Jefe's House

The Press

Boneyards Final Shows This Weekend

by on Oct.30, 2013, under Shaheb Cafe, The Press, The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here, Theatre

Come wake the dead.  BONEYARDS returns for 2 final shows this Saturday and Sunday 11/2 and 11/3 in Philadelphia.  Times and tickets.

Meanwhile please enjoy my latest article in today’s Washington Post about my theatrical experiments in contacting the dead as performance art over the past two years.  Thank you for your support and patronage, and Happy Halloween.

wapobanner2October 31, 2013

On Faith
Supernatural Skeptics Don’t Know What They’re Missing
by Jeffrey Stanley

I try contacting the spirit world before live audiences to keep an element of hope simmering on the back burner of my mind.

I like Ouija boards. I’ve used them since I was a teenager.  More recently I’ve messed around with electric spirit boxes, also known as Frank’s boxes after their inventor Frank Sumption.  They’re radio receivers which allow you to listen to and record voices of the dead, also known as EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) or Raudive voices, after one of their early discoverers.  Over the past two years I have frequently used Ouija boards and spirit boxes in my performance art, attempting to conjure up the dead as my co-stars before a live audience.  At one of the universities where I teach playwriting and screenwriting part-time I am also the faculty adviser for a student-led paranormal investigation club.  Friends and fans assume I am a true believer but the truth is that I am not.  I am a healthy skeptic.  And that’s depressing for me because it means that on some level I feel certain there’s nothing out there. I try contacting the spirit world before live audiences to keep an element of hope simmering on the back burner of my mind. CONT’D>>

And also out today from Drexel University a story about the PIG of which I’m the proud faculty adviser…

drexelnow_overDrexel Paranormal Investigators Haunted by the Unknown
by Alissa Falcone
…It doesn’t hurt that the group’s faculty adviser also has an interest with the undead: By day, Jeffrey Stanley teaches classes in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design’s Screenwriting and Playwriting Department, but at night he transforms into undead residents of cemeteries from all over the world during “Boneyards,” his performance that imagines supernatural comic monologues.CONT’D at drexel.edu>>

 

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City Paper Review of Boneyards

by on Sep.11, 2013, under The Press, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Terrific review by Paulina Reso in the City Paper.  Ha, can’t argue with her about the final stage of the show.  I know from past experience that when you risk opening a scripted entertainment up to the chaos and randomness of a seance for a few minutes anything could happen — and sometimes very little.  Too bad she wasn’t there for the Ouija board fireworks last night.  And I’m not sure how switching  from talking to singing and playing a guitar before launching directly into more talking could be construed by anyone as a water break; that would truly be a supernatural feat. This show is wall to wall mouth, baby.  Read on…

Fringe review: Boneyards

By Paulina Reso
09/11/2013

WE THINK: With its penchant for the paranormal and its autobiographical focus, Jeffrey Stanley’s one-man show could come across as overly strange or egotistical, but his charisma and fascinating tales from the crypt kept it on track. Staged in a musty, 118-year-old cellar in Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel, a historic South Philly synagogue, the show began with Stanley performing George Jones’ country hit “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” which, his tender rendition revealed, is a lovelier song than I had originally thought. But we in the audience weren’t sitting in a damp cellar, squinting our light-deprived eyes at a barefooted man with a painted face to get a lesson in music appreciation. We were here for a taste of the macabre, and Stanley didn’t disappoint. CONT’D at citypaper.net>>

 

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Boneyards a Festival Pick

by on Sep.10, 2013, under The Press, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Down in the little shul’s coal cellar join Jeffrey Stanley for performances of his “metatheatrical monologue” that “resurrects and converses with the cadaverous,” from Laurel Hill to ancient Greece.  CONT’D at planphilly.com>>

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BONEYARDS City Paper Preview

by on Sep.05, 2013, under The Press, The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here, Theatre

BONEYARDS is back from the dead to rock your underworld.  Four new post-Fringe shows in October just in time for Halloween. 10/17/13, 10/20, 11/2 and 11/3. Only 20 seats per show, get ‘em before they’re gone.

