Seven Years and Counting… A Reflection of Red Room’s 7th Anniversary
I remember walking into Red Room’s 7th Anniversary not knowing what to expect. Having sat in the planning meetings, it was hard to visualize when Manav was saying something about a tent, and vendors, and graffiti art, and how it would all come together in a big, beautiful ball of awesomeness.
My words, not his, by the way.
How was this going to work?
I have the answer to that question now. Have faith, because when you love something as much as we love Red Room, all things are possible.
There are so many memories from that night on November 19, and shortly afterwards. There were the incredible graffiti art that greeted all who entered the festivities, created by the amazing PowWow Taiwan artists and others. My son Preston in particular loved the one with the panther. There was the way everything came together for Stage Time and Juice and the magical “Jack and the Beanstalk” collaboration with R4. It was so great to see the young performers throw themselves into the story and the sound effects, and even better, the audience could feel the enthusiasm. I have a feeling there will be more collaborations in the future. Maybe someone in the audience will go from sitting out there, and onto the stage.
My son Preston was especially enthralled by the magicians.
I spent a good deal of my time inside the Red Room space acting as a bit of a “gatekeeper,” if you will. Since the space was open, someone should be up there to answer questions, provide company for anyone that needed a break from the heat and the fun stuff outdoors, and to keep an eye on things. I walked around and gazed at the pictures of Red Room’s past. I’m only a drop in the bucket of Red Room’s history, only two years, but I hope I’ve made my mark here. So many people have in the most magical and unexpected ways.
In light of the swirl of negative energy that is engulfing our world from many places, I started a Wall of Love within the Red Room space. I got this idea from an article I read about a man in New York City who set out a table with Post-It notes and pens. He invited people to write notes of love, encouragement, and positive energy to anyone they wished and post the notes up on the walls of the New York subway system.
So, I set out markers, paper, and pens, and invited people to pen their own messages of love and hope, in any language and in any form they wished. I was happy to see a few people do that and add it to the exhibit within the Red Room space.
I think what I can take away from the Red Room 7th Anniversary is that over the last seven years, Red Room is more than just a space. It’s a home. It’s a work of art and heart. It’s the people that have come and go through the years. It’s the energy that courses through the people and space with every art installation, every piece of music played, every piece of literature read, and every smile on someone’s face. It’s the hugs. It’s the support.
It’s the love that crosses language, culture, and that affects us in ways that suffuse our whole being.
That is Red Room, for the past 7 years. And no matter how much it grows, I hope that’s one thing that never changes.
By Whitney Zahar
Editor and Librarian
To celebrate the Red Room’s seventh anniversary, and to mark the twentieth Stage Time and Juice, the creative team put together a lineup that would combine elements both new and old. For those unfamiliar with our history, Stage Time and Juice was created as a junior version of Stage Time and Wine, the Red Room’s famous open mic show that takes place on the third Saturday of every month. Juice was intended to serve as an incubation forum to help children and teenagers achieve the expressiveness and confidence necessary to evolve into Stage Time and Wine performers. It seemed an ambitious undertaking, one that the founding parents involved were not sure could be achieved.
Three years later, Stage Time and Juice seems to have made its mark: we now have a small but growing group of steady performers who have been bitten by the performance bug. For the anniversary, we reached out to these “Juicers” personally and asked whether they would be brave enough to share something with the anticipated larger audience. The response was enthusiastic: Michael, Maggie, Sarah, and Elisa would appear as an ensemble, the siblings Kanoa and Kailer would share a song, Nicole would perform with her guitar, Jayde and Alyssa would appear for the first time playing the ukulele, and Zosia would read something. The Margo twins were newcomers who joined in at the last minute, declaring their intention to play a few songs on the keyboard. This was the first time the Juicers performed on the unfamiliar elevated stage in a tent, and we did receive some feedback about nerves and unexpected challenges, but all in all it was agreed to be a rewarding experience for both performers and audience alike. First time attendees were impressed by the level of talent, and a comment we often heard repeated was
“I can’t believe that we waited until NOW to come!”
