Tag Archive | "East End Special Players"

East Hampton Adopts $71.7 Million Spending Plan

Tags: , , , ,


The East Hampton Town Board of Trustees adopted its 2010 budget on Friday, November 20 with very few changes made to the spending plan since it was formerly introduced earlier this fall.

The $71.7 million budget has been pared down from the original $72.1 million spending plan submitted by former town Supervisor Bill McGintee just before his resignation in October. The budget will increase taxes by 10.7 percent for residents of the town who do not live in the village with village residents looking at an almost 9 percent tax increase.

Last year, town residents had to swallow a 23 percent tax increase with village residents having their taxes raised 39 percent.

The incoming Republican majority – Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and new town board members Theresa Quigley and Dominick Stanzione – promised during their successful election campaign they plan to spend roughly $10 million less than the current budget calls for. They will join existing board members Julia Prince and deputy-supervisor Pete Hammerle in January.

A majority of the increases projected in the now-adopted budget will cover the cost of debt service on a state backed $15 million in deficit financing to cover rising deficits over the last two years. The total town deficit is predicted to be above $20 million by the close of this fiscal year.

In the last two weeks, minor changes have been made to the budget, including the addition of funding for Project MOST, the East Hampton Day Care and the East End Special Players. All three not for profits lobbied the board to continue their funding at the first budget hearing in the beginning of November and after learning the town would receive approximately $100,000 more than expected in sales tax revenue from the county, board members decided to add the funding back into the budget. Project MOST will receive $15,000, the East Hampton Day Care will get an additional $25,000 in town funding and East End Special Players is slated to receive $10,000 to continue their Saturday afternoon programming in Bridgehampton.



A Special Collaboration With an African Influence

Tags: , ,


web EESP 10 C

By Marianna Levine

This Saturday, residents of the East End of Long Island will have the opportunity to enjoy a little West African food and hospitality from 4-7:30 p.m. at 93 Merchants Path when the East End Special Players perform a piece of their new work in progress, “Kokrobite,” to benefit the troupe.

Jacqui Leader, the Creative Director of the East End Special Players, knew after their well received production of “You are a Petunia in My Garden”, a play the troupe created about their developmentally challenged lives, that “the next play needed to be equally interesting and challenging” for the performers as well as the audience.

Thankfully, Leader, who had recently returned from a volunteering stint at a school for the handicapped in Ghana, was inspired so deeply by that experience that she decided to bring West Africa and the East End together in a creative and informative way through the EESP. That may be how the multi-media production of “Kokrobite” originated, but Leader stresses the production has been a thoroughly collaborative experience.

Leader started the process of putting together the show by returning to Ghana with a two person film crew in tow in order to document not only what the Volta School for the Mentally Handicapped does but also to highlight the rich cultural life of this West African country.

“We shot rolls and rolls of footage interviewing local villagers on topics ranging from love, marriage, food, and voodoo. The Ghanaians being so friendly and forthcoming had all of us deliriously happy, creatively and spiritually” she enthused.

Leader further explains, “I usually improvise with our actors. This time I picked out pieces in the footage that they could work with. For example, I had a gentleman from Ghana recite a poem written by a Ghanaian poet on film that I have the actors recite afterwards on stage. We’ve used bits from the film footage to create specific scenes.”

She also mentions they had a local Ghanaian resident come cook West African dishes with the actors one day, which led to their creating a song about peanut soup, a popular Ghanaian dish.

Leader, whose background is in theater rather than special education noted that developmentally challenged young adults bring a wonderful openness to their acting on stage.

 “How they work off each other is so real. They don’t judge each other, and they don’t censor themselves. You always get something interesting and very raw from these actors.”

When Leader is asked what led her to seek out her African travel experience and apply it to her work with the EESP she says, “You know I’m a very emotional person. I often wonder what is my purpose here? What am I doing with my life? And sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough for others. If I’m down in the dumps I feel like I can easily just go down that black hole unless I go out and do something for someone else. A friend told me about the organization Cross Cultural Solutions, and I had never been to Africa before, so considering I was a little leery about going on my own, I decided to go with that group. When I saw the choice to volunteer at the Volta School, it was obviously the right choice for me considering what I do.”

After volunteering at the school for three weeks, she felt compelled to continue a relationship with the school and the people of Ghana, and thought the cross-cultural experience would benefit the players as well as the students at the school in Africa.

