Sunday, August 2, 2015

JUNGLE, BAIT & REDEMPTION (Summer in Ithaca)

I continue to post cool photos and videos of my daily encounters/revelations/observations/randomities (I know, I just invented the word randomities - it means random and cool memory bites).
Let's start with Summer in Ithaca because that's where I am now but I will look in retrospect at Summer in Cleveland, Lincoln-Nebraska, and NYC cuz I have some great photos from over there and they need to find a public page. It's all about where my feet take me and what my eyes register. As I said - randomities. Enjoy. Or question. Or think. Or laugh. Or cry. Or muse. Or amuse. Whatever.
PS - the title comes from THE JUNGLE (an area where homeless people live) and this funny shop:

Hook, Line & Sinker Bait Shop - K&H Redemption Center

THE JUNGLE - Homeless people camp here
THE JUNGLE - Homeless people camp here

Saturday, March 21, 2015

World Poetry Day. NYC subway. A poet writing for change.

World Poetry Day.
NYC subway.
A poet writing poems for change.
He wrote this one
for me
(for $3):

Revisiting life
till eyes see past shame
thoughts can not rest simply on love
and pain becomes reassuring
As all the pattern of birds
Speak just as clear as words
And symmetry is the only thing
the mind will believe
Not because it is beautiful
But because it has reflected
upon both sides.

Lynn Gentry. Union Sq. About What Means to Be a Poet.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Details and Photos from our IASNY event


2. From left to righ
t: theatre critic Randy Gener, 2012 IASNY Trophy Winner Jennifer Lim, playwright Saviana Stanescu (IASNY’s Founder and Artistic Director), Lark’s artistic director John Clinton Eisner; 3. Jennifer Lim and IASNY performers; 4. Aasif Mandvi from Jon Stewart's Daily Show performing at New York with an Accent; 5. Saviana Stanescu and the IASNY Trophy - "Victory Nests in the Immigrant's Shoe", a sculpture by Stavri Karamfilov; Photos by Gabika Bočkaj

Excerpts from the speeches honoring Jennifer Lim:


"Jennifer's achievement is greater and deeper than her Broadway success. We are celebrating Jennifer because she is an incisive actor. Because she has shown full commitment to her art. Her path as an actor and an immigrant New Yorker sheds light on the shape-shifting versatility combined with spiritual depth, that exquisite intelligence that's necessary to fully embody that sense of play."


“I am John Eisner. I’m the Artistic Director of the Lark Play Development Center and a member of the IASNY Advisory Board.

IASNY – or IMMIGRANT ARTISTS AND SCHOLARS IN NEW YORK – was founded by my friend and colleague Saviana Stanescu. Its mission is to bring artists and scholars together to nurture and advocate for immigrant voices as a vital and vibrant part of the New York City community.

As a playwright as well as the creator of many of the international exchange projects at the Lark, where we work together, Saviana has helped shape the Lark’s values and exposed us to new ideas from around the world. I am grateful for this and it is why I am part of IASNY.

Under Saviana’s leadership, IASNY is having an impact in our community.

Part of IASNY’s mission is to produce the annual NEW YORK WITH AN ACCENT program that we have enjoyed today here at the Nuryorican Poets Cafe. It is part of the city’s IMMIGRANT HERITAGE WEEK 2012, which was established in 2004 by Mayer Michael Bloomberg.

Saviana will be at a breakfast reception with the Mayor this Tuesday, and I’m sure you will agree that she has a lot of good news to report about what took place today.

This year, IASNY has added a new and important program – the IASNY TROPHY FOR EXCELLENCE – to recognize an immigrant New Yorker for outstanding achievement in the arts.

I’m thrilled to announce that the first-ever IASNY TROPHY FOR EXCELLENCE will be awarded to actress JENNIFER LIM for her starring role as Xi Yan in the Broadway production of CHINGLISH by David Henry Hwang.

Jennifer, who was born in Hong Kong and is now a New Yorker, has performed in many kinds of theater in many parts of the world. Her experience as an artist with a foot in more than one culture was critical to the development of CHINGLISH in its workshops at the Lark, at the Goodman Theater, and at the Longacre Theater on Broadway.

