I’M JUST A LONELY BOY

The above title beings to mind an “oldie” tune sung by Paul Anka c. 1960 that was not only a hit heard on top 40 radio back in its day (in Los Angeles, KFWB and KRLA placed that record on its playlists), but was heard as a regular staple on those stations that once programed rock ‘n roll “oldies” beginning in the 1970’s and continued well into the 2000s. But this article isn’t about Paul Anka, top-40 and oldies radio stations, or even collecting 45 PRM records! It’s about the topic in question: The sense of feeling lonely and becoming within a state of being where a lonely person doesn’t have others to coincide with.
Not so long ago, The Harris Poll in conjunction with the American Osteopathic Association, conducted an online survey asking participants on their sense of being isolated from others, either as people known to one another, or to those that hold a common bond with each other based upon interest, their place of employment, or just within a stage as a group, organization, clan, or other method that could be considered as a gang of some type.

In the poll’s findings, some 2,000 American adults polled found that 72% reported having felt a sense of loneliness at one time or another, with nearly a third (31 percent) experiencing loneliness at least once a week.
The reasonings toward this isolation vary widely, from working at a job or occupation for longer hours, as well as the ever present social media that has others develop so-called “friendships” with one another without seeing the person face to face, speaking to each other, or even knowing if that person even exists! Thanks to this technology that is supposed to make life easier, it appears that it really didn’t service as a connivence, but as another step to making things more complex.

This trend of the state of being isolated in a domestic society is far from being something as new. When television stated to make its mark in the late 1940’s, folks were flocking to be in front of those television machines in order to take a peek of those programs being accessible on those new fangled devices. At first, TV sets were rather expensive for what they were. Much of the early viewing trends were based on watching within a group-type setting, from going to a local bar or tavern to see The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports or perhaps being at a friend’s or associate’s home to watch Your Show of Shows on a Saturday night. As TV sets became more common and thus, more affordable, those viewing parties faded away where people could and would watch by themselves. In many neighborhoods, especially in smaller towns, television was the cause (blame?) as the reasoning of community breakdowns. Everything from bowling leagues to woman’s groups experienced a fall of membership and events thanks to the presence of television. As recently as the 1970’s, the community of Essex, California was known to be one of the few places in the USA that couldn’t receive television signals from both Los Angeles (too far away) and Las Vegas (too many mountains). When a booster antenna was finally installed nearby, TV signals reached Essex. Community groups within this hamlet saw memberships drop only to induce more isolation within this small town just because people can stay home to watch television rather than do something else with others!

But that story of Essex was a remote case. Over time and tide, people drifted toward isolation through various reasons, yet technology played a part. Around the turn of the 21st century, a book written by Robert D. Putman entitled Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community was released that noted about the drastic decline of social interaction within the last fifty years beginning around 1950. That period was marked between the rise of TV to the dawn of internet usage. But in 2000, the ‘net was somewhat of a different place as it exists in the present time, as well as how one can get access to it all.

Perhaps two elements has since taken place around the time that book title make its mark: Social media, and how one can receive it. Within the last fifteen or so years, social media platforms morphed from being a novelty to a way of life. And cells phone changed from small candy bar shaped devices to mini computers that can do nearly everything from sending text messages, viewing video content, hearing audio sounds, and yes–sending and receiving phone calls! As to social media, that grew in leaps and bounds where many websites came and went where one can know of others in cyberspace land. Perhaps the granddaddy of them all in terms of social media presence is Facebook, where it is quite possible to find many people one may know, one may know of, and others that are total strangers–assuming that these strangers are for real! On Facebook, one can have as many as 5000 “friends” where one can find out anything the “friends” post about themselves on their platforms. In spite of the fact that one can have as many of these friends allowed, one question remains. How many of these online buddies one has spoken to via voice, or have actually seen in person? One of our fake people we have on Facebook reached its 5000 limit, receiving online banter over what the 5000 are doing, what they believe in, and anything else in between. Will we ever meet any of these fine folks? Fat chance for that!