Leader noted there had been a lot of progress made at the school between her first and second visit as the school received three new lap top computers, a chicken coop, and a refrigerator, some of which Leader purchased and brought over herself.

This is amazing progress considering that when Leader first arrived “the kids were literally sleeping on the floor and had only a spout sticking out of the wall with a little water trickling out of it to wash with.”

The EESP and the Volta school have been communicating via pictures on the computer as well as having the students and players sending drawings and paintings to one another. In fact all the costumes the EESP wear were made out of the material students in Ghana made specifically for the play.

Leader relates, “Everyone should do something to help others. It could be here. It doesn’t have to be in Africa. Through helping you feel so connected to the world, and I know this has helped our players. It has given them a sense of ownership and pride.”

For further information on the East End Special Players benefit go to www.eastendspecialplayers.com or call 631-655-6893. Tickets, which include a performance and African food, are $75, but any amount will be accepted for those who want to attend.


Getting in Rhythm a World Away: Handicapped troupe makes Ghana connection

Tags:


Over the course of the last two-and-a-half years, the East End Special Players, a theater troupe made up of 20 developmentally disabled adults, many with Down’s syndrome, have been performing their play “You Are a Petunia in My Garden” for local audiences. The piece consists of sketches written by the Players themselves in which they offer a glimpse of what it’s like to live with a disability through their dreams, frustrations and secrets.

“This play makes you think about their abilities and not their disabilities,” explains Jacqui Leader, director of the East End Special Players. “It touches on things like work, friendships and personal relationships — about having a child or wanting to have a career.”

This Friday, the Players perform “You Are a Petunia in My Garden” one last time for the public. The show, a benefit production for the troupe, takes place at Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor and begins with a silent auction and wine reception at 6 p.m. followed by the play at 7 p.m. While Leader says the play will still be offered to area high schools, where it has been well received throughout the fall, she is eager to get started on a new production for the Players — one which will involve disabled individuals half a world away in Ghana, West Africa.

The idea came from a working vacation Leader took with Cultural Solutions, an organization that places volunteers in orphanages, hospitals or schools in third world countries.

“I knew I needed a holiday but didn’t want to just go lay on a beach,” says Leader who spent three weeks volunteering at the Volta School for the Mentally Handicapped in the village of Hohoe. Leader was shocked by the conditions she found at the school in Ghana, where the children also lived.

“It was really hard,” says Leader. “They didn’t have anything to work with — no pencils, no paper, nothing, and there were 60 children from ages 8 to 18.”

Leader learned that in Ghana, there is still a belief that disabilities such as Down’s syndrome are caused not by genetics, but by voodoo. The floor of the classrooms were mud, there was no electricity and students slept on filthy thin foam mats.

“The kids were caned. We would cry,” says Leader who met a man at the school named Michael who was driven to engage the students.  He has taught them to do batik work and tapestry weaving. Back home, Michael sent Leader the children’s artwork which she sold as part of a fundraiser to help the school. But Leader began to think of other ways to continue the relationship with Ghana.

“I thought, maybe we should create a special theater piece with them,” says Leader.

So come January, Leader will return to Ghana, this time with cinematographer Eric Glandbard, to film the mentally disabled at three different schools with the idea of incorporating the footage into a new piece for the East End Special Players.

Ghanaian culture will serve as the inspiration for the new piece— the drumming, dances, and Anansi the Spider — a famous character in folklore. Also involved in the production will be local drummer Daniel Bailey and a Ghanaian drummer named Ockoe, as well as Kristen Van Lew, an East End dance teacher who spent five months in Ghana. Both will be going there next month with Leader.

The new production will feature the live Players interacting with the filmed Ghanaian students through dance, drumming and storytelling. Meanwhile, the Players are already being immersed in the culture of Ghana in preparation for the piece.

“Ockoe worked with our actors and brought all the drums and taught them a Ghanaian song and dance,” says Leader who is also teaching the Players about the symbolism and art of the country.

“I can’t wait to get started. I think it’ll be very exciting. Culturally, it’s stimulating for them,” says Leader. “I feel proud that I can offer them this whole new idea. I like to open up their minds to something like working with people overseas who have disabilities.”

Leader also feels that it’s important to not forget the students of Hohoe. She will take along photos of the Players to share with them in January and still recalls what Michael told her during her visit.

