Merchant of Venice Comes to Montclair State’s Peak Performances

BY  |  Tuesday, Sep 19, 2017 9:06am  |  COMMENTS (0)


With five different actors playing the infamous character of Shylock, director Karin Coonrod is excited to bring her Compagnia de Colombari in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice to Peak Performances at Montclair State University’s Alexander Kasser Theatre, opening today (Tuesday, Sept. 19) through Sunday, Oct. 1.

Coonrod brings The Merchant of Venice to Montclair after her company performed it in Venice, Italy last year on the stones of the Jewish Ghetto of Venice to coincide with the 500th anniversary of the ghetto’s founding in conjunction with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

“Now we’re coming into a theatre with all of what we did in the ghetto, but we did not build a set, so our set in the Peak Performances is very very simple,” Coonrod said. “So we’ve really opened up the theatre to show just certain things… for instance we don’t have projections of the ghetto or things like that, so it’s very anti-romantic. I think the play is anti-romantic and so our production is anti-romantic, there’s no piece of romance in it.”

Coonrod describes The Merchant of Venice as a play with an incendiary reputation in which everybody has a dark heart while showing the mendacity of the mainstream culture.

“So the play has a lot of different themes in it and wants to be about love and that sort of thing and in fact it kind of gets derailed from that because everybody has so much self-interest and greed in a way,” Coonrod said.

Coonrod’s interpretation of the play is unique in her decision to have five different actors of different races, nationalities and genders to play Shylock, the Jewish moneylender and the play’s main antagonist.

“I have chosen to have that role played by five actors and they’re five very different actors who each play one of the five scenes and they come together at two moments in the play,” Coonrod said. “One is the sort of pivotal point that unhinges the play in a way and the other is a surprise towards the end.

“First of all the variety gives us a community of Shylock, we see an older black woman, we see an older man from Urugay, we see a Jewish middle-aged man, we see a middle-aged man from India, we see a man from Trinidad,” she said. “The five Shylock’s, the first one is a businessman, the second one is a father, the third one is the mother – a single parent, the fourth one is the widower and the fifth one is the killer, that’s how I’ve divided them up so that you can see all these different aspects of the character.”

The five different Shylock’s in the play can be identified with a gold sash that will be around the actor’s core.

“It is really a joy to see it not interpreted by one person,” Coonrod said. “We need to shake things up and we’re entering into this play in a way that is surprising and will have the most pay off, I think.”

The play will run two hours with no intermission and is free to all Montclair State undergraduates and $20 for all others.
Click here for more information on The Merchant of Venice at Montclair State University’s Peak Performances.

Montclair Woman’s Body Image Journey Chronicled in “Shed the Shame”

BY  |  Thursday, Sep 14, 2017 3:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair’s Junie Moon Schreiber hit a low point about 15 years ago. She was afraid to the leave the house or put on a bathing suit because she felt such self-hatred and self-shame toward her body.

That’s why Schreiber even shocked herself when she agreed to let renowned painter Andy Golub paint her naked body and then turned the experience into a film called “Shed the Shame” for everyone to see.

“(The film) is my journey as a woman, in this culture, hearing the lies about what beauty is and isn’t and getting injured by those messages and how I’ve done a lot of healing of myself and transformation,” Schreiber said. “In this film I share the journey and I get naked and body painted… to get that message out there that healing is possible, we don’t have to hold onto our shame, those messages are lies and women are beautiful in all shapes and sizes.”

Schreiber released her nine-minute mini-documentary on YouTube last year and recently debuted it at the Newark Independent Film Festival on Friday, Sept. 8. Continue Reading

Forget Tiny Houses – Colectivo Workshop Has A Tiny, But Mighty Montclair Mobile Office

BY  |  Friday, Sep 08, 2017 10:15am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Lately, the streets of Montclair have been visited by a big open box truck equipped with desk space, a projector, television, lights, internet access and windows that’s parked in different spots around Montclair throughout the day.

That’s the Colectivo Workshop, designed and owned by local resident Alex Nunez, to be a collective workshop space for any artists to come by and use free of charge.

Nunez uses the truck as his personal office and welcomes anyone to use the space for their freelance projects in a collective setting where the different artists can collaborate amongst each other, trade ideas and network. Continue Reading

Coffee On The Go and More From Mary’s Happy Camper

BY  |  Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (1)

If you find yourself stranded without your caffeine fix, Mary’s Happy Camper is stocked full with hot coffee, iced coffee and Nitro coffee alongside buttered rolls from Nicolo’s Bakery, Del’s lemonade from Rhode Island and organic ice cream choices. And the best part? She can come right to you.

‘I’m a little off the beaten path,” the owner Maryellen Stadtlander said. “I’m serving the people that are dropped off and dashing (to catch their train).”

Mary’s Happy Camper parks along different streets in Montclair where people can grab coffee and treats easily on the go.

But as her business has grown, Stadtlander has even started taking text message requests from offices who ask her to stop by at a certain time so that employees can easily grab some coffee throughout their day.

“I just wanted to create this really nice approachable venue, not just your typical food truck,” she said. “I love talking to people. I’m not in it to get rich, I won’t get rich doing it, but it will help pay my bills and it’s a good life.” Continue Reading

Blaine Voyage: Montclair Family Embarks On Trip Around The World

BY  |  Tuesday, Aug 01, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

For most kids, the deeper it gets into the dog days of summer, the more they dread returning to school at the beginning of September.

