Sarah also hosted and moderated the discussion for Elizabeth Gilbert and her reading of her newest book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
After – and still during – an intense writing process, Sarah preformed Sell/Buy/Date for the first time at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in the East Village. She introduced new characters and brought back some familiar faces to talk about the sex trade… coming from a very different perspective than our own. The workshops ran from October 2 to October 18, 2014.
To ring in 2011 with a bang, Sarah returned to her downtown performance roots and did 14 shows at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. These performances included some of the multicultural characters from Bridge & Tunnel, and some characters brand new to the stage. Sarah showcased material in development, improv and did an intimate Q&A with the lovely audience! Sarah also hosted many special guests and had her characters interview them including: Gloria Steinem, Seth Godin, MTV’s Sway, DJ Rekha, Studio 360’s Kurt Andersen, environmentalist Majora Carter, novelist Nathan Englander, actor and activist Rosario Dawson, Def Poet Beau Sia, author Neil Gaiman and DJ Spooky. Check out the videos below. And visit Sarah’s YouTube channel for more clips!
Bridge & Tunnel is Sarah’s Tony® Award-winning solo show, which was originally produced off-Broadway by Oscar-winner Meryl Streep and enjoyed sold-out runs both on Broadway in 2006 and Off-Broadway in 2004. Based on a piece commissioned by the National Immigration Forum and the Ford Foundation, Bridge & Tunnel examines the lives of a diverse group of immigrants from various backgrounds framed by one event: an annual poetry reading.
The idea for the piece was conceived by Sarah and Steve Colman (Tony® winner for Def Poetry Jam On Broadway), her husband and creative collaborator, based on their shared experience as participants in the multicultural performance poetry community. As plans to mount Bridge & Tunnel were developing, human rights organization Equality Now connected Sarah and Meryl Streep when Sarah performed for one of their benefits. Sarah was floored when Streep offered to support Bridge & Tunnel, which she called “one of the best performances I’ve ever seen”. The piece premiered Off-Broadway at The Culture Project and moved to Broadway produced by Boyett Ostar, Eric Falkenstein and Micheal Alden, continuing with much of the creative team which included Tony Taccone of Berkeley Repertory Theater as director and Steve Colman as assistant director. In addition to wide critical claim, Bridge & Tunnel set a one-day record for ticket revenues Off-Broadway and recouped its initial investment on Broadway within eight weeks.
Surface Transit was Sarah’s first off-Broadway solo show, which drew upon the diverse group of people in her family and neighborhood growing up in Queens, and was loosely framed by her Q46 bus commute to school. Sarah wove the stories of a multicultural cast of characters into a cleverly connected narrative filled with unexpected twists that explored community, prejudice, violence, art and activism in late 20th century New York.
Sarah first developed some of her most popular characters in Surface Transit: Ms. Lady, an older, black woman who is homeless; Lorraine Levine, an elderly Jewish grandmother; Rashid, a young black male aspiring rapper who is “addicted to rhyming” and in a recovery program for it; and Keisha Ray, a young independent black woman who is frustrated by the misogyny in music. In Surface Transit, Keisha Ray performs Sarah’s celebrated poem “Your Revolution”, which was banned by the FCC for “indecency”; a ban that was later overturned after Sarah became the first artist in history to sue the FCC for censorship.
Surface Transit enjoyed sold-out runs at venues including the Nuyorican Poets Café in NewYork City where it was developed with director Gloria Feliciano; The American Place Theater where it was presented by Wynn Handman; Performance Space 122; The Kennedy Center’s AFI Theater; the Berkeley Repertory Theater; and The Market Theatre, Johannesburg, South Africa. Surface Transit won a Helen Hayes Award and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.
Women Can’t Wait! is Sarah’s second one-person show. It was commissioned by the human rights group Equality Now and the Ford Foundation, which provided a grant to fund Sarah’s research, writing, and performance of the piece. Women Can’t Wait! premiered at the International “Beijing +5” United Nations Conference on Women’s Rights in June, 2000. The piece exposed laws which discriminate against women around the world. Sarah portrayed eight women from eight different countries, including the United States, and their struggle to turn the personal devastation caused by discriminatory laws into a force for positive change. The experiences of the women and girls from Japan, India, Uruguay, Israel, Jordan, France, Kenya and the United States depicted in the piece were based on numerous real life events and interviews. Following its first performance, Women Can’t Wait! was featured in The New York Times and landed Sarah on the cover of Ms. Magazine.
Sarah continued to perform the piece for audiences across the country and the world including United Nations delegates; in five cities throughout India; in Slovenia; in Mexico; and for the Supreme Court of Nepal in Kathmandu as part of a historic campaign in which Nepali activists and Equality Now partnered to advocate for laws supporting women’s human rights.
In 2005, Sarah premiered A Right to Care, which was commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, alongside keynote speaker President Jimmy Carter at WKKF’s 75th Anniversary Conference. With the goal of addressing issues of ethnic, racial, and economic disparities in health care, Sarah and Kellogg partnered to create an informative show which highlights the multicultural and class dimensions of our national health care crisis. The daughter of two physicians, Sarah approaches the issues in the piece from the standpoint that health care and public health are not only matters of equal access to high quality services for all, but of broader racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic inequities. Sarah currently performs A Right to Care for organizations including universities, schools of public health, philanthropic foundations, grass roots community groups, and conferences around the United States.
Sarah recently returned to her United Nations School roots by becoming the first ever Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF on Violence Against Children. In this capacity, Sarah is currently traveling and performing a piece developed specifically for UNICEF which is based on the recent Secretary General’s report on violence against children. Sarah premiered this original piece in 2007 as UNICEF’s representative before members of Parliament from more than 100 countries gathered in Bali, Indonesia, and will continue to travel internationally, performing the piece to highlight these issues worldwide.
Sarah is in the process of researching and developing a new solo show commissioned by Lincoln Center Theater. Between the Off-Broadway and Broadway runs of Bridge & Tunnel, Sarah was honored to receive the commission to create a new work for the stage. She looks forward to making use of this extraordinary opportunity to collaborate with one of the world’s premiere theater institutions, and expects to complete writing early next year.
In addition to her full-length one-person shows, Sarah is frequently invited to perform specially created versions of her character monologues for various functions and organizations such as community groups, educational and university conferences, corporate retreats, and non-profit benefits. Recent performances have ranged from private events for entertainment companies such as Time Warner and the CBS Corporation to hosting the Gotham Independent Film Awards to appearances for the National Down Syndrome Society, Planned Parenthood, and Sakhi for South Asian Women.