I saw CHINGLISH at every step of its process, so I know that this is true.

This award does more than recognize Jennifer’s extraordinary contributions as an actor in New York – it also challenges her, as an immigrant and a leader, to help us see the world around us in new ways.

I would stake a very large bet that Jennifer will continue to do this.

In a New York Times profile of Jennifer in November, David Henry Hwang described Jennifer as “attractive and sexy, with the whole package necessary to do the part.” He praised her “great comic timing, determination, and fierceness.” I would also add that she is brilliantly intelligent, immensely imaginative, a great collaborator, and a truly good person.

Please join me in welcoming to the stage ACTRESS JENNIFER LIM, the recipient of the 2012 IASNY TROPHY FOR EXCELLENCE!

John Eisner handed the IASNY Trophy to Jennifer Lim at the end of an evening full of vibrant and diverse performances by outstanding IASNY members and NYC artists committed to multicultural dialogue. This annual event, curated and organized by Saviana Stanescu, embodied the vision of IASNY as a forum for the exchange of ideas, the fostering of an immigrant voice, and a showcase of the breadth of talents in New York City's (immigrant) community.

IASNY encourages the participation of all artists and scholars interested in the immigrant experience:

We welcome your DONATIONS! (they will be used to keep IASNY going and growing)

Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

You can safely DONATE HERE:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NEW YORK WITH AN ACCENT annual event Saturday at NuYo!

Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY)
and Nuyorican Poets Cafe
proudly present
an annual showcase and awards presentation
at Nuyorican Poets Café
Saturday, April 14, 3-6 pm

The 2012 IASNY Trophy for Excellence
will be awarded to actress JENNIFER LIM,
for her starring role in the Broadway production of
CHINGLISH by David Henry Hwang

Tickets: $8 online
$10, $5 (for students) – at the door

To celebrate Immigrant Heritage Week 2012 (established in 2004 by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg), IASNY will be having its annual showcase event NEW YORK WITH AN ACCENT at the storied Nuyorican Poets Café in the East Village.

Featuring performances by outstanding IASNY members and NYC artists committed to multicultural dialogue, this annual event promises to embody the vision of IASNY as a forum for the exchange of ideas, the fostering of an immigrant voice, and a showcase of the breadth of talents in New York City's (immigrant) community.

NEW YORK WITH AN ACCENT will be held Saturday, April 14, 3-6 pm at Nuyorican Poets Café, located at 236 East 3rd Street between Avenues B and C.

For the first time, IASNY has established an award to be given to an inspiring immigrant New Yorker in recognition of his/her achievements. The 2012 IASNY Trophy for Excellence will be awarded to actress JENNIFER LIM for her starring role in the Broadway production of CHINGLISH by David Henry Hwang.

The IASNY Trophy is a sculpture called "Victory Nests in the Immigrant's Shoe" made by Bulgarian-American Queens-based artist Stavri Karamfilov.

IASNY, founded by Romanian-born playwright/scholar Saviana Stanescu, is an alliance of outstanding people working in the arts and academia who are committed to support, nurture and advocate for immigrant voices as a vital and vibrant part of the New York City community.

Advisory Board: May Adrales, Marcy Arlin, Liz Bradley, John Clinton Eisner, Teresa Eyring, David Henry Hwang, Carol Martin, Joyce Maio, Jose Rivera, Richard Schechner, Aroon Shivdasani, Lisa Vogel, Zishan Ugurlu

Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. You can safely DONATE HERE:

Featured artists include (in order of appearance):

Saviana Stanescu - IASNY's Founder / Artistic Director, playwright, poet, scholar, on faculty at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts,

is best known as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart but he is also the recipient of an Obie Award for his one-man-play Sakina's Restaurant.

Bogar Alonso
hails from the Midwest and Mid-Mexico. As a mosaic writer he writes screenplays, poetry, ad copy, articles, music journalism, and clever put-downs on social media sites.

