Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Music/Movement Residency Comes to a Close with "Living in Song" Showing (April 17)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Claire Marshall ’17, Trouve Ivo '15, Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14, and CFA Programming Intern Francesca Miller ’14 about the "Living in Song" residency workshops in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog. Participants from the workshops will perform song, movement, and sign language in a free celebratory concert on Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 7pm in Crowell Concert Hall. 

Three members of the Grammy Award-winning African American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock® [currently celebrating their 40th anniversary season] have been in residence at Wesleyan over the past month.  They’ve been teaching three different workshops for 65 Wesleyan students and Connecticut residents. The workshops have been held at the Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church, the Green Street Arts Center, and in the Fayerweather Dance Studio on campus.
Dr. Shirley Mary Childress
In “The Vocal Movement Experience” workshops, Dr. Nitanju Bolade Casel shows participants how movement and breath can serve as a catalyst for sound.  Dr. M. Louise Robinson leads “The Rhythm Ring,” workshops designed to spark musical conversation in the oral tradition of call and response.  Those in Dr. Shirley Mary Childress’ “Songs in the Way of Hand” workshops learn to understand and communicate songs visually using the vocabulary of American Sign Language.

Although each of the “Living in Song” workshops has a unique focus, they all center on ideas of community. Part of the mission of Sweet Honey in the Rock® is to engage with and empower its diverse audience. Dr. Casel, Dr. Robinson, and Dr. Childress have achieved just that with their "Living in Song" workshops.

“Looking around the room and recognizing our different backgrounds has been really empowering to me,” says Claire Marshall ’17.  “It’s been a chance to drop into a world where people don’t all come from the same place.”

The workshops provide a unique opportunity for Wesleyan students to learn alongside Middletown residents.  There are participants commuting from other parts of Connecticut as well, including a few women who sing in a choir in Hartford.

“It’s a lot more about the community than about us Wesleyan students,” says Trouve Ivo '15.
“The group is incredibly diverse and it has been wonderful to play in this way,” comments Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14.

A couple adults are participating alongside their home-schooled children, further broadening the age range of the workshops.  “The children are super enthusiastic,” says CFA Programming Intern Francesca Miller ’14.

Playful and enthusiastic seem to describe the general mood of the workshops.  “Everyone is always super excited to be there,” describes Mr. Ivo.

The energy cultivated in the workshops is radiant, and participants are bringing what they’ve learned into the community.  Two Wesleyan students are taking the “Songs in the Way of Hand” workshops as a way to become familiar with deaf culture in anticipation of living in Sign House next year.

The "Living in Song" workshops speak to the power of song to foster community, all the while honoring the voice of the individual.

“I’ve grown to be more comfortable with using my own voice and using song to bring a group together,” reflects Mr. Ivo.  “Vocal expression should be more present in creative communities because it’s a really incredible, uniting thing.”

Living in Song Showing
Thursday April 17, 2014 at 7pm
Crowell Concert Hall, 50 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown

Made possible by Wesleyan's Office of Equity and Inclusion.


Friday, April 18

8 pm, $10

Warren Byrd
Jazz piano

Warren Byrd, native of Hartford, CT and resident of Amsterdam, NL is a pianist/vocalist/composer. As an American with a heritage rooted in the fertile soil of Black creativity, he explores the universal ideals that connect us all seeking unity in music… he just so happens to really dig Jazz as his main musical springboard.

Saturday, April 19
8 pm, $10

Last Fair Deal
Americana & bluegrass

Last Fair Deal is a 3-piece vocal band that plays Americana Roots, Swing and Bluegrass music using Bluegrass instruments (guitar, fiddle, mandolin, bass, banjo, bouzouki, accordion, harmonica), tight harmony vocals and eclectic material ranging from original progressive folk to swing to old timey jazz.

Eat the Invaders! and Take a Bite on the Wild Side

Please join us for an eclectic evening of conversation, master chef demonstration and adventurous eating with one of CT’s most celebrated green chefs, Bun Lai of New Haven’s Miya’s Sushi.

The Rockfall Foundation presents:

Where the Wild Foods Are!  Exploring the art, adventure & good taste of eating sustainable, foraged cuisine.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Chapman Hall, Middlesex Community College
Middletown, CT

BUN LAI, world renowned chef, James Beard Award semi-finalist and proprietor Miya’s Sushi, who creates and serves innovative dishes from sustainable, locally obtained and foraged flora and fauna, including invasive species.

