TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF-AGAIN! (Part II)

In our last exciting episode, you’ll recall that yours truly (“me”) was in the process of planning a big trip to Los Angeles to attend some kind of conference convention. I was in the final stages of preparing for this trip, arranging a schedule that would eventually change my life in the coming year. (You don’t recall that last part because that “change” thing wasn’t mentioned in that episode–until now!)
So let’s pick up the story from where we left off, and to continue from that cliff hanger ending so you’ll know what’s gonna happen next! Y’ready?

So the week of the conference finally arrives. With all of my paperwork and notes in hand, I fly from St. Louis-Lambert Filed on a TWA flight to LAX. The trip would last some four hours (give or take an hour), so I had plenty of time to go through those notes with some of the appointments I had made with some folks that were involved with the media. These folks either were at post production houses, mostly in the Hollywood or Burbank areas, as well as two film labs, DeLuxe and YCM, both located not too far off from one another in Hollywood, off Santa Monica Blvd. if memory holds out!
I arrived to LAX on schedule. After grabbing my scant luggage from baggage claim, I scurried over to the car rental agency to pick up the vehicle I rented, a small but practical Geo Metro. The car didn’t have much to offer, just a four cylinder compact. But it was enough to take me to and from where I was going to go.
I was staying at some budget motel located in the Sun Valley area off I-5. It would be an easy commute to the Sheridan Universal, as well as to those places in Burbank and Hollywood. However, I had my LA street map from the AAA in my hands so I could navigate the highways and byways that made LA just what it was–a city where if one wanted to get from point A to point B, one had to drive! Unlike the other urban cities where I once lived in, noting was really close, and bus service wasn’t the greatest. Besides, I had a car, so taking a bus didn’t seem ideal!
The first day of the AERho event has a number of workshops scheduled, moderated by those working in the business in this town. The roster of those participating had interesting bios with what they did, and what they were involved with at that time. It appeared that I would be in good company in those terms.
WIth such conferences, there would be a keynote speaker, somebody of importance that would kick off the conference in style. The speaker that would start the whole event was radio personality and actor Jay Thomas. At the time, he did the morning drive show on KPWR-FM, a “CHR” station (“Contemporary Hit Radio” aka “Top-40”) in LA, whose biggest competitor was KIIS-FM in terms of listener and music demographic. His morning program came from the morning zoo/rude awaking/morning sickness style of radio programs that were in their peak in the 1980’s, consisting of a single person (sometimes as part of a team) who played music, took listeners phone call, and overall attempted to be funny/wacky/zany during their 6:00 AM-10:00 AM shift. I personally never liked that type of radio as although the shows did attempt to be comical in nature, much of their gags were annoying and many times fell flat. And based on how I would be feeling during those morning hours, all I would have wanted was peace and quiet! Then again, a morning program conducted in the same style as Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club or Arthur Godfrey Time wasn’t going to cut it anymore.
Anyway, Jay was there and spoke about his radio career and even dispensing advice to all the attendees, around 300 of so who came from various universities from across the nation. ALthough I was with these fellow and somewhat budding students that desired to do something in radio or TV, I never had much an opportunity to mingle with any of them. Perhaps I was just too wrapped up in attempting to do what I was supposed to do while in town.
To move this story further, I looked at my schedule to see who i was suppose to meet and where. My first appointment were in Hollywood. I don’t necessarily recall who I met when and where (I still have my original notes filed away in my archives, but I won’t bother to reference them for this article), but I did. Some of these post houses were loaded with the cutting edge equipment, and the people I met were every nice to me.
This coming and going from the conference went on for the next three or so days. I had to make haste at every moment since I was only in town for five days. The conference itself lasted three days, and the two additional days was for me to mosey around town. However, I managed to do everything that I was supposed to do. I don’t know how I managed, but I did!
In spite of all of this cramming, I felt that i could have done more. At many of the places I visited, I received leads from other places the people I met provided to me. Alas, I couldn’t fit it in the time allowed. It just had to wait for next time–assuming that there would be a next time!
