Listen Up: Music Inspired by Feeding the Dragon

Sharon Washington’s Feeding the Dragon is about her life growing up on the Upper West Side of New York City in the 1970s. Our production’s Sound Designer and Composer Lindsay Jones helped us compile this groovy playlist inspired by that era and Sharon’s memories.

 

Feeding the Dragon runs through April 27, 2018. For more info, please visit primarystages.org.

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Suggested Reading: Feeding the Dragon

Growing up in the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library instilled a lifelong passion for literature in Sharon Washington. Sharon shares her story in our production of her autobiographical solo show, Feeding the Dragon.  If you enjoyed Sharon’s tale, here are some of the books Sharon loves:

Some of Sharon’s Favorite Adult Books:

Some of Sharon’s Favorite Children’s Books:

Sharon mentions these books, and many more in her tale of growing up in the library, Feeding the Dragon. Performances run through April 27. Visit our website for tickets.

Washington Family Album

In Feeding the Dragon, Sharon Washington revisits her time growing up in an apartment on the top floor inside the St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library, where her father served as the building’s custodian. Take a look back at some of the family memories from her time growing up there.

Accompany Sharon on her trip down memory lane in our production of Feeding the Dragon, playing through April 27, 2018. Visit our website for tickets.

A Sneak Peak at Feeding the Dragon

IMG_1274In anticipation of our production of Sharon Washington’s autobiographical solo piece Feeding the Dragon, Sharon recently presented pieces of her work during special events at library branches around the city. Sharon’s first event was at the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, where she performed an excerpt of her play and then answered questions posed by Casey Childs (Founder of Primary Stages) and members of the audience. Here’s a recap:

In Feeding the Dragon, Sharon recounts her experience growing up in the St. Agnes Branch of the NYPL on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where her father served as the building’s custodian. The St. Agnes branch is a historic Carnegie library, heated by coal during Sharon’s youth, and housed a hidden private apartment for the custodian and their family.

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While Sharon has considered telling her story for decades, it wasn’t until 2010 when she finally committed to writing her experience down on paper. At first, Sharon pictured writing a children’s book, but it ended up coming out as a memoir and when she read her work aloud, Feeding the Dragon was born. Although she does plan on turning her story into a book someday, she wanted to make sure her story was told this way first.

During the creation process for Feeding the Dragon, Sharon had to make a leap from being just an actor to also being a writer. While rehearsing, Sharon learned it was tough to be both at the same time. So while rehearsing the show, she often spends certain days from the perspective of a playwright, and others from that of an actor treating her play like she would any other production.

IMG_1277To this day, Sharon frequents libraries often. Whenever she goes out of town to a new city, one of the first places she visits is the local library. Growing up in a library is an experience that has stayed with her and Feeding the Dragon examines her love of literature and how it has shaped the rest of her life.

Feeding the Dragon plays from March 21 – April 27, 2018. For more info, please visit primarystages.org.

What Defines a Home: Announcing our 2018/19 Season

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A note from Andrew Leynse, Artistic Director:

For the past few seasons, the Primary Stages family has been exploring what it means to be a true home for our artists and our patrons. At the same time, the very question of where and what we each call ‘home’ has become a front-and-center debate, locally and abroad. What defines a home? Where do we feel most at home? We hope our new season will answer some of those questions.

FINAL FOLLIES
Three One-Act Plays written by A.R. Gurney
Directed by David Saint
Join us as we bid farewell to a beloved member of the Primary Stages family and one of the most prolific playwrights of the 20th century with FINAL FOLLIES, a uniquely curated selection of three one-act plays by master writer A.R. Gurney. The plays specifically chosen for this special engagement include: The Love Course, an observation of the culminating meeting of an undergraduate romantic literature course, co-taught by two of academia’s most eccentric professors; The Rape of Bunny Stuntz, an enigmatic story of an overburdened woman anxiously trying to keep her personal life from the throes of chaos while leading a rowdy community meeting; and the titular Final Folliesthe last chapter in Gurney’s oeuvre of short plays examining WASP life in America, about a forlorn Manhattanite searching for the key to adulthood in the most truly, and literally, adult place imaginable. (September-October 2018)

DOWNSTAIRS
Written by Theresa Rebeck
Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt
Theresa Rebeck, one of the country’s most acclaimed and widely-produced playwrights, returns to Primary Stages with the gripping new family drama, DOWNSTAIRS. This thrilling production will star real-life siblings Tyne and Tim Daly, who will be appearing together for the first time on the New York stage. In Downstairs, Teddy is a bit lost and has found himself staying in his older sister Irene’s unfinished basement, which has infuriated her husband Gerry (played by John Procaccino). As Irene and Teddy struggle with this less-than-ideal living arrangement, they quickly find themselves grappling with the burden of their family’s troublesome history. While trying to mend the past, the pair unearths a foreboding danger threatening to break the perilously thin bonds holding them together. (November-December 2018)

