IceHouse Tonight celebrates National Poetry Month Tuesday night

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IceHouse Tonight

Developed as a model sustainable arts venue, IceHouse Tonight is a cultural
initiative
designed to serve and share the arts of the local culture.
It is a vehicle for creative
place-making, focusing on works
created by local and regional artists.

Poetry Showcase – National Poetry Month
Tuesday, April 27, 7PM

To celebrate National Poetry Month, Live from IceHouse Tonight presents 6 outstanding local poets in an online event. Each poet will read a 10 minute set. Event produced by the Crowded Kitchen Players.

Suggested donation for the show: $5
Paypal: elynnalexander@gmail.com
Venmo: Lynn Alexander @Elynnarts

Poets include:

Lynn Alexander – E. Lynn Alexander is a poet, artist, and founder/organizer of Lehigh Valley Poetry which is a collaborative group meant to expand opportunities through events, workshops, and shared resources. Currently, this involves virtual programs such as open mics. www.elynnalexander.com
www.Lehighvalleypoetry.org

Kristina Haynes – Kristina Haynes is a poet living in Bethlehem, PA and is a co-founder of Basement Poetry. Her second collection of poems, Chloe, is available for purchase on wordsdancepublishing.com.

Ann E. Michael – Ann E. Michael currently directs the writing center at DeSales University. Her most recent collection of poems is Barefoot Girls; her next book, The Red Queen Hypothesis, is slated for publication by Salmon Poetry sometime in 2021. More info at www.annemichael.wordpress.com

Danielle Notaro – An OG writer/actor of the Lehigh Valley, Danielle has also studied, taught and read in New England and Mid-Atlantic States. She’s published in several magazines and journals. Her book, Limn the Mask, was self-published in 2013. In 2019, she released a CD of pieces from her book w/improv music, Limn the Chord. She won Outstanding Spoken Word Artist from the Lehigh Valley Music Awards in 2018. To buy book: https://www.amazon.com/Limn-Mask-Danielle…/dp/1484075668. To buy CD: https://daniellenotaro.bandcamp.com/album/limn-the-chord

Roy Smith – Roy Word Smith lives in Bucks county Pa and has been writing for about thirty years. He is currently working on another novel and writes poetry as well. Roy has been published in Live At Karlas – 13 New Hope Poets and Phantom Billstickers Cafe Reader out of New Zealand. He has also been published in Apiary and Bucks county writers magazine as well as several others such as River Heron Review. He was the MC of New Hope Beat Poets Society for eight years.

Matt Wolf – A poet and mindfulness instructor, Matt has also organized over 50 poetry-related events since 2014. Matt was named the Outstanding Spoken Word Artist by the Lehigh Valley Music Awards in 2019. You can purchase his book of poetry and photography, A Journey, at www.bapl.org/bapl-books/

The show will be streamed on the IceHouse Tonight Facebook page and the IceHouse Tonight Youtube channel.

Live from IceHouse Tonight delivers local arts to your living room. Presenting a diverse selection of virtual performances, the series is part of the larger IceHouse Tonight series, which features over 100 events each year. The series is proudly sponsored by Fig Bethlehem magazine

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Touchstone imagines America

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Touchstone Theatre

“An Imagined America”

April 9 and 10

see the program here

selections from Kathy Lauer-Williams, “Curtain Rises: Touchstone reimagines ‘America’.” Bethlehem Press, April 2, 2021.

Touchstone Theatre of Bethlehem is introducing an experimental performance that combines a drag show and art installation and will be presented in person, but socially-distanced.

“An Imagined America” will be presented between 5 and 9:30 p.m. April 9 and 1 and 9:30 p.m. April 10, Fine Art Galleries, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Allentown Arts Walk, 21 N. Seventh St., Allentown.

The performance is created by Adam Ercolani of Bethlehem. Ercolani is an apprentice at Touchstone Theatre and a 2021 candidate for a master’s degree in Moravian College’s MFA program. The play was written as part of Ercolani’s thesis.

The performance takes place over 45 minutes with just five guests allowed in the gallery at a time.

According to Ercolani, the show is “bringing history to life through a re-imagination of what America is, was, and can or may be.”

The show features performances by two regionally-known drag queens, Majestee Crowne Le’Vixenn of Reading and Rogue-Star Givenchy of Allentown.

“From the get-go, I knew I wanted this project to focus on the medium of drag performance since it provides a unique way to recontextualize the historical moments we’re looking at,” Ercolani says.

“Drag performers are notorious for their ability to capture a room and really kill it with what they’re bringing to the table,” says Ercolani.

The show is a performance piece and an art installation that is a study of human bias and behavior, says Ercolani.