Although social media is OK for what it is, it’s not all evil, and getting out of isolation isn’t something one will be stuck with for life. According to the Harris poll results and what the American Osteopathic Association suggests, there are ways to get out of being all alone and back into group situations, from finding groups to gather with (Meetup.com can be used to find such groups), from shopping locally (such as farmer’s markets), to changing communities where one works and/or lives, and to possibly take an effort to limit one’s reliance of social media! (Or as it’s know, to become “off the grid”!) It’s not impossible to perform all of these steps, but after some trial and error, one can get back with others and to get away from becoming all by their lonesome.

Of course, one has to have a balance in own’s life. Being by one’s self has its advantages. And being with others also holds its perks. Whatever the case, all one has to do is to is try. To quote a c.1959 Peanuts panel strip, when Charlie Brown first has his appointment with Lucy with her five cent physiotherapy session, he asked upon how to beat his depression, Luck replied to “Snap out of it”, and to demand her five cents for her services. Maybe there is more to that solution, but we here at Accessibly Live Off-Line are not doctors, nor do we play them on TV! Just ask the towns folks in Essex just in case you don’t take our word for it!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
Performing at The Actors Company of West Hollywood is the world premier of Michael Harney’s THE AWFUL GRACE OF GOD, a collection of six short plays that take the theater audience through various places of time, location, and space.

The half dozen short tales consists of Off, featuring Curtiz Belz and Bechir Sylvain as two friends living in Flushing, Queens c.1972 as the they deal with living in their neighborhood keeping with their street smarts: Surrender with Tim DeZarn and Janine Venable as an older couple aging in place at their cabin nestled within their rustic spot in an unnamed community in New England, still getting over the death of their child from not so many years before: and Willy and Rose, about a young couple on the run living in a seedy motel room where Wille performed a “job” bringing a lot of money in their coffers, only to pay a price, featuring Johnny Whitworth, Agatha Nowicki, and Joseph Bongiovanni. The second half consists of The Long Walk Home, a period piece set in New York City c.1950 about a man’s dilemma from his drinking and how it affects his wife and kids, only to have his crippled father to set him straight. Features James Harvey Ward, Tim DeZarn, Janine Venable, Rebecca Lidvan, Daniel Litz, Amelia Jackson-Gray, and Joseph Bongiovanni. Need (Shelter From The Storm), stars Marie Broderick as a psychotherapist and Marshall McCabe (alternating with Ilia Volok) as her client where he expresses his devotion to her, in spite of her limiting their relationship as only professional. And rounding out the six is Through, Oscar Best is an African American man tied up at a lynching post as he discovers his freedom through virtual means.

This pool of short plays written by Michael Harney is presented in a very tight mode. Their moods range from light and humorous to downright sobering. Each mini-tale has touches of surrealism contained in various places, some with more doses of this entry that others that give off an equal balance. The method that these single standing scenes as portrayed gives the audience the desire to want more, only to have its conclusions arrive in the nick of time! Michael Harney, best known as playing the character Sam Healy in the Nexflix series Orange Is The New Black, creates through his writings, six unique worlds that journeys through the past, present, and possibly a future that might lead as experienced (or not)!
 As to the visuals seen on stage, Joel Daavid’s set design combining with Fritz Davis’ video projection design creates a backdrop that takes each of these short epics in miniature through every situation and latitude, from the streets of Queens to an isolated cabin somewhere in Yankee country, back to the present urban scene, and far beyond the reaches of physical volume.

Directed by Mark Kemble, THE AWFUL GRACE OF GOD is far from “awful”! In fact, it holds a rather powerful reaction that is set within its slightly over two hour running time! It has been stated before that big things tend to come in small packages. This fact is indeed very true as through the grace of God or otherwise!

