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SUCH GOOD FRIENDS, A Documentary Chronicling The Invisible Theatre Of Tucson's Pastime Players To Be Shown 4/26

Such Good Friends is a documentary chronicling the Invisible Theatre of Tucson’s Pastime Players.  For over 25 years, Susan Claassen, artistic director of the Invisible Theatre, has spearheaded this arts project.  She, Gail Fitzhugh and a dedicated group of artists teach theatre, music and dance twice a week to exceptional education students.  Verl, Danny, Beth, Janna, Meg and Jennifer have been members of this performance troupe.  Their connections and ultimate friendship tells the story of two very different worlds coming together through the power of the arts.

Such Good Friends will be playing at the Loft Cinema (3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Tucson, AZ) on April 26, 2009 at 1:00pm (doors open at 12:30pm). Watch the Pastime Players walk down the red carpet at 12:45pm. Tickets cost $20.00 ($10.00 for students and groups of ten or more). For tickets or information call (520) 882-9721 (to charge by phone) or visit the Invisible Theatre lobby (1400 N. First Avenue).

The Steinway Piano Gallery Gala opening featuring Amanda McBroom in Concert with Michele Brourman will take place at the new Steinway Piano Gallery (3001 E. Skyline Dr. at Campbell
Tucson, AZ). Tickets cost $50.00 per person.

The Invisible Theatre's Pastime Player's Annual Show, The Me Inside of Me, is set to take place at the Catalina high school auditorium (3645 E. Pima, Tucson, AZ) on April 27 at 7:00pm. This event is free of charge.

In the documentary, we witness how they have changed the lives of the other individual participants and a community.  We also see how this project has changed their lives.  We meet their families and follow them as they embark on adulthood.  We watch them as they make choices and struggle with the rigors of putting together their theatrical performance – The Me Inside of Me.  Yet, it is much more than a film about a theatre project in an inner-city public school.  It is an unforgettable journey from heart to art.

Each story is a triumph over the odds.  Some make it to the final performance - others don’t.  Some students make it in life - others don’t.  Some are defined by their disability and others by their ability.  Such Good Friends is what makes the difference.

In speaking about this project, Susan Claassen says “Project Pastime exemplifies an innovative program that proves the idea that when artists, teachers, administrators, funding agents, students and parents come together we really can make a difference!  It has been my dream to make a film that showed the world that we are only limited by limited expectations - Expect the most and that is what you will get!  When I contacted my longtime colleague and award-winning filmmaker, Cyndee Wing, she immediately came on board. As a direct result of working on this documentary, Cyndee went back to school and supplemented her Master’s Degree in Education in a post-graduate program and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. This program has been life-changing for everyone involved.”

This documentary is the culmination of five years of filming. Our most recent collaborators are Amanda McBroom and Michele Brourman.  When asked why she would write the theme song for the film, Amanda replied, “First of all, I would follow Susan Claassen to the ends of the earth.  I think she is an astounding force for good and for art on the planet.  Being able to participate with the Pastime Players is good art! And inspiration. And hope.  And most of all, it is an example of the major importance participating in theater plays in the lives of young people. It is imperative that theater be brought back into the schools to feed the imagination and creative inspiration of every student. Theater jump starts the confidence in all young people, especially these fabulous kids in the Pastime Players. I am honored to be included in the project!”

Harriet Tubman said “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  It is the Invisible Theatre’s hope that this film will be an inspiration for other communities around the world to create similar projects and to reach for the stars."

Over a decade before the Presidential campaign of 2008, the Invisible Theatre’s Pastime Players adopted the motto “Yes, We Can!”  to help motivate our public school Special Needs programming.  During the Pastime Player’s inspiring musical performance, those three words come to life in a way that leaves no heart untouched and no soul unstirred!

The Invisible Theatre’s Pastime Players, under the direction of Susan Claassen, started as a workshop in 1984 and has grown into a prototype of innovative arts education programming that focuses on ability rather than dwelling on disability.  The project is centered at the culturally diverse Catalina High School in the Tucson Unified School District.  The students (aged 15-22) receive instruction from the artists of the Invisible Theatre in music, drama and dance.  The year-long instruction culminates in the production of an original musical called The Me Inside of Me.

No wonder there are outstanding ovations at each performance!  No wonder these students have gained the respect and admiration of their peers and esteemed professionals including everyone from Dame Cleo Laine and Sir John Dankworth to the award-winning actor, Kathleen Chalfant!

The Pastime Player’s Touring Troupe has performed throughout Arizona in such diverse venues as the state legislature, Raytheon Corporation, The City of Hope – National Spirit of Life Dinner and at the Senior Olympics Opening Ceremonies.  Audiences have ranged in size from 20 to 5,000.  The Pastime Players handled themselves brilliantly in each of these unique settings.  The Pastime Players also help to educate a community about the special gifts we all have to share and showcase the best of America’s public education.

The Pastime Players exemplifies an innovative project that supports the concept that when artists, teachers, legislators, administrators, funding agents, students and parents come together as a community, we really can make a difference!  We are only limited by limited expectations:  Expect the most and we get the most!

Some consider what these young people have achieved as mere dreams, but as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams!”

The Pastime Players have proven her right.

The Invisible Theatre (IT) of Tucson, founded in 1971, is a non-profit 501©3 organization and is dedicated to producing quality theatre and arts education experiences for all facets of the community in an intimate setting that showcases local professional talent and guest artists.  IT takes its name from the invisible energy that flows between a performer and audience, creating the magic of theatre.  Film-IT productions is a part of the Invisible Theatre - Artistic Director, Susan Claassen and Associate Artistic Director, James Blair.

Cyndee is currently the director/camera/editor of Such Good Friends, working with Invisible Theatre’s Film-IT Productions.  Cyndee has worked with the Tohono O’odham Cultural Center and Museum shooting interviews for their Cornerstone Project.  Cyndee directed and edited the documentary film “Toka”, which premiered at the 1994 Arizona International Film Festival and won the Best Short Documentary award at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco in the same year.  She served as director/editor for Morning Light Productions, a company that produced primarily Native American documentaries and educational videos (1994 to 2005).  Cyndee was the editor for a 15 minute narrative film, “Trusting Souls” which won a Cine Golden Eagle and served as project director and editor for the film “Pride and the Power to Win”.  This documentary was selected for screening at the Two Rivers Native Film and Video Festival, received a Certificate of Merit from the Chicago International Film Festival and has screened at numerous state and national educational conferences and film festivals.  In 2001 Cyndee was producer and editor of the Discovery Channel documentary “Mastodon In Your Backyard”.  She has been an adjunct faculty member for Pima College since 1985.

Amanda McBroom is an award-winning American singer, song-writer and cabaret performer.  One of the songs she has written is the Golden Globe winning “The Rose,” which Bette Midler sang in the movie of the same name.  She also wrote some of the songs in The Land Before Time film series with Michele Brourman.  Amanda starred in the New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and European productions of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living In Paris, and made her Broadway debut in the Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields musical, Seesaw.  She is the daughter of actor David Bruce.

The Loft Cinema is s a nonprofit, community-supported cinema that honors the vision of filmmakers, celebrates ideas and promotes the appreciation and understanding of the art of film. It is Tucson’s premiere venue for art films – independent, foreign, alternative and classic narrative films and documentaries.

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