*The American Dream is the national ethos of the United States, a set of ideals including representative democracy, rights, liberty, and equality, in which freedom is interpreted as the opportunity for individual prosperity and success, as well as upward social mobility for oneself and one’s children, achieved through hard work in a capitalist society with few barriers.
Facing the Bull is a coming-of-age story that spans the life of a woman named Bonna. From a child tomboy, to the young years pursuing the American Dream* in NYC as a thespian, landing a job in the entertainment industry, to starting her own family, including the decade up to the dawn of the Trump era.
Bonna is from a tight-knit, rather typical, traditional, middle American household. On one hand she is undistinguished as most, although, as with everyone, she is special in her own way. She possesses a simple belief in the American Dream and in her ability to achieve her goals.
Her American Dream takes a turn. Barriers which appeared dissolving or nonexistent, slowly begin to reappear. Not only for her, but for seemingly millions of others. Although slight prior indications, she first becomes conscious of subtle shifts while residing in the Hamptons. The barriers between gender, sexuality, class, politics, race, and ethnicity, once unnoticed, and perhaps even supported by her, begin to be seen and in very dark colors. Comments from her band mate regarding sexuality, immigration, and ethnicity start to be murmured. When seeking legal advice for her alternative lifestyle separation, she is void of aid; “there are no laws in place to protect or support you.” No laws? She is dismayed when a lawyer’s dismissiveness for the concern of law is overridden by avarice. As Bonna enters the sandwich generation, her family petitions for her aid and her move down to the South. The subtleties of inequality become not so subtle at our climax. Our main character, fueled by betrayal, faces, head on, the overt and arrogant sexism, greed and injustices foiled by Christian, her brother. Both products of the patriarch, the two characters collide, as their convictions directly reflect growing extremes between the ideology of the American Dream: capitalism and democracy.
Not a rebel. Not an activist. Not even political. After returning to NYC, Bonna finds herself in a crowd among millions of others, who are uniting around the world. Her son asked, “Mom, why are we here?” As they work through the massive crowd, marching toward the “Fearless Girl” statue, perched down in the financial district, a whisper, carried on the slightest breath, Bonna responds, “A great deal has happened.”
All the moments, large and small, of a lifetime, that have led her and millions of others to this “HERE”. This is one marcher's story. This is Bonna’s story: Facing the Bull.
In all stages of development, from the drafting of the script to the showcases, Facing the Bull has received praise. Broadway actor/director/producer Daniel Neiden compared an early draft to the writing of George Bernard Shaw. In 2019 Facing the Bull was presented at the St John’s Theater in Greenwich Village, where it received Show-Score Broadway ratings of 85% positive, with the highest rating at 100%:
“Absorbing, Enchanting, Delightful, Great singing, Quirky”
“Clever, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant”
“Lisa Bonner's music will be resonate in your head for days!”
Where does the project stand now?
In 2019 filming started, then stopped due to the lock down. During that time Lisa rewrote the script and worked on the sound recording for the soundtrack. Now. Hippy Cool is ready to resume production and shooting of the film. The company is currently assembling the team and is seeking funding for filming of Facing the Bull. For opportunities, please reach out to us.
Why is Lisa Bonner the only one who could tell this story?
As the writer, Lisa’s insight into the challenges and her humor and indepth, sensitivities into the awareness of the social complexities regarding our main character are essential to this story. Lisa is an accomplished performer, musician and writer. She’s appeared in several plays, including musicals, comedies, and dramas. She has acted in TV and films, and not only performed in venues throughout New York City but also wrote and produced three albums of her own songs. Additionally, she has worked on the business end of the entertainment industry, and has been heavily involved in her local arts community. Her deep admiration of people, community, and her unique perspective of character, create a great spectrum for cathartic identification. This breath of passion, drive, talent, knowledge and connections has culminated in the creation of Facing the Bull.
HOW FACING THE BULL CAME TO LIFE
In 2012 Lisa started writing the project that would become Facing the Bull. Later that year she held a staged reading with Naked Stage at Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY. In 2018, she presented it at an Equity Showcase at St. John’s Theater in Greenwich Village and in 2019 at the invitation of the creative director at the Tyler Arts Center in Pennsylvania, led way to another version and staged performance reading at Westbeth Theater Center in NY.
THE PRODUCTION TEAM FOR FILM
Lisa Bonner is and has been straddling two successful full-time careers: entertainment and restaurants. In a management role, Lisa has worked at four of NYCs most iconic restaurants or restaurant groups: Trixies, Rowdy Hall (Nick and Toni's organization NY/East Hampton), Cowgirl NYC, and Angelica Kitchen. Her ability to think out of the box to meet the needs of small business operations, in conjunction with 13 years spent working at Universal Records and Jive/Zomba, has given her a unique ability to merge art and business, and has helped her to launch events and initiatives that continue today. For instance, an arts mentorship program she introduced in East Hampton, became a part of the local government called the East Hampton Arts Council. She also founded Hippy Cool Productions, LLC, an umbrella company that includes music, production and publishing. She is a member of SAG-AFTRA and continues to work as a professional actor.
