Bronx Talent Show: Young People

Come Together to Perform and Grow!


At the Evander Childs High School on Gun Hill Rd., the music was loud; the young performers were beautiful; the show was a tremendous success. 394 people filled the house as the 252 youth performers shined at the June 10th Bronx talent show sponsored by the All Stars Talent Show Network. Thank you to the 72 volunteers who worked a long day and to the community members who spent their Saturday afternoon supporting the youth. All Stars Project co-founder Dr. Lenora Fulani and All Stars Project President and CEO Gabrielle Kurlander were in the house cheering on the performers as were many long-time All Stars donors who arrived with the “Back-to-School” contingent (photos below!). Congratulations to Jamel Thigpen and his production team on a great event.


 

2017 Otto René Castillo 

Awards 

for Political Theatre 
Celebrated

The 2017 Otto Awards were celebrated at Castillo Theatre this past Sunday, May 21. The honorees were::

Catherine Filloux is an award-winning playwright addressing human rights and social justice for over twenty years. Filloux’s more than twenty plays have been produced in New York and around the world, and she has written the librettos for several operas. She has received numerous awards and grants for her playwriting and developed the Oral History Project A Circle of Grace with the Cambodian Women's Group at St. Rita’s Refugee Center in Bronx, NY. She has provided French-English translations for various theater companies and periodicals. Filloux is a co-founder of Theatre Without Borders and has served as a speaker for playwriting and human rights organizations around the world.

Robey Theatre Company was founded in 1994 to fill a void of opportunity for Black theatre artists. Their mission is, through the creative process, to explore and develop relevant, provocative, and innovative new plays written about the Black experience, as well as to reinterpret established works. Robey creates a nourishing environment of understanding and support in which multi-cultural theatre artists are compelled to take risks in the search for artistic fulfillment. It provides time, educational opportunities, and encouragement for such growth and contributes to high standards of excellence in the Black theatre in America.

Favianna Rodriguez is an interdisciplinary artist, cultural strategist, and organizer based in Oakland, California. Favianna lectures globally on the intersection of art, social justice and cultural equity to catalyze social change, and leads art interventions in communities around the country. Rodriguez collaborates with social movement groups around the country to co-create art that’s resilient, empowering and transformative. She is the executive director of CultureStrike, a national arts organization that engages artists, writers and performers in migrant rights. In 2012, she was featured in a documentary series by Pharrell Williams titled “Migration is Beautiful”. In 2009, she co-founded Presente.org, a national online organizing network dedicated to the political empowerment of Latino communities.



Special Guests in the House for “Adam”

On March 4th, the audience for the New Federal Theatre/Castillo Theatre co-production of “Adam” included two special guests, former U.S. representative Charles Rangel and former New York City mayor David Dinkins. Pictured above (left to right) are All Stars Project president and CEO Gabrielle L. Kurlander, Mr. Rangel, Tim Simonson who performed Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in the one-man show, Mr. Dinkins, Woodie King, Jr., the founder and producing director of the New Federal Theatre, and All Stars co-founder Dr. Lenora B. Fulani. Photo: J. Spirito


All Stars Talent Show Network

on the Corner Still-- in the Bronx!

Throughout this spring, All Stars volunteers have been hitting the streets in the Bronx every Saturday, meeting young people and their families, inviting them to be a part of the spring All Stars Talent Show cycle. Pictured in the slideshow above is the May 1st outreach across from Yankee Stadium performed by All Stars staff members Dwight Atteberry and Michael Dockery,  Talented Volunteers Andy Moss, Harlette Deree, Nicole Brown, Natalie Liff, George “Lyric” Pedraza, Milca Jurado, Arlie Bonilla, and Pauleshia Hewett— and longtime ASP community leader and builder Sandy Friedman.
 
There were conversations with hundreds of community members and 59 young people registered for the talent show cycle. Says All Stars leader Jamel Thigpen, "Saturday was such a joyous day for all of us on the streets— a great day as we braved the winds and performed our way into the hearts and minds of those we encountered.”
For more information about the upcoming ASTSN audition on April 29th, call Jamel Thigpen at 212 356-8447.

