All-Arts Trivia-Yeah w/Guest Quizmasters this Sunday Night at The Whig

trivia How much fun was Trivi-Yeah at the Whig, back when Eric Bargeron would slam us up against the wall with what was probably the most clever (and often) most difficult questions in town? Winning was usually out of the question (thanks Les Frogs!), but placing was a thrill! Hell, just winning the best team name was a hoot, even though it was usually because someone who will remain nameless screeched like a banshee.

Well, Trivi-Yeah is back for one night only courtesy of the good folks at the Whig and it benefits the Jasper Project -- and this time Quizmaster Bargeron has created an all-arts slate of questions to spin our brains out of control. And to make it even more interesting, we've asked some guest quizmasters to come in and ask a few questions about local arts and award all kinds of fun prizes in between the standard Bargeron rounds.

eric-bargeron

Eric Bargeron, Quizmaster

_________

Guest Quizmasters:

JAY Julia Elliott

Julia/Liz Elliott - Author of The Wilds and The New Improved Romie Futch

larry-smiling

Larry Hembree, formerly of the Nick, Trustus, SCAC, and current president of the Board of Directors for the Jasper Project

kari

Kari Lebby, musician, podcaster, pop maven, pretty boy

william-starrett

William Starrett, artistic and executive director of Columbia City Ballet

wade-profile-pic

Wade Sellers, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, Columbia mover & shaker, and film editor for Jasper Magazine

_________

Prizes include swag from lots of your favorite arts organizations, books, t-shirts, mugs, pens, stickers, buttons, etc., plus the regular Whig treats and goodies.

6 - 8 pm, Sunday September 25th

$5 suggested tax-deductible donation to the Jasper Project, who brings you Jasper Magazine, 2nd Act Film Festival, Fall Lines - a literary convergence, Marked by the Water, Wet Ink Spoken Word Poetry, and more

For more info -- click here!

JasperProjectLogo

Summer 6s with Larry Hembree - "Listen.Watch.Read.Drink."

Summer 6 Jasper asked local arts leaders to name their 6 favorite summer arts indulgences--ways to spend the kind of fancy-free time that only comes on those slow, sweltering, Southern summer days. Larry Hembree, whose past has seen him employed by or in charge of almost every major arts organization in town, (think Trustus Theatre, the Nick, Columbia City Ballet, SC Arts Commission, and more), chose two each from Jasper's top editorial subjects. His caveat was that each and every arts endeavor also required a little liquid lubricant to either bump up or smooth out the experience.

Here's how the good Mr. Hembree recommends you spend your next lazy summer afternoon.

 

Listens

Showing my age, I always like to revisit Carole King’s “Tapestry,” the 1972 Grammy Album of the Year and one of the bestselling albums of all time. In my past life as a hula-hoop champion (Wham-O produced competitions across the country in the summertime,) I had my most successful freestyle routine to the first cut on the first side (yes, a real album), “I Feel The Earth Move” until the hoop slipped from my hand while practicing one day and cracked the album. Currently, the award winning “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” is running on Broadway and sporting a national tour, which stops in Greenville in February. Listen to this album while sipping good red wine.

Speaking of Broadway, there has been nothing more exciting in many years than the soundtrack to “Hamilton,” oddly enough based on the life of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (and I loathed history classes.) The show just won eleven Tony Awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A very diverse score (and that’s an understatement), you’ll want to play it over and over, maybe accompanied by an Old Fashioned or Manhattan or both. This show will run on Broadway forever. There are no tickets available for the near future.

Carole King Tapestry HIGH RESOLUTION COVER ART Hamilton

 

Watches

Like I needed another television series to get hooked on, I checked out the Netflix series “Bloodline,” mainly because a former UGA theatre student and fellow actor friend, Kyle Chandler stars in it. I was hooked halfway through the first show. A rich narrative, great characters and with an all-star cast including Cissy Spacek, made for plenty to pull one in. The second season has just been released.  It takes place in the Florida Keys so it’s summer friendly. Tequila is perfect with this one.

And then there’s “America Ninja Warrior,” the NBC summer series that’s so hot it makes Famously Hot Columbia feel like Antarctica. Nothing else to say. Just watch it. A case of PBR or Budweiser and/or cheap box wine for this guilty redneck indulgence.

Kyle chandler

pbr

 

Reads

“The Magus,” a 1965 postmodern novel by British writer John Fowles. This is a book that I revisit a lot.  I read it first when I fell in love with John Fowles' popular novel and film of the same title, The French Lieutenant’s Woman.  The novel’s setting is exotic, roaming from Greece to France to the isolated forests of Finland.  The plot’s twists and turns are riveting and Fowle’s pacing is masterful. Accompany this read with ouzo, for sure.

 

Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savanna, by the Lady Chablis. Let’s just call this little read a very sassy autobiographical account of former West Columbia resident and prominent figure in the book and film Midnight in the Garden of  Good and Evil. If you don’t know who she is, dig in to the book. This is a summer must-read for folks who might need some sensitivity training. It’s a quick read and if the narrative is offensive, don’t worry; she also includes beauty tips and recipes.  Prosecco is mandatory for this one and will kill two birds with one stone; use it to make a toast to the power of diversity.

hiding my candy

 

 

*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*

Larry Hembree Captain of Fun

 

Andy Smith for Progress by Larry Hembree

Larry Hembree with Andy Smith and Kimi Maeda I have been asked to write a blog for “Jasper Magazine” about the upcoming election for the City Council at-large position from my perspective as an arts supporter.  I greatly appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts on the election and my staunch support of candidate Andy Smith.

Over the past thirty years, I have served in both artist and arts administrator positions at several non-profit organizations in Kershaw and Richland County, and I spent several years working at the SC Arts Commission.  I have dedicated the majority of my 55 years to promoting the arts while trying to understand their power and impact.

I have served on the boards for arts organizations such as One Columbia for Arts and History, SC Theatre Association, SC Dance Association, and was an original member of SC’s Arts in the Basic Curriculum Steering Committee.

At the same time, I have also served on many other boards in Columbia not directly related to the arts including the City Center Partnership, the Congaree Vista Guild, the SC Gay and Lesbian Business Guild, and my own neighborhood association (the Sherwood Forest Neighborhood Association).

I also participate in other local organizations including church.  I am slightly addicted to Clemson Tigers football and USC women’s basketball.  I grew up in Greenwood, SC and attended Clemson University and the University of Georgia.  I spent a couple of years living outside South Carolina, and have been lucky to have traveled to interesting international places.  As a gay man, I recently got married in SC after a wonderful 15 year relationship with a hardworking, intelligent man with whom I share similar values.

