Not so long ago, one of our associates who are “cord nevers” (see Vol. 22-No. 20 for a detailed explanation to what a “cord never” is), subscribes to a number of the media streaming services that’s been part of the TV landscape of late. This party’s prime choice to view programming is Netflix, perhaps the be-all-to-end-all pick for watching new content, as well as what Netflix uses as their bread and butter–movies! One title these folks picked to view one early Sunday evening was the film Queen of Katwe, a 2016 release from The Walt Disney Company that features Madina Nalwanga as a young woman living in the African nation of Uganda that masters the game of chess. This flick was praised by film critics and by the public alike. Granted, it really didn’t place many big name stars (David Oyelowo was also featured, and although he does hold a number of film credits of noted movies to his name, he really isn’t considered to be a “big name film star” in the traditional sense), the film tried to carry itself on its own. It wasn’t a big box office smash either, only to gross less that $10 million during its theatrical run. But was a title that was presented to woo those voters of movie awards, perhaps picking this selection for a noted category. (Best Director, Best Picture, etc.)
When our associates (Steve and his spouse Christine) viewed this film using a big screen TV set rather than through their iPad sporting a 10” viewing area, they were pleased in what they experienced. However, one element form that viewing came to them. It really wasn’t about the acting, directing, or even the cinematography (they are not really involved in “the industry”, so those matters were really all for naught), but for its theme the movie spoke about. That concept that somebody living in a poor world nation can become a success in nearly anything, just as long as one tries to make an effort as well as the oft-told rule of believing in one’s self.
That’s all fine and well. However, Christine made a note of that idea. Yes, the film did show somebody that was downright poor and all, and was able to rise up by making a unique accomplishment in spite of the situation and odds that were faced. However, Christine made a comment about what she saw in the film. If the story shows that somebody can do this “anything”, what has Christine, a person that lives a much better life than the protagonist depicted in the movie, done for her life?
Christine and Steve live a standard “middle class” lifestyle. Christine is a school teacher for the public school system while Steve works for a company that makes a major product, making sure that the company’s goods are delivered to their distribution points around the Los Angeles county basin. It’s a real blue collar job but pays rather well. Christine’s gig is teaching classes in the 3rd grade level. Although she’s been doing this for some time, she feels she would rather do something else that’s more fulfilling. She’s a bit trapped in her work through various circumstances. She can’t move up to something else, both in the school district she works for, as well as finding something outside of the education community.
That scenario brings this mini story back to the the experience of watching what is suppose to be a movie of inspiration only to have that intended experience fall flat! Christine wanted to have those “feel good” moments that these kind of movies are expected by bring. But instead of finding this feature uplifting, it actually did the total opposite by making her somewhat depressed! She tended to ask herself questions such as “What have I accomplished for myself? How can I do such accomplishments?” “Where am I going in my life”?
This article isn’t going to limit itself with one’s personal life journey. This article speak for how a source (in this case, a movie) attempts to make a noteworthy point across only to have it fail or even backfire where its real meanings are not accepted or understood.
Domestic society now lives in an age where details and information over matters of significance can be obtained at nearly a moment’s notice that brings the facts in light. Granted, some of those facts may not be facts at all i.e. “fake news”. But one has to use their own judgement in taking on those notions in order to make situations in more of a progressive mode, weeding out what’s useful and what is there only for one’s use.
Not so long ago, a reader of this newsletter wrote to me directly stating that the reviews for shows I post are presented in a more positive light using the classic “glass 1/2 full” method of thought. Although not everything one sees or consumes is great. In fact, there is a lot of s#it out there! However, yours truly won’t write something to the effect of “this thing sucks!”, but will find something that is pleasing and acceptable for what it is. That can be used for much of other aspects as well. Christine for instance, does hold an occupation that has been well underrated, yet she provides a service that will affect the lives of the kids she teaches every day of the school year. Some may even progress in life recalling how such a teacher of theirs from their past schooling did something to change their life, even if that change was just only for the moment. These efforts may not show any immediate results, but does make an important difference nevertheless!