“It’s a dissection of American identity: the good, the bad and the ugly,” Ercolani says. “Audiences and actors alike will be left asking themselves what exactly America is and what they want America to be.”

Ercolani envisions “An Imagined America” engaging Lehigh Valley audiences in a new way, and providing them with a new lens with which to view society.

He hopes the piece will help the community “understand the challenges those unlike them face, and perceive ways in which they feed into the system of which they are inherently a part.”

Tickets for “An Imagined America” are limited and there will be staggered entrance times for only five patrons at a time. Attendees are asked to arrive 15 minutes before their slotted entrance time. Masks are required. Part of the performance will take place in the gallery and part of it will take place just outside the gallery. In the event of rain, the full event will take place indoors. Tickets are free with donations accepted.

Tickets: www.touchstone.org, 610-867-1689

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New additions to the Arts Trail!

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Urban Arts Trail

Two new murals will be unveiled on the Southside next Friday, First Friday April 2.

Click here for more info about the works, the artists, and where the murals will be located.

“Rebuilding & Remembering”
By: Devyn Briggs
“The piece celebrates the families that have joined our community after Hurricane Maria. It is also about growing up in two cultures, and the strength that comes from being rooted in family, community, and culture,”
————
“Diversity”
By: Maltas Con Leche
“This image brings to life (with respect to) the SouthSide community, culture and spirit. We wanted to show diversity, and what we have in common. In the Valley – that’s food and our scenery.”

Climate change author gives keynote at book festival in which BAPL partners

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224 Main St., Emmaus

Schedule of Events 

Participating Authors

Frequently Asked Questions

About Us

Follow the Facebook Page and help spread the word! 

Gadfly is especially interested in the keynote address:

 Let’s Play Books Bookstore, in partnership with the Bethlehem Area Public Library, is proud to present, the Inaugural Lehigh Valley Book Festival, to be held annually, the last weekend in March, commencing in 2020.

St. Paddy’s Day at the IceHouse!

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IceHouse Tonight

Developed as a model sustainable arts venue, IceHouse Tonight is a cultural
initiative
designed to serve and share the arts of the local culture.
It is a vehicle for creative
place-making, focusing on works
created by local and regional artists.

Celtic music on St. Patrick’s day . . . perfect. Tune in, we’ll be streaming.

Live from IceHouse Tonight – St. Patrick’s Day Edition – 7:00-8:00

Poor Man’s Gambit is a trio of traditional artists comprised of Corey Purcell (button accordion, cittern, vocals, bodhran, dance), Federico Betti (guitar, fiddle), and Deirdre Lockman (fiddle, vocals, dance). Initially formed in 2015, the band has performed hundreds of shows around the U.S., and has completed two tours of the UK and Ireland.

The show will be streamed on the IceHouse Tonight Facebook page and the IceHouse Tonight Youtube channel.

Live from IceHouse Tonight delivers local arts to your living room. Presenting a diverse selection of virtual performances, the series is part of the larger IceHouse Tonight series, which features over 100 events each year.

The series is proudly sponsored by Fig Bethlehem magazine.

IceHouse Tonight

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Jazz at the IceHouse!

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IceHouse Tonight

Developed as a model sustainable arts venue, IceHouse Tonight is a cultural
initiative
designed to serve and share the arts of the local culture.
It is a vehicle for creative
place-making, focusing on works
created by local and regional artists.

Bassist Nicholas Krolak is a young veteran of the Philadelphia jazz scene. He has spent the last decade working as a side-man, experiencing new styles, and studying with the masters. Now, he has taken all he has learned and is applying it to his own group. Tracing the lineage of bebop into the contemporary, his compositions celebrate the city and honor nature.

Najwa Parkins is a Philadelphia-based vocalist, songwriter/composer, arranger, bandleader, and educator. Her voice has often been described as smooth, smoky, and soulful— with a profound range of emotion. Najwa has been praised for her compositions, which are both lyrically and musically engaging.

Suggested Donation – $5

The show will be streamed on the IceHouse Tonight Facebook page and the IceHouse Tonight Youtube channel.

Live from IceHouse Tonight delivers local arts to your living room. Presenting a diverse selection of virtual performances, the series is part of the larger IceHouse Tonight series, which features over 100 events each year.

The series is proudly sponsored by Fig Bethlehem magazine.

IceHouse Tonight

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What’s this from Touchstone? Epistolary theater?! You gotta try it

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Touchstone Theatre

Thank you for your interest in Letters from Far! After selling out last week, we can now accommodate a limited amount of additional guests. Registration ends at noon on 2/10 or when tickets run out; order ASAP to avoid disappointment.

