On Friday,  11/27 at 4:30pm, Anita Durst talked with Executive Director Bob Ost and the TRU Zoom Community Gathering about an organization she founded twenty-five years ago, one that supports artists by offering them free space–to create and show work (for one to four week periods). Chashama, pronounced sha-SHAH-ma—its Farci for “to have vision”–may be one of the last vestiges of live art and theatre available during the pandemic.  Window performances or storefront theatre continue to be allowed during COVID; behind glass, an inventive soloist, or distanced actors, dancers, and other artists–probably running repeatable shorts–may livestream onto the street, set up speakers for sound, or, as was more commonly done in 1995, ask viewers to call into a radio station.  Painting or sculpture also may be shown, as in a gallery—and those who need time to simply create can apply for a residency in picturesque Pine Plains, New York, near Rhinebeck. 

Durst, who has a street named for her in New York City and provides spaces in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Matawan, New Jersey and upstate New York,  probably likes the adventurous best—she has worked with the New York City Fire Department to program “Free Tornado,” using real flames. Although she must postpone until 2021, her popular yearly gala, uses multiple floors in an office building to house, sometimes wandering, performance artists and art.  Years ago, she saw the need for affordable areas to work in and show skill.  Today, she not only continues to meet that need, but also may be a last purveyor who can remind us of art as we once viewed it.

–Bob Shuman, Stage Voices


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