THE MOVIES COME TO YOU

Now that the Emmy Awards are done for this year, (and as a fellow member of The Television Academy, I wish all of the winners well,) now it’s the time to discuss how the movie industry is meshing a lot closer to what TV can offer.

As many of you folks know, the appeal of watching a movie in a traditional theater and viewing the same content on a video screen is slowly yet steadily morphing together. People have been building home theater-type settings inside of their dwelling place for some time. And since the equipment to create such surroundings is getting cheaper to get than ever before, it’s quite possible to have a large screen set within a room or space in where one lives, along with the sound system that comes with it nestled inside to where one hangs their hat–so to speak!

The only element one cannot obtain in watching a feature inside one’s home verses watching the same film inside of a traditional theater is the emotional appeal one can get while seated inside of a large and darken auditorium loaded with strangers who laugh, cry, yell, and otherwise emote to what is taking place on the screen. Much of this emoting is rather good. (Who would want to view a comedy where nobody is laughing with the humor that’s been said and performed on screen?) However, much of what goes on with the audience teeters toward obnoxious behavior, such as talking through the movie, using one’s phone, etc. And of course, there is the admission price to get inside of the theater that is another issue! Prices for theater admission ranges as little as eight dollars to as much as twenty! (It’s quite possible to get some kind of discount based on the person’s age, the time of day one is attending, if one is a member of the military, or some other incentive.) And we won’t discuss anything to do with getting concessions!

Another advantage to going to the movies is the fact that it gets one outside of the house, meaning that for a few hours, one is located inside of a different place that isn’t their homestead–assuming that one wants to get away from the living place where one parks their dirty laundry, among other things!

Of course, watching a movie on a very large screen and viewing the same movie at home is very different. Action/adventure movies always look better in a theatre as one can see the detailed special effects that tend to go with a film loaded with explosions, gunfire, and other kinds of visual action! But when it comes to drama, that tends to look a whole lot better inside of one’s home where one can concentrate with what is going on with its characters and what they have to say and do.

And since this is September, this time of the year (for Hollywood anyway) is the beginning of the release of movies that tend to buck for winning major movie-based awards. These are the kind of movies that has been called “Gimmie-an-Oscar” titles. These are the kind of flicks that feature characters going through some kind of crisis or challenge and how they overcome their dilemma–or not! These movies are usually loaded with lots of talking, complex characters, and at times, tend to take place during historical moments. Alas, they also appeal to those that are of an older demographic such as the so-called “Baby Boomer” generation, those that are 55 and up that grew up watching new(er) movies in a theater-type setting. They also tend to be members of a group or organization connected to the movie making industry that fobs off those same awards during the first two months of the calendar year.

Netflix, the latest kid on the block what wants to be part of the Hollywood experience while keeping their ground in television/video, is planning to release some movies that will play in selected theaters for a three week period, only to offer those same titles on their streaming service for their usual monthly subscription. One title, the Martin Scorsese directed film The Irishman, starring Robert DeNero, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci about how a hitman for the mob relives his involvement (or not) on the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, plans to open “in selected theaters” on November 1st, only to become available for streaming on November 27th–just in time for Thanksgiving! This three week window is there just to satisfy the requirements that the Motion Picture Academy–the folks that fob off The Oscars each year, requires to have a film eligible to win some kind of an award.

This short theatrical window is fine for those that desire to see this film but won’t care to trudge to one of those selected theaters playing this title, only to plunk down the admission price for this privilege–not counting taking a method of getting to the theater as well as taking advantage of the for noted concession stand! But for the monthly subscription cost of Netflix, one can see this same movie for a whole lot less! Of course, there won’t be much of an emotional appeal factor. But with such a melodrama as The Irishman may offer, will it really matter?

Don’t worry folks! Movies and their theaters won’t be going away, or not quite yet! The AMCs, Regals, Cinemarks, and the other theater chains will still be doing their thing, offering the best (or not so best) of what Hollywood has to offer! After all, these movies will indeed be coming soon to a theater near you, rather than coming soon to an internet connected video screen found nearby!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

Performing at the Hudson Guild Theatre in Hollywood for a limited run is TREYA’S LAST DANCE, Shyam Bhatt’s solo show of one woman’s quest of companionship while she explores other personal journeys within her life.

