A Eulogy

Mary Ellen Nelligar Petti, my wife and friend of 17 years and mother of my two boys, passed away on January 8th.  Below is (close to) the eulogy delivered at her wake on January 13th.  I’m posting it here for any of her family or friends who could not be with us that night:

What in God’s name are we doing here?  More to the point with many of us, what are we doing here without a script and a score and some choreography.

We are in an unreal situation, trying to say something authentic.

I’m supposed to be some kind of a writer, but this isn’t going to be well-written.  Mary El can’t be contained by a narrative.  I was reading a short story collection and they had these blurbs about the authors before each story and one author said of his work, “All I trust is fragments.”

So that’s all I have.  Fragments.

Mary El was dyslexic and she was self conscious about her spelling, so she’d just yell out random words from the other room like “kumquat!” or “Armageddon!”  I had to realize it wasn’t really an impending Armageddon and spell the word for her.  I was her spell check before there was such a thing.

She read voraciously, but she gravitated toward similar types of books.  We’d joke that she needed to find a Tudor history about a poor, young Southern girl who time traveled to Nazi Germany.  The only people sadder than us right now are the folks at Amazon Kindle, because they are going to lose a lot of business.

Mary El has an alternate personality named Fifi Larue.  Believe it or don’t.

She adored Facebook–she called it the party she attended in her pajamas.  Her last post asked her friends to list three people they thought were particularly attractive.  I answered,  because of course my participation was mandatory.  I said Donna Reed, Emma Thompson, and Mary Ellen Nelligar Petti.  A friend of ours posted, “Suck up!” and I replied, “Absolutely!”

Her references were about 100 years out of date.  She’d mention ice trucks, or soda shops, or horse-drawn carriages.  She’d say of some actress, “Who does she think she is, Myrna Loy?”  And I’d say, no, nobody thinks they’re Myrna Loy, they haven’t thought that in at least 100 years.

A friend of ours called Mary Ellen a “wanna-be Jew.”  She was obsessed with the culture and with Yiddish words.  One of the happiest days of her life was when her son James married a Jewish girl.  Her and her friend Sharon danced and sang Hava Nagila at the wedding.  She was so obsessed with Holocaust documentaries that I used to say she couldn’t get to sleep without hearing the gentle strains of a speech by Adolf Hitler.

She had an idea for a book where Rasputin was a vampire, which is why he couldn’t be killed and also why he could help the czar’s kid with hemophilia.  I thought that was brilliant.  If anyone steals it I’ll sue.

This past Christmas Mary El found a site where you could adopt a family who was having financial trouble.  Now, we have been that family.  And even though we are only slightly better off that we were then, she adopted two families and got her sister to adopt a third.  Even though she was sick, the week before Christmas was spent meeting people in CVS parking lots with bags of toys.  I thought that was so Mary Ellen.

There’s 15 years between Mary El and her big sister Gin, so Gin was already working when Mary El was small.  She would get up in the morning to watch her big sister put on her makeup in the bathroom mirror.  But being a little girl, she was a nudge–she put her fingers in the makeup and generally was a pain.  So Gin used to get up quietly to sneak out of the house before Mary El woke up.  When she woke up she would run to the window and cry that she didn’t get to say goodbye to “My Ginna.”  Because Mary El adored her so.

Mary El got cast in Grey Garden and they couldn’t find anyone anyone to play opposite her, so she begged her friend Jimmy to do the role.  Jimmy didn’t wanna.  At that point they had been friends for 24 years, so in exchange for doing the role she promised him another 24 years.  So whenever Jimmy would see her afterwards he would say, “You owe me 17 years, five months, three weeks and two days!”

She loved malapropisms and blown lines.  She was doing a serious scene where a girl playing her daughter described defending an old man being beaten by a group of Poles during WWII.  The line came out something like, “And the Poles hit him with a pole while pole-dancing.”  Mary El’s eyes lit up with what can only be described as pure, evil-elf joy.  She tried to make eye contact with Rich Aufiero (who was playing the father), to share her joy, and he just said out loud, onstage, “Don’t even look at me.”

