Matilda. How I read Roald Dahl's book. Part 2.

The book Matilda is about a smart, sweet little girl named Matilda, but she is different from her family. She is mistreated and ignored at home, which makes her an extraordinary girl.

People are misunderstood in life. Teens can relate to this feeling, because we feel this as we grow. Matilda finds an escape from her world by reading. Everyone needs an escape from their world. My escapes, drawing and writing, put me in a better place.

Matilda made me feel like a little kid again. All the sneaky stunts Matilda did remind me of all the things I wish I could have done as a kid.

Matilda finds someone who understands her: her first grade teacher, Miss Honey. I also found people who understand me. My friends get me more than anyone.

– NAYROBI R.

Matilda. How I read Roald Dahl's words. Part 1.

 Matilda is an extraordinary little girl who has the gift of intelligence but her parents fail to acknowledge her genius. I couldn't help but think I wish I had a brain like hers, to be able to read great novels like she did at an early age. Though Matilda is very smart, she isn't boastful about it. She is rather sweet and reserved. Something that grabbed my attention was that the hidden message of Matilda was to cherish your parents, because they could be like Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood.

On a daily basis, Matilda has to fend for herself. She’s independent at a young age because her parents weren't interested in her. I could easily relate because at a young age I too wasn't shown much attention and kept to myself, reading or teaching myself new things. Like me, Matilda was misunderstood, and she used books to escape.

– KRYSTLE D.

Matilda. What I saw in the RSC production.

After seeing Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin's Matilda last summer in London, two musical numbers stuck with me. The first was “School Song,” a warning to Matilda and the other new students about the horrors that await them at Miss Trunchbull’s school.

And so you think you’re Able, To survive this mess, By Being a prince or a princess, You will soon see [C], As you’re escaping trageDy.

As the older students sing, they climb the school gates at the back of the stage and slide large alphabet blocks into place in beat with the music and at the moment when the lyrics involve that letter. It is loud, it is defiant, and it is incredibly clever. The second number was “When I Grow Up.” The younger children in the school, played by child actors, swing on these fantastic oversized swings hanging at the edge of the stage and sing about all the things they will be brave and smart and strong enough to do when they grow up.

When I grow up, I will be strong enough to carry all the heavy things you have to haul around with you when you’re a grown up. And when I grow up, I will be brave enough to fight the creatures that you have to fight beneath the bed each night to be a grown-up.

It is sweet and hopeful. As the song goes on, the children, in one swift motion, jump off the swings and the older children, played by adults, jump on and swing out over the audience soaring on their stomachs. It is a magical moment and a reminder that we never quite outgrow those dreams of what we will be when we get older. Kelly and Minchin turn Matilda’s love of reading from the original book into a love of stories and storytelling in the musical. This allows the audience to experience Matilda’s passion for stories through the show’s own storytelling, just as readers could experience her love of books through their own reading.

– ANN N.

Dominique Morrisseau is writing the story of her hometown.

The best thing about being a New Yorker is that I belong here. The direct way that New Yorkers speak… the progressive minds that I encounter in every field and profession… the way that we are movers and shakers… the way that we have a collective understanding unlike anywhere else in the country of what hustling and getting your “grind” on means. I love it. I’m a Detroit girl in NYC, and I’m a NYC girl in Detroit. Brooklyn girl, to be specific. I've been committed to NY over 10 years. I’m claiming it as mine now. It’s home. When people ask me why I am choosing to write this play or that play about Detroit, I always have to take it back to why I’m writing the entire three play series about Detroit. And there are a million reasons why… but this quick story covers most of them:

My fiance (boyfriend at the time) and I both went to Michigan for undergrad. His major was Communications and he was taking this class about the media and its effect on people. He was the only black person in his class--- a lecture of about 200 students. The topic of Detroit came up in class. “What do you think of when you hear about Detroit?” the white professor asked the class. (Race is relevant here to note that Detroit is a predominately black city, and a large percentage of Michigan’s black student population was from Detroit). The majority of white students responded with one word answers. They called them out in the lecture hall: “poor” “dangerous” “violent” “less fortunate” — these were the kinds of things that were being spoken into the atmosphere about Detroit. But then the word that kicked him in the chest… that assaulted him worse than any other, was yelled out carelessly… “degenerate”.