GOD SAID THIS
Written by Leah Nanako Winkler
Directed by Morgan Gould
Proudly developed during award-winning playwright Leah Nanako Winkler’s tenure as part of the Primary Stages Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group, GOD SAID THIS is a provocative and surprisingly funny new drama about five Kentuckians facing mortality in very different ways. With her mom undergoing chemotherapy, Hiro, a NYC transplant, returns home to Kentucky after years away, struggling to let go of the demons she inherited. Sophie, her born-again Christian sister, confronts her faith while tackling inevitable adversity. James, their recovering alcoholic father, wants to repair his fractured relationship with his daughters. And John, an old classmate and thirty-something single dad, worries about leaving a lasting legacy for his only son. Wry and bittersweet, GOD SAID THIS is a portrait of five Godless and God-loving people finding that their struggles bring them together in unexpected ways. GOD SAID THIS will have its world premiere at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in February 2018. (January-February 2019)

LITTLE WOMEN
Written by Kate Hamill
Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott
Directed by Sarna Lapine
In the spring, Primary Stages will welcome back Kate Hamill, playwright and star of our hit production of Pride and Prejudice, with her fresh new take on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel of love and duty, LITTLE WOMEN. Jo March doesn’t want to be like other girls; in fact, she’s not even sure that she wants to be a girl. Jo is ambitious, rough around the edges, headstrong, and yearns for a future she can’t yet articulate. As the nation is torn apart by civil war, Jo and her sisters struggle with what it means to grow up. Gender roles, political beliefs, poverty, and even love itself threaten to break family ties, as the March sisters try to reconcile their identities with society’s demands. How do you stay true to yourself when the world wants you to become a perfect little woman? (May-June 2019)

Join the family and discover your Off-Broadway home: Subscribe to our 2018/19 season.

A world in flux: Jen Caprio’s costume design for A Walk With Mr. Heifetz

Primary Stages audiences will remember Jen Caprio’s costume designs for Daniel’s Husband, Perfect Arrangement, and In Transit (which earned her a 2011 Lucille Lortel Award nomination for Outstanding Costume Design). In James Inverne’s A Walk With Mr. Heifetz, Caprio uses texture and color to evoke the often fraught intersection of personal and cultural identity.

Caprio did all of her sketches for our production using an iPad Pro and her notes alongside each drawing offer an insightful glimpse into her creative process.

Jascha HeifetzYehuda Sharett Act 1Yehuda Sharett Act 2Moshe SharettViolinist


The Primary Stages production of A Walk With Mr. Heifetz runs through March 4 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and additional information, please visit our website.

Who was Jascha Heifetz?

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Born: February 2, 1901 in Vilnius, Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire)
Died: December 10, 1987 in Los Angeles, California

Jascha Heifetz is considered by many to be the greatest violinist of all time. Heifetz’s father was a local violin instructor and noticed his son’s potential from a very young age, purchasing a small violin to teach basic techniques when Jascha was barely two years old. At five, Heifetz enrolled in a local music school and began taking formal lessons. A child virtuoso, he made his public debut at seven in the nearby city of Kaunas and, at nine, entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory to study with the famed Hungarian violinist and pedagogue, Leopold Auer. Auer reportedly wrote to a German manager, “He is only eleven years old, but I assure you that this boy is already a great violinist… In all my fifty years of violin teaching, I have never known such precocity.”

Life in and beyond the concert hall

“If you provoke a jealous God by playing with such superhuman perfection, you will die young. I earnestly advise you to play something badly every night before going to bed, instead of saying your prayers. No mortal should presume to play so faultlessly.”

— George Bernard Shaw, in a letter following Heifetz’s London debut (1920)

Playwright George Bernard Shaw’s tongue-in-cheek warning went, thankfully, unheeded. Over the course of his career, Heifetz toured internationally and throughout the United States (where his family settled after leaving Russia in 1917, shortly after which he made his Carnegie Hall debut at 16). He also performed in a number of benefit concerts and served extensively with the USO during WWII.

In addition to being an incomparable violinist, Heifetz was also a gifted pianist and composer; he expanded the violin repertoire through transcriptions and arrangements of works by other artists. (A close friend of George Gershwin’s, his transcriptions of the latter’s piano preludes and selections from Porgy and Bess are some of the most beloved to this day). Not to be outdone by the gravity of his existing accolades, he also wrote several popular songs under the pseudonym Jim Hoyl, one of which was recorded by Bing Crosby.  

A lasting legacy

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“Jascha Heifetz” by James Charles Jr. House; Woodmere Art Museum

“The goals he set still remain, and for violinists today it’s rather depressing that they may never really be attained again.”

— Itzhak Perlman, from The Guardian

Over the course of his lifetime, Heifetz made hundreds of recordings with Decca Records and RCA Victor; he was one of the first musicians to amass a following via recordings before he appeared in person on any one of his worldwide tours.

Jascha Heifetz taught at the University of Southern California from 1962 until 1983, where several of his masterclasses were filmed and broadcast on television. In 1972, a shoulder injury put an end to his public career, but his bow arm remained unaffected and he continued performing privately until his death in 1987.  


Performances of the Primary Stages production of A Walk With Mr. Heifetz start January 31 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and additional information, please visit our website.