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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.

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Let me come right out and say that possibly the most excited I have been all year was when I was nominated captain of Jaradoa’s bowling team. I quickly grabbed the nickname “Thunder Strike” and the rest is history.

One of the other sides of this pretty sweet theater company I take part in is teaching our Play On! program at MS 22 in the Bronx. It’s job 10 out of 12 for me… yes, all exaggerations aside, I have 12 jobs at any given time. Anything from organizing and running little Sally’s horse-themed birthday party (with real live plastic horses!), to working for the U.S. Census Bureau, to teaching English to Japanese people via skype, I have a wide spectrum of employment at any given moment.

But still, I don’t really think I could ever be a full-time teacher. It’s hard, reaaaalllyyyy hard, but with MS 22, we just go in two days a week and help 6th, 7th and 8th graders conquer their fears of writing a play and acting. We explore different and more theatrical ways to listen and respond to texts and I think most importantly, we give them a truly safe environment to be creative, where our #1 rule is to never, ever laugh at anyone’s ideas.

Middle school kids are tough. You have to earn their trust, and they may resist you for weeks, but the second you are “in” with them, you’re in for life. These kids have tremendous stories, and without a program like this, how else would they get to tell them?

Find out how performers like you have turned their talents into service
with Jaradoa Theater! Check out this self-proclaimed hilarious video to find out what it means to be a  Guest Artist with our Play On! program.
Warning: this video may or may not contain chicken wings.

But what is Play On!, you might ask?
Play On! is a Jaradoa program that uses theater to teach literacy by turning classrooms into theater companies where students become actors and playwrights.

And how does this pertain to you?
One of Jaradoa’s goals is to help artists serve their community by using the theater skills they possess.  So if you’re a performer, you can come act or sing for 6th-8th graders, help them grow as people, and help them read and write better at the same time!

And what does a Guest Artist do?
Guest Artists present a song or monologue to a class which is analyzed and unpacked by students to improve their reading comprehension skills.  Then the Guest Artist helps out with the rest of the session, following the main instructor’s lead, which generally includes improv, games, and cold readings or small group discussions of students’ plays in progress.

So, you wanna come play with us?

We are currently recruiting artists for

Middle School 22 from Feb 9 – Mar 12th. If you can’t do these dates but want to be a Guest Artist in  April or May, let us know!

Email Anika, our volunteer coordinator, at info@jaradoatheater.org

And hey, if you think you’re interested, but you’re a little nervous or unsure what would be expected of you, just ask!  Lots of folks have volunteered with us and would be happy to share their experience with you.

www.jaradoatheater.org

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 info@jaradoatheater.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 info@jaradoatheater.org

www.jaradoatheater.org

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