JOE ROMAN, conservation biologist, researcher and educator, award-winning author of the book, Listed, and founder/editor ‘n’ chef of the courageous culinary website, Eat the Invaders: Fighting Invasive Species, One Bite at a Time.

Have fun eating sushi while learning from Joe and Bun about their work together to promote the protection of native habitats and eating healthy for the planet.

For some background on Bun and Joe, see a recent profile  in Outside magazine: "The Gourmet Invasivores Dilemma."  

Along with Bun's award-winning dishes, dessert will be served and a cash bar will offer local beers and regionally-made hard cider.

All proceeds will benefit The Rockfall Foundation's environmental education grants program.

For details and to reserve your place at our tables visit our website here. Or contact Claire Rusowicz, (860)347-0340;

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Keep Your Money: IRS Too Busy Persecuting Tea Party to Collect Taxes This Year -- Popcorn by The Colonel #92

Today: bricolage by a bricoleur.

Frank Caparelli loved opera so much he won the nickname “Opera Frank.” Eventually he changed his name to “Frank Opera.” (Frank Ocean’s story is different.)

Asian Art-Off: Tai Chi vs. Chai Tea.

Animal Control Officer:  Hoolette D. Dogzout.

Restaurant so bad it has a maitre D-minus.

Remember to Meet Your Greens tonight at Eli Cannon's!

Meet Your Greens, Middlesex County monthly green drinks networking gathering, will meet at Eli Cannon's tonight, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Come meet City resident Laura Baum, new president of Bike Walk CT. 
Bike Walk CT is working to make Connecticut bike- and pedestrian-friendly.  It works locally to increase grassroots efforts to make communities better places to bike and walk; at the state legislature to advance laws that protect the rights of cyclists and walkers; and at the DOT to make sure that policies and engineering practices that will improve conditions for cyclists are implemented.

Remember, come as you are and no reservations required!

Eli Cannon's Tap Room boasts up to 36 draft lines that are rotated daily, as well as a menu that promises "something for everyone." Stay for Tuesday night's beer tasting, beginning at 7:00 pm.

695 Main Street
Phone: (860) 347-ELIS

Coming up in May: State Rep. Matt Lesser will return to fill us in on all the green news from the recent CT legislative session. Mark your calendars for May 20th.

Meet Your Greens is Middlesex County's monthly green drinks happy-hour network providing opportunities to make connections and exchange news about environmental issues in Middlesex County. Based on the popular Green Drinks in CT and nationwide, this informal gathering of people drawn from the community, nonprofit groups and the business world offers time to brainstorm ideas and plant seeds for collaboration. All are welcome with no reservations or advanced registration necessary.

Meet Your Greens meets every third Tuesday of the month. Venues and times change-- join our e-list for updates and invites by contacting Claire Rusowicz,; or Cristina Gastador Hayden, You can also join us on Facebook ("Meet Your Greens"). Schedule updates are also provided on The Rockfall Foundation website.

The Rockfall Foundation supports environmental education, conservation programs and planning initiatives in Middlesex County. Established in 1935, it is one of Connecticut’s oldest environmental organizations whose mission is to be a catalyst-- bringing people together and supporting organizations to conserve and enhance the county’s natural environment. Rockfall awards grants each year to organizations, schools and municipalities, and sponsors educational programs and symposia.

Monday, April 14, 2014

War Stories at Wesleyan, April 22

"War Stories:  Reading and Writing the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars"

A panel discussion on recent war literature featuring: 

Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya, an Indian writer who resides in the Hudson Valley and author (most recently) of The Watch: A Novel (2013)

Roy Scranton, Ph.D. Candidate in English at Princeton University and co-editor of Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War (2013)

Lt. Col. Peter Molin, Academy Professor of English at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point and the author of the blog "Time Now: The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars in Art, Literature, and Film" (

The panel discussion will start at 4:30 p.m., venue PAC 001, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT

Friday, April 11, 2014

CAT TALES ~ Kitty of the Week ~ Please adopt me, Jackson!

My name is Jackson!
Can you take me to your home?

I am a sweet, affectionate, and playful 2-year old, black domestic short hair. I was rescued from an abusive situation as a stray. Despite my history, I am a sweet boy who loves attention, rubs, and petting. I LOVE toys and rolling around with them!

When I’ve had enough play, I will gently paw or nibble at your hand, just to tell you I have had enough.  Everyone that meets me says that I am a good boy. And all that false jazz about black cats being bad luck... we are quite the opposite! 

