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Art, Drama, Music and Books
Art, drama, music & books

Award-Winning Author Joan Silber to Launch Sarah Lawrence College Reading Series at the Bronxville Library on March 22 PDF Print Email

By Ellen de Saint Phalle, Director of Community Relations, Sarah Lawrence College


Feb. 27, 2019:  Sarah Lawrence College is delighted to present a faculty reading series at the Bronxville Public Library. Award-winning author and Sarah Lawrence faculty member Joan Silber will launch the series on March 22 at 11:00 am in the library’s Yeager Room. 

The writing program at Sarah Lawrence College is nationally recognized and includes a faculty of active and accomplished writers.

“This faculty reading series at the public library is a wonderful opportunity to share the talents of the college’s renowned faculty with the greater community,” said President Cristle Collins Judd.

Joan Silber is the author of eight books of fiction. Her most recent book, Improvement, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award and was listed among the New York Times’ s 100 Notable Books for 2018. The novel revolves around a single mother whose boyfriend enlists her in a scheme to smuggle cigarettes across state lines, and Silber connects these contemporary New York characters with characters from 1970s Turkey. 

In her review for the New York Times, Kamila Shamsie writes: “This is a novel of richness and wisdom and huge pleasure. Silber knows, and reveals, how close we live to the abyss, but she also revels in joy, particularly the joy that comes from intimate relationships.”

Silber’s first book, Household Words, won the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her other works of fiction are In the CityIn My Other LifeLucky UsIdeas of Heaven, finalist for the National Book Award and the Story Prize, The Size of the World, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Prize in Fiction, and Fools, longlisted for the National Book Award and finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.

Silber’s stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Epoch, Agni, Tin House, The Southern Review, The Colorado Review, and other magazines. She has been the recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story; an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; a Guggenheim Fellowship; and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her short fiction has been chosen for the O. Henry Prize, the Pushcart Prize, and Best American Short Stories. She is also the author of The Art of Time in Fiction

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Silber earned a master’s degree from New York University and has taught at Sarah Lawrence College since 1985.

The Sarah Lawrence Faculty Reading Series at the Bronxville Public Library will feature two programs each year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Christine Utchel, head of adult reference, technology and patron services, is coordinating the program for the library.

Book sales and signing will be available after the program courtesy of Womrath Bookshop. No registration is required for this free program. For more information, please contact  CLOAKING  or call 914-337-7680, ext. 24.


Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 

 
Feed Me! Bloodthirsty Rock and Roll Musical Devours Bronxville PDF Print Email

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By Scott Goodson and Karin Drakenberg, Parents of children in The Bronxville School


Feb. 20, 2019:  Bronxville is fifteen miles from Broadway and the bright lights of Times Square. But watching the students of Bronxville High School perform Little Shop of Horrors, you'd be hard-pressed to know the difference. Foot-stomping, hilarious madness descended on the quiet village of Bronxville. The sold-out performances rocked the house with energy emanating from an extraordinary cast, crew, and orchestra. 

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Little Shop of Horrors was cast and directed by the high school's amazing visionary choral director, Pamela Simpson. The students committed many weeks to daily rehearsals in the midst of midterms and exams, perfecting the exquisite choreography and velvety vocals.

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The show is a horror/comedy rock musical composed by Alan Menken and written by Howard Ashman. The story follows a nerdy and insecure florist shop worker living on skid row, Seymour (Matthew Pytosh), who a raises a plant that, unbeknownst to him when he acquired it, grows only by eating fresh humans. Seymour falls in love with Audrey (Catie Burnell) and wins her love by feeding her boyfriend, the sadistic leather-wearing, motorcycle-driving dentist (Jacoby Goodson), to bloodthirsty Audrey II, the human-eating plant. Next to be devoured is the opportunistic shop owner, Mr. Mushnik (George Cooney).

