Light In The Tunnel


The Story

New York City may have more commercial theaters per capita
than anyplace on the planet but Shakespeare said,
“All the world’s a stage”.

Well, there’s a whole world sitting right underneath this city
and it’s the biggest stage with the biggest audience in the world.

My name is Wendy Sayvetz; I’m a folk-singer and have been
a New York City subway performer for 23 years. People are always
asking me…“What are you DOING here!?!”

I finally realized that the best way to answer that question
would be to create an original musical about the love story
between subway performers and their underground audiences:
“Light in the Tunnel”

Led by our critically acclaimed scriptwriter, Barbara Damashek – nominated for 3 Tony Awards, including Best Book of a
Musical, for the Broadway production of “Quilters” – we are
developing the script and musical score similarly to the way in
which the script and musical score was developed for the hit
Broadway musical, “A Chorus Line”. From 100 hours of taped interviews conducted this past June, 2012 with our cast of 25
“real-life” New York City subway performers.

As “A Chorus Line” “humanized” the anonymous
Broadway chorus dancers who were always seen but
rarely known, “Light in the Tunnel” does the
very same thing for the street/subway performers
who are also always seen but rarely known.

Our story goes a step further by weaving together
our specific individual stories into a present day
New York City based tale of the rich global ages-old
love affair between street/subway performers and their
passing by audiences.

A love affair that grows from passers-by
spontaneously “stopping in their tracks” to see and
listen something they didn’t expect at that moment –
we, the subway performers of New York City. It makes
no difference whether they stop for a few seconds, a few
minutes, an hour – whether just once or many times,
whether for a period of days, weeks or years.

Yet now, in the 2nd decade of the 21st century
this unique love affair is in danger from “cultural distraction”.
We feel it in the air…it’s palpable. We can only imagine –
because we experience this distraction too – that it
has something to do with living in this current “age of
too much information” disseminated through a multitude
of electronic devices that so many of us can’t seem to be -
or do without.

By performing in the New York City underground
we subway performers are fighting to keep the love
affair with our audiences alive – live, in person, in real-time,
without electronic devices. Because it is a love affair worth
fighting for, it is a connection where all of us –
performers and audiences alike –
are healed and inspired, every day, throughout the day,
in the very midst of one of the most ordinary,
inhospitable, frenetic, noisy, chaotic
environments in the world.

This is at the heart of
“Light in the Tunnel’s” story – greater than the
sum of its 25 individual real-life subway performer stories.

So many of us spend so much time hoping and waiting
for the "light at the end of the tunnel" without seeing –
or even realizing – that there’s also a light IN the tunnel.

When people hear me singing in the New York City
underground they always ask me –
“what are you DOING here?” -
I’m doing my best to keep that
“Light in the Tunnel” from going out.

Our Current Status and Next Steps

1) Transcribing 100 hours of taped interviews of our
25 subway-performer cast members along with several
of our underground audience members –
conducted by our script/bookwriter,
Barbara Damashek, this past June 2012.

2) Transforming these transcripts into a first draft script
and musical score that is ready by the end of this summer, 2013.

3) Bringing the first draft script and musical score to
potential “lead-producers” and/or theater company venues
with the aim of selling the “option” for mounting a commercial production. We already have several producers
who have expressed serious interest.

4) Putting our cast of 25 New York City subway performers
through a 1-2 week intensive stage-acting & movement/dance workshop conducted by our Acting Coach/Associate Director,
Suzanne Shepherd and Movement Coach/Choreographer, Roger G.

5) Finalizing and negotiating – through our pro-bono lawyers
(thanks to Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts) –
all necessary legal contracts including personal
story usage rights from our subway performers and
collaboration contracts with our creative team members.

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