I prefer to be the only pet in your house, but would do okay with another non-dominate cat.  

If you are an person who wants an affectionate and playful cat, then I am the cat for you!

Please call Cat Tales at (860) 344-9043 or
Email: to inquire about Jackson!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Satire Meets Circus in Polish Playwright Slawomir Mrozek’s "Vatzlav" (Apr. 10-12)

CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Lily Whitsitt '06 about directing the Theater Department production of Slawomir Mrozek's "Vatzlav" on Thursday, April 10 and Friday, April 11, 2014 at 8pm; and Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 2pm and 8pm, in the CFA Theater, in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog.

Written by Slawomir Mrozek and directed by Lily Whitsitt ’06, Vatzlav tells the story of a shipwrecked slave’s encounter with an unfamiliar island and its wildly eccentric inhabitants. Among others, Vatzlav meets a blind Oedipus, a bloodsucking couple, and a revolutionary disguised as a bear.

The set takes its inspiration from circus design and transforms the stage into a jungle gym of raised wooden platforms.  Audience members sit on stage with the actors, an invitation to join in the play’s 77 quick and episodic scenes.

Vatzlav draws from 18th-century French philosophical tales such as Voltaire’s Candide and the Marquis de Sade’s Justine to tell a story that is both profoundly political and positively hilarious.  It’s a farcical, fall-out-of-your-chair-laughing kind of funny.

The work itself has a political history. Mr. Mrozek wrote Vatzlav in 1968, shortly after he fled Poland and sought political asylum in France. Due to strict censorship laws, the play did not appear in Poland until nearly a decade later.

Vatzlav reflects the life of its exiled playwright, a man writing far from home and in the midst of great political turmoil.  “It’s complete satire,” says Ms. Whitsitt.  “He takes an axe to every political ideology.”

With a cast of seven Wesleyan students, each character in the play embodies a different political ideology. Together they run the whole gamut of political philosophy and bring myriad perspectives into a witty and engaging dialogue.

The play delves into global questions related to power and authority, belief and hypocrisy, progress and modernity.  It also considers deeply personal dilemmas.

“It’s about those moments of choice that we all face,” explains Ms. Whitsitt. “Those moments when you have to confront your own ideals and beliefs.”

It’s a story about growing up — Vatzlav arrives on the remote island shipwrecked and in search of himself, looking for a new life and identity.  The zany inhabitants of the island and the trials he faces there incite him to question and come to terms with his own beliefs.

Ms. Whitsitt recalls grappling with many of her own beliefs as a student at Wesleyan, giving her reason to believe that the play would resonate with the students involved in the production and those in the audience.

“I wanted the students to be engaging with these types of questions,” explains Ms. Whitsitt.  “For me, as a director, it’s such a personal process for each performer.”

Operating on both a global and a personal level, Vatzlav is a politically charged play about the choices we make as individuals.  “At its base it’s about investigating humanity,” reflects Ms. Whitsitt.

Vatzlav by Slawomir Mrozek
Directed by Lily Whitsitt '06
Presented by the Theater Department
Thursday, April 10 & Friday, April 11, 2014 at 8pm
Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 2pm & 8pm
CFA Theater
$8 general public; $5 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $4 Wesleyan students

Please note that this play contains adult themes and language that may not be appropriate for children.

This weekend at the Buttonwood Tree!

Friday, April 11
8 pm

The Ebin-Rose Trio
and Davey O.

The acoustic trio Ebin-Rose is comprised of Ebin Parker, Rose Wolfe & Bobo (Dave Lavorgna) on Upright Bass. Ebin-Rose’s celtic folk rock is inspired by the legacies of Nick Drake, John Martyn, Pentangle, Sandy Denny & Joni Mitchell. The new trio configuration allows the band to take its music into a more dynamic improvisational range. They plan on having a new “live” studio EP recorded in time for their Middletown debut at The Buttonwood Tree.

