Monday, October 26, 2020

KEELY AND DU - A Fight for Women's Rights




By Erin Cronican, TSP Executive Artistic Director


This week we unveil our newest production, the Pulitzer-Prize nominated drama KEELY AND DU by Jane Martin. It’s a searing look at the blocking of women’s rights related to abortion, domestic violence, and the ability to control our own bodies. 

The play is being presented LIVE (via Zoom) Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1, 2020 - 7pm Eastern, with a streamed recording November 3-7, 2020. Tickets are available here: www.TheSeeingPlace.com - 100% of the proceeds are being donated to Reproductive Health Services, Planned Parenthood of the St Louis Region.

I have to admit, I was very tentative when Brandon (Walker - Producing Artistic Director) suggested that we do this piece. The play doesn’t pull any punches - it can be incredibly triggering for anyone who has experienced abortion, miscarriage, domestic violence, kidnapping, and not being believed by those who are charged with keeping you safe. I didn’t know if I had it in me to bring something so serious and important to the world when the world is already so fraught.

But this is exactly why this play is the right play, RIGHT NOW.


How did this event come to be?

It started when we sat down with our ensemble to talk about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. For many of us, it was a devastating blow in an already trying time. What could we do as a theater company to honor her memory and take up the charge on issues that meant a lot to her legacy? With as helpless as many of us have felt to make any kind of difference, we contemplated what we could do to encourage action steps that we as concerned citizens could accomplish?

We started exploring different texts related to women’s rights, but kept coming back to KEELY AND DU. Once we made our selection and secured the licensing/rights, we began to look at what non-profit organizations we could partner with, not only for our Action Steps panel discussion, but also as the beneficiary of our RIPPLE FOR CHANGE AWARD. And I immediately thought of the work of Dr. Colleen McNicholas.

SIDEBAR; If you haven’t already, I highly recommend watching the documentary REVERSING ROE (2018) which is currently viewable on Netflix.


In this documentary we are introduced to Dr. McNicholas, an abortion advocate who is single-handedly changing the lives of women across the Midwest by providing abortion access to those who have none. The film talks about the journey of Roe vs Wade in the courts, and I wept multiple times while watching it. I was so inspired by the women who were profiled - including doctors, politicians, and filmmakers taking up the cause - that I immediately got onto Twitter and began to follow them: including US House Candidate @JillSchupp, Missouri State Senator @SenatorNasheed, US House Candidate @WendyDavis, filmmaker @RBraceySherman and Planned Parenthood Chief Medical Offer @DocMcNick. I wanted to know more and to be able to support their efforts.

Within 24 hours I received a notification that Dr McNicholas had followed me back, and I have to admit I fan-girled a little bit! Here is this incredible person who speaks on behalf of women on Capitol Hill, is interviewed by NPR, travels around 75% of the month to neighboring states to provide critical services to women in need, and puts her life on the line every day fighting for what she believes in. To have her following me on Twitter was and is incredibly humbling.

So when we decided to produce KEELY AND DU and were looking for someone to partner with, I immediately thought of her. I never dreamed that she would say yes - not only to being on our panel, but helping us connect with her employer, Planned Parenthood of the St Louis Region - the states ONLY clinic that provided crucial abortion services, so that they could be the beneficiary for this very special presentation.

This is when we fully realized the power we have as artists to make social justice change. Non-profit theater, hand-in-hand with non-profit medicine and advocacy, can move mountains.


A Personal Journey

I’m very honored to be playing Keely, a victim of spousal rape who becomes pregnant and upon going to get an abortion is kidnapped by a extremest right-to-life group intent on holding her until her baby comes to full term. As someone who has personally experienced sexual assault by an intimate partner and also one who has had my abortion rights challenged, the play hits a very deep chord for me. Furthermore, as a woman mired in health care hell as a metastatic breast cancer patient, I am very well aware of how tenuous my position is as a woman, as I’m constantly pushing to advocate for my own care and the care of other women like me.

The opportunity to use theater to express what life has been like for me, in a way that hopefully resonates with our audiences, means a great deal to me. It also means a great deal to me that we don’t just stop at creating art - The Seeing Place feels it’s crucial to explore “what’s next” once the curtain falls. What can we do, as individuals and as a collective society, to bring change? How do we bridge the gaps between ideologies? How do we make sure people’s rights are protected against extremism? How do we take daily action that makes a difference on a local, regional, and national level?

My first answer to that is, of course, to VOTE. Early voting is available in many states at the moment, building up to our official Election Day on November 3, 2020. Make sure your voice is heard.

My second answer is to keep educating yourself on the issues that matter to you. Read books and articles by experts, watch documentaries, have conversations with civic leaders, and never stop asking questions.

My third answer is to keep calling for empathy, in yourself and others. Just because you may not have experienced something doesn’t mean that it isn’t urgent or important. Imagine those people who rights are being taken away and/or ignored. How would you feel? Your empathy is a vital tool in making a difference.


The fourth answer is to buy your ticket to see KEELY AND DU - being presented LIVE (via Zoom) Saturday, October 31 and Sunday, November 1, 2020 - 7pm Eastern, with a streamed recording November 3-7, 2020. Tickets are available here: www.TheSeeingPlace.com - and then register for the discussion panel with Dr. McNicholas.