WHAT TO EXPECT
You will receive four packages in the mail between February 15 – March 15
Please make sure to include a current, accurate US mailing address with your order
Recommended for pre-teens and older; no profanity or explicit content but some mature themes

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Catherine McCafferty tells a story of The Steel

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Catherine McCafferty, TUG! Bethlehem: BAPL Books, 2020

Here’s Catherine:

The most important aspect of writing TUG! was voice. The idea for a children’s book about Bethlehem Steel came from Josh Berk, who is the director of the Bethlehem Area Public Library and publisher of BAPL Books. He suggested a “Storytime with a Steelworker” as part of the Last Cast celebration in November 2020. Knowing that TUG! would be read by a steelworker (Lester Clore) and knowing that TUG, the tow tractor, effectively was a steelworker, I wanted to be sure that his voice reflected his experience. I also had a built-in advantage on this front. As a children’s librarian who’s done many storytimes, I’ve developed a good sense of what works as a read-aloud. Beyond TUG’s voice, I used repetition and the call of his name (“TUG!”) to draw readers into the story.

I’m glad to say that the writing came pretty easily for this book. That isn’t always the case, so I’m always grateful when it happens. Mike Piersa, historian at the National Museum of Industrial Museum, originated the terrific concept of TUG as a character. When I thought about the book, the first thing I heard in my mind was that shout of “TUG!” Everything fell into place after that. For this book, I did a lot of pre-writing: working out in my mind the tone, dialogue, and pace for the story. Piece by piece, the book followed TUG’s story and, by extension, the story of Bethlehem Steel. Mike helped me fill out the heart of the story with factual background, and Josh served as the editor. I was very pleased that from the first draft to the printed version not a lot was changed.

I was also honored to be part of a book that celebrated the local history of Bethlehem Steel for kids. I grew up in Bethlehem at a time when “The Steel” dominated the city. Even now, as people pick up the book at the library, almost every one mentions a family member or friend who worked there. At the distanced/outdoors book signing in December, a steelworker who had driven TUG at The Steel had a chance to sit in the driver’s seat again. And 93-year-old Rudy Garcia, who worked at Bethlehem Steel for 48 years, connected with both me and Mike Piersa at the event. It’s really gratifying to see TUG!—the book and the tractor —connecting the generations.

———–

from Catherine McCafferty, TUG! Bethlehem: BAPL Books, 2020:

TUG!

That’s what they call me.

And let me tell you, over the years, they called me A LOT.

First time I heard my name, I was a shiny-paint new Tow Tractor weighin’ 16,000 pounds.

“TUG!” they said, in voices that meant, “Comin’ through! This bruiser’s strong enough to push back planes!”

But I wasn’t headin’ to any airport. I left the peachy state of Georgia for a place that was paint-blisterin’ hot and bolt-rustin’ damp, all at the same time.

And BIG! This place had its own railroad! The Philadelphia, Bethlehem, and New England Railroad, they called it.

They put a coupler on me, so I could work the rails where they went into the buildings. That’s right. This place was so big, it had trains runnin’ INSIDE. With my help.

TUG! That’s what I did, hauling train cars past signs that said Bethlehem Steel.

———-

Catherine McCafferty grew up in Bethlehem when Bethlehem Steel was in its heyday. By the time she left for college in Pittsburgh, the industry was declining in both cities. School and work took her onward to the Boston area and Southern California. Not long after she resettled in Bethlehem, Touchstone Theatre marked the loss of Bethlehem Steel with its 1999 production of SteelboundThe “stage” for this Bethlehem Steel version of Prometheus Bound was the abandoned iron foundry, and Catherine can still remember her awe at the scale of the production: it opened with a limousine driving into the foundry and starred Touchstone co-founder Bill George as a steelworker telling his story while chained to a 24-ton ladle. In addition to her work as a writer and editor, Catherine has guided tours at Historic Bethlehem and taught at Northampton Community College. She is now happily surrounded by books at the Bethlehem Area Public Library, where she works as a children’s librarian.

Copies of TUG! are available from BAPL Books.

While ordering TUG!, consider also the BAPL books by Bob Cohen (see here and here) and Matt Wolf (see here).

