IS EVERYBODY HAPPY AT WORK?

     As this issue is hitting the streets (so to speak), it’s the Memorial Day weekend, meaning it’s the unofficial start of the summer season. Granted, it’s also a national holiday where folks that tend to be employed by some company of firm is most likely enjoying their day off.
Now this writer speaks (or writes anyway) on those that are employed in a traditional work setting, meaning that these employees report to a stationary physical location somewhere and spend a minimum of eight hours in a given day performing in some kind of task or duty that is their “job”. In this day and age, many people that are employed no longer (or never did) participate in some kind of work environment where they are required to report to an office or related place in order to accomplish their job. Thanks to this so-called modern age, one can perform a task nearly anywhere, providing they have access to a work space (any tabletop will do), electrical power, and some sort of connection where one can receive communication data. Of course, there are other means of working sans an office space. (Construction, etc.) But for the sake of simplicity, we’ll confine this article toward the classic methods of work.
Over the many notes and finings of how people see their jobs and what it means to them, one questions tend to be repeated in many ways: Are people pleased in what they do for a living, and how do they feel about their spending time performing assignments for the sake of those that hired them in the first place?
Recently, the job positing web site Indeed released a report on job satisfaction. In their report, called The Indeed Job Happiness Index 2016, this study examined how people are pleased in what they do for a salary (or in many cases, work in a volunteer capacity without pay for a cause or purpose that is meaningful to the volunteer), based upon many factors, from work conditions, duties that the job requests, skills and abilities, and the overall respect one receives while on duty performing the said responsibilities.
According through the massive amount of facts and figures found within this report, it listed the top American cities where such job satisfaction is ranked, from the happiest place to work to its least based upon the above described conditions.
In the report, the city where job satisfaction ranks highest is good Ol’ Los Angeles, CA! That’s right, in spite of this town known to the nation (as well as the world) for what it is thanks to the mass media, L.A. as well as its surrounding communities, reports that people are very pleased in what they do. In fact, the highest ranking position of happiness is “personal assistant”, posting next to such titles as “creative director,” “production assistant” and “teaching assistant”.
Of course, the first three job titles listed tend to lean toward the so-called “entertainment industry” where such duties are in higher demand in this town than let’s say, Cincinnati, Ohio. And those positions tend to be jobs that can be rather stressful, along with long hours attached with various forms of job based drama that can fill a reality TV series! (And a few of these kind of TV shows on working as an entertainment based “grunt” did exist at one time or another!) The job of “teaching assistant” is perhaps the most standard form of job found anywhere. Many of these TA’s do settle among school settings, from early preschool places to college and beyond. (In college, many, if not all, TAs tend to be “yes (wo)men” to their professors, working as a personal assistant capacity–but this is besides the point!) Whatever the case, LA does rank at number one–and so dose the state of California as well!  According to the report, five communities in the list’s top ten are based in this state! (LA as number one, San Diego at three, San Francisco at five, Riverside at nine, and San Jose at ten!)
And since there is a top ten, what city ranks at the bottom where that community posts job happiness at its weakest? Denver, Colorado is at number one, followed by Indianapolis, Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, PA, and Richmond, Virginia. (The for noted Cincinnati ranks in at number six!)
If one desires to ponder all through all these facts and figures, one can read the report itself at http://blog.indeed.com/hiring-lab/indeed-job-happiness-index-2016/
So as everyone takes advantage of the Summer season (arriving on schedule no doubt), its a thought to note that if money doesn’t bring happiness, the art of earning that dough does! And with California raising its minimum wage, perhaps that happiness can be spread to those that engage in it. After all, it’s only a living!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
Currently performing as a guest production at South Pasadena’s Fremont Centre Theatre is the world premier of BILLIE HOLIDAY: FRONT AND CENTER, featuring Sybil Harris as the legionary jazz and blues vocalist Billie Holiday.
Born Eleanora Harris Fagan in Philadelphia in 1915 and raised in Baltimore by her mother still in her teens, her early childhood consisted of episodes of poverty, sexual abuse, as well as encounters with the law. (She served time in woman’s institutions for truancy and later prostitution.) In spite of this turmoil, she possessed a talent of singing jazz and blues numbers. She moved up in the ranks of music, eventually becoming the lead vocalist for Artie Shaw. Although she was doing rather well in her musical career, her personal life was still in shambles, taking on excessive amount of alcohol and heroin. She continued to sing from those early days up until her death at age 42 from cirrhosis of the liver.
In this performance, Sybil Harris portrays Billie Holiday within the same mannerisms that mimic this woman down to her vocal pitches and rhythms. This production does showcase brief glimpses to her life, but that bio side of the story isn’t what this presentation is really all about. It’s mostly depicted as a concert that Sybil (as Billie) performs. Backing her up is a quartet of jazz music players, consisting of David Patterson on Sax, Michael Saucier on bass, Fritz Wise on percussion, and Cassey McCoy on keyboards. (Cassey also serves as musical director.) The story line may belong to Billie Holiday, but the musical jazz and blues riffs really belong to Sibyl and company, as they showcase a talent whose name and spirit live on, although her actual lifespan was far too short!
As to what’s seen on stage outside of the musical sounds that go along with the visuals, Timothy Morganfield’s set design consists of two “room” settings as viewed on both stage left and right. These settings only serve as a scenic backdrop to smaller episodes depicted to tell Billie’s story. In the center of the stage stands a mic placed upon an upright stand (the mic itself resembles a classic Shure 55SW model) with Billie/Sybil in the middle, and her jazz band team settled in the background that creates all of the music that really matters.
Directed by B’anca, BILLIE HOLIDAY: FRONT AND CENTER brings back the sounds that Billie once created. If one is familiar to this singer of blues and jazz, this show is a fan’s delight. For those not quite familiar to her name and legacy, this program will serve as an introduction to Billie’s style. Experience the story and performance, but stay for the music!

