FRIENDS OR “FRIENDS”?

     In the continuing saga of writing about little stories based on real life events (do you readers really believe that we actually make this kind of stuff up?), we wish to express our take on an actual person’s sentiment upon having friends that are real, imagined, and those that could have been but are not.
     The party we will be writing about is named Krystal. Unlike other stories where we change the name to protect ourselves from lawsuits, Krystal insisted that we use her real first name. She really didn’t say why she insisted to have us use her real name, but since she is the subject matter in this article, we’ll just go along with her wishes and proceed with the news story–assuming at one can label this story as news.
     Before we begin, this writer will give a bit of background to Krystal so some of the details will make more sense. Of course, we won’t get into any lavish details, only dealing with just the facts. Although we did gain permission to use Krystal’s real name, she didn’t get into anything about reviling more about herself that’s within reason.
     Krystal is a forty year old woman who lives in the Van Nuys area of the San Fernando Valley. She is a secretary to a small law firm located not too far away, transcribing cases the law firm handles. The law firm itself handles business litigation stuff that is rather dull and would not make a great TV series, assuming that somebody wants to develop a TV series based on those cases. But this is besides the point.
     Anyway, Krystal is also a single mother by divorce to a nine year old girl whose name we didn’t get clearance to use. (That’s OK by us for what that is. Besides, the kid’s not really part of the story anyway!) She lives in a humble ranch type homestead in a better part of this seat of the SF Valley. She is also involved with her daughter’s schooling, partaking in whatever activity that she can. He is also a “member” of the school’s unspoken “mom’s mafia”, a team of moms (of course) that rule on how they participate in the school’s makings that doesn’t involve the actual teaching of their kids, although they do pull a heavy influence in what is being taught and how. (For the record, the school in question isn’t part of the city school district as its a private school run by a community Christian-based church group.)
     In spite of raising a kid on her own, being overworked(?) at the law firm, as well as taking part in school activities, she is existing in her post modern age. She relies upon her iPhone (her third one in the last four years), doing anything and everything on that device, from texting, getting on line, and even using the thing as a real phone, sending and receiving calls. (What a concept, eh?) She is also online through her other electronic devices from her iPad to her MacBook Air laptop. She also has an iMac desktop device, but her kid using that machine more often. Ditto for the iPad–if not using her own personal iPhone! Generally speaking, Krystal and child are wired to the max!
     And being wired, she is also a heavy user of social media. Krystal has her own Instagram and Pinterest accounts, as well a page on the king of all social media, Facebook. Here, you can find out nearly anything that she is involved with through her social media posts. She uses her phone to take pictures of herself, her kid, as well as other activities that she is involved with. Currently, she has over 500 “friends” on her Facebook site, with a few more added each week. Here, she and her virtual gang exchange photos, commentary, as well as links to other bit of news and details with the assumption that there friends appreciate these bits of information. This social media thing is what she does during her “downtime” each weekday. Otherwise, it’s working on the keyboard at her office–the only place that she doesn’t use an Apple product, while attending to her kid at school and all other events the child is involved with.
     In spite of all of this kind of activity, Krystal recently confessed to an associate of hers (and this writer) that in spite of all of the things she does and the people behind them all, she feels that she doesn’t have any real quality friends to connect with. It isn’t the notion that she doesn’t know anyone, but she lacks on any forms of people she can find as true friends, the kind that she doesn’t see at the law firm or part of the “mom mafia” at school since many of these mom-types are out to backstab anyone worth backstabbing! Besides, they are too busy with their own lives since they have other kids and for the most part, a spouse to deal with.
     In short, Krystal is seeing friends of her own for anything that doesn’t involve romance! (Krystal insisted that yours truly place this disclaimer in her side story so she won’t be bombarded with request from guys looking for a date or even a “hook up”!)
     It’s not necessarily a rare notion that people such as Krystal who holds a comfortable middle class domestic life to feel such loneliness. Granted, people are more connected to one another than ever before. However, a connection to a second person doesn’t grant a friendship in the traditional sense. One may know their boss, but outside of work activities, is there any bonding to this person? Many people live in tight neighborhoods, yet they rarely speak to the person living next door. In Krystal’s case, her child has many friends as kids tend to do, but is Krystal friends with the caretakers of their kids? The process continues onward, as people life standard lives yet do so more on a solo basis.
     There has been much commentary placed on being alone in a crowed world. Robert D. Putnam’s landmark book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community spoke about the situation of people reducing their contacts toward others in all forms of domestic life. Although first published in 2000, it was created long before social media that the nation and the world knows of it, fully existed. (Facebook didn’t come around since the middle 2000s. Ditto for the smart phone that added to the enhancement toward this form of psudo-loneliness!)
     Even when asked by this writer to Krystal if she dose make a token effort to make friends on her own, she replied “Not really”. When asked why, she replied “I don’t seem to have the time, and (the others) don’t want to make an effort”.
     This reporter can’t comment on the back story to Krystal’s reaction to this all, or to take her answer as a result due to a real circumstance or just as a feeble excuse. However, many people feel that they don’t have a lot of people to fall back on in terms of emotional support.
     However, things are not that bad, or at least for Krystal. Just as this issue of Accessibly Live Off-Line was going to press, yours truly was updated that Krystal is holding a connection with a man who she once “dated” a number of years before. (It was through a chance meeting at a nearby Target store while shopping for last minute Christmas gifts on the afternoon of December 24th!) So they are attempting to rekindle a relationship that got snuffed out a decade or so before. That’s good for Krystal, and good for the ex “ex”! So in spite of the fact that anyone can be in contact with another on a “24/7” basis, one can’t really meet the element of knowing of somebody on a real time basis. However, in terms of a soap opera, we’ll just note to state for you to tune in tomorrow for the next exciting chapter on the life of Krystal. Stay tuned!
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                                      NEWS AND REVIEWS
    Continuing its run at The Falcon Theatre in Toluca Lake is THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED), a self titled description of the back story of the USA as told by a trio of players that use a comical twist within their telling of the saga of one of the world’s best known nations.
     Matthew Patrick Davis, Thomas Hobson, and Kevin Symons play themselves (to a point) where this group creates their whole hardy attempt to give the audience a rather hurried history of America, using plenty of creative license in the process! Starting out with the Italian explorer not known as well known as Mr. Columbus (who eventually took all of the credit), and moving through the vast timeline where through skits, blackouts, and other forms of fast(er) paced amusement, Matt, Thomas, and Kevin creates a sensational notion on how and why America is what it is, and what it was, and what it should be–and not!
     First conceived and written by Adam Long, Reed Martin, & Austin Tichenor in the early 1990’s and continuing through various playhouse floorboards in both the USA and in London until the middle 2000’s, this newly revised production covers a lot of the for noted history from those early days with characters of old as George Washington, Lewis & Clark, and Abe Lincoln, to the folks of today–including a “debate” between Hillary and The Donald with a Q&A with the audience!! Of course, this history lesson isn’t really a lesson, just a fast acting satire of some of those events that are remarkable, and some that can be mildly offensive. But through all of this history, the three-team of players hold their comical timing up to snuff. Using the stage as their setting among Eric Walley’s set design of a thirteen star American flag set in the backdrop with a series of doors off on the stage wings (to run in and out of), Matt and company does it all and how! And in order to keep on their feet, they all sport black Nike sneakers where the shoe brand receives promotional consideration! (The American way to sell things one supposes!) The footwear adds to A. Jeffrey Schoenberg’s costume design where after a while, one doesn’t notice the shoes since many of the outfits the cast dons during their skits and comic scenes brings more attention to what’s below their ankles.
    Directed by Jerry Kernion, this so-called “complete history” isn’t really complete per se (thus the “abridged” disclaimer), so don’t use this program as a real history lesson! Use it as a farcical look on how far American has progressed in its life, and how much it set itself back. However, in the tradition of American storytelling, it does provide a happy ending! And with all of the comical antics along with its series of gags, jests, and other forms of mirth, one will have their happiness set to its finish. After all, it’s been said that history is made at night–as well as during the matinees!

     THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED), presented by and performs at The Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank, until March 6th. Showtimes are Wednesday through Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 4:00 PM.
     For ticket reservations and for more information, call (818) 955-8101, or via online at http://www.FalconTheatre.com.
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     Theatre 68 presents the world premier of Robert Lawrence Nelson’s CONNECT, a tale of two people that meet via a phone sex line while developing a relationship with one another, in spite of the back stories they keep.
     Toby (Chad Addison) is a man still in his 20’s that lives within the vast ranges in Arizona with his mother Betty (Perry Smith). Both dwell within their own isolation; Betty recovering from her substance vice, and Toby with an immobility. A few thousand miles away living in a homestead along the ocean front in Malibu is Samantha (Julie Dolan) and her spouse Albert (Joe Dalo). Albert is a feature producer, presently getting a film into production. Samantha also feels isolated, notwithstanding of her surroundings. Her husband works all hours, and she is slowly getting over a tragic episode she experienced not so long before. To keep herself busy as well as gaining something she doesn’t have, she has a job as a “model” for a phone sex chat service. Toby, also feeling the same something he doesn’t have, uses the phone sex service as a link to talk to somebody for personal and perhaps sexual satisfaction. Toby reaches Samantha via the phone service, but their talk isn’t limited to invisible sexual activity. The two, unknowing to each other, turns their chat into a meeting that involves a desire for companionship, morphing into a relationship from opposites sides of a status connected virtual fence.
     This one act play starts off as what appears to be another comic episode between a guy who calls a sex line with an illusion he wants to “get off”, and the woman whose sole purpose is to satisfy his sexual whims. But the mood changes from comedy to an emotional drama. It’s a basic tale that’s between two people from both sides of the “tracks”, that are from different backgrounds, yet hold various aspects in common. Both hold a pain that may not be healable while using a cure to all of their conflictions called “love”. It’s something they can’t get from where they reside, but only through an invisible voice on the phone. Playwright Robert Lawrence Nelson composes a story that is all too familiar even in this current day and age where communication can provide contact, but not the contact that is part of human nature. Overall, this is a very tight show with this cast of four using a set of two. (Toby’s settled-in and unkempt place and Samantha’s clean and bright domain.) This backdrop as created by set designer Danny Cistone shows the vast difference between down-and-out and up-and-coming. The quartet of players keeps up with the pacing throughout, thanks to Danny Cistone’s stage direction. (Brittany Rizzo and Isabel Wagner serves as assistant directors.)
     CONNECT shows how two people can drape themselves into something at first they are not, only to show that their common bonding creates its own unique illusion, only to  relay upon an effortless voice on a phone line.

     CONNECT presented by Theatre 68, and performs at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd. (at Lankershim), North Hollywood, until March 13th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. No performance on Saturday, March 5th.
     For ticket reservations or for more information, visit http://www.Plays411.com/Connect or at http://www.Theatre68.com
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     The Sacred Fools Theatre Company presents Padraic Duffy’s PAST TIME, a comic tale of a group of multigenerational souls that are out seeking something, discovering that they sometimes have to switch roles in order to find what’s being sought. This play makes its world premier as its debut production at the Sacred Fools new theater space located on Hollywood’s theater row.
     Taking place in a middle sized urban community, James (Leon Russom) a well seasoned man, is helping out his best friend Lou (French Stewart) getting his business off the ground by making and selling ceramic unicorn figurines at a small stand in the nearby mall. Lou takes his unicorn figurines seriously, even assigning colors on how these unicorn knickknacks should be painted! James knows of this kind of business as his spouse Delilah (Ruth Silveira) works at a candle store located in the same mall, not too far away where Lou has his kiosk. (Both shops even have similar names: Candles ‘n Things vs. Unicorns ‘n Stuff.) Meanwhile, James’ twentysomething grandson Chris (Josh Weber) is attempting to woo Meredith (Julia Griswold). He takes her on forgettable dates such as taking a tour of highway meridians and showing her a puppet show featuring a salt shaker “making out”. Meredith finds Chris a bit too immature for her tastes. In order to win her back, Chris asks his granddad if he can take his place on the next date. Delilah, seeing what James is doing,  attempts to change herself as a younger self in order to get James’ attention. And Lou is hawking his unicorn figurines where selling one is as scare (or nonexistent) as a “real” unicorn! Can James and Delilah rekindle their youth? Will Chris win the heart of Meredith? And will Lou ever sell a unicorn that promotes sparking stars and rainbows?
     This one act play by Sacred Fools Theatre Company member Padraic Duffy and directed by Ronnie Marmo, is a very charming tale that shows its humor and charisma using actual charm and wit, rather than its reliance of being cocky loaded with overly sharp sarcasm. Its cast of five mesh well with one another, portraying characters that appear to be slightly lost with their keeping a secret desire to find their way, regardless of knowing what that way actually is! And unlike previous shows as presented by this theater group, the play’s tone is more of the mainstream variety, rather than something is is slightly off kilter. Even though a little out of the ordinary is fine for theater, but at times can be a turn out for a small selected few. But for those that may be scared for anything “new”, this show plays it safe for the timid bunch. It’s overall moral is if one needs to understand what their fellow (wo)man is feeling, one has to take a walk in their shoes.
     Now a few words about the Sacred Fools. When this theater troupe was founded in 1997, they took over the former theater space of the Deaf West Theatre at a location off Melrose Avenue within the shadow of the 101 freeway. For the next eighteen years, the Sacred Fools, or “Fools” as they are sometimes known, presented hundred of plays and stage works that gave them their own unique niche for Los Angeles Theatre in their rather intimate space. But it was time to move on! They found an opportunity to over the building that was the recent home of the Elephant Theatre Company located on Theatre Row–Santa Monica Blvd. between La Brea and El Centro in Hollywood. The “Fools” has since rebuilt and modified the large theater space known as The Lillian Theater, and created a playhouse that is similar in shape to their old grounds. This time, The Fools has more stage and audience space to work with! This show is the first of many future productions that the Fools will provide to keep the smaller theaters (i.e. the 99 seat houses) alive to service the theater going public. In this post modern world where one can be entertained by watching moving imagery from gadgets that fit in a pocket, it’s still a joy to experience live theater found in the heart of the so-called entertainment capital of the nation–if not the world!

     PRIME TIME, presented by the Sacred Fools Theatre Company, and performs at the Sacred Fools at The Lillian Theatre, 1076 North Lillian Way, off Santa Monica Blvd, one block west of Vine Street, Hollywood, until March 26th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM. No performance on Sunday, February 28th.
     For more information and for ticket reservations, call (310) 652-7222, or online at http://www.SacredFools.org
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                                           CONNECT WITH US!

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2016 Linear Cycle Productions.
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