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Usdan Partners with BAM on New Poetic Drama MY FAMILY

Creative writing students ages 12 to 16 from Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, the acclaimed summer arts day camp whose alumni include Natalie Portman, Mariah Carey, Jane Monheit and Broadway playwright Michele Lowe, joined for the second season with students of the same age from the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Summer Youth Program in a unique two-week joint workshop from July 21 to August 1.

The project, which included study at both Long Island's Usdan Center and BAM, resulted in the cooperative creation of a new poetic comedy/drama, "My Family," exploring the love, hazards peculiarities of being and relating to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and other relatives. The new work was performed by professional actors at both venues in the final days of the workshop.

The workshop debuted last summer in a one-week version, which resulted in a cooperatively produced work at the BAM Fisher Theater called War and What To Tell You, exploring issues around war. It was given a staged reading with professional actors and Usdan/BAM students for the students' family and friends.

Andrew Copper, Associate Executive Director of Usdan Center and Usdan's coordinator of the project, says "Usdan Center is delighted to partner with BAM in an expanded program this year, and we anticipate an even more exciting collaboration. We were completely thrilled with the work in 2013, and we very much look forward to the process again."

The workshop was co-directed by Usdan's David Surface, who returns from last year, and by BAM's Judy Tate. David Surface is Founder of the WriteMind Workshop, and has had stories and essays published in Doubletake, North American Review, and Crazyhorse. He is a recipient of a non-fiction literature fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and is Writer-in-residence at Bronx High School for Writing and Communication Arts. Judy Tate is a four-time Emmy award-winning TV and theatrical playwright, teacher and actor. Her television writing includes Another World, Days of Our Lives and As the World Turns, and her stage plays have been produced at Ensemble Studio Theatre (of which she is a 20-year member), Manhattan Theatre Club, the Women's Project, the Kitchen and many other theaters. She has taught playwriting students in alternative schools, prisons, shelters, and from reservations and townships, both independently, and with MTC, TDF and the International Theatre and Literacy Project.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music, a multi-arts center in downtown Brooklyn has for more than 150 years presented world-renowned programming in music, dance, theater, opera, film and much more, showcasing the work of emerging artists and innovative modern masters.

Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, now entering its 47th season, is the nation's largest summer arts day camp, and attended by students from New York City and throughout the Tri-State Area. The Center is open to all young people from age 6 to 18. Usdan's program features more than 40 three, four and seven-week programs in music, dance, theater, visual arts, writing, nature & ecology, and chess. No audition is needed for most programs - rather, admission is based on an expression of interest in the arts. Each summer, 1,600 students are transported to the Center in air-conditioned buses each day. One-third of Usdan's students attend on scholarship. Although the mission of the Center is for every child to establish a relationship with the arts, the unique stimulation of the Center has caused many to go on to arts careers. In addition to its regular programs, Usdan offers opportunities for advanced high school- age performing and visual artists. These include Music Staff Internships, a Summer Ballet Intensive, and a program of immersion in the visual arts. Usdan is an agency of the UJA-Federation of New York.

Pictured: Actors Victoria Collado, Michael Smith, Lynette Freeman and Tamar Mackay read the poetic comedy/drama "My Family" at Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts on July 31, 2014.

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