The play stars Audrey Heffernan Meyer, Brandon Walker, Erin Cronican, Robin Friend and Olivia Hanna Hardin. Co-Directed by Erin Cronican and Brandon Walker, and produced by the members of The Seeing Place Theater Ensemble.



Wednesday, August 12, 2020

We're Reviewed in the New York Times!

We're very excited to announce that our production of DUTCHMAN, by Amiri Baraka, was reviewed by Maya Phillips of the New York Times, with our photo front and center!




Part of the review reads:
"The Seeing Place production, which starred Timothy Ware and Erin Cronican and was directed by Brandon Walker, highlighted the sexual friction between Clay and Lula. Cronican’s Lula gives Clay a lusty up and down, hungrily takes bites of her apple, a seductive smile creeping across her face. Ware’s Clay smirks gamely in response; he seems mostly unbothered by her odd diversions and casually racist remarks and appears to lust back...By underlining the sexual power dynamic between the man and the woman, Walker’s direction simplifies the larger reach of the play and what the characters represent. The tension becomes less about the matchup of Blackness and whiteness in society than about the interracial fraternization of one Black man and one white woman..."

We also appear in the PRINT EDITION - with a teaser image on the front page of the Arts section:








Read the full review here:

Learn more about our production here:


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

What is DUTCHMAN?


Come see our reading of DUTCHMAN by Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, starring Timothy Ware, Erin Cronican, and Eugene Barry-Hill, directed by Brandon Walker, stage managed by Hailey Vest. The readings are taking place via Zoom on July 18 & 19, 2020 with proceeds benefitting Black Theatre Network

For full information and to get your tickets, visit www.TheSeeingPlace.com





For full information and to get your tickets, visit www.TheSeeingPlace.com



Friday, May 1, 2020

Sonnet Marathon Featuring TSP Members!



In honor of April 23, 2020 - Shakespeare's death day (also attributed to his birthday), members of The Seeing Place participated in a Sonnet Marathon online. The event was conceived and hosted by TSP Alumnus, Lila Smith (Two Rooms, Othello.). Each artist was asked to choose one non-profit arts organization to support. As it was required that no organization could be supported twice, TSP asked Executive Artistic Director, Erin Cronican, to read in honor of The Seeing Place and then Producing Artistic Director Brandon Walker and Ensemble Member William Ketter chose other organizations near and dear to their hearts.

We initially planned to share the videos of our ensemble reading these sonnets. But because many actors in the event (including Erin and Brandon) are union actors, there was a rule that stated that the video had to be removed from the internet within four days. So, instead, we've opted to list the sonnets that were read by the actors, along with links to the organizations that they were supporting:


Brandon Walker, Sonnet #27
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body's work's expired:
For then my thoughts--from far where I abide--
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous, and her old face new.
Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
For thee, and for myself, no quiet find.
To make a donation in honor of New Fortune Theater Company, visit www.newfortunetheatre.com


Erin Cronican: Sonnet #71
No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O! if, I say, you look upon this verse,
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love even with my life decay;
Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone.
To make a donation in honor of The Seeing Place, visit www.TheSeeingPlace.org


William Ketter, Sonnet #93
So shall I live, supposing thou art true,
Like a deceived husband; so love's face
May still seem love to me, though altered new;
Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place:
For there can live no hatred in thine eye,
Therefore in that I cannot know thy change.
In many's looks, the false heart's history
Is writ in moods, and frowns, and wrinkles strange.
But heaven in thy creation did decree
That in thy face sweet love should ever dwell;
Whate'er thy thoughts, or thy heart's workings be,
Thy looks should nothing thence, but sweetness tell.
How like Eve's apple doth thy beauty grow,
If thy sweet virtue answer not thy show!
To make a donation in honor of EPIC Players, visit www.epicplayersnyc.org


To learn more about the event, visit: www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedinshakespeare-sonnet-marathon-2020-lila-smith/



Thursday, April 30, 2020

Special Award from the Indie Theater Fund!

We're thrilled to announce that The Seeing Place has been granted an award from The Indie Theater Fund to help support our efforts to bring programming to NYC audiences (and beyond!) during this challenging time. 
We will be using these funds to further support our education program, which you can learn more about here:

www.seeingplacetheater.com/training.html

If you are an indie theater company/artist, you may be eligible for an award as well. To find out, fill out this form: https://forms.gle/pLm7bLhKQE8AbpDn6

To contribute to the fund, please visit: www.indietheaterfund.org/donate

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Podcast Interview: How to Produce Your Own Work


TSP's Executive Artistic Director, Erin Cronican, was a guest on this wonderful podcast, "I Love Theatre: Now What?" (which was recorded just before the pandemic shut down.)

In this episode, hear Erin and podcast host Steph Newman talk about:
· How nonprofits versus for-profits differ with finances
· What producing your own work is like
· How Erin differs from her co-founder, Producing AD Brandon Walker
· How TSP crafts their seasons
· What producing in NYC is like versus everywhere else
· The 3 questions that are a MUST for choosing plays
· The strong connection Erin has with Margaret Edson’s play, WIT
· How you can get cast or involved at The Seeing Place Theater
· Great advice on how to make a real connection professionally
· How actors can treat themselves like a business
· Characteristics that mean you might be a leader
Take a listen here, and leave a comment to let us know you what you think!

https://www.podchaser.com/podcasts/0/episodes/how-to-produce-your-own-work-w-56506444