But movies are movies, not depictions of the so-called “real life”. One can guess that a lot of creative license was placed within the film, so the episodes depicted may not be totally accurate. However, the point was to set up a situation that anyone can use in their own life. It may be mastering a chess game, or even playing caretaker to a friend or family member who might need this care. It’s all what one does and the impact it brings.
But all was not lost for Christine. After she and Steve soaked up the efforts of that film, they watched another feature right afterwards, Suicide Squad, an action film based on a DC comic that was released around the same time of year that Queen of Katwe was playing in the moving picture houses. Although that movie was more of a commercial success playing to more of a general audience as well as having a different theme, there wasn’t much of anything in that picture to make in uplifting! But it was entertaining for what it was. At least Christine and Steve enjoyed it!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills closes out their 2016-17 season with Terence Rattigan’s SEPARATE TABLES, a drama that blends a pair of stories that uses the same characters and setting.
The location is a residential boutique hotel placed within a small seaside village located a distance from London. Its period is in the latter years of the 1950’s. The first episode entitled Table By The Window, speaks upon a left wing politician writer John Malcolm (Adrian Neil) who in recent years had fallen upon hard times with his excessive drinking. He also did time in prison for assaulting his now ex-wife Anne Shankland. (Susan Priver). John is currently having a fling with the manager of the hotel, Miss Cooper (Diana Angelina). Anne then shows up at the hotel unexpectedly. Was her appearance at this hostel an arranged appearance or was is totally “accidental”? The second act Table Number Seven takes place over a year later at the same hotel. The focus is resident Major David Pollack (David Hunt Stafford), a retired army officer who has taken an interest with Sybel (Roslyn Cohn) who lives with her mother (Mona Lee Wylde) at the hotel. Sybel is rather awkward, but still respects this former military official. However, the Major holds a deep secret. He’s been accused with molesting female patrons at the local movie house, and Sybel’s mother exposes him for what he has done. Sybel’s mother manipulates the remaining residents of the hotel to expel him for his evil deed. Will the Major leave the hotel or will be allowed to stay, and will Sybel herself join suit?
This melodrama by British playwright Terence Rattigan is a play that is very talky, meaning that there is more dialogue spoken throughout than character driven action. This form of play writing comes from the standard variety of theater pieces that is normally found in plays originating from the UK in the pre-television era, or at least before television made any major impact!
Theatre 40’s presentation of this play holds much of the same traits. It features a rather powerful cast of players that includes in addition to those noted above, Melissa Collins as Jean Stratton, John Wallace Combs as Mr. Fowler, Michele Schultz as Miss Meacham, Caleb Slavens as Charles Stratton, Suzan Solomon as Doreen, and Mariko Van Kampen as Lady Mathison that do speak in droves while extracting their emoting.
Jeff G. Rack, Theatre 40’s resident set decorator, creates a setting that features a center drop that fluctuates between the hotel’s main sitting room and the restaurant through a large turntable that’s spun between scenes. The wings of the stage at left and right remain the same, blending in its appropriate stage sites.
Directed by Jules Aaron, SEPARATE TABLES as displayed by Theatre 40 holds a respected title as the two stories stand alone to one another, yet mingles with its physical presence.
And speaking of this theatre company, Theatre 40 has released its listing of plays that will be performed as part of its 52nd season. The year kicks off on July 20th with the west coast premier of Arun Lakra’s , followed by another west coast premier, David MacGregor’s , opening on September 1st. Its next presentation, by Katie Forgette opens as a Los Angeles premier on November 16th. On January 18th of ’18, Kate Henning’s makes the stage as another Los Angeles premier, followed by John Morogiello’s , opens as yet another Los Angeles premier on March 15th. And rounding out the season is A.A. Milne’s on May 17th. Complete details to all shows can be found through Theatre 40’s website as noted below.
SEPARATE TABLES, presented by Theatre 40 and performs at the Reuben Cordova Theatre, located within the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 South Moreno Drive (off little Santa Monica Blvd.) Beverly Hills, until June 18th. Showtimes are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM.
For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 364-0535, or via online at http://www.Theatre40.com
LONG WAY DOWN, Nate Eppler’s black-esque comedy about one’s woman’s self conflicted campaign to save little ones in a peril and the family she holds a connection to, makes its west coast premier at the Sherry Theatre in North Hollywood.
