Southampton Arts has turned its attention to Netflix. More accurately, we're voraciously binge-watching Julie's Greenroom, produced and written by our very own Emma Walton Hamilton and hosted by her mother, Julie Andrews.
Julie's Greenroom (released March 17th) teaches kids the wonder of the performing arts and the way they enhance our lives. Ms. Julie (played by Julie Andrews, of course) is a theater teacher to five attentive and curious puppet children, a dog, and a duck named Hugo. Also on hand is the human stage manager, Gus, played by Giullian Yao Gioiello of The Carrie Diaries. Over the course of the 13-episode season, Ms. Julie helps the "Greenies" create a musical. The show was first proposed to the pair by The Jim Henson Company.
Creative collaboration is another theme of the show. Not only are the puppets a diverse batch of creative types, but every episode, a mega-talented, art-loving guest visits to teach something new: Alec Baldwin stops by to talk acting, Idina Menzel takes the crew to broadway, Bill Irwin shows how clowning is done, Josh Groban stops for a song, and Sara Bareilles talks about songwriting.
Julie's Greenroom has received press attention from The New York Times, The New Yorker, Vulture and National Public Radio, as has the dynamic and determined mother-daughter pair. Most recently, the two wrote a defense for the arts, published online by CNN: "Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton: Rescue the Arts from the Budget Chopping Block."
"The arts are the first to go when the artist block falls," they write. "This is mind-boggling to us, considering how much the arts benefit our lives and our world. They foster collaboration and creativity, essential skills for navigating in the workplace and surviving in a challenging world. They cultivate empathy and tolerance, by bridging cultural and socioeconomic divides."
They wrote in response to President Trump’s proposed budget that cuts all National Endowment for the Arts funding. Walton Hamilton and Andrews have been vocal before about defunding the arts; they spoke to Buzzfeed about it in February. Nor is their advocacy surprising. Together, the pair has written over thirty children’s books, and Walton Hamilton has also written a book for parents about childhood literacy. Both Julie Andrews, an Oscar-, Grammy-, and Emmy- winning actress, and her daughter Walton Hamilton, who with her husband founded Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY, are as deeply committed to the importance of literature as they are to that of the theater.
Writers Speak Features Author and Film Professor Jamal Joseph on February 22
Author and Columbia film professor Jamal Joseph will be the next guest in the spring Writers Speak Wednesdays series of free author talks and readings open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton. Joseph will read from and talk about his work on Wednesday, February 22, at 7 p.m. in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall.
Joseph is the author of "Panther Baby: A Life of Rebellion and Reinvention"—which he is adapting into a screenplay —based on his time spent in the Black Panther Party as a young man. He has also written an interactive biography of Tupac Shakur, "Tupac Shakur Legacy," published in 2006 by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.
A Columbia University School of the Arts graduate film program professor, Joseph has written, directed and produced various film and television projects. He is the founder and artistic director of IMPACT, a Harlem-based youth theater company, and executive director of New Heritage Films, a non-profit that supports minority filmmakers.
Other writers and programs scheduled for the spring series include: Omar Bah in conversation with Harriet Levin Millan, March 1; a Faculty Reading on March 8 featuring Kaylie Jones, Susan Scarf Merrell, Star Black, Terese Svoboda, Julie Sheehan and Lou Ann Walker; Tim Murphy, March 22; Stacey Waite in conversation with Charif Shanahan, March 29; Judith Miller, April 12; and Julie Shigekuni, April 19. On May 3, the evening will be devoted to readings by degree candidates currently enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.
Writers Speak Wednesdays programs are free and open to the public. The evenings begin with a brief reception at 6:30 p.m.; readings begin at 7 p.m. and are followed by a Q&A and book signing. All programs are held in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 39 Tuckahoe Road, Southampton, NY 11968.
For more information, call 631-632-5030 or visit Writers Speak on the web. On Facebook, visit Writers Speak Wednesdays; to follow on Twitter, @ WritersSpeakWed.
Bestselling Author Helen Simonson Kicking Off Spring Writers Speak Wednesdays Series
Bestselling novelist Helen Simonson will be the first guest in the spring Writers Speak Wednesdays series of free author talks and readings open to the public at Stony Brook Southampton. Simonson will read from and talk about her work on Wednesday, February 8, at 7 p.m. in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall.
Other writers and programs scheduled for the spring series include: Jamal Joseph, February 22; Omar Bah in conversation with Harriet Levin Millan, March 1; a Faculty Reading on March 8 featuring Kaylie Jones, Susan Scarf Merrell, Star Black, Terese Svoboda, Julie Sheehan and Lou Ann Walker; Tim Murphy, March 22; Stacey Waite in conversation with Charif Shanahan, March 29; Judith Miller, April 12; and Julie Shigekuni, April 19. On May 3, the evening will be devoted to readings by degree candidates currently enrolled in the MFA in Creative Writing and Literature program.