Her cousin Cliff grew up with Mary El and he has a very stoic personality.  When they would see each other as adults at family functions, Mary El would grab him from behind and start singing, “Feelings!  Whoa, whoa, whoa, feelings! ” She had no walls, not even a brick.  She laughed in the face of other people’s walls and reduced them to rubble.

There was a two week period when I was in the hospital at Mt. Sinai in NYC and Conor was in the hospital in Goshen.  For two weeks, she would spend one day with me and one day with him.  When she needed to be she was strong as an oak.

She called herself an “Irish loser,” which isn’t just your regular kind of loser.  An Irish loser has no self-confidence, but deep down still knows they are as good or better than anybody.  We are a complicated bunch, we Irish.

Mary El had nicknames for people: Mickle the Baby Pickle, Con-Man, Vlad the Inhaler, Tovalah, Reppie, Doll Baby, Yimmie, Sistah Woman, Mandingo Warrior, Weekawah Monster, Sadie–but she saved the majority for her son James.  During his childhood, he had to answer to Jammers, Jammie Do, Mussolini, Lou, and finally…Lou Gossett Jr.  If he heard her say, “Lou Gossett Jr.,” he had to say, “Yes Mom!”

There were so many shows she was brilliant in, too many to list.  For the Just Off Broadway folks, I think she’ll always be Rizzo, to the County Players folks Reno Sweeney, to the Pearl River folks Mama Rose (at just 17!), and to the Creative Theater people she was Adelaide.  There are two moments in her performing career that stick out because I know how much they meant to her.  The first was a straight play called Enchanted April–the ending monologue was her acting at the height of her ability.  The other was her Judy cabaret From Oz to Nuremberg.  If you were lucky enough to be in the room that night, you know why.  She was at ease, confident, healthy, and incandescent.  It gave you a glimpse at what she could have done if she had been healthier more often.

When something like this happens, there are roles that you are expected to follow.  I choose not to be a griever.  I choose to be a celebrant.

After we had our boys, Mary El was showing me a dress that I was pretending to care about and I mentioned casually, “Well, you love your floral prints.”  She said no I don’t.  So I said that’s all you wore while you were pregnant.  So she went and looked at the pictures and there she was in her floral maternity clothes.  Her exact quote to me was, “How could you let me leave the house like that!  I looked like a sofa!”

There are a million others.  She wrote a poem for her mom called “My Mother’s Hands.”  We lost these certain cardboard Christmas decorations in one of our 14 floods and I finally, finally tracked them down this year so we could have them on the tree.  She had members of her “tribe”–her grandfather, her cousin Chris, our son Conor, our niece Kiera–who all had that crazy twinkle in their eye.  She left used tissues everywhere.  We visited our doctor so often we referred to him as “Uncle Ernie.”  When our friend Jimmy lived with us he worked odd hours and would cook on the George Foreman grill in the middle of the night, which Mary El referred to as “Jimmy’s 2AM Cooking Show.”  We had a party over the summer with some folks I had done a show with who had never met Mary El, and long after I went to sleep they stayed out in the backyard talking until 4 in the morning.  She did a search for the name “Nelligar” on Facebook and ended up great long-distance friends with some distant relation out in Seattle.  A childhood friend, without her knowing, wrote a children’s book based on her called “The Adventures of Hairymelon” about a spunky 11-year-old.

Mychal, you have your mother’s touch.  Conor, you have the same empathy.  James, you will always be her baby.

I will remember endless cups of coffee she gave me without asking, shared TV shows and movies, taking an 8 hour car ride and never having a lull in the conversation, how making her laugh–really milk out your nose laugh–was like winning the lottery.

