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This intimate, joyful, haunting portrait of playwright Maria Irene Fornes shows art and friendship enduring in the face of forgetting.
This intimate, joyful, haunting portrait of playwright Maria Irene Fornes shows art and friendship enduring in the face of forgetting.
This intimate, joyful, haunting portrait of playwright Maria Irene Fornes shows art and friendship enduring in the face of forgetting.
577 backers pledged $54,263 to help bring this project to life.

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THE REST I MAKE UP: Maria Irene Fornes

$54,263

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When this Kickstarter ends, you can still support THE REST I MAKE UP by making a tax-deductible donation HERE. Thank you!

"Yes," I said. Thirteen years later, the project we began together – The Rest I Make Up – is almost finished. It follows the mind and memories of visionary playwright, director and teacher Maria Irene Fornes, inviting you into a world where only the moment matters.

And this is Irene, right where we were in 2003. My name is Michelle Memran and I'd love for you to join me in completing this film, and sharing Irene's luminous spirit, delicious humor and sage wisdom with the widest audience imaginable.

 

In 1999, the incomparable Cuban-American dramatist Maria “call me Irene” Fornes agreed to meet me, then a young aspiring writer, to be interviewed for an article. Six hours later, the interview questions remained unanswered but our friendship had begun.

Over time it became clear that Irene, then in her 70s, was suffering from an undiagnosed dementia. She told me that she had stopped writing and didn’t know why. I told Irene that I wanted to write a play but didn’t know how.

One afternoon, we ventured to Brighton Beach with bathing suits and a never-used Hi8 camera. And what we discovered that day became the basis for this exuberant, feature-length film we've made together.

 

“Irene, does the camera make you uncomfortable?” I asked, in a noisy beachside café.

“Don’t you understand,” Irene answered coyly into the lens, “the camera to me is my beloved, the one who wants me always, and I give everything . . . I have . . . to a camera.”

Over the next several years, we traveled with the camera from New York City’s Off-Off Broadway to the idyllic beaches of Cuba, moving through Irene’s expansive mind and labyrinthine memories. At turns master class, artist portrait, love story and Fornes play, The Rest I Make Up celebrates the fierce spontaneity that is Maria Irene Fornes—an artist and educator whose plays and writing workshops helped shape the American theater. 

The film counters society's pervasive view that people lose their value as they lose their short-term memories, by introducing you to an irrepressibly vital playwright who­­—even in the midst of eroding memory, even as she no longer formally writes and teaches­­—is experiencing a remarkably creative period of her life.

This year Irene celebrated her 86th birthday at Amsterdam Nursing Home in New York City, where she is visited by friends, colleagues, and former students from all over the country. And our friendship continues . . . 

Maria Irene Fornes has been called the greatest and least known dramatist of our time. She’s written over 40 plays, won nine OBIE awards, and taught thousands of playwrights across the globe. Off-Broadway’s Signature Theatre devoted its entire 1999-2000 season to her work, and her epic What of the Night? was a finalist for the 1990 Pulitzer Prize. As a teacher and director of the INTAR Hispanic Playwrights-in-Residence Lab in the 1980s, she mentored a generation of Latino/a playwrights, including Cherríe Moraga, Caridad SvichMigdalia Cruz, Nilo Cruz, and Eduardo Machado"We all felt of her like the mother of our writing," as Migdalia Cruz says in the film. "Irene's children – we used to call ourselves."

Irene's influence is boundless and boundary-less. Over the years, we've spoken to dozens of her colleagues, students, collaborators, friends and family members who credit her as an inspiration. "I think of Irene at a time when we actually gave ourselves permission to think about theater as art instead of commerce," playwright Paula Vogel told us. "I think of her if not daily at least weekly. What would Irene do?" Thanks to all who offered their time and incredible insights! Here are some of the remarkable people we spoke to while making the film:

From top left: Rafael "Cuco" Fornes, Edward Albee, Paula Vogel, Kelly Stuart, Eduardo Machado, Ellen Stewart, Lanford Wilson, John Guare, Constance Congdon, Migdalia Cruz, Harriet Sohmers-Zwerling, Joseph Goodrich, Ozzie Rodriguez, Jana Napoli, Oskar Eustis, Carlos Fornes

We've spent the last year editing and now have an 80-minute rough cut, and are so close to the finish line! By contributing to our campaign, you will help us get this film completed and ready for festivals by the summer of 2017. 

The proceeds raised in our Kickstarter campaign will pay for our final finishing costs, which include: 

 

 

  

We had such fun designing these rewards – all of which are intended to bring you closer to Irene, her life philosophy and creative process – and we're thrilled to finally be sharing them with you! 