———–

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The virus speaks

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Since I am
I must be
be that what nature has bequeathed upon me
a role not of my choice
but one I am destined to fulfill
for my existence demands you as host
a kindness demanding your demise
and as you know my nature
you plan my demise
and I must be vigilant
to preserve who I am
for me to preserve my nature
such is the way of life
each to be what I am
my role is my destiny

I am referring to the common virus. I have for the moment assigned it our traits. As a dog cannot meow and a cat cannot bark, they are restricted by their nature to act like dogs and cats. So all forms of living beings suffer by that restriction, except we humans who exist as nature’s highest form and as such have privileges such as living outside of our nature. A virus, being a low form, but what if a virus could communicate and be free to tell us that it does not enjoy what is forced upon it but must live within its nature? Have we, as humans, lived within the best which our nature can allow? Is a lower form living within its nature evil by our definition if it wishes only to live to survive? The universe does not need us or really care whether or not we exist. Our egos demand it. We are simply part of a process. How has free will, that special gift relegated to just the highest biological form, served man?

Stephen Antalics

Starts Sunday! Christmas with Touchstone!

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Touchstone Theatre

Christmas City Follies XXI

Directed by: Jp Jordan

Performed by: the Touchstone Ensemble and friends


Premiering via YouTube watch party December 20 @7p
and available through January 2, 2021


Touchstone Theatre’s high-spirited, homegrown sendup of the Christmas season in the Christmas City goes online for 2020! For the last 20 years Christmas City Follies has been singing, dancing, laughing, and cartwheeling its way into the hearts of its audiences. This year, a streamed video edition of Follies – starring Touchstone favorites like the Old Guy, Little Red, the Better Not Shout Network, and the Shopping Cart Ballet, as well as a host of new material – will premiere on December 20th at 7p via a YouTube watch party and be available to watch, as many times as you want, in the comfort of your home through January 2nd.

TICKETS

Prices
$5/Reduced ticket**
$12/Individual
$35/Household

**Touchstone typically offers a Pay-What-You-Will ticket at the door and instead will offer a reduced $5 ticket this year.

This is a little confusing and different! We know, so much is this year. Basically, choose your adventure. Two people in your household? You could buy two Individual tickets or, if you want to support more, buy a Household ticket. Struggling this year? Get the Reduced ticket. We kindly ask people to refrain from sharing the link with folks who haven’t purchased. The best way to show your appreciation and keep Follies coming another year is by purchasing tickets.

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“Touchstone Theatre is a Bethlehem Treasure”

“I will continue . . . speaking out against a system that is not applied equally to all”

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

Kimberly Schwartz is a student studying Sociology & Anthropology at Moravian College. She is passionate about criminal justice reform, equal rights, feminism, and climate change. This piece was originally written for a course at Moravian titled Writing as Activism, taught by Dr. Joyce Hinnefeld, in which students are encouraged to consider topics such as mass incarceration, migration, and how to change the world through writing.

What I Know, Right Now, About Incarceration in The United States:
A History of Learning Through Experiences and Exposure

part 10

An article published by The Marshall Project in July of this year includes data on different states’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and its potentially catastrophic effect on the country’s incarcerated population. The article notes that the prison population has dropped 8% since the beginning of the pandemic, but that this seems to be a result of prisons refusing transfers from local jails, parole officers refraining from sending parolees to jail for violations, and court closures, not because of policies put into effect in order to release the most vulnerable members of the country’s incarcerated population such as the sick and elderly (Sharma, Li, Lavoie, & Lauer, 2020).

I am now 25 years old and have known and loved countless people involved in the legal system. I have witnessed discrimination and injustices committed against friends and acquaintances in the name of the law. I have learned that incarceration is often used to punish people simply for being poor, black, or mentally ill. I have seen that this continues even in the midst of a global pandemic, when citizens are being encouraged to wear masks and stand 6 feet apart while incarcerated people are unable to do the same. I believe society can do better. I believe that mental illness, addiction, homelessness, and poverty should not be indicators that an individual deserves to have his or her freedom taken away. I will continue to learn and teach others about alternatives to the United States’ current criminal justice system, such as the prison abolition movement, while speaking out against a system that is not applied equally to all.

tenth and final part in a series

“I know jail is likely the worst place for a person like him to be”

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

Kimberly Schwartz is a student studying Sociology & Anthropology at Moravian College. She is passionate about criminal justice reform, equal rights, feminism, and climate change. This piece was originally written for a course at Moravian titled Writing as Activism, taught by Dr. Joyce Hinnefeld, in which students are encouraged to consider topics such as mass incarceration, migration, and how to change the world through writing.