The final word needs to go to Mary El.  As anyone who has ever shared a stage with her knows, nobody follows Mary Ellen…

(click on photo to link to video)

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In Defense of Snowflakes

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If you have spent five seconds online recently–and I would wholeheartedly recommend less–you have heard a relatively new insult being bandied about like an emotional hand-grenade: “special snowflake.”
Isn’t that just a wonderful term?  It should slide right into the fifth grade bully’s lexicon, right between “give me your lunch money” and “are you gonna cry now?”
If you don’t understand the nature of the insult…well, aren’t you a special snowflake?  Your life has been so easy, the insulated bubble you inhabit so perfectly filled with your own self-delusion, that you haven’t even had the wherewithal to keep track of real insults out here in the real world.  See how it works?  A “snowflake,” apparently, is someone who thinks they are special.  That the normal rules of the big, bad world (might makes right, an eye for an eye, do it to them before they do it to you, etc.) shouldn’t apply to them.  Snowflakes are fragile, weepy, spoiled, child-like, ignorant, navel-gazing, sniveling, sore losers who are overdue for real life to kick them one in the teeth.  Snowflakes are the kids who got a participation trophy, the dreamers, the losers, the “save the whales,” “make love, not war” weirdos, the slackers, the ones who lacked the courage to take what was theirs.
Like most broad generalizations hurled at people who don’t agree with you, it’s full of crap.
Don’t worry, I am not going to lay out my point by point defense of snowflakes.  If you are someone out there in the cyber cesspool throwing this term around, none of my pontifications are liable to shake your unshakable belief in your own almighty rightness.  That’s fine.  Well, no it’s not fine, in fact it’s fairly horrifying, but my point is I’m not going to try to change your made-up mind.  What I would like to do is look a little more closely at what is lurking behind the snowflake rhetoric.
My first question is this: if you had kids (as many people do), what did you tell them when they were growing up?  That they weren’t special?  Did you tell them they could become whatever they wanted if they worked hard enough, or did you tell them to have realistic expectations about the limits of their talents?  Did you encourage them to dream, or did you tell them dreaming was for the weak?  Honestly, I’m asking.  Because when you call someone a “special snowflake” for believing that a better world than the one we live in is at least possible, you are espousing an incredibly nihilistic, pessimistic point of view.  Of course no one likes to have smoke blown up their ass–I mean, if your kid is 5′ 3″ and can’t jump maybe he or she shouldn’t be encouraged to follow their dreams of NBA stardom–but are hopes for the future really that delusional?  I’m assuming (though maybe I shouldn’t) that notions like equality, justice, fairness, freedom–you know, the notions this country were founded upon–are equally important across political and demographic lines.  If that is so, isn’t calling someone a “special snowflake” while actually intimating that they are NOT special, NOT unique, NOT deserving a voice, about as un-American a thing as you can possibly say?
More to the point: is your motivation just to get people to shut up?  If it is, you can just be honest about it.  Because the actual, realistic outcome of calling someone a snowflake is to immediately end all further rational discussion.  You’ve swung your arms and drawn a big black “X” over the recipient’s mouth.  You’ve made them a cliche.  And I know it makes it easier for you to believe what you believe when you are able to pigeonhole anyone who doesn’t agree with you as weaker, more precious, more fragile, more out-of-touch with reality.  It feels good, I guess, to lash out and release your pent up anger.  OK, mission accomplished, you shut up your “opponent” and ended the debate.  But you didn’t win the argument.  What you did was bully someone.  And let’s not mince words–that was your intention.  Silencing.

It won’t work.  As the venerable Dr. King once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  Pessimism is easy.  It’s easy to say the world is hard and cold and always will be.  That progress is impossible.  Optimism is harder, because optimism means seeing possibilities even in the middle of the darkness.  And being an optimist also leaves you open to all sorts of second-guessing from the sidelines.  You might even be called a snowflake.   But as my friend Lisa recently said, “Go ahead and call me a snowflake.  Enough of those snowflakes get together, that shit becomes a blizzard!”

