the next service is in NYC on March 26

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Featured Performers | BATALA


BATALA/Featured Performers

I am SO EXCITED! About this Solstice service in general, all of the wonderful performers AND, that Batala is going to be part of it all! I first heard Batala at an outdoor event on the pier in the city—I think it was Christopher Street in the village? I didn’t know who they were but when one of our community members suggested them I looked at video on YouTube and said, “That’s the drum corps I heard! I love them!” One of their members has been coming to our services for a while now and we’ve talked about connecting. For those who don’t know, Batala is a fantastic Brazilian drum corps made up of mostly women and they’re fierce and wonderful. We’ve been wanting to get them to be part of The Secret City for some time now and I am so happy that it’s going to happen for our Solstice celebration. Join us for the explosive, joyful rhythms of Batala—Sunday, December 18th at 6:30 pm at Judson Memorial Church.

Here’s their bio:

Batalá New York is a chapter of the global arts project known as Batalá Mundo, made up of over 30 mostly co-ed bands around the world. Led by Musical Directors Laura Torell and Deinya Phenix, the ladies of Batalá New York play music written by the project’s Maestro Giba Gonçalves and heard in Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia, in northeastern Brazil. Batalá has maintained a presence in New York since 2012; the current band was formed in September of 2016 of 49 players who chose to continue the Batalá Mundo tradition locally, restructuring as a non-profit to better serve and access the community. Many of our drummers have traveled internationally to perform in carnaval in Salvador and have played for the Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary Tour, at the Mayoral Reception for the US Women’s National Team, on Saturday Night Live performing with Disclosure and Lorde and as extras in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. More information can be found at our website We can be found on Facebook under and on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Snapchat as @batalanewyork


Featured Artist | Jeanne Fleming


For this Sunday’s event—our 2nd Annual Winter Solstice celebration—the theme is SPACE. And, our featured visual artist is someone who works in space on a large scale. Jeanne Fleming is a Celebration Artist and Producer who’s been the artistic director of the West Village Halloween parade for the past 30 years. A puppeteer and community organizer whose work has engaged and inspired millions of people—in addition to the annual parade, Jeanne has created festivals and happenings all over the world. She was the producer of the Centennial Celebration of The Statue of Liberty, and Walking on Air, the festival of the opening of the Walkway Over the Hudson. For SPACE, Jeanne will be displaying some key pieces from her Sinterklass Festival, an annual holiday event in the Mid Hudson Valley, inspired by the Dutch holiday tradition. Join us and experience this legendary art maker as she shares her work and her thoughts on making large-scale spectacles. Sunday, December 18th at 6:30pm at Judson Church.

Here’s Jeanne’s bio:

Jeanne Fleming has been the artistic director and producer of the Village Halloween Parade in New York City since 1981. A renowned celebration artist, she has also designed and directed numerous rituals, ceremonies, and events in New York and internationally, including the centennial of the Statue of Liberty and New York’s River to River Festival.


Featured Artist | Alicia Vogl Saenz


It’s time to gather in Los Angeles once again! And, our theme is HAIR–great, right? And a blast to curate around. It turns out that one of our friends and a fantastic Los Angeles poet has a series of poems about HAIR. Alicia Vogl Saenz is a great writer and has shared her work with us before–I’m delighted to have her back with us again, esp for HAIR. Join us Sunday, December 4th for poetry, food tasting, performance and a great community interaction. Bootleg Theater at noon.

Here’s Alicia’s bio:

Alicia’s poem have appeared in lots of journals and online, like this here:
Alicia’s also a member of Macondo, a writing community founded by Sandra Cisneros and teaches contemplative writing at the Los Angeles Shambhala Meditation Center. Her work is rich and sexy and often located in the landscape of Los Angeles.


Featured Performer | JoNell Kennedy


This Sunday for our next gathering we’ll be in Los Angeles celebrating HAIR. I’m delighted to have one of our favorite collaborators and performers come by to read the calendar for us. JoNell Kennedy is a wonderful actress and it’s always a pleasure to have her in the mix. Join us Sunday for another lovely installment of Secret City LA–this time for HAIR.

