This weekend, a person that this writer knows, a parent of an eighteen year old daughter, will experience the same daughter graduating from high school. The school, a public institution as part of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), will be hosting their ceremony on a Sunday afternoon taking place at the outdoor track and field stadium located behind the main school facility. There will be some sixty or so students donned in their royal blue caps and gowns to take part in this ceremony where they will be awarded their sheepskins acknowledging that they have graduated from high school after some four years worth of education and related activities.
There will be a guest speaker present, a lower level community spokesperson involved within the regional political scene (and a former student as the same high school) that will wish everyone well within their new life journeys they face ahead. They may take up a college level education, or they may be involved in some form of employment. A few might take a stint in the military, while another few may take a year off in order to “find themselves”. Whatever the case, these soon-to-become adults are now entering another milestone in their domestic life by holding the choice of taking on a new path in what they are going to do with themselves for the next few years.
This same writer was lucky enough by the parent (Ia single parent due to a divorce that occurred a few years beforehand) for yours truly to be invited for the ceremony. It’s scheduled to take place outdoors at the stadium–or actually, it’s going to be held while those attendees will be seated on benches placed on a set of metal bleachers as the graduates will be gathered on the field seating along a wooden platform in the front center of the bleachers with a podium placed off to the side of the platform (what side of the platform is yet to be reviled) where the hosts of the event will say a few things before it’s time to fob off the diplomas to the graduating class.
This kind of event is the type of moment that is part of one’s domestic life living (and perhaps growing up) within a urban/semi-urban setting. These kids (or soon to be adults in age, not necessarily in mind and spirit), have been enrolled in some sort of educational curriculum that would be equivalent to a method in what’s known as “high school” for the past four or so years, running the age gambit between fourteen and eight years old. Some of these folks may be a bit younger in age than the others. A few may even be older. However, they all fall within the period where they moved from being “tweeners”, (older than kids, but younger than teens), and the time they are between eighteen and twenty-one–the period that they are legally classified as an “adult”.
In the media, the so-called high school life is perhaps the most favored period to depict young people going through their motions. Countless TV shows, as well as a few from the days of radio, had as their focus characters and settings that revolved around young folks in and around a high school. A few of these media properties also focused on teachers that are part of a high school. The adults in this case may be depicted as the leading stars, but the kids enrolled in the high school play off of the adults, making these characters more profound as the ones much older.
The same goes for feature films where much of the plotting takes place in or near a high school. These form of properties (movies and TV shows) tend to cater to those that are either high schoolers themselves, or to those that have yet to reach that high school period in their lives. The folks at The Walt Disney Company tends to play out their high school antics properties using this method of pre-high school demographics. Perhaps the best known of the recent bunch was the rather successful 2000s-era TV series High School Musical. In this series, a group of rather sanitized kids attending a high school located in Anytown, USA are connected to a program where they are part of a stage musical of some sort where these kids sing, dance, and do other things associated with such a Broadway-esque production. Of course, there is the usual backstage and off-stage drama that takes place among each character depicted. The adults (usually teachers and/or coaches, as well as parents/guardians) appear as supporting cast members, with the kids pretty much taking over the events as seen on TV. This program was mostly geared toward the “tweeners’–those aged as young as eight and as old as fourteen, although the bracket between ten through twelve is the program’s “sweet spot”.
Those of “real” high school age didn’t tune in because the plotting depicted within each episode wasn’t necessary portrayed as realistic or something the actual high schoolers could relate to. However, those not enrolled in high school yet may see these kind of program as events yet to come, if at all! Even if what is presented in each installment may be a little on the fake side, it’s just there to makes the series more entertaining for what it is.
After all, it’s not a documentary, so it isn’t anything that’s presented as misleading. If those tweeners who eventually go on to a high school setting do not experience those same situations as depicted on TV, then there is no one to blame except the kids that await for something to happen that may never occur!
But this article isn’t really about how high school kids are depicted through fictional depictions seen via moving imagery programs. It’s about a real high school student ready to graduate, and this writer will be a prime witness!
Even though this same writer is honored to be part of the festive festivities, it will be just another depiction of one person’s phase of growing up in the world they live in.
As for the student graduating. She will be attending college in the fall, although that college won’t be some big-deal campus located in the far (or not so far) reaches of the neighterland loaded on a plot of land full of a mix of old buildings with ivy covered walls set along new(er) structures that may be seen as architectural wonders. It will be a community college located a few miles away where she can beef up her grade point average before she is enrolled in one of those schools that have a load of ivy covered walled buildings. If the parent will be kind enough to inform yours truly on this student’s school status, perhaps we can present another article about her updated details in a future issue. In the mean time, she’s leaving high school this month, and enrolling in college sometime in the fall, right after the Labor Day weekend.
As the 1950‘s-era vocal group The Four Freshman sang about and as heard on the hit parade from not so long ago, “…we’ll remember always, Graduation Day…”
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills concludes their 2018-19 season with John Patrick’s
A BAD YEAR FOR TOMATOES, a comedy of errors about an actress who settles in a rural home in New England in order to write her autobiography, and to use a creative method to fend off the locals who tend to get in her way.