Tarnished City on a Hill

What the f*** just happened? Whatever way you lean politically, I think we can safely agree that no one—no one—expected this. Even the most staunch Trump supporter didn’t expect him to actual…

Source: Tarnished City on a Hill

Tarnished City on a Hill

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What the f*** just happened?

Whatever way you lean politically, I think we can safely agree that no one—no one—expected this. Even the most staunch Trump supporter didn’t expect him to actually win. They hoped for it, but they couldn’t have known.

So what the f***?

I will attempt to explain to the best of my limited knowledge. My aim is to wrap my arms around this gorilla, not pass judgment. I want to point out the divide in the hope that folks standing on either side of it might hesitantly wave at each other instead of throwing rocks back and forth. The anger is real, I get that, and throwing rocks can feel damn good. But let us take a peek at who we are aiming at.

There are many, many reasons behind why a person casts a vote. Were there true blue bigots who gleefully filled in the bubble next to Trump’s name? Sure. Were there smug liberal elitists voting for Hillary’s inevitable coronation from the safety of their ivory towers? A few. Those voters are not my subject. There are voters who vote primarily for cultural reasons and those whose concern is mostly economical, and those are the ones I’d like to look at.

Back in “the day,” cultural concerns—what a candidate felt personally about social issues, reproductive rights, religious values, civil rights, etc.–were considered secondary. Candidates always had to prove their “integrity,” but it was rarely what got them elected. “What will you do for me?” was the main criteria, not “Do your values match my own?” Enter the old-school, disenfranchised, mostly white, working class voter from the heartland and the rust belt. They have seen their jobs sent overseas. They have seen their worry for their future and security ignored. Many voted for Obama at least once, with the hope that his promised buoy would lift all ships. It didn’t. Their anger is real. Their fear is real. As I heard brilliantly posed on a radio show recently, their fear is not new—many groups in this country have spent generations being marginalized—but it is new to them.

So here comes Bernie talking directly to their concerns. And there he goes, ushered out the door by the media, the DNC, and ultimately tone-deaf Democratic voters. Who will look out for my best interests now? Where do I vent my anger? Which candidate will allow me to keep my job and put food on my table? We know the answer to that now. Not the status-quo candidate who lumped me in with the rest of the “deplorables.” I’m going for the guy who wants to restrict global trade, keep American jobs in America, stop the flood of immigrants I need to compete with, and give me back some damn pride for a change.

Are these voters racist, xenophobic, and reactionary? No. They are mostly white people voting in their own economic self-interests. Cultural concerns about Trump’s hateful rhetoric may have been considered, but in the end what he said on a talk show eleven years ago or his batshit crazy wall-building talk were not the deciding factor. My job, my family, my vote. Self-preservation. A tale as old as time. If you want to know why conservative Christians, some African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and above all female voters could possibly vote for a candidate like Donald Trump, here it is: the rhetoric didn’t matter. Their jobs did.

And was there also a giant middle finger to the celebrities and the millennials and the smug “liberals” who underestimated their anger? Sure, why not. If you couldn’t be bothered to listen to me screaming for eight years, here ya go, suck on this. He probably won’t win no matter what I do anyway. These are the voters now telling Hillary supporters, “Get over it! I had to live through Obama for eight years.” They see the palpable fear of minorities as a gross overreaction. In their hearts they did what any sane person in their situation would do, the simple, pragmatic thing—they used the vote they had to ensure their livelihoods.

So let’s look across the divide at the Hillary supporters. For a voter who values cultural issues—economic justice, civil rights, marriage equality, Black Lives Matter, gun control, et al.—Hillary was never a perfect fit. She was a little too invested in big business and its unending fountain of political funding to be believed as a progressive crusader. The way Bernie was treated by the Democratic establishment left a bad taste. But most of these voters relented when Bernie pushed his chips in with hers, and began to get excited by her shiny, new progressive agenda. Then they looked at her opponent and saw every idealistic dream they had for their country turned utterly on its head. They saw intolerance, misogyny, xenophobia, hatred—the worst, basest underbelly this country has to offer. They saw minorities being punched in the face, the end of religious freedom, women being grabbed and assaulted, spewing, venomous anger toward themselves and their underrepresented friends. And Hillary–uninspiring, hard-working, smart-as-a-whip policy wonk Hillary—didn’t seem like a bad choice after all. In fact, she seemed to be the only sane choice. How could anyone support that man and all he stood for?

