Ragtime- HIStory and HERstory matter!
by Cate Murway

The Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library is hosting Ragtime and our Immigrant Story Oral History recording sessions, collaborating with the musical performance, Ragtime, a powerful portrait of life in turn-of-the-century America being held at the Bristol Riverside Theatre.

“Ragtime was a fanfare for the 20th century.” 
[Joseph] J. Russell Lynes, Jr., author/managing editor of Harper's Magazine.

You are cordially invited to call and make an appointment to tell your story. There will be Library staff and volunteers on hand to assist and guide you. These personal Oral History recordings will be added to the permanent archives in the Library collection. They will also be edited into a video and the sound bites and snippets will run at the BRT from March 17th to April 12th.

“Do not play this piece fast…..It is never right to play Ragtime fast….” 
Scott Joplin, composer and pianist, dubbed “King of Ragtime Writers”.

So, come and share your inspiring story!
Many think--erroneously, to be sure--that they have little to say that would be of historical value.
Bring a friend to help you with this informal conversation, which will be at its heart, a dialogue with a thinking-out-loud quality. Your “shares” will provide essential information concerning immigration, and living and working conditions in "the old days" and your firsthand accounts of the past will be preserved for the record.
Your words can help document the diversity of American experiences and the variety of ways that peoples’ lives typify any given social experience. Your story will give pictures to how one coped with the many hardships and deeply constraining circumstances during the last century.
These treasured in-depth encapsulated accounts and personal reflections will provide a cross-generational, cross-cultural, community keepsake; a long term preservation of the answers to historically significant questions. Oral history interviews are valuable as sources of new knowledge about the past as well as new interpretive perspectives.
What begins as an interview may very well become an impassioned conversation across the generations. 
Oral history opens up new views of what went before.  

The prepared Ragtime and Our Immigrant Story Oral History video including your story will play during the Tony Award-winning musical Ragtime that has been called, "A triumph for the stage," by Time magazine.
Ragtime is a musical genre, peaking popularity between 1895 and 1918. Its main characteristic trait is its well done performances of syncopated, or "ragged," rhythm that displaces the beats or accents in the music rhythm such that strong beats become weak and weak become strong.
BRT’s Ragtime professionally “portrays the extraordinary tale of a white, upper-middle class family, an African American couple, and a Jewish immigrant family escaping to America, as they all confront the timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, and hope and despair, in pursuit of the American Dream. With an unforgettable and powerful score, this must-see musical is filled with show-stopping songs such as Journey On, Wheels of a Dream, Back to Before and Our Children.”
Playwright, Terrence McNally collaborated with American composer, Stephen Flaherty and writer/ lyricist, Lynn Ahrens on Ragtime in 1997, a musical adaptation of the 1975 internationally known, [Edgar Lawrence- named after Edgar Allan Poe] E.L. Doctorow novel, which tells the story of Coalhouse Walker Jr., a black musician who demands retribution when his Model T is destroyed by a mob of white troublemakers. E.L. Doctorow’s best-selling novels often focus on the American working class and dispossessed.
This particular work of historical fiction, Ragtime, is set mainly in NYC in the years from the early 1900s until the USA entry into World War I in 1917, but with a subversive 1970's slant. Historical figures and fictional characters are woven in an irreverent way into the narrative, making for surprising connections and linking different events and trains of thought about fame and success, on the one hand, and poverty and racism with figures such as Harry Houdini, Booker T. Washington, J.P. Morgan, and Henry Ford. The play is directed by Keith Baker. Ragtime finished its Broadway run on January 16, 2000.
In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Ragtime number 86 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century and Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-Language Novels from 1923 to 2005.
So, come share your story.

Bianca de Mattia, the Grundy Library Community Services Manager, explained that the Ragtime and Our Immigrant Story Oral History project is a collaborated Library and Bristol Riverside Theatre effort.
She encourages people of all ages to make an appointment for this Saturday, February 21st or Saturday, March 14, 2015 between 11:00 Am – 4:00 PM. The 45 minute session includes set up and guideline instruction for an audio and video recording in the Library exhibit room. The completed production will be 15 minutes maximum. 

BRT Artistic Director Keith Baker started off the Ragtime and Our Immigrant Story program with his introduction to the award-winning novel and musical, Ragtime on Thursday, February 5th.
Dr. Charles Hardy III, West Chester University professor, presented his Oral History workshop on Saturday, February 7th, explaining how to collect your family’s history and stories in a digitization age.

Your story is meaningful. The goal is to “tie in the area residents’ own immigrant stories with the Ragtime story.” 
Bianca de Mattia requested that “people come in a pair, so they can be interviewed by someone who knows them.” Everyone is invited to attend and share “an immigration story; any time period or just an important story they would like to share.”
You are welcome to bring photographs, articles or documents to help illustrate your tale.

An interview is a storied account of the past recounted in the present, an act of memory shaped as much by the moment of telling as by the history being recounted.
The Oral History stories are direct windows on the feelings and on the meanings of experiences filled with emotional resonance, captured stories that should be told. They will be worth a listen!

For more information or to register for the event, call Bianca de Mattia at 215.788.7891 X14.
Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library
680 Radcliffe Street
Bristol, PA 19007

Recommend a "Spotlight". E-mail vjmrun@yahoo.com


Young actor returns home to Bristol Riverside Theatre stage for 'Ragtime'

 By Elizabeth Fisher Correspondent | Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 1:00 am  

Ciaran Barlow doesn’t remember how young he was when he saw the movie “Singing in the Rain” and decided showbiz was for him. He’s lived up to that dream, and he’s only 11.
The former Bristol resident will return to the Bristol Riverside Theatre for a role in the production of “Ragtime.” 

Ciaran performed in Bristol in two previous productions: “Gypsy” and “Inherit the Wind.” His new role as Little Boy, Edgar is more substantial than those roles. But the words stage fright aren't even in the vocabulary of this confident young man, who auditioned via video because his parents moved from the borough to Texas a year ago. 
“Wow, that’s really cool (to get the part) because even if no one’s watching, I’m always singing and dancing,” Ciaran said, adding that he spent his spare time haunting Broadway and Philadelphia to catch the latest stage productions when he lived here. 

Ciaran started his dancing career at the Stepping Stones Dancing Studio in Bristol and since moving to Texas, he has insisted on keeping in step. He studies ballet, Irish dance, acrobatics, and modern dance. 
He’s no victim of stage-mother syndrome either, said his mother, Christa Lydon-Barlow. 
“He’s the one driving this. He sings and dances even when he’s alone in the driveway, waiting for the school bus,” she said. 

“Ragtime” is a musical that highlights life in turn-of-the-century America and the experiences of three families: a family of African-Americans, a family of immigrants and a family of wealthy socialites. The show will run from March 17 to April 12.

Ciaran will arrive in town for rehearsals on Feb. 24. He’ll stay with his grandmother, Diane Lydon, for the duration. 
The youngster had plenty of competition for the role, said Jamie Gilpatrick, BRT’s managing director. 
“There were a lot of auditions for the role, but Ciaron stood out because of his talent. He’s a hardworking young man and I wanted to give him another opportunity to perform here,” Gilpatrick said. 

For show times and ticket information: www.brt.stage.org or 215-785-0100. 

The Grundy Library, 680 Radcliffe St., Bristol, will feature a series of programs related to the "Ragtime" theme. For information on the series: www.grundylibrary.org or 215-788-7891.