“He said, ‘You are my angel. I know you’ll come back,’” recalls Leader. “I have to do something.”

Tickets for “You Are A Petunia In My Garden” are $15 and can be purchased at the door at Bay Street Theatre. This weekend, the Surface Library Gallery (845 Springs Fireplace Road, East Hampton) will donate a portion of proceeds from sales to the East End Special Players. A reception will be held at the gallery on December 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Above: Jacqui Leader with a handicapped child at the Volta School in Ghana

 

Getting in Rhythm a World Away: Handicapped troupe makes Ghana conection

Tags:


Over the course of the last two-and-a-half years, the East End Special Players, a theater troupe made up of 20 developmentally disabled adults, many with Down’s syndrome, have been performing their play “You Are a Petunia in My Garden” for local audiences. The piece consists of sketches written by the Players themselves in which they offer a glimpse of what it’s like to live with a disability through their dreams, frustrations and secrets.

“This play makes you think about their abilities and not their disabilities,” explains Jacqui Leader, director of the East End Special Players. “It touches on things like work, friendships and personal relationships — about having a child or wanting to have a career.”

This Friday, the Players perform “You Are a Petunia in My Garden” one last time for the public. The show, a benefit production for the troupe, takes place at Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor and begins with a silent auction and wine reception at 6 p.m. followed by the play at 7 p.m. While Leader says the play will still be offered to area high schools, where it has been well received throughout the fall, she is eager to get started on a new production for the Players — one which will involve disabled individuals half a world away in Ghana, West Africa.

The idea came from a working vacation Leader took with Cultural Solutions, an organization that places volunteers in orphanages, hospitals or schools in third world countries.

“I knew I needed a holiday but didn’t want to just go lay on a beach,” says Leader who spent three weeks volunteering at the Volta School for the Mentally Handicapped in the village of Hohoe. Leader was shocked by the conditions she found at the school in Ghana, where the children also lived.

“It was really hard,” says Leader. “They didn’t have anything to work with — no pencils, no paper, nothing, and there were 60 children from ages 8 to 18.”

Leader learned that in Ghana, there is still a belief that disabilities such as Down’s syndrome are caused not by genetics, but by voodoo. The floor of the classrooms were mud, there was no electricity and students slept on filthy thin foam mats.

“The kids were caned. We would cry,” says Leader who met a man at the school named Michael who was driven to engage the students.  He has taught them to do batik work and tapestry weaving. Back home, Michael sent Leader the children’s artwork which she sold as part of a fundraiser to help the school. But Leader began to think of other ways to continue the relationship with Ghana.

“I thought, maybe we should create a special theater piece with them,” says Leader.

So come January, Leader will return to Ghana, this time with cinematographer Eric Glandbard, to film the mentally disabled at three different schools with the idea of incorporating the footage into a new piece for the East End Special Players.

Ghanaian culture will serve as the inspiration for the new piece— the drumming, dances, and Anansi the Spider — a famous character in folklore. Also involved in the production will be local drummer Daniel Bailey and a Ghanaian drummer named Ockoe, as well as Kristen Van Lew, an East End dance teacher who spent five months in Ghana. Both will be going there next month with Leader.

The new production will feature the live Players interacting with the filmed Ghanaian students through dance, drumming and storytelling. Meanwhile, the Players are already being immersed in the culture of Ghana in preparation for the piece.

“Ockoe worked with our actors and brought all the drums and taught them a Ghanaian song and dance,” says Leader who is also teaching the Players about the symbolism and art of the country.

“I can’t wait to get started. I think it’ll be very exciting. Culturally, it’s stimulating for them,” says Leader. “I feel proud that I can offer them this whole new idea. I like to open up their minds to something like working with people overseas who have disabilities.”

Leader also feels that it’s important to not forget the students of Hohoe. She will take along photos of the Players to share with them in January and still recalls what Michael told her during her visit.

“He said, ‘You are my angel. I know you’ll come back,’” recalls Leader. “I have to do something.”

