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Olympia Dukakis Joins THE DAY BEFORE 11/8 at Symphony Space

Symphony Space, in collaboration with Hermitage Artist Retreat, presents the world premiere of The Day Before, a one-time-only multimedia event, on Friday, November 8 at 7:30 pm in the Leonard Nimoy Thalia. Conceived by the two organizations, it is produced and directed by Symphony Space's Artistic Director, Laura Kaminsky. The Day Before brings together more than 60 composers, writers, filmmakers, and visual artists to contribute original work around the theme November 21, 1963: The Day Before. Sparked by the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, this moving production reimagines the world as it was on the eve of that tragic and cataclysmic day.

Performers include actors BD Wong and Eisa Davis; soprano Megan Weston, bass-baritone Robert Osborne, and pianist Margaret Kampmeier. In addition, some of the writers, including playwright John Guare and poet Christopher Merrill, will perform their own work.

Each artist was asked to create an original piece, two to three minutes in length, that would reflect on life before the world was irrevocably changed on November 22. Some have collaborated: playwright Craig Lucas has provided the text for a song titled Ammunition b y composerRobert Vuichard. Polaroid features music by Kaminsky, images by Rebecca Allan, and text by playwright Jacqueline Rheingold. Composer Eve Beglarian adapted a Eudora Welty text, while Phil Kline and Thomas Cabaniss drew on Kennedy's own words. Nathan Currierreached back to Greek mythology for his song, Agamemnon, Tomorrow?

Among the prose and poetry contributors, playwright Arthur Kopit imagines a reminiscence by the wife of Abraham Zapruder, who unwittingly documented the terrible moment. Christopher Merrill's poem sketches a culture of violence that starts with the war games of childhood. Several writers, such as Amy MacDonald, share personal memories of the time, while playwright Bruce E. Rodgers foreshadows a decade of struggle, threading the assassination together with the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement.

Kaminsky has fashioned these brief pieces into a freely narrative tapestry that glows, darkly, with historical, cultural, and personal memory. A complete list of artists appears below.

While the artists involved in The Day Before span a wide range of disciplines, they share a common experience: all have spent time working at Hermitage Artist Retreat in Englewood, Florida. Many are based in New York, but others come from various cities in the US and Canada, and one visual artist is participating from Antwerp, Belgium. Tickets for The Day Before are $32; $27 for members; and $20 for those under 30, with valid ID. To purchase, visit


Lera Auerbach
Christian Baldini
Eve Beglarian
Tomas Cabaniss
Doug Cuomo
Nathan Currier
Man Fang
Daniel Felsenfeld
Ruby Fulton
Yotam Haber
Wang Jie
Laura Kaminsky
Phil Kline
Daniel Levy
Nico Muhly
Huang Ruo
Mick Rossi
Kamala Sankaram
Eric Sanko
Robert Vuichard
Bora Yoon

D. Rubin Green
John Guare
Arthur Kopit
Carter Lewis
Craig Lucas
Jackie Reingold
Bruce E. Rodgers
Susan Yankowitz

Bill Morrison
Julie Winokur

Melvin Bukiet
Carin Clevidence
Jessica Grindstaff
Robin Hemley
Mimi Herman
Amy MacDonald
Annie Morrison
Josip Novakovich
Lisa Weiss

Visual Artists
Rebecca Allan
Michael Eade
Barbara Ellmann
Mala Iqbal
Fay Ku
Nzuji Magalhaes
Laurie Olinder
Anna Schuleit
Sabrina Small
Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven
Bradley Wester

Sandra Alcosser
Christopher Merrill
Barbara Ras

Ivan Talijancic

Symphony Space traces its beginnings to a free marathon concert, Wall to Wall Bach, held in 1978 and organized by co-founders Isaiah Sheffer and Allan Miller. The music marathon then drew thousands of visitors and has since become one of the organization's signature events. Today Symphony Space presents more than 600 events each season, including music, dance, theater, film, and literary readings. Some of its best known programs include Selected Shorts, a reading of short stories by stars of stage and screen, and one of the most popular series on public radio; the Thalia Film Club, a trendy film club hosted by Marshall Fine featuring pre-release screenings and behind-the-scenes conversations with film stars; Just Kidding, one of the most talked about family entertainment series around town; and, more recently, The Music of Now, presenting an eclectic range of music in all styles and sensibilities, focusing on emerging artists and unusual work. Uptown Showdown has been called "New York's best comedy series" by New York Magazine. For more information, visit

Symphony Space is located at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street. Box office hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 1 pm - 6 pm, open two hours prior to performances and events. Tickets can also be purchased through, or by calling 212/864-5400.

The Hermitage is a not-for-profit artist retreat located at 6660 Manasota Key Road in Englewood, FL. It brings accomplished painters, sculptors, writers, playwrights, poets, composers and other artists from all over the world for residencies on its beachfront historic campus. Artists are asked to contribute two services to the community during their stay. So far, Hermitage artists have touched over 10,000 Gulf Coast community children and adults with unique and inspiring programs. In addition, the Hermitage awards and administers the prestigious Greenfield Prize, an annual $30,000 commission for a new work of art, rotating among three disciplines: visual art, music and drama. The Hermitage also partners with the Aspen Music Festival and School to award the annual Hermitage Prize to a composition student during the Festival. For more information about The Hermitage Artist Retreat, call 941-475-2098 or visit the website at

Photo Credit: Walter McBride

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