He came home to me that evening. He looked me in my face and told me the entire story of class today. When he said “degenerate”, I felt like he had just slapped me. We started to bemoan the word. Who would say that? Why? What do they think of us? Our hometown? Our entire families that are from here?

We come from the most loving people I've ever known. Detroiters have been some of the kindest, most progressive, most ambitious, most brave, most conscious, most loving, most hardworking people I have ever known. And yet, in our neighboring cities and educational institutions, we were being thought of as nothing but degenerates.

That night my fiance and I cried. These are the people that I love. These are the people that keep our country driving forward. They are not degenerates. They are beautiful warriors fighting to stay alive in the face of much opposition.

dominique_morisseau_067 So I am writing three plays about Detroit because I love Detroiters, because I love my family, and because I am practicing self-love. I have a strong belief that what goes into print and what is said over and over about a people starts to become the gospel until it is just as diligently combated with other stories and other perspectives.

If you ask me why would a young person want to see Detroit ’67, I can tell you very simply that it will be a ton of fun. This play is probably one of my funniest. It is a joy ride, it is sassy, it breaks all kinds of rules of social etiquette. It is bold and wild and heartbreaking, I think. And you learn something urgent about the riots and about our country’s history with civil unrest in a way that doesn't feel like “school” or a “history play”. It catches you off-guard and keeps you wanting to know more. That’s how I like to build a story. I want you on the edge of your seat. I want you to feel like running up on stage and joining the world, and maybe feel like dancing to the music. This is the play of mine that does that. Imagine going to a party back in time. That’s what this is. It will be a helluva time and why would anyone want to miss that?

– Dominique Morisseau

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See Detroit '67:

The Public Theater, Feb. 26-Mar. 17

$20 #GR (General Rush), $25 #ST (Student Tickets)

Classical Theatre Of Harlem, Mar. 23-Apr. 28

$20 #ST Student Tickets

Mary Ann tells us how she found hope, with Irondale's help, after Sandy.

In the aftermath of Sandy, Irondale Ensemble Project turned their Gala into a benefit for their neighborhood, aptly titled Brooklyn loves Brooklyn. A former Irondale student, whose life was turned upside down by Sandy, told PxP what it felt like to witness a local theatre transform into a center for recovery efforts.

On October 29th at 9:23 a.m, my father sent me a picture of the alleyway behind the house I grew up in, in Roxbury, New York. The water surge had begun and had already submerged our neighbor’s gardens and potted plants. I looked at it, shrugged my shoulders and went back to my breakfast with my Aunt. We’d seen flooding before. At every high tide, my Aunt is pumping water from her basement. It’s the small sacrifice you make when you live on the water. We've survived through hurricanes before Sandy. Irene was a bust, and Sandy would be too. My aunt didn't even unpack, because she figured she would be able to go home the next day.

My aunt and father are still camped out in my living room. My childhood friend who lives upstairs from me has her mother, two aunts, uncle, and grandmother seeking refuge from the storm. Let’s not forget about their family friend sleeping on an air mattress in the closet.

I've always been taught that charity begins at home. But what happens when you have nothing to give? What happens when your home doesn't feel like your home anymore? People have said “It’s just stuff.” Yeah it is. But it still SUCKS. It’s just one mess after the other. Sometimes it feels like there’s no hope in sight. There’s been looting, landlords hiking up rents for temporary housing, people claiming to be volunteers and then stealing from you. And the constant question everyone keeps asking “Where the hell is the Red Cross?” But then you see grassroots organizations coming together, coming to help you, and they want nothing in return. And that’s where the majority of our strength comes from. There’s one group in particular that hits very close to home: The Irondale Ensemble Project.

I first came in contact with Irondale when I was a sophomore at the New York City Museum School. The following year I interned for Irondale and learned how a small ensemble group stayed afloat with grants and fundraising. After high school my relationship with Irondale began to expand and flourish. From Irondale, I learned the fundamentals of creating solid ensemble work. After college I wrote and performed my one-woman show, Go Ahead…Laugh, at various clubs and theaters throughout the city. After three years of performing it, I decided to put it on the back burner and perform it one last time. The only place that seemed right was Irondale and their beautiful space in Fort Greene. My father even showcased some of his Roxbury Beach-inspired paintings on their second floor. Irondale has always been around for love and support.