Soon, it was my time to leave LA and to get back to the rural community of southern Illinois where I called home. Although the area where I was based was OK for what it was, it could not compare to LA–a city that was robust, bustling, and was more of a brand name than anything else! Besides, I wasn’t the only person who had a big desire to come to town to achieve my dreams–if you want to call these desires “dreams”. Many others of my ilk had the same gumption, although a good chunk of these dream chasers were wannabe actors hoping to nab a role in a moving picture or television program. I was looking for something that was going to take me father than what I was doing at the time, working in a community public access facility in suburban St. Louis. And that position was on rocky ground as that stood since the management wanted to expand their channel line up offering programming what would be more profitable. Our little channel didn’t show profits and was doomed to be totally cut off.
Of course, although I had myself a great time in LA, I knew I just had to finish my job. Hanging around the rural community to where I was at, as well as seeing the beginning of the end on the horizon, I knew I had to do something. And that something would resume until later that year.
I’ll stop this story at this point for right now. In a future issue of Accessibly Live Off-Line, I’ll continue the saga of when I “declared war”, and made an effort to find my calling determined to not quit until I found something. That story will be told later this summer, perhaps after this very edition publishes our annual “State of the Union” address, around issue no. 26.
So as they say, stay tuned to this very station for further developments!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
Actors Co-op continues its run with Brian Friel’s DANCING AT LUGHNASA, a drama about five unmarred sisters living in a rural Irish village, and the relationships their share with one another in addition to the people that come within their lives.
The setting is the mythical hamlet of Ballybeg, located in County Donegal. It’s the middle late summer of 1936. Here, one find the homestead of the Mundy family, consisting of Chris (Lauren Thompson), Rose (Tannis Hanson), Agnes (Mauroe Speed), Maggie (Rory Patterson), and the eldest one, Kate (Nan McNamara). All live within this home, taking part of the duties keeping their abode in order. Their other sibling, brother Jack (Mark Bramhall), has returned home after spending a number of years as missionary priest living within a leper colony in the heart of Africa. This duty took a toll for his health as he had made his return back home to live for the rest of his days, although those days are rather numbered. These sisters live for one another as Kate, a schoolteacher by trade, is the real breadwinner of the household. Although they are unmarried as Kate is more of the spinster to the other four, there is Gerry (Stephan Van Dorn), a gentleman that holds a rather carefree and somewhat responsibility-free sprit. He becomes a suitor to Chris in spite of the fact that Gerry comes and goes whenever he pleases. The narrator of this story is Michael (Michael Knowles) who is Chris’ son, born out of wedlock. Among this humble household is the “wireless”, a radio that serves as their only communication to the outside world–or actually, outside of their County Donegal. The group of sisters love to dance–an act rather festive in nature, but is frowned upon by the Church during this era, especially during the Festival of Lughnasa that holds pagan based origins.
This charming play by the late Irish playwright Brian Friel is based upon the recollections recalled by the author taking place around the time of his youth. If holds plenty of the Irish sprit, down to the settings depicted as created by the Actors Co-op through Michael Kramer’s set design, Wendell C. Carmichael’s period costuming, and of course, the performed by the cast of eight players as seen within this production. Heather Chesley directs this show that offers drama, settlement, with a wee touch of humor interjected. This presentation as witnessed at the larger Crossley Theatre stage, features a setting consisting of a horseshoe shaped seating arrangement. The set is semi virtual, meaning there is no physical backdrop per se, meaning that the performers enter and exit through its front and real area, presenting a larger spacing as depicted. This makes this presentation bigger in size, yet keeping its compressed quarters
DANCING AT LUGHNASA is a stage piece that is enchanting to the sprit of Ireland. And yet the play does not conclude on a notation of hopelessness. In memory in what the past becomes, despite the accepted tragic fates of the family members, is illogically enchanted and totally denies pessimism. It’s more of a humble celebration to the passion of happiness, and the sheer freedom of dancing!

