Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ars Nova and Women's Project Theater Present "Sundown, Yellow Moon" by Rachel Bonds - Through April 1st

Ars Nova and WP Theater present
Sundown, Yellow Moon
A nighttime play with songs by RACHEL BONDS
Music & Lyrics by THE BENGSONS
Additional Lyrics by RACHEL BONDS
@ the McGinn/Cazale Theater (Bway btw. 76th & 77th St.)
Now thru April 1.

You would be hard pressed to find a more satisfying theatrical experience than the one being offered by the current Ars Nova/WP Theater production of "Sundown, Yellow Moon" by Rachel Bonds. Described as a "nighttime play with songs," this drama follows the crepuscular activities of a divorced father, his two grown daughters, and various other individuals with whose lives they intersect. Each character in this quietly beautiful play is broken in some way, and has a song or a poem just busting to get out. These flawed individuals, in their brokenness, lean on one another to get through the night and into a new day.

The ensemble is top notch from top to bottom. Eboni Booth is Joey, Lilli Cooper is her sister, Ray, and Peter Friedman is their father, Tom, who is recovering from losing a wife and a job. Carver (JD Taylor) visits Tom to offer anger management coaching, but he brings his own baggage that relates to issues of abuse earlier in his life. He and Tom run into a snag in their relationship, and Carver withdraws into himself until he is coaxed by Ray to pick up a guitar and reprise a song he wrote and sang years ago at a prom. He comes to life as he gives himself permission first to touch the instrument, and then to allow the music that he and it produce together to touch him. A continuing motif in this play is the healing and saving power of music, a gentle balm amidst a variety of seeping wounds. The Bengsons have written original songs for this play that shape the action, the mood, and the characters.

Greg Keller portrays Ted Driscoll, a married minor poet with writer's block who stirs emotions within Joey that neither of them know how to handle. She is not sure she should go to Berlin to pursue the Fulbright Scholarship she has earned. Her frustrating friendship with Ted leads to a crisis which Carver is able to help to ameliorate. Michael Pemberton and Anne L. Nathan round out this fine cast as supportive friends of Tom.

Annie L. Nathan as Jean
Michael Pemberton as Bobby/DJ
Eboni Booth as Joey
Peter Friedman as Tom
Lilli Cooper as Ray
"Sundown, Yellow Moon" by Rachel Bonds
Ars Nova/WP Theater
Through April 1st
Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Another theme is an almost Chekhovian failure to connect by people who are trying to show that they care for each other. "I am worried about you" is a phrase that echoes from daughter to father and back again. Physical touch is often awkward, tentative and misunderstood. Much that is communicated is communicated in silence and pregnant pauses. This is a gently told tale of flawed human beings trying to get by and to help one another as best they can.

The ensemble are artfully directed by Anne Kauffman. She orchestrates the interactions among the characters like a conductor leading an exquisite chamber orchestra. The rustic set is designed by Lauren Helpern, Lighting by Isabella Byrd and Matty Frey, Costumes by Jessica Pabst, and Sound by Leah Gelpe.

The sun will set on this production on April 1st. No fooling! You do not want to miss this deeply satisfying play.

Ars Nova Website



"The Talent Code" by Daniel Coyle - Greatness Isn't Born; It's Grown

This brilliantly written book is one of the most impactful I have read this year. Author Daniel Coyle has done an outstanding job of taking research into myelin, a substance that insulates nerve cells, and turning that scientific breakthrough knowledge into a prescription for achieving greatness in a variety of fields, from music to athletics to business.

Using powerful case studies, Coyle has identified three distinct key elements that determine how individuals achieve greatness: Deep Practice, Ignition, and Master Coaching.

Deep Practice involves short burst of energy - perfecting, identifying errors, repeating. Each time an individual - violinist, tennis player, soccer player - engages in this kind of Deep Practice, the nervous system generates new layers of myelin to further insulate and streamline the flow of electrical energy within neural synapses.

In order for an individual to have the motivation, persistence, and determination to engage in this level of Deep Practice, there needs to have been an Ignition event. In the case of Korean women who now dominate the LPGA, the igniting event was Se Ri Pak winning the McDonald's LPGA Championship in 1998, and becoming a visible symbol and role model for young Korean girls. Five years later - enough time for Deep Practice to have made a significant difference - Korean women began to dominate women's golf.

The third key element is Master Coaching.. Mr. Coyle calls these master teachers "The Talent Whisperers." Common traits are patience, nurturing spirit and the ability to use years of observation and pattern recognition to know just the right word to say to encourage and motivate the person being coached. IConic UCLA coach John Wooden is cited as a prototype for this kind of Master Coach.

The implications of these three key elements that lead to greatness are far reaching. They can be applied to the realm of parenting, teaching, coaching, and business leadership. This is a MUST READ book for anyone who aspires to greatness or to lead others in achieving greatness.