As I’m sure you are aware, National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped and the NTWH Cabaret are no longer operating in New York City. Rick Curry, SJ (formerly Brother Curry, now Father Curry) has moved to Washington, DC and is running programs with disabled military veterans out of Georgetown University.
I was dedicated to the NTWH Cabaret for 15 years, and during that period was able to share my love of theatre and music with a great many students, teachers and performers. The cessation of the work left a great void in my life and in the lives of many others.
Members of the performing ensemble “formerly known as the NTWH Cabaret” expressed an interest in “re-grouping” to rehearse and perform together again. Of course, we would not be able to work under the auspices of The National Theatre Workshop of the Handicapped. We would truly “reorganize” to create a totally new ensemble.
The largest hurdle was to find an accessible space in New York City that would welcome and sponsor us. The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, located on Amsterdam Avenue between 59th Street and 60th Street, generously offered to open its doors to us. Even better, we were offered rent-free space there. St. Paul’s has a modern, fully handicapped-accessible activities building adjacent to the Church with its entrance on 59th Street.
In mid October, a group of the old “gang” got together for the first time under a new, albeit yet-to-be named, banner. Karen Gourgey, Russell Barnes, Thomas Jones, Danny Burke and Meg Beach-Hacking attended the first meeting/rehearsal. Since then, Mary Ann Marra, Sherry Zannoth, Kristel Jellinek Brown and Mark Spitznagel also joined the fold. Hopes are to expand the group even more by fostering and recruiting additional talent who may be interested in pursuing this creative endeavor. Many ideas to name our new group were tossed about, including “Access Cabaret”, “Different Strokes Singers” and “Performance Spectrum NYC”, among many others. The name that finally emerged was “Encompassing Voices”.
Please contact me if you are interested in participating. We meet weekly for rehearsals. This Fall, we have been gathering on Thursday evenings. Also, if you could spread the word to other performers with and without disabilities who are looking for an opportunity to foster their talents, we could begin to rebuild a community of artists working together and supporting each other.
Encompassing Voices will present its first performance on Monday, December 19, 7:00 p.m. at the Colleen Dewhurst Room, Actors’ Fund Aurora, 475 West 57th Street, 2nd floor. Come one, come all and celebrate the holidays with us!