Get Inspired (with an Irene Mixtape)Listen to an MP3 "best of" sampler of Irene talking about the creative process, taken from conversations with Michelle during the making of the film. This falls somewhere between John Cage, the Dalai Lama and Celia Cruz (Our $35 reward, below). 

Below, from left: Get Caffeinated Fornes Mug, with original artwork by Brian Herrera ($50); Write and Teach 1 includes The Fornes Frame signed by author Anne García-Romero ($250); Write and Teach 2 with Conducting a Life: Reflections on the Theatre of Maria Irene Fornes, edited by Maria M. Delgado and Caridad Svich ($250); Pack a Bag with a DVD/Blu-ray inside this Irene quote tote bag ($100); Put Pen to Paper using our exclusive notebook and pen ($65); A still from a bonus scene in Get a THANK YOU CREDIT! + 3 bonus scenes ($75); Write and Teach 3 includes this bio of Maria Irene Fornes, signed by author Scott Cummings ($250); Promenade (anywhere, everywhere) to the unforgettable songs on this rare Promenade LP from the 1969 production ($300).

Become the Character: "Make a little sketch," Irene would tell me, before we started our writing exercises. I always drew faces, which she would name. Get 1 of 60 LIMITED EDITION ORIGINAL DRAWINGS from our collaboration (framed, named by Irene, signed by Michelle, 4x6). Our $150 reward, below:

Whether it's Alma (Amiga) Stafford, GetOffit YouBums, Agrofa Frabact, or Connie: A Firm Believer in Democracy (below) – these characters are sure to bring whimsy and unexpected delight to any room. Plus, you'll also receive an exclusive Kickstarter-only video excerpt of Michelle and Irene doing one of their writing exercises in Miami.

Your Own Fornes Library: Get all five PAJ editions/collections of Irene's plays, signed by publisher Bonnie Marranca. From The Successful Life of 3 to Mud, Fefu and her Friends to What of the Night? – you'll never be too far from the transfixing worlds of Fornes. Plus, you'll receive a Kickstarter-only reel of performers, designers and fellow playwrights discussing Irene's plays. Our $550 Reward, below:

Explore Letters from Cuba: In addition to your own copy of Letters from Cuba and Other Plays by Maria Irene Fornes (published and signed by PAJ), you'll receive exclusive Kickstarter-only bonus footage of Irene conversing about being an artist with her eldest brother Cuco (a cartoonist whose letters inspired the play), from our trip to Cuba in 2004. Below, our $300 reward:

Go Off-Off Broadway with this sublime photo of Irene taken by photographer Peter Bellamy in 2010 at Judson Memorial Church. Get a gorgeous 11x14 signed print, plus Kickstarter-bonus footage of theater makers reminiscing about their Off-Off Broadway days. Our $200 reward, below:

IS MY DONATION TAX-DEDUCTIBLE?

Donations made via KICKSTARTER are NOT tax-deductible.

To make a tax-deductible donation to support the making of THE REST I MAKE UP you may donate through our 501(c)(3) non-profit fiscal sponsor WOMEN MAKE MOVIES (WMM).

All donations made to WMM on behalf of THE REST I MAKE UP are tax-deductible.

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation BY CREDIT CARD.

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation BY CHECK.

 

How You Can Help

1. Back the Project: Kickstarter is all or nothing – if we don't make our goal, we get nothing.

2. Spread the Word: Even if you can't donate, sharing the link with your family and friends does a world of difference in getting more people to contribute.

3. Follow Us Online: Be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for more information including behind the scenes photos, clips, and anecdotes!

4. Connect With Us: If you have any questions (or would like to contact us for press), send us an e-mail at restimakeup@gmail.com!

Thank you for visiting! Come back soon!

AND A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO OUR TRAILER TEAM:

  • Jeff Yorkes for editing 
  • Max Avery Lichtenstein for his music 
  • Splash Studios for sound editing
  • Francis Turiano for shooting the Kickstarter intro/outro and Travis Duffield for his audio assistance
  • Chris Bennion, James Gossage and Harriet Sohmers-Zwerling for their photos

AND FOR THE PHOTOS ON THE PAGE BY:

  • Irene Fornes
  • Jim Kent
  • Peter Bellamy
  • Anne Militello
  • Marge Avilas
  • Alison Forbes

Risks and challenges

Since we've been working on this project for 13 years, many of our major obstacles have thankfully been addressed and overcome. We're currently in the process of obtaining rights to archival footage of Irene used in the film and rights to various songs, but most of the approvals have been obtained and we're confident the rest will follow suit. So our biggest question right now is once we have the rights, how will we pay for them?