Apart from the superb lineup for open mic, we also attained a special milestone this November: Juicer Jayde decided that she would give being an emcee a try. Her mom frequently emcees The Stage Time and Juice show: what could possibly go wrong? Stage jitters, it turns out. Jayde admits that she was “dying” from nervousness when she took the mic, but she discovered something: “It was easier than I expected, because once I got up there I felt that people were not criticizing me and I felt accepted.”
Usually, for a Stage Time and Juice show, apart from the open mic, we also invite a few adult performers to share something with the audience.
Arsene, the Dream Magician, materialized of his own accord with his usual greeting: “Long time no see!” He had just returned from a mysterious assignment in Hong Kong where he had been working as a consultant on a magic show. The Dream Magician delighted the guests with several “classic modern” tricks, one in particular done first in slow motion and then speeding it up, challenging the audience to guess how an egg can be made to present itself out of thin air. Juxtaposed with this was the magic act of Burke Giordano, whom we became acquainted with last year as he coaxed balloons into fanciful shapes. Taking center stage armed with only a pair of oversized spectacles, a briefcase, and a whistle, Burke treated the children to a whimsical performance, referencing his favorite comedians: the Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin, and Buster Keaton.
Burke’s magical act was followed by the ever-ebullient Sue DeSimone, our Stage Time and Juice rock diva, who led the audience in a sing-along of “This Little Light of Mine” and “Sing,” accompanied by her guitarist friend, Vincenzo Cuccia.
We end our narrative with a description of the opening number of the show, the dramatic reading of Jack and the Beanstalk, accompanied by sound effects. Keeping in mind that this might be the first time that young audience members encountered a radio play, there was first a brief introduction about sound effects, read in English (Ruth) and in Mandarin (Ashish) followed by a training session where the audience was coached to produce sound effects on cue. The story was then read by Carol, Zosia, Julian, and Nicole. The youngest of the crew, Jessie, assisted Ruth with the sound effects table. Here’s the spoiler: at the end of the story, Jack managed to escape from the giant’s castle with the silver and chopped down the beanstalk. The beanstalk fell with a huge crash, and the audience was handsomely rewarded for their participation.
After the show, the Juicers were turned loose to paint the streets with flowery, geometric rangoli forms, which according to Indian tradition can attract good luck. Creating rangoli has now become one of our Stage Time and Juice signature activities. Despite the heat, the artists worked enthusiastically, leaving the Air Force Base covered with an elaborate hand-painted carpet to greet the guests coming for the evening’s entertainment.
See more photos on our flickr album.
By Carol Yao
Stage Time & Juice Coordinator
Season’s Greetings, Red Roomers, old and new!
November and December have flown by in the most beautiful, colorful blur of fellowship and festivity. That’s why this edition of the e-news is our GLORIOUS, SUPER-SIZED Edition!
We close out 2016 with an impressive 7th anniversary event in November that spanned 3 days. It’s amazing to see how much Red Room has grown in seven years; imagine what we can do as time goes by. For a word on that, here’s something from our Keeper, Roma Mehta:
2016 evolved to become a landmark year for Red Room.
2017 will crystalize all that we learned.
2018 is where we should be looking.
Let’s plant an orchard.
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year, indeed! We have to have hope and to have faith, and Red Room is a place, a people, a movement that can foster that.
November’s Visual Dialogues was a carefully curated selection of photographs from Red Room’s history and events, perfectly balancing out our anniversary celebration. We’re looking forward to seeing old and new faces grace those images for years to come. Yours truly is also thinking of ideas to make those photographs seen more often by the public in the form of small exhibits and a photo archives.
December’s Visual Dialogues is dominated by a beautiful turtle in our front hall. Can you believe it’s made entirely from recycled plastic? Artists T.K. and Anne Hsiao-Wen bring their sculptural visions of how human consumption affects the world around us.
