Barbra Streisand’s newly released memoir, My Name is Barbra, clocks in at 992 pages. Famously in control of her own narrative, this long-awaited memoir gives unprecedented insight into one of Brooklyn’s most renowned daughters.
Join us as three cultural observers analyze, discuss and debate Streisand’s autobiographical tome. Filmmaker Ethan Fuirst moderates a panel featuring writer Maris Kreizman, critic Soraya Nadia McDonald, and playwright Jonathan Tolins. The evening includes a Streisand-inspired number by cabaret artist Ella Fartzgerald. Special for this event, on view from the Center for Brooklyn History collection: Erasmus Hall’s 1959 yearbook featuring a photo of 17-year-old Barbara Streisand!
Image: Erasmus Hall High School, Arch, 1959, p. 142. Brooklyn yearbook collection, BCMS.0031. Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History.
Ethan Fuirst is a filmmaker and performer based in Brooklyn. His most recent short film, Rumpelstiltskin, won the OutFest Special Programming Award for Artistic Achievement. His short documentary, The Victorias, received the Vimeo Staff Pick Award at Aspen Shortsfest and was acquired by The New Yorker for their documentary series. Ethan has co-created drag show adaptations of new release books including Blood, Sweat & Chrome and The Queer Film Guide. On April 24, 2022, he hosted Barbra’s 80th Birthday Cabaret (which is exactly what you think it is). He’s produced various theatrical events at 3 Dollar Bill, C’mon Everybody, Nowadays, and Life World. Ethan is a former employee of the Jacob Burns Film Center, the Telluride Film Festival, and the Tenement Museum. He studied film and history at Kenyon College.
Maris Kreizman is host of The Maris Review, an intimate literary podcast from Lit Hub. She is an essayist and critic whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the LA Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, Publishers Weekly, The Ringer, The New Republic, Town & Country, The Cut, Vulture, Glamour, Esquire, GQ, The Toast, The Hairpin, and more. She created Slaughterhouse 90210, a blog and book (Flatiron Books, 2015) that celebrates the intersection of literature and pop culture. She was previously the editorial director of Book of the Month, the editorial director of digital content at B&N.com, and a publishing outreach lead at Kickstarter.
Soraya Nadia McDonald is the senior cultural critic for Andscape (formerly known as The Undefeated). She is the 2020 winner of the George Jean Nathan prize for dramatic criticism, a 2020 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism, and the runner-up for the 2019 Vernon Jarrett Medal for outstanding reporting on Black life. She is also an adjunct professor at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. You may recognize her voice from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, where she is a contributor. She is also a contributing editor for Film Comment.
Soraya’s essay “‘Believe Me’ Means Believing That Black Women Are People” was published in Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World (Seal Press, 2020) and her essay “The Unbearable Whiteness of Oklahoma!” was published in Bigotry on Broadway (Baraka Books, 2021). She was a contributing editor for Film Comment and has contributed criticism to Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
Soraya was a 2018 Eugene O’Neill National Critics Institute fellow and she is a member of the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, and the Television Critics Association. She is a member of the board of trustees of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. Before joining Andscape in 2016, she covered pop culture for the Washington Post, where she focused on issues surrounding race, gender, and sexuality. Soraya graduated from Howard University with a degree in journalism in 2006 and covered sports before pivoting to culture writing. She grew up in North Carolina and lives in Brooklyn with her cat, Princess Buttercup.
Jonathan Tolins is best known as the author of Buyer & Cellar, which won the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Solo Show and was named “Best Unique Theatrical Experience” by the Off-Broadway Alliance during its record-breaking run at the Barrow Street Theatre, before a national tour and being named one of the ten most produced plays in America in 2016. It also enjoyed a London engagement at the Menier Chocolate Factory and was shown on the WNET series Theater Close-Up.
Other plays include The Twilight of the Golds (Broadway, Booth Theatre), If Memory Serves (Promenade), The Last Sunday in June (Rattlestick, Century Center), Secrets of the Trade (Primary Stages), and The Forgotten Woman (Bay Street Theater). He was also represented on Broadway by additional material written with his husband, Robert Cary, for the revival of On the Town.
His film work includes The Twilight of the Golds (based on his play) starring Brendan Fraser and Faye Dunaway, and Martian Child starring John Cusack and Amanda Peet, both co-written with Seth E. Bass. For television, he was a writer for Queer as Folk (Showtime, first season, co-producer), the 2000 and 2002 Academy Awards, the 2003 Tony Awards, Partners (CBS, consulting producer), BrainDead (CBS, consulting producer), five seasons of The Good Fight (Paramount+, executive producer), East New York (CBS, consulting producer), and Schmigadoon! (Apple TV+, co-executive producer).
He is currently the showrunner of the upcoming series Elsbeth on CBS. In addition, he and Robert Cary wrote the script for Grease Live!, the Emmy award-winning live broadcast based on the classic musical, and A Christmas Story Live!, both for Fox TV. Jon has written scripts for Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center, and co-wrote The Divine Millennium Tour and The Showgirl Must Go On for Bette Midler. He has written articles for Opera News, Opera Monthly, TheaterWeek, Time Magazine, and The Huffington Post, and can be heard as a regular panelist on the Metropolitan Opera Radio Quiz. Jon lives in Fairfield, Connecticut with his husband and their children, Selina and Henry. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the Writers Guild of America.
Ella Fartzgerald is a Brooklyn-based cabaret and drag artist with a passion for blurring the lines between theatre and nightlife. Her performances are a celebration of Black resilience, feminine autonomy and queer power. Her creativity thrives at the intersections of storytelling and glamour. Ella can be found performing her monthly cabaret ‘Lovergirl’ at Good Judy in South Slope, Brooklyn.