The Write Teacher(s) Interview: Movers & Shakers Q&A Series

I was recently interviewed by Megan Minutillo, founder of The Write Teacher(s), for their Movers & Shakers Q&A Series. We talked about directing, the arts, education and my involvement with The Vagina Monologues. See below to check out the interview. Then head over to www.thewriteteachers.com to check out their work! Megan and her team are doing some pretty incredible stuff over at The Write Teacher(s). Their website states, “We believe that arts are essential.  We believe in community.  We believe in framing a conversation for all topics, and we do it through the lens of theatre, books, television, film, music, and of course, education. The world is changing, and we want to set the framework for the discussion.” Bravo, Megan!

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Movers & Shakers Q&A Series: Andrea Bertola

Feb. 7, 2013   |  By: Megan Minutillo

I’m happy to introduce you all to our next Mover & Shaker, Andrea Bertola.  Andrea and I are working on an upcoming production of The Vagina Monologues at HERE together, and she is, without a doubt a Mover & Shaker.  Her wit, her passion, her dedication to the arts for social change…well, it’s truly inspiring.  I’m proud and honored to call her a friend and a colleague, and so very pleased that she was able to do this interview. 

TWT: First things first, did you always want to be a director?

AB: Yes! Even when I was little, I was constantly creating theatrical “masterpieces” for my family. My little sister was my first leading lady, whether she liked it or not. All the world was my stage:  the fireplace, the diving board, the garage, our swing set; every family gathering provided me with a doting audience. One time, I got in trouble for putting out a donation basket and asking for tips from my relatives! An early indication for things to come…ha.

TWT:  You are currently directing an upcoming V-Day benefit production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, which will be performed at the HERE Arts Center in New York City. What’s it like to be working at the space where this monumental show was first work shopped?

AB: It is truly mind-blowing. I’m ecstatic and honored. The Vagina Monologues is such an important piece—it beautifully merges art with activism, and with that comes great responsibility. While directing the show, I’ve been very conscious about paying tribute to the original women that were interviewed. I want to honor their lives, their stories, and this monumental work of art.  I also aim to breathe new life into the play by making it fun and approachable for a new generation.

People are drawn to this piece for many different reasons: some are drawn to the play as a work of art; but many others use it as a way to process their emotions as they recover from violence or abuse. This show has the ability to change the way a community thinks and addresses issues of violence against women.

All of the proceeds from these V-Day benefit productions of The Vagina Monologues will be given to local organizations that work to stop violence against women and children. We’ve already sold-out our show, and we have raised thousands of dollars for our beneficiary. The outpouring of community support and generosity is breathtaking. ‎

Eve Ensler said it best when she was asked about the Vagina Monologues and the V-Day mission, “This may be one of the only times that a theater production has really been able to serve a social movement to this degree, particularly economically.”

TWT:  What’s your favorite part of being a director?

AB: As a director, my mission is to examine challenging or controversial themes that speak to contemporary issues in our society. My favorite part about this is presenting these ideas in a way that creates a unique experience for the audience. I believe the energy and atmosphere of the world in the play should stimulate the audience’s senses from the moment they step foot into the theatre. The audience should be jostled (gently) and engaged by theatre, not patronized or preached to. By creating these highly interactive experiences they become a more captivated audience.

While directing provocative, innovative, and envelope-pushing productions, I aim to spark a healthy dialogue between cast, crew, audience, and critics. It’s one of the main reasons why I got my Masters degree in Educational Theatre. Theatre can be a catalyst for social change, and I want to do my part to make the world a better place.

TWT: What advice would you give to high school students who wanted to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?

AB: Get a dual major in marketing! I’m serious. Not because you’ll need a fallback career (you won’t IF you are passionate); but because you’ll need to know how to sell yourself. No matter what career you pursue in the entertainment industry, marketing is key. This industry is all about the packaging. You can be the most talented director in the world, but no one will see your work if you can’t write a compelling synopsis.  Marketing will teach you how to make a website, how to engage an audience via social media, how to pitch a project and where to find investors. Believe me, you’ll need all of those tools to get ahead of your competition.

TWT: You’re a board member of the viBe Theater Experience. Can you explain to our readers more about the organization?