DANCING AT LUGHNASA, presented by Actors Co-op and performs at the Crossley Theatre, located on the campus of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, 1760 North Gower Street (South of Franklin Avenue and the 101 freeway), Hollywood, until June 12th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 PM. Special Saturday matinee takes place on June 11th at 2:30 PM.
    For further information or for ticket reservations, call (323) 462-8460, or via online at http://www.ActorsCo-Op.org
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Theatre 68 reprises its production of BILL W. AND DR. BOB, Stephen Bergman and Janet Surry’s based on fact story about two men that lead different backgrounds, yet share a common vice that nearly ruined their lives–only to do something about it!
Ronnie Marmo, alternating with Brian Foyster, is Bill Wilson. Bill Lippincott, alternating with Charles Hoyes, is Dr. Bob Smith. Both were born within a fifty mile radius in a section of Vermont (although some fourteen years apart), in the late 19th century-early 20th century. Bill was a stockbroker, selling as much stock as he was losing it. When the market crashed in 1929, his career, as well as life, went into a tailspin. His spouse Lois (Melissa Kite, alternating with Rosie De Candia) sees the turmoil he is going through. His only “out” is to turn to alcohol to get himself by. Dr. Bob, a surgeon based in Akron, Ohio, becoming rather successful in what he does as a trade, also becomes addicted to drink, down to performing surgery while going through his many post binge drinking hangovers. His spouse Anne (Laura Lee, alternating with Carol Stanzione), bares witness to this self demise. But both Bill and Dr. Bob knows there is hope for themselves and their addiction. The two eventually meet, acknowledging the common bond their share. They become part of the many others who suffer the silent isolation and emotional suffering excessive drinking brings. Willing to assist those that hold this same dark secret with liquid sprits, they form a special relationship to one another, eventually creating the twelve step based self help organization to be known as Alcoholics Anonymous.
This play tells a touching tale of two men, both successful in their careers backed by supportive spouses who were able to take charge about their fate, make a change not only for themselves, but for the millions of others who live through a quiet and unspoken addiction. The play written by Stephen Bergman and Janet Surry, holds many emotions to this story. Although the plot itself is rather somber in tone, it does have some rather light moments. The rotating cast that portray both Mr and Mrs. Bob Wilson (or “Bill W.” in “AA” speak), as well as Dr. and Mrs Bob, play their roles with an intense yet inspiring attitude. The themes depicted touch upon a subject matter that is uplifting with the sense of hope that is always ever present. Ronnie Marmo, who has directed previous stage productions as presented by Theatre 68, returns to give this production a boost in awareness in both for the good as well as addressing the evils of drink, especially if such consumption is done as over indigence. This staging of this show is rather simple. Danny Cistone’s set design consists of a beige colored wall with trim molding that resembles a period living room that isn’t necessarily depicted as this type of homestead. Furnishings move around based on its represented scenes. The performers take center stage here as the story unfolds while concluding to not so much a happy medium in the traditional sense, but with an ending that’s full of confidence and hope.
Also appearing in this production is Jack Noonam, alternating with AJ Brody, and Elizabeth Kimball, alternating with Terry Kaye, performing in various roles.
Alcoholics Anonymous, or “AA”, is perhaps the best known and influential self group of them all that take its twelve step method of assistance to those that seek it for their personal good. There are other type of groups that use “AA” as its model. (In fact, Bill W. and Dr. Bob’s spouses later founded Al Anon, a support group for those family members and others of concern affected by those who can’t control their drinking.) This play, with a bit of creative license added, tells this story about the two that has made its name and ideas known to many others that need help while getting it. This play is highly recommended!

   BILL W. AND DR. BOB, presented by Theatre 68, performs at the HoNo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd. (at Lankershim), North Hollywood, until June 12th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM, with Saturday/Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (323) 960-5068, or via online at http://www.Theatre68.com
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