Tickets for “You Are A Petunia In My Garden” are $15 and can be purchased at the door at Bay Street Theatre. This weekend, the Surface Library Gallery (845 Springs Fireplace Road, East Hampton) will donate a portion of proceeds from sales to the East End Special Players. A reception will be held at the gallery on December 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Above: Jacqui Leader with a handicapped child at the Volta School in Ghana

 

East End Digest – November 27

Tags: , , , , ,


East End Special Players

The East End Special Players will host a special benefit performance of “You are a Petunia in my Garden” on Friday, December 5 at Bay Street Theatre on Long Wharf in Sag Harbor at 7 p.m. for $15. The production, which was written by the players themselves about their lives, hopes and dreams, will benefit the players and their ultimate goal – to reach out to other groups throughout the United States, Europe, Africa and on other continents. Plans for the East End Special Players next production is to theatrically collaborate and work with the School for the Mentally Handicapped Kledjo for the Volta Deaf in Hohoe, Ghana, West Africa.

State Assembly: Limits On PILOT

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. has introduced legislation which will expressly limit local government discretion in awarding PILOT payments to school and special districts in the Central Pine Barrens by providing express state rules for calculating and awarding such payments.

“Local governments have utilized their discretion with the PILOT payments more for politics than good policy reasons. The legislation will forever eliminate any such shenanigans with the PILOT payments. The Community Preservation Fund (CPF) is first and foremost a land preservation program, not a revenue sharing program. The PILOTS program, if managed fairly and responsibly, is a critical part of land acquisition strategies in areas with high taxes, low property values and environmentally sensitive lands. This bill will insure that the program meets legislative objectives.”

Suffolk County: Thanking Films

Celebrating a successful year of economic activity generated by the film production industry on the East End, County Executive Steve Levy and the Suffolk County Film Commission, in cooperation with the East End Production Task Force, will welcome elected officials, chambers of commerce and business owners to a special “thank you” networking cocktail reception on Thursday, December 4 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Southampton Inn at 91 Hill Street in Southampton.

The event will feature several guest speakers including Mitchell Kriegman, co-owner of East Hampton Studios and Moke McGowan, President, Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau. Representatives from area hotels, restaurants, retail businesses and casting agencies will share their experiences and present the benefits of local production on the East End.

In recent months, local villages and hamlets have served as the setting for a number of television and film productions including the feature film “Paper Man,” episodes of the runaway hit TV show “Gossip Girl,” potential new series such as Barry Sonnenfeld’s “Suburban Shootout” and “Royal Pains” and production work for such shows as Saturday Night Live and the PBS children’s series, “It’s a Big, Big World.”

Productions often bring along over 100 crew members who stay at hotels and inns, rent homes and locations, shop in supermarkets, farmstands and stores and dine in restaurants. Consequently, each shoot has an economic impact on the communities in which production takes place. The East End Production Task Force was created to not only promote film and television on the East End but to work with local legislators on making the whole process as desirable as possible for filmmakers and avoiding public inconvenience.

For further information contact Janet Scheel, 853-4747 or email janet.scheel@suffolkcountyny.gov.

Plum TV: Mr. Internet

Plum TV, the 24-hour television and internet network of local channels serving upscale resort communities, has partnered with award winning advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky to launch a new television series offering viewers a guided tour into the uncharted territory of the Internet.

The new series, “Mr. Internet,” launches Thanksgiving weekend and will be hosted by Dave Schiff, VP Group Creative Director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The show will offer a unique inside look at the latest, greatest and most absurd trends, web pages, videos and experiences on the Internet.

Each half-hour program will provide a platform for “Mr. Internet” and his guests to discuss the most topical and culturally insightful nuggets from the vast expanses of cyberspace. From trends in blogging and social networking sites to the often unintentionally humorous trials and tribulations of free web services, Mr. Internet explores popular websites and offers a sneak peak into the trends and culture of the Internet. Working on location from inside the Internet to fully immerse viewers in its culture, Mr. Internet will cull compelling internet phenomena and expound on it or discuss it with his guests. The program is the web 2.0 version of “Talk Soup,” pulling content from the Internet rather than television.

“Plum TV’s audience is perfect for this show: they’re smart, successful, curious people who appreciate the humor, intrigue and oddities often found on the world wide web, said Chris Glowacki, CEO of Plum TV. “Crispin Porter + Bogusky is an arbiter of what’s edgy and provocative in American culture, and is uniquely equipped to take the deep dive into Internet content, so our busy viewers don’t have to.”