Taking place at a run down home in a semi-rural community just north of Nashville, Tennessee lives Saralee (Christa Haxthausen) and her husband Duke (Lane Wray). Living within this same household is Sharleen’s younger sister Maybelline (Meg Wallace). Maybelline lives at home since she can’t function on her own due to something that occurred in her past, making her appear rather awkward and perhaps mildly “retarded”! Sharleen herself is the breadwinner of the family since Duke can’t work on his construction assignments due to his depression. Karen (Lauri Hendler), a friend of Sharleen, tends to hang around the house in spite of Sharleen’s wishes, nearly forbidding her to be present. Karen, as she holds a rather questionable past, discovers that at the local day care center one of the babies there was seen with a black eye, giving the impression that the mother is beating the child. So Karen hatches a plot to save these babies from their possible destruction from their parents. This notion of Karen’s leads into something that is far deeper that imagined, even getting Maybelline into this scheme.
This is a form of play that features characters that can be described as classic “poor white trash” that live a lower middle class lifestyle, speak with southern twangs, and holds as much intelligence as a high school (GED) graduate! Those elements boost the comic relief that production suggests. However, the plot becomes rather macabre that eliminated much of the laugh factor one would expect. (This writer won’t give any plot points away, but take it from yours truly that the story becomes darker as it progresses!)
This form of black-ese humor makes this play rather appealing! The cast of four that appear play their roles as the group of backwaters that actually exist in some mode. Not necessarily as the characters depicted on stage, but they do come pretty close enough!
Steve Jarrard directs this program in a tight progressive method, making everyone an anti-hero without anyone doing anything remotely heroic!
LONE WAY DOWN can be a vague description of going down a long way! Although what does happen isn’t anything as a laughing matter per se, it still posses that humor one would want to find. So be it!
LONG WAY DOWN, presented by the Collaborative Artist Ensemble, performs at the Sherrie Theatre, 11052 Magnolia Blvd. (one half block east of Lankershim, and one half block west of Vineland), North Hollywood, until June 18th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday evenings at 7:00 PM. For ticket reservations, call (323) 860-6569, or online at http://LongWayDown.BrownPaperTickets.com
The Angle City Chorale presents INTERACTIVE, a musical program that’s described as an imaginative multidimensional event that is of the sight and sound.
This presentation will be a unique and involved program that is far from a customary choral performance. Interactive will blend the theory of choir and cyberspace to mesh the elements between the chorale as performers and its audience that respects the essentials of being connected in this post-modern society.
Interactive will be bridging the gap between the classic style of musical performance that the ACC is well known for, as well as introducing aspects that make up what appears to be all around most of everyone: the opportunity to become part of what’s all everywhere media. Sue Fink, ACC’s artistic director and founder, will take the lead in presenting its legacy harmonic tones fusing classical with gospel, rhythm & blues, jazz, and world (folk) music as performed by its 160 plus male & female vocal choir and a 22-piece orchestra, taking full advantage of the natural sound-enriching acoustics of its performance space.
Oh, yes! According to a note as expressed by Sue Fink, since this show is indeed “interactive” she states that this time around, she will encourage those in attendance to NOT turn off their phones!
INTERACTIVE, presented by the Angel City Chorale, will take place for two shows, Saturday, June 3rd, and Sunday, June 4th at 7:00 PM at the Wilshire United Methodist Church, 4350 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, (Hancock Park) located between Highland Ave. and Crenshaw Blvd. and right next door to the Wilshire-Ebel Theatre. Tickets can be obtained in advance (a $5.00 savings) or at the door. It’s recommended to arrive as early as possible as the church’s parking lot can only hold a limited number of vehicles, and finding street parking can be problematic.
To obtain tickets in advance, visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2920022. Information on ACC can be found at http://www.angelcitychorale.org and through social media via Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/AngelCityChorale, Twitter – https://twitter.com/AngelCityChoral, YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/user/AngelCityChorale
and SoundCloud – https://soundcloud.com/angelcitychorale
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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!