Fundingworks

    Thinkery and Verse

    Film and Theater for the Mind

    BRIDE OF THE GULF - Edinburgh Fringe 2018 Fundraiser!

    BRIDE OF THE GULF is a world-premiere, transnational, new play dedicated to the resilience of life in Basra, Iraq. Please help Thinkery & Verse share this beautiful story at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

     Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
    This is a Fiscally-Sponsored Project

    Fiscally Sponsored by Fractured Atlas

    We're Listed on the Edinburgh Fringe Website!

    Congratulations, Friends! Thanks to your support, Bride of the Gulf is now listed on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe website! You can view our listing at the following link: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/bride-of-the-gulf

    Our show's listing and press packet have already started attracting critical attention--we won't name names, but we're proud, humbled, and eager to make the show even better than before. 

    Thanks to you, our fundraiser has already leaped over the 20% hurdle! With over two months to go, we're on strong footing to provide safe housing and a clean balance sheet for our artists. 

    Thank you! Let's Keep Going! -- a note from the playwright of Bride of the Gulf

    We just reached $1,000 and 15 donations! We deeply appreciate your support, and your friendship. Theater, the most local of arts, is a challenging way to tell a transnational story, but you guys are giving us the foothold we need to survive. With your continued support we will provide safe housing, a safe venue, and a clean balance sheet for the artistic team we are bringing to Edinburgh.

    As many of you know, our playwright on this project is J. M. Meyer, a military veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. We asked him to share the story of the play's initial development. We hope this provides you with some insight into our theater company, and encourages you to follow us on our journey.

    Thinkery & Verse

    -----------------*****--------------
    BRIDE OF THE GULF began in 2016, not just with Thinkery & Verse, but as a short play for Fort Point Theatre Channel. The playwright Amy Merrill invited me aboard the team, and then two of the co-artistic directors, Anne Loyer and Marc S. Miller, asked me to collaborate with two musicians, Qais Ouda (Basra, Iraq) and Jorrit Dijkstra (Boston, MA). Amir Al-Azraki, an Iraqi-Canadian playwright based in Toronto, facilitated the dialogue; the project, I think, is a tribute to Amir's patience, as he facilitated not only our work, but that of the other groups as well.

    Those conversations, e-mails, and listening sessions led to the vibe of BRIDE OF THE GULF. The short play had more breathing room than I leave in some of my plays because I left space for music and movement. In theater-criticism and pop culture the term 'melodrama' has a negative connotation because most plays and films use music to control the audiences' emotions; music is often manipulative, and sometimes cloying. But in this case we needed music to open the door to more abstract forms of representation; the musicians, consciously or not, encouraged me to write 'impossible' stage directions.

    Here's how the first version of the play began:

    [Lights. Everyone on stage is newly dead, burnt crispy, bloody, or simply gone, and awkwardly posed, including HERO, a young woman. Hero opens her eyes.]

    HERO: Saddam Hussein lasted 24 years. He hated Basra, the city I was born in. He used to say, "Basra is the bride of the gulf, but she's a peasant; peasant brides deserve three days of nice treatment, and then chase them to the fields." By the year 2016 it has been thirteen years since the invasion of Iraq removed Saddam Hussein from power. 

    [Hero sits up.]

    HERO
    Despite the violence of this period, we are not all dead. 

    [Everyone gets up and starts cleaning off the blood and filth.][A woman studies law. A man goes shopping. Two young people play draughts. A young man and young woman assemble a machine gun. Two young militiamen setup an 82mm mortar.]

    HERO
    In 1987, we had a population of perhaps 400,000. Now, despite all of the thirst, the starvation, the hate, and the death that has transpired in the intervening years...

    [The two young militiamen launch a mortar round, which vanishes in an explosion.]

    HERO
    ...we number more than one million people. It was not a magic trick. We just kept having sex and kept having babies....

    *******
    In the piece above, Hero, a young woman, opens the play. She and her countrymen appear dead, which is how most Americans seem to think of the Middle East. I chose not to give her any other name because I wanted the actors to take her seriously as a protagonist--as a hero. She has desires, dreams, goals, and a point of view. In Hero's case, she wants to find her husband (a translator for the British Army) so that they can have a child together or, barring that, to kill him for trying to abandon her.

    Hero is smart and knowledgeable. Like most of the characters in the play, she is a composite of people I knew in Iraq, some translators, some Iraqi government officials, and some people that we were pretty sure were trying to kill us. Others quietly wished that we were not there at all. But we all shared in the awful experience of Iraq as it teetered on the brink of civil war, and it was impossible not to admire the perseverance of my Iraqi friends, contacts, and acquaintances. In my time there, it became very apparent that the Americans and British were far less powerful and influential than we perceived ourselves to be.