When I received the invite to [Irondale’s] Brooklyn LOVES Brooklyn on Facebook, I jokingly wrote, “Do refugees get in for free?” and immediately got a message from Damen [Irondale ensemble member] basically saying, “We’re here to help.” And help they did. All of the proceeds they made from selling their album, Color Between the Lines, that evening would go to my family. When my father and I walked into Brooklyn LOVES Brooklyn, we were completely dumbstruck by the amount of people who had shown up to raise money for the Red Hook Initiative and the Coney Island Community Outreach Center; over 500 people and 30 arts organizations. As of now they have raised $7,456 for these groups and are still collecting donations. After days of feeling helpless and broken, this fundraiser gave us hope.

This is my life now. Our lives. But we deal and we rebuild. We’re down, but we’re not out. We are too salty for that.

– Mary Ann H.

 

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The recovery efforts continue. If you are interested in volunteering to help victims of Sandy, please check out:  Occupy Sandy

Here are some links to help the Breezy and Rockaway areas: www.rockawayhelp.com (local website for donation centers and ways to volunteer) www.wepay.com/donations/523899310 (for Rockaway WISH) www.graybeards.com  www.breezypointdisasterrelief.org 

A link to help in Red Hook:  www.rhicenter.org (this is for the Red Hook Initiative they work primarily in Brooklyn)

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NYC Service is the nyc gov website to link up people to volunteer opportunities - http://www.nycservice.org/pages/pages/8

A national site with more links to places to volunteer - http://www.serve.gov/sandy/ New York Cares - http://www.nycares.org/ World Cares Center - http://www.worldcares.org/ Habitat for Humanity - http://www.habitat.org/getinv/volunteer_programs.aspx

More local efforts: A grassroots non-profit: Rockaway Emergency Support Team (REST) - http://restny.org/ Ready Rockaway - http://www.readyrockaway.org/ Respond and Rebuild - http://www.respondandrebuild.org/ Queens Congregations United for Action - http://www.qcua.org/

 

Colman Domingo's journey through Sandy.

Tony-nominated actor, Colman Domingo, shared his Hurricane Sandy journey with PxP.Check him out on Instagram – kingofbingo

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Colman3

I live in Hell ’s Kitchen, and I was spared during and after Hurricane Sandy. The lights flickered maybe twice, but that was it. My view of the city is south from my window, so I could see that the south end of the city was in darkness. I made my home a haven for a few friends who needed to come by the next day and shower, recharge phones, use internet, eat a meal and just have some simple social time in the warmth of my apartment. I made sure that I had a lot of clean towels in case a friend was in need of a shower.

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Colman1

My show Wild with Happy had just opened at the Public Theater, and the theater was dark. It would be for the next five days. I was honestly exhausted from months of back-to-back work, so I took it as a welcome mini-vacation. I would do my part in helping loved ones and friends keep their spirits up, stay fed, clean, and charged as the East Coast was desperately trying to recover. I pretty much stayed in the area of 42nd Street to 59th Street West. The devastation seemed to be a world away as what I saw on the news was not in my immediate vicinity. I was lucky. I am so grateful.

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Colman2

Oh, and I went to see my best friend Daniel Breaker in The Performers! – Colman Domingo

A Chat with ONCE Actors

We asked Once actors Will Connolly, Elizabeth Davis, Lucas Papaelias and Erikka Walsh what Once means to them:

Will:Once is about two people who are in the process of letting go – of fear, of heartbreak, of doubt, of expectation, of self-hatred. And their vehicle for achieving this goal is their music, but more importantly, it’s the shared love that goes into playing that music.

Erikka: It’s about community, survival, and celebrating humanity through the power of music.

Lucas: Once is about love winning out over fear. The love that the Guy and the Girl discover for each other, through making music, is what enables the Guy to face his fear of moving forward in his life (and his music), and enables the Girl to see that she still has love to give.

