Posts Tagged ‘Middlesex’

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The Urban Arts Festival is Here! What Do We Do Now?

May 22, 2009
So, after months and months of planning, it’s here and it’s tomorrow, Sat, May 23…the State Theatre’s first annual Urban Arts Festival. It’s an all-day (12pm-8pm) outdoor festival and we’ve booked so many acts, it’s unbelievable. Very quickly, this venture into new territory, the urban arts, has gone from “what do we do and how do we do it,” to “what do we do with all these big plans now?”

We have booked 20 plus acts, and scheduled 2 open mic times for local spoken word poets, and all of that must fit into 8 hours…that is going to be some crazy turnaround time for our stage hands. And that is not to mention we have all sorts of other stuff going on at the same time including free workshops, a 25 ft mural project and a hanging “art happening” or art installation, both of which are open to the public for participation. Nevertheless, we are confident in our plans and we just hope that people like what we have put together. We just have to remember, this is the “first annual” Urban Arts Festival, which means you never know…stay tuned (or just stop by!).

For more information on the Urban Arts Festival, visit: http://www.statetheatrenj.org/urban_arts. The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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An Urban Arts Festival for New Brunswick, New Jersey

March 27, 2009
For years now, we at the State Theatre have been trying to put together an Urban Arts Festival, a celebrated community experience of music, dance, poetry, and art. And now with the support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, our dreams have come true and the date is set for Saturday, May 23. Now if we can only figure out what exactly what we want to do….

The city of New Brunswick is a diverse city, so planning for the festival (which will be free of charge) has been harder than we could ever imagine. We are currently in the process of booking local acts for an outside stage that will be open on the street in front of the State Theatre from 12:30pm to about 6pm. As you can imagine, there is a lot of work to be done in just under 2 months (and that’s not to mention the evening performances on the State Theatre stage and the day-time workshops we want to do). There are TOO MANY options (and time is running out) and how often can you say that in times like these?! I guess what it comes down to is that we are very thankful for this opportunity, and we want it to be the best it can be, so our emotions and expectations are running high. And for lack of a better phrase, THE HEAT IS ON!

Performers scheduled for the Urban Arts Festival so far include Mayhem Poets and performance poet Glenis Redmond. If you are a solo performer or part of a group that would like to perform at the Urban Arts Festival, contact Andrew Fishman: afishman@StateTheatreNJ.org. No phone calls, please.

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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Rutgers to break Guinness World Record of most Waldos in one place!

March 24, 2009

In any other case, seeing over 1500 people dressed up as Waldo from the book series “Where’s Waldo?” would probably frighten you. If you are a child of the 90’s you probably remember Waldo as the tall, lanky, guy that always seemed to be lost amidst a crowd of people/objects that looked like his red and white striped shirt at first glance. On April 2, 2009 Rutgers University is attempting to break the Guinness World Record of the largest gathering of people dressed up as Waldo. I know what you’re thinking, “THAT’S a world record?” You would be surprised to find out what other bizzarre world records there are out there (actually, last April, Rutgers students broke the world record for the most people dressed up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

This year’s record breaking attempt will take place at the State Theatre, with an entry fee of $5 or a new children’s book. All books and proceeds will benefit literacy efforts for the students of the New Brunswick School District. So, not only will you be able to be a part of breaking a really unique world record, you will also be helping out the kids that live in the local community. We are living in a time where books are becoming a more and more obsolete source of entertainment for children. It is nice to know that there are still events like this that are fighting for books to remain a part of childhood. So, if you grew up in the 90’s looking for Waldo, want to break a world record, or just want to benefit a good cause, put on your Waldo gear and stop by the theater.

–Teisia Park, Marketing/PR Intern

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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What will you be spending money on three months from now?

March 9, 2009

What will you be spending money on three months from now? How about six months, or even a year down the road? Will you pop for those $75 tickets to see one of your favorite performances in concert, or dinner and a Broadway show? Will I? Chances are neither one of us know answers to these questions. We are currently in the thick of programming our schedule for the 2009-2010 season, which entails booking shows, setting ticket prices etc. for events as far away as May 2010. Normally we can predict with a fair degree of accuracy of what the market will bear, but “normally” has gone out the window. The good news is, that in spite of the uncertainty, we forge ahead. Will we make concessions and adjustments based on the economy, of course, but compare next season to this one, and all that have come before, and you will see the same broad variety of quality shows that the Theatre is known for. We all know what predictions are worth these days, but here’s one thing for certain, three months, six months or a year from now, we’ll be here. Hope you will be too.

