chicken wrought with panic and fear. September 11, 2001 is a mental scar I’ll always carry with me.
As intense as the memories are of that day, I can scarcely remember any color with the exception being the perfect blue sky that offered the delusion that nothing that terrible could befall us. What I remember most are the feelings that coursed through me at rates so fast I could barely record them, terror firmly placing a grip around my neck, anxiety tapping Morse code up and down my arms, disorientation mushrooming in my brain and grief taking possession of my heart. I returned home from my job, where we had to evacuate because of a bomb threat, turned on my TV and laid down on my bed to hear the sounds of faint whistles from dying firemen. I felt absolutely defeated.
The tragedy of 9/11 left this country reeling and sent us all on our own journeys as we tried to reconcile what happened. Ken Kaminski’s journey took him to the canvas creating a series of work that spans well over a decade. Using the template of abstract expressionists like Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Emerson Woefler, Kaminski has attempted to record the events and emotions of that day as well as the recovery period that continues to shape us. His efforts also allow those who are too young to remember 9/11 the ability to witness the emotion of that day.
FAMERS I am here to report that his endeavors are wildly successful. I had the pleasure of viewing a few of Kaminski’s 9/11 paintings at the Edward Williams Gallery, located at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Hackensack campus. The exhibit includes eight selected works that brilliantly convey the events of that day brightly expressed in various hues. The exhibit begins with Blue Sky Day – triptych. This three panel painting brings you face to face with speed of these flying bombs and the majestic sky that it corrupted. With each panel the viewer sees the countdown of the planes getting closer and closer until it hits making its bloody and destructive impact.
911 The Moment It Happened is an eerie mix of color. The space surrounding The World Center no longer is colored in blue like the atmosphere painted in Blue Sky Day, instead the blue is muddled with streaks of different colors showing the chaos that followed the impact of the first plane, represented in an explosion of oranges and reds bursting from the side of the tower. Streams of black cover one of the towers like a foreshadowing of despair to come.
Blindsided shows the line of fire going straight into one of the towers then blasting out of the other side. Crippled from the blow, the tower bends and the pain is obvious. All that is missing is the scream, but if you remember the sound of the planes hitting the towers, then this painting will ensure that the awful roar of the plane echoes in your ears. Blindsided is an acute observation of a drive-by.
Twins! is a stoic, almost haunting, vision of The World Trade Center towers before 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001. They were proud and victorious, a symbol of might and power. They represented everything that was great about The Big Apple. In Kaminski’s painting they appeared alive and vibrant again instead of frozen as they are in photographs. The yellow background also contributes to the energy of the piece. It makes you long for the nostalgia of what used to be. If this painting were a song, it would be called The Way We Were.
Wounded Towers is a kaleidoscope of disorder. The colors vividly capture the confusion permeating the area as people scrambled for safety and the bent, smoldering towers desperately tried to remain the symbols of glory that they once were, a last valiant effort before they ultimately disintegrated into dust.
Collapse is engulfed in a blending of hues that bring chills to the spine. The voices of those who were lost don’t just whisper, they shriek. It shows the true potential of visual art. There are no words necessary, this painting is one of the most telling portraits of pain and suffering that I’ve ever saw. If someone wanted to understand the mood of the country when the tragedy of 9/11 occurred, all they would have to do is view this painting.
Considering this year will mark the 13th anniversary of 9/11, I believe Kaminski’s exhibit couldn’t visit the New York metropolitan area at a better time. It allows another way for us to remember and venerate a day that will forever be a part of our history. Kaminski’s work carries with it a raw, emotional ambiance. It pulls you in. No matter how hard the visuals may be to look at, Kaminski’s work burst past your pupils and forces you to deal with whatever memories or residual feelings you may have buried. For as much as Kaminski’s work is steeped in tragedy, it is also immersed in the resilience of the city of New York and its people. Yes, the sky did fall, but we didn’t get mired in the pain. We stood atop the ashes; we rebuilt and honored those we lost. The 9/11 paintings are not only powerful and healing; they are a testament that when an artist creates from his or her soul the work that is generated is timeless.