All Stars Project Co-Founder

Dr. Lenora Fulani Honored in NY Times

The All Stars Project is pleased to announce that co-founder Dr. Lenora Fulani has been highlighted as a “New Yorker making a difference” by the New York Times.
The New York Today column, as part of their New Yorker of the Year contest, invited NYC residents to nominate anyone they believe has “shaped our city over the past 12 months in some way, big or small.” Nominated by long-time All Stars volunteer and member of the Castillo Theatre ensemble, Marian Rich, Dr. Fulani is being recognized for her work with Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids, the award-winning police-community relations program featured in today's column by New York Today writer Alexandra S. Levine.
To read the full piece, click herePhoto: Karsten Moran for the New York Times



Operation Conversation: Cops and Kids

Workshop Held at NYPD Police Academy

On March 22, 2017 a Demonstration Workshop of Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids was held at the New York City Police Department Academy in College Point Queens. The highly successful workshop was attended by 300 police officers and 230 New York City residents from across the 5 boroughs. Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill and All Stars Co-Founder Dr. Lenora Fulani spoke.

Operation Conversation: "Cops & Kids" is an innovative police-community relations model program run by the All Stars Project in partnership with the New York City Police Department. The program uses performance, improvisation and conversation to help inner-city teenagers and police officers develop a positive relationship. Photos by Ron Glassman


Castillo Member of the Month

March 2017: Karen Riedel

Meet Karen Riedel, retired Director of the Speech-Language Pathology Department at Rusk Rehabilitation, NYU School of Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center and still an adjunct professor at NYU. Karen was looking for interesting volunteer opportunities and came across the All Stars through the Volunteer Referral Center about two years ago. She has been volunteering and supporting Castillo financially ever since. Along with being a member of the theatre, Karen is a key member of the UX phone team and Castillo house staff.

In 2015, Karen was struck by a play reading presented at Castillo through the Mario Fratti-Fred Newman Political Play Contest, Irreversible by Jack Kemp. The drama is based on the Oppenheimer brothers and the creation of the atomic bomb. "Castillo does historical plays based on real historical events...I often see a play here and then go online to research more. I try to see all of the productions, such as Castillo's production of Emmett, Down in My Heart and New Federal Theatre's production, ADAM. Castillo fills a gap in the New York theatre community which doesn't adequately address historical events like the African-American component of American history." Karen grew up in Ohio and was introduced to theatre through a college production. "The broader American cultural scene is under-appreciated. Most of us are introduced to theatre through community theatre and it's really important. Right here in New York -- the center of American theatre -- Castillo is a different kind of animal and it's making a difference."

"There is opportunity here for people who are interested in performing and don't have an acting bio. That's not possible elsewhere in the New York theatre scene. Community theatre is so important and Castillo is community theatre.  I want to be generous to this culture, it's my community."



 

Castillo Theatre Member of the Month

January 2017: Laurie Prose

Introduced to the All Stars Project in 2015 through Idealist.org, Laurie first worked on the Operation Conversation: Cops & Kids workshop at the Apollo Theatre. She then started volunteering with the Castillo Theatre and has become a key member of the theatre's production team. This past fall, she became a Castillo Theatre member as well! 

Long interested in production and theatre, but with no hands-on experience, Laurie says "I feel an affinity to political theatre. I like Castillo's philosophy, how they give everyone an opportunity to do something different. Anybody can perform and play different roles: sales, production, house staff, behind the scenes; all aspects are available for people to try. It's a beautiful thing."

"As part of Castillo, I not only have a chance to develop and grow but also give others a chance to develop and grow. It's also important to know that there is a place where people of different ages, races and cultural backgrounds can come together in harmony for the common good. In our world, there is too much focus on our differences. It's nice be in an environment that brings people together. 

“Producing political theatre at Castillo and volunteering at the All Stars Project, is tremendously rewarding. I have a lot of appreciation and gratitude for the Castillo Theatre, and all of the new opportunities it has given me."


City-Wide All Stars Talent Show at

St. Francis de Sales School in Brooklyn

29 acts, with over 200 young people ages 5 to 25, performed this past November 12. The All Stars Talent Show Network, founded in the early 1980’s, is one of the longest-running shows in New York. Every act received enthusiastic applause and loud congratulations from the audience of 500. For information about upcoming All Stars Talent Show Network events, contact Jamel Thigpen at 212 356-8447 or email Jamel at jthigpen@allstars.org.


Dan Friedman's "Ain't Never Been Easy"

Plays to Full Houses at Castillo

Directed by Allie Woods, the production featured Ashleigh Awusie, Jamar Brathwaite, Lisa Campbell, Kendra Holloway, Cassagnol Leonidas, Jr., Zac Pierce-Messick, Justin Thomas and Michele Q. Williams. The design team: Kerry Gibbons, David Levitt, KJ Kim, Bill Toles, David Belmont and Michael Walsh. Lindsay Bleile stage managed.  The show ran from October  21 through November 20, 2016 and the houses were packed!