Nathan Award-winning editor, writer, critic and conceptual artist in New York City

Zishan Ugurlu
Turkish-born director, actress, artistic director of Actors Without Borders - ITONY
scholar, assistant professor at Eugene Lang College, The
New School University

Jelena Stupljanin –
Serbian-born award-winning actress, starring in the recently released movie Circus Columbia

Pia Wilson
African-American award-winning playwright, Passage Theater Play Lab, member of the 2008 Emerging Writers Group

Sanda Weigl
world-renowned singing sensation, blending Gypsy and folk music, cabaret and jazz

R. E. Toledo
writer, New York University/University of Tennessee, co-editor of I’man-hattan, NYU Spanish Creative Writing Program’s online publication

Pamela Jackson
storyteller, writer; she has performed on the stages of The Kennedy Center, La Mama Theatre, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, the A.I.R Gallery.

Ondina Frate
Actress, Atlantic Theatre Company

Christina Quintana
MFA playwright at Columbia University

Natasa Trifan
dancer/choreographer, The Natasa Trifan Performance Group,

Blagovesta Momchedjikova
Bulgarian-born New York University professor of writing, art, and the city

Jessica Litwak
playwright, drama therapist, actor, activist, teacher, Theatre Without Borders, founding member of Dream Act Union, artistic director of New Generation Theatre Ensemble.

Stavri Karamfilov
Bulgarian-born theater director, sculptor, and critic

Inma Heredia
flamenco singer, dancer, comedienne

A native of Hong Kong, Jennifer Lim now resides, works and dreams out of New York City. After graduating with a Bachelor's degree from Bristol University in the U.K., she was accepted to the prestigious Yale School of Drama, where she received her MFA in Acting. She is a "half & half" (half Chinese, half Korean) who speaks Cantonese and Mandarin fluently and, when the need arises, enough Korean to warm a plate of japchae. To broaden her international exposure and qualify for a US Artist green card, which she has now received, Jennifer Lim has taken many opportunities to work abroad over the last few years. In addition to starring in CHINGLISH, she has helped develop new works at Lark Play Development Center, Pan Asian Rep, East Coast Artists, Mabou Mines, Reverie Productions, New Dramatists, Ensemble Studio Theater, New Georges, Cherry Lane Theater, Second Generation and Ma-Yi Theater Company.

IASNY encourages the participation of all artists and scholars interested in the immigrant experience:

For more details e-mail KEN WOO at:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Thoughts for an essay

I was particularly interested in Timothy Douglas' essay and Winter Miller's response in HowlRound. For me that conversation is larger yet similar, I'd like to discuss the power of the Western white upper-middle class aesthetic paradigm and the problem (or the necessity?) of quantifying our identity - writers of all colors and ethnic backgrounds, immigrant and international writers as well - in order to fit in a little specific box in American theatres' programming.

Of course I'll be bringing my own Romanian experience into this, but my hope is to trigger a larger conversation about the global village, about "branding" someone's work and ways in which the stories we are told and we tell shape us and our careers as playwrights. I would ultimately like to touch on issues of power, decision-making, and Western cultural standards, as well as the seductive power of the English language (my own journey being one of struggling to fully conquer the English language and write my stories in English in order to reach a wider audience... and that's really not easy when you come to this country a decade ago, in your early 30s, and begin writing your plays in English... this might lead to the issue of agism in American theatre and the paradox that I am only a 10-year old American "girl" playwright but a middle-aged woman in the eyes of artistic directors :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Year of the Dragon

I-Ching’s good advice: CENTERING IN TRUTH

Truth involves establishing an aware relationship between your inner core and significant others in your life. Centering in truth involves the ability to perceive a fundamental wisdom, reflected within yourself -- and also in your relationships.

Truth is transformed into power when you disperse all prejudice and make yourself receptive to the world as it really is. Truth's power can be a remarkable force indeed -- yet is rarer than generally imagined. It can be maintained only by cultivating a genuine openness to things as they are -- a willingness to see, rather than merely look.