Stage Time and Wine 84, held on December 17, was a merry evening filled with poetry (including a little SCIENCE from Trevor Tormatosi), dance, music, and joy for the old, while ringing in the new.
Red Room can be a whirlwind. It can spin you around, sometimes overwhelming, always something unique. This year was a hard year for many people around the world. But I think Red Room has grown in its mission to use the arts as a platform to reach out, expand hearts and minds, and welcome people to our door. Here, you will find a place that’s truly special. Here, you will always find “friends you have not met yet.” There is a place for you here. That much, I promise.
We have many new events heading your way, which our Keeper Roma will share with all. But we are always looking for volunteers for our events and contributors to the e-newsletter.
For information about writing with me, email me at [email protected].
by Whitney Zahar
The idea of a one-day workshop for the purpose of creating a short presentation for the 7th Anniversary celebration came to Juice’s Carol Yao in the course of a discussion about a future and more elaborate R4/Juice collaboration. Jack & the Beanstalk was chosen from a list of familiar (Western) folk tales mainly because of that story’s potential for noise-making (sound effects).
Four teens were recruited: Julian and Nicole Hsu, Jessie Chen and Sosia Chen-Wernik. Carol and Ruth rounded out the cast.
We had less than three hours to learn the show. Radio drama allows for reading the script – no memorization was required. People settled into their assignments easily. Only one person played multiple roles and those characters appeared in separate scenes. The youngest member of the group took responsibility for sound effects and the eldest teen took on most of the narration as well as handling the cue-cards.
A last-minute addition was Ashish Purswaney, who translated the pre-show script, greeted the audience, introduced the craft of Radio Drama and responded to Cue Cards. The show was well received. There was a good turnout and the family audience was receptive to our offering. The sound system was of excellent quality and expertly-managed. All-in-all it was a good experience, if a bit rushed. But sometimes, that’s how we roll.
Earlier in November the ReadAloud met over some poetry by Robert Frost.
Generally, we feel that the monthly ReadAloud could use some more attention. While it was never meant to be a big event, it’s not thriving.
To end on an up-beat: the November calendar also included a visit to the ICRT studios for a recording session of Most Dangerous Game. Pat Woods and Paul Batt met there with Ruth and our favorite recording engineer Liu Ping. Everyone were so familiar with the material that the session went swimmingly and we were satisfied with the work in just a few hours.
Charles Dickens wrote his most famous hit single at a time when Christmas traditions and celebrations had fallen out of style.
The novella appeared in December 1843 as: A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas. It has not been out of print since.
Dickens was quite fond of the holiday and, with his history as a thespian, he thoroughly enjoyed reading it aloud each yuletide to family, friends and neighbors.
It’s become an R4 tradition here in Taiwan to present this classic in one form or another – always closely adhering to the original language. In 2012, a cast of readers assembled at the ICRT studios to record a scripted version, (penned by our own dramaturg, IgnatzRatskywatsky). This recording has been broadcast yearly at holiday time.
Dickens’ own abridged version was our material for the DecemberReadAloud: Sixteen souls gathered in the Red Room at TAF to take turns reading aloud. Incidental music set the mood and simple sound effects enhanced the listening experience.
The room had been festively decorated by Red Room elVes (that’s V for Volunteers, without whom there would be no Red Room) They even made the room smell Christmas-y with cinnamon and citrus and cider.
That’s the Word, and God bless us, everyone!
Red Room Radio Redux
At the beginning of October, Red Room teamed up with the CBTA (Childhood Brain Tumor Association of Taiwan) for a charity event. Fourteen artists exhibited their work to help the CBTA raise money. Part of the proceeds go to the CBTA, and part go to the artists.
The opening was on October 2nd, 2016, and the lovely Vicky Sun played hopeful and uplifting music to set the mood of the event. Further enhancing the mood were the colors and subject of the paintings themselves. As I looked around the room, happiness filled my heart.felt happiness. To me the event was lighthearted and peaceful considering the cause that was bringing everyone together. I hope others who came feel the same way.
