Free Summer Teen Theatre Program with Teaching Artist Carol Rusoff

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Independent teaching artist, Carol Rusoff, will be teaching an exciting, intensive and free teen theatre program this summer at the library. The program, “Page to Stage”, will run July 10 – August 3, Monday – Thursday, 5 – 7pm with evening performances on August 2 & 3 and a morning performance on August 4. Participants will adapt children’s stories as interactive theatre pieces and will perform their original “Pajama Plays” for families with young children.

This program is for teens of all levels of experience. Students will have the opportunity to learn theatre exercises, and practice improvisational and rehearsed theatre and scene work. They will choose from their favorite childhood stories and will create original plays to perform for audiences in the library’s community room.
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Get free tickets to the Bridge Street Theatre

We are pleased to add productions at the Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill to our list of establishments offering free passes at the library. The theatre will be supplying two free tickets for each night of every production for Hudson Area Library cardholders. Tickets may be reserved by phone or in person at the library. Then stop by the library main desk to pick up your free tickets before the show. Stage works include comedies and dramas and are presented Thursdays through Sundays throughout the year.

The first production, The Official Adventures of Kieron and Jade by award–winning playwright Kieron Barry, has its world premiere on April 20. Reserve your free tickets today! Call 518-828-1792 or stop by the library sometime this week. First come, first served!

For more information on Bridge Street Theatre, click here to access their website. For more information on the Hudson Area Library Museum Pass program, made possible with support from the Friends of the Hudson Area Library, click here.

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From the Beginning Until Opening Night

There is more to a Broadway musical than just songs and dances. It’s the story that drives the production. Here, writer Brian Hill reviews a rehearsal. Photo courtesy of the Goodman Theatre.

There is more to a Broadway musical than just songs and dances. It’s the story that drives the production. Here, writer Brian Hill reviews a rehearsal. Photo courtesy of the Goodman Theatre.

Writer Brian Hill and his partner, composer and lyricist Neil Bartram, stick with a Broadway show from its conception (often in Brian’s brain) until the curtains part on opening night. “We’re at the top of the food chain,” Hill says. “We sit in on casting. We work with the set designers, the costumers.” We stay with the process from the beginning until the end.”

And they have stories about all the in-betweens. Sometimes, for example, the collaborators are approached by a producer who has an idea – but it’s just wrong for them. “I can’t do anything with rap,” said Bartram. “Even though I often include different song styling in my compositions, I just wouldn’t know how to do rap. It’s not the world I live in.” Ditto an adaptation of the film, Dancing with Wolves. Said Hill, “We were asked to work on a Broadway show based on the movie. But we couldn’t come up with a concept that worked. Someone else might  think immediately of fifteen ways to put the storyline on stage. But for us, it was not inspirational.”

The pair will be sharing backstage stories with the audience along with tunes that ended up in Broadway shows (and some that didn’t) on Sunday, October 9 at 6pm in the library’s Community Room. Tickets to the performance are $35.00 each and can be purchased by clicking here. A dinner with the composer and writer will be held following the performance in a beautiful private home in Hudson. Tickets for the dinner are $100.00 per person and must be purchased in advance.

“This evening is a wonderful way for us to recount some of our experiences,” said Bartram. “It’s kind of interesting to layout the thought process of which words work the best and fit the characters. All these details really shape the final production.” The two also will show video clips from rehearsals and performances to give the audience a sense of how a concept grows from the keyboard to the stage.

Hill and Bartram each were nominated for Drama Desk Awards for their work on The Story of My Life. Hill’s resume includes work as an associate director of Disney’s The Lion King and The Little Mermaid. He is currently working on an adaptation of the Universal film, October Sky. With Hill, composer Bartram currently is working on Gene Roddenberry’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks and a one-woman musical called You are Here. Together, they are in early talks to co-produce with a group in China.

Making Musicals – A Concert with Conversation is a benefit for the Hudson Area Library. The concert begins at 6pm on Sunday, October 9,  Columbus Day Weekend at the Library. Reserve your ticket today!

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Still Time to Sign Up for Free Teen Theatre Classes with Carol Rusoff!

This fall, teens ages 13+ are invited to join independent teaching artist, Carol Rusoff, for “From the Page to the Stage” a hands-on, engaging theatre program. The program will meet Mondays and Tuesdays from 3:45-5:45pm, Now through December 13, culminating in a free performance on December 13 for the entire community. Participants will explore literary works and will choose selections to adapt as performance pieces. The rehearsal process will stretch the participants’ abilities as they divide the tasks at hand among themselves and together produce works of theatrical art.

Photo by: Patrick Weishampel via Portland Center Stage Flickr album (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Photo by: Patrick Weishampel via Portland Center Stage Flickr album (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The program is free and open to all teens 13+. To register or for more information please call 518-828-1792 x101, email Brenda.shufelt@hudsonarealibrary.org, or stop by the front desk for a registration form.

