Thursday, December 16, 2010


On Friday, Dec. 3rd, eleven little girls, ages 8 & 9 and one ten year old participants of the What Girls Know workshop at North Rampart Community Center gave a presentation of their original play, Magnolia and Truth. This was after only three days since they had come up with the story which begins, of course, with

Once upon a time there was a girl named Magnolia. She didn't know where she came from, because she can be in one place for only 24 hours at a time. Every morning she wakes up in a different and strange place and doesn't know where she is. When she woke up yesterday, there was another girl there with her. Her name was Truth and she was looking for her parents. Magnolia hoped they would be friends. Magnolia and Truth set out on the next 24 hour journey. They go to three lands: Helping Land, Bubbleland, Mexico, and Hollywood Land. In each Land they discover something important that ultimately helps Magnolia and Truth find their way home.

Kourtney Heart, the 17 year-old local singing sensation in New Orleans ("My Boy") delighted girls and audience alike with her portrayal of Truth. She and the girls sang in a call and response style set to the rhythm of "Billie Jean". Each girl portrayed the character she had created and resided in her chosen Land. Ciera Payton, Associate Director of What Girls Know, and wonderful young actress played Magnolia.

HUGE THANK YOU to Brenda Currin, Artistic Director of What Girls Know who made it happen!


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just back from New Orleans where we marked the 5th anniversary of Katrina by screening the AFTER THE STORM film at the North Rampart Community Center. Our first audience was made up of the some of the kids who now attend the after school program at the Center. For many of them, Katrina is a dim memory, but they were excited to see their own Community Center featured in a film. The difference between THEN and NOW is remarkable -- even to young eyes. We had three more screenings of the film, which gave some of the cast members an opportunity to come forward and speak to the audience. The Center itself is about to go through a major change. After four years of financial challenges, structural improvements and major miracles, Joanne Finley is stepping down as Executive Director. I think we can all agree that she's done wonders with the Center, raising it up from nothing and turning into a true hub of community activity, summer fun and after school care. During this past weekend, we got a chance to meet with the new board members who are taking the lead in making the Center even more essential to the kids and the community.

A special thank you to everyone who have helped us create change in New Orleans -- one neighborhood at a time.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

San Francisco Film Festival

(left) The amazing students of the S.R. Martin School in Bay View.

April 28th, 2010
As part of the two week film festival here, the
education team set up a number of screenings for schools around the Bay area. Fresh off the plane to NY, I was driven to the S.F. School for the Arts where about 80 young people were just finishing up watching the film. Since they were mostly all involved in theater in some way or other, they were thrilled by the movie and they related to the St. Mark's kids. The Q & A session was interrupted by the bell way too soon, but they gave me a tour of the facility, and I declared Scott Eberhardt, the teacher in charge, to be one of the super-heroes of the world. The following day, I went to the theater where most of the films in the festival are being screened. There were students from several schools in attendance, grades 5 through 12. Again, I was amazed by the attention that the kids gave to the film and how deeply involved they were in the story. One of my favorite schools was the S.R. Martin School which is located in Bay View. There are only 22 students in this whole school, grades 5 through 12. They were an incredible group of young people with a dedicated teacher and principal, and as we said goodbye, they informed me that they wanted to make a documentary about their school. Why? I asked them. "Because each one of us has a story," one young woman told me. "And this school is special." Imagine feeling that way about your school and fellow students! Afterwards, I went to the The Head Royce School, a private school in Oakland. I arrived just as the documentary film class had finished watching After The Storm. We only had forty-five minutes of Q & A, and because these kids wanted to know EVERYTHING about the making of the doc, this seemed way too brief. Then onto a screening at the Oakland School for the Arts, where 100 kids were gathered together in a cafeteria. I stood on a stage with a mic to answer the questions, and as always, the question was asked: "Do you stay in touch with the kids in the film?" I reported that Ashley is now attending Columbia College in Chicago, Jon is transferring to Long Island University to study voice next year, Grant has changed his major from musical theater to Islamic and Hebrew Studies, Joel is awaiting her acceptance to The Manhattan School of Music (fingers crossed), Griffin was accepted to the Alvin Ailey School of Dance in NYC and Desiree´is now working as a P.A. on the HBO series Treme´. These are major accomplishments in the lives of our kids-- and major milestones for us as we watch them advance into the world of adulthood. Amazing to me that it is has been three years since we did this production of Once On This Island in New Orleans. Even more amazing that five years has passed since Hurricane Katrina. As the immediacy of the disaster begins to fade from the public mind, After The storm Foundation remains committed to the idea that Art (i.e. music, dance, and theater) can be more than just an extracurricular activity for a kid. Art can become the means by which young people redefine their relationship not only to themselves but also to their community -- and to the world at large.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

FULL CIRCLE -- COFFEE for New Orleans!

