IS EVERYBODY HAPPY?

With a headline such as the one posted above, one would think (for logic anyway), that this article either speaks for somebody that’s questioning the state of how one is feeling, or to hark nostalgia over the “battle cry” made famous from Ted Lewis, a bandleader that had its peak in the 1920’s and 30’s that was well know but (sadly) is now long forgotten!
This article really calls for the notion of the situation of how one is indeed feeling, the causes and effects of that emotion, and perhaps to ask the ever lovin’ $64 dollar question if  everybody is really and truly in a position of being overjoyed?
In one hops on to their favorite search engine and types in “happiness”, one will find a massive trove of articles and related ramblings found in cyberspace to give the meaning of happiness. The first entry one can find is what the definition of this term is. According to that definition found on everybody favorite online (and free) encyclopedia, Happiness is “…a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources.” It’s also one of the six basic emotions noted by psychologist Paul Ekman that human beings posses. The other five-anger, disgust, fear, and surprise, has been discussed in many other sources from medical journals, lifestyle magazines that mostly cater to a female demographic, to a money making animated feature film of recent release. However, this write up will focus upon the first and titled emotion.
Being happy especially in these days and times is more important than ever. Although the notion of anger tends to receives more attention, folks would rather be in the affection of content. Granted, that state of anger, especially when reported in the media, takes a front seat because of the drama it holds leading it toward other factors, happiness is indeed the real winner as it harks a realm of calmness and offers just as much laughs–minus the said drama, that this art of blissfulness leans upon. In fact, the United Nations just had their International Day of Happiness (it was March 20th) where the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognized happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to growth and development that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples” and all 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority.
The above paragraph, extracted from a press release issued by the U.N, proves that point  It also went on state that for this year, it is teaming up with Sony Pictures as a cross promotion with the studio’s upcoming release of The Angry Birds Movie. The lead character of that film, the bird “Red” was named Honorary Ambassador for Green to encourage people to take action against climate change and its impacts. (Another line extracted from the same press release!) The article also went on to note that other components such as taking actions in recycling, the use of public transportation and conserving water is part of this day of celebration. And as with shameless plug, the press release noted that The Angry Birds Movie will be released by Sony Pictures on May 20th and will revile why the titled birds are indeed “pissed off”! (This writer’s words, not of the press release!!)
As much there is to be angry about in today’s domestic society, there are just as much excuses of being happy. One can go into overlong details on what’s the reasoning of being happy, how to be happy, and other forms of the state of happiness. Anyone worth their salt can find (or create) an app or three to download for their portable telephone machine that speaks for this title emotion. One can find quotes and blurbs that vocalize for happiness that one can post (and repost) on their Facebook “wall”. Ditto for the rest of all leading social media outlets where one can pin or tweet for happiness as the theme for the day–or just for the moment!
A question that doesn’t hold a true answer could be arranged as “What is the meaning of happiness?” It’s just as difficult to answer as it is to ask. How can you find happiness? Does it exist? And if it does, what can one do with it once they have it?
Again, yours truly won’t go into overly long details pondering upon these notes. (That’s what search engines are for!) But to ask “Is Everyone Happy?” brings to attention that the status of joy is the key. And as long as one can keep happy along with the sources where it comes from, then that’s fine for what it is! Sure, that previous line may be taken as a cop out answer, but in these times, any form of positive emotions can work. And what’s a great story to conclude with the “happy ending” folks would rather find in their tales of fiction or non fiction? Classic stories finish off with “..And they lived happily ever after!” Although this article is far from being a classic story, we can quit while we’re ahead by ending with being all happy and content! As Larry Harman, who was most famous for promoting Bozo the Clown to kids of the so-called “baby boomer” generation, would have good ol’ Boze finishing off with the line “Just keep laughing!” The best way to end this very article is with a chuckle! We’ll supply the material, while you supply the laughs! And to quote a line from a bouncy song (and used in a successful 1960’s-era ad campaign for a brand of cigarettes), that’s what happiness is!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
Performing as a guest production at the V.S. Theatre of Los Angeles is the world premier of Jennie Webb’s CURRENCY, a self described unexpected love story that involves a one night stand, a death in a family, and those that meddle in between!
The setting is the home of Helen (Dale Waddington), a prim and proper early 20th century era bungalow that boasts a rather large and somewhat just as tidy bedroom, still decorated with the lacy interiors that her late mother left behind. She had a friend of hers Dan (Warren Davis) spend an intimate evening. All tends to start well the morning after until Dan receives a call informing him of the death–or actually murder–of his twin brother who was living in a down and out life. Before the tragic effects of this demise sets in, in walks Dan’s sister Rae (Gina Torrecilla) as well as Helen’s co-worker Georgia (Shirley Jordan). The two siblings aren’t as grieving over their brother’s death as one would suspect. These two only complicate the matters in hand, let along barging into Helen’s bedroom, with Georgia being more concerned in the office’s affairs. Adding to this mix is yet another sibling of Dan and Rae’s: their youngest brother Sparky (Josh Stamell). Sparky, known as the family “accident”, has his matters geared toward the shared economy, where resources can be pooled using elements when needed–the kind of economics preferred by the “millennium” aged demographic. Before long, this mix of people blends into what appears to be a confusing situation that moves at a pace than everyone can barely keep up with!
This one act play written by playwright Jennie Webb is very quirky as well as it’s comical in an alternative method. Although it does make note of a death, one would never suspect that somebody died–including its characters! The cast of five that’s featured are very amusing performing in their roles, as well as being very likable. Dan, as played by Warren Davis, is the humble soul that can be picked as the lovable loser, yet doesn’t have anything to lose-almost! Dale Waddington as Helen is the “woman of age” that is starting her life over (again). Gina Torrecilla as Rae is the real person in charge: firm but never bossy! Shirley Jordan as Georgia is more into the office matters–even when she’s not in the office, and Josh Stamell as Sparky is the comic relief. He may be the family accident, but in this accident, nobody got hurt!
Seen within this single act play is its single setting–the bedroom as designed by Krystyna Loboda that consists of a “girly” bedroom motif, with plenty of lacy trim, show- off dolls, and enough foo-foo that makes everything appear to be oh-so-cute!
Directed by Annie McVey, CURRENCY is offbeat and out of the ordinary to say the least. For those that prefer romantic comedies with a twist, look no further than this type! In this day and age, anything can happen! And it all happens in a fluffy bedroom!