THE AWFUL GRACE OF GOD, presented by Go The Distance Productions, and performs at the Other Space at The Actors Company, 916 N. Formosa Avenue (two blocks south of Santa Monica Blvd, and two blocks west of La Brea), West Hollywood, until May 28th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (323) 960-7784, or via online at http://www.Plays411.com/GraceOfGod

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Performing at the Charles Stewart Howard Theatre in Woodland Hills is the program THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY, the Neil Bartram-Brian Hill musical that focuses itself on how everything in life is relative and interconnected, no matter how important or trivial these connection presents itself.
In this production, an ensemble of twelve performers consisting of (as listed in alphabetical order) Laila Abdo, Tiffany Bailey, Chris Clonts, Kristne Gilreath, MacKayla Hill, Justin Hoff, Daniel Koh, Paulina Logan, Katie Lynn Mapel, Caitlyn Rose Massey, Kyle Sundman, and Laiya Cheyenne Wynn, emote through song on how personal episodes found within that element called “domestic life” holds some connection to one another, although that interconnection may not seem obvious firsthand.
The mini-stories this musical speak, or sings for ranges between (in no specific order) a person attempting to impress another with a confession to his cat allergy, a pair of BFFs since childhood whose friendship status changes as they eventually mature, another person scuffling on how his uncertainty with the emotion of love is connected with math theory of pi, a college bound student discovering his adult life in progress as unique from his once sheltered family life, how another young man with his fondness of oranges finds the love of his life by way of this fruit, a young woman who believed she found her true love only to have that love take another turn leaving her with a permanent reminder, a person who gathers the courage to say hello while waiting in line for a coffee drink, and other sagas that makes up the rituals of emerging into continuing adulthood.
This musical with music score and lyrics by Neil Bartman and book by Brian Hill, is a piece that is charming, witty, touching, honest, and depending of one’s demographic, nostalgic! The episodes portrayed are mostly told in song, although there is some spoken dialogue emitted that is powered to set up the “story”, making use of some basic laws of physics. That is where the math ends and the musical notions take hold. WIthin this seen production, the cast of twelve are seated on various white colored semi-mismatched chairs at first, only to take the stage when it’s their turn to sing taking upon the character they are playing that’s emoting their little life account. Within the stage backdrop is a blackboard setting placed on stage left and right with math-esque problems scribbled throughout while a vase filled with posies is placed in the center of these blackboards as balance. Jessica Worland’s production design first gives the illusion that this show is just about math and physics. But that feeling takes a backseat when the show extends itself as how people emerge in life.
And how does “nostalgia” fit into this musical work? For the most part, the stories told and the players that depict them are mostly of the “millennium” age. However, a point in life doesn’t make a difference here since nearly anyone who did undergo a domestic form of living can relate to these same tales, except that these epics occurred a few years before when one used their inner emotions and gut feelings rather than through an app loaded into their smartphones!
With Larry Collica providing musical direction performing on the keyboards, and Marshelle Giggles-Mills as stage director, this one-act musical can be described as tight, meaning that its musical and dramatic emotions never bogs down a bit from its opening number to its climatic conclusion.
The Charles Stewart Howard Theatre isn’t a traditional stage theatre per se. Its theater space is found within an auditorium setting located on the campus of Woodland Hills Community Church, a facility nestled within a residential neighborhood just about a mile south of Ventura Blvd. It is indeed off the beaten path, and that is actually a good thing! This slightly out-of-the-way place gives this same theatre space its charm and appeal. And with its size, this theatre indeed subscribes to the “less-is-more” method of performing quality stage works. It’s not really the same as a “Hollywood hole-in-the-wall” playhouse because it’s far from existing as a “hole-in-the-wall”, and it’s some distance from Hollywood! This theatre space is found in the west San Fernando Valley region where high caliber performing art does exist. One just has to look a bit deeper for it!

THE THEORY OF RELATIVITY, is presented at the Charles Stewart Howard Theatre on the campus of Woodland Hills Community Church, 21335 Dumetz Road at Canoga Blvd. Woodland Hills. Performances take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 6th and 7th, at 7:30 PM. Ticket reservations can be obtained by calling (818) 835-0612, or via online at http://Theory.BrownPaperTickets.com or http://cshplayhouse.wixsite.com/the-cshp
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE
is a presentation of Linear Cycle Productions

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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2017 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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