SOCIAL MEDIA AND DATA AIN’T HUMAN!

It’s been less than twenty years since the concept of what’s known as “social media” has made an impact in this domestic society as we all know it. When cyberspace was starting to emerge from an amusing novelty to the way of life it has since become, the concept of letting folks express themselves has changed from letting people know that you are out there just to say “hello”, to using the tools that exist to do everything from selling goods to seeking a way to gain “fame” along with the fortune that tends to follow the fame or vice versa. Some folks spend many of their waking hours posting their pics through Instagram, writing sort(er) commentary through Twitter, streaming video (live or transcribed) through Facebook, YouTube, and other forms of streaming, and other methods too numerous to mention.

Within those last twenty or so years i.e. around the turn of the 21st Century, many of the companies that were introducing those methods has grown to become giants, nearly to a point where they are expanding to become almost sovereign nations! Facebook is getting into cyber currency, while Amazon is attempting to control what you can buy, how to use what you can buy, and other commands through robotic devices that you can speak to!

And as the players in social media intentions are getting bigger and more powerful, so are their applications. (And for the record, those companies are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google, better known as FAANG!) Facebook didn’t create the book on social media, but they sure modified it! Apple, the one-time follower in the computer world and inventor of the ever lovin’ smartphone, is getting into the game. (A bit late, but joining the party nevertheless!) Amazon is expanding into more cyber stuff rather than just selling goods one needs or not. Netflix is holding on in providing TV show-esque program content via streaming (and never mind the fact that Netflix will no longer provide such fan favorites as The Office and Friends) and Google knows that you will be reaching out to them when you want to find something or another.

These “big five” are out there to use one element extracted from their users and abusers. It’s that thing known as “data”. This data is used to discover who is using what, how that what is being used, how much one is spending (or not) in that what, and other notions that is only known to the collectors of data, using robotic means to gather those goods for purposes that are a bit questionable as it stands.

And rightly so! A recent study and survey conducted Ogury, a marketing firm that collects data through electronic devices using robot means, stated in a report entitled The Reality Report: Consumer Attitudes Towards Mobile Marketing 2019, noted that 92% of those polled worldwide (287,000 to be exact) said that these consumers still don’t understand how their data is being used. Every time somebody uses any application, from the millions of phone apps that exist out there, to the notices one posts through said social media, or what you command your robot device to do for/with/against you, some source is collecting that data however the consumer may know of it or not.

Those elements, among many others, is one of the reasons why social media still exists. And sadly, it’s very hard to escape those notions. The only method to become data collection free is to simply get “off the grid”. That is, disconnect your electronic device from any internet connection, get off of one’s phone, (or at least switch to a classic style flip-phone), and communicate with others through humanistic methods, such as taking to them via face-to-face. (Not through “facetime”!) One can even still write letters sent via the postal service! It still works, or it did the last time this writer took of the advantage!

But asking those to get back to where they came from cyberspace-wise will be a tough, if not an impossible climb for those to even consider! It’s very much asking somebody to forgo electricity or even indoor plumbing! Just remember that artificial intelligence is using you to collect the details of what it wants from you, whenever you may know of it or not! This isn’t a friendly warning. It’s just a way of post-modern life!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

City Garage Theatre of Santa Monica presents EURYDICE, Sarah Ruhl’s play extracted from the Greek Mythology of Orpheus, this time witnessing her journey from her own point of view.

Lindsay Plake is Eurydice, a young woman who marries musician and poet Orpheus (Johanny Paulino). During the wedding celebration, she is set astray by a mysterious man (Giffard Irvine) who tells her that he holds a letter written by her father (Bo Roberts) embedded with his well wishes for her if he was still within the human world but dwells in the underworld. She, too, enters the underworld now separated from Orpheus where the communication is spoken by the stones enchanted by those from the underworld: Big Stone (Marissa Dubois), Little Stone (Emily Asher Kellis), and Loud Stone (Brandon Reed). It is among these three that guides Eyrydice through her voyage among the underworld to her father where she seek comfort, yet possesses no recollection to who he is.

This new(er) twist to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is viewed upon through the standpoint of the title character as portrayed by Lindsay Plake. The story is set within the modern age of now, yet isn’t committed to a specific time point. This means that its time and space resembles a contemporary setting. The tale holds an emotion of poetic aspects, yet is isn’t advised through prose nor verse. The senses this play presents points toward surreal moments from the start with Orpheus’ promising the world to his new bride, only to have her taken to the underworld where those deceased dwell. The balance of characters fall toward Eurydice and her father where she seeks his tranquility.

The staging of this production is of minimal values while holding maximum potential. Charles Duncombe’s set and lighting design consists of a few spaces that blends a number of vertical and horizontal metallic railings that could be akin to a construction site or even an “erector set”, fashioned through various stages of mood lighting arranged through each episode of Eurydice. The same stands for the contemporary style costuming by Josephine Poinsot and Geraldine Fuentes, showing off that the era depicted could be c. early 21st century, but its setting is of the near and far after. Anthony Sannazzaro’s video design shows off the various points in the space of Eurydice, from the starting drift with Orpheus to her concluding moments in the underworld with those that are the stones.