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The story is bound together by a group known as the Urchins, who, singing doo-wop and early Motown and wearing '60s fashion (Norah Foley, Maya Engenhiero, Alice O'Connell, Vance Wood, Sofia Fenner, and Olivia Conniff), kept the musical moving along in a funky, breakneck pace. The green star of the show was the bloodthirsty Audrey II (Ally Bruno (voice)/Alana McGinness (puppeteer)). The whole cast and crew were fantastic and blew the roof off the new Bronxville theater. And the magnificent orchestra, consisting mostly of students, didn’t miss a beat! Through the generous support of The Bronxville School Foundation and the PTA, the students worked with the professional puppeteer Fergus Walsh to create Audrey II, who really came alive on stage.

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In recognition of the fact that the characters in the musical live on skid row and are struggling to get by, donations were solicited to benefit the food bank Feeding Westchester. In addition, since Audrey, the female lead, is in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend, the show also gave its support to the One Love Foundation by selling little plants in the lobby. https://www.joinonelove.org/

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The musical is based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film The Little Shop of Horrors. The music is in the style of early 1960s rock and roll and includes several well-known tunes such as "Skid Row (Downtown)," "Somewhere That's Green," and "Suddenly, Seymour."

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See below for more photos.

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Photos by D. Fenner

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 




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Seven Bronxville High School Students Win Prestigious Art Awards PDF Print Email

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Contributed by Michael Ganci, Syntax, for The Bronxville School


Feb. 13, 2019:  Seven Bronxville High School students – seniors Sarah Goodell, Susie Goodell, Celia Kelty, Alyssa Lee, Lilly Martin, and Katie Schnepp and junior Ruby Howell – earned multiple honors at the prestigious regional 2019 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition. They were each recognized for their artwork, which stood out among thousands of other student submissions.

“This group of students is extremely creative and hardworking,” art teacher Courtney Alan said. “They have been committed to the visual arts throughout high school, and their work clearly demonstrates their intention and voice. All of their award-winning work is technically excellent, as well as conceptually advanced. I am so proud of them for always challenging themselves to create evocative and engaging work.”

Congratulations to the students who won the awards:

Sarah Goodell won a Silver Key Award for her untitled artwork. 

Susie Goodell won a Silver Key Award and an honorable mention for her untitled artwork.

Ruby Howell won a Silver Key Award for her pastel painting Childhood Daydream and an honorable mention for her acrylic painting Sunday Tea.

Celia Kelty earned a Gold Key Award for her graphite drawing Me. As a Gold Key Award recipient, Kelty has advanced to the national level of the competition.

Alyssa Lee won a Silver Key Award for her colored pencil drawing All that Glitters and honorable mentions for her oil pastel painting A Valley in Perspective and her graphite drawing Self Portrait.

Lilly Martin received a Silver Key Award for her oil pastel painting Maras and honorable mentions for her graphite drawing Self Portrait and digital drawing Clutter.

Katie Schnepp earned a Silver Key Award for her graphite drawing Self Portrait.

Presented by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, the awards program identifies students with exceptional artistic and literary talents. 

Pictured here (L to R): Bronxville High School students Susie Goodell, Sarah Goodell, Ruby Howell, Kate Schnepp, Celia Kelty, Lilly Martin, and Alyssa Lee. 

Photo courtesy The Bronxville School 


Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 


 
Elementary School Play 'Lion King ... Prideland' Was Great Fun to Watch: See Photos PDF Print Email

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By Kendall Fousek and Dianne Aronson, Teachers, The Bronxville School


Feb. 13, 2019:  On January 26 and 27, 2019, 150 third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders made the stage come alive with the musical Lion King...Prideland. The show was written and directed by Leisha Horin, owner of New York Rhythm Kids (NYRKS), a children's theater company.  

From costumes to makeup, funny and sad lines, ballads and upbeat tunes, the children's radiant faces reflected the joy that they expressed during the rehearsals and performances.

Below are some great photographs from the performances.

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Photos courtesy D. Aronson

Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 





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Bronxville School English Teacher Alyssa Dioguardi on Appreciating 'To Kill a Mockingbird' PDF Print Email

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By Alyssa Dioguardi, Bronxville School English Teacher


Feb. 13, 2019: The first year I started teaching To Kill a Mockingbird, I tried to think back to my own experience reading Mockingbird in eighth grade. As a lover of all things books, reading, and language, I was expecting to remember this book fondly as I did many others in high school but was surprised to find myself coming up blank. Not only could I not remember liking the book, but I couldn’t remember disliking the book, either. It was a wholly unmemorable experience, which caught me completely off guard. Now, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books. I reread it every year, finding nuanced ideas masterfully woven into the story that had gone previously unnoticed. Every year I finish the book with my first class, I find myself choking back tears as I stand with Scout on Boo Radley’s porch.

