This issue’s date lands on a holiday. In the USA, the second Monday of October has been declared since 1971 as Columbus Day, the day to commentate the moment when Christopher Columbus supposedly discovered the New World that eventually became North America and connected to that, the good ol’ USA.
For many years, school kids in this nation learned about Chris and his antics convincing Queen Isabella of Spain to fund his trip by placing her jewels at a hock shop. The year this episode took place was in 1492. There was even a ditty created to remember this date that went under the effect of “Christopher Columbus set sail on the ocean blue in 1492”. To throw the kids off when they were going to take their history test that contained the question “What year did Christopher Columbus discover America?”, somebody composed “Christopher Columbus sailed the deep blue sea in 1493”. This little catch phrase caught on, giving these poor kids a wrong answer on their test. Of course, this may have been arranged back during the time where commercial jingles were at their peak. Many a kid that was hooked on to media that was at the time limited to radio and TV, knew the lyrics to short and catchy songs that attempted to sell something, everything from kid-friendly products allowing those same kids to wish they were an Oscar Meyer weenier, to products that were anything but kid-friendly! (“Winstons taste good like a cigarette should”, etc.!)
Over time and tide as commercial jingles were no longer as catchy as they used to be, the notion of having a federal holiday that commemorated Chris’s journey to the so-called new world had also lost its luster. There has been notes circulating that Chris’s treatment to the people that were living on the land he discovered were anything but friendly. Also, the notion of Chris being a hero of some sort has also been faded through time. For those that are of Italian decent, his being is felt as a sense of legacy and pride. In many cities that have a strong Italian presence mostly located in the northeast and midwest parts of the country such as New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, and so on, Columbus Day parades are held that pay tribute to the man in question as well as to celebrate the Italian heritage as its focus.
Since the 1990’s when political correctness started to kick in, the notion of changing the name and scope of “Columbus Day” has been a subject that’s been coming and going around. There have been groups that state that the day should reflect upon the native people that existed at the time of Chris’s discovery. Those people were known as “Indians”. This name should not necessarily be confused with the former name of “Indians” now known as “Native Americans”, since at the time of landing (1492), there was no “America” to speak of. However, those of Italian decent state that the day should commemorate the presence of Italians that are part of the melting pot that make up the population of America. Others that are of a different heritage stated that they should receive a day where their background should be recognized that also make up the same melting pot. And the argument continues.
Columbus Day as a whole is one of those federal holidays that don’t receive the same respect as to the other holidays that are on the USA calendar. Unless one lives near or is part of a community that is of Italian heritage, the day isn’t mentioned as much. Here in Los Angeles, there are no Columbus Day parades taking place to speak of. Ditto for any other forms of celebrations outside of “Columbus Day Sales” that some retailers may use to lure customers into their stores and/or their websites. In fact, many people have nearly forgotten about Columbus Day as a whole. The only time they even notice that it’s a holiday is when they find out that banks are closed, no mail delivery takes place (assuming that people still remember mail delivery, but that’s another topic as it stands), and city government may not be doing anything that day! Many businesses don’t close on that day either, not even recognizing that day as a holiday! (When yours truly was once employed at a cable TV company owned by Westinghouse, we had a choose to either take off Columbus Day or the day after Thanksgiving. No prize will be offered to anyone to guess what day everyone picked as their holiday!)
However, it is a holiday in Canada as it’s Thanksgiving Day where the banks are closed, mail delivery stops, and local government isn’t doing anything! However, unlike the American Thanksgiving that falls on the fourth Thursday in November (not necessarily the last Thursday in November) that unofficially kicks off the “Holiday” (formally “Christmas”) shopping season, the folks in Canada uses another backstory to their Thanksgiving. To get the details, one can always look it up! That’s why Google exists, no matter what name you use!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Skypilot Theatre opens their theater season with a pair of one-act plays: Sean Abley’s ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART… and Jalisa LeeLee Jackson’s COMB YOUR HAIR (OR YOU’LL LOOK LIKE A SLAVE), each one takes upon a basic subject as told by a variety of characters through a non-linear pattern.
The first play as part of the double bill ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART… speaks for a situation where an up-and-coming ballet dancer is driven to her death by falling in the path of a subway train in the lower bowels of New York. A series of characters confess about this death through their own means. Some knew the late dancer, a few knew of the victim, and others become affected in more of a distant sense as the characters tell their side through monologues and first person accounts.
The second production COMB YOUR HAIR (OR YOU’LL LOOK LIKE A SLAVE) consists of a collection of short skits and formal orations by African American women of various ages and sizes that deal with their hair, expressing notions ranging from fashion statements to personal self dispensation and privilege.
Both of these plays were composed by playwrights based in the Los Angeles area, and each one became a national finalist for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival’s 2017 John Cauble Short Play Award. (These two were finalists out of four!) What makes these plays unique is its method of delivery, carrying these works through its progression of its dialogue, speaking upon its subject matter through self driven monologues addressing the audience. ABSENCE.. uses as its base, the Hans Christian Anderson fable “The Red Shoes”, while COMB.. uses personal experience as its platform, as playwright Jalisa LeeLee Jackson has previous written plays for women and femmes of the African diaspora.