To learn more about Ken Kaminski and view more of his work check out, http://www.kenkaminski.com/. Kaminski’s 9/11 Paintings will be on display at the Edward Williams Gallery, located at 150 Kotte Place, Hackensack NJ, until 9/26/14. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
Photos and Video: F.A.M.E NYC Editor
Stone Hubbard (Salome) Stone is honored and grateful to play the role of Salome in the production of THE OUTING. Stone is also known for his role as Bontemps in The Devil, Kerry in Damaged Goods, and Manolo in The Odd Couple. Stone studied acting at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts before moving to Los Angeles to pursue his career. He is also a talented designer with a specialty in handbags. He loves live music and good company. Stone wishes to thank his Mom and Victoria for their unyielding love and guidance.
Chablis Quarterman (Jizelle) Chablis is a freckly, 21-year-old, half Puerto Rican, half English native New Yorker. She studied Theater at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, and has been performing stand-up comedy around the city for the past two years. She is excited to be a part of Manhattan Repertory Theatre Company’s festival.
Eileen Ryckman (Jasmine) originally from Michigan, Eileen has performed on stage in such plays as 12 Angry Jurors and The Water Engine. She has also worked on a number of short films and has an acting credit on Celebrity Ghost Stories. She has studied acting at T. Schreiber Studio and NYU. Eileen is also a marathon runner having officially completed three 26.2 mile races including the 2013 New York City Marathon.
Iman Ward (Robin) Iman is a Southern California girl now calling New York City her home. She is a recent graduate from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in the Studio Acting program. During her training, she’s been blessed with the opportunity to play the roles of: Veronica in The Motherfucker With The Hat, Helena in Alls Well That Ends Well, Rose in Fences, and Young Laveer/Laveer in Long Time Since Yesterday. Prior to her training at AMDA, she extensively studied improvisation at The Second City, which led to her own improv troupe playing on the theater’s main stage weekly. Iman is now currently studying at The Pearl Theatre by instructor Dan Daily.
Natalie Birriel (Train) Natalie is so excited and grateful to be working on such a significant and beautiful piece of theatre. Theatre credits include: Christopher Ashley’s Dram of Drummhicit at La Jolla Playhouse, Three Sisters:Awake at New York Theatre Workshop, Man Hat Wife, Baldwin New Play Festival, Marisol(ws) at Williamstown Theatre Festival. Natalie possesses a MFA from UC San Diego and sends infinite love and gratitude to my family.
Luis Reyes Cardenas (Director) Off-Broadway: Fools in Love; Manhattan Ensemble Theater/BAM. NY: Balm in Gilead, Barefoot Theatre Company, Tempest Toss’d,NYMF. Playwright: Last Exit in New York, Aint Gonna B E Z, Play the Papers for Lupe, Boys Like Me. Film: Shakespeare High, Executive Producer, Kevin Spacey. Regional: The Drowsy Chaperone, Evita, Tommy, Big River, Little Shop of Horrors, Angels in America. Producer: FutureFest, FNAM, Co-Artistic Director/Founder of Open Hydrant Theater Company/Director of SNFI Individual Events at Stanford University. www.openhydrant.org and www.shakespearehigh.org.
Ten years ago playwright Afrika Brown decided to use an assignment to take a decade’s worth of experiences and combine them into a one-act play, thus THE OUTING was born. After 10 years, THE OUTING made its premiere this spring at Open Hydrant Theater Company’s Urban Waves Spring 2014 Short Festival in the Bronx. But the coming out party for this one-act drama hasn’t stopped there. THE OUTING is taking Manhattan by storm, first playing at Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Summerfest this month and in August THE OUTING will appear in the Strawberry One-Act Festival.
In THE OUTING Afrika Brown poses one question: What’s the “T”?
What is truth? Everyone knows what the truth is, but when the truth is revealed….how easy is it to accept? Can you accept your truth or someone else’s truth when it finally comes out?