Whenever your inner life is clouded, your influence in the world is under a shadow. If you are fearful, you will be attacked; if you cloak genuine mysteries in dogma, opportunities for new insight will be lost. If you vacillate in upholding your principles, you will be tested. Yet, when you are firm and strong, the power of truth can break through even the most stubborn minds.

In any debate, the power to perceive the truth in the other side's argument is essential to achieving success. It is possible to influence even the most difficult people, or improve the most difficult circumstance, through the power of universal truth -- for unvarnished truth is something to which all things naturally respond. Get in touch with the part of yourself that is aware of this universal force of truth. Cultivate this inner resource, and you will become adept at using it to bond with others to support a common purpose.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I'm fascinated by the ways in which neuroscientists work towards erasing traumatic memories through basically “deleting” the fear response, neutralizing an emotion. That led me to more research on the other end of the spectrum: enhancing human memory. The next step in my research was obvious: posthumanism and transhumanism – the merging of humans and machines/computers, the notion of upgrading humans through artificial intelligence and computer science.

This is not SF, things are actually happening: Professor Kevin Warwick has already experimented with computerized chips inserted into his arm and the possibility of moving objects through brain impulses sent to that chip and beyond. He even communicated with his wife “brain to brain” declaring language and speech obsolete and humans on their way of becoming a subspecies as Virtual Reality will take over, a “reality” where we have more choices, we can choose our bodies like we choose our clothes in the current physical space.

“In the virtual world you will meet with either real people or simulated people – eventually there won’t be much difference”, writes Ray Kurzweil (an award winning computer scientist and author whose inventions include reading machines for the blind, speech-recognition technology and the cybernetic poet) in “The age of spiritual machines – When computers exceed human intelligence”.

Yes, we all remember the movie MATRIX, but that SF reality is closer now than we think. And, at the opposite pole, we remember Ted Kaczynski, the “unabomber”, a formerly genius scientist who advocated for the simple return to nature. Well, unfortunately he “spiced up” his manifestos with some unnecessary terrorist activity…

However, regular people are buying into the “posthuman” frenzy too, here’s what Max Moore writes on his website “On becoming Posthuman”:

“The merging of human and machine is clear to those who survey the arena. Machines are becoming more organic, self-modifying, and intelligent. Driving these developments are fields such as artificial life, neural networks, fuzzy logic, intelligent agents, and machine intelligence. At the same time, we are beginning to incorporate our technology into our selves. We began with pacemakers, artificial joints, and contact lenses. Artificial retinas are under development, and signals have successfully been passed back and forth between a neuron in vitro and a field effect transistor. The researchers suggest the next step is to connect up an array of neurons and electronic components. Computers and their interfaces rapidly evolve to fit us: From mainframes and text-based interfaces to PCs and GUIs, PDAs, voice-recognition, and knowbots. How long before our computers are implanted in our brains, as seamlessly integrated into our cognition as an extra hemisphere? Maybe 10 years, maybe 50 or 60, but it's coming.

Some fear that life will lose its meaningfulness without the traditional stages of life produced by aging and the certainty of death. Extropians regard such an attitude as an understandable rationalization, a mechanism for making the best of what has hitherto been inevitable. Certainly, the achievement of posthuman lifespans will require extensive revision of our way of life, our institutions, and our conception of our selves. Yet the effort is worth it. Limitless life offers new vistas, unexplored possibilities, unbounded self-development. Not only will agelessness and deathlessness not rob life of its meaning, I believe the contrary is true.”

Yes, the possibility to enhance human capabilities already exists. To harness the ever increasing abilities of machine intelligence, to enable extra sensory input and to communicate in a much richer way, using thought alone.

As I mentioned, Professor Kevin Warwick has taken the first steps on this path, using himself as a guinea pig test subject receiving, by surgical operation, technological implants connected to his central nervous system.

What happens when a man is merged with a computer?

This is the question that Professor Kevin Warwick and his team at the department of Cybernetics, University of Reading intend to answer with 'Project Cyborg'.