I am  not an intellectual, and I am trying hard not to skew my thoughts in reaction to what the at-large candidates say they are going to do (or not do), how old they are, how conservative or liberal they are, whom they choose to alienate, or who endorses them.  I have followed this election closely, attended some candidates’ forums, read everything I could about all of the candidates, talked to most of them, consider myself a friend to some of them.  And I have pondered all of this ….. a lot.

I unapologetically admit that I love living in Columbia, SC.  There is nowhere else I would want to live for many reasons including the fact that I have been given great opportunities here since I moved here in 1997.  And as I get older, it becomes important to me that others who want to live a wonderful life here get the same opportunities as me.

Without a doubt, a vote for Andy Smith is a vote for the arts, but as we know, there is much more than just the arts at stake as the challenges our city encounters grow every day.

I do believe all of the candidates are nice, genuine people, and I have great respect for all of them, but when all is said and done, Andy Smith is the candidate who understands the larger picture.  If elected, I believe he would become an integral part of fostering the creative talent and energy of our city for the long haul.  His youth is obviously on his side in this case.

With Andy’s education and background, he could have lived anywhere but chose to move back to Columbia when many of his childhood friends left for other places. When I interviewed him for a job at the Nickelodeon Theatre in 2007, the first thing he told me was that he wanted to settle in Columbia and make a difference.  And he has.  He is tireless.  He is passionate.  And he has had time to see the workings of our city for a decade.

I have watched Andy travel all over the U.S. to participate in events and conferences, and then bring what he learns back to our city to figure out how we can assimilate this information and strengthen our core.  He has served on boards of national organizations, and has a huge network of visionaries all over the U.S. who are accessible to him.  And he has a similar eclectic network in our city too.

It’s important to understand that Andy is not living in a cocoon that is centered only on the arts.  One should not assume that he is going to be weak in his understanding of the plethora of other elements that go into making a strong city.  No, he has not had experience in balancing a city budget, in understanding issues related to water, sewer, police, fire protection, codes, infrastructure, etc.  But because he is committed to our city, listens, demonstrates flexibility, and has a vision for where he wants Columbia to be 20 – 30+  years from now, I am completely confident in his abilities.  I trust him to make decisions for all the people of Columbia with rational judgement, an unwavering set of solid values, and the savvy to say no when he disagrees.

To me, this race is about progress.  We like to believe Columbia is becoming a progressive city, and we need a strong progressive candidate to continue moving us in that direction.  That candidate is Andy Smith.

Please take a minute to visit Andy’s website at andyforcolumbia.com, and read more about him.

And please vote on November 3.

5 Playwrights - 5 Directors - 5 Casts of 4 Actors -- 1 Night Only with FEST 24!

fest 24

FEST 24: 5 playwrights, 5 directors, and 20 actors create and perform 5 new 10-minute plays in 24 hours. Always entertaining, always a whirlwind - and not to be missed! You'll truly have a unique experience at this one-night only performance!

This is how it works --

  • 7 pm - Saturday evening (August 23rd):  5 directors show up at Trustus Theatre and pick (from a hat, we can only assume) one of 5 playwrights and 5 casts of 4 actors. A matter of minutes later, the playwrights (not all currently in SC, but all with ties to SC) each receive an email with instructions that they have until 7 am Sunday morning to create an original, 10 minute play that includes 1 specific prop and 1 specific line of dialogue, (which will be announced to the public just before 8 pm on Saturday evening.)

 

  • Night falls, playwrights write, actors and directors sleep - restlessly.

 

  • 7:30 am Sunday morning (August 24th): directors and casts show up once again and meet with artistic/criminal mastermind Chad Henderson who delivers unto them brand new, never performed plays, fresh from the printer and the exhausted imaginations of the now sleeping playwrights.

 

  • 8 am until 7:59 pm Sunday -- directors and casts rehearse tirelessly

 

  • 8 pm Sunday -- YOU show up to Trustus theatre (there are a few seats left, but not many) as the 5 brand new world premiere plays are performed to witness the kind of innovative, cutting edge theatre arts Columbia can now get accustomed to.

BOOM!