    In creating the short play alongside Fort Point Theatre Channel, director Kathryn Howell, and Karen Alvarado, we were not trying to rewrite the impending future, or change the world. We simply wanted actors and audiences to briefly join us for twenty minutes in imagining what the invasion of Iraq might have looked like from the other side.

    In the longer, full-length version of the play--the play we are taking to Edinburgh--we go past that and we 'frame' the story-telling. That aspect of the play developed out of subsequent collaborations with English students in Basra, Iraq, and with conservatory artists from Rutgers University. 
    -------------------****-----------------
    We at Thinkery & Verse will continue to update you as our fundraising campaign progresses, and we will share more insights into our process, our dreams, and our purpose. Thank you again for your support! If you would like, please feel free to share this letter with other people that you think might be interested in our work.

    Sincerely,

    Thinkery & Verse



    New York City ensemble Thinkery and Verse presents BRIDE of the GULF, a new play dedicated to the resilience of life in Basra, Iraq, and based upon a transnational collaboration with artists from Iraq’s largest port city. Amid the violence that followed the British withdrawal from Basra in 2007, a sharp-witted Iraqi woman goes in search of her missing husband at the behest of her mother-in-law. 

    We are now raising $20,000 to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe--the largest and most exciting arts festival in the world! We have a dynamic story, a big cast, risk-taking technical elements, and a lot of chutzpah, and that makes this is a perfect play for the Ed Fringe. But we need your help! International performances are expensive, and market pressures at the Fringe ensure that ticket sales cannot cover the cost of producing a ground-breaking new play. We are therefore soliciting for enough funds to protect the artists involved, and let our people focus on creativity.

    Bride of the Gulf  began as a short play created for the Basra to Boston Project and the Fort Pointe Theatre Channel, and drew on transnational conversations, as well as the playwright's memories of Iraq in 2007 as a U.S. soldier. Using the short play as a starting point, the ensemble then collaborated with Iraqi poet and painter Elham Al Zabaedy, and incorporated her ironic, religious perspective into the play's outlook to a create an original full-length play, Bride of the Gulf.  American composer Sean Ullmer then collaborated with Iraqi composer Kais Ouda to score the show. When creating the play, Thinkery & Verse drew on transnational conversations that took place during our ongoing artistic process, but also on the playwright’s memories of Iraq in 2007: the translators, the journalists, Iraqi citizens, the incoming fire, the kidnappings, the reunions, the violence—and the resiliency of the world’s oldest civilization. 

    About the Ensemble

    The creative ensemble draws on recent graduates from one of the top acting conservatories in the world: the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. As a publicly funded university, the ensembles created at Rutgers are enriched by students from a wide variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds, enabling it to smash the barriers to working-class artists in a time of retrenched economic divisions. The creative team, including Karen Alvarado, Abishek Nair, Jahsiah Musig, and Camila Cano-Flavia, spent two years learning the Stanislavskian techniques of Sanford Meisner, and developing an ensemble-based approach to creating physical new work. They then moved to London to study Early Modern performance techniques with celebrated acting teacher Simon Dormandy at Shakespeare’s Globe. 

    Led by Karen Alvarado as producer, director and actor, the Edinburgh production includes Co-producers and Brazilian actors Monica Vilela and Miguel de Oliveira who have been with the project since its NY inception, composer Sean Ullmer, Indian actor Sufi Malhotra, Stage Manager Jacqueline Mercer, and set/projection designer Ashley Basile, who are all returning to the project from the latest run. The show welcomes a group of new actors currently attending Mason Gross School of the Arts - Maia Karo, Tshiwela Nematswerani, Matthew Petrucelli and Leslie Roth as well as UK based Technical Director Douglas Mackie and Co-producer Melina Leodis.

    So many people have made this project possible! It's been a labor of love for two years running, and the a lot of that labor came from  Amy Merrill, Marc S. Miller, Amir Al-Azraki, Anne Loyer, Kathryn Howell, Roberto Mighty, Noor Chalhoub, Jacqueline S. Chalhoub, Liza Alexis, Daniel Friday, Elena Urdaneta, Hannah Hale, Samir Al-Jasim, Doga Celik, Muge Karagulle, Sophia Mahmud, Ciara Reina, Gabi Singh, Joey Sponseller, Regan Sims, Alex Taylor, Kelsey Koga, Gihee Hong, Amela Karadza, Sydney Mitchell, Sara Billeaux, Jovani Zambrano, Ashley Bufkin, Sofi Duemichen, Lazarus Simmons, Robert Spellman, Kaitlin Ormerod, Andrea Bellamore, Nia Akilah Robinson, Renee Craig, Kevin Kittle, James P. Stanton, Allen Cutler, Cathy Homa-Rocchino, Leslie Lyter, Karin Anderson and The Wall Street Group Inc.

