Epic Theater Center to Hold 'Beyond Beauty' Discussions

In conjunction with their Off Broadway production of Zak Berkman's Beauty On The Vine, Epic Theatre Center has announced the programming for their 'Beyond Beauty Initiative.' The program seeks to bring together a diverse array of women with different backgrounds to share experiences and creatively explore how definitions of beauty, power and success impact society as a whole.  Free and subsidized tickets will be provided to hundreds of people ages 16-24, primarily women, to see the production.

Press releases state, "From mixed-race identities to extreme plastic surgery, Beauty On The Vine is a romantic fable about the power of the human face in Lindsay Lohan America. When a young female star of right-wing radio is brutally murdered, her husband and father investigate the reasons behind the violence.  They discover a world where young women transform themselves to look like their idols and mothers lose their daughters to the illusion of popularity and power. Beauty On The Vine is a journey through the looking glass into a disturbing Wonderland where appearances are always deceiving.

Beauty On The Vine is directed by David Schweizer and will run at the Clurman Theatre on Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street) through Sunday, June 3, 2007.  Opening night is Wednesday, May 2, 2007. The show stars Olivia Wilde, Helen Piper Coxe, Barbara Garrick, Howard Overshown, Jessica Richardson and Victor Slezak. Tickets are $40.00 and are available by calling (212) 279-4200 or online at www.ticketcentral.com. The performance schedule varies.

Epic Forum Discussions, which include on-stage panels comprised of cast and creative team members as well as special guests, will follow nearly every performance of Beauty on the Vine. The discussions will be curated by The Beyond Beauty Initiative Committee.

The Discussions are as follow, according to press notes:

Following April 28's matinee:  Workshop with Girls Write Now and Girls, Inc. led by playwright, Elana Gartner Golden.  Girls Incorporated of New York City is dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold.  They carry out their mission by delivering innovative educational programming with girls ages 6-18 throughout the five boroughs.  Girls Write Now Inc. (GWN) is a nonprofit volunteer mentoring organization that has been matching bright, creative teenage girls from New York City's public high schools with professional women writers in the community since 1998. For more information, visit www.girlsincnyc.org and www.girlswritenow.org.

Following April 29's matinee: Forum Discussion and Book Signing. Courtney E. Martin, author of Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body (Free Press) will be joined 17-year-old Melissa Mannis and Gwynn Cassidy, co-founder and Director of the REAL hot 100. Courtney writes for a range of national publications, including Newsweek, Newsday, Alternet, The Christian Science Monitor, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, Utne Reader, Women's eNews, Poets & Writers, Publisher's Weekly, BUST, Bitch and ReadyMade, among others.  The REAL hot 100 is a groundbreaking media justice project designed to promote positive images of younger women in the popular media.  Ms. Cassidy is also the President and Founder of Girls in Government, an education and advocacy organization that encourages girls to self-identify as leaders, participate in political life and mobilize around issues of government and democracy.  In her spare time, Gwynn serves on the board of the New York Younger Women's Task Force and Best Buddies, volunteers as a Big Sister and an S.A.T. tutor and produces websites for select nonprofits and media projects. For more information, visit www.realhot100.org and www.courtneyemartin.com.

Following May 1's performance: Women Artists and Activists Forum with Amy Redford, Nilaja Sun (Off Broadway's No Child) and Beauty On The Vine star Olivia Wilde.  This Epic Forum will focus on how these artists' activism affect the projects they choose to be part of and/or create amidst the commercial pressures of being an actress in this country.

Following May 4' s performance: Beauty Industry Panel curated by Brandon Holley, Editor-in-Chief of JANE Magazine.  This forum looks at an influential magazine for young women and how its editors and contributors define beauty, health, power and success for their readers.

Following May 6's performance: Epic Forum with Kathleen LeBesco, Chair of Communication Arts at Marymount Manhattan College and author of Revolting Bodies: The Struggle to Redefine Fat Identity.

Following May 9's performance: Epic Forum: The Model Identity.  Guest speakers include models Irina Pantaeva, Birgitte Jensen and Maria Tornberg.

Following May 11's performance: Guest Speakers Julia Foulkes, Terri Gordon and Lisa Rubin. Ms. Foulkes is an Associate Professor of History at The New School.  Her book, Modern Bodies: Dance and American Modernism from Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey (2002), received an Honorable Mention for the Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize from the American Studies Association and was chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice.  Most recently, she was a Fulbright Senior Scholar affiliated with University of Potsdam, near Berlin, Germany (2005-06).  She currently serves as chair of the Social Sciences department.  Terri Gordon is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at The New School, where she teaches in the Bachelors Program and the University Humanities Program.  She has published on the cabaret, post-war film and performance art in the Third Reich and her translation of Jean Genet's Elle was adapted for an Off Broadway production in the summer of 2002. Lisa Rubin is a faculty member at the New School where she teaches 'The Psychology of Women,' among other courses.

Following May 16's performance: Forum on Same-Sex Education with Jordin Ruderman (star of 'Trading Spaces Boys v. Girls' and an alum from The Brearely School).

Following May 18's performance: Forum on The Science of Recognition and Identity with Nim Tottenham from Cornell Medical School.

Following May 19's evening performance:  Feminism in the MySpace Era Forum with Lisa Ades and Joyce Avrech Berkman. Ms. Ades is a documentary filmmaker who has produced numerous award-winning films for PBS and cable including 'Miss America' (PBS), which she directed and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.  With partner Leslie Klainberg she is director/producer of 'Chasing the Crown ' and 'Love Files' (WE); 'Beauty in a Jar' (A&E) and 'Indie Sex' (IFC) and producer of 'In the Company of Women' (IFC).  Before co-founding Orchard films in 2000, she was producer with Ric Burns and co-director of the acclaimed PBS series New York, a five-part, ten-hour documentary, which won an Alfred I. DuPont award, among others.  She also produced with 'Burns: The Way West', a four-part, six-hour series on the American West and The Donner Party, which received a George Foster Peabody Award and was co-producer of 'Coney Island', which Time magazine named one of the ten best television programs of 1991. Ms. Berkman is a Professor of History and Women's Studies at the University of Massachusetts. Her books include The Healing Imagination of Olive Schreiner: Beyond South African Colonialism and Contemplating Edith Stein.

Following May 27's matinee: Beauty Industry Panel with Didi Gluck, Beauty Editor/Deputy Editor of Shape Magazine.

Visit www.epictheatrectr.org for more information.



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