2023 READERS THEATER
An Evening's Journey Through Stories
Monday, October 2, 2023
251 North Pearl Street, Albany
Doors open at 6:00 pm for mingling. Readings begin at 7:00 pm
Please join us for an Evening’s Journey Through Stories.
PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS HERE
You will receive a confirmation email and your name and number of tickets will be on a list at the theater.
- General Admission $25
- Student Admission $10
Charlayne Woodard is a gifted actress/playwright who grew up here in Albany before leaving to embark on her distinguished and long-running career.
Ms. Woodard is a lauded playwright. To name just a few, her first solo play, “Pretty Fire,” received the LA Drama Critics and NAACP awards for best play and best playwright. Her second play, “Neat,” received the Irving and Blanche Laurie Theatre Vision Award, the Backstage West Garland Award and was nominated for the Outer Critics Circle Award. Her third solo play, “In Real Life,” received a Backstage West Garland Award, NAACP Awards for best playwright and actor and Ms. Woodard received an Audelco Award and was nominated for Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for best solo performance. Audio versions of her plays are available at Audible.com
Ms. Woodard has appeared on Broadway and off-Broadway. She debuted in the Broadway revival of Hair in 1977. She was nominated for Tony and Drama Desk Awards for her role in the original company of the hit musical, Ain’t Misbehavin’. She won Obie awards for her performances in “The Witch of Edmonton,” and “In the Blood.”
Some of Ms. Woodard’s film credits include M. Night Shyamalan’s, “Glass” and “Unbreakable,” John Sayle’s “Sunshine State,” and Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” directed by Nicolas Hytner. Her many television credits include a series regular on the Emmy award winning “Pose,” the starring role in the Showtime movie, “Run for the Dream: The Gail Dever’s Story,” and in Oprah Winfrey’s “The Wedding.” She’s had recurring roles on “Sneaky Peter,” “Law and Order, SVU,” and “ER.”
She recently became part of the Marvel Universe in the new Disney+ miniseries, “Secret Invasion.” Visit https://www.charlaynewoodard.com/ if you’d like to read more about her.
Master of Ceremonies
Casey Seiler, Editor in Chief and Vice President of the Albany Times Union. He previously served as the paper’s managing editor, statehouse bureau chief and entertainment editor. He co-hosted WMHT’s “New York Now” for a decade. His column appears in the Sunday Perspective section.
Shakeema Funchess was born and raised in bustling cities in New York. She developed a love for writing and storytelling at a young age. After graduating from Saint Bonaventure University with a degree in psychology and pre-law, and minors in Arabic and Islamic Studies, she dived into her dream of being a writer. Drawing upon her experiences and observations, Funchess has created a host of relatable characters from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures, to help children process the complexities of the world around them. Funchess is known for her dynamic and engaging artistic style, which is both educational and entertaining. Her stories tackle difficult topics such as racism, discrimination, and prejudice, but always with a message of hope and resilience. She is a dedicated advocate for literacy and education and has worked tirelessly to promote the importance of reading and writing skills among young people. She wants her books to captivate and inspire young readers, and she remains committed to creating stories that promote diversity, kindness, empathy, and understanding. For more information, you can visit her Amazon Author page at https://www.amazon.com/stores/Shakeema-Funchess/author/B0C9BD3VLN or her website www.sketchesbyshaq.com.
HONORABLE DR. DORCEY APPLYERS
The Hon. Dr. Dorcey Applyrs moved to Albany in 2003 to pursue a graduate degree and has since earned her masters and a doctorate in public health from the University at Albany School of Public Health. During her two decades here, she has built a personal and professional life in the City of Albany devoted to improving the quality of life for its residents. She currently serves as Albany’s Chief City Auditor. Prior to that, Dr. Applyrs served on the Albany Common Council representing the City’s First Ward from 2014 to 2020. During her second term, she served as Chair of the Public Safety Committee. She also has served as Vice President for Community Health Initiatives with the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, the Chair of Local Progress NY and currently serves on the boards of Eleanor’s Legacy, The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY, Center for Women in Government and Civil Society, the Capital District New Leaders Council, Local Progress, and the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region. Dr. Applyrs has been acknowledged for her strong leadership and commitment to advocating for others. She was named 40 under 40 by the Albany Business Review, Young Alumni of Excellence by UAlbany, and the 2017 Women and Girls Ambassador by Girls Inc. of the Capital Region. She has been featured on the cover of HerLife New York Magazine and honored by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand with the 2017 Off the Sidelines Equality Advocate Award. Dr. Applyrs resides in Albany with her loving and supportive husband Don-Lee and two beautiful daughters Noble and Nile.
Sylvia Barnard is from Greenfield, Massachusetts. She graduated from McGill University in Montreal and from Cambridge University in the UK before getting a PhD in classics (Latin, Greek, and ancient history) from Yale University. She then taught those subjects at UAlbany for more than forty years. She had a senior Fulbright to Cyprus in 2003. After retiring from UAlbany, she taught Latin and Greek at the Doane Stuart School. She has published two books of poetry, “The Timeless Forest,” McGill Poetry Series 1959, and “Trees,” Troy Book Makers, 2012, as well as a number of scholarly articles.
Saamya Deo studies at Farnsworth Middle School, Guilderland, and has been learning storytelling with Children at the Well for the past two years. She loves being at Children at the Well because the coaches are so open. She enjoys swimming and badminton and is an amazing big sis according to her little sis. Saamya's innate ability to reflect along with her vast reading escapades and diverse life experiences helps her make the mundane into magnificent in her singing, storytelling and theater. Saamya has travelled to India, Trinidad, Canada, Belgium, Holland, and the US. She learns about her roots and mind with gurus from Chinmaya Mission and is grateful for her growing introspection skills. The more she knows about her inner world the more she connects with world cultures and personalities. Saamya acknowledges that life isn't always easy so with stories she wants the listeners to take a few moments away from stressful lives and live in the present.
Bertha Blunt grew up in Arbor Hill and was educated in the Albany city schools. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from SUNY Albany and worked for New York State for 32 years. She currently is working as a Peer Specialist with the Mental Health Empowerment Project (MHEP). Bertha has been writing poetry since first grade. Earlier this year she published her first book of poetry titled, “Discovery of a Blunt Treasure.” In her spare time Bertha loves to volunteer with organizations that serve youth in the community. Among others, she has worked with 1) Ujima Journey, which takes Capital Region African American youth all over the country to learn about their history; 2) Camp Erin, which matches a grieving child with an adult camping buddy in the Adirondack Mountains for a weekend; 3) Red Cross, teaching children how to swim. Bertha also loves to travel and has visited Europe, China and Africa to name a few. In addition to her writing and volunteering, Bertha has many other interests: she can make balloon animals, juggle scarves or apply glitter tattoos. She loves to cook and bake. Her favorite dish to make is African Peanut Butter Stew. Bertha very much looks forward to having more opportunities to travel and share her gift of poetry.