AB: viBe Theater Experience (viBe) produces original, free theater, music, and videos about real-life issues written and performed by teen girls.  We provide a safe and creative space for underserved girls to express their voices, take on challenges and gain the self-confidence necessary to succeed personally, artistically and academically. viBe empowers girls through free programs, which engage and inspire them to write, create, publish, direct, and perform personal and truthful collaborative theater and music.  Since 2002, over 60 viBe productions have brought free theater, live musical performances, music videos, and radio plays to thousands of diverse audience members, changing their perceptions about the kind of art that young women can create.

TWT: Just for fun, what movie could you watch over and over and over again?

AB: I would be totally lying if I didn’t say Father of the Bride. I know, I know. In my defense, Steve Martin and Martin Short together on-screen is nothing to scoff at! “True Romance” and “Gia” would be my second and third place favorites.

TWT: In today’s economy, arts programs in schools are being cut. What reasons would you give a politician for preserving the arts?

AB: The arts provide opportunities for self-expression; they expand our understandings; they give us the self-confidence we need to succeed personally, socially and artistically; they push us to think out-of-the-box and to view the world in new and unexpected ways. They bring magic to our world by filling it with beauty, color, music, and imagination.

TWT:  Who is/was your greatest teacher?

AB: This is a tough one. I grew up with a boatload of learning disabilities (dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADD… to name a few) and school was always challenging for me. It’s hard enough to have confidence as a young kid, let alone a kid who is constantly being told they have a learning disability. Learning disabled? What a terrible phrase.  It was heartbreaking. My greatest teachers were the ones who believed in me, saw past my struggles and appreciated my creativity. The ones that cheered me on and pushed me to reach for the stars: Mr. Grayson, Mrs. Karczewski, Caroline Worth, Maggie Lally, Joe Salvatore, Stephen DiMenna….and my parents.   

More Information:

So far, our online fundraising campaign has raised $1,620.

We’re now 32% to our goal! Please support the cause. Every little bit helps!

2/7/13 Special Announcement: Extra tickets have just been released for The Vagina Monologues.

The show sold-out a month in advance, these extra tickets will go FAST.

Click here to purchase tickets

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Why should you support viBe?

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Why should you support viBe?

Our V-Day production of the Vagina Monologues at HERE will benefit viBe Theater Experience, a non-profit performing arts/ education organization that produces original, free theater, music and videos about real-life issues written and performed by under-served teen girls.

So far, our online fundraising campaign has raised $1,195.

We’re now 24% to our goal! 

Why should you support viBe?

Toya Lillard, Executive Director for viBe Theater Experience, shared these statistics with me….

90% of viBe participants are girls of color from under-resourced communities with poorly performing public schools. 70% live in single-parent households. Many lack the resources to pay for tutoring and arts programs that can inform their studies and bolster their self-esteem.  A 2012 NEA study on arts engagement found that more than half the students from low income families with exposure to the arts went on to pursue careers in law, public service, and education.  viBe engages girls through theater and activism, where they find the freedom to explore and address the issues most important to them, and are provided the platform to share their ideas, experiences and solutions.They come to our organization from over 20 public high schools and countless social service organizations throughout New York City, hungry for opportunities to create and perform their own work. Girls attend our tryouts (held multiple times in Fall, Winter and Summer), seeking to find their passion through work in the arts.  At our fall 2012 tryouts, we asked two girls why they wanted to be a part of viBe; returning girl Shervon said, “I found out acting is my passion,” and new viBe girl Kenisha said, “I thought it would be good and helpful for me…I want to create my own shows.” Each viBe program provides girls with the support they need to talk about the issues they face daily in their homes, their schools and their communities.

Gaining these fundamental emotional and academic skills leads to quantifiable outcomes. In 2012 NYC public schools had a 65.5% graduation rate, yet viBe participants have consistently maintained a 100% high school graduate rate. viBe participants also enjoy a college enrollment rate of over 90%. Over 90% of viBe girls enroll in college, attending such universities as: St. John’s, NYU, Syracuse, Temple, Hunter, Simmons and more. In the future, we aim to inspire 100% of them to enroll in college through the mentorship we provide them during and after our programs. More than half of our alumnae over 10 years remain in touch with us, and attend performances and alumnae events. They also volunteer, intern and lecture for current viBe girls. Success is demonstrated by outcomes: the stories, reactions and accomplishments our girls achieve as a result of participating in our programs and the impact they have on their communities. Sustaining the work of a small theater company dedicated to amplifying the voices of underserved girls in New York City is no easy task. In these especially challenging economic times, providing our girls with a safe, creative environment, and the support that they need to “speak truth to power” in their stories requires the support of our entire community. This is why we ask you to considera gift to viBe Theater Experience. A gift of any amount will help us to sustain our programs in 2013, and move closer to our goal of serving more girls.

