Writing Your Grief and Celebrating Life:
A writing workshop presentation
On Saturday, December 12, 2020, What Will the Neighbors Say? conducted a virtual writing workshop to help guide our community in diving into collective feelings of grief and loss that the COVID pandemic has caused. The workshop yielded a diverse set of writings touching on topics of love, sorrow, hope, and joy, and our team took these writings and wove them into a script utlizing the text from those that wanted to share it with the community. We hope that this collective tapestry of our experiences reflects a step in our process as a community in recognizing the toll that the pandemic has had on not only our bodies, but our emotional health and well being. Today, we will hear a reading of this new script by a group of professional actors who have graciously donated their time to this undertaking along with original music by John McLean. A huge thank you to all of our workshop participants for their vulnerability and generosity in sharing their writings and for being the backbone of this piece.
FEATURING WORKSHOP WRITINGS BY
Evelyn Davila, JB Smith, James Clements, Julia Jordan Scott, Heaven Lucas, Clare Marie Lundberg, Allie Ginwala, Bea Dimaculangan, Melannie Vasquez Lara, Nina Masbella, Jill Bradshaw, Maria Vourlides, Babette Albin, Judi Maddock, Luciana Pepenella, Ana Cristina DaSilva, Anonymous
FEATURING OBITUARIES WRITTEN BY
Cathy Shufro, Dean Russell, Luca Powell, Caitlin Antonios, Beatriz Muylaert, Eleanor Cummins, Ashley Rodriguez, Rosa Schwartzburg
JESSICA-BRITTANY (JB) SMITH is a multidisciplinary artist currently based in New York. She began pursuing voice in high school and, for her undergrad, studied acting, receiving a BFA in Drama at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Since graduating in 2013, she has appeared in a wide array of film and live performance, including the 2016 Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Netflix’s Friends From College, Salgado Productions’ Zuccotti Park: The Musical, Miss Julie at the Lincoln Center Festival, Paper Choreography at the Watermill International Summer Program, and Macbeth at the Park Avenue Armory. At the same time she co-founded NYU's Black Alumni Network, for which she now serves as Co-President to empower, connect, and celebrate the Black community within the greater NYU network. Such leadership led to Smith’s receiving of the 2019 Michael Parkes Distinguished Alumni Award. Most recently creating music tied to visual elements under the name Jaibee, Smith seeks to create that which will continually inspire others to move, think, and change.
PABLO CALDERÓN SANTIAGO is a multimedia artist born and raised in Puerto Rico. In 2015 he received a BA in film production with a focus in film photography from Emerson College. He’s currently based in Brooklyn and works doing lighting and tech for fine art, editorial, and commercial photoshoots. Pablo started his creative life as an actor with Puerto Rican theater collective Jovenes del ‘98 as well as appearances on TV and commercials. Outside of photography, Pablo has directed shorts, music videos, and conducted research and translation for feature-length documentaries.
DERYA CELIKKOL is a Turkish actor and production designer based in New York. Graduated from the Experimental Theatre Wing of the Tisch School of the Arts, she has been in many theatrical productions in New York, including works by John Jesurun and Pascal Rambert. She starred in numerous films including Daria the Great for which she received a "Best Actress" Award at the Lionshead Film Festival and Fairytale of New York with wide distribution in theaters in Turkey. Her film Chains of Freedom which she directed and production designed brought her four awards from festivals around the US. She loves to work with WWTNS?
JAMES CLEMENTS is an actor, writer, director, producer and arts educator based between New York and Scotland. Clements has performed at venues including La Mama E.T.C., HERE Arts Centre and MITU580, and has been on the creative team for projects at Lincoln Centre LCT3, the Public and the 92nd Street Y. His original plays, described by critics as "magnifying" (TimeOut), "intricate" (BroadwayWorld) and “intellectual” (Theatre is Easy), have been performed in cities across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. He is an affiliated instructor for Drama at NYU Tisch and Co-Artistic Director of What Will the Neighbors Say?
ANA CRISTINA DASILVA is an NYC based proud Latina, Austin-raised actor, writer, producer and arts educator. DaSilva has performed at venues including HERE Arts Centre, IRT Theatre, LPAC, and MITU580. Her acting has been described as “chilling…crisp, and focused” (BroadwayWorld), “fascinating to watch” (Providence Journal), and “memorable” (Theatre is Easy). Training: BFA - NYU Tisch’s Experimental Theatre Wing, Stella Adler Shakespeare Conservatory. She is the Co-Artistic Director of What Will the Neighbors Say?
MATTHEW GREENBERG has appeared alongside Tony, Grammy, Oscar, and Emmy Award-winning performers in musicals, operas, plays, film, and television in New York City and across the country. He holds a B.F.A. Musical Theatre from Ithaca College and (almost!) an M.F.A. in acting from The Ohio State University, where he serves as an instructor of acting, musical theatre, movement, and voice. He recently completed a directing fellowship with Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. His recent credits include direction of Evie's Waltz in Los Angeles, as well as directing and choreographing, Tappyness, which is aiming to de-stigmatize mental health through tap dance, at the Hybrid Arts Lab at Urban Arts Space. He is completing a collaborative year-long applied theatre and film devising project which addresses opioid addiction in Ohio with resources and fieldwork from Maryhaven and The Ohio State University department of Theatre, Film and Media Arts. If you look closely enough, you might be able to spot him eating, playing basketball and/or putting on deodorant in some national commercials running currently. Thank you WWTNS? for this invite to collaborate and create. Proud member AEA and SAG-AFTRA.
