A birthday wish from little old (literally, ha!) me.

Dear Friends,

A week ago I celebrated a significant milestone – my 40th birthday. So far, it’s been looking like an exciting year. As one of my wishes, I’d like enlist your help.

I am on the board of directors for a truly unique and inspiring theatre program for young actors in our region. Portland Theatre Brigade provides professional theatre training for young people ages 7-14. Theatre Brigade not only teaches amazing acting skills (using improvisation through Spolin work – most of you know how important improv is to me!) – but it also empowers these young people to know their own voice and to be leaders and team players no matter their age and talent. I’ve seen first hand how transformational this program can be to these kids!

One of the most unique offerings in the program is the Portland Theatre Brigade School Tour. Our young actors tour to schools throughout the Portland metro area providing FREE theatre performances for 3,000 students each year. Not only is this an invaluable experience for the young members of Theatre Brigade, it also serves as an inspiring and lively experience for the student audiences they reach. And with the dwindling arts education resources in our schools, Theatre Brigade performances may be one of the few live theatre performances these students get all year.

As Portland Theatre Brigade gets their spring School Tour underway, I humbly ask

PLEASE HELP US RAISE $10,000 BY APRIL 23!

Through a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, as well as pledges from other donors, we’re already nearly halfway there.

Visit our website to donate online or send a check to Portland Theatre Brigade, PO Box 5823, Portland, OR 97228. Watch our thermometer fill up as donations come in!

As a special 40th birthday gift to me, I’m hoping that you’ll consider a gift of $40 or more towards this campaign. If 100 of you wonderful people pitched in $40 we’d be so close to our goal!! (Of course, we’ll be happy to accept donations of any size smaller or larger than $40.)

Anyone who donates to Theatre Brigade during this campaign will receive a link to a wonderful video about Portland Theatre Brigade created by one of the student alums.

Thanks for reading and thanks for all your support!!

Toni

PS – If you haven’t liked our Facebook page, do it now! Click here.

dinner theatre for families!

For those of you in the Portland area with school age children, there’s a great family event benefiting a great children’s theatre company (admittedly I’m biased, as I’m on Portland Theatre Brigade’s board of directors – but really it is wonderful!).

Details:
Sunday, November 21
4:00pm
Curious Comedy Theater, 5225 NE MLK, Portland
Tickets: Kids under 16 $7, Adults $12
Pre-purchased tickets include grilled cheese and tomato soup! Purchase tickets here.
Sponsors: Curious Comedy Theater, The Waterbrook Studio, CheezyFlicks.com, Dave’s Killer Bread

The performers include two local actors and three professionals from across the country who all specialize in story theatre, having studied with the venerable Paul Sills, son of the godmother of improvisation Viola Spolin.

More details about the company and the dinner theatre event on the Portland Theatre Brigade website.