Simonson, who earned her MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton in 2008, turned her thesis into a debut novel — Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand — that became a New York Times bestseller. The Times’ Janet Maslin warned readers they’d fall "head over heels for Ms. Simonson’s funny, barbed, delightfully winsome storytelling."
Born in England, Simonson is also a graduate of the London School of Economics and now lives in Brooklyn. Her second novel, The Summer Before the War, was released in 2016.
Writers Speak Wednesdays programs are free and open to the public. The evenings begin with a brief reception at 6:30 p.m.; readings begin at 7 p.m. and are followed by a Q&A and book signing. All programs are held in the Radio Lounge on the second floor of Chancellors Hall at Stony Brook Southampton, 239 Montauk Highway, Southampton, NY 11968.
For more information, call 631-632- 5030 or visit the website. On Facebook, visit Writers Speak Wednesdays; to follow on Twitter, @ WritersSpeakWed.
On January 15 — Martin Luther King Jr.'s actual birthday — writers, activists and community members will come together at Stony Brook Southampton beginning at 2:30 p.m. as part of Writers Resist, a nationwide movement to honor democracy and celebrate the history and promise of a diverse nation.
On the same day, hundreds of others in cities across America will be gathering for a "re-inauguration," an affirmation of their shared commitment to equality and justice. As fliers for the afternoon programs in Southampton point out: "You don't have to be a writer to resist."
Cosponsored by the MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton, Canio's Books in Sag Harbor, Poetry Street, and PEN America, Writers Resist: Teach In/Speak Out will bring together several groups from across the East End. Workshops and readings in two separate programs will be dedicated to empowering the community while offering a rare opportunity for residents to join together to celebrate diversity and their common humanity.
"The obvious question prompted by the title would be: ‘resist what?'" said Julie Sheehan, director of the MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton. "Rather than organizing resistance to any one individual or institution, these programs all over the country are aimed at resisting the erosion of the values that make our democracy work: The value of freedom of expression, public education for all, and tolerance in a pluralistic society."
After the presidential election, Sheehan said, people felt afraid and fractured and many wanted to "do something." At times like this, she said, "It's important for people to come together and recognize that this country has been through very hard times—including a civil war—and we can get through anything if we can come together, whatever our differences, to affirm our democracy."
The Teach In, running Sunday, Jan. 15 from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., will consist of free writer-led workshops in English and Spanish, open to the public, including children.
To get things started, MFA in Creative Writing student Afua Ansong will talk about why it's important for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and all immigrants to speak out. Author Roger Rosenblatt will speak about why writing matters, and the importance of storytelling and bearing witness.
Participants will have the chance to record their experiences and insights about where the country has been and where it is going. These writings can be developed into letters to the editor, persuasive lobbying tools, or personal testimonies used to build networks of support.
A workshop for Spanish speaking writers will be led by Sandra Dunn. Depending on the number of participants, small group workshops for English speakers will be led by Lou Ann Walker, Julie Sheehan, MFA alumna Maggie Bloomfield, and MFA students Zinnia Smith and Anthony DiPietro.
All those who wish to participate are asked to RSVP to Julie Sheehan at (631) 996-4421.
The Speak Out program that follows, beginning Sunday, Jan. 15 at 4 p.m., will include readings from the past and present, writings selected to highlight the ideals of democracy, diversity and free expression. Along with their own original material, writers will be reading from such sources as the preface to Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass"; Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" and an original source of the term "welfare," the preamble to the U.S. Constitution.
Afua Ansong, Otilia Aguilar, Megan and Scott Chaskey, Ursula Hegi, Kathryn Levy, MFA alumna Tracy M. King-Sanchez, Roger Rosenblatt, Grace Schulman, Philip Schultz, L.B. Thompson, Adrienne Unger, and MFA alumna Michelle Whitaker will present works that inspire them and offer hope for the future.
The Speak Out event will also include an audience-based Twitter storm based on the Langston Hughes poem, "Let America Be America Again." A short section of the poem will be handed out to all members of the audience with smartphones and Twitter feeds upon their arrival, with instructions to tweet the lines at some point during the program.
A reception will follow, offering a chance to talk, mingle and connect.
Both events are free and the public is welcome to attend one or both. No reservations are needed for the reading. Events will be held in the Duke Lecture Hall at Chancellors Hall, Stony Brook Southampton, 239 Montauk Highway, Southampton, NY 11968.
Writers Resist began the week after the presidential election as a call to writers by PEN America, among others, to resist the growing challenges to freedom of expression. Events are scheduled in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Austin, Portland, Omaha, Seattle, London, Zurich, Hong Kong, and many other cities.
One of the founders of the movement, poet Erin Belieu, believes these events are a first step in focusing public attention on the ideals of a free, just and compassionate society. "This is only a starting point in raising our voices in defense of democracy," said Belieu.
Call Julie Sheehan at 631-996-4421 or Canio's at 631-725-4926 for more information about Writers Resist: Teach In/Speak Out in Southampton. For more information about Writers Resist nationally, visit www.writersresist.org.