Directed by Frederique Michel, EURYDICE is a single act stage tale that expresses a story through a lightening moment to a universe of death and redemption. Although this play is billed as one that is comic, tragic, silly, and poetic, the comedy and/or silliness is very nominal, if it exists at all! It’s more of a poetic crusade that does conclude with a level of a fallen spirit.

EURYDICE, presented and performed at City Garage Theatre, 2525 Michigan Avenue (off Olympic), Building T1, Santa Monica, until September 15th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. Special “talk back” session with the cast, crew, and director will take place post-production on Sunday, September 1st.

For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 453-9939, or through the theater’s website at http://www.CityGarage.org
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The Odyssey Theatre of Los Angeles presents FEFU AND HER FRIENDS, Maria Irene Fornes’ play about a gathering of eight women who congregate at the home of a progressive woman to participate on a common purpose, only to have their meeting lead toward other matters.

The setting is the rural New England based estate of Fefu (Tiffany Cole) c. 1935. She is an eccentric woman of means who hosts a gathering of seven other women for the motive of rehearsing a presentation to raise funds toward an education program they are connected with. Those that are present consists of Cindy (Tanya Garlow), Christina (Dominique Corona), Julia (Sandy Durante), Emma (Sydney A. Mason), Paula (Cynthia Yelle), Sue (Alexis Santiago), and Cecilia (Jennifer Lee Laks). Each one carries a personality of their own. Julia is bound in a wheelchair from a hunting accident taking place the previous year. Fefu as host, tends to take control over things as she is fully aware that she lives in a “man’s world”, and that control gives her the confidence that she could succeed in the society she exists in. (She can even shoot a rifle with ease as she does in a game she plays with her spouse with her as the shooter and he as her “target!”) Later that evening, the other woman are in different parts of her home where they discuss things that are more of a personal nature that brings out issues that become rather deep. This brings the group to a point where these bone of contentions are unintentionally brought to the surface, including a reference of a romantic affair that once existed.

This play written by Maria Irene Fornes was first presented in 1977 yet takes place in the middle 1930’s where the sense of feminism although existing at the time, was very limited in scope by only to those that practiced this form of idealism. (By the 1970’s, the notion of a “Woman’s Lib” movement because more mainstream.) Fefu takes dominance by way of her robust and eclectic protocols, acting not as a mother figure, but as a friendly yet firm boss! The other seven holds that same influence thanks to Fefu bring in charge. This influence may or may not have stilted their lives a bit. Then again, if Fefu was a woman leading a so-called “woman’s club” or serving as a leader to a ladies auxiliary-type grouping, would this gathering consists of rehearsing silly skits and signing parodies to popular musical numbers while dishing out the usual stands of gossip?

What makes this play unique in its staging is where the audience members are lead in small groups to various “rooms” found within Fefu’s country estate. Its first act takes place in the living room where the woman meet and get acquainted with their surroundings. Later, each room has one or two characters discussing those various personal issues, suggesting that these mini sagas are taking place all at the same moment. In the second act, they are back in the living room where the real truths become exposed either for the better or for the sake of acknowledging the hard truths. Denise Blasor directs this show where the group gathering is justified dramatic wise by the more intimate episodes that take place in isolated rooms such as a parlor, a bedroom, a garden area, and the kitchen space.

With such period pieces comes the sets and costuming. Frederica Nascimento’s set design is at a minimum with a few scattered furnishings placed here and there within the living room and the various other rooms. Josh Lacour and Denise Blasor’s costuming is of the period that was donned by those that made it through the after affects of The Great Depression.

Perhaps the closest way to compare FEFU AND HER FRIENDS is to take a look at the 1939 MGM feature film release The Women. That movie featured a gathering of women within the same space. However, the latter title was leaning toward comedy and wasn’t as “racy” as the former! (Standards and Practices a.k.a. “the censors” wouldn’t allow such raciness!) However, it’s a interesting look to examine upon how the woman of their worlds would become into their own states of being. To refer to a line sung for a TV commercial jingle advertising woman’s cigarettes, “You’ve Come A Long Way Baby”. That so-called “long way” may have progressed since then, but it’s still a long way for those ideas to show some progress!

FEFU AND HER FRIENDS, presented and performs at The Odyssey Theatre, 2055 South Sepulveda Blvd. (between Olympic and Santa Monica Blvds.) Los Angeles, until September 29th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. Special presentations take place on Wednesday, September 11th and 25th, and Thursday, September 19th at 8:00 PM.

For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 477-2055 ext. 2, or online at http://www.OdysseyTheatre.com
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ACCESSIBLY LIVE OFF-LINE (C) 2019 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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