Ready to make a donation?

Even $10 will help!

Click here.

(It’s quick and easy)

Support The Vagina Monologues

“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.”

-Sarah Ban Breathnach

This February marks the 15th anniversary of V-Day, the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. On February 18th and 19th, 2013, at 7pm, a V-Day benefit production of Eve Ensler’s award winning play The Vagina Monologues will be directed by Andrea Bertola at the HERE Arts Center in New York City, where The Vagina Monologues was first produced in 1996. Proceeds from this production will benefit viBe Theater Experience an organization that produces original, free theater, music and videos about real-life issues written and performed by teen girls.

Here are 7 reasons why you should consider donating to the cause…

1) To stop violence against women: According to the United Nations, ONE out of every THREE women on the planet will be physically or sexually abused in her lifetime. Our show works to raise money and awareness to stop violence against women.

2) Because it works: In 2012, more than 5800 V-Day benefit events took place produced by volunteer activists around the world. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $90 million and reached over 300 million people and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it. V-Day was named one of Worth Magazine’s “100 Best Charities”, in 2006 one of Marie Claire Magazine’s Top Ten Charities and in 2010 was named as one of the Top-Rated organizations on Philanthropedia/Guidestar and GreatNonprofits.

3) For NYC teen girls: This production will benefit “viBe Theater Experience”. viBe Theater Experience (viBe) produces original, free theater, music and videos about real-life issues written and performed by teen girls. We provide a safe, creative space for under-served girls to express their voices, take on challenges and gain the self-confidence necessary to succeed personally, artistically and academically. viBe empowers girls through free programs, which engage and inspire them to write, create, publish, direct and perform personal and truthful collaborative theater and music.

5) For Theater: The Vagina Monologues is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti‐violence organizations. Raw, wild, thought-provoking art that makes a difference.

6) For creativity: We believe women should spend their lives creating and thriving rather than surviving or recovering from terrible atrocities. We’re taking the show out of context, flipping it on it’s head…and making a wild ride. The show is outrageous, sexy, raw and empowering. Not for the faint of heart.

7) For the women in your life: your mother, sister, girlfriend, friend and daughter.

DONATE HERE

Donating through this website is simple, fast and totally secure. It is also the most efficient way to support my fundraising efforts.

Many thanks for your support — and don’t forget to buy tickets (Link will be posted soon)!

UNTIL THE VIOLENCE STOPS.

Audition for The Vagina Monologues

Andrea Bertola directed The Vagina Monologues in 2011 to sold-out audiencs at the Triad Theater.
Andrea Bertola directed The Vagina Monologues in 2011 to sold-out audiencs at the Triad Theater.

This February marks the 15th anniversary of V-Day, the global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. On February 18th and 19th, 2013, at 7pm, a V-Day benefit production of Eve Ensler’s award winning play The Vagina Monologues will be directed by Andrea Bertola at the HERE Arts Center in New York City, where The Vagina Monologues was first produced in 1996. Proceeds from this production will benefit viBe Theater Experience an organization that produces original, free theater, music and videos about real-life issues written and performed by teen girls.

Mark Your Calendars!
Auditions will take place on Sunday, Jan. 6th, 2013
5pm – 10pm at HERE Arts Center (Dorothy B. Williams Theatre is downstairs)
145 Avenue of the Americas (6th Ave) – Manhattan

 (enter on Dominick Street one block south of Spring)

ABOUT THE AUDITION:

Auditions will take place on Sunday, Jan. 6th, 2013 from 5pm – 10pm at HERE Arts Center: 145 Avenue of the Americas – Manhattan. (Enter on Dominik Street. The Dorothy B. Williams Theatre is downstairs). Please plan to stay for the entire duration of the audition. Have fun, explore the script, be empowered and meet cool women willing to take a risk! Looking for a diverse group of women. (All ages, ethnicities, and types are requested).

TIME COMMITMENT:

Rehearsals will begin in early January and the performances will be on February 18th and 19th, 2013, at 7pm. Note: February 18th is President’s Day. Final dress rehearsals will take place during President’s Day weekend. When you register to audition you’ll have the option to select one of two TimeGroups, each with a different amount of rehearsal time availability. All cast members will be expected to attend all evening dress/tech rehearsals during the week of Feb 11- Feb 17th as well as a final dress rehearsal from 10am – 5pm on President’s Day (Monday Feb 18th). If your time limitations don’t match our needs, we will find an alternative way for you to be involved in the production.