A2Z September 2009 Edition

a) My ankle is bunk. I had a Spice Girls incident years ago (tripped over my own platform shoes)(OK I know, why the hell was I wearing platform shoes? What can I say, it was the 90s.) and ever since my right ankle has been sensitive on an on and off basis. This week, on. 😦
b) Fall means Back to Blog! I shall blog regularly again after my unexpected summer hiatus.
c) Our poor Corolla has a whole slew of problems right now. Nothing serious, but annoying enough. On the list: driver side seat belt is failing; dome light doesn’t work; window rattles; some weird noise when we turn (okay that might be more serious). If anyone has a good mechanic in Portland let me know.
d) Dog or no dog? That is the question.
e) Egg Salad. I want to make egg salad today.
f) Excited to dabble in the film world again. I recently joined a small collective (if you’re knowledgeable about the local film scene and interested in getting involved let me know!) producing a new program at KBOO called Behind the Screen. Listen in the last Thursday of the month.
g) I’m gazing out my window and the skies are gray. Or is it grey? Actually grey is the British spelling. So, now you know. Madonna would definitely use “grey.”
h) House! Enough said.
i) Now that it’s fall, I’m committed to doing more improv! A group of us gals just started meeting to play together. Hopefully that will get going on a regular basis. I founded a rad all-woman improv troupe in Chicago years ago called RED. One of the other members of this group was in Southern Oregon’s Hamazons: Warrior Princesses of Comedy. Other improv opps I plan to partake in: Jumping Off Place and Curious Comedy‘s Open Court.
j) Didn’t get to finish Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake before I had to return it to the library. I’m putting it on hold again.
k) Just watched Project Runway Allstars on DVR. Korto Momolu was robbed! Just goes to show that white man making an “edgy” collection that can be worn by twig-sized teens gets more respect than a woman of color making bold, well-crafted beautiful designs for women of all sizes.
l) I’m into my Burt’s Bees’ Lip Shimmer. Shade: Peony.
m) I’m excited to dive into the slo-cooker pork mole that Matt made. Yummy!
n) Check out the newly designed Bitch Magazine. The stalwart feminist pop culture rag took a break to regroup and are looking better than ever in “The Consumed Issue.” They’ve also got a new Executive Director Julie Falk who we hope will continue to help steer the Bitch boat in the right direction. Call them Bitch Media now and enjoy not only the magazine, but their offerings of audio, blog and more. Support Bitch by joining their B-Hive!
o) Open auditions for Portland Theatre Brigade are happening starting next week! All young actors ages 7-15 invited to audition for this fabulous, empowering, young people’s theatre company.
p) Pens I’m into right now: Uni-Ball Gel Grip Pens, 0.7 mm, Medium Point; Uni-Ball Vision Elite Liquid Rollerball Pens, 0.5 mm, Micro Point; and always the magical, wonderful standard Fine Point Sharpie.
q) Quip: 1. A clever, witty remark often prompted by the occasion.2. A clever, often sarcastic remark; a gibe. Courtesy of Free Dictionary.
r) RIP Richard Francis, host of KBOO’s A Different Nature. I didn’t know him well, but I know he was a sweet soul and well-loved at KBOO. Here are nice articles about Richard on the Kill Ugly Radio and Baron Landscape’s Broken Hour blogs.
s) Super Project Lab, my hubby’s improv troupe, has a whole bunch of shows coming up. This weekend they’re doing “Old Flames” at Curious Comedy and they are sharing the bill with Canoofle. And Matt (my sweetie) directed the show!
t) TBA! TBA! TBA! Here’s an interview I did with curator Kristan Kennedy for Behind the Screen.
u) Okay, nearing the end of the alphabet and feeling a bit stuck… I always wanted Wonder Woman Underoos. It seems they still make them.
v) The Verdana font was designed by Matthew Carter specifically to be read on a computer screen. Here’s more from fonts.com.
w) Speaking of Wonder Woman, did you know that Joss Whedon started writing a live action film adaptation of Wonder Woman? Too bad it never came to fruition.
x) Xi is the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet. It is preceded by Nu and followed by Omicron
y) I’m a full-time working stiff now. Luckily it’s at this marvelous place, Young Audiences.
z) Zee End.

sweet shamelessness

Time for some shameless promotion.

First me…

Here’s some recent audio work I’ve done at KBOO Community Radio. I’ve been part of the APA Compass Collective for the last couple of years. I also recently started a new pilot show with S.W. Conser called Behind the Screen focusing on local filmmakers and festivals.

I also write for the Asian Reporter. Here are a few of my recent opinion pieces:

Now to brag about my friends’ projects…

  • My friend Sarah Liane Foster is a brilliant clown. Check out her new solo show The Last Show You’ll Ever See playing later this month at Curious Comedy Theater in NE Portland.
  • I know a bunch of folks involved with the live soap opera Soap St. Theater including creator/director/writer Eric Martin Reid, musician Ralph Huntley (of Live Wire! and Super Project Lab fame) and actors Adrienne Flagg (also Creative Director at IFCC and founder/artistic director of Portland Theatre Brigade), Jennifer Lanier (also a Portland Theatre Brigade teacher) and Sean McGrath (another LiveWire! cast member).
  • My friend Risa Morimoto’s documentary is airing nationally on PBS‘s Independent Lens this week for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The film is called Wings of Defeat, which reveals the true stories of World War II Kamikaze pilots. Check your local PBS listings for exact times.
  • A bunch of friends and colleagues organize and are taking part in the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival going on right now. It’s their 25th Anniversary! Congrats folks!
  • Levi Ethan Cecil is a musician I know (and also a dj on KBOO – his show is Midnight Mixtape) who’s doing something very grassroots to try and get his CD released. Check out his website to learn more.

Okay, that’s it for now. I’m sure there will be more later!

Day 3 of NaBloPoMo done.

Give what you can

We all know that the global economy is in dire straits. I, for one, know that I’m counting my pennies and I certainly feel worried about what’s to come. When you’re thinking of cutting back, please consider maintaining or even increasing your giving to good non-profits. Supporting the work of non-profits is essential and you can consider it a worthy investment into your community. I always advocate supporting arts nonprofits because they tend to get left out of support despite the fact that the arts are proven to enhance learning in ALL areas. (Check out the awesome Right Brain Initiative.) Whatever you choose, just go and give what you can (say, $50 or $100) to an organization of your choosing.

If you need some ideas on who to give to this year, I’ve got some ideas.

Shameless solicitation of support for the organizations that pay my bills and orgs who I’ve committed myself to:

B-Word Worldwide/Bitch Magazine
– B-Word is the incredibly important and vital voice that brings you the most cutting and insightful feminist analysis of pop culture. I’m on the board and we’re currently looking at how to evolve as an organization and stay relevant in light of the changing media landscape. Join the Beehive!

Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center
– Wonderful, beautiful interdisciplinary arts center in North Portland that includes a gallery, theater, dance studio. The mission is to foster diversity in the arts and they support both emerging and established artists and serve the community at large with a range of education programs. I’ve admired IFCC since I arrived in Portland and am happy to report that I’m currently doing some contract work for them.

KBOO Community Radio – At 40, KBOO is one of the oldest community radio stations in the country. Portland is lucky to have such an amazing resource! KBOO has an eclectic, diverse programming lineup of news, public affairs, music and spoken word. Nearly all the programs are run by a dynamic group of volunteers. KBOO is powered by over 500 on-air and off-air volunteers, a member-elected board of directors and a small staff of 12 (full- and part-time). I work there part time and I’m also a volunteer with the radio collective APA Compass. (9am the first Friday each month!) Right now you can donate to KBOO through the Willamette Week’s Give! Guide and get lots of cool goodies!

Portland Theater Brigade – I grew up a drama geek and it certainly changed my life. PTB is an amazing young people’s theater program that not only teaches youth professional theater skills (using improvisation!! based on the work of the inimitable Viola Spolin), but empowers the students with opportunities for collaboration and leadership. I came on as Managing Director this year and it’s like I’ve come full circle.

Other cool orgs to consider supporting:

Beehive Collective – Another Beehive. The swarm’s mission: “To cross-pollinate the grassroots, by creating collaborative, anti-copyright images that can be used as educational and organizing tools.” Amazing mission, beautiful work.

Center for Asian American Media – My former stomping grounds. CAAM continues to do incredible work supporting Asian American media through funding, production, distribution and a dynamic festival.

In Other Words – A vibrant Portland feminist resource – bookstore, resource center and community space – is in trouble. They need to raise $11,000 by the end of the month to keep their doors open! Please support them if you can!

Oregon Cultural Trust – Did you know that you can match gifts to eligible cultural non-profits to the Trust and receive a 100% tax credit? That’s a tax CREDIT (way better than a tax deduction) and a great incentive to support Portland area nonprofit arts orgs. More info on the program here.

Portland Theatre Brigade

I am super excited about the Portland Theatre Brigade. I just joined them as Managing Director (very part-time for the fledgling organization), one of two new staffers. Jennifer Lanier has also joined the staff as East Brigade Director and Touring Manager. Adrienne Flagg, who also serves as Creative Director at the IFCC, is the PTB Artistic Director. Along with the Board of Directors, we’ve begun this year with a blast, having just finished casting this year’s company of 40 young actors/creators.

I was a young theatre geek back in the day. I studied early on at Beck Center for the Arts, a community theater in Lakewood, OH. From there I was empowered to do high school plays and a college tv show, on and on. Theatre unlocked in me this incredible passion and confidence. I truly believe it was a guiding force that continues to allow me to do the things I do, all of which I hope is always giving back to community.

The wonderful thing about PTB, is that the youth are empowered to take on a lot of the control and responsibility. We have student stage managers and they young actors choose the stories and write the plays that they want to perform. The training is based on the work of Viola Spolin, the fairy godmother of improvisation and games in theatre. The beauty of being Spolin-based, is that the young actors are encouraged to be generous, curious, open-minded and ensemble-centered. We’re working with the kids to encourage them to be good humans in how they interact in rehearsal and onstage, which follows that they also become great performers.

We have a couple of students that need some additional help with tuition. If you’re reading this and feel like you’d like to contribute, just let me know at toni [at] theatrebrigade.org. Here’s a letter we sent last week:

This weekend we’d like to offer you a very easy way to make a very big difference.

Theatre Brigade is enrolling now a fabulous group of new students for the upcoming season. We are very excited about the talent and diversity of these young people and we know they will be putting on a great show for the Portland community next spring.

But this year we also have an large number of very deserving children who’s families need some extra help paying tuition. Some of these parents are in exceedingly difficult circumstances, but they are dedicated to their children and desparately want them to have this opporunity.

Our scholarship fund is simply not adequate to meet the need – yet we can not bear to have to turn any of these children away. You can help.

Your donation of any amount, if made this weekend, will go directly to scholarship funding for this year’s students, allowing you to create an immediate impact in this community.

As little as $5 will help us help these children experience the benefits of Portland Brigade Membership.

$15 pays for one week of Brigade
$66 pays for one month
$285 provides one standard partial scholarship
$600 allows a poverty-affected child to participate for the full year

These children can not wait for the economy to improve. But you don’t have to have a lot to spare to be able to make a big difference in their lives. Please help today in whatever way you can.