This is how we do it now.

~~~

Introducing the actors:

fest 24

and the directors:

Heather Lee

 

Elena Martinez-Vidal

 

Robert Richmond

 

Dewey Scott-Wiley

 

Larry Hembree

 

And the playwrights:

Sarah Hammond

A resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2007, Sarah's plays are Green Girl, The Extinction of Felix Garden, Circus Tracks, Kudzu, and House on Stilts. Honors include the Lippmann Family “New Frontier” Award, Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Heideman Award, commissions from South Coast Repertory and Broadway Across America, and a residency at The Royal National Theatre in London. String, her musical with Adam Gwon, won the Frederick Loewe Award at New Dramatists, a NAMT residency grant, the Weston Playhouse New Musicals Award, and was chosen for the Eugene O'Neill National Music Theatre Conference. Her plays have been produced at the Summer Play Festival at The Public, Trustus Theatre, Hangar Lab, City Theatre Summer Shorts, Live Girls! Theater, Collaboraction, Tulsa New Works for Women, and several universities. Her short plays are published in Ten-Minute Plays for 2 Actors: The Best of 2004 (Smith and Kraus) and Great Short Plays: Volume 6 (Playscripts, Inc.).

Randall David Cook

 

A New York-based playwright who originally hails from South Carolina. In recent years he's had two plays premiere Off-Broadway: in 2007, Fate's Imagination opened at the Players Theatre (Entertaining...Tasty plot twists and some very funny lines, The New York Times), and in 2006 Sake with the Haiku Geisha opened at the Perry Street Theatre (Witty, Observant, The New York Times) and was chosen as one of Backstage magazine's Picks of the Week. His one-act play Sushi and Scones was broadcast by the BBC, and his two screenplays (Quintet and Revelation) were both finalists for the Sundance Filmmakers Lab. He is the Resident Playwright of Gotham Stage Company, the writer of the annual Fred and Adele Astaire Awards (for best of dance on Broadway and in film) and an active member of the Dramatists Guild.

Robbie Robertson

 

A playwright, screenwriter and a graduate of the University of South Carolina and UCLA’s professional screenwriting program. Robbie’s first play, Mina Tonight!, was published by Samuel French Inc. and has been produced in regional theatres across the nation. He is also the writer/director of the musical theatrical production, The Twitty Triplets, which has been produced at Trustus and other local venues over the last two decades years (and set to return in 2015). Robbie’s screenplays have placed in several national contests, and his latest, Sweet Child of Mine, was named one of the top 12 comedy scripts in the Austin Film Festival’s Screenwriting Competition. Last year in NYC, Robertson staged a sold out run of his staged adaptation of the film Satan in High Heels, a work that received its first staged reading at Trustus. In 2013, he was awarded the SC Arts Commission Fellowship in Screenwriting. Robbie thanks Larry Hembree and Chad Henderson for their sincere interest and courage in mounting new works.

Dean Poyner

An emerging playwright, Dean was selected as a Kennedy Center / ACTF Core Member Apprentice at the Playwrights’ Center (Minneapolis, MN) for the 2010 / 2011 season. His plays include: THE MORE BEYOND (developed with Playwrights' Center, Kennedy Center, The Puzzle Festival NYC, The Flea, Semi-Finalist for the 2011 Princess Grace Award), BELLHAMMER, a modern allegory set in the world of Christian Professional Wrestling (developed at Carnegie Mellon University, Semi-Finalist for the O'Neill Theatre Conference), the full-length drama PARADISE KEY (Winner of the 2010 Trustus Theatre Playwrights' Festival, produced at Arena Players Repertory Theatre in NY, Trustus Theatre, Hyde Park Theatre), the Zombie-thriller H apocalyptus (produced by The Salvage Company at the Cairns Festival, Queensland Australia, and at Piccolo Spoleto Festival, developed at The Garage Theatre in San Francisco, and in residency at The Studios of Key West), the full-length drama, LOSING SLEEP (Winner of the 2008 Helford Prize in Drama, and produced Off-Off Broadway at the American Theatre of Actors), and the full-length, two-person comedy, COMPANY TIME (developed under luxurious circumstances at the Players Theatre, NYC.)Dean's screenplay SALK, the true story of the discovery of the vaccine against Polio, won the 2009 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation student screenplay award. Dean graduated from WheatonCollege, Wheaton, IL, with degrees in Philosophy and Communications, and received his MFA in Dramatic Writing at CarnegieMellonUniversity where he was a two-time recipient of the Shubert Foundation Fellowship. He is a Principle Artist with The Salvage Company (NYC), and a proud member the Playwrights’ Center and the Dramatists Guild of America.

Michael Thomas Downey

 

Downey has written plays before and he hopes the knowledge of that makes you feel like the two hundred bucks you're shelling out for a celebrity impersonator to join you at the "legitimate theater" tonight isn't going to waste. The important thing to remember is that Mike is getting out there and is no longer aware of his grotesque limitations. Mr. Downey (Janet if you're nasty) likes huffing gin, shouting at cars, and collecting wall hangings that have printings of that footprint dealie about Jesus. He's six foot one inch tall and would love to talk about the 1984 film "2010: The Year We Make Contact" with you over tea and Bavarian sage rugelach. His wife and children tolerate his frequent Finish Jenkka dancing…barely.

 

 

 

 

Giving Voice to Terrance Henderson - Guest blog by Larry Hembree, Managing Director of Trustus Theatre

Terrance Henderson

Years ago when I was working for the SC Arts Commission in the performing arts arena, I had a strong understanding of theatre and a basic one of music  but I always struggled with dance, especially my ability to articulate what contemporary dance performances are about, what they mean and how they made me feel.  I came to realize that I simply wanted more context before I saw a contemporary dance performance. 

Over the next three weeks, I am going to tackle the challenge of explaining who Jasper Dance Artist of the Year, Terrance Henderson, is and what you should know about the upcoming premiere of his contemporary performance piece, “The Black Man… Complex” as part of the new Trustus Theatre and Jasper Magazine’s “Premieres” series. His performances are at 8 p.m. August 20 and 22 in the Thigpen Main Stage at Trustus Theatre.  For those who don’t know Terrance, among other things he was the winner of the 2009 Bronze Leo Award for Outstanding Jazz Dance Choreography at the Jazz Dance World Congress in Chicago and the only South Carolinian to ever win the award. 

Early Terrance

Terrance grew up in Newberry SC and took part in an after school theatre program there, eventually spending some time in Minneapolis at age 15 (when he didn’t get into the SC Governor’s School for the Arts) working  in a program produced by the Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis.  It was in Minneapolis when he learned about public transit, i.e. how to ride a city bus. He also realized that being Southern was “something different.”  He always thought he would become an actor and eventually enrolled at the University of South Carolina as an undergraduate in the theatre department.  He also decided to take some dance classes there and dance instructors saw that he had potential.  And the ability to do both theatre and dance started somewhat of a struggle.  At USC, the theatre department thought he was more of a dancer and the dance department thought he was more of an actor.  Obvious to Terrance, however, was that he would never make a living in ballet with a body that just didn’t fit in to that world.

