Stage Time and Juice: Saffron and Playing for Change!

Stage Time and Juice passed its 3-year mark over the summer. Anticipating that our audience would thin out as people headed off on their separate vacations, we decided to put together a special treat for those who remained in the city. Thus, our Stage Time and Juice XVII: Saffron Summer was born!

Stage Time & Juice 18

Taipei City Playgroup mom, Jaya, immediately volunteered her husband’s restaurant’s services in providing some authentic Indian treats. Red Room mother, Roma, offered to lead us in drawing some chalk rangoli on the passageway. Priya Lalwani Purswaney, the newest addition to the Stage Time and Juice creative team, managed to snag the Dubey siblings, Awantika and Akash. The well-seasoned Dubeys introduced the art of kathak dancing accompanied by tabla percussion to our family audience. It was engaging, intimate, and of course had the most special element of Stage Time and Juice, being that everyone gets a front row seat!

STJ photo by Kenneth-Hu

STJ photo by Kenneth-Hu

As always, the Juice open-mic performers came out in full force, demonstrating techniques that they had developed in front of us over the years. Jaya turned to me at the end of the show, quite astonished. It was the first time she had come to Juice, and she felt that perhaps by attending regularly, this might just be the proper environment to coax something out of her stage-shy son as well?

September was our Playing For Change Fundraising month. We have held this event three times already, but this year we decided we would attempt to better our donation from last year of US$100. US$100, from Playing For Change’s perspective, is not a trifling amount: it can pay for 2 months of music classes for 4 children in Nepal. But our team decided that we would try to shoot for the NT10,000 mark this time, or about US $320.

In previous years, we had depended on the children and sometimes adults to come out and perform. We decided that we would emphasize this gesture in a fun way by placing a guitar case in front of the stage, and allowing the audience to show their support both for the performers and the cause by tossing change into the guitar case. All proceeds went towards The Playing For Change Foundation.

Volunteer Sue DeSimone happily invited some professional musicians to attend the show in order to introduce the Juicers to different kinds of music, namely rock, blues, rockabilly, and jazz. In the spirit of the Playing For Change organization, the event raised money for music education, but also provided some musical education content of its own!

Finally, we asked our community sponsors to donate their own products and services to our raffle. There was quite a dizzying and unusual array of prizes, but it impressively showcased the surprising range of projects that our larger community is involved in!

Many things did not go as expected in both events. In July, the TAF decided to fumigate the compound that day. As agreed upon, they sprayed around our area only in the morning and moved on to other places in the enormous complex, but that did not stop the guards at the gate from informing our guests that they would probably die if they attended our event! In September, the band riled up the audience so much that they were unable to return to their usual quiet attentiveness for the children’s fundraising segment. This was particularly painful to us as organizers, because the nurturing aspect of our open-mic segment is what is particularly special and precious about our program.
On a more positive, and unexpected note, we raised US$580 (NT18,186) to donate to the Playing For Change Foundation! According to their website, this amount can support A Playing For Change Foundation teacher in Africa for almost half a year. For some children, this teacher is the only formal schooling they receive.

Katrina, one of the original founders of Juice who was visiting with her family from New Zealand, remarked to me that she was impressed by how far the “regular” open-mic performers have progressed. She was happy to see some of the children she had taught since they were very small expressing themselves up on the stage in ways she had not imagined.

Running Juice has its successes and failures every time. It will always be unpredictable, given the open format of the show. But if you were to plot our results over time against the confidence and creativity of the performers, much as one does when tracking financial investments, you see that the curve is definitely heading upwards. It’s good to remind ourselves that we have done something positive and important here, and it’s a little more than just having fun.

To join and follow the progress of Stage Time and Juice, check out our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/redroomjuice/

Carol Yao
Coordinator, Stage Time and Juice

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