Tag Archive | "LTV"

LTV Director Asks Sag Harbor School Board to Reconsider Broadcast Limitations

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A still shot of the video broadcast of the Sag Harbor Board of Education's December 9 meeting.

A still shot of the video broadcast of the Sag Harbor Board of Education’s December 9 meeting.

By Tessa Raebeck

In the wake of the Sag Harbor Board of Education’s decision last month to stop broadcasting the public comment portions of its meetings, LTV Executive Director Seth Redlus on Monday urged the board to reconsider its ruling, saying its liability concerns were unfounded.

“The action of editing out the public comment portion of your meeting clouds the very transparency this board sought to provide by offering the coverage,” Mr. Redlus told the board.

In light of several resignations in the spring of 2013, the school board faced criticism over a perceived lack of transparency and spent much of the last school year discussing a proposed policy to videotape and broadcast its public meetings. A six-month trial period was enacted over the summer and expired on December 31. During evaluation of that trial, board member David Diskin, who led the initial push for videotaping, suggested continuing to videotape the meetings, but omitting the two public input sessions from the tape, citing liability concerns voiced by the district’s attorney, Thomas Volz.

In December, Mr. Diskin and fellow board members Susan Kinsella, Sandi Kruel and Tommy John Schiavoni voted for a policy that does not broadcast public input, with Board President Theresa Samot, Vice President Chris Tice and Diana Kolhoff in the minority. That policy went into effect January 1 and was in use at the board’s meeting on Monday, January 12, during which Technology Director Scott Fisher stopped the recording prior to public comment.

The board members who voted not to broadcast public comments did so, they said because they were concerned about the district’s liability if it granted an unchecked public forum. Prior to that vote, Ms. Kruel said she counted six instances in which libelous statements were made by the public during the videotaping trial, and said it was too risky for the school district to broadcast an open forum. Mr. Schiavoni added it could affect programming because of the liability issues, should lawsuit costs mount. But Ms. Tice, Ms. Samot and Ms. Kolhoff said that was a risk they were willing to take.

The videos are taped by the school district and available on its website, but also distributed to the local government access stations LTV in East Hampton and SEA-TV in Southampton to be shown on television.

In reaction to the new policy, Mr. Redlus told the board Monday that LTV would still broadcast the meetings for the school board, but would inform its viewers at the beginning and end of the broadcasts that the meetings are independently produced and edited by the district rather than LTV. He believes the liability concerns expressed by some members of the board are misinformed, he said.

“LTV has videotaped government meetings for 30 years, and in that time, we have amassed a great deal of working knowledge about how best to capture these public events and present them to the community that we serve. One rule which has stood the test of time has become our prime directive: under no circumstances does LTV edit government meetings,” he said in a statement to the board made during public input.

“They are presented to the public in the very same way that they occurred in real life. That one simple rule has allowed the community to trust what they see when they tune in to our channel. While other media may be constrained by the time or space available to them, government access television shows every moment of what occurred—allowing viewers to make up their own minds with no editorial content,” he continued.

Editing meetings, Mr. Redlus added, is in the best interest of neither the board nor the public, as the board’s interpretation of issues raised in public comments is also not broadcast, comments made often reflect the opinion of a larger group, who may instead come to the board individually should they not see their questions answered en masse, and “there is no more liability to a board when public comment is broadcast than if that public comment is made only to an open meeting.”

Broadcasting the entire meeting, he concluded, may actually lower liability as there is a definitive recording of who said what.

Mr. Schiavoni asked Mr. Redlus whether LTV would consider taping the meetings itself, an option that had been floated by the board during earlier discussions.

“With the policy in place we won’t tape meetings,” Mr. Redlus replied, adding that when the board had originally considered documenting meetings, LTV had offered to cover a percentage of the cost based on how many East Hampton Cablevision subscribers live in the district (versus Southampton subscribers who are covered by SEA-TV), “but the school district never provided those numbers.”

