“HIGHER” EDUCATION

     There is a person that is known to this writer (not really a “friend” per se, but more of a vague acquaintance) who is part of a couple that lives in a well to do section of the San Fernando Valley. This is a traditional couple (i.e. a man & woman) that get married a few years ago, and decided to conceive a child while the mother was in her middle 30’s. This mother Amanda named their girl Lindsey, and the three of them-husband Mitchell who works as a consultant of some sort, Amanda, who works in another kind of office setting that allows flex time to those that suggest it, and daughter , all dwelling in a 1990’s era condo building that is built in a desert adobe facade setting that offers plenty of open spaces between housing blocks, lots of parking spaces, and is near shopping and other amenities that make this neighborhood appealing by creating an illusion that what one needs is within reach, as long as one doesn’t make any attempt to walk to these needed places! As with such dwellings, nothing there is really pedestrian friendly and requires a vehicle to get to anywhere significant.
     Amanda is a stay at home mom a.k.a. SAHM; the current definition of a housewife. Unlike the so-called housewives of yore where these ladies did all of the household chores, attended PTA meetings, woman’s auxiliary functions, catch up on soap operas airing on daytime TV and other related stuff, Amanda is employed by her company, spending so much time at the office while performing the rest of her professional duties working at home. As one can guess, our SAHM is wired to the max! She owns a MacBook Air, an iPad, and an iPhone that she uses every chance she has. Her daughter Lindsey. who just turned four year old earlier this year, has been on the educational loop as early as four months old. Her mom made sure that she watched only “educational” programs on their 60” hIgh def TV monitor set sitting promptly within the family room, with occasional views of the Baby Einstein series collected on a set of DVDs. If not watching TV, mom give her “kiddo” her iPad where there are plenty of child friendly (and educational) apps loaded on to it. If mom isn’t doing something on her iPhone, either texting her “married partner” (as she calls Michael), using an app for something or another, and yes–even talking, she hands the iPhone to Lindsey where more educational apps are downloaded for her use. So for the first three and a half years of her life, this only child of theirs was getting her daily does of education.
     Up to the days before Lindsey started pre school, Amanda made sure that one TV program was always on for her kiddo- a program that’s been on the air before Amanda was even born! And that TV series? Good ol’ Sesame Street, a PBS staple that’s been running since late 1969, only a few month after the network changed its name to the Public Broadcasting System from National Educational Television. (NET),
     To give a very brief rundown of this time tested classic, Sesame Street was created to teach pre schoolers living in urban areas the basic rundown of counting, the letters of the alphabet, and other skills necessary to function in domestic society. If featured a cast of human players who “lived” on the street, along with a series of puppets created by Jim Henson calling his puppet rep company “Muppets”-a name that was cross between ‘puppets’ and ‘marionettes’. The former type of puppetry remained dominant to this operation while the latter never materialized for the show.
     Sesame Street is PBS’s longest running program, and airs worldwide. The show itself has drastically changed over its many years. The only characters still appearing the the series are the Muppets themselves. However, what is being taught on the show is totally different that what was originally on the curriculum since that fist day on the street over forty years ago.
     The New York Times recently ran an article stating that SS will begin to focus on subjects as nature, math, science, and engineering to their targeted demographics. The article stated that those as early as age one can learn about such subjects, as long as its taught in a way that is fun and simple. Considering the fact that kids are using iPads at that age, they are already adapting to a wired world, as the parents/caregivers of these kids are just as wired. It’s just another part of the new family landscape.