And that's where you're coming in. With your help, we'll raise the necessary funds and finally put all the finishing touches on the film. Then, once it's completed, our major challenge will be to secure distribution and bring the film to the widest audience imaginable.

But it all begins here. Today. With you. One hurdle at a time. Thank you.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1.00

    Come Along

    Thanks for showing your support! You'll receive the latest Kickstarter updates!

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    Wave Hello

    A quote from one of Irene's characters, picked especially for you!

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    Ring the Doorbell

    Our endless gratitude shouted out on social media, and a digital postcard of a production still from the film picked out especially for you!

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    Meet Irene (Stream the Film!)

    Be the first to stream THE REST I MAKE UP on a private link, before it is released to the public. See it before everyone else does! Exclusive to Kickstarter supporters.

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    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Get Inspired (with an Irene Mixtape)

    An MP3 DIGITAL PLAYLIST OF IRENE MUSING on the creative process, culled from her conversations with Michelle during the making of the film. It's called THESE MESSAGES THAT COME, and includes liner notes and a PDF transcript. (See the entry on the Rewards page!)

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film is available.

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    • Stream the Film
    • Digital Postcard
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    Get Caffeinated

    Get your own, LIMITED EDITION COFFEE MUG with ORIGINAL ARTWORK by writer, professor and scholar Brian Herrera. We've chosen some of our favorite Irene quotes from the film, which Brian has vividly brought to life.

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film is available.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Put Pen to Paper

    Irene rarely left home without a pen and paper. Neither should you! Get your very own LIMITED EDITION REST I MAKE UP NOTEBOOK with one of our favorite Irene quotes from the film. Check out the page to see! It's a gem.

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film is available.

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    • Stream the Film
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Get a THANK YOU CREDIT! + 3 bonus scenes

    In addition to a mighty THANK YOU in the ON-SCREEN FILM CREDITS, you'll receive exclusive Kickstarter-backer only footage (three deleted scenes) that we were beyond sad to see go. Whether it's Irene talking about love, fame, rhythm or performing for the camera, you'll wonder why these didn't make the cut!

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film is available.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Notebook
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Pack a TOTE Bag (with DVD/Blu-Ray!)

    You'll receive your own DVD/Blu-Ray of THE REST I MAKE UP (when it's completed – limited to Kickstarter backers), PACKED INSIDE our very special Limited Edition Fornes TOTE BAG. Check out the image on the left!

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Become the Character

    In shared writing exercises during the making of the film, Michelle drew faces which Irene named to be used as characters.

    GET YOUR OWN 4x6 ORIGINAL DRAWING of a character (drawn by Michelle and named by Irene), framed and ready for you. Check out the page to see some of these awesome faces!

    And for extra insight, we'll also send you an exclusive Kickstarter-only video excerpt of Michelle and Irene doing one of their writing exercises in Miami.

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film/DVD/Blu-Ray are available.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Go Off-Off Broadway (+ IRENE PRINT)

    You'll receive a LIMITED EDITION 11x14 PRINT of Irene photographed in 2010 at Judson Memorial Church (where her play "Promenade" was first done in the '60s). See the stunning image of Irene on the left!! To be signed by photographer Peter Bellamy!

    Plus EXCLUSIVE Kickstarter-only bonus-footage of Irene and numerous others (including Edward Albee, Ellen Stewart and Lanford Wilson) reminiscing about their Off-Off Broadway days in the '60s.

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film/DVD/Blu-Ray are available.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Write and Teach 1

    In addition to being a playwright and director, Irene traveled the world as a much lauded teacher. You'll receive a SIGNED COPY of playwright, scholar and educator Anne García-Romero's astonishing NEW BOOK on contemporary Latina playwrights and Irene's legacy, called THE FORNES FRAME.

    Plus, you'll receive exclusive Kickstarter-only excerpts from a workshop Irene taught at the Flea Theater in 2003.

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film/DVD/Blu-Ray are available.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Write and Teach 2

    You'll receive a SIGNED COPY of CONDUCTING A LIFE: REFLECTIONS ON THE THEATRE OF MARIA IRENE FORNES, edited by Maria M. Delgado and Caridad Svich. An extraordinary collection of reminiscences, homages and tributes illuminating Irene's life and work.

    Plus, you'll receive exclusive Kickstarter-only excerpts from a workshop Irene taught at the Flea Theater in 2003.

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film/DVD/Blu-Ray are available.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Write and Teach 3

    You'll receive a SIGNED COPY of scholar and professor Scott Cummings's revelatory BOOK on MARIA IRENE FORNES, which covers not only her biographical past but also richly details the process that led to so many of her plays.