Here’s JoNell’s bio:

JoNell Kennedy was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her father is retired Federal Government Employee (Labor Dept.) and mother was a vocalist with 1960s group “The Dixi Kups”. JoNell is a graduate of Southern Methodist University where she majored in theatre. She is a recipient of a Joseph Jefferson Theatre Award Sings with Rock/Soul Band “The Soul Of John Black” She was awarded the 1992 Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Revue for “Spunk-Three Tales by Zora Neale Hurston” at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. Recent TV appearances: The Mentalist, Southland, NCIS and Shameless.


Featured Performer | Karen “Curly” Schleifer


For our service this Sunday in LA–Sunday, December 4th at 12noon at Bootleg Theater–the theme is HAIR and so we have a wonderful, curly headed performer as our featured musical guest. Curly Karen Schleifer is a powerhouse entertainer with years in musical theater and a career as a singer songwriter. She is a member of both our New York and LA communities and I’m delighted she’s going to perform for us–one of the great songs from the musical HAIR.

Here’s her bio:

Curly’s credits include being an orphan in the original cast of Broadway’s ANNIE (Kate, u/s Molly). She later performed the title role of Annie at Lincoln Center. Her favorite musical theatre roles include playing Fanny Zucchiatti in Off Broadway’s My Big Gay Italian Funeral, Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors, Winnifred in Once Upon a Mattress, Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar and performing in the National Tour of Tony & Tina’s Wedding, where she played Donna. After many years of professional theatre, she took her talents to the rock and roll stage. Now a recording artist, she has performed solo and with her band on both coasts at many notable venues from NYC to L.A. and everywhere in between. Her first album “Only the Ocean” was recently released for digital distribution by Essential Media Group, LLC. (Miami, FL) her third studio album is due out spring of 2017! Check out for all details.


Food Offering | Diane Trunk


For this Sunday’s gathering the theme is HAIR–it’s a challenge to curate around such a theme, the kind of challenge we love and that brings about really great surprises. However, for the food offering, it poses an even more acute challenge. I’m so glad we have Diane Trunk on the job–she presented caramels to us last December and will present something fitting for us this Sunday. Join us for the big surprise–Sunday, December 4th at noon at Bootleg Theater.

Here’s a little bio for Diane:

I live in in Los Angeles with 3 chickens, 2 cats, 2 kids, and 1 husband. I am an attorney who works on behalf of survivors of interpersonal violence. I love to cook.


Featured Performer | Daniel Passer


For this Sunday’s gathering in LA–Dec 4th at noon at Bootleg Theater–our theme is HAIR. What a fantastic theme, right? And who better to explore such a theme than a brilliant clown? Daniel Passer is a dear old pal who has performed all over the world with Cirque de Soleil and made all kinds of theater in the US and abroad. I’m thrilled he’s going to perform for us this Sunday. He brings a charm and a devilish humor to everything he does.

Here’s his bio:

Daniel Passer most recently wrote and directed “A Big Mess” – a French Farce set in an old Vaudeville House – at A.R.T. Institute at Harvard and “Back Door” – a comedic take on Rear Window – at CalArts. Recent acting credits include: The Government Inspector at The Pearl Theater, Steve Martin’s The Underpants at Syracuse Stage and Guild Hall, Cascabel with Lookingglass Ensemble at the Goodman Theatre. He has been the Lead Clown and Comedy Conceptor for Cirque du Soleil and Dragone Entertainment and was the U.S. representative at the International Commedia dell’Arte Festival in Italy directed by Ferruchio Soleri. He has played Arlecchino on the boards of such prestigious theaters as The American Repertory Theatre, The Teatro Olympico, The Actor’s Gang and many others. Daniel is co-founder of Darkstage Theatre Company, a company dedicated to touring the maximum-security prisons in California and is currently in rehearsals for “The Noir Project” with Sprung Creations which he co-founded with Bianca Sapetto. He has taught Commedia/Clown/Improvisation at Moscow Art Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Brown University, Harvard, Cornell, CalArts, Trinity College, The Second City, University of Redlands and University of Alaska and is the Master Acting Teacher for The Edward Albee Theatre Festival and the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. A graduate of U.C. Berkeley (Phi Beta Kappa) and The A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard, Daniel currently serves on the Faculty at CalArts Theater Program.


