This past weekend, I had the privilege of being a part of a wonderful panel at my alma mater Marymount Manhattan College. The topic of discussion was "Creating Your Own Work", geared toward graduating seniors. I hope we were able to bring a bit of illumination to these kids about to plunge into the professional world of theatre and filmmaking!
This film is gonna be great! I can't wait for you to see it. I had the privilege of starring with Jennifer Bobbi (Aunt Barbara and Pose) and Valeria Cotto (The Florida Project).
I am so thrilled to announce that Spring Street has received its first bit of press from The Huffington Post! Thank you to JamesMichael Nichols for endorsing our webseries and Kickstarter campaign. There is less than one week to make a tax-deductible contribution. Onward we go! www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/spring-street-web-series_us_57bb2bc5e4b03d513689aebd?
9 days left to contribute to our Kickstarter, and it's all or nothing! www.kickstarter.com/projects/320676168/spring-street-the-webseries-season-one?ref=user_menu
I am beyond thrilled to share with you my latest adventure, Spring Street - The Webseries!
I wrote this psychological thriller as I was influenced by New York's grit, it's diverse community, and the strength and resilience of its community. Please take a look to view our video pitch in the link below, and please share it will your contacts!
Here is a video as well as a few pics of a one act play I recently performed in at the bar Jimmy's #43, part of ESPA's Detention Series (Primary Stages). The piece was written by Seth McNeill, directed by Rachael Harrington, and I shared the stage with the lovely Natalie Neckyfarow.
Another Chance To See...
The Piano Teacher
Written by Julia Cho
With Rosina Fernhoff, Bilgin Turker, and David BeckDirected by Antonio Merenda
Thursday, March 3rd, 2016 at 7:30pm
St. Malachy's Church
239 West 49th Street New York, NY 10019
(Between Broadway and Eighth Avenue)
PLAYWRIGHTS, DIRECTORS AND ACTORS
AT THE ACTORS CHAPEL
PRODUCERS: MARIO MACALUSO & JOHN RONEY
CONSULTANT: JANET BREGER
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR/RESIDENT PLAYWRIGHT: JO ANN TEDESCO
HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER: THOMAS ARKIN
REVIEW ON THE PIANO TEACHER, PLAY WRITTEN BY JULIA CHO.
Last night I saw a wonderful play enacted by three of the rarest of "items" in theater today. Actors who are Real Artists. There are many talented performers but talent is infinitely more common than artistry. True Artists are the rare commodity so the idea of an entire cast and director actually all being true artists is utterly overwhelming. Allow me to make the logical distinctions between the two. Talent is a gift that's attention-getting that can entertain and even engage but only artists can illuminate the human condition and uplift the viewer transporting him to those mystical regions deep within himself. Art resonates within us and we find ourselves somewhat haunted by it. Talent makes us happy for a while but art gives us abiding joy which we never forget. We find ourselves returning mentally to the performance and play repeatedly.
The three actors are made for great plays and great roles. There's nothing miniscule about their work, it's all giant economy sized both in terms of heart and technique.
Alternately comic and tragic BILGIN TURKER adds a large dollop of versatility to the mix as she plays several very different characters with great dexterity and velvety ease. A real find, she possesses such an embarrassment of theatrical riches she puts most actors to shame. She inhabits different psyches so completely that the discerning theatergoer knows beyond a doubt that Bilgin can and should play a broad range of roles. She's a wonder to watch and she leaves us wanting to see more of her insights into the human condition. She reveals the sub-conscious and the actual heartbeat in each character. No small feat, that.
Spoiler alert. That DAVID BECK is one devious actor! So low-key and soft-spoken that we're lulled into a false complacency and the fallacy that we know exactly who he is and where he's going. Nay not so! David Beck is full of subterranean Sturm und Drang. When David starts revealing the fault-lines in his character we're dragged through emotional swamps and over rough mountains never to return to safety again. He makes such emotional twists and turns that we're on a roller-coaster ride awaiting our safe return... An amazing surprise.
