Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: David Schein

72: David Schein

Complete the musical play, ”Queen City Songs”

A VT native, David is a writer, performer, composer, teacher, producer & arts administrator. He was a co-founder of Berkeley’s Blake Street Hawkeyes, he wrote for & performed with Whoopi Goldberg and was Director of Free Street Theater in Chicago where he helped develop theater & writing programs for inner city youth. David was a founder of One Love AIDS/HIV Awareness Theater in Ethiopia. He served as Director of the Arts Council for Chautauqua County in Western NY & the Willowell Foundation in Vermont. His musical play TOKENS: A Play on the Plague won many awards in the Bay Area. He’s performed his solo piece, Out Comes Butch, in the USA, Canada & Europe. He authored a collection of performance poetry, My Murder & Other Local News, & a novel, The Adoption. David volunteers as Associate Director of Big Heavy World & is the coordinator of Make Music VT. He works as grants & program manager for Alnôbaiwi, a non-profit devoted to preserving & educating about Abenaki culture.

Project description

The funds will be used to partially support artist fees, space rental, materials & production expenses for a production of David Schein’s original theater musical; “Queen City Songs” (QCS) at Off Center for the Dramatic Arts in Burlington. QCS is an autobiographical musical theater piece, written & performed by Schein & musician Ron Rost, based on story-songs set in Burlington. Songs deal with true & fictionalized memories & events from the early fifties to the present time, accompanied by images of specific song settings; Adams School, Archibald Place, a Maple St. backyard, the Barge Canal, Champlain Street before Urban Renewal, St. Joseph’s Orphanage, the town Dump (which was on an Abenaki historical site.) etc. QCS song/stories unearth themes that are serious, funny & nostalgic; the loss of a favorite tree, the class split in Burlington’s South Side between “the hill’ & the rest of the town, nascent VT anti-semitism, boy’s fighting culture, high school gender morés; all to illuminate in high relief a sense of place & cultural changes over six decades of American life. Burlington, the lumber town at the mouth of the Winooski River now a “destination” is the palette for social & personal reflection; the songs are replete with ghosts & revelations – of what is lost, what is innate & what grows anew.

David Schein has created theater work for the last 50 years in many genres. His voice is poetic and musical. He has experience developing shows & touring them. This will be the first production of QCS. If it has “legs” & touches audiences the hope is for other Vermont productions & with “development by doin’ it” & probably some tweaking and rewriting to amplify the universal within the specific, perhaps to tour it through America & Europe, expanding Schein’s established performance network. Spoon River Anthology was written as a collection of poems about a town in Indiana & now is performed all over the world. Can QCS  be the next Spoon River? Art thrives on hope.

Media Sample 1

“If You’re Going to London.” From TOKENS A Play on the Plague written by David Schein & composed & arranged by Candace Natvig English & Schein – about the Great Plague of London.

Media Sample 2

“Skag Table.” Home video sample of a song from Queen City Songs, by David Schein, played and sung by Schein on ukulele.

Media Sample 3

Video performance of “Man in the Moon”  by John O’Keefe’s, performed by David Schein at L’Atelier de la Main d’Or, Paris, France

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Desmond Peeples August 23, 2023