Hole in the Wall GangIn 1988, Paul Newman founded the hole in the wall Gang in Connecticut which every year served 800 seriously ill children. The camp has been both widely acclaimed and oversubscribed, prompting Newman and others to launch the new programme in Europe. Incorporated as a limited company in 1992, the non-profit Barretstown Gang Camp replicates The Hole In The Wall Gang experience for European children. Barretstown opened in August 1994, serving 128 children. The 1997 programme welcomed nearly 500 children from 16 European countries as well as providing special spring and autumn programmes for over 400 children, their families and carers. As construction of the new facilities progresses, the camp will grow each season until reaching full capacity, serving up to 1,000 European children each summer and 120 people at a time throughout the year.
About Meryl's involvementIn November 2001, Meryl was part of an all-star cast for a one-night-only performance of A. E. Hotchner "The World of Nick Adams" at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City to raise money for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps. The other participants were Matt Damon in the title role, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Kline, Joanne Woodward, Brian Dennehy, Danny Aiello, Philip Seymour Hoffman and James Naughton. Some of the actors arrived in New York just a few hours before the show, so the director, Frank Corsaro, had little time for rehearsal, and the performers read their lines from the scripts. The biggest laugh was for a bit of dialogue between Ms. Streep and Ms. Roberts, who, playing drunken prostitutes in a railroad station from the story "The Light of the World," were both apparently confronting their lines for the first time. "How can you say that?" Ms. Streep challenged Ms. Roberts at one point. Prepared to respond, Ms. Roberts looked down at the script. "Um," she said, and then, with a comic flourish, turned the page.
Meryl has supported the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps in Barretstown, Ireland in 1997 while she was shooting "Dancing at Lughnasa" as well as the camp in Connecticut in 2004. Here, Meryl recalled how performing in a Hole in the Wall Camp drama was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. “We did the only transgender version of My Fair Lady,” she said. “I played Henrietta Higgins and Bruce Willis played Eli Doolittle - and in fact, he did do very little, with absolutely the worst cockney accent,” she joked.
In October 2010, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp was honored to join forces with the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps in hosting “A Celebration of Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camps” that brought together an outstanding line-up of Grammy-winning musicians, including Hilary Hahn, Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, John Mellencamp, Bette Midler, Keb’ Mo’ and Stevie Wonder with appearances by comedian Bill Cosby and actresses Meryl Streep and Renee Zellweger. The performance took place at New York City’s Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center before an audience of more than 2,200. Joining Streep onstage were kids from all over the world who have attended Hole in the Wall Gang camps, “which extend across America to the world - to Africa, to Asia, to lend to support to kids and families in over 50 countries,” said Streep. “Wow!!”
Links & ResearchHole in the Wall Gang official website
The Barretstown Gang official website
The World of Nick Adams (2001) summary on Simply Streep