What I Know, Right Now, About Incarceration in The United States:
A History of Learning Through Experiences and Exposure

part 9

I am still 24 years old, and I recently admitted myself to a behavioral hospital in Philadelphia to cope with major trauma and changes in my life. Today, a new patient arrives in my unit. His name is Kai, he is an alcoholic, and he has been homeless for eleven years. Kai is extremely talkative and immediately opens up to several of the other patients. I learn that, before the outbreak of COVID-19, he was living in an extended stay hotel instead of on the streets. When the pandemic began to worsen, the hotel kicked him out, and he lost the construction job which had been paying him under the table. He used the remainder of his money to buy alcohol, and he spent his nights sleeping on benches in southside Bethlehem. He received three public drunkenness charges in the span of two weeks and was facing jail time and fines he had no way of paying when he decided he no longer wanted to live. He borrowed a gun from a friend and contemplated pulling the trigger. Instead, he walked to the local hospital and told the ER staff that he was thinking of killing himself.

After being released from the hospital, I kept in touch with Kai for about a week. I knew he was still facing charges, and he told me he wasn’t sure what was going to happen to him. It has now been two and a half months since I last heard from him. I do not know if he is staying at another hotel or shelter, living on the streets, incarcerated, or if he is even alive. I know Kai has multiple mental illnesses including substance abuse, and I know jail is likely the worst place for a person like him to be. As far as I can tell, he is not a danger to anyone but himself.

ninth part in a series . . .

Fund the funky on “Giving Tuesday”!

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“it’s a cool and eclectic and kind of funky place. So keep South Bethlehem funky.”
Kim Carrell-Smith

Southside Arts District Public Art project

PLEASE  DONATE HERE

“To me, I love the eclectic, diverse, family that we are in the South Side. It is the kiddos from Broughal practicing on their field, it is the Lehigh student sitting in the UC front lawn, it is the incredible skate park and both the kids and adults practicing some gnarly moves, it is the Roger Hudaks, Marianne Napravniks, Winston Alozies that are the heart and soul of our community. To me it’s the local businesses that consistently show up and give to our community and work tirelessly to make our community the best it could possibly be . . . it is our local non-profit leaders that continue to fight the good fight and meet our community needs. Southside is resilient. And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Carolina Hernandez

PLEASE  DONATE HERE

“Nearly 383,000 people suffering from serious mental illness were incarcerated in 2014”

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

Kimberly Schwartz is a student studying Sociology & Anthropology at Moravian College. She is passionate about criminal justice reform, equal rights, feminism, and climate change. This piece was originally written for a course at Moravian titled Writing as Activism, taught by Dr. Joyce Hinnefeld, in which students are encouraged to consider topics such as mass incarceration, migration, and how to change the world through writing.

What I Know, Right Now, About Incarceration in The United States:
A History of Learning Through Experiences and Exposure

part 8

According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, nearly 383,000 people suffering from serious mental illness were incarcerated in 2014 (Treatment Advocacy Center, 2016). 

I am 24 years old, and the world has just begun to change in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am following the news and have recently heard that Pennsylvania will consider releasing non-violent offenders from local jails and postponing trials in order to combat the spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons. My boyfriend receives a call from his father, who tells him that his younger brother has just been detained on a warrant because he was not paying legal fines from a vandalism charge he acquired two years ago. His brother spends 5 days in jail because many courts are closed and legal processes are moving more slowly than usual. Once released, his job forces him to quarantine for two weeks. This job does not pay him for the days he is unable to work, and he is now in even further debt with less money to pay his fines.

eighth part in a series . . .

On “Giving Tuesday” support public art on the Southside

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“it’s a cool and eclectic and kind of funky place. So keep South Bethlehem funky.”
Kim Carrell-Smith

Southside Arts District Public Art project

PLEASE  DONATE HERE

Each year we work tirelessly to create opportunities for local artists to transform the streetscape of South Bethlehem into their canvas. Over the last three years the Southside Arts District has completed the following projects:

  • artistic designed flowerpots
  • downtown murals
  • Greenway ArtsWalk
  • artistic designed bike racks
  • public piano

 

 

PLEASE  DONATE HERE

 

 

 

 

“I am sure this experience had no positive effect on his alcoholism or mental illness”

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

Kimberly Schwartz is a student studying Sociology & Anthropology at Moravian College. She is passionate about criminal justice reform, equal rights, feminism, and climate change. This piece was originally written for a course at Moravian titled Writing as Activism, taught by Dr. Joyce Hinnefeld, in which students are encouraged to consider topics such as mass incarceration, migration, and how to change the world through writing.

What I Know, Right Now, About Incarceration in The United States:
A History of Learning Through Experiences and Exposure

part 7

Nandini Sikand’s documentary INSIDE/OUTSIDE is especially eye-opening in the way it portrays the effect incarceration has not only on the person incarcerated but also on that person’s children. A particularly poignant scene shows one formerly incarcerated woman’s teenage son struggling not to cry when describing the time he spent away from his mother while she was incarcerated (Sikand, 2019).