In other school news, Theresa Roden and three girls from the i-tri program visited the board to ask it to consider Sag Harbor’s participation in the program, which is already active in the Springs, Montauk, and Southampton school districts. With the slogan, “transformation through triathlon,” the program aims to empower young girls through nutrition classes, self-esteem workshops, and physical and mental training to compete in a triathlon, held in July.

The program is free of charge for every participant, and asks the school district to provide a space to hold in-school sessions and possibly nighttime nutrition sessions, support from relevant personnel such as guidance counselors, and possibly transportation, if events cannot be housed in Sag Harbor.

Ms. Roden said in addition to anecdotal evidence that girls do better behaviorally and academically after the program, Jennifer Gatz, a local PhD candidate, conducted a thesis that found participants in the i-tri program, which combines fitness training, mentoring and self-esteem education, show an increased aptitude for science.

“There’s nothing I’ve experienced better than running through a finish line and having everyone you know and love cheer you on,” said Anna Rafferty, an eighth grade participant from Springs School.

The board appeared to be very supportive of bringing the program to Sag Harbor, and will vote on it at its next business meeting on January 26 when it meets at 6 p.m. for a budget workshop in the Pierson Library before convening a business meeting at 7:30.

Sag Harbor School Board Delays Videotaping Policy Approval

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Members and mentors of the champion Pierson Robotics team attended the Sag Harbor Board of Education's meeting Monday to ask for funding for their trip to the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in St. Louis later this month. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

Members and mentors of the champion Pierson Robotics team attended the Sag Harbor Board of Education’s meeting Monday to ask for funding for their trip to the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in St. Louis later this month. Photo by Tessa Raebeck.

By Tessa Raebeck

While committed to rolling out a six-month trial starting July 1, the Sag Harbor Board of Education postponed the second reading of a policy aimed at allowing the board to videotape its meetings and share those sessions online. The board paused in approving the policy so it can be reworded to more accurately reflect the district’s intentions, said board members on Monday.

“One of the concerns is some of the language in the policy is really not specific to how we’re going to do this,” said board member David Diskin, a proponent of videotaping meetings, who has said the technology could improve public access to the board as well as board transparency.

Board members said they would review the policy with Thomas Volz, the district’s attorney. The targeted date for running a six-month trial, July 1 through January 1, remains on schedule.

Seth Redlus, executive director for LTV, East Hampton’s public access television station, attended Tuesday’s meeting to answer the board’s questions about video implementation.

Both LTV and SEA-TV, the public access station for Southampton, will broadcast the meetings for district residents in each town. Mr. Redlus said if a meeting was taped Monday evening, it “would be a safe bet” that video would be available to the public by Tuesday at noon on the station’s website.

“I would reach out to SEA-TV and talk to them about finding concurrent air times, so that way you don’t have to tell your East Hampton residents it’s on at that time or tell your Southampton residents it’s on at that time,” he said.

Mr. Redlus also assured the board if a meeting runs longer than the two-hour time period allotted for its broadcast—which they often do—the programs scheduled after are “not critical, so that way they can be yanked on the fly.”

LTV’s policy is generally to leave videos on demand on the website for up to three months, but still hold on to the material in case there are requests for it.

Scott Fisher, technology director for the district, said Tuesday the original estimate for the project was roughly $2,000 but “we were able to pull together some of the equipment from within.” The district still needs to purchase microphones, a camera light and a few other small items, but estimates that cost will be “well under” $1,000, said Mr. Fisher.

In other school news, the board approved $17,000 in funding for the Pierson Robotics Team to attend the FIRST Robotics Competition Championship in St. Louis, Missouri, April 23 to 26.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more inspirational performance than I saw that night,” said Dr. Carl Bonuso, interim superintendent, of the robotics team’s showing at the regional championship two weeks ago. “Or a better example of championship, scholarship and sportsmanship than I saw the night that this Team 28 fittingly won its Engineer Inspiration Award. Inspiration is literally the word.”