And what would they like to do ONCE?

Elizabeth: If I could do something once, I would be somebody else for a day—or race down the Autobahn in a souped-up hot rod.

Erikka: Sail around the Mediterranean.

Will: Just once, I would like to go to an airport with no destination in mind, buy a ticket, and live like a gypsy for several months.

Peter and the Starcatcher

#magic #fairytale #neverland #starstuff #firstlove #growingup

 

Olivia Munk, 12th Grade, Bronx Science High School Oumar Berte, 11th Grade, International Community High School Serra Akkyuz, 11th Grade, Staten Island Academy Olivia: Peter and the Starcatcher rewinds J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan many years to tell how Peter Pan and his Lost Boys end up in Neverland. Oumar: The story follows a miserable orphan, later named Peter Pan, and his friend Molly on a mission to guard magical starstuff. Serra: Molly is an independent girl who teaches Peter how to love, care and to be brave. Olivia: While Peter and Molly try to prevent the starstuff from getting into the wrong hangs (the evil Black Stache and a mollusk king), Peter becomes exposed to the starstuff and develops special powers—such as the ability to fly and stay young forever.

Serra: Peter represents the inner child through his transition from an insecure and lonely kid to the hero that we are familiar with. Oumar: The play is hilarious–and by hilarious I mean hysterical–but it also shows a Peter Pan that I never knew. We think of Peter as a carefree boy who will never grow up, but this play made me feel bad for him. Maybe it’s good to be able to grow up, to be able to get out of Neverland and discover the rest of the world. Superheroes don’t necessarily have a super life. Olivia: I love the message that everyone, whether they are flying boys or evil Staches, has a backstory filled with people who helped them get to be who they are today. Serra: Peter and the Starcatcher reminds teenagers that we don’t have to try to grow up so quickly.

 

Want to read more? Check out a letter from the playwright and a note from Molly!

TICKETS: $27 lottery rush tickets 2 hours before the performance • Brooks Atkinson Theater, 256 W. 47th St.

website

A Note from Celia

I was never worried about growing up, and I wasn’t afraid of it. I’ve always been somebody—both to my detriment and to positive effects—that is pretty easily engaged in the moment. Even as a kid, I didn’t have very much anxiety about the future, and I remember at a young age having people say I was an “old soul.” So the idea of growing up, to me, never felt like something I was waiting for. And at least as a kid, I wanted to be perceived as older than I was. – Celia Keenan-Bolger

Molly from Peter and the Starcatcher

A Newsie Hat Tale

By Ben Wolfson12th Grade, Hunter College High School Ever since I saw Newsies the movie, I have been in search of the perfect newsie hat. I have gone to upwards of twenty stores asking for “a newsie hat, the type hooligans my age used to wear in the early 1900’s.” The shopkeepers usually smile and start rifling through their collection of fedoras, baseball hats and occasionally top hats to locate my newsie cap. So far, they have had little success. It is either too thick, too thin, off color, or without a protruding brim. When I went to see Newsies the Musical, I was looking forward to seeing my favorite movie in musical form. It proved to be a wonderful adaptation with extra song lyrics, enthralling dancing, and a glamorous ending. On my way out, I was delighted to see newsie hats on sale. They were overpriced, but I bought one anyway. I am now ready to protest injustice. Read more about Newsies here. TICKETS: $26.50 student rush • Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St. website

Newsies the Musical

By Theresa Reed11th Grade, Curtis High School

Newsies the Musical is a story dreams, determination, and love. Set in New York City in 1899, we meet Jack Kelly. To some he may be an escaped convict, but to others, he is a charismatic young man who dreams big. Jack is a newsie and must hawk newspapers all over town in order to make a living. Jack and the other newsies are a close-knit group, and their bond is clear when they unite to protest an unfair change in their working conditions. With a bit of outside help (and a little flirting), Jack and the newsies stage a strike and seize the day! Though Newsies takes place many years ago, many themes are still relevant today; such as unions, strikes, protests, and fighting for worker rights. The musical also shows how willpower and courage are necessary to make change happen. TICKETS: $26.50 student rush • Nederlander Theatre, 208 W. 41st St. website