Stage Director Gillian Riley Nogeire loves to listen. That skill has served her well over the past year, as she collects stories from local residents for her project Manhattanville: Stories of our Neighborhood.

On March 24th Snorks & Pins Productions presented a theatre piece based on Nogeire’s oral histories. Actors portrayed these stories for the Manhattanville residents that were interviewed. Stories ranged from Larry English’s teen years in Louisiana played by actor Gus Solomans Jr., where he talked about walking through the woods and smoking weed with his friends, then transitioning from the rural community to a different culture in Korea during the army years. Deborah Neill McCavitt portrayed Evelyn Fortna and Lisa Ingram, both of whom sat in the house during the production. Lisa Ingram’s had her work of art portrayed throughout the Chashama studio.

Nogeire, who also lives in Manhattanville, began her work last year at Columbia University when she was asked to turn a student’s oral presentation into a theater piece. She felt inspired to get to know the people of the community and present real stories in a way that captivated the audience. It has worked.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” commented one audience member at the March performance.

That’s what I want,” says Nogeire. “I want people to get to know each other better and help each other to preserve the community that they have and welcome new members.”

Nogeire continues the interviews funded in part by West Harlem Development Corporation. She was given an initial goal to interview 40 people in a year. Although that doesn’t seem like a lot of people for a year, the challenge is to make

Interviewees feel comfortable enough to share their stories.

Nogeire is looking to put on the show a couple of times a year in different venues in Manhattanville. “It’s all about keeping it in the neighborhood, about the neighborhood, for the neighborhood,” says Nogeire.

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