     Amanda dose make sure that Lindsey receives her education in two methods; the so-called electronic way (TV, iPad, etc.), as well as some in-person live methods that round out the pre schooling, while attending play dates with other moms in the area (thanks to groups formed and posted on the web site Meetup.com), and other notions not really known to this writer.
     This little slice of life is just part of the eight million stories in the naked city where a post modern family treks on through life in the new millennium. It’s nice to know that Lindsey will one day have the chance to become a super genius–or not! However, as kids tend to do, they take upon their own interests while growing up with the element of progressing through life, or just falling behind while wondering what the hey happened! This doesn’t mean much. But at least one say that they didn’t try hard enough!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
     The Falcon Theatre in Burbank opens their 2013-14 season with Impro Theatre’s TWILIGHT ZONE UNSCRIPTED, a presentation of a quartet of staged “Twilight Zone” episodes you’ve never seen before, nor has anyone else seen before for that matter!
     Here’s how it all works. A cast of eight rotating players consisting of Lisa Fredrickson, Kelly Holden-Bashar, Brian Michael Jones, Stephen Kearin, Lauren Rose Lewis, Brian Lohmann, Nick Massouth, Jo McGinley, Mick McShane, Dan O’Conner, Edi Patterson, Paul Rogan, Ryan Smith, Michele Spears, and Floyd VanBuskirk, present their stories in the same style and tradition of the 1960’s TV series The Twilight Zone, an anthology series that unfolded stand alone tales that ranged from dealing with the supernatural to science fiction to dramatic irony with a dash of an O. Henry-type plot twist. Unlike the original series that featured pre-scripted fables, what is seen on stage isn’t scripted at all! Everything is performed by the seat of the player’s pants! Using a single suggestion given by the audience, such as naming a family heirloom, a name of a far away place, an occupation that isn’t as common in the new millennium as it was in the middle 20th century, etc., and from that point, the players present their “drama” using the named suggestion as a theme as if Mr. Sterling created it. Using no props and limited backdrops–only four metallic chairs are used and a few black and gray backdrops are seen on stage, one will discover a “new” TZ episode so fresh, not even the actors know how it’s going to start or finish! This adds the comedy relief to everything since what starts to be series turns into an intentional/unintentional laugh riot.
     Not only the story and acting is made up as everything goes, so are the technical side to things! Ian Gotler and Lissette Jean Marie provides the lighting and sound, following their characters as they go from one side of the stage to the next, using the same kind of blocking one used to see in a standard 1950’s and 1960’s-era dramatic TV series. And the costuming worn by the players as designed by Sandra Burns is also of that era (suits for the men, and long dresses for the women) donned in various shades of black, white, and gray, so don’t expect any colorful outfits or backgrounds! (Sandra Burns also serves as set designer!) But do expect to see a rather amusing show that will be performed once and never again! Jo McGinley & Stephen Kearn directs these lost episodes that will remain lost (they’re unscripted, remember?)–or perhaps these anecdotes will be shifting to another dimension that’s not of sight or sound but of mind!
     This is the only kind of theater performing anywhere where one performance can become better (or worse) than the next! And it’s the only form of unscripted showpiece that’s much better that one of those so-called “reality shows” that’s been littering the TV landscape for too many seasons!
     TWILIGHT ZONE UNSCRIPTED is part of nine(!) unscripted programs the Impro Theatre holds within their repertory; The only eight pay and play tribute to Jane Austin, Anton Checkhov, Charles Dickens, Los Angeles Film Noir, William Shakespeare, Steven Sondheim, Tennessee WIlliams, and the American Western! (Whew!) But for those that care to enter that other dimension, look for the signpost ahead because you’re entering The Twilight Zone–or not!