In an age where new Internet celebrities are created weekly and youtube videos circulate the web faster than one can download a TV show, the Internet has proved to be more than a petri dish for pop culture or a tool for work or school. From service-oriented tips in travel and finance to expanding technologies and the latest viral video, Mr. Internet will guide viewers through the mean streets of the Internet.

The initial season of the program will consist of six-30 minute episodes that will air across the Plum networks, including their Hamptons station.

Southampton Town: East Quogue Purchase

Supervisor Linda Kabot announced today that Southampton Town has officially acquired a sought-after parcel slated for preservation.

Straddling the border between the hamlet of East Quogue and the Village of Quogue, the property is comprised of an acre of land owned by Richard and Patricia Schultz, and is situated on the corner of Box Tree Road and Lakewood Avenue.

“It affords us the opportunity to increase wetlands preservation within the Village of Quogue,” said Kabot, who added that the hamlet portion of the property is already part of the Town’s Wetland Preservation Target Area.

 “Wetlands are fragile, but indispensable natural resources which are immensely important to the Town,” added Kabot.

Southampton’s wetlands include small wet depressions, inter-dunal swales and vernal ponds, as well as expansive marshes, swamps, bays, creeks, and ponds.

“They are essential to maintaining the ecology and biodiversity of the Town,” said councilwoman Nancy Graboski, liaison to the Community Preservation Advisory Board. “They also protect against floods, control pollution, and contribute to open space efforts.”

The original resolution approving the purchase was adopted by the Town Board on September 9, and authorized a price of up to $50,000. The move also added the Schultz property to the Town’s Community Preservation Project Plan which identifies target areas and properties for park, recreation, open space, and conservation purposes.

Any development rights credits associated with the land will be placed in the Town’s development rights bank and may be used as wastewater credits for affordable housing initiatives.

Assemblyman Thiele: State Budget

The New York State Legislature met on November 18 in what Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. called an extraordinary session to address the state’s $2 billion 2008-09 budget deficit. No action was taken.

Governor David Paterson’s proposed budget cutting proposal had no support among state legislators of either party, said Thiele. The governor’s meat axe approach to cutting aid to education, local governments, and hospitals was ill considered, he added in a release, noting the result would have been higher property taxes, loss of essential services and a further economic decline.

Nevertheless, the substantial state budget deficit remains and must be addressed, he added

“We need to set clear priorities and we need to be fair in making these decisions,” said Thiele in a press release. “Education and health care must have a high priority. Yet, there can be no doubt that there is waste and fat in the state government that must be rooted out first. Since January 2007, the state bureaucracy has increased by 6,000 positions. If we did without these positions less than two years ago, can’t we do without them now? Further, an early retirement incentive could be utilized to reduce the size of the workforce.

The state also has nearly $1.7 billion in “rainy day” and reserved funds which could be applied to the deficit. “These funds were created to mitigate a crisis just like the one we are facing,” said Thiele.

“Further,” he adds, “In discussions with Congressman Tim Bishop regarding the proposed federal stimulus plan, part of the proposal would include changes in federal funding which would generate $2 billion in extra aid for New York State, if passed by Congress. The governor needs to lobby the federal government to make this a reality.”

Thiele also suggested other areas the state could look to towards reining in spending. For example, he said, New York State spends more on Medicaid than California and Texas combined.

“To a large extent this is due to the level of fraud, waste, and abuse in New York State,” he said. “In addition, New York State funds every optional Medicaid service, unlike other states. By mirroring California’s Medicaid program, we could have substantial funds without impacting essential medical care.”

He also said a state hiring freeze, a freeze on state employee travel, a 15 percent cut in non-personnel state budget lines, merging similar state agencies, eliminating un-needed state commissions and member items, as well as eliminating the re-appropriations that are five years or older are other tactics Thiele said could be used to bridge the gap.

“Of course,” he added, “any comprehensive proposal must also cap school taxes, eliminate unfunded state mandates to schools and local government, increase fiscal accountability on all levels of government, and provide incentives to promote consolidation of local government and local government functions.”

The governor will present his proposed 2009-10 state budget in mid-December.

“It is imperative that the governor and the state legislature get to work immediately after that presentation to restore fiscal stability to the state,” said Thiele. “I had to take similar steps as a chief fiscal officer of a local government 17 years ago. We turned a deficit into a surplus. The state can do the same if there exists the political will to do so.”