I am hoping that people who do know Terrance’s work locally, and who have him pegged as a choreographer of musicals and dance pieces, a dancer and an actor/singer and a uniquely innate dance and movement teacher, see this work and think of him in a new way.   Terrance says he sometimes has a difficult time maintaining his own artistic identity because as a choreographer he often works under a director and is part of that dream, not necessarily being able to affirm his own dream.  But in this dream he is the sole creator.

The Voice and early snippets of this premiere

Ten years ago Terrance was participating in a text to movement class at the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, Maine where he had a profound out of body experience brought on by his grief from the death of his grandmother. Through this experience, it became clear to him that as an artist he had permission, the responsibility and the talent to be a catalyst for change. In about 2006, he began to keep a journal where he wrote down his private thoughts about the world around him, specifically tied to who he was and how his role in society was manifested.  Much of the text of the premiere comes from this journal. In 2011 the initial concepts of The Black Man…Complex began sparked by Terrance’s invitation to be a guest artist with a repertory company at the Rogue Festival in Fresno, California. Here, he presented a ten-minute duet called “Two Brothers.”  The following year he applied to be a part of the festival and created another short piece called “A Hole in My Bucket.”  These were the initial works that became part of this larger Columbia premiere.

I am always intrigued by why artists choose to create the work they do and the process of creation, how things begin and when an artist knows when to put the brakes on the initial creation process and just present their work.

The Work

Since this work is his own personal journey capturing his thoughts about his identity and how he participates in the acceptance of that identity, he calls upon all of his skills as a singer, actor, dancer, writer and poet to create “the voice” that drives the piece. The entire work is actually ten separate pieces but he most likely will not present all of them …yet.   As far as the actual production (which is one act without an intermission) Terrance formally describes it as “A tapestry of movement, sound and images incorporating original text and choreography with a wide variety of music.”   The performers are Mario McLean, Jabar Hankins, Kendrick Marion, Jonathan Smith, Sam McWhite and Henderson.  With sections of the piece including titles like “A Farewell to Obligation,” “We Are The Sons of Misunderstanding" and “Naked Soul and My Feet,” it might seem driven by an episodic narrative but Terrance insists that in order to work audiences must be moved by the whole tapestry and that its success will lie in its feeling inherently organic, never like a “show.”

I am somewhat guilty in trying to assign meaning and motivation to everything artistic and creative and I beg Terrance to tell me whether this work is a tension filled angst ridden work informed by his being a black man growing up in the South but he simply won’t go there and says it’s not about black or white or color.  I am curious and excited to see how his voice interprets inequality, racism, homophobia and the struggle of the black man … on some level, things that are part of my own understanding of being a Southerner.

The Experience for Me

The original audiences who saw the first shorter incarnations of the work in California were audiences used to understanding avant garde performances and original works.   Terrance hopes that the content of this first Southern premiere will be even more meaningful to the audience who should identify with that aspect of the work that West Coast audience may not have understood. But I ask him if I going to feel uncomfortable watching the performance.  Without missing a beat, he says that because he embraces and respects the power of art, he takes his responsibility as a human and creator very serious and that “comfortable” or “uncomfortable” are not concepts that enter the creative process.  In this instance, it’s not his job to entertain but to awaken.

Original work is something that I have always been interested in and have participated in as a writer, director and actor.  One of the major reasons for presenting this work is that Trustus wants to become more aggressive in presenting new live work eventually branding it as part of the Trustus identity.  The challenges are many from engaging an audience to participate to figuring out what the next steps are once a piece is performed or executed. 

Where do we go from here?

After each performance there will be a facilitated discussion with the audience about the work so that Terrance can get constructive feedback to help mold the next performance.  He does not see this performance as the end of the work but hopes to get some great footage and submit it to other places to allow him to continue to grow the piece.

terrance dancing 2

There is nothing more fun than to sit in a room of artists and talk about who has influenced their work the most. Terrance remembers seeing Alvin Ailey who he saw on the Phil Donahue show as a kid which was the first time he saw black dancers. He also gives the utmost respect to Cindy Flack of the USC Department of Theatre and Dance;  Marc Joseph Bamuthi of The Living Word Project; choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer Bill T. Jones and Kris Cangelosi, Artistic Director of the Cangelosi Dance Project, who he says made it a possible for him to have a career in dance. But he does admit that his spiritual guru is Nina Simone, the high priestess of soul. My gut feeling is that we will hear her voice in this show alongside his. I hope so.

Part II - coming soon

Larry Hembree - Managing Director, Trustus Theatre

 

Deborah Brevoort's "The Velvet Weapon" Wins 2013 Trustus Playwrights' Festival - Chad Henderson Directs Staged Reading Saturday, August 10th

The Velvet Weapon, by Deborah Brevoort, is the winner of the 2013 Trustus Playwrights' Festival, and will receive a full production in the summer of 2014, preceded by a staged reading  this coming Saturday, August 10th, at 2 PM on the Thigpen Main Stage at 520 Lady Street in the Vista.  As sponsor of one of the nation's longest-running play festivals, Trustus has nurtured and fostered the growth of new playwrights such as David Lindsay-Abaire, who later went on to win the Pulitzer Prize.

Over the following year, each winning playwright has the chance to develop the script for production, with the opportunity for input from and consultation with members of the Trustus staff and company, based on feedback at the initial staged reading.  This year's reading will be directed by Chad Henderson, chosen by Jasper readers as the 2012 Theatre Artist of the Year.  Included in the cast are Paul Kaufmann (Next to Normal and I Am My Own Wife at Trustus) Raia Jane Hirsch (The Motherf*@%er With the Hat at Trustus, Pride and Prejudice with SC Shakespeare Co.) Kayla Cayhill (The Shape of Things at Workshop) Trustus Managing Director Larry Hembree, Eric Bultman, and Chelsea Crook.

The reading is free and open to the public, but seating is limited; the bar will be open, with liquid refreshments for sale.

Deborah Brevoort holds an MFA in Playwriting from Brown University and an MFA in Musical Theatre writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she currently teaches. She also teaches in the MFA playwriting programs at Columbia University and Goddard College. Her web site is www.DeborahBrevoort.com.  She is perhaps best known for her work The Women of Lockerbie, which won the Kennedy Center’s Fund for New American Plays Award, and the silver medal in the Onassis International Playwriting Competition. It has been produced across the U.S., as well as in Scotland, Japan, Greece, Spain, Belarus, Poland, Australia and England, and has been translated into seven languages.

