SOCIAL MEDIA CALLS

In the continuing saga on how high tech has changed the landscape of domestic life, a recently filed report conducted by the British government states that people make fewer social calls to friends because of social media.

According to a latter survey conducted by the British government as part of its study on transportation usage in that nation , the UK Department of Transport as part of their National Travel Survey, notes that that the number of visits people pay to socialize with friends and acquaintances has fallen by a third over the last twenty years, from 192 visits per year in 1995 to 136 visits in 2014.

Much of this decline came in personal visits to other people’s dwellings, where the number fell from 145 to 90, while the number of meetings per year in other venues such as restaurants and bars remained about even.

Other findings within the survey states that the number of visits to retail outlets has also fallen thanks to online shopping, while more people are working at home thanks to telecommuting decreasing the volume of physical commuting. In short, the decline is most visible in private social visits where people are visiting those in person.

It’s not really surprising that, thanks to such aspects as Twitter, Instagram, and the biggie, Facebook, people have contact with one another in more ways than one, down to the point where they can let anyone of interest know what they are doing, how they are conducting their doings, and even give details of these antics that are both of importance and even trivial. This also goes toward people who rarely keep in contact with one another, such as vague acquaintances, distance family members, and those that one may hear from just once or twice a year–if at all!

Keeping in contact with one another through messages are a different animal then seeing somebody in person. If one has a friend, a companion, or a family member that is within the view, then reading a message posted on a Facebook “wall” isn’t the same than stopping by for a special occasion or even just because one was in the neighborhood! One cannot beat the notion of viewing somebody right square in the eye and taking to them for real verses sending them a tweet over things that may not be worth tweeting about!

But as far as social media making keeping in contact with one another, that takes down the total isolation one used to receive from those that a person may know or know of. This is very true to a letter people used to write when sending out Holiday cards (formally known as Christmas cards), where every once in a while, the sender of the cards will compose an annual “What I Did The Previous Year”-type letter that consists of a photocopied document that calls to record one’s entire year–or almost entire year since they tend to skip the month of December because the letter is sent with cards that are suppose to be received before December 25th. These letters are written as a generic piece of information. It will list just about anything and everything the sender (usually as a family rather than a single individual) of what they did, where they went, who got married, who died, who is dying, etc. Many of the facts and people noted may not necessarily be known by the receiver since it’s more of a “broadcast” rather than a one-on-one message. But since people confine their annual letters to one single sheet of paper, a lot of information has to be crammed on just two sides of a 8” x 11” space.

These letters used to be diaries of a family’s series of antics for a given year, documenting all of the important stuff as a near permanent record. Many are hysterical, adding comical prose making the letter worth reading. Some are even historical, noting a personal opinion over an event that made the history books. (Letters written for the 2001 season will always mention the tragic events of 9/11 as expressed by the family!)

But as stated beforehand, no matter how much one tweets, adds selfie shots via their Instagram account, or gives hourly reports through their Facebook page, it’s always best to stop over one’s domain to say “hi” and to catch up on what’s really going on, even if those going ons are not to be posted by anyone anywhere!

Then again, sometimes the effort of visiting those aren’t worth the time and energy to do so. Sometimes Uncle Looie’s antics are only appreciated over Thanksgiving dinner especially if alcohol is served, or paying a visit to cousin Burtha before she kicks off! (Guilt trip?) will be good enough! But this writer isn’t involved with family counseling as that’s another story as that stands!

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NEWS AND REVIEWS

     DETROIT ‘67, Dominique Morisseau’s comedy-drama about a negro family’s ability to move up within their neighborhood and the mysterious woman that enters their lives, makes its west coast opening at The Los Angeles Theatre Center.

It’s July, 1967. Detroit, Michigan stands as the fifth most populous city in the nation, famous for automobiles, Faygo pop, and the R&B music that has its own name: Motown.

