Marty Pottenger • Winning The Peace

Winning The Peace

Winning The Peace
St. Peter’s Church
NYC, NY
(1999)

A gathering, a reading, a performance, a public event of new yorkers reading letters, journals, poems, emails from the people of kosova and serbia.

Organized by Marty Pottenger with Kathleen Chalfant, Eve Ensler, Henry Foner, Arthur French, Joyce Kozloff, Alvan Colon Lespier, Yoshiko Chuma, Rabbi Julie Shonfeld, Rev. David Dyson and others.

* Executive Producer: Marty Pottenger * Co-Producer: Mark Plesent, The Working Theater * Co-Producer: Dorothy Fennell, Cornell University Special Projects with Unions. * Stage Manager: James McDaniel. * Music by Terry Dame

On June 30, 1999 at St. Peter's Church 619 Lexington (54th St) from 6 to 8:30PM, New Yorkers from labor, theater, dance, religion, visual arts, police, education and business will gather to read the stories of the people of Kosovo and Serbia - refugees, citizens and exiles - about the war. The evening's writings have been collected and assembled by Artistic Director and Executive Producer Marty Pottenger with the help of Eve Ensler, Laura Flanders and Kathleen Chalfant and reflect the first-hand experience of people from many different perspectives and experiences.

"Whiling away the hours in the cell I share with a murder suspect, I asked myself what the West's aim was for "the morning after". The image of NATO taking its finger off the trigger kept coming to mind." -- Veran Matic, Editor-in-Chief of Belgrade's banned Radio B92."

"So when the time came and he was forced to leave, my grandfather knew that they would burn His home, so he took his poems and put them in the beehives, thinking maybe they won't destroy the beehives. And perhaps they are they still there, waiting amongst the bees, being covered in honey." -- Kosovar woman

Winning the War Peace was conceived and organized by Pottenger as a response to the war. "As I asked New Yorkers what they thought about the war in the Balkans I learned that one friend had quit buying the NYTimes for the last several weeks, not realizing until we spoke that it was because he couldn't face news of yet another war. He'd been telling himself that he was just too busy. My upstairs neighbor started crying when we spoke, asking me 'How can I answer my children's' questions when I can't even pronounce Milosevic's name properly or the names of the cities where this is all happening?' I realized then that we need opportunities to come together, to meet as New Yorkers, as citizens of the United States, as people who care and are also confused, isolated and scared. We need a place to simply listen to our neighbors from Yugoslavia, both in response and respect, to hear their stories and turn our minds towards war and peace - not just for this war, but for the next, and the one after that. War is a time when relationship and community can keep open the door through which we can all move forward to win real peace. I turned to my community here in New York and asked if they would be willing to read a short excerpt from original writings by people like themselves. The response was tremendous."

From Obie-winning actors to labor leaders, professors, B-52 Bomber pilots, Local 3 electricians, leaders of NYC's religious institutions, lawyers and leaders in the field of visual arts -- the readers represent some of the diverse communities in New York City. They have diverse and dissenting opinions about the war. Their participation comes from a desire to gather with others to share the stories of our neighbors in Yugoslavia and to understand the realities of this war more deeply.

Readers: Kathleen Chalfant, Robbie McCauley, Yoshiko Chuma, Henry Foner, Arthur French, Katherine Acey, Jane LaTour, Caron Atlas, Simin Farkondeh, Nancy Spero, Mary McLaughlin, Linda Mancini, Brad Stokes, Azi Khalili, David White, J. L.Pottenger Jr., Rosalba Rolon, Alvan Colon Lespier, David Calle, Rabbi Julie Shonfeld, George Drance, Carla Peterson, Ellie Covan, Cydele Berlin, Evan Ruderman, Martha Baker, Rev. David Dyson, Annie Lanzalotto, Matthew Maguire, Magda Sawon, Tamas Banozich, Starr Theater, Linda Earle, Rebecca Nelson, Marty Fishgold, Rev. Peter Laarman, Elaine Harger, Joyce Kozloff, Diana McWilliams, Patrick O'Flaherty, Mary Beth Edelson, Freddi Brown-Carter, Tamara Damon and others.

Additional Assistance from Eve Ensler, Eileen Phelan, Laura Flanders, Vesna Todorovich, Simin Farkondeh and many people from all over the world who sent emails, reported for newspapers and wrote letters throughout the war and from whom this material is drawn. Special thanks to the Suitcase Fund/Dance Theater Workshop and The Trust for Mutual Understanding, whose financial support, made this evening possible.

35 Readers sat in chairs in the front Sanctuary in groups of two, three and four. The audience sat in pews in front and to both sides of the readers. Clothing of various shades and prints were draped over several chairs, to indicate absence and when two of the readers had to leave early, they placed clothing on their chair as they departed. The evening's reading was in natural light , and as day turned to dusk and then to darkness through the clear glass Sanctuary windows, readers read by the light of flashlights, at times held by their seatmates. At the end of "winning the Peace" all the stage lights went to black and the readers held their flashlights pointed at each other and then the stage lights came up as well as the house lights.