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PEP Feb 2004
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Public Employee Press

Theater works for budding playwrights

   
 

Local 1549 member Jacquetta Williams on stage with actor Jeffrey Joseph as the client “Mr. Jones” in her play, “More Than a Paycheck.”

 

By Jane LaTOUR

When she wrote “More Than a Paycheck,” Local 1549 member Jacquetta Williams “wanted to touch people on the level of social awareness.” The play, staged Jan. 12 at the Blue Heron Arts Center, forcefully depicted the dangers that many public employees face as they encounter the city’s most desperate people — the sick, the contagious, the mentally disturbed.

Ms. Williams, an Eligibility Specialist, was one of several union members whose one-act plays entertained family, friends and co-workers at the second annual Theater Works presentation. The DC 37 Education Fund and the Working Theater co-sponsor the program, which uses a creative
approach to develop writing and speaking skills.

In the 12-week course, each student writes a play based on a work experience. “This class is therapeutic,” said Emergency Medical Technician Kimberly Perez, a member of Local 2507, and author of “Penny Speaks Out.” “It’s a place to speak out about things you can’t talk about at home or on the job. You relieve your stress by writing about it.”

“The Malodorous Co-worker,” by Police Administrative Aide Gardenia Lamb, got the evening off to a lively start. “I was looking for something comical. I write about what’s happening,” said Ms. Lamb, who has worked for the Police Dept. for 25 years.

In “A Daily Attempt,” Local 375 member and Housing Development Specialist Chris Dewees combined comedy and drama to stark effect. “Sometimes our personal lives impact on our lives in the workplace. My character wants someone to listen to her,” he explained.

Yolanda White’s play, “The Grab Bag,” concluded the program. “Just seeing the reaction and getting positive responses proved to me that I have a talent and I need to further it,” said Ms. White, a Technical Adviser for Food Safety and a member of Department of Education Employees Local 372.

For Ed Fund Program Coordinator Cathy Browne, “the move to the theater from the union building added energy to the total production.”

“This just makes me want to write more,” said Ms. Williams, who provides AIDS services at the Human Resources Administration. Chris Dewees summed up the experience: “Emotionally, I was changed. It’s a ‘natural high.’ It was a thrilling experience.”

Classes begin in March and meet on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at DC 37. For more information, contact Cathy Browne by Feb. 15 at 212-815-1676.

Theater Works
Return to: Cathy Browne, Program Coordinator, DC 37 Education Fund
125 Barclay St., Room 814, New York, N.Y. 10007

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