Monday, March 07, 2011

Haps About Town

I've been inspired lately by some awesome happity-haps in this city.  Allow me to introduce you to two of them:

A-#1) Underheard in New York

A group of interns decided to see what would/could happen if homeless people were able to broadcast what life was really like for them on the streets.  So they gave cell phones to 4 homeless men.  Armed with one month of unlimited text messaging, these men have been tweeting their thoughts, feelings, and daily activities to the general public.  And the public has responded - helping these men reunite with family members, gain access to job-search resources, pay off debts, even speak with a personal hero (Steve Smith of the NY Giants).

I love the simplicity of this project.  I think its use of Twitter may have redeemed that site in my mind, because through this social networking medium, these marginalized men have been given a voice.  I love that Underheard in New York is connecting people, and that people are helping one another, and I love that in the short while I've been following the tweets of these 4 men, I've begun to look at all homeless people a little differently.

A-#2) The Spidey Project is also a testament that small projects can have a large reach.

Masterminded by Justin Moran (a fellow improviser), who decided to write and stage a Spiderman musical that would open one day before Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark opens on Broadway.  For those of you who haven't been following along at home, S:TOtD is this season's big-budget Broadway blockbuster, with music by Bono & The Edge.  It's costing around $65 million to produce and has been plagued with technical difficulties and actor injuries.  It's been in previews for months while these issues are ironed out, and is set to open officially on March 15th.

Moran decided to prove that good art didn't need to cost $65 million.  He collaborated with some friends to write the book and lyrics, hired talent willing to work for free, and secured donated rehearsal and theater space. His labor of love (and moxie) has already generated some great press.  He's operating with a budget of $0 (zero! dollars!) and charging $0 for tickets.

The Spidey Project premieres on March 14th.  Everything about this is happening fast: opening night is only 30 days from the day Moran first conceived the idea, and tickets for the 8pm show sold out only 30 seconds after they were made available.  If you're interested and can act fast too - tickets for a 10pm showing on March 14th will be made available at noon today.  Support the (free) arts!

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