2016 Otto René Castillo Awards

for Political Theatre Celebrated

The 18th annual Otto René Castillo Awards for Political Theatre were presented to Kia Corthron, an African American playwright, activist, television writer and novelist. Her work has been commissioned and performed across the U.S. and United Kingdom, and explores a wide range of themes including land mines, female gangs, capital punishment, youth violence and disability; Emily Mann, a multi-award winning playwright and director, and the artistic director of the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J. She has produced works on African-American themes, as well as the impact of war, identity, justice and inequality in society; The Theater Offensive, a Boston-based theater company whose mission is to present the diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lives in art. They bring shows, events and gatherings to local organizations, schools and the streets to support a diverse, inclusive queer-positive presence in Boston; and Teatro La Candelaria, founded in 1966 by a group of independent artists and intellectuals from the nascent independent experimental theater and cultural movement in Bogotá, Colombia. They have been a voice of opposition to authoritarian power, and its subsequent violence and repression, for several generations.

 


All Stars Bowl-a-thon 2016

Once again, All Stars volunteers and supporters came out to raise money for our young people and their communities-- and to have a great time doing it! Strikes, spares and gutter-balls were all applauded and fundraising goals were met. Bowl-a-thon 2017 is coming of course next summer and it is not too early to start putting together your team. Details to follow!


Munich-New York Collaboration

"Even Under Bitterness" at Castillo

The warmly political and always moving poems of Otto René Castillo, the Guatemalan poet and revolutionary, were passionately performed by the talented cast of Madelyn Chapman, Gabi Heller and Olivia Luna in Even Under Bitterness, a multi-media collaboration between the Castillo Theatre and Munich-based director Hans Melzer. The actors were joined onstage by musicians Michael Arman, David Belmont and Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi. This, the American premiere, was performed at Castillo May 6 – 15, 2016. 

Read the New York Theatre Wire review by Beate Hein Bennett here.




NFT Alum Washington Applauds Baraka's

"Most Dangerous Man" at Castillo


It was the closing weekend of a sold-out run of Most Dangerous Man in America (W.E.B. DuBois) , the powerful play about the final years of the activist and scholar W.E.B. DuBois, a New Federal Theatre production in association with the Castillo Theatre. Among the audience was Denzel Washington, a New Federal Theatre alumnus and long-time friend of NFT's Producing Director Woodie King, Jr. After the performance, actors Art McFarland and Petronia Paley were joined by Mr. Washington, flanked by All Stars founder Dr. Lenora Fulani, Castillo Artistic Director Dan Friedman and All Stars New York Director of Programs Diane Stiles.


 

2015 All Stars Talented Volunteers

Bowlathon Exceeds Goals!

The annual Bowlathon was a beautiful mix of All Stars youth leaders, donors, friends, and family. Volunteers collectively raised $21,671 for All Stars Project youth programs-- and checks are still coming in! A great time was had.  Thanks again to everyone who made this event such a success!


 

 

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS

COMMUNITY MEETING

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Artistic Director Dan Friedman to Teach

Performance Activism at Harvard

Dr. Dan Friedman, the artistic director of the Castillo Theatre and associate dean of UX, has been appointed a Visiting Lecturer on Theatre, Dance & Media at Harvard University.  In his Fall 2017 course entitled “Performance Activism,” Dan will explore with his students the growing international movement that uses performance to engage social problems, activate communities, and experiment with new social and political possibilities.  The course will include the activities of the Castillo Theatre, the youth and adult programs of the All Stars Project, along with the work of the East Side Institute.

“It’s a great opportunity to share our work, our methodology, our discoveries and those of our colleagues and friends around the world with students at Harvard,” said Friedman, pictured above left with Allie Woods who directed Dan's play Ain't Never Been Easy last fall at Castillo. Dr. Friedman will commute to Cambridge weekly while continuing to shoulder all his many responsibilities here in New York. Photo: J. Spirito


Talented Volunteer of the Month

March 2017: Gediminas Ivanauskas

Gediminas was introduced to the All Stars by the Volunteer Referral Center in January. He has been a key member of the House Staff since then, working several shows each week during the run of Adam. As well, he has supported multiple phone shifts, been on staff for the Cops and Kids Demonstration Workshop, helped produce a Youth Host training for the upcoming gala, and is now excited to begin volunteering with the DSY Program.
 
Gediminas has been inspired by the All Stars' approach of development through performance. His experience with theatre in his home country of Lithuania has helped him understand the impact that theatre can have. He also appreciates the way programs like Cops and Kids and DSY help youth and communities.
 