On Monday 24th August 1998, at 4:00pm, Professor Kevin Warwick underwent an operation to surgically implant a silicon chip transponder in his forearm.
This experiment allowed a computer to monitor Kevin Warwick as he moved through halls and offices of the Department of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, using a unique identifying signal emitted by the implanted chip. He could operate doors, lights, heaters and other computers without lifting a finger.

The age of neural implants has already started!

I could write lots of pages explaining why I am so interested in this huge dramatic conflict of our times: HUMAN vs POSTHUMAN. Some scientists consider this moment as important in our evolutionary process as the one at the beginning of life on Earth: the splitting in two of one-cell organisms. Now we are on the brink of humans merging with computers, biological intelligence merging with artificial intelligence. A huge step (forward?) in our progress.

I'm working on a play called ENHANCED that aims to explore this main dramatic conflict involving ethics, emotions, curiosity and the need for progress as my character ALMA, an aging neuroscientist, daughter of a Holocaust survivor, is contemplating crossing the personal line between human and posthuman.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sex and the City - with an accent :)

Sex and the City - with an accent :)
“Relationships in New York are about detachment” says Carrie aka Sarah Jessica Parker, in… we all know what. “Self-protection and closing the deal are paramount. Cupid has flow the co-op” – writes Candace Buschnell in the first chapter of her best-seller turned into TV series turned into a (not so well received) movie.
New York. Which New York? There are three New York cities: one of those born here, one of tourists, and one of new immigrants. As a somewhat new New Yorker, who moved into the city ten years ago and still tries to make sense of what’s going on around her, I want to see if things are different in that other New York, the one with an accent. We all watched – well, maybe only the girls - “Sex and the City”, trying to understand better the relationship archetypes surrounding us, realizing that is oh-so-different from home, especially for those coming from patriarchal societies where women are still used to be the receiver of males’ sexual attention, not the instigator. A woman from those kinda places couldn’t help but wonder, buttoning up her pajama in front of a TV set spitting reruns at midnight: wow, there’s so much glamorous sex going on in this city, there’s so much dating in fancy places, there so much and yet so little, in terms of true romance. So the question that stuck into my mind, after discussing with many immigrant ladies, grew to be: Is the immigrant love life about detachment too? Is detachment the unwritten rule of all relationships in the new cyber-addicted business-obsessed media-hypnotized world?
This column aims to carry an immigrant eye in the streets, bars, theatres, restaurants, offices, cubicles, spa-s, lounges, subways, cafes and rooms of THE City. But don’t get me wrong – I plan to write about people not places. I want to show that there’s much more to the immigrant life than gritty asexual humorless routines: work-work-send-money-home-work-work. Of course, it’s not easy and everyday can bring just another grim fairy tale instead of the old hatching American Dream, but it’s neither bitter-and-angry nor goofy-and-silly as it’s been stereotypically presented so many times. You’ll see.

“You’re right, I prefer women who don’t have English as their mother tongue, says a guy called (here) Bob. Didn’t you notice: When you are forced to pay closer attention to people’s words, you actually communicate better. If you both speak perfect English and you both think you know what you’re talking about, there’s all this room for misinterpretation about what’s actually being said. But if you are not sure the other person is getting you, you check her out, you make sure she gets you. And if… if she’s not sure she’s getting you, she checks you out, you know, she pays attention, until she gets you… And even the silences begin to have some meaning, you know, because you’re used to pay attention to each other… “
These are (more or less) Bob’s words as I rewrite them from memory. Bob married twice with foreign women to help them get US permanent residence. He didn’t do it for money, “as some crooks”, but out of genuine concern, tenderness and care. Maybe all those words put together mean “love”, or maybe love is just overrated when we talk marriage.

