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On Her Shoulders to Present Special Event RADICAL VOICES: THEN & NOW

On Her Shoulders to Present Special Event RADICAL VOICES: THEN & NOW

On Her Shoulders will present a special event on Monday, April 3, 2017 celebrating its theatrical heritage as agents of change. It is also a call to action for today's artists to lift their voices in response to the "interesting times" in which we are now living.

The event is at the New School, Kellen Auditorium, 66 Fifth Avenue (Room N101).R.S.V.P. to Free and Open to the Public.

The first half of the event is a presentation by Susan Croft on the Unfinished Histories project, chronicling the UK's radical fringe theatre movement beginning in the late 1960's after the end of Theatre Censorship. Companies involved were among the first Black, Asian, lesbian, gay, women's, disabled, political, experimental, and community-based theatre groups seen in Britain. Work ranged from experiments in physical and visual theatre or performance art, to vernacular drama, agit-prop and satire, championing a generation of artists whose work has influenced and shaped present day theatre. Excerpts from two plays that broke new ground both in what they were saying, and in who was saying it, will be read after Croft's presentation.

In an effort to renew the energy that was unleashed 50 years ago, we have convened a panel at 6:00pm with some of the leading theatrical practitioners currently challenging the status quo including Christine Bruno (disability advocate for the arts), Susana Cook (performance artist), Melanie Joseph (The Foundry) and Taylor Mac (recent Kennedy Prize winner). The panel is moderated by Melody Brooks, Artistic Director of New Perspectives and Co-producer of ON HER SHOULDERS.

The event concludes with a Public Forum tapping into the collective creative energy to encourage participants to become the Radical Voices for our own time.

ON HER SHOULDERS was founded in 2013 to present rehearsed, staged readings of plays by women from across the spectrum of time, with contemporary dramaturgs contextualizing them for modern audiences. The program seeks to make it impossible to deny or ignore the 1,000-year history and value of women's contribution to the theatrical canon. To date(through December 2016), the program has presented 30 plays by 26 writers from the years 1668 to 1966. OHS is produced by Melissa Attebery and Melody Brooks. Kristin Heckler is co-producer.

NEW PERSPECTIVES THEATRE COMPANY (NPTC) is an award-winning, multi-racial company operating for the last 25 years in Midtown Manhattan and communities through NYC. The Company's mission is to develop and produce new plays and playwrights, especially women and people of color; to present classic plays in a style that addresses contemporary issues; and to extend the benefits of theatre to young people and communities in need. Our aim is not to exclude, but to cast a wider

THE SCHOOL OF DRAMA: The creative home for the future of performing arts. Agile. Engaged. Innovative. Multi-disciplinary. The New School of Drama is home to a dynamic group of young directors, writers, actors, creative technologists, and award-winning faculty. With a core belief in rigorous creativity and collaborative learning, our programs embrace civic awareness across performance disciplines to create work imbued with professionalism, imagination and social context. For more information, please

The Play in Context, the dramaturgical and scholarly presentation component to the program, is sponsored in part by the League of Professional Theatre Women, a non-profit organization promoting visibility and increasing opportunities for women in theatre since 1982.


Dr Susan Croft is Director of Unfinished Histories, the oral and archival history project on Alternative Theatre in Britain in the 1960s -80s, which she founded in 2006 with Jessica Higgs. She is Clive Barker Research Fellow at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. After working with Omaha Magic Theatre and then as dramaturg, director and workshop leader in the alternative theatre scene, in 1986 she founded New Playwrights Trust, an organization developing the work of new writers. She went on to teach Creative Arts/ Performance at Nottingham Trent and Manchester Metropolitan Universities before becoming Senior Curator (Contemporary Performance) at the V&A Theatre Museum. There her major exhibitions included Let Paul Robeson Sing! and Architects of Fantasy, she pioneered initiatives on audio-video documentation of performance, diversity and inclusion and edited Black and Asian Performance at the Theatre Museum: a Users' Guide. As Director of Unfinished Histories she has conducted numerous oral history interviews with individuals active in the movement. In 2013-14 she curated the exhibition and publication Re-Staging Revolutions: Alternative Theatre in Lambeth and Camden 1968-88. She has written extensively on women playwrights, including ...She Also Wrote Plays: an International Guide to Women Playwrights (2001), the anthologies Classic Plays by Women, Votes for Women and Other Plays and Thousands of Noras: Short Plays by Women 1875- 1920 (with Sherry Engle) on activist, suffrage and New Women drama and co-wrote How the Vote Was Won: Art, Theatre and Women's Suffrage. She is currently working on books on Unfinished Histories; the influential community arts project Inter-Action; and an update of She Also Wrote Plays.