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Blood, guts and experimental theater

by Shaun Brady, 09/05/2013

“… Maybe it’s the darker sensibility of an audience primed for avant-garde theater, but Fringe is second only to Halloween in terms of people being ready to buckle down and open their minds to horrific subject matter … Jeffrey Stanley had little need to seek out horror films or literature as a child: He grew up next door to a funeral home in rural Virginia. ‘My bedroom window looked directly into their embalming room and they never closed the curtain,’ Stanley recalls. ‘So at night I’d go up there and watch, and I could see the body laid out on the slab. For whatever reason it never scared me; I thought it was fascinating.’

That’s one story Stanley will recount in Boneyards (Sept.8-17, Shivtei Yeshuron-Ezras Israel), the one-man semi-sequel to his 2011 Fringe hit Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead. The show takes place in the basement of a century-old storefront synagogue and, for its final performance, at Laurel Hill Cemetery … As in Beautiful Zion, Stanley will conclude with a Ouija board séance, a habit he began at a teenage New Year’s Eve party. ‘We were sitting around the kitchen table in the dark and crazy things started happening. We’re all convinced that by the end of the night we spoke to Jimi Hendrix, he possessed my friend’s kitten and made it pluck his guitar strings.’

Stanley insists that his obsession, like so much horror fiction, has a cathartic side. ‘As dark and macabre and creepy as it is, I hope it’s ultimately life-affirming. In the end it’s about loving life and taking away some of the fear of death that we have in our culture.’”  full story at citypaper.net>>

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Jeffrey Stanley, Boneyards rehearsal 9/3/13

And don’t forget to watch and listen to this historic first: a casting call for the dead.  The first round of open auditions for the spirit world was held in the 1895 coal cellar using the famed  P-SB7 AM/FM scanner for listening to EVPs.  Here are the results.  No tricks, no jokes. The transcript is also included along with a few afterthoughts but watch the video first.

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My Way or the Yahweh

by on Jul.23, 2013, under On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, The Press, The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here

wapo

On Faith

A Jewish-Hindu connection

Jeffrey Stanley, 7/23/13

Talk about a crazy commute. After a spiritual encounter, a stranger and I spent the next 90 minutes discussing the nature of the universe.

Not so long ago after nearly 25 years as a hidebound New Yorker I moved to Philadelphia for my wife Pia’s career needs, inadvertently becoming part of a popular regional migration known to urban statisticians as the 6th borough phenomenon. She’s Indian-American and we’re raising our child in a bilingual home. I’m a writer and professor. She’s a scientist by day and an Indian classical dance professional by night. Religiously we are at best agnostic but culturally we are Hindus, and will identify ourselves as such when pressed, like on the hospital intake form the first time we took our baby in for a routine doctor’s visit.

This identification sits well with me. Despite growing up Nazarene in the Bible Belt I had long ago developed an affinity for Hindu philosophy—ever since I’d come across a used copy of the Bhagavad Gita at a flea market in high school and realized how similar it was to the New Testament. I still remember the perplexed look on my Sunday school teacher’s face the morning I brought the Gita to church. I had marked the sections that reminded me of Christ’s words in the Sermon on the Mount with an orange highlighter and asked him why Hindus were all going to Hell and we Christians weren’t. Suffice it say I quit going to church not long after that. Christianity just wasn’t speaking to me. When I met my wife-to-be years later while canoeing in Brooklyn’s fetid Gowanus Canal I fell in easily with her cultural worldview. We were a match made in moksha.

