Thursday, October 28, 2004

Twelfth Annual Women's Playwriting Festival

Perishable Theatre’s 12th Annual
Women’s Playwriting Festival


Holly Hildebrand (Katy, TX) for The Dog
JC Samuels (San Francisco, CA) for How High the Moon?
Jennifer Haley (Providence, RI) for Gone With the Window

Thursday, October 28 at 7pm
Friday, October 29 at 8pm
Saturday, October 30 at 8pm

Tickets on sale now at ArtTix!
General Admission: $20
Students & Seniors: $15
Call 401-621-6123 or order online at artTix

Snappy Dance Workshops in Providence

Providence Circus School will present Boston-based Snappy Dance Theater teaching a series of creativity and partnering workshops entitled "Trust Me!" These workshops are open to beginning and experienced dancers.

These workshops introduce tools for generating ideas and promote a fun-filled atmosphere to enhance creativity. Company members will introduce theater and vocal exercises as well as basic concepts of partnering and weight sharing. Participants will then create their own dances in small groups.

Snappy company members will teach two-session workshops on Saturdays November 6 and 20, 2004. Workshop I, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m. both Saturdays, will be for children ages 8 to 13. Workshop II, 12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. both Saturdays,
is open to teens and adults. These workshops will be held in the Perishable Theatre dance studio at 95 Empire Street, Providence. Tuition is $75.00 for each workshop (two 2-hour sessions). Early-bird tuition is $60.00 if sent by November 2.

To register for a "Trust Me!" workshop, call Providence Circus School at 401-351-9211 for a registration form, or use the registration form posted at the Providence Circus School website

Snappy Dance Theater presented their imaginative piece The Temperamental Wobble in June 2004, as part of the FleetBoston Celebrity Series. FleetBoston President and Executive Director Martha H. Jones said of the troupe: "The choreography of Snappy Dance Theater is an intriguing mix of athleticism, imagination, and humor that has captured the hearts and minds of Boston audiences." In addition to performing, Snappy has taught many dance workshops in the Boston area. Snappy Artistic Director Martha Mason and company member Tim Gallagher will teach the November workshops in Providence.

Providence Circus School is a project of the non-profit Rhode Island arts corporation, the What Cheer Art Company. Since 1998 Providence Circus School has taught children juggling, clowning, acrobatics, and balance skills. In 2004 the School expanded to offer static trapeze, and classes for adults. The School's performing troupe, Lub-dub, gave seven shows in neighborhood parks as part of the City of Providence's Summer 2004 Neighborhood Performing Arts Initiative.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

VOTE NO ON QUESTION 3-- An editorial

My good friend Tom Sgouros recently wrote a response to an editorial in the Providence Journal-- it probably won't see the light of day, so I decided to put it on my web log...

Tom is the editor, publisher, and of theRhode Island Policy Reporter.

If you want thoughtful analysis of what's going on in terms of policy in Rhode Island, you should probably subscribe!


A reply to an editorial.

In a recent Projo op-ed, James Capaldi, the director of our state
Department of Transportation claims that all road construction in
Rhode Island depends on passage of the transportation bonds on
Question 3 this November. But he is being slightly disingenuous.
Road construction will not halt if the $66 million in bonds are not
approved; the construction lobby employs too many people around here,
and too many of them have friends in the administration and in the
legislature. But what will happen if approval is not granted is that
the state may have to come up with a more sensible way to fund road

DOT has been funding routine construction with bonds for years, which
makes it seem normal. But it's not. Among all the states, we are the
exception, not the rule in the matter of debt. Lots of states borrow
for this or that big road or bridge project, but we borrow $30 million
every year, except for the years in which we borrow much much more
(like this one). Projections have us borrowing the same amount each
year into the foreseeable future.

The question is why? If we're borrowing $30 million every year, then
there's no need to amortize, it's already amortized, at $30 million a
year, and we should just budget for that. Roads are a kind of
investment, but not one with returns--especially not roads built to
replace existing ones, which is what most of the next decade's cost is
for. Constant borrowing like this is a perfectly common financial
strategy, but one that often ends in bankruptcy court.

The history of DOT's debt is a long one, started probably in the
Garrahy administration, when a resort to borrowing was an easy way to
avoid facing the true cost of the department. But successive
Governors have made the problem much worse through malign neglect.

In the past ten years, DOT has dropped over 100 employees, and the
amount of money it spends on construction has gone up very little:
from $95 million in 1994 to $102 million in 2005. Maintenance
activities over that same period have only gone from $26 million to
$39 million. During that same time, federal highway funds, though
they vary a lot from one year to the next, have roughly tracked
inflation, going from $149 million to $207 million. But state dollars
(DOT's budget minus the federal dollars, minus the money they pass
along to RIPTA) going into the department have skyrocketed, going from
$56 million to $104 million. We're getting a lot less for our money
than we used to.

There are lots of little reasons for this--inflation, health care
costs, pension adjustments--but the biggest reason is that DOT's
budget is struggling under around $50 million in debt service, roughly
double the $27 million from 1994. (Part of the debt service is
accounted in the Department of Administration, but it's DOT's debt and
is paid with gas tax money.) That is, at least half of the increase
in state money applied to DOT goes to debt service. It would be much
more, but for the serendipity of the tobacco settlement money, much of
which was spent paying off DOT debt.

