THE BOOK OF GENESIS: In our 15 years, we’ve had some adventures. Some amazing, even inspiring. Until the end of our campaign (October 24), we’ll remember moments in our history. Laugh, cry, whatever works.
The Spotlight-On Festival and The Performing Arts Society.
Kingsborough College’s theater program was fading. A once renowned program was now suffering due to budget cuts and varied disinterest. So a special program was started under the direction of Genesis Repertory – The Performing Arts Society. This was the renaming of the school’s Drama Club and the refocusing of the program. A faculty member was also a playwright and he was invited to submit four plays for performance. We called the project Bare Stages. Next, a deal was struck with producers, Frank Calo and Steven Thornburg. Frank and Steve were friends & colleagues of ours here at Genesis and had deep theatrical connections. Steve has connections to Broadways Phantom of the Opera.
The plays would be part of their festival off-off Broadway.
We utilized the acting classes and created a directing class for the projects. Now we invited the student body to audition. What was a few dedicated students now was a full program with over 75 participating students in one production!
For the first meeting at the theater (the host theater: the Sanford Meisner in NYC) we all boarded the train in Brooklyn – nearly 100 students – and headed into Manhattan. It was quite an experience walking down to 11th avenue.
Long story short[er]… we played to packed houses including a shocked president of the college… shocked at the immense participation and excitement; the program went on to produce more plays and musicals at the college and in NYC; one play became a finalist in the Samuel French new plays festival a short while later; and from that group of students, a number went to careers in the arts, including Lorenzo Valoy, Frank Caiati, Eric Fitzgerald, Quan Southall, and Mohammed Saad Ali.
So now theater history records that four original plays were produced off-off Broadway…
and performed …
by the students of Kingsborough College in Brooklyn.
Supervising producer: Genesis Repertory Ensemble.
This was 10 years ago and the program still flourishes at the college. An untold number of students have benefited from this reboot. Some have even come into the M Center for further training innocently telling us the stories of the program … stories we already knew well.
The program went on to do musicals like The Fantasticks, Damn Yankees, and Guys & Dolls (pictured)
Even the Bard. Genesis’ out-of-this-world takes kin Shakespeare are no more evident than in The Tempest on a “Forbidden planet” (rehearsal shot).