Treya, a person of East Indian decent, lives in London. As an unmarried woman, she takes part in a speed dating event where the women are seated at a table, and the possible (male) suitors table hop. For five minutes, each person is to tell a bit about themselves. When their five minutes are up as designated by a timer bell, the men move on to another table, and the cycle continues until each attendee meets their possible date. When Treys’s “date” asks her a single question, Treya’s goes into a routine where she emotes upon various passages, raging from shopping for “biscuits” (cookies), to a description of a sitcom called “Flatmates” (roommates) and the tribulations that are the annoying part of sharing one’s flat. (Apartment). Treya can also perform traditional East Indian dances will her physical skills and grace, far from becoming her final routine.

Shayam Bhatt first presented this performance as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival a few seasons ago as a shorter and condensed piece. This production is a revised and extended version of that original show. (Disclaimer: This reviewer did not see the original version.) The show begin as Shyam is in customary East Indian garb, performing a traditional dance using her physical flexibility and body style. Then she is quickly dressed in standard clothing. She speaks in British tones using a very thick cockney accent. This accent however, can be at times difficult to understand, especially for those Americans that are not necessarily used to comprehending this method of speech. Much of what Shyam is saying can also be difficult to apprehend as her verbal material becomes rambling at times. In her stage show, she is seated behind a table. (Actually, the table she is seated in really a wooden box painted black.) When the voice, as transcribed by Arun Kamath, asks her a question, Shyam rises from her seat to give her very long winded reply. She is rather animated as she speaks, using facial expressions and body movements that shows off her best talents. She even uses the entire five minute allowed time to say her piece. Thus, the other speed dater (unseen), is never given a chance to get a word in edgewise! Whatever the case, Shyam is the real star here and she can take all the time and effort she desires.

Poonam Basu directs this show that possess an interesting and unique concept. Although the entire production is spoken in English, the English she uses needs subtitles! Sayam has a lot of well written dialogue within her mists. But with being too cockney, those “yankees” in the audience will miss out in a lot of what she has to say!

This performance holds plenty of potential. But if Shyam desires to become successful in speed dating, she really needs to articulate clearly and have her stories hold more continuity. Otherwise, TREYA’S LAST DANCE will wind up as her final choreographed number. And we do want to save the last dance for her, as well as for her audience!

TREYA’S LAST DANCE, presented by Outlandish Cat Productions, and performs at The Hudson Guild Theatre (blackbox stage), 6359 Santa Monica Blvd. one block east of Wilcox at Theatre Row, Hollywood, until October 23rd. Showtimes are Wednesday evenings at 8:00 PM. For ticket reservations and for more information, call (323) 965-9996, or online at https://www.OnStage411.com
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Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents for their second program of the 2019-2020 season, the world premier of Leda Siskind’s THE SURVEILLANCE TRILOGY, three separate tales that speak of being watched by somebody or something-known or otherwise!

The first entity-Until All of This is Over, takes place in Los Angeles-1953. A married pair (Landon Beatty and Jocelyn Hall, alternating with Suzanne Slade) lives as a typical couple with an adapted child. The husband was recently investigated by authorities over something about himself and his family. Why were they interested in him? Was it about his political beliefs? Why were these authorities curious on why they adapted a child rather than having a natural birth? Why did his wife attend an all-woman’s college? Was this marriage a set up because the husband was hiding a lifestyle that’s been deemed as unacceptable by society?

The second installment-The Havana Syndrome, takes place in a hotel room in Havana-2017. A doctor (Warren Davis) working on behalf of the CIA interviews a woman (Stacy Moseley) who was employed at the US Embassy on an illness she encountered that came out of nowhere while she was at her home. She was not the only one to suffer from this illness as other embassy workers were experiencing the same symptoms. Could this illness had something to do with strange radio waves aimed at workers for the US State Department? Who, or what, is behind those radio waves? Did this have to do with the opening of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, or are these reported illnesses just a coincidence?

The third and final installment is entitled Are You Listening?, takes place in a home located somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. Jezz (Charlotte Evelyn Williams) a one time fashion model turned screenwriter, is completing a deal with a production company close to buying her script. Her adolescent daughter Shira (Squoia Granger) lives with her. Jazz relies upon her A.I. assistant “Angel” on getting the information she needs. But what information is Angel collecting from her and Shira? Jezz’s ex Simon (Max Pescherine), an I.T. guy, knows the insight of what databanks knows about individuals. But for what purpose? Is this purpose used for big e-tailers to target goods based upon their interests rather than needs? And is Angel there to answer questions asked on the spot, or can it listen to order to gather details for some unknown source?

These trio of stage tales question upon the notion that perhaps there is a “big brother” out there that can use information for the good of somebody else at the expense of who is supplying the information. These ideas ring true especially in this post-modern age where data is perhaps the biggest cash crop around–far more than pork bellies and natural gas futures! The stories that are told are based upon true facts that were later documented, giving this stage play a rather eerie persona. It’s not scary in any sense, but it’s enough to register that something knows more about you that you may realize!