THE OUTING is a captivating drama centering on three individuals who reveal a certain truth about themselves and the acceptance or nonacceptance of life outside the closet. Brief yet penetrating, THE OUTING aims to hit the audience straight between the eyes with the speed and power of an Ali punch. As these characters learn to deal with the truth about themselves, the audience is also left to determine how the hidden truths of their life would affect the course of their life if they were to expose them.
Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Summerfest is located at 303 West 42 Street, 6th Floor. Performance Dates and Times for are as follows: Wednesday June 18 at 7 pm, Friday June 20 at 7 pm, Saturday June 21 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at MRTRESERVE@GMAIL.COM.
The Strawberry Festival will play at the Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46 Street. Performance Date and Time for the festival is: August 24 at 4:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at www.therianttheatre.com.
In a city where neighborhoods reinvent themselves with same speed as Madonna, hearing that a new restaurant has sprung is just par for the course. The Lower East Side is just one of many NYC neighborhoods that is shedding the skin of its past, and I just got the scoop on a new place that you and your peeps will want to make your “old haunt” very fast.
The name is The Derby and it opened a little over a month ago. Located at 167 Orchard Street this eatery specializes in biscuits and bourbon and southern cuisine standards such as cheddar grits, chicken fried steak and baked macaroni and cheese. The music creates a cool eclectic, vibe. The décor is a mash-up between bar at Churchill Downs and a scene from The Great Gatsby with a speakeasy located in the basement – a great setting for a private get together.
I know what you’re thinking, the vintage furnishings sound nice, but how is the food? Well FAMERS…the food is scrumptious. I suggest the fried chicken, if you’re looking to have a cheat day on your diet. The pieces are fried to golden perfection and the meat is juicy. It comes with a side of fried okra and let me tell you, any place that can get me to like okra gets high marks in my book.
If this place was running in the upcoming Belmont Stakes, I would put my money down on The Derby. It’s a shoo-in and a cool place to have a bite to eat in the summertime. And if you do, say hello to Gabe, the restaurant’s manager. He’s very personable and a definite added attraction. Good food, good vibe, good people, good prices…there is nothing not to like about The Derby.
The unofficial start of summer is here and Urban Waves @ Open Hydrant is raising the temperature uptown with their Summer Short Play Festival. The three day festival begins on June 6 and ends on June 8. The plays participating in this festival are The Three Joys of Mary, Heat of the Moment, Last Exit in New York, Billboard’s Greatest Hits and Fire.
Founded by Luis Cardenas, Sarah Rosenberg (stars of the Showtime documentary Shakespeare High) and Deborah Pautler, Open Hydrant’s mission is to vitalize the Arts and Theater scene in the Bronx. Their wish is to create an ensemble based company of actors, directors, playwrights, producers and artists to better serve the cultural invigoration of the South Bronx. The creative spirit of New York City doesn’t just reside in Manhattan. As the Bronx’s first professional AEA ensemble theater company, Open Hydrant is determined to make the BX a destination for citizens of all five boroughs and the tri-state area. Urban Waves, a subset of Open Hydrant, explores material that contain edgier themes.
Urban Waves @ Open Hydrant Summer Short Play Festival will be held at The Point, located at 940 Garrison Avenue. Advance tickets can be purchased for$12 online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com. The ticket price also includes one drink. Don’t be afraid to haul your cookies to SoBro to view good theater. Open Hydrant and Urban Waves are the best thing to come out of the Bronx since hip hop!
I don’t think there is a person alive that hasn’t heard the phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” As for myself, I prefer “Laughter is the best medicine.” Laughter may not have the ability to cure all ailments, but it definitely heals the soul. And a prescription filled with laughs is what the members of the audience at The Little Shubert Theatre will receive when they view Under My Skin.