DEBORA BALARDINI (Panelist) is a Performing Artist. Director. Coach with fierce loyalty to movement and physical theater as an art form. Her extensive performance background spans ballet, modern dance, and tap as well as theatre. Debora is a 2017 SheROCKS Art Innovators of the Year Award honoree. She is the co-founder of PUNTO Space, a venue for events, art happenings and performances that serves as a creative home and place for artistic community to collaborate, explore and thrive. She is also the co-founder of Nettles Artists Collective, which has received multiple nominations for original work such as Apple of My Eye (Menina dos Meus Olhos), the first professionally produced original piece written and performed by a playwright and artist with Down syndrome, Tathiana Piancastelli. Debora is also the co-founder and Executive Director of Group.BR, NY's only Brazilian theater company, an award winning ensemble. She is a member and supporter of Actors Fund, Yoga Alliance, Americans for the Arts, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Brazilian Endowment for the Arts, the League of Professional Theater Women and is currently a Brazilian International Press Award 2017 Best Actress nominee for Inside the Wild Heart, a production she co-created, co-produced and performed in. She can be seen/heard in IR TV, Industry Rules, The Miami Herald, The Story Exchange, Cheapism, Trendy Trippin', Mushaka's Motivational Monday/Huffington Post blog, On Deck with Lucy and Business News Daily.

CHRISTINE BRUNO (Panelist) is Disability Advocate at Inclusion in the Arts, a national not-for-profit that promotes the full inclusion of artists of color and disabled artists in theatre, film, television and related media. She has represented the organization at symposiums, film and theatre festivals, forums, panels, resource events, and television and radio outlets across the U.S. and internationally. Christine received her MFA in acting and directing from the New School, is a lifetime member of the Actors Studio and has worked across all mediums as an actor, director and acting coach. A proud union member, Christine is Chair of the New York SAG-AFTRA Performers with Disabilities (PWD) Committee and serves on the SAG-AFTRA PWD Association of Motion Pictures and Television Producers (AMPTP) Task Force, SAG-AFTRA National Performers with Disabilities and the Actors' Equity EEOC Committees. She is currently working with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs as a Disability Consultant to The Cultural Plan. Her selected theatre, film and television credits include

SUSANA COOK (Panelist) writes and performs bold, authentic, gender bending, funny, queer performance art/theater that sharply critiques injustice; her voice of protest contains visceral knowledge of the look and feel of dictatorship. Born in Argentina, Cook has been writing and producing original work for over 20 years, presenting over 17 original plays in New York and around the world. She writes and directs all her shows, and performs in them with her company and casts comprised mostly of minority and queer women. Cook's work has been presented in numerous NYC venues, including Dixon Place, PS. 122, W.O.W Cafe Theater and The Kitchen. She has also performed internationally in Spain, France, India, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Canada and at several colleges and universities around the U.S. Her most recent works include: Conversations with Humans, We Are Caligula, The Funeral of the Cow, The Homophobes, The Fury of the Gods, Homeland Insecurities, The idiot King, The Values Horror Show, 100 Years of Attitude, Dykenstein, Hamletango, Prince of Butches, Gross National Product, Hot Tamale, Conga Guerrilla Forest, The Fraud, Butch Fashion Show in the Femme Auto Body Shop, Rats:The Fantasy of Extermination and Tango Lesbiango. Cook has received awards from New York Foundation for the Arts, Arts International, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, The Franklin Furnace Archives, The Puffin Foundation and INTAR. Her work is archived at the Digital Video Library of The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics of New York University.

YALINIDREAM (Panelist). Lankan Tamil Blood, Manchester-Born, Texas-Bred and Brooklyn-Brewed, YaliniDream is an international touring performing and theater artist who conjures spirit through her unique blend of poetry, theater, song, and dance-- reshaping reality and seeking peace through justice in the lands of earth, psyche, soul, and dream. Her work has been performed in Africa, Asia, Europe, and esteemed venues in the US such as NYC's Lincoln Center, New York Live Arts, Chicago's Vittum Theater, and numerous universities. YaliniDream was Artistic Director of APIA feminist performance company, Mango Tribe, Artist-in-Residence at the University of Michigan's Center for World Performance Studies and a recipient of the Jerome Foundation's Fellowship in Literature. YaliniDream also has almost 20 years of experience using artistic tools for healing, organizing, and dignity with communities contending with violence and trauma. She is a consultant with Vision Change Win, a specialist with EM Arts, and teaches "Social Justice Pedagogy and the Arts" at University of San Francisco's graduate program in Human Rights. In addition, she tours as part of the Hip Hop Storytelling Duo Brooklyn DreamWolf with her partner, in love and art, Hip Hop MC/Photographer, Jendog Lonewolf. Rooted in ending the full continuum of violence and exploitation, Brooklyn DreamWolf has shared stages with icons like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, and Rah Digga. Currently YaliniDream is in a new collaboration with Hip Hop Theater pioneer reg e. gaines, writer of the Tony award winning play Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk. The Maids (adaptation by Jose Rivera, INTAR), The Glass Menagerie (Fulton Theatre), The Good Daughter (NJ Rep), The Ugly Girl, Raspberry (musicals, U.K.), Screw You, Jimmy Choo! (U.K. and Australia) Law & Order, iCreep, Flatbush Luck, This is Where We Live.