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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State Theatre’s Third Annual Family Day

February 20, 2009

Every year the State Theatre hosts Family Day on Presidents’ Day, a nonstop schedule of both free and paid activites at the State Theatre , George Street Playhouse, Crossroads Theatre, Uniter Methodist Church, and the Hub City Big Top. Each time Family Day gets bigger and bigger and this year was no exception. There were ten workshops, five performances at the State Theatre and Crossroads Theatre, and free sing-a-longs and story telling all day long at United Methodist Church. The size was not limited to just the events, but also to the size of the Hub City Big Top, a 30×75 foot heated tent that shuts down Livingston Avenue from George Street to New Street, when last year’s was only 20×50 feet.

Live characters from popular children shows filled the street, while volunteers from the community, like Rutgers University, ran a variety of free activity stations. Our most popular station was face painting where kids could get colorful penguins, flowers, Hello Kitties, and Elmos on their cheeks. A close second was balloon animals where kids could choose from a dog, elephant, mouse, horse, monkey, snail, sword, hat, or bunny.

The bunny was clearly the most popular balloon animal of the day. Once the children saw Goodnight Moon and Runaway Bunny they all wanted one of their own. These two performances were the main attraction of Family Day.

So after all was said and done, and the last cheek was painted and the last balloon was handed out, kids and parents alike went home with lifted spirits and smiling faces. It is those faces that make us want to continue this tradition for years to come.

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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A New Guild to Bring Together the Community

February 13, 2009

This past Monday, the State Theatre held the first official event for its brand new gild, The Rising Stars. The sold-out event brought together 80 women for a special dinner before a lecture by one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses, Goldie Hawn.  

The Rising Star is a new program that was started up to bring together people who can help us to educate and enlighten the community about the State Theatre and its programs and encourage involvement in all age groups. It was a wonderful kick-off event (even if Goldie didn’t stop by), as this was the first of five special dinners between now and June 1.  

And this is just the beginning, as plans for the future Rising Stars community events are in the works.  

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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Report from the Children’s Theatre Showcase: Cleveland Rocks (But Sometimes It Doesn’t)

January 30, 2009

Last week in Cleveland I attended the IPAY Showcase of theater for young audiences. I got to see full-length performances of music, dance, drama, and physical theater from the U.S., Canada, Australia, Scotland, Denmark, and Israel. In all, I saw 14 shows in 4 days. Seeing the full-length performances was extremely valuable in helping to decide which shows we want to book for the State Theatre and (just as important) which ones NOT to book. As I’ve indicated in a previous post, you have to sit through a lot of mediocre/bad children’s theater in order to discover the real treasures. This year’s IPAY Showcase was no exception. 

Unfortunately, there were two productions—one from Australia and the other from the Republic of Congo—that were not allowed to perform at Showcase due to the U.S. Immigration Department’s refusal to grant them a work visa. I’ve seen the Australian show on DVD and it was so fantastic we will probably book it anyway if it ever tours to the U.S. 

My favorite performance at Showcase was The Man Who Planted Trees, from Scotland. The two actor/puppeteers have created a brilliant adaptation of Jean Giono’s short story about a French shepherd who devotes his life to transforming a barren wasteland into a fertile paradise by planting thousands and thousands of trees. The production is exactly what I look for in a show for young audiences. First and foremost, it’s an imaginative piece of theater, expertly performed. Yes, there’s an important message about caring for the environment, but it’s seamlessly integrated into the storytelling; the audience is never made to feel as if we’re sitting in a classroom instead of a theater. The star of the show is a dog puppet who was perhaps the funniest, cutest, and most talented performer in the entire showcase. 

The Man Who Planted Trees ended up winning the Showcase Audience Choice Award. This is a pretty big honor since the voters are all theater professionals. We’ve been trying to bring the show to New Brunswick ever since my boss, Wes Brustad, saw it at the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland a couple of years ago. I’m thrilled to report that it will be on our 2009-10 season! 

Besides seeing lots and lots of showcases, I also attended sessions addressing important issues in the field of performing arts for young people. Particularly relevant to me was a conversation about the changing role of education directors at performing arts centers; many of us are seeing our jobs evolve beyond programming performances for schools to becoming an instrument for community outreach and engagement. We didn’t arrive at any earth-shaking solutions, but it was helpful to hear that many of my colleagues are grappling with the same concerns as I am. 

