W42ST Daily 7/10/2020

“Thank you for volunteering to represent the Etcetera Helpline,” the email read. “This is a reminder of your upcoming shift.”

Be alone, it instructed. In private. In a dimly-lit bedroom.

It added, ominously: “During your shift, you will interact with a caller/callers with whom you may explore personal themes and/or make difficult decisions. If you wish to end a shift at any time, communicate the phrase ‘TRAFFIC LIGHT’ to do so.”

A safe word? What had I just agreed to?

As theater companies all over the world experiment with virtual experiences, Candle House Collective is way ahead of the game – it’s been creating remote, interactive experiences since 2018. In the age of COVID, it’s found its niche. 

Claws is the story of Danny, whose father is at work and who has locked a monster in his closet. He’s calling for help – and I’m his best bet. This is not a passive piece of theater; it is deeply immersive, dark, and suspenseful. And I may have just confided in a monster about my problematic relationship with my mother.

Nothing can replace the shared experience of live theater, and I ache for its return. At least, I ache for the return of the good stuff; the pieces I fell asleep to, or wished my life would end rather than stay until curtain, I can live without. This is something different: this is a uniquely intimate moment in time that forces the audience of one to look inward. And it’s only 35 minutes long. Now all I need is for the rest of you to do it too, so we can go to a bar after and discuss it!

“Who are we serving? We’re serving individuals who have been told for a very long time by other systems that you’ll never amount to anything, that you can’t do things. They come from a life of instability, a life without much support, a life of poverty, a life of a lack of access to the things that some of us take for granted, like a decent education, health care, and a family who loves them.”

I spoke to Muzzy Rosenblatt this week. The CEO and president of BRC, he presided over the recent move of 100 men with mental health needs from the Boulevard shelter in East Harlem to the Cachet Boutique Hotel on W42nd St. Amid complaints of harassment and drug dealing attached to the policy of relocating the residents of homeless shelters into hotels, he explains who lives there, why, and what happens next. 


My favorite virtual dance party is meeting again tonight. The category: Come Sail Away. Batten down the hatches and rock the boat. See you on board!

Lincoln Center at Home presents the New York Philharmonic’s presentation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, featuring Kelli O’Hara and Nathan Gunn in a concert version of the 1945 musical, and NYCB principal dancers Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild in the dance sequences. Watch it here.

You don’t have to be an expert to try your hand at juggling. Bryant Park’s summer program of activities is starting, and all levels of expertise are welcome (equipment is provided, and sanitized between each use). There’s a class tomorrow at noon. Start tossing.

How can we, as activists, nurture an environment of physical and mental health to fight everyday? That’s a big question … and one The Mixed Space will attempt to address at its meet up tomorrow. RSVP here.

The Irish Arts Center hosts a rockin’ rhymes event tomorrow for families. It’s free … and you’ll hear nursery rhymes as you’ve never heard them before. Sit on your tuffet and get started.

Got writer’s block? I know the feeling. Join this free communal writing workshop tomorrow and work with others. It’s followed by a meditation focused on hands. Find out more here.

Circus Abyssinia’s Ethiopian Dreams is streaming for a one-time-only tomorrow. Watch in wonder as tumblers, contortionists, and jugglers tell a mystical tale, accompanied by Ethiopian music. It’s followed by a Q&A with the show’s creators here.

If we need anything right now, it’s this. Watch a series of 10-minute readings on faith at this free streaming evening on Sunday.