The Velvet Weapon was inspired by the Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia, and is described as "a hilariously smart backstage farce that will leave you laughing while also engaging you long after you've left the theatre," and "a humorous exploration of populist democracy told through a battle between high-brow and low-brow art.  At the National Theatre of an unnamed country, a matinee audience rises up in protest over what is being performed on stage, and demands something new. They begin a performance of their own of The Velvet Weapon, a play by an unproduced playwright of questionable talent."

 The author kindly agreed to share some thoughts with Jasper via e-mail in this exclusive interview!

Deborah Brevoort, author of "Thye Velvet Weapon," winner of the 2013 Trustus Playwrights' Festival

Jasper:  You have written drama, comedy, and the books for musicals.  Is The Velvet Weapon your first venture into farce?

Brevoort:   Velvet Weapon is my first farce, although one of my previous plays, The Poetry of Pizza, an Arab/American comedy about love, used elements of farce here and there. Albert Bermel, who wrote the definitive critical study on farce, said that it was “an older dramatist’s medium, because the techniques involved are so formidable.”   That surprised me; farces tend to feel so slight. They are like meringues that melt the minute they hit your mouth.   So, I wanted to try my hand at the form to see what was so difficult.  I was greatly humbled by it, I have to say.   These “slight” little plays are built like Swiss watches!

Jasper:  Do you find it challenging or difficult to move from one form to another, or does that give you a sort of freedom, to work in whatever form suits the material?

Brevoort:  I love writing in multiple forms.  I always find it difficult to move back and forth between them, but that is also the pleasure of it. As a writer, I have a couple of rules for myself. One is that I don’t ever repeat myself.  Another is that in every project I do, there must be something that I don’t know how to do. These rules help to ensure that I am always stretching myself as an artist, and that I don’t stagnate, or get too comfy.

Jasper:   Your theatrical career began at Alaska's Perseverance Theatre, and from there you moved into writing - how did that transition take place?

Brevoort:  I was the Producing Director of Perseverance Theatre, which means I was the person who raised all the money, and was the public administrative face of the theatre.  But Perseverance was an unusual company, because we were basically a group of artists who administered ourselves and the company. I started out as an actor, and worked in the acting company for the better part of 13 years.  I had always wanted to be a writer, so when we started offering playwriting classes at the theatre, led by Paula Vogel and Darrah Cloud, I took them. Paula snatched me out of the class, told me I was writer, and gave me a fellowship to come to Brown University to make the switch from theatre producing and acting to writing. I accepted the fellowship, and moved to NYC, where I’ve been ever since, working as a playwright, lyricist and librettist.

Jasper: I gather that contemporary themes, especially relating to political and social topics, recur in your work, although perhaps sometimes not overtly. Do you have a particular goal in your work?

Brevoort:  I am not aware that I have a political agenda or even that I have political themes - I just write what interests me.  And I am committed to writing each project truthfully, whatever that may entail.

Jasper:  How easy or difficult is it to make the audience think while still entertaining them?

Brevoort:  There are plenty of techniques you can use as a playwright to make an audience think or feel.  To me it’s simply a matter of craft.  It’s no harder to make an audience think than feel—it just requires different tools.  I do have to say, however, that the hardest thing to do is to make an audience laugh. That is 100 times harder than to make them cry.

Jasper:  Why did the "velvet revolution" in Czechoslovakia appeal to you as source material?

Brevoort:  I was very good friends with Pavel Dobrusky, a Czech scenographer who defected from the former Czechoslovakia and came to work with us at Perseverance Theatre in the mid-1980’s.  When the Velvet Revolution happened in 1989, Pavel worked with us on production called Wonderland, a sort of Alice-in-Wonderland take on the events taking place in Eastern Europe.  It was one of my favorite productions at Perseverance Theatre.

Fast forward 15 years:  Pavel and I both now live in NYC and got to talking one night about The Velvet Revolution and how we’d love to make a theatre piece about it.  Pavel knew all the theatre artists who had been involved—they were his old friends.  We put together a grant request to CEC Arts Link, which gave money to theatre artists to do projects in Eastern Europe.  We got the grant, which enabled the two of us to go to both the Czech and Slovak Republics and to interview all the artists who collaborated with Vaclav Havel to bring down the Soviet regime.  We spent about a month conducting intense, in-depth interviews with 43 of the ringleaders.

After the interviews, I remarked to Pavel that the Velvet Revolution was like one, great big back stage farce. Literally.   So, I wrote the play as a farce.

The goal was for Pavel to eventually direct the play.  But unfortunately, Pavel passed away.

Jasper:   Once you finished the play, you had readings at La Mama and the NJ Playwright’s Theatre?  How did that process work?   

Brevoort:  In addition to getting a CEC Arts Link grant to do the interviews, I got a playwriting fellowship from the NJ Council on the Arts, to write the play. The reading at the NJ Playwright’s Theatre was part of that fellowship.  Pavel directed the reading, which was done for about 30 NJ senior citizens, all of whom thought I was writing a satire about Obama.

The La Mama reading was part of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts “Performing Revolution in Central and Eastern Europe” festival, a citywide, 5-month event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.  Pavel was no longer in NYC at that point, so he didn’t direct the reading. Many audience members at the reading were from Eastern Europe, so they got all the references in the play and recognized it as the story about Vaclav Havel.  The other half knew nothing about the Velvet Revolution and thought I was parodying populist democratic movements taking place around the world.

In February of this year I had a reading of the play at William Patterson University in NJ, and this time the audience thought I was writing about Occupy Wall Street.

This of course tickles me to no end; it was my goal that this play be about populist democracy not about the Velvet Revolution—and it appears to be working on that level because people are seeing references to American politics or world politics in it.  But I have also loaded the play with lots of inside jokes and references that only Eastern Europeans would “get”—and they seem to be “getting” them.

Each reading helped me to CUT the script. Speed of delivery is necessary for farce. If you have one syllable too many in a line, you won’t get a laugh.  So these readings have helped me to pare each line down so they work like darts.

Jasper:  How did you discover Trustus and the Playwrights' Festival?

Brevoort: I have heard about Trustus for many years,  most recently when I was the playwright-in-residence at Center Stage in Greenville, SC.  I’m delighted to get a chance to work with them!  I’ve never been to Columbia, so I don’t know anything about the community, and am looking forward to coming down and being there next year for rehearsals.

~ August Krickel

Trustus's Off-Off Lady Series presents Red - a review

Trustus launched the first play in its Off-Off Lady Series on Wednesday night with a production of John Logan's Red at the Columbia Museum of Art, coinciding with the Mark Rothko exhibit now on view.