I am 23 years old and working at a local gas station while attending community college. A local homeless man is outside panhandling for the third time this month. I go outside and ask him to leave, a request he normally listens to. Today, however, he responds belligerently, suggesting I call the police if I really want him to leave. I tell him I will, hoping I won’t actually have to. Ten minutes pass and several customers have come inside to complain. I call the non-emergency police number and report that a man I had asked to leave is refusing to do so. I make sure to include that he is not violent and likely mentally ill. The dispatcher informs me that an officer will arrive shortly. Another ten minutes pass and two police vehicles approach the homeless man, who is standing in the parking lot and smoking a cigarette. The officers immediately handcuff him, pushing him up against the wall and patting him down. The man remains in cuffs for nearly an hour before an officer comes inside to question me. I tell him the situation, and he takes down my information. They finally release the homeless man, who scurries away as fast as he can. I am told that I will be called as a witness and that he was charged with criminal trespassing. I never see the homeless man again (my witness testimony was apparently not needed), but I am sure this experience had no positive effect on his alcoholism or mental illness.

seventh part in a series . . .

“58% of the average daily jail population is either in custody for a parole or probation violation or a new charge”

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

Kimberly Schwartz is a student studying Sociology & Anthropology at Moravian College. She is passionate about criminal justice reform, equal rights, feminism, and climate change. This piece was originally written for a course at Moravian titled Writing as Activism, taught by Dr. Joyce Hinnefeld, in which students are encouraged to consider topics such as mass incarceration, migration, and how to change the world through writing.

What I Know, Right Now, About Incarceration in The United States:
A History of Learning Through Experiences and Exposure

part 6

Though there is a shortage of data needed to definitively state the percentage of the jail and prison population who are incarcerated because of some form of probation or parole violation, a 2020 article published by the Prison Policy Initiative explains that the data that is available suggests that they make up a significant percentage of the incarcerated population. For example, in Philadelphia County 58% of the average daily jail population is either in custody for a parole or probation violation or a new charge while also on parole or probation (Sawyer, Jones, & Troilo, 2020).

Six months after my experience at court, I am visiting Derek in jail. I sit on the other side of a glass screen and watch as guards lead my friend to the bench on the other side. His once full head of hair is shaved, he has acquired several DIY tattoos, and he is somehow even scrawnier than I remember. There are dark circles under his eyes and when he smiles at me, I notice two of his teeth are beginning to rot. We talk about his two sons, both of whom are under three years old. I ask if his girlfriend has brought them in to visit. He shakes his head and fights back tears as he explains he doesn’t want his family to see him this way. In another six months, Derek is released. He is unable to keep a job and quickly turns to hard drugs like methamphetamine and heroin. He has another son with his girlfriend and, soon after, they break up. He takes his eldest son to Florida, where his mother lives, and gets sober. He no longer sees his younger sons, but he has a job and is finally able to pay off the remainder of his legal fees. I often wonder if his family would still be together if he had not been forced to spend a year away from them.

sixth part in a series . . .

“He is now legally allowed to carry the same amount of marijuana he received a felony for years ago”

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

Kimberly Schwartz is a student studying Sociology & Anthropology at Moravian College. She is passionate about criminal justice reform, equal rights, feminism, and climate change. This piece was originally written for a course at Moravian titled Writing as Activism, taught by Dr. Joyce Hinnefeld, in which students are encouraged to consider topics such as mass incarceration, migration, and how to  change the world through writing.

What I Know, Right Now, About Incarceration in The United States:
A History of Learning Through Experiences and Exposure

part 5

Earlier this year, my now ex-boyfriend applied for and received his medical marijuana card. He is now legally allowed to carry the same amount of marijuana he received a felony for years ago on his person or in his vehicle.

I am 21 years old, and I’m sitting outside of a courtroom, awaiting a preliminary hearing in which I am meant to act as a witness for the defense. The man on trial is a friend of mine, Derek. He is charged with aggravated assault after a drunken fight between him and another friend ended in a stabbing. He has spent the last several months awaiting trial in Northampton County Jail after being unable to post bail. He is facing a felony charge which could result in up to 10 years in state prison, and he is prepared to take a plea deal. Before the hearing starts, the prosecutor pulls aside our other friend, the one who was stabbed. She asks him if he remembers who started the fight. Every person in the courtroom hears him answer, “I don’t remember, it might have been me, I was drunk.” The prosecutor promptly drops all charges, and the court is dismissed as soon as the trial begins. Derek is no longer facing charges, but he remains in jail for the next year. This occurs because his involvement in the fight is considered a violation of his probation, which he was given after being charged with simple possession of marijuana.

fifth part in a series . . .

