People and Businesses Offer Creative Ways to Fill Our Days
By Barbara Moroch
First, the bad news: Coronavirus pandemic (COVID–19) is upon us and has virtually upended the way we live, work, and interact with one another. Home is now a mandatory shelter for all of us and the challenge is to find new ways to stay active, engaged and connected.
The good news is that if you need inspiration, there are options. Now more than ever, people and businesses have taken to social media to help us stay connected to each other, by offering such things as streaming musical performances, virtual art and nature tours, free downloads and so much more. The abundance of good ideas you can find online reinforces our collective strength, and the fact that technology has indeed made for a smaller, kinder world during this time.
THE ARTS ARE ALIVE AND WELL: Tarrytown’s native “Jazz Man,” Mark Morganelli, has launched Jazz Forum@Home, featuring jazz and Brazilian videos, archival photos, interviews and more, every Thursday. Connect using @jazzforumclub, #JazzForumAtHome. Many of your favorite local and celebrity musicians are also performing concerts from home. Check their social media pages to find out more.
The Clocktower Players, in Irvington, produce vibrant, jubilant theater enriching the lives of the rivertowns community. Their upcoming production of “Matilda” has been canceled, but check out another Clocktower production from six years ago, “In the Heights,” which will also be a film opening this summer. See it on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVEQZWJ863g. Visit the Clocktower Players social media sites on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.
Tony-award winning Broadway producer, Jack Viertel, offers these movie recommendations:
“As someone who works in live theater, I want to recommend streaming some films that originated as theater pieces — musicals mostly. But if you’re looking for escapism, I have to start with SWINGTIME, which, to me, is Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers finest (TOP HAT a close second). And if it’s Gene Kelly you’re wanting, SINGING IN THE RAIN is virtually perfect. THE WIZARD OF OZ is probably the greatest of all musical movies, but likely as not, you’ve seen it more than once. As for Broadway shows, they’re usually botched by Hollywood, but in a few cases the movie versions have surpassed the original shows. Take a look at CABARET and OLIVER for starters, and HAIRSPRAY (the musical) has its legion of fans. If you want to see a pretty close replica of the Broadway original, you could take a look at DAMN YANKEES and, if you’re a total musical theater geek, LI’L ABNER. As for the non-musical plays, if you’re willing to watch a film about a pandemic while we’re in the middle of one, Mike Nichols’ version of ANGELS IN AMERICA will certainly use up the hours in a fascinating and satisfying way. His version of WHOSE AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF is also startlingly compelling, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton both at the height of their careers.”
Greg Allen, theater manager at Irvington Theater, has been posting ongoing ideas on the Irvington Theater’s Facebook page for arts-related activities and resources accessible from home for all ages. Stay tuned for more updates from our local theaters, arts organizations, and arts and music educators in the coming days.
While the Jacob Burns Film Center Theater may be closed, the JBFC’s YouTube channel is open 24/7! Catch up on past JBFC Live Q&As, including Minding the Gap with filmmaker Bing Liu, Breakthrough with filmmaker Bill Haney, or Snowpiercer with filmmaker Bong Joon-ho.
Creative Culture and Vimeo Recommend: With us all spending a bit more time at home, the Creative Culture program at the JBFC decided to team up with Vimeo Staff Picks to curate a few short films for you to check out. The world of short film is as exciting as it is expansive and a few select outlets like Vimeo continuously celebrate films that please the eyes and ignite the mind.
Please check out these selections of shorts loved by (and occasionally made by) the JBFC’s filmmaker fellows in Creative Culture. And, if compelled, please continue exploring these invaluable libraries of great short films:
We know this is a difficult time, but the Burns Center believes film can still empower us to connect, learn, and communicate in meaningful ways. To that end, the JBFC Education team—committed as always to teaching media literacy through film—has curated some fun and simple activities and resources the whole family can enjoy! Visit the Education blog for animation activities, videos teaching film techniques, suggested content, and more. If you’re interested in receiving more activities, streaming suggestions, and resources in the coming weeks, sign up for e-bulletins and select Courses @ the Lab.