Full Circle + After The Storm. Just a reminder to order your fair trade organic coffee, tea or chocolate from Full Circle Exchange plus . They are donating 30% back to ATS Foundation when you order online. The product is delicious, it helps ATS promotes justice and cultivate good around the world. If you already order some, let us know what you got and how much you liked it. The coffee is the best and the chocolate is to die for. Order away and lets help raise money for ATS. Spread the word.

Here is the link:

FROM PLAYBILL....By Matthew Blank

The Human Heart Benefits Children of Haiti
By Matthew Blank
02 Mar 2010

Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, Gerry McIntyre and After The Storm presented The Human Heart, a starry March 1 benefit concert at Joe's Pub. Proceeds support the children of Haiti.
Randy Redd directed the performance, with musical direction by Aaron Jodoin.
Janine LaManna opened the eclectic concert with "After the Storm," featuring Stephen Flaherty on piano and backup vocals from Michael McElroy, Danielle Lee Greaves and Celisse Henderson.
A few of the offerings from the first half of the show included Mark Lawson presenting a new song by Michael Feinsten and Bill Schermerhorn, Jill Paice with "There Will Come a Day," Hair's Rachel Bay Jones in a rendition of "No More" from Into the Woods, Robin Skye covering Patty Griffin's "When It Don't Come Easy," Farah Alvin belting "2 Steps Away" and Tituss Burgess lending his smooth tenor to "Believe" from The Wiz.
Other highlights from the two-hour affair included Christy Carlson Romano delivering Johnny Cash's "Big River," Gregg Edelmann in a touching version of "I Think It's Gonna Rain Today," Lynne Wintersteller with "Chanson" from The Baker's Wife and Billy Porter bringing down the house with one of his signature songs, "Time."
The evening wound down with Betty Buckley donating her legendary rendition of "Memory," followed by three Once on This Island numbers performed by original cast members: Gerry McIntyre performed the cut song "Come Down From the Tree," Kecia Lewis-Evans delighted with "Mama Will Provide" and Andrea Frierson closed with the concert's title song, "The Human Heart."

Friday, February 19, 2010

Event to benefit Haiti's Children


Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and After The Storm present
The Human Heart: Helping Haiti's Children
Monday, March 1st at 7 PM
Joe's Pub
425 Lafayette
New York

$40 (General)
$100 (Premium - includes Preferred Seating, Meet & Greet and more!)

Starring: Farah Alvin (Chess, The Look Of Love, Nine, I Love You Because), Betty Buckley (Triumph of Love, Sunset Boulevard, Carrie, Song & Dance, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Cats, 1776), Tituss Burgess (Guys And Dolls, The Little Mermaid, Jersey Boys), Quentin Darrington (Ragtime), Gregg Edelman (A Tale Of Two Cities, Wonderful Town, Into The Woods, City Of Angels), Kecia Lewis-Evans (The Drowsy Chaperone, Once On This Island, Chicago), Rachel Bay Jones (Hair), Janine LaManna (The Drowsy Chaperone, Seussical, Ragtime), One Life To Live's Mark Lawson, James Lecesne, Michael McElroy (Big River, The Wild Party, Rent, The Who's Tommy), Gerry McIntyre (Once On This Island), Jill Paice (The 39 Steps, Curtains, The Woman In White), Billy Porter (Smokey Joe's Cafe, Grease), Christy Romano (Avenue Q, Parade), Robin Skye (Parade, Cyrano), Stephanie Umoh (Ragtime), Lynne Wintersteller (A Grand Night For Singing, Closer Than Ever) and Andrea Frierson (Once On This Island, Marie Christine, Juan Darien, The Lion King). This fundraiser will also feature new songs by Brooke Sunny Moriber, Bill Schermerhorn and Michael Feinstein and Georgia Stitt and Bil Wright and special appearances by Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and more. Directed by Randy Redd, Aaron Jodoin musical directs and leads a 5 piece band with vocalists Cole Burden, Mary Catherine McDonald, Caroline Dooner, Justin Lopez and Matt Dengler. All proceeds go through After The Storm directly to SOS Children’s Villages.

SOS Children's Villages is assessing the most immediate needs of the thousands of victims of the disaster in Haiti and will provide medical supplies, drinking water and basic food supplies. In the days and weeks to come, SOS Children's Villages Haiti will provide temporary care for children who are not accompanied by adults or even long-term care for children who have lost their parents in this terrible catastrophe.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

From Beatrice Crouch - Vashon

Last week I attended a wonderful screening at Vashon Island. As soon as I arrived and I saw the theater with After The Storm next to Avatar just in a better time of the day, I knew it will be special. and it was...Beatrice Couch who helped organized it wrote that:

In late November Diane Bradford asked me to coordinate a promotional campaign and oversee the NW premiere of “After the Storm” on Vashon Island, WA on January 18, 2010 (MLK Day). After watching the movie, I was inspired along with and a small group of local Vashon artists to create a two week event called “From Vashon with Love: a Celebration of Films, Music and Art”.