Jeff G. Rack, Theatre 40’s resident set designer, created a set that consists of three smaller scenes. Center stage consists of a 1950’s-era home complete with a streamlined love seat, coffee table, and upright table lamp. One stage right represents a simple hotel room in Havana with two ornate upright chairs as its base. On stage left is another living room with a stuffed leather love seat, another coffee table, along with the “Angel” A.I. device, complete with “wings” that glow blue when it’s being spoken to. (Johnny Burton designed the “Angel” device.)

Overall, this play is more serious and sober that one would expect. Again, with technology the way it’s been over the last year, it’s a lot easier to know everything about a person. It’s suggested to take this Theatre 40 production as an eye opener. Getting information at an instant is fast fast and easy for a reason. Just watch yourself because if you don’t, somebody else will!!

THE SURVEILLANCE TRILOGY, 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 October 14th. Showtimes are Monday, 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.org
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LAST SWALLOWS, Cailin Maureen Harrison’s dramity about a family’s parents attempting to make plans for a summer vacation with their adult kids and companions only to have those plans altered, makes its world premier at West Hollywood’s Other Space theater at The Actors Company.

Shaw Purnell and Bob Telford are Elizabeth and Robert Whitestone, two long retired seniors that are the head of their family living in a New England community. Their adult children consists of Julia (Tina Van Berckelaer) the eldest, along with her spouse Edward (Matthew Downs), middle child Matthew (Ty Mayberry) along with his spouse Moira (Leilani Smith), and the youngest one Caroline (Abbey Eiland) and her partner Simone (Leah Zhang), live near and slightly far away. On New Year’s Eve, Liz, with the illusion that her spouce isn’t long for this world, makes a new years resolution to arrange a family vacation at Martha’s Vineyard for the summer season as a last hurrah. That is the easiest part of this idea. From that point, Liz tries to arrange a location and date to have this vacation. Thanks to various schedules, conflicts, and other tribulations (some real, others imagined), nobody can make any solid commitments. Robert would just rather keep to his hobby of bird watching, always ready with spyglasses in hand to view the various birds in the hand if not in the bush. As summer slowly comes and almost goes, the plans are nearly set. That is, when one crisis occurs. Elizabeth’s diagnose is with cancer, and it doesn’t look good!

This play written by Cailin Maureen Harrison takes her inspiration to writing this comedy-drama from her own personal experience when her family planed for a summer getaway only to have things change toward different directions.The situations depicted on stage is actually based on other families planing for something or another only to have others become “too busy” to commit with whatever they may be doing–or not! That is what makes this play rather appealing. It is how domestic families and others within related through blood, marriage, or circumstance, can be as dysfunctional within their own rights.

The cast of eight that appear in this production hold toward their own charm and personality. Shaw Purnell and Bob Telford as Liz and Robert are the heads of state–so to speak. Although Liz calls the shots, Robert takes things as they go along, just as long as he can spy on his fine feathered friends! The adult children get along with each other even as grownups! (What was their childhood like? Who knows?) Their spouses are just there by default. They may bicker and bitch at times, but remain as family for better or for worse!

Kiff Scholl, a mainstay of smaller house theater in the Los Angeles region directs this show that is bittersweet in nature. The comedy isn’t the “laugh-out-loud” variety. The humor depicted is mostly found in the situations rather than through one-line gags. Also, there is some diversity present within this play, as Thomas, as portrayed by Ty Mayberry, is married to Moira, performed by Leilania Smith who is of a mixed race. And Caroline, played by Abby Eiland, is the domestic partner to Simone, played by Leah Zhang, a woman of Asian decent.

Brad Benz’s set design consists of various pieces of furnishings placed strategically among the stage area, representing the various domains where the parents and the kids/spouses/partner works and lives.

LAST SWALLOWS is a play that many can relate to. Granted, not everyone’s family is portrayed as what is seen here, but many episodes and descriptions come pretty close. As the saying is sometimes misquoted, you can pick your friends, but you’re stuck with your family–like ‘em or don’t!

LAST SWALLOWS, presented by Pandelia’s Canary Yellow Company, and performs at The Other Space @ The Actors Company, 916A North Formosa Avenue (south of Santa Monica Blvd.), West Hollywood, until October 20th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM.

For tickets and for more information, call (323) 960-5770, or online at
http://www.OnStage411.com/swallows
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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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