Taking cues from Switch, Big and Freaky Friday, Under My Skin adds a whole new chapter to the old body exchange tale. So here’s the story… Mr. Harrison Badish III is the CEO of Amalgamated Healthcare, the nation’s leading healthcare provider. He’s a cold, shrewd business man who cares more about making money for the company than making a difference or knowing his employees, one of whom is Melody Dent. Melody is a single mom from Staten Island who works part-time at Amalgamated with her best friend Nanette. Both she and Nanette had a problem being seen by Badish until one fateful day when a cup of coffee sets off a chain of events that leads to Melody and Harrison coming face to face with an angel. The angel, compassionate to their pleas, decides to bring them back to life, but there is a catch, their souls are placed into the wrong bodies. And while the pair waits for the angel to switch them back, they discover what life is really like for each other and learn more about the trials and tribulations of the opposite sex. By the time Melody and Harrison are themselves again, they realize they can’t live without each other.
Cheeky and chock full of humor, Under My Skin lodges itself directly into the marrow of the audience’s funny bone. Husband and wife writing team Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser harmoniously weave comedy and social commentary with this production. The good ole “make ‘em laugh” approach is a tried and true method of slipping in points of view that require introspection. Along with adding new layers to the age old battle of the sexes debate, they also weigh in on the state of healthcare, or lack thereof, in our nation and how it affects the everyday, working American.
The neon lights of Broadway do burn bright. But sometimes they shine even brighter Off-Broadway. Under My Skin is one of the most dynamic shows I’ve seen in a while. If you find yourself on 42nd Street, take a walk down to The Little Shubert Theatre for an thoroughly enjoyable 90-minute laugh-fest.
Photos: Joan Marcus
What do you think would be funny about a cripple orphan, a remote town in Ireland and a Hollywood documentary? If you’re thinking how I was thinking, then you’re answer is probably not very much. But like me you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that my first thought was totally off the mark. Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan is a total laugh riot.
McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan is a dark, delightful comedy, think of Peyton Place with razor blade roads. This play is as twisted as Forrest Gump’s back before the braces. Set in the small community of Inis Meáin off the western coast of Ireland circa 1934, McDonagh uses the real life filming of the documentary Man of Aran as the foundation of the play. A Hollywood film crew arrives in the neighboring town of Inis Mór to make a film about life on the islands. The news, carried by town gossip Johnnypateenmike, sets the town ablaze and gives Billy Claven or “Cripple Billy” as he is called by the townsfolk, the idea to finally escape the place that treats him like a poor orphaned outcast. Billy finds out that local bully Helen McCormick has finagled Babbybobby Bennett, a boatman, to sail her and her henpecked brother Bartley over to Inis Mór for an audition. Billy conjures a heartbreaking tale to secure a seat on the voyage and winds up getting the opportunity to take part in a film in California. Billy’s sudden departure puts his adopted aunts Kate and Eileen Osbourne into a tailspin. Kate begins talking to a stone and Eileen devours all the sweets in their shop to try to avoid worrying about the fate of Billy. But you know what they say about the grass being greener, missing home Cripple Billy returns to face the place he tried run from, the hurt that was left in his wake and the secrets that have haunted him no matter where he traveled.
The Cripple of Inishmaan first opened December 12, 1996 at London’s Royal National Theatre. In 1998 the play opened in NYC and L.A. The play returned to London’s West End in 2013 with Michael Grandage at the helm directing and Daniel Radcliffe as Cripple Billy. The production was a hit and fresh off the heels of its sold-out run across the pond, The Cripple of Inishmaan opened at the Cort Theatre on April 20 for a limited 14-week engagement. And this is one engagement that is not to be missed. This play is may be about a cripple, but there is nothing deficient about this production. Daniel Radcliffe truly shines in this revival. The more he sheds his Harry Potter skin the more we are able to witness how his talent has matured. He is a wonder to watch live, whether he is singing and dancing or using a crutch, Mr. Radcliffe is rad! In fact, the whole cast is exceptional. An awesome ensemble, they authentically project the intimate bonds that are created in a small town. Sarah Greene is a terror as Helen McCormick, but as frightening as she is, she is equally as charming. Pádraic Delany radiates brooding appeal as Babbybobby. Ingrid Craigie and Gillian Hanna are equally delightful as Cripple Bobby’s smothering adopted aunts. The zingers delivered by June Watson and Pat Shortt, who play Johnnypateenmike and his alcoholic mom, are absolutely scandalous and some of the best shade (insult throwing for those of you who don’t know) that I’ve heard on stage in a long time. The scene and costume designs created by Christopher Oram transported the audience to that 1930’s Ireland and aided in projecting a close-knit community aesthetic.