And here’s where it gets a little poetic. Culturally, the past decade or so felt like a series of wins. Our first African-American president. Gay marriage. Outrage at the deaths of unarmed Black men. The acknowledgment of violence against women. Online movements for equality and solidarity. It felt like being on the precipice of a new country where inclusion and fairness were valued. And then—the first female President of the United States seemed to be a looming reality. Don’t underestimate the importance of the narrative of improvement and evolution to these folks. It is the reason their hearts are authentically broken today. They are the people who see in this country the possibility of the shining city on a hill. There is no American dream without these people dreaming it into existence.

To them, the election of Donald Trump feels like a repudiation. The back of the hand given to uppity women, minorities, gays, Muslims, Latinos, African-Americans. A punishment. A death. They feel unsafe, now that the thin veneer of acceptable behavior seems to have eroded like the ozone layer, and they worry for the safety of others. They look around them and see Germany in the 1930s. And some will roll their eyes at that. But just like with the unheard, disenfranchised heartlander, the anger and fear are real. And for the non-white, the violence seems frighteningly imminent.

And then there’s the dream deferred. The specter of a demagogue, backed by a Republican Congress and Supreme Court, hurling us back into the cultural dark ages, rolling back all the progress we’ve made, killing the dream of equality and reproductive rights for women, equal educational opportunity, affordable health care, racial healing, LGBTQ rights. To understand the depth of disappointment these voters are experiencing right now, you have to understand the dream they feel slipping away.

So here we are. No claims of “racist voters” are going to change this. No amount of “get over its” are going to make the grieving process easier. There is endless invective on each side, endless reasons to revel in your rightness or curse your oppressor. The rabbit hole has opened up and swallowed us. And we can take the long view, say that this open wound between us will eventually close over and heal. And that is very true. But it doesn’t help us here and now. All that can help us now is empathy. If we can maybe, maybe take a step back and see each other as human beings instead of profile pictures. If we can make simple commitments to try to understand those who disagree with us, even when that disagreement runs far and deep. If we can come to the common conclusion that whatever our political bent, we need to be vigilant in the support of the powerless and unheard among us. It will be hard, maybe the hardest thing the country has done since WWII. Families will turn against each other, fights will erupt, opportunists will use this as an chance to turn us hateful and resentful and violent. I won’t be able to hold my tongue myself, especially in the face of prejudice. Nor should we. If we are who we say we are, Trump and Hillary voters alike, Americans, people with anger and fear and dreams and pragmatism, we will not stand for it. Let that be our common ground: protection. If…

Sister Mercedes and the Temple of Doom FREE June 6, 7 & 8

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My ebook, “Sister Mercedes and the Temple of Doom” will be FREE on Amazon on Friday, June 6th, Saturday, June 7th and Sunday, June 8th!  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C479TN6/

“Sister Mercedes and the Temple of Doom” is a collection of blog posts from this very blog!  From the depiction of the author’s upbringing as a fat, shy Catholic school boy to the vagaries of family life to trying to live hand-to-mouth while on disability, “Sister Mercedes” is a sometimes hysterically funny, sometimes tragic and always human glimpse behind the veil of parenthood, marriage, pop culture and the world in general.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, please spread the word to anyone you think would be interested.  It’s FREE!

Thanks,

Brian

 

Patty Duke Sipped Here

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I have a story to tell my friends.

It’s a show-biz story. A story of perseverance, fortitude and a never-say-die attitude. A story of pluck, determination, ambition! It’s about going out there a simple chorus girl and coming back a star!