The Poindexter family, consisting of Chelle (Cherise Boothe) and her younger brother Langston a.k.a. Lank (Abdul-Khalio Murtadha) live in their small yet tidy home in a “negro” section of the city. They make a stipend by hosting house parties in the lower level in their home–something that was common in neighborhoods as theirs. They recently received a nice inheritance from their recently deceased parents. Chelle, a single mother to a young adult son, has plans for this set of finance saving for a college tuition fund. Lank has his own plans as he wishes to buy a long standing neighborhood bar that is up for sale. He feels that this would be a good investment for many reasons; Mainly, it would be a negro owned business that would cater to the locals, rather than a business operated by whites. Lank’s close buddy Sylvester a.k.a. Sly (Damu Malik) also wants part of this deal, in spite of Chelle’s feelings. One late evening, Lank and Sly find a mysterious white woman on the street badly beaten. They don’t know why such a person would be in their neighborhood, so they take in her. It’s discovered that she is Caroline (Trisha La Pache), who worked as a waitress and dancer at a local club. She’s taken into the household, and turns out that she is a kind soul, working out in assisting in household chores. But another episode occurs in their neighborhood as the locals began to clash with police that sets off a rebellion that spreads throughout the city.

This production written by playwright Dominique Morisseau is based upon the time when the city of Detroit faced a “race riot” that not only destroyed property and caused injuries and deaths, but was marked as a number of “beginnings to the end” of a city that steadily rotted away with people moving out in droves while leaving the lower class citizens who were mostly black, out to defend for themselves. Although the play’s setting speaks for a tragic period for the city, it does offer comical episodes throughout as well as a featuring a cast of rather colorful characters. Cherise Boothe as Chelle is the level headed leader of the household. She still looks over her younger sibling, but with heart and concern. Abdul-Khalio Murtadha as Lank want to do best for his elder sister as well while keeping a bit of childlike persona imbedded in his quality. Damu Malik as Sly is the neighborhood “player”. He holds a lively notion to him. He may be a bit of a schemer in the numbers racket, but always sticks out for his best pal. Caroline, as played by Trisha La Fache, is the timid white woman that just got stuck in the wrong place. She keeps her heart of gold, although she remains cloaked in mystery. And rounding out the cast is Kellee Stewart as Bunny, a robust “jive” woman that sees Chelle as her girl, and is the eye of attraction of Lank–and never mind that Bunny is still married!

Joy Hooper directs this performance that blends the emotions of comedy, drama, tragedy, and leaves the feeling of hope to a community as well as its citizens that seeks to keep up upon its feet. That emotion of hope wouldn’t necessarily arrive in the same method as before the rebellion. Some say it left, never to return, while others point ot its return that is arriving all too slowly.

In addition to the performances seen on stage, Michaela Mendiola’s costuming presents much of the fashions worn by those from the era. Herb Newsom’s set design showcases the Poindexter home as slightly worn, yet very comfortable with an inviting stance to it all. And John Wilson’s sound design features plenty of Motown hits played as its soundtrack, proving that “dusties” don’t get old–they just get better with age!

DETROIT ‘67 is a play that speaks for the conflicts that cloak urban America. Nearly fifty years later, the conflicts that African Americans face today hasn’t necessarily improved. However, the sprit of faith has never faded away, and family ties still remain bonded. That what this play is all about, and is highly recommend!

     DETROIT ‘67, produced by The Standard: an Artist Collective in association with The Latino Theatre Company, performs at The Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 South Spring Street, downtown Los Angeles, until October 18th. Showtimes are Thursday through Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. Special Monday night performance takes place on October 12th at 8:00 PM. 

     For ticket reservations, call (866) 811-4111, or via online at http://www.TheLatc.org

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Fake Radio, a Los Angeles based performance team that presents recreations of radio programs, offers their presentation of the Mercury Players’ version of WAR OF THE WORLDS, the program that made Orson Wells a star. This audio recreation performs at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood in the month of October.

In this presentation, a team of cast players, all members of the Fake Radio performance troupe, perform this broadcast originally aired on October 30th, 1938 over what was then known as the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Fake Radio dramatically reads from the original script written by Howard Kotch that adapts the H.G.. Wells story of an alien invasion from the planet Mars, taking over the earth. The show is lead and directed by David Koff, where his team of players perform this show through their vocal talents.

As with radio drama, there isn’t much visuals to see. Although the acting troupes dons period costuming, all one would see on stage are three vintage mics lined up on stands (Shure 55S’s) where each member speaks into while holding their script in hand. Music cues and sound effects are added by the sound engineer to make this show come out as real. This was the method on how radio shows were presented back in the day, long before the device known as “television” took over as the public’s prime source of information and entertainment.

