RED BANK: PUTTING TEDx INTO PLAY AGAIN

sheehanThe wisdom of the late Red Bank physician and international running philosopher Dr. George Sheehan is channeled by his son Timothy Sheehan (inset), in a TEDx Navesink presentation Saturday at Two River Theater.    

What is TEDx Navesink? Among other things, it’s “nonfiction theater” in which “every talk is a dramatic arc about ideas.”

Or so said Rumson-native, software entrepeneur, actor and venture capitalist Brian Smiga speaking to redbankgreen last year about the inaugural version of the event, which he organized.

The concept of nonfiction theater again takes center stage this Saturday, as the second annual TEDx Navesink event commandeers Red Bank’s Two River Theater for a full day of live talks, performances and art exhibitions built around the theme of “play” — “a facilitator of greater openness, tolerance, creativity and curiosity” that can act as “a positive and resourceful force at any age,” says Smiga.

DanielsDiasCartonAmong the speakers scheduled for Saturday’s TEDx Navesink conference are (left to right) former Count Basie Learning Center director Dennis Daniels, Two River Theater Company artistic director John Dias, and Augie Carton of Carton Brewing Company.    

Established in California nearly 25 years ago, the nonprofit TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) events have drawn media moguls and musicians, spiritual leaders and scientists, philosophers and philanthropists, former presidents and future Nobel winners to the stage for tightly-timed talks on the big themes governing globally connected life in the new millennium. While entry to the main TED events can run to many thousands of dollars, a free online cache of talks from past TEDs has been viewed more than a billion times — and, with the blessing of the primary organization, a series of independent regional “TEDx” events like this one have sprung up all over the map.

A follow-up to Smiga’s September 2013 TEDx Navesink debut at Brookdale Community College, the 2014 event assembles some two dozen guest speakers — ranging from research professor of psychology Peter Gray (on “The Decline of Play and Rise of Mental Disorders“) to “Canadian hip-hop playwright and former tree planter” Baba Brinkman — for a program that runs from 8 am to 5 pm, and is scheduled to be recorded live for a global audience.

Of special interest to Red Bank-area attendees is an appearance by Timothy Sheehan, who screens a film and discusses the legacy of his late father, borough-based physician and world-famous “Philosopher King of Running” Dr. George Sheehan. Two River Theater Company artistic director John Dias will detail TRTC’s slate of presentations at its Bridge Avenue performing arts center in a talk entitled “We Call It a ‘Play’ for a Reason,” and Red Bank hypnotist James Giunta offers an interactive demonstration of the combined powers of music and hypnotic suggestion.

Two of the most innovative business entrepreneurs from nearby Atlantic Highlands — craft brewer Augie Carton and Flaky Tart owner/ pastry chef Marie Jackson — will speak on the benefits of pursuing one’s professional passion, and how “Healing Ourselves Through Play” can combat and conquer serious illness and injury. From Asbury Park come the creative partners behind the interactive “Augmented Asbury Park” self-tour experience; former director of Red Bank’s Count Basie Learning Center (now Dean of Students at Hope Academy Charter School) Dennis Daniels; and 11-year-old America Rice, a volunteer at (and frequent spokesperson for) the acclaimed Second Life Bikes.

A complete list of guest speakers can be viewed here. Visitors to Two River Theater in advance of Saturday’s event can view an exhibit (curated by contemporary art historian Elizabeth Urbanski) in which five New York and New Jersey artists — including Erik Johanson of Tinton Falls — examine the concept of play through sculpture, in a free lobby display that runs through May 9.

With a limited number of admissions having been made available, the TEDxNavesink conference is, sold out at 245 tickets with a growing wait list. Admissions are $90 per person, and include reserved seating, swag bag, catered networking lunch and admission to an evening reception. Go to the TEDx website or the Two River Theater box office to check on availability.

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