Except the star is an end table.

Allow me to explain. Those of you who know me may have received one of the 10,000 or so emails and Facebook posts regarding my play “Echoes of Ireland.” We’ve been on a bit of a Spring tour, performing the show in Newburgh this March, Catskill in May, and coming up in June—Goshen! Get your tickets! While supplies last! Act now! JUST THROW MONEY AT THE PRETTY COLORS!!!

Sorry, I got a little carried away. Anyway, the reason why we’ve been able to pack up the show so easily and visit these fine villages is that we have practically NO set. It’s literally four chairs, or stools, or boxes, or whatever the theater has handy for us to put our butts on. We have costumes—I mean, we’re not completely without theatrical sensibility. And props! We have…well, we have a couple. More than one. The lights get dim and then bright again. OK, it’s a good show, don’t judge a book by its lack of incidental music. Oh, and there’s one table. Little dark cherry deal, ’bout yea tall.

The table belongs to Dana, one of our cast members. She brought it in two days before we opened in Newburgh, and we were very grateful to have it. Not too big that it blocked the audience, nor to small to rest a cup of tea upon (or some grammatically correct version of that notion.) Through the course of the show laundry is folded on it, and a fake cigarette and ashtray rest atop it. Good, hard-working table that keeps its nose clean, does its job and doesn’t kill you to the rest of the cast as soon as your back is turned. A mensch.

We liked it so much that we brought it with us when we went up to Catskill. We could have used other tables, but this one had proven its worth and deserved more consideration than the rest. Again it took its place among the stools and turned in yet another useful, utilitarian, hard-working performance. The show in Catskill was glorious. A wonderful, receptive crowd in a beautiful, brand new theater space. We received–along with our table—a standing ovation. I mention that fact only to adequately set the scene, not because of any prideful vanity about the show and my cast…(it was one of the best days of my LIFE!) There was a pleasant post-show buzz, as the theater owners supplied free shots of Bushmills and some very nice Irish music. We all packed our costumes up and returned home with the pleasurable warmth of a job well done. And some Bushmills.

And without our table.

The theater owners informed us of the missing cast member and we arranged to pick it up the next week when my wife had a doctor appointment in Albany.  However, that was when fate intervened and decided it was the long suffering table’s turn to enjoy the spotlight.  At the last moment, the owners (a charming couple named Steven and John) made arrangements to bring PATTY DUKE to the tiny, insignificant village of Catskill for a “one night only” performance.  Her only demand?  A small table! Where to find one…hey, what about the one left here by those idiot “Echoes” people?

Thus, the table will soon have an IMDb credit.  With Patty Duke. What a world.

I agreed to this on Dana’s behalf, which you may consider forward of me. But I took for granted that she wouldn’t want to deny her table this once-in-a-lifetime experience to star alongside the original Hellen Keller. However, I took pains to insist I was not responsible for any water rings left by Ms. Duke.

The fact of the matter is that the table will soon have a more impressive resume than I do. My closest brush with stardom was when I almost sold furniture to Dianne Wiest. She didn’t buy. Dana’s fear is that when the table finally returns to her it will be so inflated with its own ego that it will refuse to hold her jar of Q-tips anymore. And this, apparently, would be my fault.

I told her every time the table starts talking about “that time I performed opposite Patty Duke,” just start flipping through an IKEA catalog.  Actors need to know just how replaceable they are.

 

Echoes of Ireland at Ritz in Newburgh, NY March 21-23

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Hi Everyone,

My play Echoes of Ireland will be shown the weekend of March 21-23 at the historic Ritz theater in Newburgh, NY.  For my local readers, the show will feature Ron Morehead, Cat Barney and Dana Lockhart.  All the necessary information is below.  If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop in and say hi.

Best,

Brian

A Family Saga Resonates Through Generations

in Brian C. Petti’s

Echoes of Ireland

March 21-23 at the Lobby at the Ritz Theater107 Broadway Newburgh

Fresh from it’s production in County Cork, Ireland!