It was just plain fun to arrive at the art museum and be directed around back and up a ramp to get to the captured theatre space where the play would be presented. Once in the bowels of the art museum -- in rooms and hallways few of us ever enter -- we were then directed to board a monstrous freight elevator where we were transported to an even more massive warehouse/storage area resembling an empty parking garage. There to the left was an elongated theatre space created via pipe and draping with a single row of chairs lining the drapery walls. Center stage, on the same level as the chairs, was created by renown design artist Christian Thee, and it, in almost every way, did an excellent job of replicating Mark Rothko's Bowery art studio at the end of the 1950s. Barry Sparks' lighting design, which had to have been challenging given the unusual theatre setting, lent a desired sense of staleness to the milieu indicative of Rothko's disdain for natural light.

Red is about the period in Rothko's life during which he was commissioned to create art for the Seagram Company's new, and now famous, Four Seasons Restaurant. An abstract impressionist, Rothko was offered a hefty sum of money for the time, and through dialogue with his assistant, a fictional character named Ken, he addresses issues of compromise, the value of art -- particularly postmodern art -- and the value of intellect. The questions are provocative in the kind of way that makes the audience want to hit "pause" on the play so you can talk with one another about the merits of possible answers before continuing on with the plot.

Unfortunately, Harrison Saunders, the actor playing Rothko, made some of us want to hit "pause" on occasion to turn down the rage. It wasn't that Saunders was unable to summon Rothko's anger and seeming disgust at the state of arts affairs in a postmodern world -- he did so well and convincingly; it was his lack of ability to modulate the irateness of the artist that felt grinding as the play wore on. While it would be unfair to compare Saunders' performance to that of Alfred Molina who played Rothko in the Broadway play, what we do know of Molina's performance is that it gave the character the opportunity to build from a simmering peevishness to the kind of tremoring rage required of the final scene when the artist decides against selling his art to the Four Seasons. Saunders, on the other hand, went from zero to sixty in the first act and stayed there all night.

Luckily Bobby Bloom, who played the role of Rothko's assistant Ken, responded appropriately to the building conflict, doing a fine job of being at once Rothko's sounding board and his punching bag, while at the same time maintaining his own agency as an artist.

Red was written by John Logan, who we know most recently from the screenplay for Hugo. Included among his earlier award-winning works are The Aviator, the Last Samurai, the Gladiator and a dozen more screenplays of note. Despite its limited run on Broadway -- it opened in London in 2009 -- Red won six Tonys in 2010.

Inconsistencies aside, the experience of seeing Red at the Columbia Museum of Art is something that should not be missed. Kudos to managing Director Larry Hembree, who directed this show, and artistic director Dewey Scott-Wiley for conceptualizing this experience. We'll go see Trustus performances no matter how far off-off Lady Street we have to travel.

Red continues through October 14th at the Columbia Museum of Art/ For tickets call Trustus at 803-254-9732

 

 

 

[Vista] Queen of the Night?

Jasper is very much a 21st century kind of guy, so when he hears of old tropes like "beauty pageants" he usually turns up his nose in distaste.

Usually.

But when a pageant has been turned on its head the way that Larry Hembree, past executive director of the Nickelodeon Theatre and incoming executive director of Trustus Theatre,* has turned this year's [Vista] Queen of the Night Pageant, you can safely assume that many of the tired old trappings that typically make beauty pageants so declasse have been tossed out with the trash. (Apologies to Chris Bickel, pageant contestant.)

Starting with the gender and sexual orientation of the contestants.

Hembree is taking us back to the glory days of the Vista Queen Pageant when hetero gentlemen the likes of Jakie Knotts and Sheriff Leon Lott donned their gay apparel and fought it out like proper the proper bitches they are for the crown and the title of Vista Queen. Recent pageants, though exceedingly entertaining, have featured, let's just say, gentlemen to whom lip gloss and eye liner felt a little more natural.

Contestants hiding their candy this year include Chris Bickel (featured as the centerfold of Jasper #002,) the mighty Tom Hall, our buddy Otis Taylor, news anchor Anderson Burns, actor Gerald Floyd, and Historic Columbia's director of Cultural Resources, John Sheerer.

 

 

Clay Owens is the stage manager, and Terrance Henderson (featured in Jasper #001) is the choreographer -- Alexia Bonet and CJ Grant will be serving as out hosts.

Judges are Ya Ya Queen Debbie McDaniel, who is also a generous sponsor, Sarah Luadzers from the Congaree Vista Guild, playwright, Robbie Robertson, and City Counselor Cameron Runyan.

The winner of the title of Vista Queen will be adorned with a beautiful sash, sponsored by your friends at Jasper Magazine and handcrafted by the hardest-working-artist-in-Columbia, Susan Lenz.

Tickets to the event are sold-out, as well they should be, but for those lucky enough to have scored a ticket, doors open at 6 and the show starts at 7.

For additional information, visit www.trustus.org or visit the event page “(Vista) Queen of the Night” on Facebook.

*(Full disclosure - this blogger sits on the Trustus Theatre board of directors.)

Have YOU Written Your Six Word Arts Essay Yet?

We did it for the third time last night. Gave people a slip of paper, a Sharpie, and two thumb tacks and asked them to write what the arts meant to them in the form of a six word essay then pin it up on a board. The first time we did it was last Saturday afternoon at Clark Ellefson's new studio space on Huger Street back behind One Eared Cow. (The space is pretty phenomenal -- I can't think of anything in the city that compares to it in quality of design. Look for an article on Clark and his space in the July issue of Jasper Magazine.) We were celebrating Artista Vista with a poetry reading conducted by Kendal Turner. Lots of lovely poets came out to share their words -- and we were all inspired by the display of Jen Rose's exhibition, Neural Foliage. (Jen's work, which involved three constructions of three large canvases, lit from within, is inspired by her work with and interest in mental illness -- fascinating and beautiful.) Congratulations to Jen, by the way -- this exhibition marked the completion of her her work for her MFA.

 

 

Back to the Six Word Art Essay Project -- We'd been interested in inviting the community to take part in something like this for a while, having heard about similar projects on NPR, so the time seemed right. We followed up our first session on Saturday afternoon with another one that night at the Indie Grits Closing Party in an old bank building on Main Street. (My condolences if you missed this party. It was one of those nights when the vibe was right and it was just a great event. Special thanks go out to Wade Sellers who put together a pretty tight little interactive film experience, as well as the good and godly gentlemen of the Greater Columbia Society for the Preservation of Soul who spun like mad for us.) Over the course of these two events we chalked up several hundred essays.

People seemed to like taking a moment and making a contribution, so we pulled the board back out again last night for First Thursday and I'll be damned if we didn't collect almost a hundred more essays. Some are serious and some are silly, but they're all worth reading so we'll be running them in the July issue of Jasper. And we may even collect more entries at our next event, the Jasper #5 Release Party in the Garden.

 

 

 

So, if you haven't submitted your are Six Word Art Essay yet -- or if you have and another brilliant insight has been visited upon you, feel free to comment in the spaces below. We'd love to hear what you have to say.

 

 

Memorable Theatre Moments from 2011 by August Krickel