Featured Artist | Zilah Mendoza


For this Sunday’s gathering in LA–noon, October 16th at Bootleg Theater–our theme is MAGIC. And, so, it’s fitting that we have one of the most magical performers coming to read for us. Zilah Mendoza is an Obie Award winning performer who’s worked on some of the best stages across the country on screens large and small. I’m thrilled she’s going to take part this Sunday and share some of her magic with us all.

Here’s her bio:

ZILAH MENDOZA is honored to be part of The Secret City. She is an Obie award winning actress who has originated several roles in contemporary American theatre including Ana in Lisa Loomer’s Living Out (The Mark Taper Forum and
2nd Stage); Matilde in Sara Ruhl’s Pulitzer nominated The Clean House (Yale Repertory Theatre); Electricidad in Luis Alfaro’s Electricidad (The Mark Taper Forum); and Perla in Juliette Carrillo’s Plumas Negras (Cornerstone Theater Company). She recently performed at the Getty Villa in Luis Alfaro’s Mojada and at Theatre Works in Quiara Alegria Hudes’ Water by the Spoonful. Zilah has had recurring and guest starring roles on such shows as The King of Queens, MAD
TV, Law & Order, Medium, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Grey’s Anatomy, 24, Nip/Tuck, The Closer and Modern Family. She is a community activist and is an associate artist for the Mentor Artists Playwrights Project.


Featured Performer | French Stewart


For this Sunday’s gathering, the theme is MAGIC and we have a magical line-up of performers and artists. Our musical guests are a magical married couple–Vanessa Claire Stewart and French Stewart. They’ll be doing a number from Vanessa’s award winning show about Keely Smith and Louis Prima. I’m delighted that her hubby, French, will be joining her–French is a beloved fixture of the LA theater scene (Pot Mom, Stoneface, Voice Lessons, etc) and has appeared on all kinds of TV and film, including the classic TV sitcom: Third Rock from the Sun. Join us Sunday for a taste of old school Vegas entertainment in the charming guise of French and Vanessa–Sunday, October 16th at 12noon at Bootleg Theater.

Here’s his bio:

For the past 30 years, Mr Stewart has been a proud participant in L.A. theatre: both as a member of Justin Tanner’s legendary Cast Theatre (Zombie Attack, Pot Mom, Party Mix, Teen Girl and Happy Time X mas) as well a current member of The Sacred Fools. Recent stage credits include: Mathew Modine Saves The Alpacas (Geffen Playhouse), Watson (Sacred Fools Theater Company), Voice Lessons (with Laurie Metcalf) Off Broadway at Theatre Row and Steppenwolf Theatre. Most recently, he portrayed Buster Keaton in Stoneface at The Pasadena Playhouse.

French is best known for his work on the classic T.V. series Third Rock From The Sun. He has also appeared on Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, Just Shoot Me, The Drew Carey Show and News Radio. Recent credits include Community, Psych, Bones, The Closer, Castle, Pushing Daisies, Private Practice, The Birthday Boys, Comedy Bang Bang, recurring roles on The Middle and Secrets and Lies. Also known for Chuck Lorre’s hit comedy Mom.

Film credits include: Stargate, Leaving Las Vegas, Surveillance, The Flock and cult favorite Love Stinks.


Featured Visual Artist | Pamela Gregory


This Sunday in LA, we kick off our 10th season with a service on MAGIC. When thinking about the visual art portion, we were wondering–“what is MAGIC in terms of visual arts?” And the answer was PRINTING! How magical it is to see a print come to life–and so I reached out to my dear old pal, Pamela Gregory, who’s been making wonderful prints in her studio in Napa, California. For MAGIC, she’s going to present a large sampling of recent work as well as demonstrate how she’s been making prints lately. Join us this Sunday, October 16th at noon at Bootleg Theater for MAGIC.

Here’s Pamela’s bio:

Pamela spent her childhood getting pats on the head for her artistic abilities. Her father once told her she made lime jello better than anyone else in the world. With this support behind her, she’s gone on to pursue a life devoted to making things. A life-long and self taught crafter, cook, actress, knitter, seamstress, gardener…she took a break to earn a degree in Sociology and shop for a husband at UCSB. Pamela’s day job is directing youth theater for kids 2nd- 5th grades. She and her husband Sean have three children and live in Napa, CA.