The sweep of the Irish experience from County Cork to New York City is on display in Echoes of Ireland, a drama about family ties, the immigrant life and the Irish-American experience. Written and directed by Ellenville, NY resident Brian C. Petti,Echoes will hold performances on Friday, March 21 at 7:30, Saturday, March 22 at 7:30pm and Sunday, March 23 at 2pm at the Lobby at the Ritz Theater107 Broadway Newburgh. Echoes of Ireland was recently produced in County Cork by the Skibbereen Theatre Society where it garnered rave reviews such as:

“Powerful …every emotion came to the fore during this story of pride and determination in the face of adversity.” Cllr Karen Coakley, Mayor of Skibbereen, County Cork, Ireland.

Tickets are $15, and may be purchased at www.artful.ly/store/events/2624. There is limited seating, so reservations are strongly suggested. The play is being presented by Safe Harbors of the Hudson and Hatmaker’s Attic Productions, through an agreement with Eldridge Plays & Musicals.

Echoes of Ireland is a series of inter-related monologues that follows the saga of a single Irish family from County Cork in 1860 to 2001 New York City. Beginning five years after the end of the potato famine in Ireland, Echoes follows the Cunyngham clan through their journey across the ocean to the ports of Manhattan, through the lowly existence of immigrant life in the States, to the assimilation and rebirth of their family as American citizens who never forget from whence they came. The journey is part tragedy, part comedy, part history lesson and all undeniably human. 

Show times are:

Friday, March 21 at 7:30

Saturday, March 22 at 7:30pm

Sunday, March 23 at 2pm

Echoes of Ireland features notable local actors Ron Morehead (Cairo, NY), Cat Barney (Kingston, NY) and Dana Lockhart (Middletown, NY). Additional information can be found at: pettiplays.wikispaces.com and http://www.ritztheaternewburgh.org/.

Brian C. Petti has had his plays produced Off-Off Broadway (Masquerade, The Love Song of Sidney J. Stein, Banshee) and regionally (Next Year in Jerusalem, The Measure of a Man, On the Expectation of White Christmases,) by such companies as Ten Grand Productions, The American Theater of Actors, Inc. and The Fresh Fruit Festival. Masquerade was staged at Cherry Lane Theater in NYC and Next Year in Jerusalem was the winner of the Humboldt State University National Play Contest in California, where it received a student production. Published plays include The Measure of a Man by JAC Publishing and Promotions, Banshee by Next Stage Press and Echoes of Ireland by Eldridge Plays & Musicals.

Safe Harbors of the Hudson is a nonprofit organization committed to transforming lives and building communities through housing and the arts in the city of Newburgh, New York. The Cornerstone Residence is a unique facility that offers support services and jobs training on-site provided by Independent Living, an advocacy and service organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for persons with disabilities. The Cornerstone Residence consists of apartments and artist lofts, with a mixed tenancy of single adults, including the formerly homeless, veterans, those living with a mental health diagnosis, artists and other adults in need of affordable housing. The building offers many amenities and programs including a fitness center, library, computer lab, classes and a GED program. Many of these amenities and programs are available to the public. The Cornerstone also houses several multi-use spaces that may be rented for special events of all kinds.

Future projects include the renovation of three commercial spaces and the restoration of the historic Ritz Theater. As the only remaining historic theater in the City of Newburgh, the Ritz will provide a venue for live performances, educational programs for our youth, employment opportunities for our community, and create an active cultural and tourist destination.

Founded by brothers Edward and William Gibbons-Brown, Hatmaker’s Attic Productions is putting the “community” back in community theatre. They’re working to build a positive and safe creative environment where all are welcome.

The play will be produced in cooperation with Eldridge Plays & Musicals. Eldridge, a leading play publisher since 1906, offers hundreds of full-length plays, one-acts, melodramas, holiday and religious plays, children’s theatre plays and musicals of all kinds.