This program is made possible in part with the generous support of the Rheinstrom Hill Community Foundation.

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Hudson Theater Project Presents The Legend of the Giant Caterpillar

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Known for their insightful and lively productions, Hudson Theater Project returns under the inspired direction of Carol Rusoff with an original adaptation of The Legend of The Giant Caterpillar, a folk tale from the Ivory Coast of Africa. This mythical tale of woe and mishap has it all: Comedy! Vanquishing Heroes and Victory! Drama! Suspense! Join HTP for this free, family-friendly performance on Thursday, August 11 at 8pm in the library’s Community Room.

UPDATE: Two Additional Performances at the Library

The original plans for two shows at the Black Arts & Cultural Festival have been changed due to weather.

Two additional performances in the Community Room at the library:

Friday, August 12, 7pm

Sunday, August 14, 3pm

Devised in collaboration with community participants over the course of seven-weeks at the Hudson Opera House, this year’s HTP cast includes Shaquille Sinclair, Vincent Velasquez, Kulton McCall, Jayne Anderson, Hunter Thibeault, Ashley Price, Sylvia Shablovski, Conor Anderson, Michael Dolan, Peter Medici, Kylie Pecord, Aaron Stewart and Ava Delmar.

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Non-Violent Voting Struggle Told through Participant’s Eyes

Lynda Blackmon Lowery was one of the youngest participants in the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. Her book, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom has been adapted by the actress/director, Ally Sheedy, into a one-person production, which will be performed in Hudson on February 13.

Lynda Blackmon Lowery was one of the youngest participants in the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. Her book, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom has been adapted by the actress/director, Ally Sheedy, into a one-person production, which will be performed in Hudson on February 13.

Lynda Blackmon, a Selma, Alabama resident in 1965, was jailed nine times before her fifteenth birthday. Along with Martin Luther King, Jr., the teenager marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, standing up for the rights of African-Americans, including her Father and neighbors, so that they could obtain the right to vote. She has a police record for standing up for her beliefs and she’s proud of it.

Fifty years later, Lynda Blackmon Lowery has used her experiences to emphasize the importance of activism. Along with Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley, she has authored the book Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom (Dial Books, 2015). But, unlike many biographers of the period, she’s chosen to relate her struggles specifically to a young audience – stressing just how important it is to be involved.

“I would like for young people to know that each day of your life is a journey into history,” Lowery told National Public Radio’s commentator, Arun Rath. “You have the ability to change something each day of your life. Believe it or not, people, it can’t happen without you.”

This past year, with the help of film actress Ally Sheedy, known for her performances in The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire, the book has been adapted to the stage as a one-person performance by Damaris Obi, a graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts in New York City. The piece shows audiences of all ages what it took to struggle nonviolently and how it felt to be part of changing American history.

On Saturday, February 13 at 3pm, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom will be performed in the auditorium at Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School. The author will attend the performance and speak to the audience afterwards, answering questions and sharing her experiences. Also available will be the director, Ms. Sheedy. Books, compliments of Spotty Dog Books and Ale, will be for sale and both the author and director will sign copies. The suggested donation is $10 for adults and free for children under the age of 12. No advance reservations are available.

In recognition of the importance of getting young people involved in change, there will be a free, private performance for students at the school on Friday, the 12th. Lowery and Sheedy will attend as well.

The Hudson High School Choir will open both events performing songs from the era, and the program will include photographs depicting the events of the March in 1965. Proceeds from ticket and book sales not used to fund the production will be donated to the Hudson Area Library.

The project is presented by the Loire Valley Theatre Festival, Miranda Barry, Producer, and the Hudson Area Library, with generous support from the Martha Boschen Porter Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, The Galvan Foundation, the David Murphy Charitable Fund, Hudson River Bank and Trust, and the Hudson City School District.

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Civil Rights Book Ignites Conversation & Understanding

On Saturday, February 13, a performance entitled, “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March” will take place at the MC Smith Intermediate School, 102 Harry Howard Ave., Hudson at 3pm. Based upon the book of the same name, author Lynda Blackmon Lowery will make an appearance to discuss her experiences with the audience. The one-person play is directed by the actress, Ally Sheedy.

On Saturday, February 13, a performance entitled, “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March” will take place at the MC Smith Intermediate School, 102 Harry Howard Ave., Hudson at 3pm. Based upon the book of the same name, author Lynda Blackmon Lowery will make an appearance to discuss her experiences with the audience. The one-person play is directed by the actress, Ally Sheedy.

When Lynda Blackmon Lowery wrote her book (with Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley), Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March, she was determined to reach out to young people and, hopefully, inspire them to make a difference.

It worked. Lowery’s struggle – including several beatings and nine arrests prior to her 15th birthday, inspired the actress Ally Sheedy to adapt the book for the stage. Working with Damaras Obi, a senior at at the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts (the school that inspired “Fame”), the story came alive – complete with the sound effects from actual 60s confrontations.