Now, the question is of course: why are Bob’s marriages ending at some point. When and how does that happen. I truly hope that’s not when the woman starts to speak better English ☺. I asked him about the endings of his fairy-tales, what makes them not a “they lived happily ever after”. He shrugged and told me that I should ask his wives. Ex-wives, I mean. Out of sheer curiosity, I decided to visit Tanya at her (now) legal working place: a Spa in West Village. A good occasion to get my manicure and pedicure done and to delve into a new immigrant love story. Eastern European, Korean, Chinese, the women working in the Beauty&*** salon share a particular charm of –hmmm - detachment, self-confidence, business smiles and poorly hidden boredom. They know you will surrender parts of your body to their power soon. It’s hard to see these women frightened, in a room, answering questions rapid-fired by Immigration officers. Have you ever been convicted of a felony in your country or in America? Have you ever plotted crimes against the United States of America? Have you ever taken part in terrorist activities in your country or in America? No, you can only surrender with a mixture of fear, relaxation, and a strange sense of familiarity, cuz you’re actually one of them, a global foreigner too. I ask to be “taken” by Tanya, Bob’s ex-wife, and I hope she’s one of those talkative pedicurists. Will she tell me her story between toe-one and toe-ten?

Saturday, April 2, 2011


LAUNCH EVENT at Nuyorican Poets Café
236 East 3rd Street Between Ave B & C


Sunday, April 17, 3-6 pm

(Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Week)

Tickets: $8 online BUY HERE
$10, $5 (for students) – at the door

IASNY, founded by Romanian-born playwright and NYU professor Saviana Stanescu, is an alliance of outstanding people working in the arts and academia who are committed to support, nurture and advocate for immigrant voices as a vital and vibrant part of the New York City community.

Advisory Board: Elizabeth Bradley, John Clinton Eisner, Teresa Eyring, David Henry Hwang, Carol Martin, Joyce Maio, Jose Rivera, Richard Schechner, Zishan Ugurlu

Leadership Committee: May Adrales, Amanda Feldman, Ana Martinez, Jelena Stupljanin, Tamilla Woodard, Graciela Berger Wegsman, Aaron Schroeder (PR)

As part of our efforts to expand our involvement in the New York community and advocate for the brilliant and diverse voices of immigrant artists as an integral part of that fabric, IASNY will be having its official launch at the storied Nuyorican Poets Café (executive director: Dan Gallant) in the East Village. Featuring performances by many prominent members, this launch event promises to embody the vision of IASNY as a forum for the exchange of ideas, the fostering of an immigrant voice, and a showcase of the breadth of talents in New York City's immigrant community.

The speakers/performers include:

Saviana Stanescu
Romania*, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, writer
President/Founder of IASNY

Teresa Eyring (advisory board)
Executive Director - Theatre Communications Group

Zishan Ugurlu (advisory board)
Turkey, director, actress, artistic director of Actors Without Borders - ITONY
Scholar, Assistant Professor at Eugene Lang College The New School University

Graciela Berger Wegsman
Argentina/Israel, playwright
Freelance Journalist Daily News/Hora Hispana and Daily News (VIVA)

Ana Martinez
Mexico City, Graduate Center (CUNY), scholar and designer

Tamilla Woodard
Director, founding member of The Internationalists

Jelena Stupljanin
Serbia, Actress

Susana Cook
Argentina, playwright, performer, director

Jennifer Lim
Hong Kong, MFA from Yale School of Drama, actor

Frances Uku
Nigeria/UK, Harvard University, actor

R. E. Toledo
Mexico, New York University/University of Tennessee, writer

Inma Heredia
Spain, flamenco singer/dancer/comedienne

Sujin Lee
South Korea, interdisciplinary artist
MA in Performance Studies from NYU

Ondina Frate
Romania, Glass Beads Theatre Ensemble, actress

Christina Quintana & Alessandra Hirsch
MFA playwrights at Columbia University

Blagovesta Momchedjikova
PhD, Bulgaria, New York University, writer

Stavri Karamfilov
Bulgaria, independent artist and scholar, theater director and sculptor

Paola Lázaro-Muñoz
Puerto Rico, Columbia University, playwright

Monica Santana
Venezuela, Columbia University MFA, actor

Jessica Litwak
Playwright, Performer, The New Generation Theatre Ensemble

Daniela Dakich
Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Serbia), HB Studio, actress

Natasa Trifan
Romania, dancer/choreographer

* We asked the featured artists/speakers to specify their country of origin if they are first generation immigrants or "legal aliens" – however, IASNY encourages the participation of all artists and scholars interested in the immigrant experience

Immigrant Heritage Week - established by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2004, celebrates the experiences and contributions of immigrants to New York City.

