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By Eric Emch
As the Marketing Director of Jaradoa Theater, I have a lot of unique responsibilities. I adopt the “voice” of Jaradoa and create facebook status updates; I take photos from Play On! and meticulously cut out the students from the background; I have a weekly meeting with April that usually ends in beer drinking/life evaluation. But never before have I had the responsibility of being on stage.
When Anika asked me to participate in last Saturday’s Radio Play, my first reaction was “absolutely not.” I’m not an actor — I don’t want to be an actor. However, I hadn’t seen Anika in a while, nor had I ever seen a Radio Play, so I nervously agreed. I received the script and was assigned a role (Announcer 2 – holla!), and even practiced out loud in my apartment which loud/zany accent I would use (Radio Plays sound better with bold vocal choices, apparently).
The day of the Radio Play, everyone showed up at Bishop Mugavero Nursing Home in Brooklyn and my fears immediately faded. Everyone was so excited to be there and eager to entertain that I quickly jumped on the fun-times bandwagon. Not to mention our audience (the elderly folk of the nursing home) was lively and completely ready for our performance. And the performance was a hoot and a half! I read my lines with the only accent I’m confident in (a Palin-esque Midwestern accent — I’m from Ohio, what can I say?) and mostly shouted my lines. Everyone else was HI-larious and our singing talent was out-of-control good. When I wasn’t laughing hysterically my jaw was dropped hearing Anika sing her face off or watching Telly epitomize a “triple threat.”
While the actual play was such fun to be a part of, the hands down best part of the day was the post-show sing along with the residents and the conversations that followed. The two women I sang by for the sing along were not shy by any means, and performed (mostly to themselves) a stirring rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Mary and Gladys had both sung for their church choirs — and both women were full of stories and anecdotes that were yearning to be told. And I couldn’t get enough! Looking around the room at all the story-swapping, I felt such pride to be a part of Jaradoa and such honor that this fascinating and important community was so willing and eager to share their lives with us.
I think I’m still on a high from the hilarity and good times that ensued at Saturday’s Radio Play. If any of you ever get a chance to participate (whether you’re an actor or not), do it! If all else fails, you can just yell the lines using your best Sarah Palin accent.
by Anika Larsen
Last week, Jaradoa hosted its first ever Radio Playaz ‘Sup Party!
What in tarnation is that, you ask?
Well, Radio Playaz are our most faithful Jaradoa Radio Theater volunteers, the folks we can rely on to be there to perform for the old folks, to listen to and love on the elderly, to get their intergenerational relationships on til the briggity break o’ dawn.
But still, you may ask, what in heckfire is a ‘Sup Party?
That’s a “Script Unveiling Pizza & beer” Party. (Do you like how “Pizza and beer” all squeezes into the “P” of the acronym? If linguistic gymnastics were an Olympic event, we would totally podium.) It’s a party to read the latest radio play script, the one we’re next going to be bringing to the 6 nursing homes we visit. But it’s really an excuse for us to hang with our volunteers, for us all to get the time to fraternize that we don’t have at the radio plays themselves.
We had the ‘Sup Party in a swanky Tribeca loft, generously made available to us by a friend of mine named Allen. Allen has gorgeous hardwood and leather floors, so no shoes are allowed, which means I warned people to wear nice socks, and they showed up rockin’ some beauts! Of course, there was pizza, really delicious thin crust pizza, so delicious we did not have the leftovers I was hoping to leave in the fridge as a thanks to Allen for use of his pad. And there was beer. Heinekin, which had a few takers. But far more popular was the case of Coronitas, which are adorable little 7 oz. Coronas. Put a wedge of lime in the top, and you’ve got yourself a mini-fiesta! I myself may have had five or six. Or seven–don’t judge me, they’re teeny!
Now I’m not gonna lie to ya, we didn’t actually know how the ‘Sup Party was going to turn out, because we’d never done it before. Turns out they are hecka fun! First of all, it’s a fabulous excuse to say “‘Sup” to everyone you greet there (I tried to get the doorman of the swanky Tribeca loft building to say “Sup” to all who came, but apparently he did it once to someone who didn’t get it and then he gave up).
People arrived, un-shoed, grabbed a beer and a slice and mingled. (Some folks, i.e., our Marketing Director Eric Emch, were not afraid to double fist – see the bottom photo.) It was a really diverse group of Jaradoa peeps: Members, Allies, Radio Playaz, staff and interns. Folks were having such a fun time socializing that I had to be reminded to get the actual reading of the radio play started. I passed out scripts, assigned parts, and away we went.
