A note to Michael (click here to read the full note!)

I wanted to thank you for your wonderful portrayal of Richard Jenkins in our recent Graveyard Tour. Not only was it kind of you to agree to taking on the role, but in the tour I took, I saw people around me actually tearing up as you spoke. For our guests, you were Richard Jenkins, and they felt your love for this place. I thank you for that.

In fact, the entire evening went well beyond my wildest dreams. People kept stopping me to say how great it was. My favorite moment was when three teenaged girls came up to tell me it was their best history lesson ever.

Thanks for a very moving evening.  great moment- death of son and you sink to knees.  It is no longer Sam Cooke, the singer but a human being. Wonderful writing.

Barry Plaxen, Managing Editor
Delaware & Hudson CANVAS

hello folks,

i can't tell you how wonderful your production was at howland. at this event you announced that the show about sam cooke would be at the bardavon in november but it is neither announced on your website or theirs. i have been spreading the word about the show and would like to follow up with the people i've spoken to with the details, date, price etc. so what gives? the bardavon is already listing their november dates. get on their case!

thanks for a wonderful evening,
jill gruber

February 1, 2010

To Whom It May Concern:

Both the education and lives of our students have been enriched by the unique, community-based theatre company, Passing the Torch Through the Arts. Under the direction of producer, director, writer and actor Michael Monasterial (a quadruple threat) our students, faculty and community have been able to participate, on our campus in New Paltz, in a number of theatre-based projects which have demonstrated both pedagogical and entertainment based applications. Multi-ethnicity, color-blind casting, theatre for social justice and empowerment, scripts dedicated to education and social change – these are all present in the goals and objectives of this Company and one which we, in the academic community, are pleased to partner with.

As an educator, the Company offers me the opportunity to demonstrate to my theatre students the nature of color-blind casting and in one of Mr. Monasterial’s pieces, actors switch back and forth between Caucasian and African-American actors effortlessly, without regard for the actor’s racial features. Dramatic works, such as an adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Hear the Music and Nobody offer the opportunity to experience the stories of individuals whose accomplishments are undermined by prejudice and hatred but who, nonetheless, persevere. Learning about historical figures through dramatic and musical works allows our students to view these characters and their situations through the lens of the socio-cultural underpinnings and influences that have shaped the world they live in. These connections are made palpable on stage and my students consistently tell me how they are moved and impacted by these performances.

In addition, Mr. Monasterial brings works-in-progress to our theatre appreciation classes including a recent one, Two Whores, a mature work and two-hander which explores the nature of physical intimacy and neediness among two damaged individuals. Reading the play aloud in a class of 180 students allowed two of our acting majors an opportunity to create roles from scratch and our “audience” to be able to listen, comment and talk-back to the playwright and actors. This dovetails beautifully with course objectives and methodology.

The Company, as you know, is also heavily involved in youth-at-risk projects and while our students at the University tend to be a few years older, there are many crossover issues to be in engaged in. Our theatre and secondary education majors are experiencing methodologies for teaching first-hand that are out of the classroom and this is surely one additional resource they can cultivate and develop as they pursue their education.

Please support Mr. Monasterial and the Company to the fullest extent of your abilities. We are proud of our continuing association.

Yours truly,

Stephen Kitsakos
Lecturer, Theatre Studies
Theatre Arts Department
School of Fine & Performing Arts

Dear Michael,

I just had to write to thank you for your inspiring performance at Phoenix Academy. The material that you presented was very appropriate for our students. So many of them do not get the message and they repeat the negative behaviors over and over again. Your message was presented in a very sincere and conrete way that our students can relate to.

I wish you good luck in the work that you are doing to make a difference for our troubled youth. If you need a recommendation, please do not hesitate to call on me. Thanks again.

Janet Eisenman
Project Arts Coordinator
New York City Department of Education

Michael:  Thanks for selecting Carly to be a participant in "Who's Running Things?".  She really enjoyed it.


Mike,  I saw the performances at SUNY New Paltz a couple of weeks ago and thought they were terrific. Congratulations on the work.  What a great teaching tool also!  Anne Wandres (from the playwright's lab)

~ Anne Wandres

January 16, 2010

Dear Michael,

I am writing on behalf of the AWARENESS Teens to thank you for donating your time to teach them acting skills each week for 8 weeks last year. You have a great way of bringing out the best in the teens that had no prior experience; your dedication to helping youth is to be admired. I wish you much luck and success in your future endeavors. I hope we will be able to work together again in the future.

Marie Shultis
Adult Coordinator

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