Immigrant Heritage Week 2011 is from April 11 to April 17 and celebrates the vibrant life stories New Yorkers have to tell.

Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas,
a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Immigrant Artists and Scholars in New York (IASNY) may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. You can safely DONATE HERE

For more details e-mail us at:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

World Theatre Day

Why work in theatre? Why work in theatre now?

We are all actors: being a citizen is not living in society, it is changing it.

Excerpt from the Message by Augusto Boal (World Theatre Day 2009)

Theatre is a place where we can collectively share our laughter, shed our tears and loudly demonstrate our joy or frustration. Theatre has the incredible capacity to be soul healing; it allows both the audience and artist to purge toxins and exorcise collective demons.
I challenge all of us to sustain the complexity of our world; to invite a multitude of diverse voices onto the stage. We must open the doors and windows of our theatres to let the world in. It is our responsibility; it is our burden and our gift.
We are fabulators… we are cultural watchdogs.

Excerpt from the US Message by Lynn Nottage (World Theatre Day 2010)

Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it.
Bertolt Brecht

Theatre is not a reflecting mirror, it is a magnifying glass.
Vladimir Mayakovsky

From world-renowned cultural leaders to emerging/aspiring/struggling artists from each corner of the global village, the (mostly rhetorical) question is bound to pop up in our consciousness at some point: WHY am I doing this? Why didn’t I listen to my parents and become a lawyer, a doctor, an IT person? Why didn’t I invent something amazing and useful like… the washing machine, the bulb, relativity theory, Radio, TV, the aspirin, the bra, the toilet, the bike, the lipstick, the sandwich, the cell phone, Coca Cola, the frying pan, the batteries, the bed, the refrigerator, the car, the telescope, the zipper, the microprocessor… why didn’t I create Facebook?
Why didn’t I become a billionaire and buy a heavenly island where I could share the everyday bliss with my love and my kids? OK, maybe the in-laws too, once in a while. Not very often though…

Well, for people living in the so-called “third world”, in places torn by ethnic, religious, military conflicts those funny questions above don’t really apply, they’re too abstract and surreal when the on-going practical not existential dilemma is: will I survive, how can I survive?

As the unfolding uprisings in the Arab world prove – in a similar (yet different) way than the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, including the messy revolution and overthrow of Ceausescu’s totalitarian regime in my native country Romania – arts can play a major role in places where the public discourse is not civil or democratic yet, where countries are still playgrounds for ruthless or “benevolent” dictators.

Writers, poets, theatre people can make a clear and loud difference in those parts of our interconnected world, they can help social and personal truths, freedom and democracy invade the “gated community” of a political and economical elite immersed in its own self-sufficient and self-nurtured Power.

And there’s no reason to believe that theatre/arts can’t still make a strong difference in well-tested democracies too, as long as there still is injustice, inequality, discrimination, pain, individual suffering, betrayal, love, jealousy, family dysfunction, desire, ambition, competition, greed, passion… as long as we still have emotions, feelings, needs and wants. As long as we are still human. And even robots and cyborgs will have their range of e-motions, I’m sure, so there’s no way to get around dramatic conflict here, on this planet.

And for us, theatre people, it means that – yes, we might be underpaid and misunderstood sometimes – but we will never go out of business. It’s our job to explore and expose the human flaws and qualities, the power gaps, the mistreatments, the deep frustrations, the ignored traumas, the needs to build awareness on a social issue, the happy endings and the bitter beginnings, the personal yet political roller-coasters of emotions and thoughts…

C’mon, forget the WHY! We, theatre folks, are playing a necessary role in this world (and hopefully even in the next, more theatrical one). Period. No, exclamation point!