Mr. Capaldi will object that the amount of construction has actually
gone way up, since last year we sold $216 million in GARVEE bonds, to
be paid off with future federal highway money. This is the money
going to build the access highway and freight rail to Quonset, the new
Providence River bridge for I-195, and the new Sakonnet River bridge
for Rt. 24. In one sense he would be correct. But construction on
those projects doesn't do much for the bridge rotting away down the
street from me or the intersection that needs signs near you. Nor
does it do anything for the projects Mr. Capaldi lists as "likely" to
be scheduled. The GARVEE bonds planned will require that one-third of
the federal highway money we receive each year goes to their debt
service for the next fourteen years. The DOT situation is like a
family that's bought a house slightly too expensive for them: At best,
they won't be eating a lot of steak in the next few years. At worst,
they won't keep the house. We may finish those four projects, but all
other construction is at risk for the next several years.

Six years ago, 36% of the gas tax collected went into the general
fund, to fund state services like local education aid and protecting
the environment. Today less than 7% goes to the general fund, a drop
of more than $40 million in today's dollars. That sure would have
been useful in last year's budget battles.

Mr. Capaldi knows all of this. In fact he was the one who explained
it to me several years ago. But that was before he was running the
department. It's not his fault that the Governor and the Legislature
won't allocate the money necesary to fund necessary road construction,
but he knows full well that debt isn't the only way to fund DOT, it's
just the worst way.

Vote no on question 3, for saner state spending.

Tom Sgouros,
Wickford, RI

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Arts In Academics

My mom is a retired art teacher. She recently started a scholarship/endowment to help integrate the arts into Academics in the State of Rhode Island.Here's the basic information about it. (from the RI Foundation press release)

New Rhode Island Foundation endowment seeks projects that incorporate the arts into core academics

Idea comes from retired arts teacher’s experience

Hoping that teachers of such ‘core’ academic subjects as math, English, and science will utilize the arts to help students learn, retired art educator Karel Greenblatt Gertsacov of Narragansett has established a permanent endowment at The Rhode Island Foundation to meet that goal.

"The arts are integral to the learning process," said Mrs. Gertsacov, who taught in the Cranston schools for more than 30 years. "When the arts are woven into the learning experience, they provide not only skill acquirement and application, but they enhance education by promoting curiosity, discovery, inquiry, experimentation, persistence, inventiveness,
exploration, critical thought, and creative problem solving."

Foundation staff have announced a November 1 deadline for grants that meet the above criteria. Any K-12 public or charter school teacher, artist, or nonprofit organization is eligible to apply, but the proposed project
must benefit Rhode Island schoolchildren, noted Foundation Program Officer Kris Hermanns.

"We will grant $2,000 total for projects to take place between January and June 2005," she said, citing as examples a field trip to the zoo for a mathematics class studying symmetrical patterns or a core subject teacher taking a workshop or course in critical/creative problem solving.

Applications are available at the Foundation website or by calling Libby Monahan at the Foundation, 401-274-4564.

"I hope the passion I have for the arts and for integrating those into other disciplines will inspire others as well, "Mrs. Gertsacov concluded.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Vote For Mr. Punch on October 15 at the Perishable Theatre

A Puppet Runs For President: (Stranger Things Have Happened!)

The 2004 election may seem a little weird, but nothing like this.

Mr. Punch, the traditional English puppet with the hooked nose, the hideous laugh, and the penchant for beating his wife with a slapstick, decides to run for President. He is counseled by the Devil, his wife Judy, and three ghosts of Presidents past: George Washington, Richard Nixon, and Millard Fillmore . He ends up in a big debate with incumbent puppet Mr. Shrub, and the audience gets to vote right there and then on who they think should be president. And that's when the voting scandal begins.

This untraditional (but not so unlikely) scenario is the heart of a new 15 minute show which will appear in Providence, RI, just three weeks before the actual election. And, just like the actual election, it will have a surprise ending.

"I wanted to create a show to get both kids and adults excited about voting," says Adam Gertsacov, the Rhode Island based clown, actor, and puppeteer who has written, directed, and will perform the 15 minute show. "The election process is something that effects everyone, yet amazingly, voter turnout is low. I'm hoping to use humor to get people interested in participating in the process."

Gertsacov has been creating and performing solo shows since 1989. Other shows include a Victorian style flea circus, a "Barbie" doll Oedipus Rex, and a historical impersonation of P.T. Barnum. He has performed all over the country,and in various parts of the world. Gertsacov's resume touts him as the Clown Laureate of Greenbelt Maryland and "the most educated clown in America, barring certain elected officials." He is also the festival and executive director of Bright Night Providence, an artist-run New Year's Eve Celebration in Rhode Island's capital city.

Gertsacov says his influences and inspirations are many and various. "The show is kind of a hodgepodge of many different ideas, finely blended and cooked at a 350 degree heat," he says. " I'm mixing in traditional Punch and Judy with presidential facts, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, current events, and even a little South Park. "

Gertsacov received a grant from the Rhode Island State Council On The Arts to help complete the show. "That really gave me the encouragement to go on," Gertsacov says. " The Arts Council seemed to get that humor is a great way to get people interested and involved in important issues."

WHAT: Punch and Judy Election Show (part of a larger show "Blood From A Turnip-- Late Night Puppet Salon")

WHEN: Friday, October 15, 2004 at 10:30 pm.

WHERE: Perishable Theatre, 95 Empire Street, Providence

COST: $5 (no reservations are available) Show up early!

MORE INFO: 401-331-2695 (theatre) or visit