Y-Member Back on Stage after 20 years

Last fall, we asked Y members an intriguing question… Wanna be in a show?  Y member Josee Lavoie Falcone said “Yes!” and has joined an extraordinary group of people with the AfterWork Theater Project taking our stage over the next few weeks, some for the first time in a long time, and others, for the first time ever. AfterWork’s mission is to bring fun, community, and creative self-expression to anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of their productions, and over the next year, they will become the Y’s first Adult Theater Education partner.

Josee is taking the stage for the first time in 20 years in the moving play, The Laramie Project,  a breathtaking theatrical collage that explores the depths to which humanity can sink and the heights of compassion of which we are capable.  The Laramie Project is about a twenty-one-year-old student at the University of Wyoming, Matthew Shepard, who was kidnapped, severely beaten and left to die, tied to a fence in the middle of the prairie outside Laramie, Wyoming because he was gay.

Learn more about Josee, her prior acting experience, and her time here at the 14th Street Y. Also, check her out in the Laramie Project with the AfterWork Theater Project at the 14th Street Y, Friday, January 31st through Sunday, February 2nd.

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Q: Have you ever done theater before? If you have when was the last time? If you haven’t, why now?

I loved the theater as a child and read a lot of plays. I still know by heart the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet that I taught myself when I was 12.

As a teen, I was part of a group that earned a grant to write a play. We rented an apartment for the purpose and had many wintry get-togethers where we had a meeting of the minds, then all-out shout fests followed by resolution. Truly great.

I also was in a play, as a teen, by the Quebecois playwright Michel Tremblay. I played an outrageous, outspoken diva named Brigitte. Not Juliet, but wonderful, campy joy. The first man I ever loved was “the musician” in that play.

I haven’t done any theater since then, and that was 20 years ago, so when this opportunity came up, my husband urged me to be a part of it.

Q: How else have you been involved with the 14th Street Y?

I love the fitness classes and their wide array and have had a couple of personal training sessions. Thanks to Becky Skoff, we also got the chance to see the wonderful Jake Goodman in Kaddish. We plan on being much more active attendees of the events at the Y. We just weren’t aware of all that goes on here. And, of course, AWTP is a case in point.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being a part of Afterwork?

It’s more than a little clichéd but it remains true that it’s the people who make an endeavor more or less worthwhile. We have a great team for the Laramie project and I am very happy to have gotten to know them all a little bit. I love our team. Lee Kasper, our director, is very talented. He always makes the right call–really!–which is sometimes deep-nod inducing, sometimes a bit startling, like when a new way of seeing suddenly becomes manifest. It’s a bit of a thrill to watch!

It is also quite a learning experience to watch professionals put a show together. While we may be producing “amateur” productions, nothing about the process feels amateurish. Lee and Devan, our Stage Manager, are exacting and there is great passion on everyone’s part to put on the best piece we can. It’s most interesting to witness all of the little complexities and background noise that goes into putting something like this on its feet and before an audience. I’m also learning the lingo.

Q: What role/roles are you playing? How do you get into character?

One of my roles is a university professor. Aside from the usual mnemonics, I just have to imagine the fear and the outrage that she would feel, as a prominent lesbian in a town where a gay hate crime has just been committed, and her second-guessing her decision to come to this town, thereby potentially placing herself, her child and her partner at risk. My other role is more of a challenge: I have a few lines as a homophobic male rancher. It’s tough to get those lines out! I throw myself into the body of a cud chewing, tobacco spitting, er, limited person with the kinds of opportunities attendant to that. He’s a cliché too, but he’s real, literally and in the wider sense.

Q: What do you love about the 14th Street Y?

There is so much to love. The programs that keep growing, the arts opportunities, the sense of community, whether you are Jewish or not. To my great pleasure, the Y turns out to be a treasure trove that I did not rightfully explore until now.

Q: What are we going to see you performing in next?

My manager is currently negotiating that; I’m not at liberty to say. 😉

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Check out Josee in the Laramie Project with the AfterWork Theater Project at the 14th Street Y, Friday, January 31st through Sunday, February 2nd.

Wanna be in a show?

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My name is Becky Skoff, and I am the Managing Director of the Theater and Community Arts Initiatives here at the 14th Street Y.  And I have a confession to make…  I miss the stage. That might seem silly, since I am in the Theater every day, but I keep remembering high school and college, and those magical moments of performing in a  show. Those were some of the greatest moments of my life.  Since college ended and I became a working professional, however, there just hasn’t been a chance for me to act in a show again- just for fun… UNTIL NOW.

I just signed up to perform in a show with an amazing group of people, right here at the 14th Street Y.  And you can too- No Audition Required.

The 14th Street is partnering with the AfterWork Theater Project, an innovative recreational theater company.  This exciting relationship gives you, our adult Y members, an opportunity to perform in our Theater.

Participants in the Project pay a reasonable tuition fee in exchange for expert instruction, and an unforgettable experience.  No audition is necessary– everyone is welcome to be a part of the project.  Y Members receive a 20% discount from AfterWork’s regular tuition fees!  (Space is limited, don’t wait!)

I sat down with AfterWork Founder and Artistic Director Evan Greenberg to find out more…

Why should Y members sign up for AfterWork?

Y members should sign up for AfterWork Theater because the experience offers ridiculous amounts of fun while bonding tightly with cast mates throughout the incredible process of mounting a show.  This is a stress-free environment so whether you’re performing for the first time ever or you’re a seasoned veteran you can escape your everyday life through the sheer joy of being on stage.

You have an ambitious season coming up here at the 14th Street Y!  What led to adding all this programming?

Our commitment is to provide the opportunity for anyone who wants to participate in a show.   That said, different people want to participate in different types of shows.  We’re adding programs that satisfy the multitude of performance requests we’ve received since launching AWTP.

 Why is AfterWork partnering with the 14th Street Y?

The three qualities that AfterWork Theater is committed to fostering are fun, community, and creative self-expression.  We recognized that these qualities seemed abundant at the 14th Street Y so we were attracted to the idea of partnership.

What age are most of your company members?

Our members really run the gamut from 18-year-old recent high school graduates to a 72-year-old married couple that never set foot on stage before their participation in last seasons’ production of RENT.

So join me and fulfill a dream on our stage this winter.  Click here for more information and to register today

 Still Have Questions? Call Becky Skoff at 646-395-4322.  I can’t wait to talk to you!