Thank you to everyone who came to the event. Especially, thank you to the patrons who bought paintings and helped to support the cause. Those who made donations also contributed, and we thank you all too.
This show was a wonderful blend of the artists, the space and the association coming together to make a difference.
Our next show will be a reflection of the past seven years to celebrate RR’s anniversary. A visual journey from our humble beginnings to the present. Please join us for the next Visual Dialogues show at the Red Room, and share in Red Room’s story.
by Charles Haines
Beats for Breakfast event is held once a month. It’s where people do yoga, dance, and eat mindfully all day at the Red Room. The most recent one was held on Sunday, October 30. It was a lively morning and afternoon of music, color, dancing, and companionship.
While I wasn’t there for the yoga session, me and my sidekick (also known as my son, Preston), arrived in time to join Rose Goossen’s dance workshop. Well, I joined in. My son was more interested in lounging in the newly-created Reading Nook and watching. But having him absorb the atmosphere of loving your body and yourself, open dance, and open hearts was enough.
Rose Goossen believes that dance has three hypotheses: it’s a physical activity; it’s a spiritual activity, and it’s a social activity. I would say all three were proven as we all felt our bodies uplifted and in harmony with movement and music. As the beats kicked in, provided by DJ Leo, the room just erupted with movement. We let our bodies do the talking as we danced and cavorted on the dance floor.
I left feeling energized and better about myself. It was also great to reconnect with people. As we left, Preston received a green POWER bracelet from the lovely Tiffany Lin and Remindme Values. I love seeing that Preston is claiming his power. At a young age, he doesn’t quite know what it is yet. But he knows it’s there. And I think by coming to Beats for Breakfast, we all got a huge taste of the power within all of us.
Granola House, one of our partners, was also on hand with tasty and healthy treats. Christine, the founder, is passionate about reaching the people who really pay attention to what they consume.
by Whitney Zahar
First up was October’s ReadAloud – Spirits Abound. It was an intimate evening for sharing stories and poetry. There were the beautiful lyrics of classic poets such as Christina Rossetti and Edgar Allan Poe, as well as original poetry. There were tales of ghostly encounters; real or imagined, we leave to your interpretation. The gathering was also treated to a complex 21st century re-working of traditional folklore. Poe yet again made another appearance with a reading of his tale of jealousy, revenge and being buried alive: The Cask of Amontillado.
If anyone is curious, Poets.org has a wonderful database of Halloween poetry and more. Check it out at https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/halloween-poems
Once summoned by prose and poetry, the spirit Edgar Allan Poe was not ready to depart from the earthly realm yet! Next up was Three by Poe – an evening of two stories and a narrative poem by the master of mystery and the macabre. First, the evening opened with a lively game of Murder. Participants wore red stickers to show they were playing and given mysterious instructions. One at the gathering was the Murderer. With a wink, he or she would kill until they were caught and accused.
It was just a game, by the way. No one really died.
Then, the lights were dimmed and the audience crept onto the carpet and pillows as invited by Thomas Bellmore and the Three by Poe commenced with Paul Batt reading The Black Cat, a tale of murder, alcoholism, rage, and abuse. Mr. Batt’s deep voice throbbed around the room, drawing in the audience under the spell of the dreadful tale. Sarah Brooks provided a chilling accompaniment to the story with believable cat’s meows and other sound effects.
After a brief intermission, Thomas Bellmore took the mike and delivered his beautiful rendition of “The Raven.” Bearing more than a slight resemblance to Poe himself, Mr. Bellmore’s hypnotic rendition of lost love and grief stirred the audience to the point that there was no need for sound effects. He took everyone along for the dark, exquisite ride.
Finally, Whitney Zahar was up with The Tell-tale Heart. Together with Sarah Brooks on sound, Ms. Zahar spun the classic tale of murder, madness, and guilty conscience. The two ladies held the audience in a terrifying grip from beginning to the chilling end.