Diana Angelina is Myra Marloew, an actress what’s been around for some time, usually seen on various TV programs. With much of her life already behind her, she decides to get away from Hollywood for a while to settle in a home located in Beaver Haven, Vermont to compose the story of her life. Her long time agent Tom Lamont (David Datz) makes sure she is comfortable in this home where she can have the peace and quiet she needs to conduct her writings, as well as perhaps doing a bit of gardening on the side. The moment she arrives, she is visited by a few neighbors, Cora Gump (Amanda Conlon) and Reba Harper (Ann Ryerson), who serve as an impromptu neighborhood welcoming committee. Then there is the eccentric Willa Mae Wilcox (Leda Siskind) that is paranoid with her surroundings, as well as with Myra. Rounding up the group is local farmer Piney (Jeffrey Winner) that offers to perform farm-type stuff for Myra from chopping wood to selling her manure. Since Myra can’t get any peace with this bunch, she creates a sister called Sally, depicted as a borderline homicidal maniac that’s locked up in an upstairs bedroom while wielding a mean looking pair of scissors. This new character only leads toward further complications with her friendly neighbors where Myra’s goal in writing her life story becomes a new life story into itself!
This stage piece written by playwright John Patrick is a play that is humorous in nature and concept using the characters depicted to enhance the laugh cycles as it moves in a mellow yet steady pace. The characters themselves, especially the ones that are the “yankees” of the bunch, are the most likable of them all. They are seen as a being cartoonish using a method lifted off from a sitcom. That concept is what makes this play worth all its while. All of the supporting cast members plays off the lead protagonist, an actress that is humble in terms of someone living and working in Tinseltown. Larry Eisenberg directs this stage bunch performing among one another to keep up with the humor factor this program offers.
And staying along with the New England flavor to it all is Jeff Rack’s set design that sports a lot of that so-called early American decor that was once the rage back in the day.
Also seen within the cast of characters is William Joseph Hill as a local sheriff that also speaks in that east coast “twang” the other locals dictate within their speech patterns.
It may be A BAD YEAR FOR TOMATOES, but it is a good year for Theatre 40 as this troupe is set to begin their fifty-fourth season with six unique plays that consist of three world premiers, two American premiers, and a pair of Los Angeles premiers. There will be comedy, drama, and all points in between. More details on their upcoming season can be found at Theatre 40’s website as noted below.
A BAD YEAR FOR TOMATOES, presented by Theatre 40 and performs at the Reuben Cordova Theatre, located within the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 South Moreno Drive (off little Santa Monica Blvd.) Beverly Hills, until June 16th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM.
For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 364-0535, or via online at http://www.Theatre40.org
The Road Theatre Company of North Hollywood concludes their 2018-19 season with the Los Angeles premier of Michael Perlman’s AT THE TABLE, a drama about a group of close friends who get together for a weekend’s stay that talk about the issues they care about, and the aftermath that comes within.
The setting is a cozy county homestead in upstate New York. A group of six friends meet for a weekend’s worth of good food, good wine, and their good company. Those friends consist of Stuart (Justin Okin), Nate (Christian Prentice), Lauren (Cherish Monique Duke), Elliot (Ray Paolantonio), Chris (Avery Clyde), and Nicholas (Blake Young-Fountain). They are all in their early-middle 30‘s (i.e. “millennials”), and consist of a blend of different races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. In spite of these differences, they are all good friends! During their dinner party, plenty of wine is served. The blend of friendship and the liquid spirits gives each person a chance to talk about what is going on within their lives, as well as the opinions expressed. This form of fast paced conversations triggers a few positive points each one carries as well as revises a few sore spots. These moments of thoughts and words challenges upon how their friendship can lead toward other matters for the good and otherwise.
This work by playwright Michael Perlman can be described as a “The Big Chill” for the post-modern generation, where such mixes of different backgrounds are more accepted and tolerated then other legacy-based generations could stand. The play itself is divided into two scenarios. The first act features the above noted cast and the characters they portray. The second act takes place one year later with two new “friends” that were not around the year beforehand: Sophie (Jacqueline Misaye), and Leif (Nick Marcone). These two did replace two others that dropped out for their own reasons. Sophie and Leif also experience the good times and the conflicts that happened the year before with similar ‘stress-test’ strategies.
As to the production as presented on The Road Theatre’s intimate stage. The cast of eight perform their parts in a rather rapid pace, sometimes speaking between and on top of each others conversations–a method of communication that actually occurs in so-called “real life” when familiar groups gather to meet, greet, and bicker! This method of dialogue emoted is what makes this play work! One will actually feel much like that “fly on the wall’ to spy upon the deep secrets each one of these folks experience, for their better or for their worse!
Brian Graves’s set design also highlights this production. The setting consists of a country home complete with the touches of “rural” (sliding barn doors, hardwood flooring, fireplace as its hearth, etc.), and “urban”. (Furnishings that could have originated from Ikea, Z-Gallery, Pottery Barn, and other ‘feather-your-nest’ retailers!)
This set feels as the perfect spot for the post-college and wired generation to establish a habitat.
Directed by Judith Moreland, AT THE TABLE’s moral could be labeled as everyone has their perceptions in common, while their diversities can either bond or tear apart. Then again, serving quality wine doesn’t mean one will have quality time! Dinner party hosts–you have been warned!
AT THE TABLE, presented by The Road Theatre Company, and performs at The Road on Lankershim, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., inside of the Lankershim Arts Center, North Hollywood, until July 7th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.
For ticket reservations or for more information, call (818) 761-8838, or via online at http://www.RoadTheatre.org
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2019 Linear Cycle Productions. All rights reserved. The views and opinions are those of the writers, and not necessarily of the staff and management. ‘Nuff said!