And now ROSINA FERNHOFF, the likes of which most audiences have never had the pleasure of experiencing. Why? Because there just plain are not many Rosina Fernhoffs in the world let alone in the theater. That such talent has never had wide exposure is the world's loss because Rosina is a grand dame of great acting. Having witnessed her in the same evening morph from Queen Elizabeth the First to a Brooklyn drug addicted mother of three other addicts, to say she has range is an understatement. She was born to play the piano teacher and she rips off her own skin exposing her beating heart pushing her life blood through her veins. A lifetime of right living has sharpened her artistic tools to such a degree that her dramatic choices are golden. She illuminates a character who lives in denial and loves a broken man in spite of it. To say her performance is moving is an understatement.
All of the aforementioned is also a large tribute to the director, ANTONIO MERENDA, whose work was so seamless and unobtrusive as to almost disappear. The complete antithesis to the work of most modern directors who are hellbent on putting their marks on the plays they mutilate. The director's job is to fulfill the playwright's vision not to lift a leg on every project with unnecessary self-indulgent directorial effluvia. I don't want to see two inches of cheap colored Cool-Whip frosting on my Sacher torte. What a welcome relief to find a director who presents the play matching well-suited actors to the piece. Antonio opened an artistic window and let fresh balmy air into the all-too often stuffy theater. Bravo Antonio!
And not least of all the playwright without whom even the greatest actors cannot use their talents. If there had not been a Tennessee Williams or Budd Shulberg we would never have seen Brando at his best. Great actors cannot act the phone book or every project they acted in would be a prize worthy performance. Actors need good roles with excellent lines to exercise their talent. JULIA CHO has given us such a play worthy of this director and actors. All I can say is Amen!
- JO ANN TEDESCO
Artistic Director, Resident Playwright, and Member of The Actors Studio West Playwrights/Directors Unit.
(Written on February 12th, 2016 in NYC, USA)
This fall has been a busy season! Several staged readings, including playing Sherlock Holmes in the new libretto Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Fallen Giant, commissioned by American Lyric Theater. This was my second reading this season with ALT and Larry Edelson, and I thank them and my management Uzan International Artists for these unique opportunities. It's such a fascinating process to be a part of any new work, but this is a particularly special experience because the final libretto will, naturally, be sung! I hope that we actors helped the composer Evan Meier and lyricist E.M. Lewis in clarifying this invigorating text, and I anxiously anticipate hearing the opera, set to workshop this spring!
Two other readings I had the privilege to take part in were: Love, Genius, and a Walk by Gay Walley and directed by Myriam Cyr, performed at the legendary restaurant Sardi's and commissioned by the Gustav Mahler Foundation; and the family comedy-drama The Octette Bridge Club with The Twelfth Night Club, the oldest continuing female theatre group in the world, dating back to the 19th century! My dear friend and wonderful actress Joan Shepard directed. As a teenager, I interned with her summer stock company River Rep in Ivoryton, Connecticut. We did everything from The Mystery of Edwin Drood to Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare to Light Up the Sky by Moss Hart. Where does the time go?!
I also recently finished recording my eighth book for the blind with the New York Public Library, The Trace by Forrest Gander. Finally, and most significantly, I signed on with a fantastic director and producer for my feature film The Thin Place. More details on this coming soon....all I can say right now is that I am absolutely ecstatic, as all the pieces seem to be falling into place...it just proves that if you trust and do the work, it'll happen!
OH...and my non-profit film company The Great Griffon has officially received tax exempt status from the IRS! This might be the best news ever!
Below is a picture I took Columbus Day weekend when I did a bit of location scouting for The Thin Place. That's my friend Lindsay's dog Ede (short for Edelweiss) in the photo. My doggie Mickey was there too, of course (He's the official mascot of The Great Griffon!), but he's hiding in the bushes.
Have a fantastic day, and thank you, as always, for your support.
I am thrilled to launch my non-profit film company's official website! Please take a moment to check out our mission. We have some exciting projects coming up that I'll announce soon! Also, please "like" The Great Griffon on Facebook. With a logo like this, how can you resist "liking"?
Thank you for your support, and Happy Back-to-School to everyone!
I am finally back in New York after spending most of the summer in Vermont playing Horatio in William Shakespeare's Hamlet. The audiences were appreciative, the weather was beautiful, and the reviews were glowing!
