Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I'm Back on Stage this Sunday, Sunday, June 29th: Rockaway Theatre Company Prepares for Rockaway Arts Festival to celebrate the reopening of Fort Tilden

Rockaway really does rock. With Patti Smith being a resident and bringing a celebrity crowd along with her, the opening this Sunday of Rockaway! at Fort Tilden is an exciting event for us all. The RTC is getting a performance ready, including the dance number from How to Succeed.. I was in. I was at the rehearsal last night and not only did I forget the steps but I am truly out of shape. And so many of the guys who did "Brotherhood of Man" with us in March cannot make it. So that means we are using a reduced group and I can no longer hide. Here is a report from one of my fellow cast member, Roger Gonzalez, who puts out a great newsletter/website called LocalTheatreNYC.

Rockaway Theatre Company Prepares for Rockaway Arts Festival to celebrate the reopening of Fort Tilden

As rehearsals continue for the July 18 opening the classic musical "Gypsy" and The Rockaway Theatre Company begins rehearsals for "Godspell" (opening in September), the announcement that a free public arts festival coming Sunday, June 29th, has set in motion yet another unexpected flurry of rehearsals for a special presentation by RTC which will be offered free to the public at the Post Theater (in Fort Tilden) during the fair.

The free variety show of sorts will feature several numbers from past and upcoming shows in effect serve as a teaser and open-invite to the large crowds expected at the fort this Sunday. Both the company and the fort are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy and very much in come-back mode.

About the Fair

Rockaway!, a free public arts festival sponsored by the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC) to celebrate the reopening of Fort Tilden and recognize the ongoing recovery of the Rockaway peninsula, opens June 29 and continues through September 1, 2014.

Invited by the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA), an association of artists based in and around the Rockaways, and the JBRPC, MoMA PS1 has assisted and supported the conception of this festival. Hosted by the National Park Service (NPS), which owns and manages Fort Tilden, Rockaway! showcases the natural and historical beauty of Fort Tilden, in which RAA has had a public gallery for the past 19 years.

Rockaway! was conceived by MoMA PS1's Director, Klaus Biesenbach, in close collaberation with Patti Smith. Featuring solo projects by Patti Smith, Adrian Villar Rojas, and Janet Cardiff as well as an international group show, there will be an additional group show in the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, organized in collaboration with the Honolulu Biennial.

History of the Collaboration
MoMA PS1's collaboration with RAA and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) began with the VW Dome 2, a temporary cultural and community center the museum constructed on Beach 95th Street in Rockaway Beach following the rescue and volunteer efforts the museum organized in the Rockaways after Hurricane Sandy. Operated through June 30, 2013, the VW Dome 2 was made possible by a long-term partnership with Volkswagen of American.

The National Park Service has had a long-standing relationship with the Rockaway Artists alliance, and this summer's endeavor brings that partnership to a whole new level.

Given its work on the VW Dome 2, MoMA PS1 was in a unique position to facilitate a coordinated effort between the newly established JBRPC, a public-private partnership with NPS and DPR dedicated to improving the 10,000 acres of public parkland throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaway peninsula, and local artists and community groups in the Rockaways. Rockaway! is an encouraging example of the many collaborations that have developed through the challenging process of rebuilding the Rockaways.

The Exhibition
The acclaimed international artist, writer and musician Patti Smith - a Rockaway resident- conceived a large-scale installation, photography exhibition, and site-specific outdoor installation (The Resilience of the Dreamer) specially for Rockaway! Having witness personal belongings of Rockaway residents being destroyed and washed away during sandy, Smith will install a gilded four-post bed with pure white linens in a long-abandoned building that lacks windows and parts of its roof. The bed will wear down physically, yet remain in place, a symbol of courage and resilience.

In the RAA galleries, and exhibition of photographs taken by Smith over the last several years focuses on objects that were dear to their owners: Robert Mapplethorpe's slippers, Robert Graves's hat, Virginia Woolf's bed, Frida Kahlo's corset, and William Burroughs's bandana, among others. The adjoining gallery is dedicated to Walt Whitman and includes books of his poetry that visitors are invited to read. Smith has also placed five granite stones engrave with verses from Whitman's poetry along the trails of Fort Tilden to mark th far ends of this scenic urban park on the ocean.

In addition, the Argentenian artist Adrian Villar Rojas will present a selection of small sculptures made from unfired clay and straw, inspired by the nests of the tiny Argentenian birds known as horneros. Installed in several locations throughout Fort Tilden, these nests invite local birds to inhabit them, offering a temporary home in this beautiful and fragile environment. These nests- a number of which can be found along the impressive hills and former batteries - also highlight the military history of Fort Tilden, which was built to provice portection against a potential enemy invasion from the ocean.

Thanks to a lona from the Museum of Modern Art, Fort Tilden's military chapel - which was damaged by Sandy and is now being restored - will showcase one of the highlights from the MoMA collection: The Forty Piece Motet by Janet Cardiff, a spatialized adaptation of a sacred 16th century motet created by recording each member of a choir individually and giving each voice its own speaker.

The final component of the festival is a group exhibition organized in collaboration with the Honolulu Biennial on the grounds of the newly restored Rockaway Beach Surf Club on Beach 87th Street in Rockaway Beach. Following Hurricane Sandy, the Surf Club was one of the largest relief centers on the peninsula; their organizatino faciliated and directed over 5,000 volunteers, with major contributions from MoMA PS1. The exhbiition celebrates the efforts of hte Rockaway community of surfers and artists in rebuilding their neighborhodd.

Rockaway is presented by the Rockaway Artists Alliance and MoMA PS1, the National Park Service, the Jamaica Bay- Rockaway Parks Conservancy, the Rockaway Beach Surf Club, and the Honolulu Biennial. The event is made possible by generous support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Rockefeller Foundaiton, and The Secunda Family Foundation, with additional support provided by the Moore Charitable Foundation, National Grid and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Special thanks to Volkswagen of America for prior and current support.

Hours: Exhibits at Fort Tilden are open to the public free of charge on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, noon-6:00 p.m. The Surf Club exhibit is also open to the public free of charge Monday-Friday, noon-midnight; Saturday - Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - midnight.

The Forty Piece Motet by Janet Cardiff will be open through August 17 only.

Admission: FREE
Directions: Fort Tilden (169 State Road) is accessible by the Q22 and Q35 buses, the A train/shuttle to 116th St. and weekend ferry service on the American Princess. Parking is available at adjacent Riis Park. The Rockaway Beach Surf Club (302 Beach 87th Street) is on the A train/suttle to Beach 90th Street; bus service includes the Q22 and Q52. Parking is limited to on-street.
Website: MoMAPS!.org/rockaway1

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