“Gediminas has been a great addition to the All Stars. His first time volunteering with us was the opening night of Adam and he was immediately asked to be an usher. Although he later admitted to being extremely nervous ushering for the first time, Gediminas stepped up and performed his assigned role with the poise of a seasoned veteran. From that day forth he has been a consistent presence here at the All Stars, and has taken on every new assignment with the same calmness, smile and attention to detail that he showed on that first night.”  - Rob Mowring, Program Leader, Volunteerism 


 

Diane Stiles Among Trailblazing Women

Honored in Theatre Awards Event

Diane Stiles, All Stars Project VP of New York Programs, (above at right) was honored alongside (left to right in back row) Marjorie Moon of the Billie Holiday Theatre, Shay Wafer of 651 Arts, Ellie Covan of Dixon Place, Vivian Deangelo of IATI Theater, and Linda Herring of the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, at the 2nd Annual Evening in Appreciation of Trailblazing Women in the Arts this past Sunday, January 29. The event was organized by Rhythmcolor Associates and the Potpourri World Women Works Series, Kim Weston-Smith (above front and center) producing artistic director. Castillo members, below, turned out in support!

Ms Stiles was introduced by Grace Jones, president of AUDELCO. Here is Diane's acceptance statement: 

It's an honor to be here tonight. My thanks to Kim Weston-Moran and Rhythm Color Associates. It's humbling to be in the company of such trailblazing women as Shay, Linda, Ellie, Vivian and the esteemed Marjorie Moon. Congratulation to all of my co-honorees - for this recognition, and on your wonderful work and leaderships in our field.

At a moment when inclusion is such a dire issue, I appreciate that the cultural institutions we represent are multi-cultural, inclusive, experimental, nurture artists and creativity, as well as nurturing new audiences. I am so proud to be in this company tonight, as we continue to create theatre, our country and our world together.

As Grace said, what attracted me to Castillo was its activism, its commitment to the poor and dedication to building community. When I began volunteering at Castillo over 30 years ago, I'd never have imagined that I'd be here tonight -- or that I'd have the privilege of working side by side with the most talented organizer I've ever met, our late artistic director, Fred Newman ... and now with our current artistic director, the indefatigable Dan Friedman.

I'm proud that Castillo's community includes so many dedicated theatre artists and theatre companies. It is a great joy that we now share our 42nd Street center with the Great Connector: Woodie King, Jr., and his New Federal Theatre. At the Castillo Theatre and our parent nonprofit, the All Stars Project, I am in the company of strong, dynamic women leadership in the president and CEO, Gabrielle Kurlander, and co-founder Dr. Lenora Fulani. These women guide and support me - and so many others. I am inspired every single day by the longtime builders of Castillo and by our volunteers who make Castillo their own. I especially want to thank all of the Smiling Castillo People who are here tonight. Thank you! 


 


Talented Volunteer of the Month

January 2017: Gab Magallanes

Since July of last year, when she was introduced to the All Stars by her friend and current Talented Volunteer, Miko DiGiacomo-Castillo, Gab has been a dedicated member of the Theatre Sales and Fundraising Team. She staffed the Performing the World 2016 conference, assisted with DSY events, performed House Staff for 4 theatre productions— and is excited to continue doing so with Adam when it opens February 9th— and she provides support to the Volunteer Department itself. 

Gab has been inspired by the All Stars' approach of development through performance. In her time with the All Stars, she has seen herself grow more comfortable speaking to new people and building relationships with the community. Her growth combined with the impact she sees the All Stars having on the lives of youth and poor communities has reaffirmed her career aspirations. Currently a sophomore at St. John's University, majoring in Economics and Government Politics, she plans to continue to law school, pursuing a career as a public defense attorney and eventual judge, so that she can continue making change in the lives of minorities and poor people. 


 

UX Opening Day 2017

MLK Day Celebrated as New Term Kicked Off at UX Opening Day January 2017

Incoming students of all ages and backgrounds were welcomed to the All Stars Project’s 42nd Street education and performance center by UX Dean Dr. Lenora B. Fulani. 249 people participated. Students came to learn about the winter-spring offerings of free classes, workshops and outings, all designed to help people grow and develop. It is not too late to sign up! Call Alexandra Brown at 212-356-8458 or email her at abrown@allstars.org for more information.   Photos by Jorge Bolano



Sold out Run for “Zora Neale Hurston”

Laurence Holder's dramatic biographical play, directed by Woodie King Jr., played to full and enthusiastic audiences throughout its fall run. The production, by the New Federal Theatre in association with Castillo, chronicled Hurston’s extraordinary life. A brilliant and independent woman from an all-Black Florida township, she became one of the most prolific African American writers of the 20's and 30’s, known as "The Queen of the Harlem Renaissance." She was a controversial individual whose strong opinions both angered and inspired her contemporaries and later generations of young Black writers.