Theatre for me is sometimes not about the final product, but rather individual moments that move me, make me smile, or stay with me long after the show is done.  While I didn't see every show in the Midlands this past year by a long shot (and sadly didn't see a single one at Chapin or USC) I can say that I saw the majority of the new, regular-season shows at the three main local theatres (i.e. I missed most of the summer shows, holiday shows, children's shows, and revivals/holdovers from the previous year) plus two shows at Columbia Children's Theatre and another in the Trustus Black Box.

Here then were the best, funniest, and most memorable theatre moments for me from 2011:

- Rob Sprankle's mastery of broad physical comedy, as the vision-challenged Smudge in Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings at Town Theatre.  Drifting aimlessly without his glasses, Sprankle first took a daring plunge off the stage and onto the floor, and that stage has got to be 4-5 feet off the ground at least.  Sure it was choreographed, and a big mattress was stashed there in advance, but still a bold move. Hilarity ensued as he later wandered off stage and out into the parking lot, then knocked on an outside door until an audience member let him back in.

- Chris Riddle's deadpan barbs as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Columbia Children's Theatre's production of The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood.  When asked by the evil Prince what punishment Robin deserves, Riddle anachronistically replied, "I say we should whip him.  Whip him good."

- the send-ups and spoofs of conventions of musical theatre in The Drowsy Chaperone at Town Theatre.  As Larry Hembree paused or replayed favorite moments from an original cast recording of the titular musical, we saw the performers actually freeze in place, often precariously, or repeat their lines or lyrics from seconds earlier.  None took it better than Chad Forrester, a stoic butler on the receiving end of the classic "spit-take," replayed nearly a dozen times. Other highlights included Kathy Hartzog's entrance while reclining on a descending Murphy bed, martini firmly in hand, the cast's reaction when Hembree realizes he has been playing (and they have been performing)a number from the wrong show entirely, and a ridiculous, extravagant  production number accurately described as part Busby Berkeley, part Jane Goodall.

- the dancing skill, glamour, and va-va-va-voomish poses of Maria Culbertson, Grace

Fanning, Katie Foshee and Addie Taylor as the Angels in Workshop Theatre's Anything Goes.  While all quite young, their chic style and professional performances livened up what could have been some middling musical numbers in an 80+ year-old musical.

- the sassy and quotable one-liners from women of a certain age in The Dixie Swim Club at Workshop. Some of the best came from Barbara Lowrance, like how she gave her ex "the thinnest years of my life," or "Just because I'm vain and frivolous doesn't mean I'm shallow." Drucilla Brookshire got her fair share too, such as "I never knew true happiness until I got married, and then it was too late,” and "I traded in my treadmill for stretch pants and a deep fat fryer!"

- Elizabeth Stepp's moonstruck portrayal of Paul, a little boy with a crush on one Lizzie Patofski, of whom he just can't get enough-ski, in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day at Columbia Children's Theatre. Was Paul from Queens?  Brooklyn?  Down the shore? Who knows, but the accent was adorable.

- the feather boa-clad Jocelyn Brannon, channeling performers like Eartha Kitt as a vamp, a camp and a bit of a scamp, telling off a would-be Don Juan in Smokey Joe's Cafe at Trustus. Her sultry delivery was enjoyable enough, but one appreciated it all the more when comparing it to her harsh, tragic portrayal of the long-suffering title character in Caroline, or Change just a few years back.

- individual moments that transcended the material in Spring Awakening, still running at Trustus Theatre through January 21st. Some of my favorites included:

  • the vocal strength of the female cast in the opening "Mama Who Bore Me" number. Whoever was hitting those high notes, they sent chills down my spine when I saw a preview at Tapp's Art Center during November's First Thursday event, and again when the show opened a month later.
  • Patrick Dodds breaking your heart as a boy losing it step by step, moving from comic relief to tragic victim in little more than an hour on stage.
  • the energy of the male cast in The Bitch of Living, managing to depict repressed vitality and sexuality while constricted by the mores of their society. Their explosive, foot-stomping choreography was a sight to see.
  • Avery Bateman and Adrienne Lee, adding a subtle and empowering touch that one could easily overlook. Each character sings about unspoken abuse from her past. Each is essentially revealing this secret to the audience, not to each other or any other character.  When Bateman moves over to Lee's side as they sing, it's the actresses, not the characters (who are miles apart, referring to events years apart.)  There's plenty happening onstage, but I realized that very subtly, the actresses were holding hands, as if to allow the characters to give each other strength and support that they never actually find within the story. I cannot fully express what a touching and moving moment this is.

- an extended seduction stretched out over two separate scenes in Third Finger, Left Hand at the Trustus Black Box, and featuring Kristin Wood Cobb and  Ellen Rodillo-Fowler. At first you're not sure which girl might be gay, and which might be hitting on the other...then it reverses, and then switches back again, literally climaxing in a nod to "Paradise By The Dashboard Light," by way of the "I'll have what she's having" scene from When Harry Met Sally.

- alternating vignettes of dark drama and dysfunctional comedy, brought to life by a dream cast, in August: Osage County at Trustus:

  • Ellen Rodillo-Fowler, brassy and aggressive (and at one point wearing about a quarter inch of black lace and some stiletto-heel boots) just a few weeks earlier in the show above, here playing soft and demure and stoic.  Add that to her histrionics as the drama teacher in High School Musical a few summers ago, and her carefree and saucy chorus courtesans in recent musicals like Evita and Best Little Whorehouse, and you just want to shout "Somebody give this lady a lead role NOW!"
  • Stann Gwynn's yuppie slime character, perving on a 14-year-old girl, with the excuse: "She told me she was 15!"
  • Dewey Scott-Wiley staging a family dinner table coup, overthrowing her mother's reign in an electric Act 2 curtain-closer.  As well as her third act attempts, in vain, to make her mother (Libby Campbell) have something to eat, culminating in a shrieked "EAT THE FISH, BITCH!"
  • Gerald Floyd slyly sneaking in the best lines in the show, as when he deflates Elena Martinez-Vidal's rant on how she would never take him back if he left her, repeatedly shutting her down with "But I'm not going anywhere." Or when he simultaneously teases/mocks a vegan, and tries to diffuse a tense confrontation by faking illness, then revealing that he simply bit into a big piece of "fear." Or his surprising assertion to his wife that she must show some iota of compassion to their son.

- the perfect timing of frenetic slapstick and chaotic physical comedy in Workshop's Victor/Victoria, including:

  • a big madcap brawl involving 20+ cast members that concluded the first act
  • a necessary "reveal" towards the end where four separate groups of performers are each doing something funny, punctuated by Matthew DeGuire's appearance at a window, back-lit as if by a lightning bolt, looking for all the world like Wile E. Coyote about to take a long fall.
  • Giulia Dalbec as the quintessential blonde bimbo, doing things with her legs I had never thought possible. When she sang how she tried Toronto, but departed molto pronto, then saw Geneva, but it was hardly jungle "feva," you know you're in for a double entendre rhyming tour of the world.