That performance will be staged in Hudson on Saturday, February 13 at 3pm as a benefit for the Hudson Area Library. The production will take place at the M. C. Smith Intermediary School, 102 Harry Howard Ave., Hudson. Both Ms. Sheedy and Ms. Lowery will make an appearance following the production. Copies of the book will be available for sale – courtesy of Spotty Dog Books and Ale. Suggested donation is $10.00 per person, students free.

Besides inspiring a stage production, the book has been used for lessons by 5th grade teacher Edgar Acevedo and has prompted his students to delve further into the Civil Rights Movement. The Hudson High School Choir, under the direction of Andrea Mastrianni, learned songs from the era and will perform prior to the play.

This topic has galvanized the City of Hudson. Last week the Library-sponsored “Civil Rights Show and Tell” drew more than 40 people, from ages 16 to 80, to fill the reading room and share tales of local residents’ participation in the Movement. Attendees included young students, who expressed gratitude and surprise at those white Freedom Riders and Demonstrators who put themselves on the line, “When it wasn’t even for themselves.” African American residents spoke about change that has happened and the ongoing need for further change in order to bring about full equality. Included in the “show and tell” was a moving 2-minute video created by Jim Peppler, an award-winning photographer who spent 3 years recording the violence for the newspaper of record, The Southern Courier.

Bringing this story to life – through teaching, testifying and adapting for the stage, has more than advanced Ms. Lowery’s goal – as she recently told Arun Rath, commentator on National Public Radio.

“I would like for young people to know that each day of your life is a journey into history,” she said. “You have the ability to change something each day of your life. …It can’t happen without you.”

The project is presented by the Loire Valley Theater Festival, Miranda Barry, producer, and the Hudson Area Library. Additional support from the Martha Boschen Porter Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Galvan Foundation, the David Murphy Charitable Fund, Hudson River Bank and Trust, and in-kind contributions from the Hudson City School District.

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Freedom March is Inspiration for All Generations

Damaras Obi will perform the starring – and only – role in a production of “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom” by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, at MC Smith Intermediate School on February 13 at 3pm.

Damaras Obi will perform the starring – and only – role in a production of “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom” by Lynda Blackmon Lowery, at MC Smith Intermediate School on February 13 at 3pm.

It’s not often that you find a story that can inspire young people and adults of any race, any age.  Lynda Blackmon Lowery’s Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom has defied the odds.  It is the story of a teenager who was motivated to join the struggle for voting rights for African Americans when Dr. Martin Luther King spoke at her church.  She was arrested nine times before her fifteenth birthday and risked everything to march with her neighbors from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.

The book came to the attention of a teacher at Fiorello LaGuardia High School for Music, Art and Performing Arts, NYC, who began to work at adapting it for performance.  It didn’t hurt that the teacher was Ally Sheedy, a recognized film actress known for her starring roles in The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire. High Artand Psych.   Nor did it hurt that Ms. Sheedy worked with senior acting student, Damaras Obi, who became so enthralled by the story that she immersed herself in the history of the times.

“Lynda’s experience growing up in Selma during segregation was a terrifying one,” Obi said.  “At fifteen, my only worries were acting and keeping my grades up in school.  Lynda walked out her door every day with the desire to be seen as human – something I have not had to fight for.  Portraying her has been an inspiring journey.  I now carry those lessons of steady, loving confrontation with me in my daily life.”

The result of this extraordinary collaboration among Lowery and her co-authors, Sheedy, and Obi is the performance that will take place in Hudson on Saturday, February 13th at 3pm at the MC Smith Intermediate School.  Ms. Sheedy will be directing and Ms. Obi will star.  In addition, the Hudson High School Choir will open the event, performing songs from the era.  The printed program will include photographs depicting the events of that march.  Mrs. Lowery will speak to the audience at the conclusion of the performance, sharing her experiences and answering questions.  The book will be available for sale courtesy of Spotty Dog Books and Ale.

The author, who wrote Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom with Elspeth Leacock and Susan Buckley, is eager to tell her story to young people and will also be on hand for an earlier performance being presented for students only on Friday, the 12th.  The producers are reaching out to surrounding school districts to make them aware of this special opportunity.    “I would like young people to know that each day of your life is a journey into history,” Lowery says.  “You have the ability to change something each day of your life.”

The performance of Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom takes place on Saturday, February 13 at 3pm at Montgomery C. Smith Intermediate School, 182 Harry Howard Avenue, Hudson.  The suggested donation is $10 for adults and free for children under the age of 12.  All tickets will be sold at the door.  Proceeds will benefit the Hudson Area Library.

The project is presented by the Loire Valley Theatre Festival, Miranda Barry, Producer, and the Hudson Area Library, with generous support from the Martha Boschen Porter Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, The Galvan Foundation, the David Murphy Charitable Fund, Hudson River Bank and Trust, and the Hudson City School District.

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