     TWILIGHT ZONE UNSCRIPTED, presented by the Impro Theatre company, and performs at The Falcon Theate, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank (Tolucia Lake adjacent), until September 29th. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 4:00 PM. For tickets or for further information, call (818) 955-8101, or via http://www.FalconTheatre.com
     Visit Impro Theatre’s website at http://www.ImproTheatre.com
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     The Victory Theatre of Burbank presents the Adam Gwon musical ORDINARY DAYS, a tale of four characters living in and within a megapolis that experience their “ordinary days” of happiness, wonder, as well as an certain uncertainty of life in the big city.
     Within the millions of people dwelling in the tiny village called Manhattan, four rank and files are focused upon. Warren (Reggie De Leon, alternating with Amir Levi), is an upcoming artist who collects old photos and pieces of other folks lives he finds on the streets while passing out flyers of inspiring phrases created by an artist he was once associated with. (His mentor, attempting to write such pieces of prose on city walls and other public places, is on an extended vacation staying at the “graybar hotel” placed there by New York City’s finest because writing graffiti is apparently against the law!) While Warren spreads his joyful noise (so to speak) to those that want it, he stumbles upon an old book filled with little notes. This book belongs to Deb (Katie Kitani) a somewhat neurotic grad student who’s writing a big time thesis and uses this book and her notations as her guide. Meanwhile, Jason (William Martinez) and Claire (Anne Schroeder) a twentysomething couple, has their own conditions to deal with. They didn’t “meet cute” at first because that only happen in the movies or on sitcoms (and this is real life), but they didn’t “meet ugly” either! They first share a flat together, but their on again off again love affair takes its toll. What joins these four people is their visit to the Metropolitan Art Museum where art and life are rolled into one state of being and mind.
     This musical (with book) by Adam Gwon tells its narrative story in total song. With very little to no spoken dialogue performed in almost light opera fashion, these four characters vocally sing about what is going out and about. The quartet of players seen within this production fits to their characters in a precise design. Warren as performed by Reggie De Leon (the actor seen performing his role by this writer), is a happy-go-lucky lad whose mission is to spread a bit of fortune cookie-type joy to anyone and everyone, even if that “anyone” doesn’t care much for it. Deb, as played by Katie Kitani, is a woman that’s a bit on the edge (her first musical prose is entitled “Don’t Wanna Be Here”), but does have her act nearly together. (Another one of her numbers is called “Calm”, so there is one’s proof!) William Martinez and Anne Schroeder as Jason and Claire is a duo where she isn’t too sure of Jason as her “forever man” even if proposing was his idea to begin with!
     Generally speaking, this is a musical set for the new millennium where the four characters lead a different life while rolling onto one big standard (or ordinary) day! And there is nothing ordinary to this stage production! The score is crisp and quirky, telling it how it is in real life far from the “reality life” that’s beaten to death on bad unscripted video shows! And seeing this musical on an intimate stage setting as the Victory Theatre provides adds to the charm and appeal that this one act showcase projects. Angel Creeks directs this work that is appealing, witty, and holds to its own version of “cute” that isn’t sappy nor phony. Everything in this presentation plays the “less-is-more” card to the max, offering a limited stage dressing (as designed by Frank Pepito) with musical direction by Alby Potts & P. Matthew Park, performing the entire score on a single keyboard instrument. No full orchestra required!
     Its been stated too many times by this writer and other reviewers that within a city with eight or so million people, there’s a story found behind each one. ORDINARY DAYS takes a double pair of those eight million tales, and rolls it into one attractive and diverting stage musical! It’s not often one can find such a musical as this one! Then again, if one did, that would be too “ordinary”. Life itself may not be a bowl of cherries, but it is a surfeit helping of Fruit Loops!

     ORDINARY DAYS, presented by Not So Artful Productions, performs at the main stage at The Victory Theatre, 3326 West Victory Blvd. (off Hollywood Way), Burbank, until September 29th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM. For reservations or for more information, call (818) 841-5421, or visit on line at http://www.TheVictoryTheatreCenter.org
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TIFFI’S FRIENDS SAY…
(As posted on her Facebook “wall”)
Hours on the phone. Insurance still comes up as “ineligible.” So not getting in tomorrow like I had hoped.
-Susan

I hooked my computer to my TV. Now I can sit in bed and see your pictures and play my games on a 44 inch screen. Pretty neat.
-Terry

Mary called to tell us she is going to be inducted into the college National Honor Society! So proud of my girl!!! WOOT!
-Pam

Made meatloaf, green beans, and brewed some ice tea before I went to Mom’s this afternoon. What does my husband ask me? “Are we having company?” LOL.
-Ann

It is insanely stupid how happy a bag of Skittles can make me.
-Romona
As of September 9th, Tiffi has 1,742 Facebook “friends” and counting!
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2013 Linear Cycle Productions.
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