TimeGroup 1: The Tribe/Ensemble. The ensemble rehearses as a group on Sundays for approximately 6 hours at a time. (As well as all dress rehearsals, as stated above).  Note: These performers will be on stage the entire time.  They will be in 4 to 5 group scenes such as the opening, closing “My Angry Vagina”, “A Six-Year-Old Girl was Asked” and “The Wear and Say List”. These performers will also be assigned small solo pieces: introductions for the monologues. The tribe brings life and color to the show, they are fun numbers and a great way to bond with other women. This is a good choice if you are looking for an experience sharing the stage while working closely with a small group of women.

TimeGroup 2: The Monologues. These actors rehearse one-on-one with the director once a week for approx. 1.5 hours at a time. (As well as all dress rehearsals, as stated above).  These performers will be assigned one monologue piece. The monologues are the heart and soul of the show. You will be challenged to test your limits in evoking truthful emotions for a dynamic performance. This is a good choice if you are looking to perform a solo piece and/or  have limited availability for large group rehearsals. Some monologue performers will be allowed to read from note cards.  Click here to read a breakdown of the monologues

More Information

Andrea Bertola directed a sold-out production of The Vagina Monologues in 2011. Learn more, read cast testimonials or view pictures. To learn more about V-Day and its campaigns visit http://www.vday.org

If you wish to audition, you must fill out the following form. If you have additional questions, contact AndreaBertola@gmail.com

Pictures from the Epic Talent Show Fundraiser

I was blown away by the talent in this show. These incredibly gifted professionals volunteered their time to raise money and awareness for our non-profit performing arts/education organization, ViBe Theater Experience. It is truly heartwarming to see such a unique and diversified group of artists come together from all walks of life to support the teen girls of viBe Theater Experience.

An EPIC Talent Show, to benefit viBe Theater Experience
August 2nd, 2012 at 8pm

The Triad Theater
158 West 72nd Street
New York, NY 10023

Learn more about this event: Click here

Letters from the Board of viBe Theater Experience.

Here are some emails I received from the Board of viBe Theater Experience in response to the money we raised via our Epic Talent Show….

Letter #1

“ANDREA!!! The energy is still a-buzz from last night’s talent show. You all indeed delivered the “EPIC”! You and your AH-MAZING team’s hard word, organization drive and passion for viBe clearly inspired everyone in the room. We are so thrilled and so humbled by your innovation and charge to mobilize so many people. We thank you! And please too share our most viBrant gratitude with your POWERHOUSE team!”

Letter #2

“Woohoo!!! nicely done, Andrea! You raise the bar every time you leave your house. Last night was a spectacular event – I’m not sure I’ll ever listen to “single ladies” in quite the same way. Such fun and energy. AWESOMENESS! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!”

Letter #3

“Kudos to Andrea and her team of amazing folk for creating such a terrific event for vibe – Thank you so much for your dedication and enthusiasm.”

Letter #4

“Andrea! Last night’s event was fantastic and joyful!  I had a BALL!  While there was certainly a wide diversity of talent on stage, the truth is the top talent of the night was you and your crew of organizers off stage. viBe is so fortunate to have your talent, creativity and enthusiasm – and of course your fundraising prowess! Many thanks for a job well done!”

Letter #5

“Dear Andrea: On behalf of the Board, our staff, and all the viBeGirls past and present, I’d like to thank you for your phenomenal work! Last night’s event was not only PACKED, but the show itself was unlike anything I have ever seen! …Your hard work and dedication to making last night’s event a success are greatly appreciated. Our viBrant thanks to you and your amazing team!!”

Meet the Party Faithful!

An EPIC Talent Show, to benefit viBe Theater Experience
August 2nd, 2012 at 8pm
The Triad Theater
158 West 72nd Street
New York, NY 10023
Photo by Roger Greenawalt in front of Shabby Road Studio, April 1, 2012
With a performance by The Party Faithful
Tickets are $20 and must be purchased in advance.
This event WILL sell out, get your tickets now.

