June 13th, 2017 marked one year and one day since the tragic Pulse Nightclub shooting. The LPP international team did not let this time of year go unnoticed. May and June were two of the busiest month for international LPP readings. Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, a gorgeous, regional theatre company with a dedicated educational program, held an incredibly special LPP event that created a beautiful camaraderie between the participants. Their staged reading was in honor of Juan P. Rivera Velazquez.
I was at a show that night with my pop-pop (the regional premiere of Fun Home in Philadelphia, featuring my idol AEA President Kate Shindle), but Honorary LPP Team Member Liam luckily was able to attend. Liam is a GCIT School of Performing Arts 2016 alumni, and a dear friend of mine who I’ve dubbed LPP Media Correspondent. He’s working on a story about the LPP for ha new blog, so I sent him to this event to represent the LPP team. At the event, Liam had the pleasure of meeting the fabulous Kate Cordaro, Director of Education at Two River, who has been passionately planning this LPP event for months.
Here’s what Liam has relayed about the event. Time for me to be a Tectonic Theatre Company member and do some transcription work.
“So when I got there, all the chairs were set up in a circle. There was a box of plays and on each copy, a list of characters that script holder would read for. Kate mixed them all up so kids would be adults, boyts would be girls, etc., so that we go a full circular experience of different people and their character. I ended up reading as well, though I didn’t plan to (I read for four other minor characters and Doc).”
I’m so happy to hear about the truly authentic reading experience the participants at Two River had. It’s my belief that Laramie is supposed to be carried out in a truly communal and ragtag-team kind of way. The voices of Laramie should shine through the performance, and these sentiments should be communicated in such a multitude of ages and perspectives. At the McCarter Theatre reading, an older lady read the part of Doc O’Connor, a rough-and-tough limousine driver–and to be truthful, that night was the best I had heard Doc.
“At intermission we took a break, everything was so heavy. So at the end, a man was reading for Matthew’s dad, and started holding back tears. It was the ‘Matthew wasn’t alone’ part. There was not a dry eye in the spot.
Than at the end of the play, we all sat in silence for a minute.
And tok 3 collective breaths in and out as a group, like we did at the beginning.
And then we sat in silence and this man broke the silence. He started reciting a poem…We all just listened to him. It was so so powerful.
And then we all started breaking away. The group was so varied. Kate said she knew only half of them. It was incredible, a fantastic experience.”
While my heart is so happy with the LPP’s reach across the state, country, and world, I so wish that I could attend every event. My pride for Jersey theatres is shining ever bright, especially with a group as astounding as Two River joining us. I’m continually inspired by the directors of education at our LPP playhouses–thank you for spearheading this effort and bringing LPP to your communities.
Two River celebrated the life of a remarkable man who ran a hair salon with his partner Luis Daniel Conde. (Luis will be honored by Collingswood PFLAG this October.) Alta Peluqueria D’Magazine in Kissimmee was a place for laughs and smiles. Sometimes friends came just to pay a visit to Luis and Juan, not for a hair appointment.
Something I learned about Juan and Luis that struck me the most was reading about how, at their salon, they would offer free services to women who were victims of domestic violence. Alta Salon must have been such a safe haven for so many people.
I mourn the loss of these beautiful souls, and I celebrate the action taken by members of the Red Bank community.
Thank you so much to another loving group of Jersey artists, and thank you to Liam for covering this event.
LPP Team Leader Alyssa
Note: more pictures will be added to this blog as I acquire them!
This gorgeous edit…
Lifelong connections made in circles like these.
Juan, we miss you and your big heart, but your love lives on!
Luis and Daniel ❤