Holder's play is set in Eatonville, Florida as a 70-year old looks back on her extraordinary life. The Harlem Renaissance and the  jazz age, Jim Crow and white liberal "sponsors"... the play revisits the music, the people, and most importantly the politics that shaped America then and now.

In the words of reviewer Constance Rodgers, "Zora Neale Hurston was authentic and beautiful. Elizabeth Van Dyke as Zora Neale Hurston is authentic and beautiful. Van Dyke inhabits Hurston in all her personas. When Van Dyke tells a story, a folktale, she becomes Zora. You feel you are at the party watching and listening to Hurston become all the characters in the tale; man, woman, God, the devil. Van Dyke also shows us Zora’s vulnerability, her intelligence and her joy."

Read the full review here.

On January 27, 2017 the play will be presented at The Zora Neale Hurston Festival in Orlando, Florida.



Performing Fred Newman:

Scenes, Songs, and Of Course, Waffles

The 5th annual celebration of the life and work of Castillo's late founder and long time artistic director Fred Newman was held at the theatre Friday June 10th. Scenes from Newman plays were performed by ensembles cast on the spot; songs from Newman/Roboff musicals were sung; waffles were prepared and served by Castillo's associate managing director John Rankin III and his fabulous team of volunteer cooks.


 

"Votes" Extended Through May 22!

Votes questions the nature of feminism, of power and of the political game itself.  By turns dramatic and comedic, Votes draws on a 1999 musical The Last Temptation of William Jefferson, written in the wake of the infamous Monica Lewinsky scandal by Castillo’s late artistic director, Fred Newman and Grammy-nominated composer Annie Roboff. Seventeen years later, Jacqueline S. Salit takes Temptation and wraps a new story around it, examining the political and personal conflicts of the famous First Couple.  

Given the strong audience response, the show's run has been extended through May 22, 2016.

Take a look at this review... and this one... and this one...

 



2015 Otto René Castillo Awards for

Political Theatre Celebrated May 17th

The 17th annual Otto René Castillo Awards for Political Theatre were celebrated at the Castillo Theatre on May 17, honoring the awardees...

Bond Street Theatre has been creating innovative theatre works that cross cultural borders and illuminate social issues since 1976. Their goal is to promote peace and understanding by collaborating with theatre artists worldwide and initiating community-based arts projects. Bond Street explores the relevance of the arts in areas of conflict and poverty, with a special focus on refugees, women and youth, and advocates for artists as powerful spokespersons for their communities. The company has created theatre projects for conflict resolution, healing and empowerment in more than 30 counties worldwide, with current projects in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Kenya.

Michael Rohd is founding artistic director of the award-winning national ensemble-based Sojourn Theatre. He devises, directs and collaborates on cross-sector projects around the nation, is on faculty at Northwestern University, wrote the widely translated book Theatre for Community, Conflict, and Dialogue, and leads the Center for Performance and Civic Practice

Carlton and Maurice Turner together founded M.U.G.A.B.E.E. (Men Under Guidance Acting Before Early Extinction) in the late 1990s, a flexible ensemble focused on collaborative creation in communities. Based in Mississippi, the Turner brothers are artists, arts educators and cultural organizers who use the performing arts to help young people empower themselves and facilitate conversations about the role of art and culture in the broader struggles of our society.


 

 

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at Castillo

for Most Dangerous Man in America

(June 13, 2015) From left to right, actors Art McFarland and Petronia Paley, Mayor Baraka, director Woodie King, Jr., and Diane Stiles of Castillo Theatre. Most Dangerous Man in America (W.E.B DuBois) continues to draw full houses and rave reviews from audience members and critics alike.





Castillo House Staff: A Proud Performance!


The house staff volunteers of the Castillo Theatre handled the sell-out crowds of our most recent show in stride, continuing to live up to their reputation as being of "the highest caliber I have experienced at any theater-- including Broadway theater" (Review by G.S. Bowen of Manhattan Neighborhood Network). Pictured left to right on the closing weekend of Most Dangerous Man in America (W.E.B. DuBois) are Janetta King, Tanya Rosado, Sarah Goode, Faith Vann, Betsy Cruz, Bernadene Weekes, Jorge Bolano, Jennifer Engstler, James Dickson and Dianne Finn.