Radio plays work best if you make a big vocal choice, like a crazy accent or a silly voice. Daryl Ray Carliles whipped out a delightful Irish accent to play the detective, which felt appropriate considering it was the day before St. Patrick’s Day. He made it seem like the detective was after both a murderer and his Lucky Charms. Brandon Giles was brow-beaten by yours truly into doing an accent for the butler (butlers should always have accent, am I right, people?), but the only accent in his arsenal was southern, so we had an intermittently Texan butler. April Nickell was reading Announcer 2, and she ambitiously started out with a lateral lisp, but learned that they are not for the faint of heart, and abandoned it shortly thereafter.
Tommy Labanaris was incredibly, hilariously earnest as the leading man, and showed us all that if cold reading were an Olympic event, he would totally podium. Stephanie Martinez was more masculine than any of us would ever have imagined possible as the dead man’s brother. And Patryce Williams was the sassiest secretary I’ve ever known – until she got killed.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the evening was the music. When we got to the places in the script that called for a song, we played our beer bottles. And friends, Coronitas make sweet, sweet music, no matter how much beer might be in them.
What did we learn from this day? We learned that we should drink beer before every radio play, even the real ones in front of audiences. We’re a lot funnier Radio Playaz after a Coronita or seven.
Play Club is Jaradoa Theater’s monthly gathering to… you guessed it: read a play. Aloud. Together. Afterward, we discuss its themes, virtues, merits and problems. Sometimes the plays are old, sometimes the plays are new. Sometimes we are graced by the presence of the playwright, who might even want your feedback. But there is always, always good company and plenty of fun to be had.
Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Come to Play Club:
1. You’re a playwright who needs to hear this draft read aloud before you can move on in your process.
2. You’ve always wanted to read the role of Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, but you’re only 22. And you’re a dude.
3. You’re an aficionado of the classics, and just love to hear the words spoken aloud.
4. You love to be part of the growth of young scribes and help shepherd clear new voices onto the American stage.
5. You’re a non-actor who likes to act with actors.
6. You’ve been meaning to read that play for [fill-in-the-blank] years, but just haven’t made time to sit down and do it.
7. You’re sure this role is perfect for you, and want to deepen your understanding of it by reading the play with a group of talented actors.
8. You want to share your favorite play with an open-minded, appreciative group.
9. You have a play you think Jaradoa might be interested in producing.
10. You like to snack and drink wine.
Sound like you? Then email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to attend or you have an idea for what we should read next. See you at Play Club!
• Jaradoa Radio Theater •
Come perform for, chat with, and love on some old folks!
– Thursday, June 11th from 1:30-3:00 – Brooklyn
– Wednesday, June 24th from 1:30-3:00 – Astoria
– Wednesday, July 15th from 1:30-3:00 – Washington Heights
– Saturday, July 25th from 1:00-2:30 – Midtown
• Play On! •
Our playwriting and acting course for kids!
– At an afterschool program in the Bronx:
May 5, 14, 21, 28 and June 4 from 4:00-5:30.
• Shafrika, The White Girl •
Our next production will rehearse in May and run in June, and we’ll need volunteers for load in and load out, ushering, running crew, board ops, and much more! If you’re interested in helping out on the production in some way, drop us a line at email@example.com!
• Play Club •
Once a month, we read a play together. Just for fun!
May 20, 5:00-7:00; June 17, 5:00-7:00; July 22, 5:00-7:00
Want to get involved in March, April or May?
If you’d like to participate in or learn more about any of this stuff, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Jaradoa Radio Theater – Come perform for, chat with, and love on some old folks!
– Tuesday, April 7, 1:30-3:00 in Washington Heights
– Saturday, April 25, 1:00-2:30 in midtown
• Play On! – Our playwriting and acting course for kids at an afterschool program in the Bronx.
April 7, 9, 23, or 28; May 14, 21, or 28; 4:00-5:30.
• Scene Study Classes – Tuesdays from 7:00-9:30, February 10 – March 24.
$15 per class. Next round starts April 7th.
• Play Club – Once a month, we read a play together. Just for fun!
March 18, 4:00-7:00; April 15, 5:00-7:00; May 20, 5:00-7:00.
•Shafrika, The White Girl, our next production, will rehearse in May and run in June. We’ll need volunteers for load in and load out, ushering, running crew, board ops, and much more! If you’re interested in helping out on the production in some way, drop us a line at email@example.com