GERARDO HERNÁNDEZ is a Mexican-American collaborative theatre artist based in New York City. He graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where he studied in the Meisner Studio and the Experimental Theatre Wing. When not on the stage or screen, you can find Gerardo solving problems and telling stories via his multidisciplinary creative studio, Literally Design.
ALEXIS INGRAM is an actor, theatre educator, and activist. Her one woman shows are docu/verbatim style theatre based on different aspects of Blackness in America and have been performed all over the country. She is a proud graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. She is on the acting faculty at The University of Rhode Island and also working as an antiracist consultant. More info at:
YVETTE LU is an LA based Chinese-American actor and a native of St.Louis, MO. Her previous work includes Hamilton (Angelica and Eliza Tours), FX’s Fosse/Verdon, and the ABC Discovers Talent Showcase (LA 2020). Training: BFA - NYU Tisch’s Experimental Theatre Wing, Shanghai Theatre Academy. With her work, she is excited to continue expanding the range of visibility for Asian-Americans in the arts - on stage, on screen, and behind the table.
MARNIE PONCE has been an educator for the past 25 years. She began her career as an early childhood educator in the private sector and later in the public as an
elementary and middle school teacher for the Department of Education. Currently, she has been teaching the dramatic arts for the past 7 years to middle schoolers in Far Rockaway. Through her work, she has observed the need for students to find artistic vehicles to express their values, struggles, truths, and dreams. Drama has repeatedly offered them a forum to be unconventional and uninhibited and to ultimately to express themselves organically. Currently, she is dedicating time to pursue a second Masters in Theater Arts with the hope to continue to explore and develop her love for playwriting. She has written three one act plays this year and is excited to see where this new journey will lead her.
XAVIER REYES is a Puerto Rican actor who’s art has taken him around the world. He is currently working on himself and aspires to continue elevating his craft.
MELANNIE VASQUEZ LARA is a Brooklyn based Latina actor, mover, and director. Some stage credits include LORDES (Columbia Lenfest Center), [before there was light] (Dixon Place), and in WWTNS?'s past iterations of Four Sisters. Movement director credits include Decline and Fall, a new devised play which premiered at JCTC and Self / Center, an art gallery performance piece for artist Lara Yuko. Her movement training includes Rasa Boxes, Grotowski, View Points, Laban, Alexander Technique. Melannie is a graduate of Ithaca College's Acting program. Instagram: @mvasq
BRIGITTE WILLIAMSON is an actor/writer based in Southern California. Recent work includes HBO's I Know This Much Is True and her upcoming original short Sweetie Pie. Onstage she’s performed at The Public Theater in the Under the Radar festival, and in readings at Playwright’s Horizons and The Cherry Lane. She holds a BFA from NYU Tisch, where she studied at the Experimental Theatre Wing, the Lee Strasberg Institute, and the International Theatre Workshop in Amsterdam.
KAYLA YEE is a graduate from NYU Tisch Drama (Atlantic and New Studio) who uses movement as a building block for communal health, with a focus on the intersection of art and social justice. In dance and theatre, she is especially interested in the body’s wisdom as we navigate our relationships with each other. Yee presented her choreography “In 50 Years,” in festivals including Move to Change, Nasty Women Unite, and NYCFringe as an exploration of collective trauma and climate change. Recent performance credits: “Voyeur: Windows of Toulouse-Lautrec” (Bated Breath Theatre Company), “Tanya’s Lit Clit” (Workshop, Experimental Bitch Presents), and “Check All That Apply” (Sarah Esser, WestFest Dance Festival). Kayla dedicates her performance in this workshop to her grandmother, Madeline "Mimi" Mulkern, who passed away due to COVID-19 on November 19, 2020.
MUSIC WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY
JOHN MCLEAN has been working as a content creator, musician, voice over artist, and music director since he graduated NYU in 2015. He has provided accompaniment, music direction, arrangement, and composition for seven original musicals as well as one's that were in existence before his involvement. He cis currently the host and in-house voice over artist for a toys and games company, as well as working as a videographer and editor. John has known the members of WWTNS? for years, has worked with each of them on various projects in the past, and is excited to be working with them again.
MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR
MARY RAGAN, PhD, LCSW is a pastoral counselor and licensed clinical social worker. She has a life-long interest in issues related to spirituality and the role of spirituality in the clinical setting. She has worked for many years at the Psychotherapy & Spirituality Institute in New York City as a senior clinician and administrator. Her clinical work has included a special interest in trauma and traumatic grief. She has worked with individuals and families in the aftermath of 9/11 and also volunteered to work on mental health teams in New Orleans and Lake Charles, Louisiana with people affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In addition to her clinical work, she has previously served as an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University School of Social Work and taught at Fordham University, Hebrew Union College and General Theological Seminary.
THANK YOUS & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Terry Paris Jr, Allie Ginwala, Erica Anderson, Dr. Mary Ragan, the teams at: THE CITY, Brooklyn Public Library, Local Voices Network, Reimagine, and Interfaith Center of New York.
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