MELANIE JOSEPH (Panelist) is the founder and Artistic Producer of The Foundry Theatre. Championing an artist-led process, she takes on multiple creative roles across projects including co-creator, director, dramaturg and producer. Joseph is known for making theatre in unusual forms - on a bus traveling thru the South Bronx (w. poet Claudia Rankine), a play built of questions posed to the audience (w. playwright Kirk Lynn), a musical performed in peoples' living rooms across NYC (w. composer/performer Gideon Irving) - and her productions have collectively garnered 12 OBIE's, 7 Drama Desk nominations, and 2 Lucille Lortel Awards. For 23 years, Joseph has also led The Foundry's annual dialogue series and community engagement programs which bring artists together with grassroots communities and public thinkers to explore the ways our world works (and doesn't work). The intersectionality of her work builds alternative considerations for ways that Art and the Artists who make it might claim a newly oriented relevancy in the fabric of our democracy. For her hybrid work with the Foundry, Joseph has twice been honored with the Ross Wetzteon OBIE for "creating cutting edge theatre" and "engaging artists in some of the thorniest issues of the world we inhabit". She has been honored with the Doris Duke Artist Prize, the Skirball-Kennis T.I.M.E. Artist Prize and a Lucille Lortel Lortel Award for Artistic Producing.

TAYLOR MAC (Panelist)-who uses "judy", lowercase sic, not as a name but as a gender pronoun-is a playwright, actor, singer-songwriter, and performance artist. Mac's work has been performed at Lincoln Center, Celebrate Brooklyn, London's Hackney Empire (with the LIFT Festival), LA's Royce Hall, San Francisco's Curran Theater, Magic Theater and MOMA, the Sydney Opera House, Minneapolis's Guthrie Theater, Chicago's MCA and Steppenwolf Theater, Stockholm's Sodra Theatern, the Spoleto Festival, and literally hundreds of other theatres, museums, music halls, opera houses, and festivals around the globe. Mac is the author of seventeen full-length plays and performance pieces. Most recently: Hir at Playwrights Horizons and upcoming with judy's first all-ages play, The Fre, at the Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis. Recent acting roles include Shen Teh/ Shui Ta in The Foundry Theater's production of Good Person of Szechwan at La Mama and the Public Theater, Puck/Egeus in the Classic Stage Company's A Midsummer's Night Dream, and in a vaudeville entitled, The Last Two People On Earth, which judy created with Mandy Patinkin, director Susan Stroman, and Paul Ford. Mac is the recipient of a Guggenheim Award, The Doris Duke Award, The Herb Alpert Award in Theater, the Peter Zeisler Memorial Award, the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, an Obie Award (for The Lily's Revenge), and an Ethyl Eichelberger Award. Mac and collaborator/music director/ arranger Matt Ray were awarded an Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History for A 24-Decade History of Popular Music. Mac is currently the resident playwright at the Here Arts Center and is a New Dramatists alum.

MELODY BROOKS (Panel Moderator) has been producing and directing in NYC since 1983; in 1991 she founded New Perspectives Theatre Company and serves as Artistic Director and CEO. Its mission of using theatre for social change and providing access and inclusion to all artists is a result of her long experience working in the Off- and Off-Off Broadway arenas. Melody directs the NPTC Women's Work LAB, which develops short and full-length plays by 12-15 members per year. She also serves as Executive Producer for NPTC's Voices From the Edge Festival, which has showcased more than 75 new works by African-American writers since 1997 and of ON HER SHOULDERS, which presents the work of female playwrights through the ages in staged readings and scholarly playbills. Through these and other programs she has developed and directed numerous original and classic plays (with 2 OOBR Awards, an Audelco Award, a Princess Grace Finalist and Essence Entertainment Option among the honors received by the plays she has developed/directed) Melody received the "Spirit of Hope Award" in 2015 from Speranza Theatre Company for her work with and support of women theatre artists for more than 25 years, and was named a "Person of the Year" by as a co-founder of 50/50 in 2020: Parity for Women Theatre Artists. She is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the League of Professional Theatre Women, where she also serves as co-chair of the 2017 LPTW Gilder-Coigney International Theatre Award for women artists working outside the U.S.

Kellen Auditorium at the New School, 66 Fifth Avenue (Room N101) Free and Open to the Public
R.S.V.P. or 212-630-9945

Doors Open/Introduction: 4:00pm

Featured Presenter: 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Susan Croft, Director of Unfinished Histories
Meet the artists who changed the face of theatre forever, after Britain ended Censorship in 1968. With an introduction to the companies and excerpts of female-created plays from the era.

Mingling and Nosh: 6:00pm to 6:30pm

Radical Voices Panel: 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Debora Ballardini, Christine Bruno, Susana Cook, YaliniDream Melanie Joseph and Taylor Mac!

It's time to renew the energy that was unleashed 50 years ago!

This amazing panel will share their insights into creating theatrical pieces that challenge the status quo- in form and content-and reflect on the need for and sustainability of a new alternative theatre movement in these most "interesting times."

Open Forum: 7:30pm to 8:00pm

All Participants

Join in a brainstorming/strategy session, tapping into the collective creative energy to become the Radical Voices for our own time.

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