The Fake Radio performing company consists of (as listed in their alphabetical order), Chris Bonno, Dave Cox, Keythe Farley, Erin Fitzgerald, Zack Hanks, Jen Hasty, Scott Hennelley, Dan Kinsella, Peter Lownds, Julie Millett, Colleen O’Shaughnessery, and Jon Stark. These players will present this show on a rotating basis.

As a special bonus, Fake Radio will also present before WOTW, a very condensed radio adaptation of the story of Orson Wells, the man that was responsible toward his many talents performing on stage, screen (large and small), and on radio. And yes, he did love to eat!

Radio as entertainment has become a lost art as this medium moved from a source for dramatic style amusement to a context where one would turn for music, as well as getting the three “T”s; Time, temperature, and traffic! Fake Radio may not necessarily be on the radio per se, but it’s their opportunity to bring it all back again, using the “theater of the mind” for its visuals. All they do is provide the voices that make radio was it was, and is!

WAR OF THE WORLDS, presented by Fake Radio & Trepany House, performs at the Steve Allen Theatre, 4773 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, until October 31st. Showtimes are Saturday nights at 8:00 PM. 

     Two performances will feature a special guest star performing with the Fake Radio troupe. On October 17th, Mark McKinney from the comedy team The Kids in the Hall will be featured, and on October 31st, Phil Proctor from Firesign Theatre will be performing.

     For ticket reservations, call (800) 595-4849, or online at http://www.TrepanyHouse.org

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The Theatre @ Boston Court closes their 2105 calendar year with the west coast premier of Martin Zimmerman’s SEVEN SPOTS ON THE SUN, a drama about a community that faces a political war with a natural conflict, and the people that become involved between these unique contests.

Taking place within the isolated village of San Isidro, located in an unnamed Banana Republic nation somewhere in Latin America, a civil war has broken out between the rebels and the ruling political party. The conflicts concerned has played havoc among its citizens. Two particular people in the middle of these issues are Monica (Natalie Camunas) and Luis (Christopher Rivas). Luis had been working in the local mines when he meets up with Monica. Soon they become wed to live on their own, right around the time that the civil unrest began. Luis becomes a military fighter, now enrolled in the regional armed forces fighting toward the cause. Meanwhile, the village doctor Molise (Jonathan Nichols) had his spouse Belen (Murielle Zuker) kidnapped by the experienced militia. The “crime” she committed was her coming to the aid of a citizen that had been beaten by the military and left for dead. Molise’s devastation lead him toward his refusal to keep up with his practice: An element that played conflict and caused additional strife to the community. The Padre based in the village Eugenio (Angelo McCabe) is for keeping the strife to its lowest, although the military and their rivals hold the upper hand. As to civil wars set in this part of the world, a truce is quickly united. But the discord doesn’t end there. A mysterious plague has taken over the area, only setting upon those aged two and younger. But the now recluse doctor discovers that he holds a special healing power that eventually cures those that possess this illness. Luis, who was an officer in the warfare that lead toward the kidnapping episode, discovers that his daughter that Monica recently gave birth to holds his illness. The couple brings their child to Moises in order to save her. But will this doctor, whose own personal discord was based upon Luis’ actions save the child in the name of humanity, or refuse to apply treatment as a statement of personal revenge?

This one act play by Martin Zimmerman is a statement that speaks upon the notion of the act of what’s correct and proper with intimate counterblow nestled within. The story blends mystic realism and political aftereffects in an affecting saga interrogating if a forgiveness is truly possible, no matter what the purpose requests. The cast of performers that appear in this production become well adjusted to their surroundings. Three other players emerge in this stage piece appearing as the villagers of San Isidro; Daniel Penilla, Dianna Aguilar, and Micvhael Uribes. This trio acts as a “Greek Chorus” of sorts, appearing as various characters that add to the narrative of the story line found within this theater work.

In addition to the acting talents of the cast of eight performers, their are the visual aspects to what’s seen on stage. Sara Ryung Clement’s set design shows a vast backdrop consisting of a building made up of weathered and discolored rippled aluminum siding; The same material found bonded on shanties existing in apparently Latin American nations that are poverty struck. The wall is complete with windows that open outward and opaque, along with a large drawbridge doorway in its center. Tom Onitiveros provides a lighting scheme along with a video design that projects various moving images on the for noted backdrop that range from video noise, silhouettes of human figures in military garb, white hand prints, and strains of what appears to be germs, perhaps the type that hit this community from sources unknown and unspoken. This form of clever imagery adds to the mystic sapor that play contains, in spite of the fact that it takes place somewhere far “south of the border” that would only wind up mentioned in State Department issued travel bulletins!