The board will cover the cost of the students’ hotel rooms and pay both the airfare and hotel rooms for four chaperones, as well as buses to and from the airport.

The board’s next meeting is Wednesday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pierson Library.

Sharing Shakespeare

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Bringing the Bard (and “The Scottish Play”) to the East End

Andrew Botsford as King Duncan, Tristan Vaughan as Malcolm and Vincent Cinque as Donalbain perform a scene from Macbeth during a rehearsal at LTV Studios on Saturday, 12/22/12. (Michael Heller photo)

 

By Annette Hinkle

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

With that oft-quoted line from “As You Like It,” William Shakespeare offers a poignant reminder of the roles we each take on in our variable and changing lives.

But in some ways, it’s a quote that could also easily reflect the Shakespearean aspirations of Tristan and Morgan Vaughan on the East End.

The Vaughans are classically trained actors who met while earning MFA degrees at The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting (ACA) at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Both also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, the Bard’s home turf, so to speak, which makes it a theatrical form they know well from both sides of the pond.

Now, husband and wife are looking to share their knowledge and passion for Shakespeare with the local community through a new classical theater ensemble. The Round Table Theatre Company & Academy is one in which the couple will not only produce plays, but offer classical training to local actors (and would-be actors) as well.

The new company’s first production will be “Macbeth” (aka “the Scottish play” by superstitious thespians who fear bad luck if its title is uttered within the confines of a theater). That play will run January 11 to 20 at LTV studios in Wainscott, where the Vaughans are not only producing (Tristan is directing while Morgan is the text and voice director) they are also acting — Morgan plays Lady Macbeth and Tristan is taking on the role of Malcolm.

When asked why Macbeth was chosen as the first production for the company, Tristan responds, “The main reason is our familiarity with the script. It’s also one of the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays.”

Tristan notes another reason is the 1979 film version of “Macbeth” starring Ian McKellen and Judi Dench which he saw when he was 18. At the time, he was working on a production of the play, but admittedly, didn’t understand what it was all about.

“But I realized I could appreciate it, and worked on it and came to understand it,” he adds. “Macbeth is what brought Shakespeare to life for me — working on the play and seeing that production.”

“It’s a great play,” he says. “So poetic and so tragic — and so arresting. It was no question in my mind the one to start with.”

Producing, directing, acting … though it’s not easy for the Vaughans to wear so many hats in a single production, Tristan explains the reasoning behind this decision.

“We wanted to walk the talk in terms of illuminating the text and raise people up,” says Tristan. “This first time, so we wanted people to know that we know what we’re doing.”

“It’s pragmatic too. I’m not paying two actors,” adds Tristan who admits that directing while acting is quite a challenge. “I’m not planning to do it in the future.”

“We’re feeling very overwhelmed at times,” admits Morgan. “But it’s fun for us at the same time.”

“This is the work of trying to realize a dream — getting something off the ground and feeling the energy out here and seeing what clicks,” says Tristan.

It’s an energy that was born two years ago when the Vaughans relocated to the East End from Los Angeles after a rather unfulfilling experience in the professional world of acting out there.

“We were literally told to take our classical degrees off our resumes,” says Morgan. “No one cared.”

But here on the East End, Morgan (an East Hampton native) and Tristan, who hails from Dallas, found an audience eager to partake of what they had to offer. The Vaughans began teaching Speaking Shakespeare, a class at Guild Hall, and were surprised by how quickly it caught on.

“People came out of the woodwork to do it,” recalls Morgan. “So we thought why not create a company and an academy to train people in the text who are in the nascent stages?”

“A couple people in our show took the class,” she adds. “That’s what we’re really trying to go for. A fully professional company of people who have been trained. That’s going to take a while, but the beginnings are there.”

As a result, for this inaugural production Morgan and Tristan are relying on a number of professional actors as well as those who are just cutting their teeth, so to speak, on the Bard. They believe it’s a combination that works well on stage.

