The stage was set: yellow roses, votive candles, homespun decorations, a cozy fire, and most importantly, an apartment overflowing with love.
This past Saturday, a group of mostly female actors, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, writers, directors, playwrights, comedians, teachers, and mothers quietly ignited a grassroots revolution in kindness and creativity. Women spanning the ages of 17 and 84 gathered around the grand piano singing “You’ve Got a Friend.” It was a classic scene, reminiscent of a 1950s cocktail party - but fitted for the modern age.
The event, “Nurturing Your Creativity,” was hosted in the home of actress and entrepreneur Alison Chace in her Upper East Side home and co-hosted by Lee Brock, Founder and Artistic Director of The Barrow Group Theater Company and School. Structured as an interactive performance, “Nurturing” featured a series of original pieces inter-woven with several group empowerment activities. The focus: how do today’s women harness their creative spirit?
The centerpiece of the evening’s program was a preview of actress Renata Hinrichs’ upcoming one-woman show, Random Acts, which will debut at The Barrow Group Mainstage Theater in February 2019. Set in Chicago’s South Side in the 60’s, Random Acts is a memory play based on Hinrichs’ transformational experiences as the child of a minister on the front line of the Civil Rights Movement.
The program was intimately powerful:
Act 1—Drinks and Dinner, a Lebanese feast prepared by up and coming chef, Andrea Abou-Nasr. Singing around the piano played by actor Preston Fritz Smith.
Act 2—Guests retreated to makeshift theater framed in Christmas tree lights. Before introducing Renata Hinrichs, Lee Brock gave each guest a small notebook, encouraging everyone to answer questions about how they nurture their creative spirit in their everyday lives.
The Final Act—Cheesecake, chocolate mouse, and pecan pie served with coffee and wine. A performance of original music by the renowned Seth Barrish, co-founder of The Barrow Group and director of The New One currently on Broadway starring Mike Birbiglia.
It is relevant to note that Renata’s solo performance was held in the apartment where Ernest Hemingway penned A Dangerous Summer and A Moveable Feast. Solo artists tend to resurrect ghosts constantly in their work; it was only apt that Hemingway’s creative spirit permeated the halls.
Some of the evening’s notable guests included Vanity Fair contributing editor Patricia Bosworth, journalist Pamela Ryckman, designer Lori Weitzer, and artist Meghan Boody. Numerous members of F.A.B. Women, a development group within the The Barrow Group were also in attendance: Christine Cirker (producing director), Missy Hargraves, Anne Richardson-Hansen, Laura Valpey Rodriguez, Christine Campbell, Christina Denzinger, Kristin Chase, Barbara J Spence, Hope Singsen, Myra Thibault, Shannon Patterson, Kate Robards and Lucie Fleming.
F.A.B. Women@tbg is comprised of 100 highly trained professional female actors, writers and directors from the top New York acting studios ranging between ages 20 and 70. F.A.B. focuses on creating intimate, powerful, thought-provoking pieces about what informs women of the 21st century.
Click through for a closer look at the evening!
[Photos via Mitch Traphagen]