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Anita Wired KentActress Anita Hollander will be at Kent State, speaking about her life and experiences on October 26th for disAbility awareness month.

Throughout the month of October, Kent State’s Student Accessibility Services (SAS) center has been advocating disAbility Awareness across campus along with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the Panhellenic Council and the Undergraduate Student Government.

The ‘d’ in disAbility is lower-cased and the ‘A’ is capitalized because SAS aims to “stress the ability within disAbility” said Sue Smith who is the editorial communications associate at SAS.

There are approximately 1,000 students registered with SAS at Kent State University, according to Dr. Amy Quillin who is the associate director at SAS.

Hollander is renowned for her roles on “Law & Order”, “As the World Turns” and playing Grizabella, a cat shunned by the rest of the tribe, in the world Broadway play, “CATS."

Hollander was diagnosed at the age of 21 with neruofibrosarcoma, a form of cancer of the connective tissue surrounding nerves. After going to nine doctors that just thought she had a pinched nerve, finally the tenth doctor noticed something the others didn’t in a test, and a tumor was found in her leg. The doctors did surgery and removed most of the sciactic nerve in her leg and she walked with a brace for five years, still performing. But cancer cells had been left in her leg and the tumor grew back.

Chemotherapy had damaged her leg so much to the point that it was past repair, so at the age of 26 the doctor felt it was necessary to amputate her left leg.


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"The actors approach the material with pluck and devotion, particularly Pamela Sabaugh and Anita Hollander. Ms. Sabaugh is legally blind; Ms. Hollander moves assertively on only one leg. Their fierce and funny knife fight is a treat." Read More

"The show opens with sparkling naturalism punctuated by violent fantasy in Bekah Brunstetter‘s Murder. Pamela Sabaugh and Anita Hollander have brilliant fun with the delicious dark humor of Brunstetter’s dialogue, in which at least half the meaning lies in the pauses and silences and interruptions."  Read More

"As the seasoned author, Hollander relishes her quips and slaps, a welcome answer to the false modesty of Sabaugh’s newly successful author. Brunstetter has a light, yet searing finesse, and well-paced direction by Christina Roussos kicked the evening off with a bang." Read More

"I would have loved to have seen more of Anita Hollander, who played “Bridget” in Bekah Brunsetter’s Murder." Read More

"Pamela Sabaugh's Lonnie and Anita Hollander's Bridget are friends, but are now encountering a phase of competitive jealousy over their careers. The realistic dialogue is peppered with a few surreal moments that make it really enjoyable." Read More


‘Cats’ Has Lost None of Its Charm Over Three Decades
Ocean Professional Theatre Co. Performers, Audiences All Have Fun
By RICK MELLERUP | Jul 22, 2013 The Sand Paper

In the 1950s there was a raging debate in New York City. Who was the best centerfielder in town and probably in all of baseball – Willie (Mays of the Giants), Mickey (Mantle of the Yankees) or the Duke (Snider of the Dodgers)? I have a similar internal debate raging in my head as I write this. Who was the best Grizabella I’ve ever seen in “Cats”? Read More

BROADWAY WORLD REVIEWS: CATS at Ocean Professional Theatre Company

A family favorite and once longest running show on Broadway is playing in Barnegat, New Jersey. The Ocean Professional Theater Company is bringing in the talent for this and one of many impressive productions. The strength of this mounting of Cats is its direction and choreography. Seasoned producing artistic director Steve Steiner has the good instinct to bring in a team of directors who have graced the stages in the feline costumes.
Read More

‘Still Standing’ a Kick-Butt Show Even If Star Has Only One Leg Jul 31, 2013 The SandPaper

Folks who saw Anita Hollander’s portrayal of Grizabella in the just-closed Ocean Professional Theatre Company production of “Cats” know she is a fine actress and singer. They also may have noticed another thing about Hollander – she only has one leg. Oh, some audience members were confused. They’re not accustomed to seeing one-legged performers, and wondered how the theater company had tucked her leg so successfully behind her.
Read More


I did this wonderful internet interview on Elyn Jacobs' show Survive and Live Well on January 29, 2013. Lovely how she wove my songs into the chat.

Please give a listen!


blog picture www.arts.gov

As described by the New York Times, Anita Hollander is “provocative, funny, moving, communicative and beautifully polished…She has a wide range of vocal colors which she uses with dramatic sensitivity as well as comic insight…All this plus a charming presence that flavors everything she do...read more

 


NY TIMES THEATER REVIEW | 'SOME OF OUR PARTS'
Disabled and the Abled, Inhabiting Close Quarters
By 

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"...The bill is being staged by Theater Breaking Through Barriers, whose productions frequently use actors with disabilities, and the other standout among the plays, “Gorgeous,” by Bekah Brunstetter, is a case in point. Anita Hollander and Mary Theresa Archbold, who have prosthetic limbs, play two women who are chatting in the locker room of a gym when a Perfect 10 type (Tiffan Borelli) comes in. The play deftly contrasts their reaction to her with her reaction to them."


“So twice in my life I had to learn to walk all over again, with different obstacles,” she said, “first a brace, then with a prosthesis and on one leg with crutches. She always felt these challenges were a test to see if I really wanted to be an actor. In fact everything that happened to me was a gift that has FED my life as an actor throughout my life”.
Read Entire Article

BACK STAGE: GLAAD: Only 6 disabled primetime characters
But 'CSI's' Robert David Hall is only actor who is actually disabled.

There are 587 series-regular roles on scripted network primetime television this fall. Only six of them have disabilities. Only one of those six is portrayed by a disabled actor.

That information comes courtesy of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which last week released its annual "Where We Are on TV" report. The survey documents the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters in each new fall television season. This year, for the first time, GLAAD also counted the number of characters with disabilities.

While the U.S. Census Bureau reports that people with identified disabilities make up a little more than 12% of the American population, they make up only 1% of the primetime population. Disheartening though that statistic may be, the fact that it even exists represents progress.

"One of the issues that performers with disabilities in the entertainment industry have continued to struggle with is the lack of accurate measurements on the portrayal and employment of actors with disabilities in television and film," said Rebecca Yee, national director of affirmative action and diversity for SAG.

"This report is more than just numbers; it's really the first authoritative study measuring the number of characters with disabilities on television, and importantly, the number of performers with disabilities who portray those characters." Read Entire Article


 


STILL STANDING
at the Shakespeare Theatre in DC:

Playwright performs to raise awareness for arts, disabilities

WASHINGTON- Anita Hollander walked onto the stage, pulled up her dress and removed her prosthetic leg.

Playwright Anita Hollander begins her performance of “Still Standing” wearing her prosthetic leg.

The nationally renowned actress performed for more than 40 audience members Wednesday as part of a festival to bring awareness to the arts and disabilities.

“It all began in 1977, when nine out of 10 doctors said I was perfectly OK,” Hollander, 54, said. “The 10th doctor that I went to in New York finally realized that something wasn’t quite right.”

In the middle of her junior year at Carnegie Mellon University, Hollander was diagnosed with neurofibrosarcoma, a form of cancer of the connective tissue surrounding nerves. Five years after the tumor in her left leg was removed, Hollander faced her greatest fear when her doctor decided it was best to amputate her leg.

“I cried for 20 minutes when I found out, but eventually discovered it was really a blessing in disguise because I was in so much pain,” Hollander said. “I soon realized that if you can perform with two legs, you can do even better with an amputation.”

As the physical pain slowly slipped away and she faced the reality of having one leg, Hollander created her own stage play, “Still Standing,” which illustrates her story from her diagnosis to marriage and to having a daughter, through songs and narrative.

As the performance unfolds, Anita Hollander takes her prosthesis on and off between songs.

After performing the show nationwide – including at the White House in 1999, the Kennedy Center and off-Broadway – Hollander knew that the VSA Festival, the International Organization on Arts and Disability, would be a perfect venue to share her message. She received a call one week before the festival began and rearranged her schedule to help the cause.

“I love using the things that I am best at to help make other people’s lives better,” Hollander said.

This year marks the sixth international festival over three decades. VSA was founded in 1974 by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to raise awareness and opportunity for those who have disabilities. Soula Antoniou, VSA president, said she was delighted to have Hollander as one of 2,000 participants in the seven-day festival.

“Hollander’s performance is consistent with our mission and is helping create opportunities through the arts with people who have disabilities,” Antoniou said. “We are pushing to move the dial of perceptions around disabilities through the arts and this festival.”

Hollander’s show connected with audience members, especially Sharon Tarlano, 47, of Burke, Va., and Toni Popkin, 55 of Alexandria, Va. After being in a car wreck five years ago, they suffered traumatic brain injury and could relate to Hollander’s message on multiple levels. Both had to retire. Popkin worked in the mental health field, and Tarlano was a veterinary technician and animal obedience instructor.

“Even though we have a different disability, it was quite powerful and took me through all kinds of emotions that I could relate with,” Tarlano said.

Through each stage in her life, Hollander said the fine arts and her daughter are what kept her going. Ultimately, she motivated the audience members to keep “standing” by not letting their disabilities get in the way.

“I have learned that what makes you different makes you unique and even better than you could’ve imagined,” Hollander said.

Other performances, exhibits and artists will be featured at the VSA Festival, which goes through Saturday.


BASS FOR PICASSO Features & Reviews:
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Hollander, Archbold, Neals, Small Cast in Kate Moira Ryan's Bass for Picasso
By Andrew Gans

15 Mar 2010 Theater Breaking Through Barriers will present the world premiere of Kate Moira Ryan's Bass for Picasso Off-Broadway this spring.

Previews will begin April 17 prior to an official press opening May 2 at Theatre Row's Kirk Theatre. Ike Schambelan directs.

The cast will feature Anita Hollander, Mary Archbold, Felice Neals, Terry Small and Nicholas Viselli.

In Bass for Picasso, press notes state, "amputee and food writer for the New York Times Francesca Danieli throws a dinner party for her friends recreating recipes (including the titular entree) from the 'Alice B. Toklas Cookbook.' The guest list includes Pilar, her multilingual art detective lover, who has spent time in Guantanamo for visa problems; Bricka Matson, a lesbian widow with a small child and Republican in-laws who are trying to gain custody; Joe, an OB/GYN whose lover is a geographically challenged crystal meth addict; and Kev, a playwright who has recently fallen off the wagon and written a soon-to-open Off-Broadway play about all of them. It's an insanely funny, irreverent 80-minute look at gay and lesbian life in the new millennium."

Encore feature article (Julie Taveras 4/10/10): "Actress Anita Hollander, who plays Danieli, describes her character as a 'one-legged lesbian food writer for the Times who has a neurotically driven personality.' Not only is Hollander an amputee herself, which allows her a more authentic take on the physical aspect of the role, but she can also identify with many of the character’s experiences on sexuality and writing." More

Time Out article (4/29/10 Beth Greenfield) at: Read article here

Back Stage review (Erik Haagensen 5/2/10): "The actors wisely play against the absurdity. Anita Hollander has authority as Francesca and gets a good laugh whacking the unfaithful Pilar with her prosthesis." More

NYTheatre.com review (Martin Denton 5/1/10): "Francesca is written in the script as an amputee, and she's played by one, Anita Hollander, with vigor and bravada." More


EQUITY NEWS - December, 2009
BIT in ZAGREB
By Anita Hollander, I AM PWD

This October, in Zagreb, Croatia, I participated in Blind In Theatre: 6th International Theatre Festival of the Blind and Visually Impaired. I performed in A NERVOUS SMILE, by award-winning playwright John Belluso, with Theatre Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB), long-running NY theatre company founded by Ike Schambelan, introduced to me by AEA member George Ashiotis. The cast - Nick Viselli, Pamela Sabaugh, Melanie Boland, PSM Kimothy Cruse, Alden Fulcomer, and myself - viewed daily performances of various international companies including blind and low-vision artists, including Belgian, British, Bulgarian, Croatian, Finnish, German, Polish, and Serbian, after which we would have round-table discussions, with English as the common language. TBTB was well-received and given an award for long-term contributions to the festival. There were also workshops, movement sessions and works-in-progress. As an activist for greater visibility of artists with disabilities, I was bombarded each day by new insights and revelations about artists and art, whether disability-related or not, and was able to discuss our work on the tri-union I.AM.PWD media and civil rights campaign, as well as hearing what other countries do to incorporate artists with disabilities in their arts and entertainment.

Most notable was the state funding for both arts and disability services. While we depend on funds from organizations like TDF and Artists International, in Europe, where Art equals Culture, state funding is provided, as well as funding for blind artists in Zagreb, including office and studio space, bar, access to a 300-seat theatre, street markings and devices for blind pedestrians around of these facilities. Croatian theatre artists do not lack for innovative production values either, while their young audience work is tremendously clever and economical. The Polish and Serbian companies sported sophisticated multi-media effects, and the Belgians were wildly creative and imaginative. Above all, these artists seemed to be respected, whether sighted, blind, or blind and deaf. They had a confidence and pride in their work which implied support and acceptance in their own cultures. Disabled people are used to terms like "brave, courageous, inspiring, indomitable spirit," but this theatre, riveting by nature of its story and craft, was more mind-blowing than inspirational.

On the last day in Zagreb, our guide/translator, Tina, took us to a massive ancient cemetery north of the city, where we read poetry amongst the beautiful ornate graves, many memorials of friends and family of our group. We Americans remembered John Belluso for his contribution to this festival from beyond the grave. A playwright with a disability himself, this week would have pleased him. As we listened to our fellow artists, it was clear how much we had in common, how passionate we were about our work, how tough-skinned and sensitive we all are. We shared the human experience across boundaries of time, space, language, culture, and physical ability. We perceived and accepted each other with the love of family and were proud to have been a part of such a confluence of humanity and art. (more info: www.tbtb.org and www.iampwd.org)

THE SANDPAPER April 22, 2009

Thank God The Nuns Are Back At Surflight
by Rick Mellerup

"Anita Hollander, whose performance as Grizabella made the Surflight's 2004 production of  Cats one for the history books, is reprising her role as Sister Mary Hubert, the Mistress of Novices, for the third time in the Steiner era. If you didn't see the Surflight's Cats (and you don't know  what you missed) she was also memorable in Fiddler on the Roof, Brighton Beach Memoirs, and Showboat. To use a religious metaphor - and it seems perfectly appropriate considering the subject matter of this review - if you want to build your show on a strong foundation, you can't go wrong with these two rocks [Hollander and Carolyn Popp]."



The New York Times published part of my letter to the editor regarding double amputee paralympic champion runner, Oscar Pistorius. For links about the story you can go to:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/20/sports/20inbox.html?_r=1&ref=sports&oref=slogin

Many thanks to Richard Sandomir for bringing this to my attention!

NYTimes logo
Letters to the Editor
Published: January 20, 2008
Support for Pistorius
To the Sports Editor:


As a high-thigh above-knee amputee actress who has tap danced in “Nunsense” and played a three-legged Grizabella in “Cats,” I take enormous umbrage at these dilettantes who have no way of knowing what it takes to run on two prostheses.
Oscar Pistorius has beaten incredible odds by his own determination and struggle to stand toe-to-toe with two-legged athletes. If the rules of the International Association of Athletics Federations are too archaic and lacking in vision that disabled athletes may someday compete with the so-called able bodied, then I strongly suggest that those rules be changed to meet the accomplishments of people with disabilities in the 21st century.
Anita Hollander
New York
The writer is the East Coast national chairwoman of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists Performers with Disabilities.


HELEN SHAW, THE NEW YORK SUN, 5/16/06

“There is a long history of writers trying for the dreamy effects that Gary Winter (and 13P's sensitive production of AT SAID) seem to sink into with ease. And in thumbnail, his plot — a stifled, static life finally finds its windows thrown open — will seem like the shallowest of clichés. But Mr. Winter manages to take some very pedestrian language (the word "ferris wheel" is so exotic that one character just wants to gaze at it on a page) and make it strange and mysterious again. The sensation is like watching Harold Pinter, feeling our most trusted words turn into slippery bars of meaning in our hands.”