“I am hopeful that this might be a turning point in the United States”

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

Kimberly Schwartz is a student studying Sociology & Anthropology at Moravian College. She is passionate about criminal justice reform, equal rights, feminism, and climate change. This piece was originally written for a course at Moravian titled Writing as Activism, taught by Dr. Joyce Hinnefeld, in which students are encouraged to consider topics such as mass incarceration, migration, and how to  change the world through writing.

What I Know, Right Now, About Incarceration in The United States:
A History of Learning Through Experiences and Exposure

part 3

According to the most recent data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Statistical Briefing Book, 41% of juveniles in correctional facilities are black (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2017).

It is the summer of 2014, and I have just turned 19 years old. Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was around my age, was recently shot to death by a police officer in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, and protests are being met with a militarized police force. I am watching the chaos unfold on the TV at my father’s house. I am disgusted and appalled, and I can’t help remembering the way my friend Trevor was treated by an officer all those years ago. I am hopeful that this might be a turning point in the United States. That society might awaken to systemic racism and police brutality. This is the summer I begin to conduct my own research regarding mass incarceration and the racial and ethnic disparities present in the criminal justice system. In this moment, I am determined to do what I can to educate myself and help expose others to the oppression and violence people of a different skin color and from different socioeconomic backgrounds face at the hands of law enforcement and the larger criminal justice system. I am still ignorant and naive. I have much more to learn.

third part in a series . . .

“Instead of driving me to the police station, the officer opts to call an ambulance”

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

Kimberly Schwartz is a student studying Sociology & Anthropology at Moravian College. She is passionate about criminal justice reform, equal rights, feminism, and climate change. This piece was originally written for a course at Moravian titled Writing as Activism, taught by Dr. Joyce Hinnefeld, in which students are encouraged to consider topics such as mass incarceration, migration, and how to  change the world through writing.

What I Know, Right Now, About Incarceration in The United States:
A History of Learning Through Experiences and Exposure

part 2

Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary 13th provides important historical context and contemporary commentary on the use of mass incarceration as a new form of slavery, segregation, and discrimination used against people of color in the United States (DuVernay, 2016). According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Black Americans make up 40% of the nation’s prison population (Sawyer & Wagner, 2020).

I am 15 years old, and in the midst of my rebellious phase. I bought marijuana for the first time at school earlier in the day and was smoking behind the church in town with some people I had just met. I begin to feel odd, my heart racing and my vision blurring. The group I am with announces they are going back to the concert we had been attending earlier in the night. I attempt to follow them across the street but suddenly I am frozen in fear. I cannot cross and can no longer move my feet. The group leaves me behind, and a police cruiser stops in front of me. The officer exits his vehicle and begins to question me. I cannot understand what he is saying, and I recite my mother’s phone number over and over again. He pats me down and finds paraphernalia and a bag with marijuana in my purse. I am handcuffed and led into the back of the cruiser. Instead of driving me to the police station, the officer opts to call an ambulance. I spend the night in a hospital room with the understanding that I’ll have to face legal consequences eventually. The next day, my father drives me to the station. I meet with the police chief, a woman who ran the DARE program when I was in elementary school, and she informs me that I will be enrolled in the Impact Program which is offered to co-operative minors charged with misdemeanor offenses. Pending the successful completion of this program, all charges will be dropped against me and I will face no further legal consequences.

In the decade since this incident, I have met countless people charged with similar offenses as juveniles. Not one of them had even heard of the Impact Program, and many faced crippling legal consequences which directly affected their ability to successfully graduate from high school and pursue higher education. A few had even spent time in juvenile detention for less serious offenses than those I faced. The main difference between these people and me? They were not raised in the suburbs and most of them were not white.

second part in a series . . .

“I wonder, for the first time, if the police really do exist to protect everyone”

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

Kimberly Schwartz is a student studying Sociology & Anthropology at Moravian College. She is passionate about criminal justice reform, equal rights, feminism, and climate change. This piece was originally written for a course at Moravian titled Writing as Activism, taught by Dr. Joyce Hinnefeld, in which students are encouraged to consider topics such as mass incarceration, migration, and how to  change the world through writing.

What I Know, Right Now, About Incarceration in The United States:
A History of Learning Through Experiences and Exposure

I am 12 years old, and my aunt Edith is telling me the story of how she was arrested for smuggling drugs from Jamaica into the United States. She explains that her husband at the time was a citizen of Jamaica who helped run an illegal marijuana smuggling operation and that, as his white and American wife, her job was to discreetly move packages across the border. She tells me that she spent a significant amount of time incarcerated in a women’s federal prison, but she does not go into detail about her experiences there, only telling me that she met a lot of good people. The detached manner of speaking she adopts while recounting some of her experience tells me not to ask any further questions. Several years later, when I arrive home from school high, my aunt returns the favor with a knowing look. She asks me no questions and leaves me to scavenge for snacks in the pantry before my father comes home.