Meet The Parovivas:

We are THRILLED to have The Party Faithfulperform The Beatles’ “Because” in our EPIC Talent Show Fundraiser! “Because” has the most complex vocal harmony of any Beatles’ song. There are reports that it was inspired by Yoko playing The Moonlight Sonata for John. Dubious. This piece, (like Rufus Wainwright’s cover of Across The Universe), has gained in popularity over time due to the extraordinary rendition by the doomed uni-polar depressive Elliot Smith.Brooklyn’s The Party Faithful formed when Patrick Harmon (vocals, guitar) and Erica D’Andrea Gray (bass, vocals) combined their affection for post-punk-tinged anthemic rock with their affection for each other – they married soon after. The band has grown to a party of four with the additions of Karen Hou (piano, vocals) and drummer Pat Morin.

Whether on tape or on stage, the party pours forth lush emotion, lyrical labyrinths and soaring riffs, winning hearts and minds at shows across the city and along the northeast corridor. They’ve released the rollicking “Seven Cycles” EP, landed a track on Blast Radius’ 2009 compilation of Brooklyn bands you need to hear, and in January 2012 they unveiled their latest album, “Gold Light” (now available on iTunes and at shows.)

About the Talent Show Fundraiser:

We’ve put together an EPIC evening filled with the wildest and craziest talent from all over the Tri-State area. What’s in store for you? Oh, just some magicians, a Beyonce Drag Queen impersonator, Broadway Singers, Stand-up Comedians, and Belly Dancers to name a few. All proceeds will benefit viBe Theater Experience, an award-winning, non-profit performing arts/education organization that empowers New York City’s teenage girls through the collaborative process of creating totally original performances. We guarantee you will be thoroughly entertained and able to check off your “good deed” on that to-do list.
PLUS!!! There will be some crazy raffle prizes with amazing big ticket items including:
(If you can’t attend the fundraiser, but would still like to make a contribution to support viBe Theater Experience, you can donate here).

Meet The Parodivas!

An EPIC Talent Show, to benefit viBe Theater Experience
August 2nd, 2012 at 8pm
The Triad Theater
158 West 72nd Street
New York, NY 10023

Hosted by The Parodivas!

Tickets are $20 and must be purchased in advance.
This event WILL sell out, get your tickets now.

Meet The Parovivas:

We are THRILLED to have The Parodivas host our EPIC Talent Show Fundraiser! The Parodivas are bff’s and lyricists Darlene Rae Heller & Jason B Schmidt. This NYC-based musical comedy duo parodies everything from pop to musical theater & jazz all while taking shots from their famous flasks and embarrassing themselves with choreography. Known for their witty banter and hilarious lyrics, they’ve been making audiences spit out their drinks as Hosts or Featured Guests in comedy clubs and cabarets all over the city, including:  92YTribeca, Comix, Gotham, The Duplex, The Algonquin, Stonewall, The Laurie Beechman, Don’t Tell Mamas, The Triad, The Tank and many, many more!

About the Talent Show Fundraiser:

We’ve put together an EPIC evening filled with the wildest and craziest talent from all over the Tri-State area. What’s in store for you? Oh, just some magicians, a Beyonce Drag Queen impersonator, Broadway Singers, Stand-up Comedians, and Belly Dancers to name a few. All proceeds will benefit viBe Theater Experience, an award-winning, non-profit performing arts/education organization that empowers New York City’s teenage girls through the collaborative process of creating totally original performances. We guarantee you will be thoroughly entertained and able to check off your “good deed” on that to-do list.
PLUS!!! There will be some crazy raffle prizes with amazing big ticket items including:
(If you can’t attend the fundraiser, but would still like to make a contribution to support viBe Theater Experience, you can donate here).

Tickets Are Available!

An EPIC Talent Show, to benefit viBe Theater Experience
August 2nd, 2012 at 8pm
The Triad Theater
158 West 72nd Street
New York, NY 10023
Hosted by The Parodivas!

Tickets are $20 and must be purchased in advance.
This event WILL sell out, get your tickets now.
We’ve put together an EPIC evening filled with the wildest and craziest talent from all over the Tri-State area. What’s in store for you? Oh, just some magicians, a Beyonce Drag Queen impersonator, Broadway Singers, Stand-up Comedians, and Belly Dancers to name a few. All proceeds will benefit viBe Theater Experience, an award-winning, non-profit performing arts/education organization that empowers New York City’s teenage girls through the collaborative process of creating totally original performances.
We guarantee you will be thoroughly entertained and able to check off your “good deed” on that to-do list.
PLUS!!! There will be some crazy raffle prizes with amazing big ticket items including:
 (If you can’t attend the fundraiser, but would still like to make a contribution to support viBe Theater Experience, you can donate here).