June Pichel Cook from The Hardwick Gazette wrote: "Horatio (David Beck) is Hamlet's friend and a difficult role to play; a shadow to the "In-your-face" action that may be going on. He plays it well and deeply. The final scene reflects a resignation that the course of events was unalterable."
Jim Lowe from Times Argus wrote: "Particularly fine performances also came from John Marshall and David Beck as Laertes and Horatio."
This week, I am taking part in a reading of the libretto workshop Mila, the Great Sorcerer (written by Jean Claude van Itallie and Lois Walden) about the life of the sacred Tibetan poet Milarepa at the Opera National Center with the American Lyric Theater. This is completely foreign territory to me, and I am ecstatic to begin tomorrow. A few of us actors will read and dissect the bold, new text...which will ultimately be sung, of course, by superb opera singers!
In the meantime, words to live by...
As I write this, I'm gazing out at the rolling hills and peaceful lake of Greensboro, Vermont, population 800. I am honored and humbled to be in this very special town for another summer season with the Mirror Repertory Theater, this time playing Horatio in William Shakespeare's Hamlet, directed by Sabra Jones. The cast also features Nicole Ansari Cox as Queen Gertrude and Associate Artistic Director Charles McAteer as the Danish Prince.
To be a part of the greatest play ever written in a place of paradise...well, it doesn't get much better than that!
For more information on The Mirror Repertory and its rich history, go here.
If you happen to be in the area and would like to see Hamlet, Get tickets here.
The Exalted, the satiric short film I wrote and produced with fashion designer Viktor Luna, is now available for the masses to view on youtube! Check out the 15 minute film here, and please share via social media and comment!
For this film, we had the honor of collaborating with Kate Hodge (The Good Wife, White Collar, Blue Bloods...), Ashley Rebecca King (of the critically acclaimed cabaret duo Portz and King), and Rosina Fernhoff (Obie Winner, Snow People). This was also my second collaboration with producer Susan Hunt, an excellent filmmaker in her own right, who worked with us on post-production. (Susan was a producer on For Francis.)
I also must give credit to the great musicians who contributed to this project, including Meg Cavanaugh, one of my oldest friends from way back doing children's theatre at Town Hall in Dayton, Ohio....Meg is now a jazz/rockstar in London, England. Look at us all grown up!
I hope you enjoy the movie, subscribers, and please share and comment!
David G Beck
Say what you want about Tom Waits's voice, there is no denying the power of his storytelling through song. I am very pleased to be dusting off my old guitar tonight and joining Anthony Wills, Jr. and his company, Artistic Pride Productions for The Mule Variations. We will present the entire 1999 Tom Waits album via spoken word, dance, cacophony, and of course, song. I love working with Anthony and his company because each cabaret I do with them challenges me in ways that are at times terrifying, at times exhilarating, and always rewarding. I'll be reciting lyrics, singing (!), playing guitar, playing a variety of percussive instruments, and maybe I'll play a tune on the piano. :) Here's to getting out of our comfort zones!
In other news, For Francis continues to make its way through the festivals. Last week, it played at the Cannes Film Festival's Short Film Corner (the French loved us, as we knew they would!), and this weekend, we are an Official Selection of the LGBT Connecticut Film Festival in Hartford CT. For Francis is also an Official Selection of the Manhattan Film Festival on June 12th, which is a red carpet event, so I look forward to wearing my boat shoes. Special thanks to all those who came out to the screening in April and voted for our film....we won, and qualified as an Official Selection of the Downtown Film Festival June 15th!
There's a great deal more to tell you--so many exciting things are happening--but it will have to wait for another post!
Thank you, as always, for your support.
Enjoy this last beautiful weekend of May!
David G Beck
I am thrilled to announce that I have recently begun working with manager Kristen Ernst at Uzan International Artists. Kristen heads the new film, television, and straight theatre division of UIA, as well as the commercial department. UIA also represents world class opera singers and conductors. I couldn't be more excited to develop my career with UIA and to be in the company of such sophisticated talent! www.uzanartists.com
I am thrilled to announce that I have recently begun working with manager Kristen Ernst at Uzan International Artists. Kristen heads the new film, television, and straight theatre division of UIA, as well as the commercial department. UIA also boasts world class opera singers and conductors. I couldn't be more excited to develop my career with UIA and to be in the company of such sophisticated talent! www.uzanartists.com