Thursday, June 12, 2014

First Potluck of the Season was a Great Success

We hosted the first of several social events this season, a potluck on June 8, and it was a great success. The grill was going, the weather was beautiful, the mosquitos stayed away.

There were beef burgers and veggie burgers, and pork hot dogs from Grazin' Acres Farm, a fantastic animal welfare and eco-friendly farm upstate, which you can find at the Carroll Gardens greenmarket on Sundays. There was also delicious homemade potato salad, a strawberry crisp--also courtesy the bounty of our local farmer's market--hot and cold sesame noodles, a Southwestern style black bean and corn salad, fresh fruit salad, and other assorted goodies. We did not go hungry.

All in all, it was a great time.
If you couldn't make it this time, we're hosting another one July 19, following a theatre performance workshop by Kevin Jones, a friend of garden member Christina K. The roughly 30-minute performance will begin at 4pm, followed by potluck.

Also, coming up first is the annual tag sale and fundraiser, Saturday, June 21. Be sure to sign up for a shift to help out, here.

Here's some information about the the theatre workshop from Kevin:

Wilde Tales

I've always loved reading Oscar Wilde's fairy tales, and I'd like to try bringing them to the stage in a solo performance. The stories are beautifully written, of course, and have many elements that I think would make for an entertaining storytelling experience. My process in bringing text to life is something that I've developed over a lifetime of work in the theatre. I think I can best explain what I'm trying to do with this reading in your garden by giving you a glimpse of how I developed my successful, one hour production of Dicken's A Christmas Carol.

I began developing A Christmas Carol as a solo performance piece in 2011 and my first step was to edit the text and see if audiences responded to my performance of the edited version in a narrative, storytelling format. These readings and performances were presented in private Victorian homes, modern event rooms and even New York matchbox apartments. Audiences ranged in size from 6 - 30. I'm very glad to say that the story was not only engaging but that audiences seemed to find what I brought to the piece special and personally meaningful. Many who know the story well told me after seeing my performance of A Christmas Carol that it was as if they were hearing the story for the first time. High praise and, I felt, reason to develop the piece further.

Working with my company, Summoners Ensemble Theatre, in 2012 we staged A Christmas Carol at Theatre Row's Studio Theatre on 42nd Street and took it on a small tour through Tennessee, Arkansas and Oklahoma - performing in theatres that I'd worked with previously, private homes and event spaces for fundraisers. This informed us further as to what we felt was the best way to showcase the production. We formed a partnership with the Merchant's House Museum (the oldest in-tact, surviving Victorian home in New York City) and brought the performance to life in their grand parlor. We had a very successful run last December and are looking forward to our return engagement this holiday season.

I would only be reading one of the stories for this reading. I will be "on book" (actor talk for having the text open in front of me for reference) but the story will be developed with character voices and an edited performance text. The stories vary in length from 15 - 25 minutes. I would like to perform either The Remarkable Rocket or The Devoted Friend. Both stories take place in gardens. These stories are about 20-25 minutes in length and provide a lot of humor along with a bit of Victorian pathos. The tales are suitable for adults and children, and while Wilde said that he did write them for "childlike people from 18-80," I think there is entertainment value for actual children in the stories themselves and in the voices I've developed for these well drawn characters. That said, I leave it to parents to judge the attention span of their child. From previous experiences with very young children in the audience for A Christmas Carol, they have followed the group behavior in watching as much of the performance as they can and have then quietly found things to amuse them.

I hope that you'll find the idea of storytelling in your garden an interesting one and that we'll meet in the near future. I've visited your garden recently and it is beautiful and provides a great setting for these Wilde tales.

Reviews for A Christmas Carol at the Merchant's House Museum

"Jones somehow manages to walk the tightrope of allowing the tone and emotion of a moment bleed over into his narration while keeping his characterizations distinct. This is masterful storytelling, like a live-action book on tape. It's much more theatrical than a simple reading, but it still stays true to Dickens' voice."

"Jones has chiseled and set a jewel of a play at a jewel of a museum."
"A Christmas Carol" at the Merchants House Museum (29 East 4th Street) stars gripping, glorious actor John Kevin Jones in a stunning solo performance,51724
I give A Christmas Carol at the Merchant's House Museum an enormous thumbs up.

John Kevin Jones: Kevin is a member of Actors' Equity, The Dramatist Guild of America, and is the co-artistic director of Summoners Ensemble Theatre. He has most recently been seen in Andy Halliday's Nothing But Trash at Theater for the New City. Other credits include last season's successful presentation of A Christmas Carol at the Merchant's House Museum (which will return this 2014 holiday season), Jeffrey (opposite Bryan Batt) at Lincoln Center, The Winter's Tale and The Caucasian Chalk Circle, both with the Hipgnosis Theatre Company. Regionally Kevin has been seen at American Stage in St. Pete, Florida (The Pavilion), Arkansas Rep. (Othello), Kentucky Rep. (The Rivals, All My Sons, Comedy of Errors), Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, Tennessee (Angels in America, Last Night of Ballyhoo, Gross Indecency). Directing credits include A Lie of the Mind at Theatre Memphis, Revenge of the Space Pandas at Texas Shakespeare Festival, and Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella at Playhouse on the Square.  

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