Each production features a separate cast. Featured in ABSENCE are (in order of their appearance), Catherine Davis Cox, Marie-Francoise Theodore, Miss Barbie Q, Maggie Manyan, Ian Stanley, Javier Melgar Santovena, Thomas Colby, Sarah Lilly, Ian Salazar, Andra Nguyen, Kasey Miller, Tony Kim, Natalie Nicole Dressel, Francoise Tiadem, Easton Schirra, Heather Boothby, Kieth Wheeler, Carlyle Coash, Sarah Marcum, and Morris Schorr, performing under the direction of Chrisanne Blankenship-Billings.
COMB features (again, in order of appearance), Shereen Macklin, Miss Barbie Q, Alexa Briana Crimson, Skye Ellis, Carene Rose Mekertichyan, and Mimi Tempestt, performing under the stage direction of Kumi James.
Single act plays are a distinctive breed as they tend to cram as much detail about its plotting and characters as told within a shorter time span. If done correctly, this condensed method of theatre can become a powerful aspect that gets its points across quickly yet throughly. And these two accomplish these elements throughout through timing, dramatic grace, and the notion that it speaks for its subject matter directly to its audience in an intimate setting.
ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART… and COMB YOUR HAIR (OR YOU’LL LOOK LIKE A SLAVE), presented by Skypilot Theatre, performs at the Arena Stage, 1625 North Las Palmas Avenue (one half block south of Hollywood Blvd.), Hollywood, until October 29th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM.
For ticket reservations, order online at http://www.BrownPaperTickets.com/event/3085800.
Visit Skypilot Theatre through social media outlets via Facebook at
http://www.Facebook.com/SkypilotTheatre, and via Twitter @SkypilotTheatre
A PIECE OF MY HEART, Shirley Lauro’s play that tells the unique stories of a group of six women who served their time during the battle of Viet Nam, performs at The Charles Stewart Howard Playhouse in Woodland Hills.
In 1969, six women that originated from different backgrounds and backdrops became aware of the current war the nation was in conflict with. The women were Martha (Janet Lee), Sissy (Tuesday Grant), Whitney (Sarai Jimenez), Leann (Kaleen Ugai), Steel (Markietha Ka ‘Von) and MaryJo (Mackayla Hill). Steel served in the Woman’s Army Corp (WAC). The others were registered nurses, while one was a member of a small country & western group, hired through her group’s manager to perform in touring USO shows. Although they would not fight in battle (females were restricted to perform in combat at the time), they would eventually become part of the military action. However, most of these women were rather young. With only a high school education, they trusted their recruiters that serving in a military war front would be limited to the base, far away from any battlegrounds. However, this would not be the case. Dealing with military protocol while mingling with the servicemen with care, (sexual relations were against military rules), along with the exposures of the horrors of war and its aftermaths, these women performed to the best in not only serving their nation, but to come to the physical and emotional aide of these “fighting boys”. Upon their discharge, the battles continue. This time, it’s a reaction between the disrespect by war protesters, post-traumatic stress, and the effects to chemical exposure–elements they would take upon themselves for many years after long after the guns turned silent.
This play shows the causes and effects of war that were based upon an act of patriotic duties as told through the perspectives of these women, presented by a series of linear scenes and monologues. The mood changes from promising and upbeat (what did these women know what they would get themselves into?), to horrific (serving within a war zone would lead toward exposure to horrific injury and death), leading to their post-war inner and outer personal conflicts, finally settling to a recognition of respect of duty long after the fact. The cast of the six female leads featured in this presentation perform in a harmonious fashion, keeping up to the momentum that the play expresses. Marshelle Giggles-Mills directs this program that doesn’t take sides, but showcases an honest truth.
Also appearing within this production are Paulina Logan, Caitlyn Rose Massey, Chris Clonts, Bradley Sharper, Nancy Woods, Jaime Dorsch, and Silky Eugenia Bell.
The title A PIECE OF MY HEART, suggest that these women wanted to offer a “piece of their heart” in serving for the good of their nation and for humanity as a whole. Although it would take a generation to finally obtain the respect they well deserved, they did receive their own memorial wall in Washington DC, a little over ten years after the original Vietnam War Memorial wall was erected. In today’s landscape, anyone who does their part for humanity, be it for a military situation, a civilian based confrontation, or anyone that “rallies around the flag” toward the aid of others deserves their place in the limelight within their own right. The human spirit does exist today, no matter how popular (or not-so-popular) the cause calls for!
A PIECE OF MY HEART, is presented at the Charles Stewart Howard Playhouse (Harter Hall) on the campus of Woodland Hills Community Church, 21335 Dumetz Road (at Canoga Blvd.)Woodland Hills. Performances take place on Saturday and Sunday, October 14th and 15th at 7:00 PM. Ticket reservations can be obtained via online at http://pomh.brownpapertickets.com/
Visit the CSH Theatre through social media at https://www.facebook.com/WHCTheatre/
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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!