This was for me overall the most entertaining show I saw this past year, indeed in several years, and makes me wish that Henry Mancini and Blake Edwards, so successful in films for decades, had tried Broadway earlier in their careers.

So those were for me the most memorable moments that I saw on Columbia stages in 2011.  What were yours?

In addition to writing for Jasper Magazine - The Word on Columbia Arts, August Krickel is a native Columbian and theatre buff who has performed at Town, Workshop and Chapin Community Theatres, directed at Act One, and narrated the touring Road to Victory shows. He has done everything from fundraising and PR for universities and non-profits to teaching Latin, but probably enjoys acting and writing best. His reviews, articles and interviews have appeared in Briefs Magazine, Free Times, and at OnstageColumbia.com.

 

Review -- Third Finger, Left Hand

Randall David Cook's clever, funny, and comfortably bizarre play, Third Finger, Left Hand, is a production that could benefit from the addition of both time and space. A portion of the Jasper entourage had the opportunity to attend a late night show on Friday, for the next-to-the-last-performance of the play's Columbia run, as we snuggled into the intimate confines of the Trustus Black Box Theatre along with a few dozen of our closest friends. An efficient configuration of the seating in the black box area created something of a theatre-in-the-round arrangement and, as is the way with small space productions, we all became a part of the show.

With a cast of five strong women and one delightful man, (Joe Hudson plays the part of Mark Luke Matthews, a church organist with a penchant for sound effects), the play catapulted the audience into the overlapping conjunctions of sad but hysterical drama from the first word. In the part of a sappily sweet-mouthed wedding planner, Dell Goodrich embodied the socially constructed worst of Southern womanhood as she contrived and manipulated, and said one thing but meant another, all from a plastered smile evoking images of the proverbial serpent in the garden itself. While it is disturbing to see this stereotype perpetuated in the theatre, the reality is that those bitches are still out there and maybe the best way to rid the world of them is to expose their likes on the stage for all to see. Sumner Bender, Kristin Wood Cobb, Ellen Rodillo-Fowler, and Denise Pearman, under the direction of Larry Hembree, fashioned a well-balanced ensemble cast that fed off one another like a dysfunctional and somewhat sapphic sorority.

The 75 minutes of Third Finger, Left Hand were filled with all the laughter and cringes appropriate to a modern-day gothic tale of the worst of humanity dressed up all pretty in the guise of family lore, but we couldn't leave the theatre without feeling as if the play itself needed something more -- the luxury of time and space. While we enjoyed the intimacy of the black box setting, Third Finger, Left Hand is the kind of play that really needs to spread out and take off its Spanx. We would like not only to see the play on a larger stage with a less minimalist set, but also in two extended acts. Several of the most important components to the creepiness of the conflict were delivered to the audience like a slap on the face, but with the economy of the forward motion of the play, we were given little time to process them. A few extra moments for both the actors and the audience to catch our collective breath -- and realize how disgusted we really were -- would have been helpful and much appreciated.

That said, thanks to Randall David Cook for bringing  his special kind of crazy back home to South Carolina. We like it when successful people don't forget where they came from. And we like it even better when they come back. You have one more night to see this engaging play. Do it. Then call, facebook, or email Randall David Cook and ask him to bring it back to us again -- same cast, same director -- but this time on the main stage.

 

For Your Consideration -- Jasper's take on three plays opening in Columbia this week

Jasper loves going to the theatre. On rare occasions, he'll just show up and be surprised by what he gets. But most of the time, he does his homework. There are three shows opening in the city this week. One you should just show up for and have a good time. One you might want to do a little planning for. And another that you need to know what you're getting into so, you know, you can really get into it. Anything Goes, opening at Workshop Theatre on Friday night and running through October 1st, is like an ice cream sundae. You really just have to go for it. Other than knowing it's Cole Porter and how, like ice cream and chocolate syrup, it's brilliant in its simplicity, you don't need to over-analyze it. Just have fun. And, given that Cindy Flach is directing it, yeah, you will have fun. Flach has a way, not only with execution, but with space. Her shows conjure up words like pizzazz, and sizzle, and flare. She's another one of Columbia's treasures who asks for little attention, but always gets the job done and gets it done well.

On Wednesday night, in some wild configuration of the Trustus Black Box and Late Night series, our boy Larry Hembree opens Randall David Cook's play, Third Finger, Left Hand. The show plays Wednesday nights at 7:30 and Friday and Saturday nights at 11, for two weeks. Cook is a hometown boy who has done well so, in our book, that would be reason enough to go out and support this show with your patronage. But there's more -- well, first of all, you know Larry Hembree and the kind of weird and magical spells he tends to put on a stage, so, there's that. But the bottom line is that the play has been described as both "Southern gothic" and "twisted" -- terms that makes Jasper's pulse absolutely race. (Jasper likes weird -- why hide it?) But here's the thing -- Cook and Hembree are also presenting a little bonus, next Tuesday the 20th, when they give a staged reading of another little something from Cook's box of tricks, a play called Southern Discomfort. In an effort to construct something of a study of Cook's work, we'll be seeing both the reading and the play next week. Then we're going to sit down and decide what we really think of Cook's work and talk about it. We invite our lovely readers to join us in this online discussion next week. Come back here -- right here -- and share your comments below. We look forward to getting your views.

Finally, a third play opens this week that already has us wiggling in our seats. We've never seen David Mamet's Oleanna, but we've seen David Mamet's Race (with David Spade) and his Glengarry, Glen Ross (with Alan Alda), and we've seen his films, Wag the Dog, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Verdict, to name just a few. So we know that when David Mamet writes for us, we have to prepare ourselves to be receptive. Mamet's use of language and delivery (called "Mamet speak") is unique and edgy and a little scary. Rather than enjoying a little vino or a draught of bourbon before a Mamet play, we recommend you dose up on caffeine -- not to help you stay awake, but rather to help you keep up. Mamet is unrelenting. That said, the subject of Oleanna is sexual harassment in the academy. A subject far too serious to trivialize or present solely for entertainment value. Mamet doesn't - it will be interesting to see what director, Ait Federolf, a senior in the department of theatre at USC, does with his production. It opens at the USC Lab Theatre on Thursday night, the 15th -- but you'll be busy then attending the Jasper Magazine Launch Party at Speakeasy -- and only runs until the 18th. All shows are at 8 pm and cost $5 -- with tickets available only at the door.

For more information on all three plays, visit the following websites or addresses  respectively:

Anything Goes - workshoptheatre.com/11-12season_AnythingGoes.html

Third Finger, Left Hand - Trustus.org

Oleanna - bushk@mailbox.sc.edu

 

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