Lift Every Voice: A Letter to the Editor
written by Tylie Shider
directed by Whelihan
WHERE: The Levoy Theatre, 126-130 N High Street, Millville NJ
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Pushcart Players, New Jersey’s Emmy-nominated and award-winning touring theatre for family audiences, will present Lift Every Voice: A Letter to the Editor, Founded in 1974, Pushcart is celebrating 50 years of stirring up serious fun for young people nationwide.
Lift Every Voice… is a multimedia play by NJ playwright Tylie Shider that explores the music, images, and spirit of mid-century America while celebrating the courage and resilience of everyday Americans during events leading up to the Civil Rights Movement.
The story centers on Junebug, a 12-year-old boy in the 1960’s South, who learns of James Meredith’s attempt to enroll as the first African American at the University of Mississippi. When the editor of “The Oxford Eagle,” a local newspaper, expresses her negative opinions on integration, Junebug takes matters into his own hands and confronts these views, speaking out for equality and inclusion. Historical touchstones include the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Little Rock Nine, the Greensboro Sit-ins, the Freedom Fighters, and the Civil Rights Movement
“This play with music offers a pathway to understanding and compassion for young learners,” said Paul Whelihan, Pushcart producing artistic director. “It resonates with the voice in each of us to fight against injustice.”
The cast for the performances at The Levoy Theatre is Joshua Hendricks, Keara Hailey Gordon, and Jacqueline Avery-Greenspan.
Tylie Shider is a 2020-21 Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow and an I Am Soul Playwright Resident at the National Black Theatre. His plays include Parable of the Backyard Roots (2019 Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Finalist), Bastard, Platform States of Mind and Talk. His work has been developed by Liberation Theatre Company, Dixon Place, La MaMa, Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Harlem 9, Homebase Theatre Collective, 3:5 Creative[s], Yendor Arts, The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Luna Stage, Joust Theatre co., New York New Works Theater Festival, and The Theater Project. Awards include: Drama Desk from Delaware State University, and The Theater Project’s One-Act competition 2015 Best Play and Audience Favorite. Member: Dramatist Guild of America, 2018 Playwright in residence at the Liberation Theatre Company, 2019-20 Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow, and the 2020-21 The Civilians R&D Group. He holds a BA in journalism from Delaware State University and an MFA in playwriting from New York University.
Paul Whelihan directs, stage-manages and performs off-Broadway (47th Street Theater, 59 East 59 Theatres, NY Fringe Festival, 54 Below) and regionally (Short North Stage [OH], Royal Poincianna Playhouse, Broward Center for the Arts, Quillo Arts Center [FL], Centenary Stage, The Company, The Bickford Theatre, Growing Stage, Luna Stage, Forum Theatre, Premier Stages, Dreamcatcher Rep [NJ]) in musicals, dramas, and original works. He has appeared in locally produced television, film, and web series projects.
Joshua Hendricks is a 22-year-old NYC based actor born and raised in New Jersey. After working on several commercials and television appearances when he was younger, he was inspired to pursue acting even further. This allowed him to study drama in NYU Tisch and its multitude of studios, as well as Shakespeare and Performance at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He has played a range of roles from The Groom in Blood Wedding (Playwrights Horizons Theater School) to Timon in Timon of Athens (RADA). He also has a minor in film production and has written/directed a number of short films.
Keara Hailey Gordon is a NJ certified teacher of Theatre K-12 with a performing arts background of over 35 years. She and her husband recently co-founded Practically Dramatic, LLC educational consultants, specializing in the teaching and implementation of dramatic and performing arts including public speaking and communication skills. Keara has appeared on stage and screen, beginning her professional acting career in 1986 where she portrayed the role of the Young Whitney Houston in the music video for the #1 hit song “The Greatest Love of All.”
Jacquelyn Avery-Greenspan originally hales from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and currently resides in NYC. Jacqueline is no stranger to the world of children’s and educational theatre having performed in it as both a child and an adult with the Ellis Island Foundation, National Theatre for Education and the Arts and Jesters Dinner Theatre. She has worked professionally in the US and UK with credits spanning stage, screen and voice over. Favorite theatre productions include The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged), The Futurists, ‘Tis Pity, and Merrily We Roll Along the play (Edinburgh Fringe Festival). She earned her MFA from East 15 Acting School in England and her BFA from NYU (Stella Adler Studio). Jacqueline also has a Shakespeare in Performance certificate from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
Pushcart Players is the award-winning professional touring theater company specializing in arts education for children. Twice nominated for an Emmy©, Pushcart is the recipient of numerous state and private awards for excellence and innovation. Pushcart brings substantive musical theater, workshops, and residencies to young people and their families in schools and theaters nationwide. The company has traveled more than 6.6 million miles nationally and abroad, from the rural red schoolhouse to the White House.
Pushcart Players addresses social studies, literature, history, special educational needs, social-emotional learning, equity, diversity, accessibility, inclusion, values clarification, and character education for young people, their families, and their educators. All performances by professional artists (Actors’ Equity Association) are supported by study guides, post-performance assessments, and other supplemental materials. Pushcart adapts to any location with innovative scenery, lighting, and sound systems.
As a social-profit organization, Pushcart Players’ programs are made possible in part by NJ State Council on the Arts/Department of State, NJ State Bar Foundation, Pine Tree Foundation of New York, Actors’ Equity Foundation, ADP Foundation, The Community Foundation of NJ, EJ Grassmann Trust, The Grunin Foundation, Hyde & Watson Foundation, The Montclair Foundation, Newark Arts, PNC Bank/Lillian Schenck Foundation, The Sosland Foundation, Turrell Fund, The Whitehill Foundation, and numerous individual contributors.