The reality is that while many of us have elevated To Kill a Mockingbird to a place of high stature within our minds and memories of American literature, it is really a book that we come to love later. Every time my classes and I embark on this journey together, I try to acknowledge this. First-time readers of Mockingbird, especially here in the Northeast, have a hard time relating to Lee’s Southern style and Scout’s two-page- long account of Simon Finch’s history in pre-Civil War America. It’s wordy, and if there is anything that turns eighth-graders off to a piece of reading, it’s wordiness. Each year, I make sure to tell my classes that once they get past the first two chapters, I promise, the story will pick up. Once you get used to Scout’s style of speaking, things will get exciting. And so together, we embark on trying to make sense of the picture Lee paints for us, through the haze of her own childhood memories. Inevitably, some kids are hooked right away, some become more invested in the trial, but most finally embrace Boo Radley’s mystique when Bob Ewell comes for Scout and Jem.

It is sometimes easier to think about the complexities and nuances in To Kill a Mockingbird when students are a bit removed from the reading itself. By extricating themselves from the deep think-work of language and craft analysis, students are able to find their own voice and opinions about Mockingbird. I know that for most, I won’t always be there for this experience. It comes later, along with that love for the book that I described earlier.

However, this year was different. We were given the unique opportunity to see Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation at the Shubert Theatre. We had finished reading Mockingbird a little less than a month earlier, giving students a bit of space between the act of reading the book and seeing the show. We prepped for the performance by revisiting themes of justice, perspective, and empathy. We also discussed and anticipated some of the issues that Mockingbird is most criticized for now: Harper Lee’s omission of character development for Calpurnia and Tom Robinson. We also discussed how Atticus may change (a play with a perfect protagonist makes for a pretty boring watch) while also acknowledging that Scout would no longer be the protagonist of this story. We went to see the show and I received the highest praise I could expect from a group of thirteen- to fourteen-year-olds who were brought to see an adaptation of a required piece of reading for school: “It was way better than I thought it was going to be!” That’s a win.

The truly special part for me was not the trip into New York or watching Jeff Daniels portray Atticus. What resonated with me was unpacking our experience in class the next day. In anticipation of guest author and documentarian Mary Murphy's visit on Friday, I had prepared a slew of questions to help kids consider the play and what they thought.

Turns out I really didn’t need to prepare anything. Each and every class spoke about Sorkin’s changes with great insight. They questioned his choices, expressed dismay over his omission of the depth of characters such as Dolphus Raymond, Mrs. Dubose, and Tim Johnson, the rabid dog Atticus is forced to shoot. They talked about Calpurnia’s expanded role, Atticus’s flaws, and Sorkin’s choices that sometimes led to some out-of-character occurrences. They discussed how Sorkin upended the plot and changed the presentation of materials, expanded the roles of Jem and Dill, and greatly diminished the role of Boo.

I could go on at length about our discussion, but in the end, only one really mattered to me. In each class, I did a quick poll. “How many people, when we were reading Mockingbird in class, didn’t really like or enjoy the book?” Expectedly, more than half of each class raised their hands. I followed up by asking them, “How many of you are surprised that you have such strong opinions about a book you thought you disliked?” Slowly, kids started to look at each other as hands crept up, and a slow realization started to creep across the room that maybe, just maybe, there was more to this story than they originally understood and realized.

Did every student leave my room with a sudden appreciation for and understanding of the subtle mastery of Lee’s work? With certainty, they did not. But I am grateful for the opportunity that seeing Aaron Sorkin’s To Kill a Mockingbird gave me--a rare glimpse at the lingering effects our work and experience can have down the line, when we teachers are long gone from the minds of now-grown middle school students and they start to understand the lasting reasons behind our decision to share this book with them.

Pictured here:  Alyssa Dioguardi with her dog, Scout.

Photo courtesy A. Dioguardi


Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed therein do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. 

 
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