But for the children of Montclair’s Sarah and Mike Blaine, September will mark just nine weeks into their year-long “Blaine Voyage” trip around the world.

The Blaine family (Sarah and Mike, married 13 years, and their two girls, Elizabeth, 12, and Julianna, 8) left the comfort of their Montclair home on June 28 and embarked on an extraordinary family adventure.

“One of the things that has made all of this workable in many ways for us is knowing how strongly we’re rooted in our local community, both Montclair generally and our street specifically,” says Sarah Blaine, speaking from their stop in Vermont. “We could leave and know we’re coming back to a warm embrace.”

The Blaines started throwing around the idea of this world trip four years ago and not long after, went public with the idea because “shame is a powerful motivator.”

They began saving up and started fixing up their house about two years ago so they could rent it during their year abroad. Continue Reading

Montclair’s Mikie Sherrill Calls Out Frelinghuysen

BY  |  Thursday, Jul 27, 2017 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair’s Mikie Sherrill, the Democratic challenger against Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen next year, criticized the Congressman after spending $32,000 on lawyers in response to an ethics complaint filed against him in May.

Frelinghuysen hired ethics lawyers after the Campaign for Accountability filed an ethics complaint against him for calling West Caldwell resident and local Lakeland Bank employee, Saily Avelenda, a “ringleader” of NJ 11th for Change in a fundraising letter to her employer. Avelenda ultimately resigned from her job, “at least in part due to ‘the pressure she received over her political involvement,’” the ethics complaint detailed. Continue Reading

Montclair Gets To Know Newest Sister City: Aquilonia, Italy

BY  |  Tuesday, Jul 11, 2017 10:15am

Mayor Robert Jackson and other Montclair Township Council members completed the official signing of Montclair’s newest sister city during their week-long visit to Aquilonia from June 11-20.

Aquilonia became a “sister city” to Montclair on January 24 during a regular council meeting after resident Raffaele Marzullo spearheaded to the effort. The Italian town has tight bonds to the town of Montclair as a large percent of citizens of Italian descent in the town hail not far from Aquilonia.

“It was a wonderful trip, the country is a beautiful country and people are remarkably friendly,” Jackson said. “We got to see a lot of the southern part of Italy and spent time seeing some of the history of the area.”

Continue Reading

Montclair Woman Makes A Difference Displaying Signs With Positive Messages

BY  |  Thursday, Jun 29, 2017 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (16)

A refugee family of a Muslim woman and her two children were finally able to walk along Park Street in Montclair, after seven long years of waiting to come to America.

That’s when the woman saw something that made her stop dead in her tracks and demand Revered David Shaw of the Union Congregational Church take her to meet a complete stranger. There it was, a sign perched on a window sill in front of a house on the corner of Park and Cooper.

It simply read, “We heart Muslims” with an American flag hanging on it.

Inside the house with the sign was Nikki Barnes Atkinson, busy hosting a party for her kids. Atkinson noticed the woman approaching her doorstep.

The woman didn’t speak much English but none of that mattered as Atkinson greeted the woman with a big hug and held her while Rev. Shaw explained that the family arrived in the United States six months ago from Afghanistan by way of Iran and Turkey.

Atkinson described the moment as being extremely emotional and beautiful for her and the children inside her home to witness.

But it was no coincidence.

Atkinson has dubbed herself as “the crazy sign lady” in the neighborhood as she has handmade signs sprawled out across her front lawn that display positive messages such as “Hate has no home here,” “Hate cannot not drive out hate, love can do that” and “Black Lives Matter.” Continue Reading

Montclair High Baseball: A Season of Giving Their All, And Fighting To Win

BY  |  Friday, Jun 16, 2017 10:30am

The Montclair high school baseball team closed out a productive 13-15 season which saw season highlights against tough state-ranked competitors.

“We had a fun year, we really enjoyed competing on a daily basis,” said head coach Ron Gavazzi. 
“The players worked as hard as they could to improve daily and as a coach it was enjoyable to watch them no doubt.”

The Mounties closed out their season just below .500 after edging out Livingston, 6-5, on Saturday, June 3.

Despite trailing, the team displayed the fight it has showed all season long by rallying with a two-run seventh inning to overtake the Lancers.

“I can’t think of a time where there was a moment that we didn’t want to give our all and really fight to win,” junior second baseman Danny Banks said. “Just our hunger to win and to succeed, I want to bring that over into next season.” Continue Reading

Historic Season For Montclair High School Crew

BY  |  Monday, May 22, 2017 2:03pm

It’s been nothing short of a historic season for the Montclair High School crew team.

So much so that team has dubbed its senior captains of Kjel Schlemmer, Juliette Traylor, Patrick King, Lily Kuhn and Emergy Bergman as the most successful captains in Montclair crew history.

But while Schlemmer is happy to be leaving a legacy behind, he hopes that label won’t last long.

“I would not want us to be considered the most successful captains in Montclair history because I only want to see them (getting better),” he said.

After becoming the first public school in 22 years to win both the boys and girls State Cup points trophies and have both teams become state champions, the squad is continuing to pull off upsets in their championship season.

First-ever Stotesbury championship!

The Montclair Senior Boys Eight stunned their competition, ending a five-year winning streak by Gonzaga at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta. The Mounties earned the program’s first-ever Stotesbury championship in the category at the race on the Schuylkill River on Sunday, May 20 Continue Reading

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And we can get this project completed in time for Montclair's sesquicentennial when we can stick a fork into historic preservation as a public policy.

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