Jefe's House

Tag: drexel university

Supernatural Skeptics Don’t Know What They’re Missing

by on Oct.31, 2013, under The Press, The Sixth Boro, The Truth Is In Here, Theatre

wapobanner2October 31, 2013

These ghosts are primed and ready to provide a ghoulish Halloween.

These ghosts are primed and ready to provide a ghoulish Halloween.

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. (continue reading…)

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

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>>

 

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

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…)

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

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…)

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Croc Galore and More on 8/11

by on Aug.06, 2012, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Join us this Saturday 8/11/12 at 3:00 and 6:00pm on Drexel University’s mainstage for the presentation of seven short plays written by local playwrights aged 7-13 in the first annual Mantua Theater Project, the brainchild of Drexel Performing Arts faculty Nick Anselmo (left).

Seven creative youngsters joined forces with a gaggle of Philadelphia theatre professionals (including yours truly) to create original works for the stage. The result is an evening of talking hamburgers, fairy doctors, cheetah painters, floating eyes, and more.

WHEN: Saturday, August 11; 3PM and 6PM.

WHERE: The Mandell Theater at Drexel University, 33rd and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia

FREE ADMISSION

Please note that there are TWO shows, a 3PM and 6PM. Come help pack the house to create a truly memorable experience for these kids and their families, and see some hilarious, poignant shorts.

The Shows:

The Hero, The Criminal, and The Butler
By Ameenah C.
Directed by Cara Blouin
Featuring Alex Blouin and Tim Rinehart

One Hundred Year Old Thousand Legger
By Brenda C.
Directed by Damon Bonetti, dramaturged by Gerre Garrett
Featuring Reuben Mitchell and Adam Altman

Croc Galore
By Ammarava M.
Directed by Nick Anselmo, dramaturged by Jeffrey Stanley
Featuring John Turnbach and John VanZelst

The Taco Who Was Afraid of Dogs
By Nadiah M.
Directed by Nick Anselmo, dramaturged by Tim Martin
Featuring Bi Jean Ngo and Laurel Hostak

Tyree and the Amazing Hamburger
By Saabir D.
Directed by Josh Browns, dramaturged by Greg Romero
Featuring Langston Darby and Bi Jean Ngo

The Day Without Respect
By Vanessa B.
Directed by Charlotte Northeast, dramaturged by Laurel Hostak
Featuring Adam Rzepka and Melissa Connell Cassara

Tara Loves Billy
By Alexis M.
Directed by Adam Immerwahr, dramaturged by Rachel Gluck
Featuring Charlotte Northeast and Mark Watter

Also featuring John Lopes.

Hope to see you there.

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Mantua Theater Project

by on Jul.30, 2012, under NYC, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

I’m thrilled to have been a part of the incredible Mantua Theater Project this past weekend, sponsored by Drexel University and created by Drexel Theatre Program head Nick Anselmo.    Nick modeled it on New York City’s 52nd Street Project where he used to work, based at my old stomping grounds The Ensemble Studio Theatre.  He also previously replicated this phenomenal organization at a theatre in Trenton, NJ several years ago to work with economically disadvantaged kids there.  Now he has replicated it for at-risk 4th through 8th graders in Philadelphia’s Mantua neighborhood which borders Drexel’s campus.

Nick’s technique is based on Daniel Judah Sklar‘s book Playmaking: Children Writing and Performing Their Own Plays which was the foundation for the 52nd Street Project.  This summer’s inaugural program at Drexel took  place over the course of four weeks during which Nick taught the basics of playwriting to about a dozen kids.

After that, the students were paired with professional playwrights for a retreat weekend, working one-on-one to create short plays.  That’s where I came in, helping an energetic 8-year-old girl realize her awesome creative vision with her Peter Panlike fantasy play Croc Galore which is 7 pages of poignancy and hilarity about two orphaned creatures helping each other survive in a jungle full of traps, danger and liars.  Hers and the other students’ plays are now being handed off to professional directors and actors, and will culminate with a performance for these young writers’ friends, families and community members on Drexel’s main stage, the Mandell Theatre, in August.  I plan to be there front row, center.

