Warren Lehrer & Judith Sloan
When is the last time you witnessed something IMPORTANT?
I’m lucky – I live in NYC –where the opportunity to experience art abounds. But “great art” with COMPASSION? Not so easy to find.
I was twice lucky in these past three days to bear witness to both: Saturday, I was blessed to see Al Pacino in “The Merchant of Venice” (after waiting on line for 8 hours), and tonight, I was fortunate enough to waltz right in off the street, to experience Judith Sloan and Warren Lehrer’s “Crossing The Blvd” – a beautiful, inspiring and wrenching multi-media performance piece – illuminating immigrant stories of Queens New York – the most diverse community in the United States. The show, echoing the husband and wife team’s book of the same name, was performed (sadly for one night only) at the spanking clean New York Institute of Technology’s auditorium on Broadway and 62nd Street.
I remember Sloan’s work from many years ago – back then I was first impressed by her ability to transform, her tenacity and her radical commitment to theatre – to making work that mattered. Tonight’s performance also brought me back over 35 years in my own life as performing artist, to the dedication of days gone by – when I made an impact on my community in Washington DC with the groundbreaking Women’s Prison Project, a workshop/performance program of The Fine Line Actors Theatre, which I co-founded.
Judith Sloan is an actress, writer, radio producer, human rights activist, oral historian, poet, and audio artist who lives and works in Queens with inner-city youth. She as been produced in theatres and festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad. Sloan is unafraid of speaking the truth and of keeping it real. “In listening to what people have to say, Judith Sloan captures the essence of their lives … She is one part Studs Turkel, one part Lily Tomlin, and two parts originality.” The Herald, Bloomington
As flowing water easily fills any size or shaped container, Sloan has the uncanny ability to shift effortlessly from a live-loving, middle-aged Egyptian restaurateur, to a regal Russian-Jewish dancer, to a tough Filipina barmaid – exploring the physicality and passions of these characters without a hint of caricature or affectation. Instead, her monologues, pared down and scripted from hours of interviews with Queens New York immigrants, are created and performed with the utmost respect and compassion. While Lehrer’s stunning, stark, luminous photos proved both the spatial context of Queens New York, along with the real-life portraits of the immigrants Sloan inhabits with such ease and fluency.
Lehrer and Sloan’s highly entertaining and accessible doorway into the lives of immigrants is IMPORTANT – a major contribution – and it should be seen and discussed in every community across the United States. While the debates about immigration rage on with much passion, accompanied by racial profiling and misinformation, “Crossing The BLVD,” created by two world-class artists, allow us to see, feel and understand, with compassion, the stories of these immigrants – the real human beings – who are our neighbors.
I encourage you to learn more about this important project, which has been supported by such prestigious organizations as The Rockefeller Foundation (PACT), The Greenwall Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and many, many more – and to buy the book and companion CD – (available together because of significant funding for only $35!) — and to share them freely with your friends and family.
I further encourage you to DO something IMPORTANT – that is: to bring the live performance of “Crossing the BLVD” to your community!
To learn more about “Crossing the BLVD” along with Lehrer and Sloans other projects – contact Judith Sloan and Warren Lehrer: