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New Long Island-Based Theatre Company Using Crowdfunding To Raise Funds For Play About Beethoven

T.J. Clemente

Award-winning playwright, director, author, entertainer, and psychic, Cindi Sansone-Braff co-founded Tomorrow's Classics Theatre Company. (Photo: T.J. Clemente)

Due to the magical powers of the Internet, crowdfunding for plays, movies and other artistic productions is fast becoming the number one choice to raise the cash needed to make things happen. Crowdfunding is the process of using websites, such as Indiegogo to generate, manage and accumulate funds for various productions and other creative endeavors.

The recently created Long Island-based Tomorrow's Classics Theatre Company (TCTC), which is dedicated to solely producing cutting-edge new works, has chosen to use crowdfunding for its August 5-6, 2017 production of their first project, Beethoven's Promethean Concerto in C Minor WoO. Co-Founders, Debi Toni, a singer/songwriter, performer, teacher, and musical director; and award-winning playwright, director, author, entertainer, and psychic, Cindi Sansone-Braff, truly believe that these innovative new plays, such as Beethoven are destined to become future theater classics and "crowdfunding" is the vehicle they have chosen to raise some of the funds needed.

The successful run of Extinction, a play by Gabe McKinley at Guild Hall that was produced by Where Are They Going Theatre Company (in association with Barefoot Theatre Company), used crowdfunding to raise some of their funding.

Sawyer Spielberg with Cindi Sansone-Braff at the Extinction premiere. (Photo: T.J. Clemente)

One of the producers of Extinction, Sawyer Spielberg, was asked about crowdfunding and said, "We [co-producer Raye Levine and I] found crowdfunding useful for the Extinction production and that it's the best way today to raise money." Spielberg continued, "I've worked on plays as an actor only before Extinction and there is no better feeling than producing your own work with friends you like working with. I'm addicted now and only want to produce my own work. To be honest, I'm a bit spoiled too because it was so much fun. We raised the money needed for Extinction using Indiegogo, and it was very helpful."

After the successful opening night of Extinction at Guild Hall on Saturday, May 1, 2017, Spielberg passed on his insight about using Indiegogo to Beethoven's Promethean Concerto in C Minor WoO, writer and producer Cindi Sansone-Braff. Braff has now chosen Indiegogo to help raise some of the production's funds. She noted, "This will help us bring to the South Shore suburbs of Long Island the kind of groundbreaking theater that you'd only expect to find in London, Vienna, or New York City."

Sansone-Braff continued, "Following Aristotle's principles of three unities, this Four Movement music drama takes place on August 6, 1826, the fateful day when Beethoven's beloved nephew shot himself in the head. Beethoven, forced to review the soul record of his life, ponders the universal question that has plagued him, Hamlet, and all of humankind since the dawn of time: 'To be or not to be?' Yes, for any soul-searching being, this is always the question."

So why is she using crowdfunding?

"The contributions to Indiegogo will help us commemorate on August 5, 2017, the 191st Anniversary Eve of that earth-shattering day. An anniversary encore performance will take place on Sunday, August 6, 2017," she said. "By the way, these synchronistic dates were not picked by human design, but were divinely-timed by the powers that be - stunning both co-founders!"

So when asked what is the genesis of this Beethoven play? Sansone-Braff explained, "I wrote this play after seeing the movie, Immortal Beloved. Although I had been a working psychic/medium for years, I had never had the experience of having any famous deceased person channel thorough me. While I was watching a movie, all through the movie I kept getting messages from the 'Other Side' telling me things like, 'They tampered with facts. This isn't true. You can look it up for yourself.' I soon realized that the messages were coming from Beethoven himself."

That experience was certainly a surprise. "I was awestruck, since I knew very little about the man or even about his music. This was 1995, and I wasn't computer literate to just go and Google the facts, so I assembled a collection of books about Beethoven and fact checked - and lo and behold there was a great deal of tampering with the facts concerning Beethoven's life throughout this movie [Immortal Beloved]. After reading at least ten of the books about him, I discovered that Beethoven was greatly concerned that his biographers would not tell the truth about his life," she noted. "It was his heartfelt desire that whatever might be written about him and his life, just be written with an absolute adherence to facts and truth. Even if these truths might cast a dark shadow upon this or that person or even upon him. Beethoven just wanted anyone who wrote anything about him to just tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about him, and this is what I have tried to do. I also had to fill in the dots, as well as connect the dots, to figure out some of the more mysterious aspects of his life. The overwhelming majority of his biographers have been men and they failed to adequately understand the drama and trauma of his childhood and early life, which greatly influenced his music and his actions. I have tried to bring a deep understanding of the heart and soul of this musical genius to the stage."

Sansone-Braff concluded, "Furthermore, any generous contribution can help us make this a first-rate theatrical production a worthy tribute to the man, the myth, and the music. Our Indiegogo goal of $3500 will help us pay for the scoring of the music as well as so many other things. For example: segments of the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 9th symphonies are used throughout the play. Beethoven's Mass, Missa Solemnis, and his opera Fidelio are also featured. We also need to pay for the rental of the BACCA Arts Center. We need funds to help with the set that takes place on the hilltop site known as the ruins of Rauhenstein in the quiet Helenental production. We need to recreate a forest scene with some ruins and a bench. The funds would also help with the costumes involved. We need for Beethoven, 19th century attire: a top hat, long black coat, trousers, jacket, vest, white shirt, and scarf. We also need a Beethoven wig. The chorus members need Greek tunics that can transform into Egyptian robes. Josephine needs a 19th century long white gown. There is also an Egyptian dancer who needs a tunic, wig, and gold wings. Karl needs a period appropriate suit of clothes as well."

There are perks to contributing to Beethoven's Indiegogo. "For your contribution we have reserved seats, a commemorative poster, and your name will appear in our program," she explained. "For people who contribute, but who cannot attend the performance, our Seraphims and Cherubims will get an autographed copy of the manuscript, their names in our program, an autographed copy of the program, and commemorative posters. Our Thrones, Dominions, and Virtues will receive their names in the programs, a copy of the program, and a commemorative poster."

For the purposes of background it should be noted that co-producer, playwright, stage manager, director, and actor, Cindi Sansone-Braff is perhaps best known for being one of Long Island's top psychic/mediums (voted and awarded Best Psychic 2010-11-12-13-14 by Long Island Press). She is also an award-winning playwright, dancer, entertainer, and the author of two self-help relationship books: Grant Me a Higher Love and Why Good People Can't Leave Bad Relationships. Sansone-Braff used all of her diverse skills to create Beethoven's Promethean Concerto in C Minor Wo0 over a four-year period. She has also written five other plays dating back to when she received a BA Degree, in Playwriting, from University of Connecticut.

Spielberg, who is currently reading scripts for Where Are They Going Theatre Company, as an afterthought had one more tidbit about crowdfunding to offer. "It's [crowdfunding] the best way today to raise money for small projects," he noted. "For bigger scale projects over $50,000, you should reach out to private investors with a 501c3. It helps incentivize investors because it means their donations are tax deductible, so yes, of course (501c3). We are in the works of producing our next play now. We try to keep challenging ourselves so this new play will be very different than Extinction."

For information about Where are They Going Theatre Company visit www.wherearetheygoing.org.

For information about Beethoven's Promethean Concerto in C Minor WoO visit www.indiegogo.com.

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