Directed by Michael John Garces, SEVEN SPOTS ON THE SUN doesn’t voice for astrological clues as the title may suggest. It really speaks between the notion of what’s human for the good or otherwise! The audience may have to go those a lot of conflict and pathos to discover this moral, but it does exists with a fighting vengeance!

SEVEN SPOTS ON THE SUN, presented by and performs at The Theatre @ Boston Court, 70 North Mentor Avenue, off Boston Court and near the intersection of Lake Street and Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, until November 1st. Showtimes are Thursday through Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. For tickets or for more information, call (626) 683-6883, or online at http://www.BostonCourt.org

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THE WALK (Tri-Star/Screen Gems) tells the actual tale of Phillippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who attempted to walk a tightrope across the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.

The story begins in Phillippe’s home country of France c 1973. He becomes fascinated with the circus tightrope walkers as a kid. Before long, he attempts to learn how to tightrope walk. His self taught skills lead him into becoming a street entertainer, performing to an audience for loose change while keeping an eye out for the cops. While performing, he meets up with another street performer, Annie Allix (Charlotte Le Bon) who becomes his first companion into an idea he holds. While glancing through a magazine, he sees an article noting that the World Trade Center in New York will become the tallest buildings in the world. And within those buildings, there is a place where a tightrope can be strung across. This gives him the wildest dream to one day walk across those towers, and to become the greatest tightrope walker around! He befriends the same tightrope walker he saw performing at the circus, a man from Eastern Europe known as Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley) who teaches this budding tightrope walker a few of his secret tricks. Phillippe’s dream slowly becomes a reality when he starts to collect a team of folks that will lead him toward his big goal! Before long, it’s off to New York, and the scheme begins!

This is a feature that is a blend of genres. It’s one part drama, one part comedy, and even one part heist film! The drama element first unfolds with Phillippe and Anne, as played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Charlotte Le Bon. These two are the ideal depiction of a charming and cute couple. In fact, JGL as Philippe Petit holds much of that same charisma this film carries as he narrates his personal saga, extracted from his memoir To Reach the Clouds, and adapted as a screenplay by Robert Zemeckis (who also directs this movie) & Christopher Browne. Although JGL carries the film each step of the way (no pun intended), this title also holds a vast selection of character performers that portray Phillippe’s “gang” that makes his conquest possible from both sides of the globe; James Badge Dale as Jean-Pierre, Ben Schwartt as Albert , Steve Valentine as Barry Greenhouse, and Benedict Samuel as Jean-Louis. There roles may be minor, but their appearance adds to the allure and appeal that this movie contains throughout!

What also makes this film interesting is that it depicts Phillippe walking a tightrope across two buildings 110 stories above the ground! One will actually see the tops and bottoms of two structures no longer in existence while taking advantage of a view of lower Manhattan as it was portrayed some forty plus years before! Only CGI wizardry can conduct such a feat as that!

This feature film is the first of many other titles that will be released between now and the end of the year that focus upon drama, conflict and various forms of pathos–the same kind of material that tends to please voters of various movie based awards. Generally speaking, this flick can be called a “Gimmie an Oscar” picture under many categories, from its lead (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), its costars (Charlotte Le Bon and/or Ben Kingsley), its director (Robert Zemeckis) the screenwriters (Zemeckis and Christopher Browne) its special effects team (way too many names to post), and the list goes on and up! (Pun?)

In spite of all of this greatness, THE WALK in truly an entertaining and inspiring film to view. The press release states that this movie is a “love letter” to Paris, as well as to the original World Trade Center. This may be so. But as a companion to this movie, one should see James Marsh’s documentary Man On Wire that tells the same epic as a documentary, minus many of the colorful characters depicted as well as the special effects!

And speaking of special effects, it’s also a 3-D feature! Although some of the 3-D effects are amusing, this title holds up was a 2-D movie as well. So if one wants to save a few bucks by not paying the “3-D surcharge” some movie houses ask for, one won’t miss much!

This feature is rated “PG” for minor cussing and depictions of smoking! Now playing in a limited number of theaters, and opening nationwide on October 9th.

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