Plays by People in affiliation with Premiere Stages at Kean University presented its virtual performances via Zoom on Saturday, March 27 at 4 p.m. After registering to sign up, audience members were sent Zoom links to take part in the event. The event was held possible by the New Jersey Theater Alliance 2021 Stages Festival.
Plays by People featured short works of prose, monologues, theatrical scenes and poetry by Matheny Arts Access inspirational contributor, Cheryl Chapin. The works included: Ghostly Appearances, Fall Fling, Me & Tea, Wintry Mix, Spring Promise as well as Tea & Venom. The Premiere Stages actors, Landon, Katrina, Lynette and Andrea were engaging, entertaining and exuding with exhilaration in fun, fancy, flamboyant performances.
Following the program, Premiere Stages hosted a Q&A with Matheny Arts Access hosted by Producing Artistic Director, John J. Wooten. Joining Wooten was Eileen Murray, director of the Arts Access Program at Matheny and Heather Williams, Performing Arts Coordinator. Actors from the program joined in as well to share their experiences of what it was like to bring this event to life and also to discuss what the actors have been doing for the past year since Covid-19 had placed many restrictions on theater companies.
Matheny's Arts Access Program, located in Peapack, NJ, provides individuals with disabilities the freedom to create in the visual, literary and performing arts empowering them to create without boundaries. Life-size pieces of art, cutting-edge choreography, dramatic works and imaginative writings have all been created by individuals with disabilities at Arts Access, a pioneering multi-disciplinary arts program established in November of 1993. The Arts Access Program at Matheny Medical & Educational Center is designed to inspire, uplift and encourage the aspirations of artists with disabilities. Through the use of innovative systems and techniques, participants can take part in the visual, performing and literary arts. Regardless of their disability, clients are provided with the tools and materials needed to produce complete pieces of work.
The inspiration and star of the program was Matheny’s very own playwright, Cheryl Chapin. Chapin was an integral part of the staging process, directing the actors on how to best present her written work. Chapin also worked with the director to create sound cues and staging. As Chapin pointed out during a Q&A, she was “inspired to write different times in different seasons.” Since the event was held via Zoom, Cheryl is quick to point out she “wants to see more props.” Much of the language is in poems and skits were in rhyme which Chapin says it’s because she “knows how to rhyme well.” She was also very much interested in the old English and proper forms of language. Chapin’s work also includes paintings, digital art, dance and dramatic and poetic writings. An avid reader and a lover of plays, Chapin is already preparing for her next inspirational work of art.
For more information on Matheny Arts Access programs and how to donate, please visit Matheny's Arts Access Program - Create Art Without Boundaries. For more information on upcoming programs with Premiere Stages, please visit Play Festival - Premiere Stages (premierestagesatkean.com).