    About the U.S. Playwright

    J. M. Meyer became the first playwright to make the long-list for the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2010, and now offers a play set in Iraq in 2007, a setting which coincides with his second deployment as a United States Army airborne ranger. 

    CONCLUDING REMARKS

    With surprising humor and hard-earned insight, Bride of the Gulf explores what the invasion of Iraq felt like from the perspective of the people of Basra. Though it draws on the same theatrical vocabulary as plays like Black Watch, it provides a necessary corrective to the Western perspective. This is what transnational collaboration looks like at its best: well-informed, courageous, risk-taking, and profoundly theatrical. 

    Rewards

    Featured

    The Beautiful Bride

    Donate $5,000.00 or more

    Amount over $120.00 is tax-deductible.

    If you donate $5000 or more (thank you!) you will have taken care of a fourth of our budget! The Beautiful Bride donation will pay for almost all of the venue costs or almost all of the lodging for the entire company! You'll receive 2 free tickets to another Thinkery & Verse production (currently scheduled: Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth), 2 free tickets into the Bride of the Gulf Fundraising Gala in NYC, 2 free tickets into the play in Edinburgh, Scotland (if you can make the travel), a signed poster from the cast/crew, a one of a kind art installation made by Executive Producer, Mateo Marlowe Alvarado-Meyer, an invitation to the first read-through of the play with the new team on May 12th in NJ, an invitation to all future VIP Thinkery & Verse events, and an Associate Producer Credit on the Thinkery & Verse website.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Wedding Usher

    Donate $30.00 or more

    Amount over $15.00 is tax-deductible.

    If you donate $30 or more, your  Wedding Usher donation pays for one day of essential insurance to guard us during the rehearsal process. You'll receive 1 free student ticket to another Thinkery & Verse production (currently scheduled: Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth) OR 1 free ticket into the Bride of the Gulf Fundraising Gala in NYC! 

    Train Bearer

    Donate $60.00 or more

    Amount over $40.00 is tax-deductible.

    If you donate $60 or more your Train Bearer donation helps us secure and maintain a video projector for a whole week! You'll receive 2 free student tickets to another Thinkery & Verse production (currently scheduled: Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth) OR 2 free tickets into the Bride of the Gulf Fundraising Gala in NYC and a signed poster from the cast/crew!

    Flower Girl

    Donate $100.00 or more

    Amount over $50.00 is tax-deductible.

    If you donate $100 or more you will keep our costumes and set looking great. The Flower Girl donation will cover the cost of two week's worth of prop and costume maintenance! You'll receive 2 free tickets to another Thinkery & Verse production (currently scheduled: Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth) OR 2 free tickets into the Bride of the Gulf Fundraising Gala in NYC, a signed poster from the cast/crew, and a Donor Credit on the Thinkery & Verse website.   

    Ring Bearer

    Donate $250.00 or more

    Amount over $90.00 is tax-deductible.

    If you donate $250 or more you will provide a tired artists a place to sleep for a whole week of the Fringe! The Ring Bearer donation goes towards lodging costs for the cast and crew! You'll receive 2 free tickets to another Thinkery & Verse production (currently scheduled: Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth), 2 free tickets into the Bride of the Gulf Fundraising Gala in NYC, a signed poster from the cast/crew, an invitation to the first read-through of the play with the new team on May 12th in NJ and a Donor Credit on the Thinkery & Verse website.   

    Maid of Honor

    Donate $500.00 or more

    Amount over $90.00 is tax-deductible.

    If you donate $500 or more, the Bride crew will love you forever. The Maid of Honor donation will pay for a huge portion of the stipends we are providing for the people hanging lights, slapping on paint, and managing the stage! You'll receive 2 free tickets to another Thinkery & Verse production (currently scheduled: Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth), 2 free tickets into the Bride of the Gulf Fundraising Gala in NYC, a signed poster from the cast/crew, a one of a kind art installation made by Executive Producer, Mateo Marlowe Alvarado-Meyer, invitation to the first read-through of the play with the new team on May 12th in NJ and a Patron Credit on the Thinkery & Verse website.  

    Mother of the Bride

    Donate $1,000.00 or more

    Amount over $120.00 is tax-deductible.

    If you donate $1000 or more we will love you forever for being The Mother of the Bride! Your donation will pay for almost all of our advertising and marketing costs! You'll receive 2 free tickets to another Thinkery & Verse production (currently scheduled: Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth), 2 free tickets into the Bride of the Gulf Fundraising Gala in NYC, 2 free tickets into the play in Edinburgh, Scotland (if you can make the travel), a signed poster from the cast/crew, a one of a kind art installation made by Executive Producer, Mateo Marlowe Alvarado-Meyer, an invitation to the first read-through of the play with the new team on May 12th in NJ, invitations to Bride of the Gulf VIP events, and a Benefactor Credit on the Thinkery & Verse website.