Eric Gast is a veteran recording engineer and producer who has worked with iconic artists including Britney Spears, A Tribe Called Quest, Kid Rock, Billy Ocean, Charlie Parker and more. Lisa first met Eric while working at Jive/Zomba Records and Publishing. They have collaborated on several independent recording projects, including the soundtrack for Facing the Bull.
Marina King was trained in cinematography at New York Film Academy. She has worked on projects including Down With the King, Testament, and Hysterical. Lisa met Marina while sailing, and she realized they had another common interest: film.
Script Advisers Present and Previous
Pamela Kalimanis a published writer, poet, and professor, initially edited Lisa’s work during the initial stages. Pamela’s talent, support and dedication to the piece was essential in preparation for the first staged readings. Later, to accommodate a limited production, Daniel Neiden (Director and producer IMBD and Broadway World) and Laura Gosheff, Founder and Executive Director of Living Lotus Project, were both influential in editing and developing the Equity showcase script presented at St. John’s in 2018. Erin Quinn Purcell worked with Lisa reforming and adapting the Facing the Bull script for a two person performance piece which was presented at the Westbeth performance space in 2019. Erin also assisted the Hippy Cool production team and on set with the short scene from Facing the Bull script titled "Prime-eerily Coffee Shop Talk." President of the Westbeth Artists Residents Council, Erin composed the book for “Urinetown.” Additional script advisers include Kevin Singer, a copy editor whose short fiction has appeared in several literary magazines and anthologies, and Zoé Paddon, an MFA candidate at The New School.
Lisa Bonner’s interest in the performing arts began at age seven with acting. In high school she branched out into Shakespeare, and when she turned 19, after a great deal of grilling from her family, she revealed her desire to pursue acting professionally, which her family supported wholeheartedly. She attended a small college but dedicated drama arts program in Pennsylvania, where the professors noted her talents aiding her to transfer upon graduation to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York.
She has appeared in dramatic, comedic, and musical theater roles, including: Nancy, “The Knack” (Marsha Norman), Miss Scoons, “Angel City” (Sam Shepard), Millie, “Picnic” (William Inge), Snoopy, “You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown” (John Gordon), Martha, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (Edward Albee), The famous Frisco Kate Fothergill, “Girl Crazy” (George and Ira Gershwin), various roles “Vagina Monologues” (Eve Ensler). Professional acting credits in major motion pictures, TV and radio include, voices on regional radio spots, acted professionally in movie scenes along side, John Cusack, Al Pacino, Edie Falco, Paul Hipp, Ron Canada, and TV credits including “Law and Order” and “Billions.”
As a writer and composer, Bonner wrote her first song at the age of 16 and has been a dedicated songwriter since. She’s performed her original songs in New York City at original CBGBs Bonner was also one of the original artists to perform at the CBGB Gallery, as well as the Gallery hosting the release party for the House of Mirrors album. This being Lisa's debut album. She performed on the BMI Cottonwood Cafe Songwriters stage in the downtown era of great up and coming women singer songwriters such as Laura Coyle, Lisa Lobe, Shawn Colvin. Rocked large concert rooms in NYC such as the Elbow Room, Buddha Bar, Bowery Electric, Arlene’s Grocery. She and her bands have made nummerous appearances at Stephen Talkhouse in the Hamptons. She has released three albums of original songs. Her association with the NYC music scene serendipdiously gifted her career in the record business, where she worked at Jive/Zomba Enterprises and Universal Music Group and Motown, in all aspects of recording, publishing, and record making.
During her work in the restaurant industry in East Hampton, Lisa saw a need for opportunities for young people returning home from college, especially young creatives. Drawing on her professional experience, wealth of contacts and ingenuity, she established HOMe, a community-based program that would merge art and business. HOMe’s mission was to pair established artists with young people in a 12-month mentorship project, in creative fields, including writing, fashion design, music, fine arts, lighting design, interior design and even business administration, operations, and bookkeeping. The overall plan was to localize economics, while supporting and enhancing the upcoming young adults with employment opportunities.
The art sections of HOMe grew into the Arts Council to the community Board of East Hampton, which advises the town to this day, and a new writers residency became an annual program at Guild Hall. Lisa’s authenticity, strong work ethic, humor, talent, and intensity, combined with business practicality, innovative approaches, and the desire to work with great people, has and continues to give a platform for artists in all areas.
Bonna and Sarah meet up in a NYC coffee shop, after Bonna returns to NYC. Bonna has been travelling up and down the East Coast of the US for 16 months as a result of being a member of the "sandwich" generation. The scene here is snippet, which takes place in April 2016 of the film's timeline. The conversation quickly turns toward the primary election approaching. The election challenges presented to everyday Americans in the USA and their decisions, and indecisions.
West Beth Reading