Director Tim Farrell “clearly knows he has something Beckettian on his hands.” As a “hypersexed drug dealer,” Vedant Gokhale is “like Puck got washed up and started selling the heroin out of his magic flowers.” Lia Aprile and Anita Hollander “elide the difference between the playwright's words and themselves. Mr. Winter is building up poetry out of the simplest statements ... and it's difficult to believe that these women aren't simply generating it spontaneously. In relief against the sweet zaniness of Marisa Echeverria and Gilbert Cruz, they fool us into believing that they are the normal ones ... and that everyone these days talks like William Carlos Williams stuck in Bed-Stuy.”


Disabled actress a hit at Disability Awareness Event
by John J. Joyce
NSWCDD Public Affairs

Actress Anita Hollander performed her one-woman show, "Still Standing," at NSWC Dahlgren's National Disability Employment Awareness Month event held at the Aegis Auditorium on Tuesday, October 18, 2005.

Every song in Hollander's musical, performed to raise awareness about workers with disabilities was received with applause.

The actress has described her act as "a life survival guide set to music," and "an awareness guide about the disabled." She wrote the music and lyrics following the loss of her left leg to cancer in 1977. A blend of humor, drama and honesty, the show has been performed off-Broadway, as well as nationally at the White House and the Kennedy Center.

Many positive comments were made about Hollander's hard hitting, poignant and funny story of her life post amputation that she told through songs about specific incidents or attitudes.

As a member of all three actors' unions and as the East Coast National Chair of the AFTRA Performers with Disabilities committee, Hollander - who is also a singer, composer, lyricist, director, producer and teacher - has been working hard to enlighten and change attitudes and perceptions of the disabled.

"We've been struggling over the past few years with a shortage of scientists and engineers in this country," pointed out NSWCDD Commander Capt. Joseph McGettigan in his closing remarks. "This (science and engineering) is an area where a lot of disabled people can function and they can really do the job that we need them to do here in Dahlgren, and that's part of why we do this - to highlight the fact that there are a lot of people that have disabilities, but they really do have the ability to do the work that we need them to do."

After her performance, Anita answered several questions related to her disability. She told the audience that her excruciating drive and the sense of humor in her family was a gift that got her through everything. "Each one of us have obstacles and barriers to overcome, but we go through our tools of survival," said Hollander. "One tool of survival we all have is the joy of simply being alive."

NSWC Dahlgren Program Manager Laura Tronge was the moderator for the event.

"Our goal - no our mission - is to break down those things that separate us, and come together to enhance our understanding and skills to continue on our path to progress as an organization," said Tronge before she introduced NDW Commander Capt. Judy Smith who gave welcoming remarks.

"For those of us who fear change, or fear these barriers, people with disabilities are the shinning examples that the rest of us should follow," said Tronge. "On a daily basis they overcome these barriers, and are able to set the example in what can be overcome and what can be accomplished if you set your mind to doing it."


. .

Cats

Words and Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber Based on Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot  

What the Critics said
about Cats at Surflight

"Cats is a delightful spectacle with which the Surflight has done a magnificent job…Anita Hollander’s  performance as Grizabella is the highlight of the show. The once glamorous Grizabella left the tribe to follow her dreams and she comes back as a prodigal daughter, shunned by some, defended by others. Much the worse for wear, not only is her coat torn, but, in this production, she’s lost a leg. There are no tricks involved. Hollander achieves this effect by simply not wearing her prosthetic leg. She lost a leg to cancer in 1977. When her Grizabella sings Memory while standing on her one good leg, she lends this shopworn tune an eerie dignity it has never possessed before and which you will not soon forget.” -Tom Wrona, The Beachcomber

"Anita Hollander grabs the audience during her rendition of the world-famous 'Memory' and made it so personal she moistened not a few eyes in the audience".  -Bre Golden, The Islander

“Anita Hollander, a glorious singer and excellent actress, performs the role of Grizabella.” - Peter Filichia, New Jersey Star-Ledger