CURRENCY, presented by The Inkwell Theatre and performs at the V.S. Theatre, 5453 West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, until May 21st. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For tickets and for further information, visit the website at http://www.InkwellTheatre.com
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The Sacred Fools Theatre presents the Los Angeles premier of Arthur M. Jolly‘s  A GULAG MOUSE, an intense drama of five woman confined to a prison where survival is the key mission between their captors and those being captive.
Taking place during the period when the Soviet Union was in its Marxism–Leninism state of affairs, Anastasia (Emily Gross) had just been sentenced to spend eight years in a Siberian gulag for the murder of her husband who abused her. (His murder was for her own physical survival!) Now in this remote prison, she encounters her four cell block bunkmates: Lubov (Heather L. Tyler), Svetlana (Crystal Keith), Prushka (Dana DeRuyck) and Marsha (Kimberly Atkinson). Each prisoner with their own personalities are there for their various crimes, from murder, prostitution, down to being a “trader” toward the republic just for speaking out! Marsha, the self appointed leader of their cell block, sets up the hierarchy that exists while the others must settle with their crimes while not knowing if their next day will be their last. In spite of their intentions, there are no rights nor wrongs. Each woman holds as much good as to their is evil. Being loud as a (castrated) bear or quite as a mouse doesn’t matter to anyone. It’s just part of the hard labor of the gulag, and the notion of Anastasia facing to save the others in order to save her own actually!
This one act play written by Arthur M. Jolly is a tight and fierce presentation where its characters live within a barren state of being, both physically and emotionally. The play takes place in the era where the USSR used to confine its prisoners to remote camps, perhaps never to be seen nor heard from again. (Either the republic secludes them for good, or the gulag hierarchy does the captives all in!) The performances as presented by this team of players is just as intense and overpowering as the material itself. Not only does this group of confined woman bicker in words and emotion, but they fight—and do they fight! Through the aid of stage director Danielle Ozymandias (spouse of the playwright), as well as Mike Mahaffey’s fight direction skills, these women prisoners take upon themselves to show the audience, as well as the characters they represent, how they mean business living in a sole governing party nation where freedom was a privilege, even outside of the setting of a remote and inaccessible gulag! Aaron Francis’ set design of the gulag itself consists of a primitive setting made up of wooden planking bunks with nothing else to offer outside of a crude wood burning stove. Even the theatre space seating is made up of hard wooden benches with only a swatch of cork serving as seat cushions. Granted, its not very comfortable for the audience to sit through this show as detailed, but showcases how life was very hard when one is sentenced to intense controlled labor in a nation that is ruled by a few to a vast population.
Also appearing in this production is Brendon Bales in a duo role as Anastasia’s husband, as well as the illusion of her young adult son.
This production as presented by the Sacred Fools Theatre Company is the second play that has appeared in their new home–the site of the former Elephant Theatre Space, and the first featured show viewed in their smaller “black box” theatre. This type of locale is ideal for more intimate productions that call for confined theater environments, as well as for the audience to get closer to the action as witnessed on stage.
A GULAG MOUSE holds a tight presence and never applies itself toward any carefree conclusions. Then again, life in the Soviet Union was never easy to begin with. Freedom grated or otherwise!

A GULAG MOUSE, presented by the Sacred Fools Theatre Company, and performs at the Sacred Fools Theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd, one block west of Vine Street, Hollywood, until May 21st. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday, May 8th and 15th at 7:00 PM.
     For more information and for ticket reservations, call (310) 652-7222, or online at http://www.SacredFools.org
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2016 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!

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