As part of the grassroots promotion of “After the Storm” I held a private screening for 20 local artists, ranging from film-makers, musicians, artists and local promoters of the arts. From that meeting came a core group Vicki Dunakin, Richard Waits, Robyn Landis and myself that helped to create “From Vashon with Love: a Celebration of Films, Music and Art” (January 8 – 20, 2010).

With a recent break in of the Vashon Theater, Vicki Dunakin and some of the local film-makers created FilmAid as a means of helping the theater owner recover from the financial loss. Along with FilmAid we created a benefit “From Vashon with Love: a Celebration of Music” to send local musicians to Sundance. We were able to take Robyn Landis (the Grand prize winner of the 2009 John Lennon singer/song-writer award), Troll’s Cottage and Song and Legend to perform during the first weekend of the Sundance Film Festival at the “Crown on Main” in Park City, UT.

As part of the NW Premiere of “After the Storm”, it was Diane’s wish to include an educational piece to the screening of the movie. I have known James Cardo for many years he was the perfect choice, James Cardo is the assistant Dean and teaches at The Harbor School and has been leading a group of 8th grade students to New Orleans’ for the past three years in an effort to play a part in the recovery projects. The NW Premiere was used as a benefit to create a follow up mini-documentary and show how the power of community involvement with youth can be used as an experiential educational piece and showcase the value of volunteering. Nick Weisnet, Vicki Dunakin’s son will be filming the travel study trip that the 8th grade students from The Harbor School in May, 2010.

“After the Storm” is a magical movie that provides a model to create community cooperation combined with the creative arts to overcome most obstacles that life presents us. As Gerry McIntyre states in the movie “through Community and Love one can over come any disaster”! James Lecesne, Hilla Medalia, Gerry McIntyre and the cast of young performers all give us a shining example of how with love, determination and inspiration communities can bring hope into even the most hopeless of hearts.

Beatrice Crouch
Heart of the Sound Events

Photos by Peter Ray and Rebecca Douglas

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Three Years Later....

WE ARE THE SONG - Songwriting Workshop
North Rampart Community Center
New Orleans. January 17th, 2009

Saturday, January 16, 2010

FROM LESLEY..... in New Orleans

Unbelievably, it's been THREE YEARS since we began working with the North Rampart Community Center. Amazin things have happened in those three years for both our Foundation and the Center. But this weekend we were able to send down five songwriters to work with about 20 kids in the WE ARE THE SONG songwriting workshop. Below is a report from our own Lesley Mazzotta who is down there with Randy Redd, Robin Sky and several others.

"Yesterday was joyous chaos here, but things are going really well. We had about 22 kids show up... we started the day with a lot of round robin talking... everyone introduced themselves, and Randy (Redd) lead two quick writing exercises... write four lines... to get the creative juices flowing. Then, we broke off into small groups for 8 line exercises and each of our teaching artists presented their works to the whole group as inspiration. We ended the evening with pizza and the film. Hannah & mom, Ashley & mom, Griffin & mom, Annie & mom, Eric (who's doing the program) & mom and April & granddad all came and enjoyed the film! There was really no Q&A afterwards... no real time. All of our OOTI kids looks great and are doing well.

Today, 16 kids came back, with more trickling in. Randy started by asking each kid to write a commercial about themselves and present it back to the group... to personalize the writing process and create a silly, fun environment. Everyone loved it - lots of laughter - and it brought the kids back into the work. Now, everyone is divided into small groups of 3-4, and they are taking all of their ideas from the past writing assignments and putting them together. Robin (Sky) has tons of great footage of the kids... I haven't taken lots of pictures yet but certainly will. We are still waiting for the MTI box, so we're going to get the kids in t-shirts to take photos from them. I'll send some along as soon as I have them.

Things are really good.... the workshop is really working, all the kids are participating... there is tons of diversity... they are into rap, R&B, soul, old from all around town. The kids are open and creative and excited and trusting our staff and the process. There is so much great energy in this place today! In fact, one kid, LuckyLou, just canceled going to watch the Saints at the Superdome because he's "having fun!" WOW!

Our team is totally jazzed and excited to be here. It's a great variety of talents and backgrounds, which makes them work well together and gives many different points of view to make the experience richer for the kids. Randy is overseeing the creative process brilliantly... shaking things up to see what works, how to make everything even better.

I've talked a lot with Coach and Joanne. Coach told us once again how happy he is that we are here, and thankful for all we are doing. They are "back in business" with over 200 kids... serving 50-60 a day. As you know, they still need money, but things are slowly moving forward. They have a new heating system, fire alarm system, the gym is newly painted and cleaned, the pool is completely renovated with the leak fixed, the shelves are packed with books.

Peg is making us cookies and buying us snacks.