By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Region – Sira Naras of Shrewsbury is combining her passions as a fervent consumer of live music and an active nonprofit volunteer by supporting an upcoming fundraiser. “Girl Blitz: Voices for Hope Benefit Concert” will be presented Saturday, April 18, 6 p.m., at Mechanics Hall in Worcester.
Among the lineup of 16 acts to perform is Kristen Merlin, the self-titled band whose lead singer was a top-five finalist in the sixth season of NBC-TV’s “The Voice,” Naras noted.
“I’ve been following this musician and found out that she’s playing in Worcester,” she said. “I went to the website to get tickets and that’s how I first learned about ‘Life Abstract.’”
“Life Abstract” is a feature film slated to shoot this summer, which tells the story of a young woman discovering art therapy as a way to recover from past child abuse. Proceeds from the concert will go toward the independent film’s production costs. Dawna Sirard of Kada Films is its writer and director,” Naras explained.
“As soon as I read about their mission I immediately called Dawna and asked how I can help in my area,” she said. “Mechanics Hall is a gorgeous venue and they have a lot of seats to fill.”
Sirard of Marshfield earned a bachelor’s degree in film studies at Smith College. She also studied at the New Filmmaker’s Program at the Maine Media Center in Rockport. There, she directed and edited two short films, one of which was “Neshomeleh,” first-place winner at the 2008 Northampton Film Festival.
Her work on “Life Abstract” began while in college.
“I was walking on campus with friends and we saw a painting that someone had thrown away in a dumpster,” she relayed. “We sat there speculating on why someone would throw out such a beautiful painting. Then I took it back to my dorm and came up with the idea that maybe it represented something painful that somebody put on canvas and then needed to get rid of it.”
That incident coincided with an assignment to write a short film script. After researching art therapy and child abuse, Sirard developed the idea into her script’s storyline.
“All of a sudden I realized that I had a full-length feature film,” she said. “As the project progressed and more people have come onboard, it became apparent that it was something I could do with other experienced filmmakers.”
The film’s team also includes cinematographer Nancy Schreiber, and producers Alexis Fish and Emma Thomas. They’re collectively hopeful the benefit concert will be successful.
“A concert is a great way for people to donate to the project and get something in return,” Sirard said.
The night of music and dancing will feature two stages with comedic emcees Suzanne Westenhoefer and Mimi Gonzalez. Among the 14 musical acts will be Uh Huh Her with Leisha Hailey of Showtime’s “The L Word,” Melissa Ferrick, Catie Curtis and Antigone Rising.
Tickets are $50, $75 and $175 VIP. The VIP ticket includes seating in the front-row section and a pass to mingle with the performers during a cocktail party at 5 p.m.
Their goal is also to raise awareness by associating with the American Art Therapy Association and Darkness to Light, a movement committed to end child sexual abuse.
“We’ve teamed up with these two organizations with the idea that some of the profits from the film will go to them,” Sirard said. “We’re hoping this film gets child abuse talked about and survivors step forward to make changes to help the next generation of children.”
For more information about “Life Abstract” and to order concert tickets, visit lifeabstract.org.