(published first in "New York City World Theatre Day Coalition" blog on March 1, 2011)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mr M.T. BLISS has something to say:
(M.T. stand for Mass Transit)

New York is not about buildings, no, it’s not about real estate
New York is about people
Under ground, above ground,
In a car
No, not an automobile
A streetcar, a trolley, a subway car
That sensual space where our brains get connected
To each other
Our sweaty bodies create
A human symphony of breaths, odors, and thoughts
A masterpiece of inter-connection
The erotic tissue of the city
A mute dialogue of eyes
Exploring each other
Facing each other, trying
To guess which thought
Passes through his her mind that moment
That very moment
That pretty lady smiles like she remembers
The hand of her lover caressing
The back of her neck this morning…
That construction worker
Stares blankly at the new day
Bringing nothing new
More sweat and work and poor pay
And “fuck this routine I wish
I had a different kinda life”
Or something along those lines…
That young gentleman in a business suit
Is ready to push push push
Make money money money
Find new smart strategies
For profit
He has the hunger of an untamed lion
Struggling to seem ready
To be tamed
To compromise
To suck up on his boss
For the sake of future rewards
We all do what we gotta do
To get ahead…
Still, that pretty lady
Is not thinking of getting ahead
She’s going back in the voluptuousness
Of the dawn
When she stretched her hand
And touched her lover’s armpit
Sweat can taste good, oh, so good
She carries her lover’s odor
In the purse of her mind
She doesn’t see anybody
I bet she didn’t notice she sits next
To that old homeless man
Trying to catch a bit of sleep
Lullaby-ed by the noisy swing
The mechanical wing
Of mass transit bliss…
And those two teenagers
Cool and hot
Dismissing everyone with their youth
“give us a break all you
old people”
There’s a child in a stroller
Across their seats
And the mother or the baby sitter
(She must be the mother
She carries love and worries in her eyes)
The mother looks at the older boys
And says quietly to her baby
“You’ll be like them one day”…
People are beautiful
Even the ugly ones
Bless Mass Transit and this closeness
This intimacy that we experience
In this car, no, not an automobile
I’m not going to pay the price
For an automobile
No, it’s not the money,
It’s the removal, the price is the removal
From humanity
It cuts you out and leaves you alone
Or in two in three in four
Nothing like this subway car
This trolley
This street car
Where my thoughts and his and hers
Are dancing the Charleston together
In this cozy Ball Room Car
Of mass transit bliss…
The pretty lady is closing her eyes
And smiles sensuously to the memory
Of her own dance
Last night or this morning…
A mysterious brazen smile
Oh, no
Don’t go!
It’s her stop
The pretty lady disappears through the doors
Gets out of the mass transit oasis
Into the big world of danger, anonymity and routines
The pretty lady turns her head
Towards me
And I catch a question mark in her eyes
An exclamation mark
A dot-dot-dot
And I can’t stop
I follow her
Follow her…

Saturday, October 18, 2008


(Flagstories and other personal histories)
a performative lecture by Saviana Stanescu

Saviana was a college student in 1989 when she participated in the Romanian "revolution" and the so-called "end of communism". Now, after almost 20 years she witnesses the so-called "end of capitalism" in New York. This autobiographical performative lecture explores her immigrant experience in New York through the lens of a personal dichotomy East-West and a permanent negotiation between the old and new set of values.

After 1989, Saviana worked as a journalist in the new free Romanian press for a decade. A week before 9/11 she arrived in New York, with a Fulbright fellowship to get an MA in Performance Studies at NYU. She also got an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and she teaches in the Drama Department. Her plays have had many productions in NYC and internationally. Most recently her play "Aliens with extraordinary skills" (the title hints to her O1 visa...) opened to rave reviews off-Broadway at Women's Project.

One of the main issues to be discussed in this lecture is what role does the flag perform in creating and maintaining identity (with a powerpoint presentation of over 100 pictures of the American flag displayed in the aftermath of 9/11). Another important question for Saviana is: did she do the right thing by leaving her home country Romania? Is she now inhabiting a new land called INBETWEEN? "Moving" into the English language was the right move? And what's right after all when a (r)evolution can change preconceived definitions of "right" and "wrong"?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

FLAGSTORIES (flagshock-flagshop-flagshow)

At Reggio Cafe - when the Flag stopped by :)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Saturday, May 31, 2008