As Drexel’s website accurately puts it, “the process yields funny, creative, surprisingly truthful and often hilarious results. Along the way students develop self-esteem as they create something to be proud of.” Drexel students are also helping with various aspects of the program. Education, and Screenwriting & Playwriting students will be involved in the classes, and Theater students and alumni will help with the production.

Granny, 1967.

For me, a similar lifesaving program didn’t come along until I was a teenager. That program was the Young Writers Workshop at UVa which I’m glad to see is still going strong. Thanks to a partial financial aid scholarship from the good old Vinton, VA Moose Lodge across the street from my high school (thanks to the efforts of my profoundly influential 10th grade English teacher and lifetime friend Rose Townsend) and a donation from my now-departed grandmother, Ethel Orelia, who had an 8th grade education and had been out picking tobacco at the age of 4,  I was able to attend the 2-week UVa workshop two summers in a row.  The experiences I had there — visiting a college campus for the first time, getting a taste of college life, meeting professional writers and other like-minded kids — set the course of the rest of  my life.  I had been raised in a cash-strapped single-parent home and wound up becoming the first person in my family to attend college, let alone grad school, moving to New York City at age 19 with a one-way ticket and a duffle bag, and went on to terrific success as a dramatist and university faculty, and it all started because a writing workshop presented itself to me out of the blue.

I hope that my thimbleful of work this weekend yields similar results for these kids someday.  Not that  they all need to become playwrights but that they see there’s a whole, wonderful world just outside the borders of their own neighborhood and that they’re just as entitled to participate in it and have a piece of it as anyone else.

Congratulations to Nick Anselmo and the  Mantua Theater Project.

 

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

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>>

 

 

 


Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

Take the Leap on 3/27

by on Mar.15, 2012, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Turning 30 is enough to drive you crazy.

At the intersection of sex and religion a frantic hipster and his goldfish take the ultimate leap of faith.

Please join me on Tuesday, 3/27/12 at 7pm at Plays & Players Theatre in Philadelphia for a reading of my unproduced play UFOs Over Brooklyn presented by the outstanding Drexel Players, Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design‘s student-run theatre company. The reading of this work-in-progress will be followed by a brief Q&A.

The wall-to-wall Drexel cast includes Dana Marcus, James Haro, Laurel Hostak, Rose  Koven, John Turnbach and Emily Kleimo.  Go Dragons, baby.

This is my 3rd play reading in as many months, and is connected to my residency as  one of 3 current PDC@Plays&Players playwrights-in-residence.

This particular play has had so many near-misses for production in New York and so many stellar actors reading the roles in public presentations  it makes my head spin (Naked Angels tuesdays@nine, Urban Stages, The Collective, the now-defunct Lightning Strikes Theatre Company, et al) Over the past several years  it took on a life of its own as a favorite for developmental readings (aka “development hell” in theatre parlance) , and also at Amherst College where an early draft was presented while I was a Copeland Fellow there in 2001.

This marks the first time the play has been presented in Philadelphia, and I welcome your feedback.  It’s a very dark, very sexy romantic comedy about two couples and a UFO suicide cult.   See you there.

WHAT:  UFOs  Over Brooklyn

WHEN:  Tuesday 3/27/12 @7:00pm

WHERE: Plays & Players, 3rd floor Skinner Studio; 1714 Delancey Place, Philadelphia

COST:  FREE but please RSVP to Dan Student at dstudent@playsandplayers.org .

 

 


Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , more...

NYU SCPS Playwriting I Begins 2/8/12

by on Jan.28, 2012, under NYC, Theatre

My 10-week spring semester course for adults, Playwriting I: The Fundamentals at NYU School of Continuing & Professional Studies begins on Wednesday 2/8. This noncredit, ungraded lecture and playwriting workshop covers the exact same dramatic writing and theatre history content I teach to matriculated undergrad students in my similar 3-credit, full semester courses at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and now also at Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design in Philadelphia, only it’s much more affordable. You will write a lot, you will learn a lot, you will have fun. Learn more and enroll.

See you there.

 

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , more...