“It brings the inexperienced actor up and tends to elevate them,” explains Morgan. “People rise to the occasion really amazingly. As an actress, if I’m working with someone who’s not there, it brings me down. If someone is there it brings me up.”

Taking the title role of “Macbeth” will be Jeff Keogh, an Australian native now living in Washington, D.C. Like the Vaughans, he also studied at ACA and came highly recommended by the school’s director.

“Jeff is a good example of the way we were trained,” explains Morgan. “He’s a natural actor. It’s not about this typical way of doing Shakespeare. He’s doing heightened text and you understand it because of how he delivers it. It’s very conversational and not what people expect.”

Making sure that audiences understand what Shakespeare is getting at in the text is an important goal for Tristan and Morgan. They understand that many people — Americans in particular — are intimidated by Shakespearean plays and often feel as if they don’t get it. As a result, the couple explains it’s their job to make sure it comes across in a way audiences can grasp.

“If people come to this and don’t understand, it doesn’t have to do with their level of intelligence, the actors have to convey it,” says Tristan.

“In Britain, it’s about text and technique,” explains Morgan. “In America, it’s ‘how do you feel about this?’ and bringing your own experience. We’re trying to bring both together and you can’t have one without other. With Shakespeare, the British are a little technical and Americans tend to be emotive. Our idea is to go right between that.”

“We want to break down the barriers between Americans and Shakespeare,” adds Tristan. “It belongs to us, we’re native English speakers, just like in England.”

The Vaughans are also looking to bring back some of the sensibility that dictated how plays in Shakespeare’s day were perceived by the masses.

“The difference between Elizabethan Shakespeare and our own modern version is people back then didn’t go to ‘see’ a play — they went to ‘hear’ a play,” stresses Tristan. “Our culture is so visual now, but words were mysterious then. They were onomatopoeic, the sounds were what people relished. It was an audio culture and we’re trying to change people from gazing at a computer screen to replicating that sound.”

But the Vaughans aren’t completely rejecting the modern age with this production either. With the possibilities that abound at the LTV studio space, Tristan and Morgan are capitalizing on the unconventional.

“Because of where we’re doing it, it’s not just a proscenium stage,” explains Morgan. “We’ll be doing it on a thrust stage. Macbeth will be right there. I think it’s more exciting and that’s different than the audience watching from a safe place. It isn’t just going to be people walking out and saying things. We’ll be using the whole space.”

There will also be an opportunity for multi-media visuals on stage. Original artwork by Brian Leaver, for example will be offered on screen behind the action during “Macbeth.” Highlighting the work of other artists is something the Vaughans would like to do in future productions as well.

“We want to cultivate a community of visual artists as well as actors, and give them a showing,” says Tristan.

After this initial production of “Macbeth,” the Vaughans will continue to offer classes to help bring the words and works of Shakespeare to life for residents of the East End. Whether these are people who have wider theatrical aspirations or not, Morgan and Tristan are looking forward to bringing the community into the Shakespearean fold (including teens) because experience has shown, it’s definitely an idea whose time has come.

“We wouldn’t have started this if Speaking Shakespeare hadn’t been so successful,” says Morgan. “I think we realize there’s a market for it.”

 

Round Table Theatre Company & Academy’s inaugural production of “Macbeth” will run at LTV Studios (75 Industrial Road, Wainscott) from January 11 to 20. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 ($15 students/seniors). Visit www.tveh.org or www.roundtabletheatrecompany.org for details. The production is a fundraiser for both LTV and Round Table’s season as well as its acting classes and reading workshops at Guild Hall. Yuka Silvera is costume designer, Sebastian Paczynski is the lighting designer and Jennifer Brondo is stage manager.

Below: IT’S GOOD TO BE THE KING: Andrew Botsford (King Duncan), Tristan Vaughan (Malcolm) and Vincent Cinque (Donalbain) rehearse “Macbeth” at LTV Studios. (Michael Heller photo)