    Plus, you'll receive exclusive Kickstarter-only excerpts from a workshop Irene taught at the Flea Theater in 2003.

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film/DVD/Blu-Ray are available.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Explore Letters from Cuba

    Irene based her play "Letters from Cuba" on letters she received from her eldest brother, Rafael "Cuco" Fornes, in Havana. For this reward, you'll receive "Letters from Cuba and Other Plays," published by PAJ and signed by the publisher Bonnie Marranca.

    Plus, you'll also receive EXCLUSIVE Kickstarter-only BONUS FOOTAGE from our trip to Cuba in 2004. You'll spend time with Irene and her eldest brother Cuco, a cartoonist and illustrator in Havana, as they read the letters that became Irene's play, and discuss his controversial cartoon strips.

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film/DVD/Blu-Ray are available.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Promenade (anywhere, everywhere)

    You'll receive a rare (and much coveted) LP from the 1969 production of the musical "Promenade," by Maria Irene Fornes and Al Carmines, as well as "Promenade and Other Plays" by Maria Irene Fornes (published by PAJ and signed by publisher Bonnie Marranca).

    You'll also receive a special video of Alice Playten singing "Capricious and Fickle" to Irene for her 80th birthday, and a "Promenade Mixtape" of people talking about the production (from interviews for the film), including Lanford Wilson, Al Carmines, Alice Playten, Lee Guilliatt, and Lawrence Kornfeld.

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film/DVD/Blu-Ray are available.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Your Own Fornes Library

    You'll receive all FIVE PAJ (Performing Arts Journal) volumes of Irene's plays, signed by publisher and longtime champion Bonnie Marranca!

    From "Fefu and Her Friends" to "The Conduct of Life," "Abingdon Square" to "What of the Night?" you'll have all the Fornes you want at your fingertips!

    Plus, you'll receive a Kickstarter-only reel of performers, designers and fellow playwrights talking about Irene's plays.

    Note: This reward will be delivered to you before Streaming the Film/DVD/Blu-Ray are available.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Be Our Guests!

    You'll RECEIVE FOUR TICKETS to a preview, premiere, festival, or theatrical screening of the film (does not include travel or accommodation), and BE OUR GUESTS at the post-screening VIP after-party!

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Spend a Day with the Director

    Michelle and her editor Melissa Neidich combed through several hundred hours of footage – and ultimately only 80 minutes made the cut. But there's an immense archive of incredible scenes and moments. SPEND THE DAY GOING THROUGH THIS RARELY SEEN FOOTAGE with the director, exploring recurring themes in the footage or YOUR OWN PURSUIT OF INQUIRY. (Travel to NYC not included).

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Honor the Artist in Your Life

    CELEBRATE WITH US! Honor a VERY SPECIAL artist in YOUR life in the ON-SCREEN credits, along with YOUR name and receive 4 TICKETS to an advance screening (travel not included). You'll also receive a private link to our current rough cut!

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Become an Associate Producer!

    You'll receive an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER credit on THE REST I MAKE UP, a private link to the current rough cut, and four passes to to a preview, premiere, festival, or theatrical screening of the film (does not include travel or accommodation). Plus, you'll be looped into our Producers' Circle updates and be invited to any advance screenings prior to the festival run.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Rough Cut in Your Living Room

    AN INTIMATE SNEAK PREVIEW SCREENING of the rough cut at your home with the director and editor Melissa Neidich! We'll bring the film to your house and screen it for you and your friends WAY before it's released! (Travel outside of NYC not included).

    The director and editor will be there to talk about their process editing the film and to answer any questions. Get the inside story as the film is being finished!!

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Invite ALL Your Friends!

    A PRIVATE SCREENING of THE REST I MAKE UP before it's released at your theater/company for your friends/colleagues, hosted by director Michelle Memran and producer Katie Pearl.

    You'll also receive 30 REST I MAKE UP TOTE BAGS, NOTEBOOKS and MUGS, and your theater/company's name in the film's ON-SCREEN credits.

    Michelle and Katie's travel and lodging are not included if you are outside the NYC area. Scheduling is flexible, sometime after October 2017!

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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    Become our ANGEL (and Co-Producer!)

    COME JOIN US! You'll receive a CO-PRODUCER CREDIT on the film, DINNER WITH THE FILMMAKERS, INVITATIONS FOR 4 to a preview, premiere, festival, or theatrical screening of the film (does not include travel or accommodation). You'll also be included in our PRODUCERS' CIRCLE updates and receive a private link to the current rough cut.

    Includes:
    • Stream the Film
    • DVD/Blu-Ray
    • Thank You Credit
    • Irene Creativity Mixtape
    • Social Media Shout-Out
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Funding period

- (35 days)