Throughout the whole evening, master artist Charles Haines maintained a silent, but compelling presence on the stage. Donning a mask and with an easel propped before him, Mr. Haines created a beautiful, surreal canvas which featured all three of Poe’s works while the readers performed.
In a word, Three By Poe can be summed up as—spellbinding.
We would like to announce an exciting collaboration between two sibling groups: Stage Time and Juice @ the Red Room, and Red Room Radio Redux (R4)! Ruth Giordano, the director of R4, has been involved in all aspects of theater practically since she began walking. As she frankly states: she has more than 50 years of experience to share.
In the next two upcoming Stage Time and Juice events you will be able to enjoy the fruits of that collaboration, beginning with a presentation of “Jack and the Beanstalk” during our anniversary show beginning at 2:30 on Saturday, November 19. Ruth will teach several teens how to use their voice and how to hand-create sound effects to retell this fairy tale classic in a fresh and appealing manner.
January 21 brings us Aesop’s Fables, based on a script Ruth penned in 2008 for a children’s theater company in Massachusetts. She will be adapting to fit the Juice troupe. This workshop is geared towards the younger children (ages 7-13). Part of the preparations for taking the stage will include prop and accessory crafting: parents will probably be called upon to assist!
If you, like Ruth, have a gift or passion to share, remember that the Red Room’s door is always open! A small exchange of knowledge can change a child’s (or grownup’s) life forever!
By Carol Yao and Ruth Giordano
For this month’s special anniversary issue, I’m going to turn the Scribe’s Musings over to Manav Mehta, who almost seven years ago, penned this exquisite poem that may prove slightly prophetic.
Happy 7th Anniversary, Red Room!
Stage time and wine
I thank you all for coming tonight, on behalf of the community and i
Moments where we analyze what to do, and what not to do..
Well, screw explaining that I’m up here so that’s what I’m going to do.
I want to tell you all whats been going on in my mind..
Crunching new grooves with a 19 year old grind..
It gives me headaches, awkwardly personal “proud moment” smiles..
An unorganized database, receiving an endless number of untitled files..
You gel up your hair, your hat cries out “STYLE”
Your body type comes with a variable list of numbers to dial..
I’m working on mine! Jogging mile to mile..
A combined effort at a developing mentality, with assorted perspectives-
Stage time and wine, is a place of…
Something that makes it special..special is what you’ll find..
The word artist holds no boundaries, its not marked by a mustache or a hat…
Those who have both are simply gifted, and well..i didn’t get it so screw THAT!
According to me here, once you’ve entered the red room..planet earth is flat..
The ultimate symbol indicating that we’re all equal ..were all artists here- how about that?
It’s a time for us to share! BYOB should change to BYOSOMETHING TO SAY
Everyone has something to share, its usually the ones who are shy..who sit back and compare..
C’mon guys, that simply isn’t fair- but don’t go as far as saying “I CAN say anything..its not like they care”
WE’RE here to listen, to enjoy, to emotionally react the way you do biting into a sweet chocolate eclair..
I wake up with theories, which are completely genius..
But as the day ticks along, it deteriorates to something meaningless..
This random rambling is an example of that- but I love the act of performing..(AND YES THIS IS CONSIDERED A PERFORMANCE..).
That’s a fact
Art comes in all different shapes and forms..the ones labeled eccentric or exotic-
Are just ones there are no real words for..
Ever notice the lack of vocabulary we hold to describe certain things of wonder..
Beauty..stimulating and depressing – sigh..
We use our bodies, the tone of voice, our facial expressions-
I was gifted with the control of my eyebrow muscles..and so..tonight I will take the role of goofy.
Stage time and wine..
Time for all of us to shine..
Hence the much brighter lighting –to symbolize the divine..
Bring out the person inside of you tonight- do so through the love for the spoken word..
Mimes are allowed as well..
Like I said artist holds no boundaries or lines..
There are beverages in the back, grapey wine with some chai-ey chai.
Let us all enjoy the night-
In hopes for more random ramblings in sight.
by Manav Mehta