I now know from my Crime, Law, and Justice course that the majority of convicted inmates in federal prisons and jails are inside because of drug charges (Sawyer & Wagner, 2020).

I am 13 years old and attending the neighboring high school’s Friday night football game with my twin sister and our friend Caitlin. We meet up with a few older guys and walk over to the neighboring Burger King after the game for some food. While there, a group of white kids begin picking on one of our friends, Trevor, who happens to be the only black kid in the group. The incident results in a tussle, and someone claims another group is on their way with guns. We immediately leave the scene and wait for our ride home, with Trevor accompanying us. We are all on edge, believing there is a group of people with guns on their way. As we huddle together in the emptying parking lot, a police officer slows to a stop in front of us. He gets out of his vehicle and begins to question Trevor. He asks him what he is doing with three young (white) girls and who we are waiting for. We chime in, informing the police officer that we are waiting for Caitlin’s mother to pick us up and that Trevor is merely waiting with us because we heard there were people with guns in the area. The police officer smirks, turns back to Trevor, and asks if he needs to check him for weapons. We look at the officer in confusion, and Trevor stares straight ahead defiantly, uttering a “no sir,” his voice barely above a whisper. At this moment, our ride pulls up, and Caitlin’s mother asks the officer what the problem is. He tells her that he was simply checking up on us and wishes us all a good night. Caitlin’s mother asks Trevor if he is okay and offers him a ride home. We spend the entire car ride home in silence, and I wonder, for the first time, if the police really do exist to protect everyone.

first part in a series . . .

Touchstone Theatre’s Christmas City Follies

Latest in a series of posts on the Arts in Bethlehem

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS

Christmas City Follies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2020
Contact: Lisa Jordan
610-349-8583
lisa@touchstone.org

21st Edition of Christmas City Follies Goes Online

Touchstone Theatre’s quirky holiday classic comes to YouTube

BETHLEHEM, PA – Touchstone Theatre announces Christmas City Follies XXI, the theatre’s annual holiday-themed variety show, to be presented online for 2020. Follies will premiere on YouTube on December 20, 2020 at 7pm with a watch party and then be available to view through January 2, 2021.

A favorite of Lehigh Valley residents past and present, many locals and tourists alike have come to count Christmas City Follies as part of their holiday tradition, coming out to Touchstone’s cozy black box theatre for an evening of original sketches, characters, songs, and more. The show traditionally ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, with subject matter that has included family stories, dancing hippos, snow camels, holiday yoga, and kazoo-playing Christmas trees.

In the midst of an unusual year and an unusual season, Touchstone has elected to forego an in-person performance in favor of shooting this year’s Follies as a movie; the company will continue to create and perform material for its eclectic cast of characters, filmed as scenes on Touchstone’s property and around Bethlehem, using the Christmas City as its backdrop. The show will feature returning Touchstone favorites like the Old Guy, Little Red, the Better Not Shout Network, and the Shopping Cart Ballet, as well as a host of new music, personalities, sketches, and stories.

“Santa brought us all the gift of reinvention this year with our 21st edition of  Follies,” says artistic director Jp Jordan. “It’s exhilarating to be able to take on this work from a completely new perspective.”

The Touchstone company will also be performing an in-person “mini Follies” at outdoor holiday events across Bethlehem between Saturday, November 28th and Sunday, December 6th, featuring clownish characters delivering classic Christmas carols to shoppers. Locations include the Historic Bethlehem Museum and Sites new Christmas in the Quarter, the Sun Inn Courtyard’s Wintergarten, and the South Side Arts District’s New St. Christmas Tree.

Christmas City Follies is sponsored by Peoples Security Bank and Trust; the show receives additional support from the County of Northampton. Touchstone’s season is supported locally by season sponsor RCN. WDIY provides media sponsorship, and Working Dog Press provides print sponsorship.

Christmas City Follies XXI premieres with a watch party on December 20, 2020 at 7pm and will remain available online through January 2, 2021. Tickets are: $12 for individuals and $35 for households. Touchstone typically also offers a Pay-What-You-Will at the door ticket and instead will be offering a reduced $5 ticket for those who would benefit from a discounted admission. This year, tickets are a link that audience members will use to view the show online. Tickets go on sale November 20th and may be purchased at 610.867.1689 or online at www.touchstone.org

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS AND ARTS INSTITUTIONS