Imagine my surprise when, on a recent Friday afternoon while returning to Philly on a crowded New Jersey Transit train out of Manhattan’s Penn Station I came face to face with the power of YHWH.  (continue reading…)

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Four Pairs of Sandals as an Act of Faith

by on May.15, 2013, under On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, The Press, The Truth Is In Here

May15, 2013

On Faith

Four Pairs of Sandals as an Act of Faith

Walking a mile in another man’s shoes leads to kismet

by Jeffrey Stanley

Three years ago I got married to my wife Bidisha in a traditional Hindu Bengali ceremony in Kolkata and spent three weeks touring the country. I bought a pair of sandals there which I wore throughout my trip and back home here in the States. This December my wife, our young son and I went back to India for a month to visit relatives. I brought my well-worn “India sandals” with me.  A week into the visit they broke irreparably and I tossed them. The location of their demise seemed appropriate — from India they had come and to India they would return. The next day while we were out sightseeing we stumbled upon a tiny shoe store, one of a zillion in Kolkata, where I found the perfect pair of replacement sandals. They were simple but unique enough that they suited me as a souvenir.

Nakhoda Masjid. Kolkata, West Bengal, India. January, 2013.

A few days later I struck out on my own for a sightseeing visit Nakhoda Masjid, the largest mosque in Kolkata, built in 1926. A billboard told me with no intended irony that this was Road Safety Week in India. Still the taxis, auto-rickshaws and pedestrians were up to their usual danse macabre.

After a requisite insane cab ride and a short walk down a crowded, narrow street full of screaming sidewalk merchants selling Muslim prayer rugs and other Islam-themed souvenirs I found the mosque. It was sparsely populated at that late morning hour. The (continue reading…)

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A Rave Review in the City Paper

by on Sep.17, 2012, under Shaheb Cafe, The Press, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

by Josh Middleton, Philadelphia City Paper

“Taking place in the intimate front room of Twelve Gates Arts gallery in Old City, producer/choreographer/director/dancer Bidisha Dasgupta and fellow dancers Leslie Elkins and Jodi Obeid star in this diamond-in-the-Fringe-rough show inspired by the well-documented religion-versus-science discussions between Einstein and Tagore. Though there is some dialog — the dance routines are interspersed with quick, straight-from-the-script readings by Elkins and Obeid — the dancing is why you should put this on your Fringe itinerary. Dasgupta, decked out in gorgeous, traditional Indian garb, is a force, engaging every ounce of her being in routines that run the gamut from energetic and attention-demanding (“Mangalam: Honoring the Elements”) to rip-your-heart-out passionate (“Trance”). Elkins and Obeid, both with backgrounds in contemporary dance, join in on a few numbers, too, most notably the final performance to Bikram Ghosh’s refreshingly funky “Rhythm Speaks.” It doesn’t have the high-flying acrobatics you might find in some of the more-hyped Live Arts dance shows, but this little must-see will take you on a mesmerizing cultural journey you’ll want to take again and again.”  Full listing and review at http://www.citypaper.net/authors/josh_middleton/FRINGE-REVIEW-EinsteinTagore-Seashore-of-Endless-Worlds.html

 

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“East to West: Tagore Inspires Fringe Dance”

by on Jul.05, 2012, under Shaheb Cafe, The Press, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

A new mother and professional scientist from East Passyunk Crossing gears up to bring traditional Indian dance styles to the Fringe Festival

by Jess Feurst

South Philly Review

7/4/12

“Tagore is really revered in the East and he has a Western following, but the average Westerner doesn’t know of him as they do other artists. He was the first non-Westerner to win a Nobel Prize, in 1913 — at the turn of the century was when he was really prolific,” Bidisha Dasgupta, of 11th and Emily streets, said. “He is to the East what Shakespeare is to the West. He’s really, really big.”

The poet Rabindranath Tagore is an inspiration to Dasgupta, who is a performer of traditional Indian dances, most prominently trained in Bharatanatyam. For the upcoming 2012 Fringe Festival, Dasgupta is drawing inspiration from Tagore and a Western icon to present Indian dance to the Philadelphia audience with her show, “Einstein/Tagore: Seashore of Endless Worlds.”