It’s no surprise that Buffalo, NY born and bred songwriter Davey O. has been described by Buffalo News critic Jeff Miers as having ”a journalist’s eye for detail and poet’s ear for the well-turned observation”.  Embarking on a decade-plus journey that has resulted in a collection of justly-earned, highly introspective songs, Davey crafts pure Americana that is not of the social and political consciousness, but drawn from the deep well of experience and human emotion – no hackneyed story lines, no insincere polish, just an unflinching poet’s look at life. The characters woven seamlessly into stories of which the song itself becomes the soundtrack for the movie playing inside the listener’s head.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


The Vintage Players marks its 20th anniversary with three performances of Brian Friel’s award-winning play, Dancing at Lughnasa, on April 25, 26, and 27 at the Green Street Arts Center in Middletown. This hauntingly beautiful memory play is a semi-autobiographical reminiscence of the impact of change on the lives of five sisters and their family in a rural Irish community during the summer of 1936.

Jane McMillan founded the Vintage Players in 1993 specifically to present Dancing at Lughnasa. She saw the original production at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1991 and came home determined to stage it in Middletown. Little by little over two years the play took shape, and the Vintage Players presented a staged reading of Dancing at Lughnasa in April 1994. In the early years the organization was greatly strengthened by the help of Richard Kamins and the late Doris Hallie, and although actors have come and gone, the core group has stayed together. John Hall and Lynne Fiducia from the original production are part of this 20th anniversary show.

Over the years the Vintage Players has staged 18 plays, including Wit, The Dead, The Curious Savage, The Torchbearers, Juno and the Paycock, Driving Miss Daisy, and Chasing Manet. With the addition to the company of actor/director Carolyn Kirsch in 2005, the group has moved from “script in hand” presentations with little sets or props to more professional productions.

Dancing at Lughnasa is set in Ireland’s Donegal County in the fictional town of Ballybeg. Brian Friel has infused his writing with reflective memories of his mother and her sisters. As seen through the eyes of a 7 year old, now grown, a narrator embraces the poetry and humor of this master playwright, and we are able to join the family as these indomitable women struggle with social mores, the Catholic Church, and the coming industrialization of cottage industry.  

Under the direction of Vintage Players founder Jane McMillan, the 20th-anniversary cast includes John Hall, Linda Kaskel, Carolyn Kirsch, Pat Farrell, Lynne Fiducia, Terri Klein, Nat Holmes and Gerry Matthews. Music is by Ceol go Maidin. Assisting the production are Cookie and Eggie Quinones, Peggy Welsh, Marian Katz, Susan Hall,  Ellie Howard, and Cora Rodenheizer. Tate Burmeister is the Technical Director.

Performances are Friday, April 25 at 7 pm; Saturday, April 26 at 7 pm; and Sunday, April 27 at 3 pm. All performances are at the Green Street Arts Center, 51 Green Street, Middletown. RESERVATIONS ARE NECESSARY and may be made by calling Claudia Wolf at 860-685-7797. All performances are free, but donations are welcome. All proceeds will benefit the Children’s Programs of Green Street Arts Center and Oddfellows Playhouse.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Florida Man Mistakes Woman’s Corpse for April Fool Joke! -- Popcorn by The Colonel # 91

"I will be forever indebted to Susan McNamara, who donated endless hours to editing my manuscript. There were times when she had to drag from me the information and stories she knew were inside. Anything that sparks of life in this book is due to her patience and determination." --Elizabeth A. "Liz" Warner, from the acknowledgments in her "Pictorial History of Middletown," copyright 1990. Dr. McNamara is a psychiatrist with an office in an historic Middletown building.

Monday, April 7, 2014

High School Ag Center Open House Thursday

From Amanda Thomson.
The Middletown Agriculture Science and Technology Center will be hosting its annual “Open House” event on Thursday, April 10, with two sessions, from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. and also from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The center is located at the High School, 200 LaRosa Lane. The public is invited to attend this free event! The day session is geared towards preschool and elementary age children. The evening session is for the general public and will include a special presentation by the Toyota Corporation. There is no admission fee or registration required, although groups of 20 or more are encouraged to pre-register by calling (860) 704-4599 X 4594.

The purpose of the Open House is to showcase the Agricultural Science and Technology Center through student displays, demonstrations and hands-on activities, highlighting key curriculum areas of plant science, animal science, agricultural mechanics and environmental science.

The Middletown Regional Agriculture Science & Technology Program is available to high school students from Chester, Clinton, Clinton, Deep River, Durham, East Hampton, Essex, Guilford, Haddam, Killingworth, Madison, Middlefield, Middletown, Portland, Rocky Hill, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. The program is currently accepting applications for enrollment from students with an interest in agriculture and its related occupations for the 2013-3014 academic year.

For further information on the Open House or the Agriculture program, call (860) 704-4599 X 4594. You may also visit our website at .