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The Founding and History of Planet Connections
In the fall of 2008 Glory Kadigan woke up with an idea. She called some of her colleagues and asked them to meet her at The Flame diner on the West Side to discuss it further. Most of the people she called responded with little to no enthusiasm – they didn’t have the time or they flat out expressed they thought what she proposed was a preposterous idea, “Artists will never go for this,” one said. Though many were skeptical, a few ears perked up on the other end of the line so a meeting time was set and Glory pulled on her black cowboy boots and rode the cross-town bus to The Flame diner.
At a small table in The Flame Diner Glory proposed her idea for the creation of a festival that would combine her passion for theater and social work. Her idea was to create a theater festival where the artists would use their art to help raise awareness and financial support for causes and organizations they believed in. Despite the skepticism Glory had received earlier about her idea, she still believed that there were artists in the NY community who wanted to use their talent and intelligence to give back to their community – she was right and lucky for her, some of those people were sitting there with her. Around the table were Frank Callo, Amber Gallery, Jenn Boehm and Ryan Metzler. They were greatly intrigued by Glory’s idea and agreed there were more artists out there who were not just concerned about getting their shows to Broadway, but that the NY theater world was full of talented people who were also socially aware and would want to participate in such a festival.
Thus, the creation of Planet Connections occurred. Those present at the meeting became the founders of the festivity and implemented some of the organizational systems that are still in place today. Later on, Katy Rosin joined the team to do PR and came up with the idea to make the festival eco-friendly, further giving back to the community and teaching people how to help sustain the environment. Ramona Pula was asked to lead a Green wing and since then, that wing has continued to develop and has made Planet Connections the first official eco-friendly theater festival in the country.
On year three of the festival, Glory decided to open both a Music and a Film wing since she was interested in inspiring artists from all diciplines. The first music festival at Planet Connections was curated by Rachel Cox and the first Film Festival was curated by TSW. In 2014 Chandra Thomas took over the curation of the film wing as Planet Connections Festivity officially hosted New York’s first Eco-Friendly film festival.
In 2013 Glory Kadigan decided to found the renowned “Playwrights For A Cause” benefit – in an attempt to inspire renowned artists and their fans to use their talent and intelligence to make a difference for the causes they believed in. Playwrights who have presented world premiers with the Planet Connections Playwrights For A Cause include Israel Horovitz, Neil LaBute, Wendy MacLeod, Winter Miller, Erik Ehn and John Patrick Shanley. Performers have included Oscar winner Melissa Leo, Obie winner Mary Beth Hurt, Oscar winner Estelle Parsons, Tony nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger, Caissie Levy, (Les Miserables, Murder Ballad, Ghost, Hair, Wicked, Hairspray), Eric Lenox Abrams (All The Way), Jolly Abraham (Coram Boy, Bombay Dreams), Kate Benson (Good Person of Szechwan), Andrew Garman(Salome with Al Pacino), Alex Hanna (The Flick at Playwrights Horizons), Russell Jordan (Planet Connections Award Winner, Dash), Kellie Overbey (The Coast of Utopia parts 1, 2, & 3; Buried Child), Jenny Seastone (The Wooster Group and the Obie-Award winning play Stay directed by Planet Connections’ Alum Gaye Taylor Upchurch) Phoebe Strole (Spring Awakening, Glee, Hamlet 2), Courtney Thomas (Eve Ensler’s Emotional Creature), and Jonathan Walker (Rocky, The Assembled Parties), Jenni Barber (Wicked, Nance, Putnam County Spelling Bee), Krystina Alabado (American Idiot, Spring Awakenings), Ivette Dumeng (Nylon Fusion) and Dustin Kerns (Wolf of Wallstreet).
Today, Planet Connections is still a place that shelters new and experienced artists who want to use their art to make a difference. Since its inception, Planet Connections Festivity has presented 204 theatrical productions, 75 staged readings, 47 films and 67 bands- all while benefitting 260 different charitable organizations. The staff works to inspire all of these artists to learn how to use their talents to give back to their community, while being environmentally responsible. If you are the type of person who would like to be a part of what we are doing, all you have to do is show up.