The Bard and Muscle Cars
by Heather Cook
Shakespeare Comes to (716)
7pm on July 23rd-25th at the Shea’s Smith Theater, 660 Main St.
Buffalo, New York is known as the Rust Belt City. Since 1950, Buffalo has lost nearly 50 percent of its population, leaving thousands of abandoned homes and storefronts scattered throughout the city. Children are particularly affected by these conditions. According to Peace of the City, over 70 percent of children enrolled in public schools live below poverty level. And statistically, children living below poverty are at risk of academic hardships, lack of opportunities and poor health. Peace of the City is diligently working to close the gap for Buffalo’s public school students.
Peace of the City (POTC) is a 23-year-old organization that provides access for at-risk teens to high-quality afterschool programs, better equipping individuals for self-sufficiency. Volunteers help the students with homework and general life skills. The teens are locally recruited from a four or five block area location in the West Side and through word of mouth. Mark Cerbone of POTC states that the organization has 80-100 teens with the after school program for multiple years. This builds long-term, lasting relationships and life skills that contribute to their future success.
In addition to the year-round afterschool programs, POTC also produces a Shakespeare play during the critical summer months: Shakespeare Comes to (716). The students of POTC take acting classes throughout the school year to prepare for the late-May casting call. Then throughout June and July they put many hours into memorizing and perfecting their roles, which teaches them to be disciplined, focused and motivated.
“These teens come from challenging backgrounds, but on stage performing a high-quality play, they’re learning to be there for each other and they’re learning life skills and commitment that will serve them well long term,” Cerbone says. Through this dedication the students are taught powerful life lessons including how to work collaboratively, following direction and empathy through understanding the roles of others. They also learn basic job skills such as punctuality, hard work, discipline and team work.
This is the seventh year and the students will be performing Winter’s Tale on July 23—25th at the Shea’s Smith Theater, 660 Main Street. POTC made the move to Smith Theater two years ago in order to seat more people. The doors open at 6pm and the show starts at 7pm. This is a “pay as you can basis,” but without the community’s contributions, the annual production would not be possible.
“Don’t let our kids down,” Cerbone says, “People consistently leave saying ‘Wow, we didn’t realize how good this was going to be!’ These kids deserve positive feedback.”
If a student is interested in auditioning for next year’s production, Cerbone suggests that s/he comes to the show this year, and strike a conversation with Megan McClain Kwacz, creative arts director for Peace of the City. One may also find a list of additional programs on their website: peacofthecity.org.
A Cast of Misfits
7pm on Wednesday (7/22) at Talking Leaves, 951 Elmwood Ave.
Local author and Pushcart-nominee, Stephen G. Eoannou, will be signing copies of his recently published collection of short stories Muscle Cars. The stories explore the unique and sometimes flawed relationships between men and their family and friends. The collection features an array of misfit characters—including a compulsive body builder obsessed with his brother’s death; a former, desperate boxer forced to sell his 1946 New York Yankees autographed baseball; and two schemers plotting to steal Ted Williams’ scientifically frozen head. Eoannou offers dark, humorous insight on the modern American.
Set in Buffalo, “readers will recognize the setting in stories like ‘Ohio Street’ and ‘The Wolf Boy of Forest Lawn’ just by the titles,” Eoannou says.
“Wolf Boy” appeared originally in The Saturday Evening Post and was a runner up in their Great American Fiction contest. Two of the stories (“Swimming Naked” and “The Girl in the Window”) were nominated for Pushcart Awards, which recognizes the best writing that appears in small presses. “Swimming Naked” was also awarded an Honor Certificate From the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. More information about the author and his writing writing can be found at www.sgeoannou.com.
Eoannou holds an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte and an MA from Miami University. He has also been honored with the Best Short Screenplay Award at the 36th Starz Denver Film Festival. He lives and writes in his hometown of Buffalo, New York, the setting and inspiration for much of his work.
On Wednesday (7/22), come to Talking Leaves Elmwood at 7pm to meet the author. He will sign copies of the collection, but Talking Leaves asks that you purchase your copies there to support the local bookstore.blog comments powered by Disqus
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