Melba LaRose After the Wall: A Polytheatrical Extravaganza
February 23 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Part of Howl!’s annual Writers Block staged reading and performance festival
After the Wall, a multicultural, multidimensional, multidisciplinary, multimedia play about walls around the world and throughout time, takes the stage in a one night only preview at Howl! Happening. With comedy, drama, song, dance, projections, and soundscapes that envelop the audience, this theatrical extravaganza aims to shake us up and start the conversation. Written and directed by avant-garde Off-Off-Broadway legend Melba LaRose, the play is an epic wild ride through history. The plot spirals past a comic prehistoric tribal council; ancient Mesopotamia; a hot trip through the desert with the lost tribes of Israel; the flight from the cotton fields of the Old South; valiant survival through humor in Sachsenhausen, Berlin, before, during, and after the wall; a samba through the military regime in Brazil; a crossing of the US-Mexico border; and a culture clash in a Prague café—landing in a university classroom where we learn about the biggest wall of all in outer space. A professor’s young daughter then opens her arms to an envisioned utopia, where there are no walls between us. Limited Space.
You will laugh, cry, learn, question, and feel inspired—you might even get up and dance! The non-traditionally cast ensemble includes Tinuke Adetunji, Colette Ambo, Carmela Davis, Michelangelo del Rosario, Olya Grynko, Evangeline Ramos, and Krystal KC Wilson. Lindsay Shields is the play’s multimedia designer. The choreography is by Luigi protégé Francis J. Roach. Frances Eldred designed the costumes; Victor Vauban Junior serves as stage manager. After the Wall will premiere this fall at SynerFest, a festival of art culture innovation in Valencia, Spain. (See bios below)
Writer Block 2018 is a benefit for the Howl! Emergency Life Project (Howl! HELP), providing emergency financial assistance and social service support to artists who have made or continue to make their careers in New York’s East Village and Lower East Side arts communities. Howl! HELP is administered by the Actors Fund and 100% ticket sales benefit the Actors Fund. For information and updated schedule of events: howlarts.org.
Melba LaRose (Writer/Director)
A survivor of the Warhol days, “Queen of Off-Off-Broadway,” and a legend in her own mind, Melba LaRose was the original Nola Noonan in Jackie Curtis’ Glamour, Glory & Gold: The Life & Legend of Nola Noonan, Goddess & Star. Her supporting players in that camp epic were Curtis and the glamorous Candy Darling. Following that, she starred in Jackie’s musical Lucky Wonderful. She escaped to the Left Coast (taking her life with her) in the 70s, in a full-length black velvet coat, hot pants, and ripped fishnets—the strangest thing that ever got off the bus. (“It took 10 years to get the glitter out of my hair!,” she says.) Contrary to popular dish (which according to Doric Wilson was started by Harry Koutoukas), it turned out she wasn’t a drag queen after all. She was accepted into Lonny Chapman’s renowned Group Repertory Theatre. Nearly lulled into lobotomy by ocean waves and persistently sunny days, she began writing and directing and was soon on a plane back to Gotham. Besides film and television, she has toured internationally with the Obie award-winning NY Street Theatre Caravan. In 1982, she founded NY Artists Unlimited, a multicultural nonprofit dedicated to taking professional theater to underserved audiences. Melba is artistic director and also writes, directs, and sometimes appears in productions. In 2006, she created Downeast Arts Center in the East Village and gave birth to the Bad Plays Festival, which morphed into the International CringeFest, an annual escapade of irreverent, naughty, politically incorrect, satirical plays and musicals. She is in four editions of Who’s Who and has received numerous honors, grants, and awards. LaRose is a member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, Dramatists Guild, A.R.T./New York, League of Independent Theater, International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts, AEA, SAG-AFTRA. For the past five years, she has been ensconced in developing her magnum opus After the Wall.
Olya Grynko is a New York-based actress and model. Originally from Ukraine, she moved to the Big Apple six years ago to pursue dreams of acting. She is an active member of New Women New Yorkers—a nonprofit organization that supports and empowers young women immigrants in New York.
Carmela Davis got the acting bug in college while studying engineering and trained at the Harlem Theatre Company. At Auburn University, she was the head of the Black Student Association. Fighting for equal rights, access, and funding is an extension of her sense of justice. “True justice elevates the fact that all people are of value in this universe and on our planet,” she says. This play combines her beliefs and passion for acting, while moving others to action. She has been with the company for 15 years and is treasurer of the board.
Evangeline Ramos will be making her acting debut in After the Wall. She has ventured into acting with the help of her mother, Carmela Davis. Ten-year-old Evangeline is a world traveler, visual artist, and a New York City public school student, who hopes even children understand the play. She wants to encourage children to become involved in making their world a better place.
Krystal Kc Wilson is a Bronx native and is excited to be working as an actress in this project. Being a black woman in America, she has seen her fair share of walls face to face and takes any and all opportunities to tear them down one by one. She thanks her family and friends for the support and for being there through thick and thin.
Adetnuke Chmieliauskas (Tinuke Adetunji). In the actress’ own words: “Both of my parents are from West Africa. My dad is from Nigeria and my mom is from Liberia. I received my Bachelor’s degree in theatre arts performance from Marymount Manhattan. I describe myself as a spontaneous, vocal performer, who uses her body as a way to show what’s going on inside. Performing is my way of being a voice for the unheard, and that is why I fell in love with After The Wall.”
Colette Ambo is a performing artist from the Commonwealth of Dominica. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in multimedia and performing arts from Lehman College, and proud to be a part of this important project.
Michelangelo Del Rosario is an actor from the South Bronx with a plethora of interest and aspirations within the artistic community. Recent shows include Bandroom and Macbeth. He is grateful to be working with NY Artists Unlimited on taking this much-needed awareness to the world and hopes audiences will leave with a positive message they can share with everyone.
Francis J. Roach (Choreographer) is a protégé of jazz legend Luigi; he has choreographed in every aspect of show business. For more than 35 years, he has taught dance and is now artistic director of Luigi’s Jazz Centre in NYC. Francis also teaches Luigi technique throughout the U.S. and in other countries. He has choreographed numerous productions for NY Artists Unlimited and is excited to be working on After the Wall.
Lindsay Shields (Multimedia Designer) serves as co-chapter director of New York Thespians and teaches drama at Flushing High School in Queens. She has been involved with social justice and theatrical projects in the U.S., India, Thailand, and Cambodia. She holds degrees in theatre from Brevard College, NYU, and Southern Oregon University, as well as a certificate in Intercultural Communication from Macquarie University. Follow her on Twitter @ActingPolitical
Frances Eldred (Costumer) has been with the company for 20 years as both actress and costumer. She has designed for many of the company’s productions and is excited to be working on the current project, which she feels is the most important to date.
Victor Vauban Junior (Stage Manager/Performer) is a former circus performer from Brazil in an eternal romance with the world of the arts. He’s a playwright who once in a while explores the stage as an actor, dancer, and director, as a way to share his passion with the world.