Stay Connected while Social Distancing: the internet offers a plethora of resources to stay connected amidst it all. The Burns has rounded up some links so you can visit cultural institutions from around the world, catch up on films and TV shows you might’ve missed, and make the most of your digital workday – all from the comfort of your own home.
Stream Westchester Jewish Film Festival Favorites: Though this engaging film festival has been cancelled this spring, programmer Bruni Burres has put together this list of 10 hit films from previous WJFFs you can stream online. With a selection of narratives and documentaries from the U.S., Israel, and beyond, this sampling of films gives you a chance to rewatch favorites and catch up with films you might have missed. It is hoped that WJFF 2020 will be rescheduled for later this year, so stay tuned for more details.
LEARNING MADE FUN: Local science educator Charles Fulco has instituted a fun and informative “Science@Home” series, streaming daily on Facebook. Geared to elementary and middle school students, his hand-on lesson covers a wide scope of topics including Forces in Nature, Life Cycles, Our Place in the Universe, and Protecting the Environment. Visit Fulco’s Facebook page for access to his lessons.
The JCC Shames in Tarrytown may be closed, but they are committed to strengthening the connections we have with one another — virtually. Visit their Facebook page for live streams and links to such things as fitness and meditation classes, things to do with the kids, lectures, and more. The page will be updated regularly with new, relevant content and community highlights. Visit www.shamesjcc.org.
VIRTUAL ART TOURS: While the Warner Library in Tarrytown remains closed during this time, their Facebook page is open for business with a host of interesting links to books and virtual tours that are free. For example, Google Arts & Culture teamed up with over 2,500 museums and galleries to bring everyone virtual tours including the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City, and literally hundreds of more places. Visit www.travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours.
The Hudson River Museum (HRM) is committed to engaging people through art, history, and science. They will continue to send a weekly newsletter, but it will now focus on bringing the HRM to you with new content on the museum’s exhibitions, permanent collection, and Glenview, as well as some fun art and science activities. Visit them on social media and at www.hrm.org
FREE BOOK DOWNLOADS: The New York Public Library (NYPL) has an app that allows anyone with a library card (and an iOS or Android phone) to “borrow” any of the 300,000 e-books in the collection. It’s called SimplyE and will allow you to read books on your phone. To gain access, NYPL’s free e-reader app, SimplyE, can be downloaded for iPhone or Android.
NATURE CALLS: Get out into the fresh air with the area’s many parks that remain open, including Kingsland Point Park in Sleepy Hollow, Patriot’s Park in Tarrytown, the Tarrytown RiverWalk Park, Scenic Hudson Park and Matthieson Park in Irvington, and the Waterfront Park in Dobbs Ferry. The Rockefeller State Park Preserve in Pleasantville is also open, and parking is free of charge during this time. All special events have been cancelled until further notice.
One of the delights of bird watching has always been that you can do it anywhere—including right at home and now is a great time to deepen your knowledge and appreciation of our avian neighbors. “All About Birds,” a website hosted by the Cornell Lab, offers live bird cams, birding tips, and even a free app to help you identify bird species from around the world, and from right here at home. Visit allaboutbirds.org.
The iconic New York Botanical Garden has a new content hug called NYBG@Home, where you can experience the glories of spring with virtual tours of the rhododendrons, daffodils, magnolias, and more that are hard at work painting the colors of the season across the garden’s 250 acres. Visit NYBG’s Facebook page or www.nybg.org to access NYBG@Home.
GET INTO THE SWING: John Simons, president of Sleepy Hollow Country Club, has made the decision to keep the facility open but with some limitations. Their foremost priority is to maintain a safe environment that adhere to all current CDC recommendations. “We believe that the uncertainties in the world today increase the value of a safe golf experience, or a family dinner prepared by the Club. If circumstances dictate that we further adjust our operating activities, we will,” he says. Visit sleepyhollowcc.org.
GIVE TO A WORTHY CAUSE: The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak. Healthy people, especially those with Type O blood, are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. Visit www.redcrossblood.org to find a nearby location.