BILLIE HOLIDAY: FRONT AND CENTER, written, produced, and presented by Sybil Harris, performs at the Fremont Center Theatre, 1000 Fremont Avenue (at El Centro), South Pasadena, until June 12th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM. For further information and for ticket reservations, call (800) 838-3006, or via online at http://www.BrownPaperTickets.com/event/2499741
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Burbank’s Victory Theatre Center presents the world premier of Jason Wells’ THE ENGINE OF OUR RUIN, a comedy that involves a diplomatic meeting of the minds that morphs into a number of unintentional events that teeter between a friendly trade agreement and a hostile outcome leading toward international conflict and then some.
The setting is a luxury hotel suite located in an anonymous nation somewhere in the Middle East. A meeting is establishing itself lead by Charles Manning-Jourdain (Tim Ryan Meinelschmidt) with his entourage in tow; Seth (Gregory Holt) and Nia (Shannon McManus). His conference is between two of the locals of an official capacity, Haroun and Majid. (Brian Abraham and Ryan P. Shrime) Their interpreter Razi (Zehra Fazal) is there to translate what the other party is saying to one another. However, Razi has her own ideas, interpenetrating for the desires that speak for her and the women of her nation. There are the two additional others, Shane (Spencer Rowe) and Boris (Steve Hofvendahl) where their own intentions have their diplomacy aspects become lost in their translation. (A rumor of a armed contest a-brewing?) And what is behind that after-hours party occurring in the same hotel suite taking place in the wee hours of the morning?
This play written by Jason Wells is a fast moving piece that contains sharp dialogue, shaper attitudes, along with a whole load of genuine wit! The comedy depicted is more of an absurd variety that carries quality laughs. The bally taking place between the characters progresses in rapid fire motives, making this stage piece resemble a post-modern screwball comedy! The cast of eight players motivate the spirt of the play’s themes and ideas in a frantic yet controlled measure, thanks to Maria Gobetti’s stage direction. (Gobetti, along with Tom Ormeny, serve as the artistic directions of the Victory Theatre Center.)
In addition to the above named roster, Kimberly Alexander is also featured as Jessica, a woman that joins the group with her own diplomacy fueled with booze–a beverage supposedly forbidden by the locals in this (unnamed) Middle Eastern nation!
Political comedies that speak for international incidents between the USA and other lands usually submit into the hit-or-miss category, meaning that such showpieces are either wonderfully presented or they just fall flat! THE ENGINE OF OUR RUIN descends into the former (first) choice of outcome. Granted, no real wars are started or declared as witnessed in this production. Then again, trade agreements don’t necessarily result in what’s expected. For this show, the humor and laughs that go along shine through with a hearty handshake that seals the deal!

THE ENGINE OF OUR RUIN, presented by The Victory Theatre Center Bare Bones, and performs on the main stage of the Victory Theatre, 3326 West Victory Blvd. (one block east of Hollywood Way), Burbank, until June 26th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 4:00 PM. For more information and for ticket reservations, call (818) 841-5422, or via online at http://www.TheVictoryTheatreCenter.org
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The Angel City Chorale presents RHYTHM PLANET, a musical chorale concert event that celebrates the rhythmical beats that become part of the global experience,
This renowned musical ensemble as conducted by Sue Fink, Artistic Director for the ACC, will be joined by special guest conductor Christopher Tin, who has previously teamed up with this troupe sharing his vastly abundant harmonious music pieces. The selections itself will honor many of the forms of music and rhythms crossing between the numerous forms of cultural and ethnic traditions that make up the intercontinental world landscape. With its 150 plus membership of male and female vocalists backed by a twenty-five piece instrumental composite as performed within an acoustical ideal setting, one will indeed experience an evening of musical components that will become a unique concert adventure for all ages to enjoy and marvel.
Musical selections presented will include created pieces by Aaron Copeland, Eriks Esenvalds, Moses Hogan, and a rousing version of Toto’s Africa. (ACC’s performance of this song as posted on YouTube received over 2.7 million viewed “hits”!)
This event will take place on Saturday, June 4th and Sunday, June 5th at 7:00 PM, at the Wilshire United Methodist Church, 4350 Wilshire Blvd. (adjacent to the Wilshire-Ebell Theater), Los Angeles 90010. This monumental church located within the heart of Hancock Park, serves as the performing home base of the Angel City Chorale. With its grandiose architecture influenced by Italian, Spanish, and Gothic formation, this pillar of the community enhances the sound and virtual sprit the ACC presents wherever it performs, both locally and abroad.
For more information on the Angel City Chorale’s presentation of RHYTHM PLANET, as well as to order tickets (save five dollars per ticket when obtained in advance), call (310) 943-9231, or via the ACC’s website at http://www.AngelCityChorale.org
(Note: This article is a repeat from the previous issue. -Eds.)
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2016 Linear Cycle Productions.
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