Photos: Johan Persson
That’s right FAMERS, it’s contest time!
F.A.M.E NYC is giving away a pair of tickets for Under My Skin, the new comedy in previews at The Little Shubert Theatre. This production takes the battle of the sexes to new heights. And one of you FAMERS could be the lucky winner if you can answer this question…
What iconic blue-eyed singer from Hoboken N.J. recorded a rendition of “I’ve Got You under My Skin?”
The winner will be announced on Good Friday at 5 p.m.
Happy spring and good luck!
Woody Allen has been known to make a good film…or two…or three. In fact, Cate Blanchet just snagged herself an Oscar playing the tragic protagonist in a Woody Allen film. In 1994, Allen and Douglas McGrath penned a crime-comedy film titled Bullets Over Broadway. The film starred John Cusack, Dianne Wiest, Chazz Palminteri and Jennifer Tilly with Allen sitting in the director’s chair. Bullets Over Broadway garnered seven Academy Awards; Wiest won for Best Supporting Actress, the second Academy Award win for her under Allen’s direction.
If you haven’t seen the film, the gist of the plot goes like this…set in the roaring twenties, a young, struggling playwright named David Shayne gets the break of a lifetime. His play will be produced on Broadway and he will direct it ensuring his vision will come to fruition. Only problem is producer Julian Marx receives the funds to front the production from gangster Nick Valenti, and to get the money Valenti’s girlfriend, Olive Neal, must be cast in one of the roles. Olive is no more than a second rate line dancer, but David casts her in the role of the psychiatrist in order secure the funds. Also, he convinces Helen Sinclair, a legendary stage actress and lush, to play lead role and gets compulsive eater Warner Purcell to be the leading man. Soon David realizes that getting a play on stage as its director isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. He also learns that he isn’t the great artist he thought he was as all his re-writes, which the cast adore, are written by Cheech, Olive’s bodyguard and Valenti’s hitman.
In 2012, plans for a musical adaptation were announced. Allen adapted the film into a book and used songs from the American songbook for the musical numbers. Susan Stroman was brought on as the director and choreographer. The cast included Zach Braff as David Shayne, Marin Mazzie as Helen Sinclair, Vincent Pastore as Nick Valenti, Helen Yorke as Olive Neal and Nick Cordero as Cheech.
The minute the curtain rose at the St. James Theater and I saw the title being shot into the set I thought, “Well this is starting off with a bang, I hope it ends with one.” What I would come to learn is that Bullets Over Broadway doesn’t overshoot in the laughs department. It’s a cute comedy that lends itself to a family night at the theater. The biggest laughs and smiles were delivered by Nick Cordero, Helen Yorke, Brooks Ahsmanskas, who played Warner Purnell and Mr. Woofles, the sweetest little pooch since Toto. Marin Mazzie offered a good rendition of Helen Sinclair. I’m sure any members of the audience who had seen the film were just anticipating her saying, “Don’t speak.” That classic line didn’t fall into the silence of the air. Like the film, it was a hilarious bull’s-eye.
My complaint with most new musicals as of late is that they are all song and lack dance. With Bullets Over Broadway, my gripe was the opposite. Although the songs used in this musical were standards, the use of tunes were flat and was absent of the pop I like to hear, but the choreography, under the leadership of Susan Stroman, assisted in placing the musical numbers on an even-keel.
It seems as if Woody Allen has struck again. If you want to a good giggle and some good hoofing then Bullets Over Broadway is musical for you.
Photos: Paul Kolnik