 —Lian Farrer, Vice President for Education

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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Mission and Purpose

January 28, 2009

In January each year, I attend several arts conferences, in particular the annual gathering of the International Society for the Performing Arts. Within the context of a world economy in chaos, it was a good time to take stock of what we do and how we serve our respective constituencies. In a time of economic upheaval, the most difficult thing an arts institution can do is to stay on mission. It is tempting to take the low road—to pick the low hanging fruit—when the going gets difficult. The pop culture beckons and the allure of easy money intrigues even the purist.

Our mission at the State Theatre clearly states that we exist to enrich the lives of people and to contribute to a vital urban environment. We are committed to excellence in the performing arts, to providing an arts education program that informs and builds audiences, and to adding to the vibrancy of a thriving city.

While arts centers and theaters play a major role in the economic development of a city, the primary outcomes of the arts experiences we offer are not economic. Obviously, economic impact is a by-product of our attendance, but it is not a result of the theater experience.

The theatre’s primary purpose is to transform individuals and our community through the artists and arts experiences that we present. We should be raising awareness of ourselves, the human condition, and of the world in which we live. As Alan Brown and Jennifer Novak so well state in a study, Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance:

“The true impact of performing arts experiences is what happens to individual members when the lights go down and the artist takes the stage—and, moreover, cumulative benefits to individuals, families and communities of having those experiences available night after night, year after year.”

Right now, times are very tough. But we will get through it. The earth’s path around the sun has not changed nor the moon’s path around earth. And so we keep our eye on that goal which has guided artists since time began which is to celebrate our creativity and to shed light on the human condition which we do nightly through humor, pathos, and beauty.

—Wes Brustad, State Theatre President & CEO

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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Plumbing problems are the least of our worries

January 20, 2009

There are lots of things to worry about as a nonprofit performing arts center in the packed arts community of New Jersey in today’s economy, and they are challenges that we face every day. However, it was not any of those things that effected the work flow of State Theatre employees today. Today, the State Theatre adminstration staff was blindsided by a backed up sewer that resulted in the closing of all the bathrooms in the building. You may or may not know this, but the State Theatre adminstration building is NOT in the theater. The offices are actually located in the same building as the George Street Playhouse (directly above the stage to be exact). So, that means, if we have to use the bathroom, we need to bundle up (and brave the 16 degree weather) and go next door to the theater. Now, it’s not the end of the world and the problem will be fixed soon enough. But when things are already running along the rough side (and in the theater world, they are), it hurts to let go of the things that you took for granted. So, when we lose sight and forget about the little comforts that we still have, we need to wake up, bundle up, and be thankful that we have a theater that’s up and running (complete with indoor plumbing) because not everyone is so lucky right now.

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.

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VP for Education, ISO Great School and Family Performances for State Theatre Audiences

January 15, 2009

I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting work to present for our school and community audiences, and theater conferences are a great way to see a lot of performances in a short time. This past week my staff and I went into NYC to check out a few of the hundreds of performances being showcased during the mother-of-all-booking-conferences, APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) 

Attending theater showcases is a lot like the dating scene: you have to sort through a lot of mediocre, annoying, incomprehensible, inappropriate, and just plain stupid options before you find one that’s right for you. This year’s APAP conference was no exception. We were pleasantly intrigued by a couple of shows that were part of the Under the Radar Festival at the Public Theater. Both incorporated performance poetry to illuminate powerful personal stories about class, race, identity, and culture. The quality of both productions was great—original, well-written, and movingly performed. Due to some of the language and subject matter, we’re not sure whether these pieces would be considered appropriate for school audiences. We’ll need to look into whether the artists would be willing to do some editing. 

As anticipated, we found ourselves sitting through some showcases that weren’t quite so successful. A couple of these showed promise, but will need a lot more polish before they’re ready for the State Theatre. We’ll be keeping an eye on them as they go through their development. Then there was another show that we all agreed was perhaps the longest hour we’ve ever spent inside a theater. (No, I’m not going to tell you what it was.)  

I will be flying off to Cleveland next week to attend my favorite conference: IPAY (International Performing Arts for Youth), which specializes in programs for school and family audiences. As the name implies, the conference showcases performers from all over the world. Since the productions are required to go through a screening process in order to be selected for a showcase performance, the quality tends to be pretty high. I’ll let you know how it goes. 

 —Lian Farrer, Vice President for Education

The State Theatre is located at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick, NJ. For information or to purchase tickets call 732-246-SHOW(7469) or visit http://www.statetheatrenj.org/.
Check us out on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace.