Tag Archives: West Branch Conservation Association

Take a trip through time in Greenwich Village tonight

New documentary explores the rich history of the fabulous Greenwich Village folk music scene

Rockland County resident Terri Thal and other people in the film to appear for panel discussion at tonight’s 7:25 screening at Manhattan’s IFC Center

Happy New Year. We’ve been meaning to write, but we’ve been busy. But today we have some news we just had to share.

The documentary “Greenwich Village: Music that Defined a Generation” has been quietly making the rounds of film festivals. Some of you probably have heard some word-of-mouth, got a chance to catch it at DOC NYC 2012 or at least have seen the trailer.

Terri Thal, right, with singer Terre Roche at the 2010 Gerdes Folk City Reunion. (Photos 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Terri Thal, right, with singer Terre Roche at the 2010 Gerdes Folk City Reunion. (Photos © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

We’ve only seen the trailer. It’s hard to tell from the clips alone how well the feature-length film really tells the fascinating story of the unique cultural, political and geographical elements nurtured so much talent. But the rare footage and new interviews — among the subjects are Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Chapin, Lucy and Carly Simon, Oscar Brand, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Ian Tyson, Eric Andersen, Israel Horovitz, Jose Feliciano, Kenny White, Sonny Ochs, Sylvia Tyson, Pete FornataleHappy Traum and John Sebastian —  alone are surely worth the price of admission to anyone who’s interested in the time and place.

Sylvia Tyson at the 2010 Folk City Reunion.

Sylvia Tyson at the 2010 Folk City Reunion.

The film has begun a six-screenings-a-day run through next Thursday, Jan. 24, at IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street in Manhattan. Click here for schedule, ticketing and information about the theater. Tickets are $13.50 for adults, $9.50 for children and senior citizens, and $8.50 for IFC Center members.

But tonight only, at the 7:25 screening, some of the people you’ll see on screen

Happy Traum at the 2010 Folk City Reunion.

Happy Traum at the 2010 Folk City Reunion.

will appear in person to participate in a panel discussion. Musicians Traum, Doug Yeager and David Amram and radio personality Brand are scheduled to appear.

Terri Thal —  known in Rockland County as a longtime defender and protector of history and the environment as an officer  of the West Branch Conservation Association — who played an integral, nonperforming, role in the fertile musical scene.

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The fantasy begins: High Tor on High Tor

High Tor on High Tor: The audience view. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

If you missed High Tor on High Tor on Saturday, check out the photos in this report and get yourself to High Tor State Park by 3 p.m. Sunday to see this great play for yourself!

Saturday was a perfect day for a picnic or a play — or both — in High Tor State Park in New City, N.Y.

Indian (Robert Fellows) sets the scene.

That’s exactly what nearly 150 people got the chance to do when they got to the park for a free reading of the play High Tor by Maxwell Anderson. If you missed Saturday’s performance, shame on you. But you have one more chance on Sunday.

High Tor is staged under the open sky on the slopes of the mountain whose name it took as its title. It’s a funny, charming play that really hits home about the environment and the question of what’s really important in life.

Judith (Michele Danna) and Van Van Dorn (Nolan Muna) are in love, but she can't accept his decidedly unmodern attitude toward life.

It’s comical and entertaining while dealing with these serious issues. And for anyone who knows the area, it feels authentic, with characters talking about local landscapes and history.

Hawks wheeled overhead as the play began.

This is the play that helped start a serious movement to by galvanizing neighbors and environmentalists to preserve the peak.  In 1943, after the death of Elmer Van Orden, who owned a huge hunk of High Tor, citizens groups raised the funds to purchase some of the land and turn it over to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission for preservation. Grassroots groups also persuaded millionaire railroad magnate Archer Huntington to donate his adjacent estate of 470 acres to the park commission to the park commission. Decades after High Tor became a state park , 78 acres were added to it as a result of litigation by West Branch to prevent development. These included the Van Orden farm, the actual site of the play.

The audience was relaxed.

West Branch Conservation Association, Rockland’s Land Trust, is producing the play to increase public awareness of the threats to open space and to the many artists who have lived and those who still live on and near South Mountain Road, and their work.

More photos and details about his production after the jump.

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Free staged reading of High Tor on High Tor premieres today

Julie Andrews and Bing Crosby in the 1956 TV version of High Tor. The new production of High Tor on High Tor uses music composed for this teleplay.

The free staged reading of Maxwell Anderson’s thought-provoking play High Tor starts today (Saturday, Aug. 21) at High Tor State Park — the patch of open space in north New City, N.Y., on the mountain from which the play takes its title.

The 1936 comedy-fantasy, written by a resident of the High Tor neighborhood along South Mountain Road, helped fuel an interest in land preservation in the area that is going strong today.

Click here for a video interview with Terri Thal of the West Branch Conservation Association, Rockland’s land trust, which is producing the play to call attention to open-space preservation issues that persist today and here for a LoHud blog item and photo gallery related to the show.

The free show is being staged at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Parking is free. Seating is provided. Come early and have a picnic in the beautiful mountainside park. Click here for directions and more details.

Click here for a fun item about the vineyard that once occupied part of High Tor, and some details of the West Branch Conservation Association’s successful battle to save it from development.

Revival of Maxwell Anderson’s ‘High Tor’ play to be performed on the slopes of High Tor

See A free reading of the play that helped save this rockland County peak from destruction

In just 10 days from today, on Saturday, Aug. 21 and Sunday, Aug. 22, we’ll get a chance to see a performance of High Tor, a play that really did change the world.

The West Branch Conservation Association, Rockland County’s Land Trust,  is producing two performances of Maxwell Anderson’s New York Drama Critics’ Circle Best Play Award winner for 1937 on the on mountain the play was written to save and from which it takes its name.

Write what you know

The old adage for writing is that you do your best when you “write what you know.” That’s what famed playwright Maxwell Anderson did in 1936.

Maxwell Anderson, left, accepts the 1936 New York Drama Critics Circle Award in 1936, a year before he won it again, this time for "High Tor."

Anderson was a resident of South Mountain Road in New City, an area that had become artists colony over the years, attracting creative folks such as Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, John Houseman, cartoonist Milton Caniff — along with Burgess Meredith and Alan Jay Lerner, who lived just over South Mountain in Pomona. Continue reading

Chekhov under an open sky

Ivanov (Rob Campbell) dances on the water of Lake Lucille in the magical conclusion to Chekhov's Ivanov. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Lake Lucille echoed with the sounds of stagecraft for five days last week as a company of 60 actors, musicians and various other theater professionals put together a free, outdoor production of Ivanov, by Anton Chekhov, performed from a new translation by Curt Columbus.

This production of Chekhov on Lake Lucille was particularly welcomed because it marked the return of a neighborhood tradition. The annual run was broken last summer when host-producers Melissa Kievman and Brian Mertes moved to the West Coast for personal and professional reasons. But they kept their wonderful brownstone house — which is the centerpiece of the set for each Chekhov production — and managed to return this summer with a bigger-than-ever performance and neighborhood cookout and potluck supper at intermission.

Melissa Kievman, Brian Mertes and the band.

You could call it summer camp for theater professionals. Most of the volunteer staff spent the week living in tents, eating meals alfresco in the neighborhood and working to create a context for Chekhov’s drama in the suburban landscape of the Lake Lucille neighborhood.

It drew hundreds of guests to enjoy the creative staging under clear skies with moderate summer temperatures.

Dozens of neighbors and local businesses provided support for an undertaking that costs thousands of dollars. This year, the West Branch Conservation Association, Rockland’s Land Trust, helped produce the play with a grant obtained by the office of Assemblyman Kenneth P. Zebrowski and the late state Sen. Thomas P. Morahan. The Tisch East Alumni Council help with a microgrant for costuming.

The production uses the natural features. Here Ivanov makes an entrance from the lake itself.

Ivanov emerges, dripping wet.

Ivanov walks through the audience toward the stage.

As is often the case in Chekhov, the characters complain of boredom.

But Jesse J. Perez, who played Kosikh, choreographed some great routines to keep things interesting:

Check out more photos after the jump.

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