“The first time Tagore and Einstein met was in 1926 in Berlin. They were introduced by a common friend who thought, ‘You are the big thinkers of our time. You should meet,’” Dasgupta said. “I’m also a scientist and [their conversation] was something that really triggered my interest in the scientific view of humanity and how does religion and human consciousness tie-in to the world around us.

“The transcripts of their conversations from the 1920s to ’30s are really well recorded and it was the inspiration for the pieces, a theme based around these conversations.”

Her one-woman show, which will feature modern- and folk-dance techniques as well as her signature traditional Indian styles of Bharatanatyam and Rabindra Nritya, will be showcased Sept. 14 to 22 at Twelve Gates Arts, an Old City gallery.

“I had an issue of what kind of venue I would want. I didn’t want the first iteration being in a big, black box theater setup. I wanted something more intimate,” the 34-year-old, who hopes to move the show CONT’D AT SOUTH PHILLY REVIEW>>

 

 

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Michael Moore at Quig’s on 6/30/12

by on Jun.10, 2012, under Film/TV, The Press, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

And don’t forget…

Still SiCKO After All These Years
 

June 30th, 2012 @ 7 PM
$40 Minimum Donation.  
First Come, First Served. 
Michael Moore’s documentary SiCKO was released in 2007 to widespread acclaim. A straight-from-the-heart portrait of the crazy and sometimes cruel U.S. healthcare system, SiCKO is told from the vantage point of everyday people faced with extraordinary and bizarre challenges in their quest for basic health coverage.
Join filmmaker Michael Moore, Health Insurance Industry whistleblower and Deadly Spin author Wendell Potter, and American SiCKO’s real-life cast for a Q&A about the film’s impact and their lives five years after its release.
See Michael Moore and Wendell Potter on the same stage face-to-face for the first time since Wendell spied on the film’s release back in 2007 while working for Cigna. Celebrate how SiCKO changed the conversation on healthcare reform in America, and hear the latest on the movement for healthcare justice from leaders around the country.
Proceeds to benefit Vermont Public Assets Institute (publicassets.org
and Healthcare-NOW! (healthcare-now.org).

Plays and Players Theatre
1714 Delancey Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

 

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Bringing Death to Life

by on Apr.12, 2012, under Film/TV, NYC, The Press, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Philadelphia’s arbiter of good taste, the South Philly Review, sez don’t miss the 2012 Philadelphia Playwright Showcase April 25-28 @7pm.   Buy your tickets here.

Plays & Players Resident Plots Future

A New York transplant, now residing in East Passyunk Crossing, presents his work to Philly crowds

by Jess Fuerst

On March 27, Jeffrey Stanley workshopped his play “UFOs Over Brooklyn,” which has been in development since 2001.

“The intention is a little more of a showcase, for who in Philly might be interested in producing it,” Stanley said.

Stanley is a resident at Plays & Players Theater, along with Jeremy Gable and Brian Grace-Duff, until September. As such, the writer has access to stages and actors, as well as exposure within the local community.

“Promotion is also part of their agenda. They are not necessarily going to produce all plays residents write,” Stanley said. “It’s an introduction to other professionals in the Philly theater world, so there is a publicity component involved when they showcase us and Plays & Players gets to showcase itself.”

A New York transplant Stanley has spent the past year diving head first into the local community. His debut was a one-man show he wrote and starred in for last year’s Fringe Festival, entitled “Beautiful Zion: A Book of the Dead.”

“Why I did the Fringe was to announce my presence. It worked.  Well, it made them more aware. The decision makers … put me on the radar. They all came and saw,” the 44-year-old said. “It’s a dark comedy and autobiographical. A close relative of mine died of acute alcoholism, drank himself to death, and it’s about my year spent dealing with that.”

The show, which Stanley performed in a basement in West Philly, involved monologue pieces, as well as audience participation. Stanley asked for viewers to help him reach out to his dead relative through the use of a Ouija board, the result of which is the show’s grand finale.

“It culminates with starting them in another room, trying to make contact with the spirit world on my CONT’D at southphillyreview.com>>

 

 

 


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