PLAY OR “PLAY”?

A few weeks ago, The New York Times presented an article about theater etiquette, a form on how theater goers should behave themselves while attending a play or some other live production.

This method of behavior of how one should act (no pun intended here) and how one should present themselves while attending a performance has increased in scope over the recent years. As one could guess, good ol’ smartphones are often the blame for the unruly behavior that has been witnessed in theater settings, both in large houses and small “hole-in-the-wall” joints!

The most obvious forms of unwanted and unacceptable behaviors involves using a phone during a performance to text messages, capture moving imagery of what’s going on stage, and even engaging in a conversation while the play is progressing! All of these actions are obviously annoying to both the performers doing their thing on stage, and the audience that is seated within the darken theater setting.

This writer has attended a lot of theater shows over the many years. And what yours truly can confess, I (now writing in first person) have witnessed people playing with their phones during the performance using a combination of the above noted procedures as the show moves forward.

Right before a performance, a voice (live or pre-recorded) will usually inform the audience to take upon a few house rules, such as noting where the exits are in case of an emergency, not to bring food or drink inside (bottled water seems to be OK), and to unwrap that candy piece NOW! Along with those basic rules, the non use of phones are mentioned, informing the same audience to place them on silent or even to off so they don’t go ringing while the actors emote their lines. Ditto for sending texts while the play is in progress. (They do encourage you to text during the intermission or after the play to inform the textee how great–or not so great–the play was!) And one form of “no-no” is to capture any imagery of what is going on stage. This is usually in the realm of copyright procedures since the theater presenting the show are not allowed to use any of the mechanical rights to a play. These “mechanical rights” usually consist of recording the show (audio and/or video) in any means and methods. Yes, it’s understood that a live show is that–a live show. Once that show is done and gone, noting remains. But even if the theater has some form of rights to capture the play, the audience members can’t do such!

This is most true in these post-modern days of social media. Many people, especially those that attend plays running in big theaters such as the ones in New York City, attempt to sneak a capture of a play or musical. Some do isolated scenes while others will attempt to capture the entire production–sound and video and all!

If one make an attempt to troll such spots as YouTube and other places where video content can be uploaded and found, one will find such examples. If one is seeking a stage capture of a “hot” show, chances are one will find it! If the management company who owns the show or the company that runs the theater where the show is based, they may stop the uplinks. But with more people capturing shows attended verses the managements that owns the shows and/or the theaters, if one source is stopped, another one will spring into gear to fill that void.

In fact, yours truly were able to “attend” such hot shows (at the time anyway) of such theater programs ranging from The Book of Mormon to Hamilton, all in the comfort of my home base. Yes, seeing a lavish musical production from the point of view of somebody sitting in the upper balcony (the place where a good number of shows are shot from) capturing the show using a phone device that tends to be of shaky and distorted video quality with the sound giving off a lot of reverb, isn’t the greatest way to experience theater. However, if one can’t score tickets (let alone afford them) for a play and/or musical that “everyone” is taking (or texing or tweeting or posting) about, it’s better than nothing. And since one can see these shows for “free”, one can’t beat the price!

A disclaimer here. When I attend plays for review, I never use my phone during the show for any reason! I will also never capture any imagery (moving and still) of the show. This includes the stage set before the show begins–unlike some people who do the same thing I do (review theater) that I personally know, usually in the form of posting pix on their Facebook home pages. As to seeing shows through somebody’s else’s video capture? I will not review a play and/or musical through these methods since seeing a show live vs. through moving imagery isn’t the same! One day when I have the opportunity, I will review The Book of Mormon as a live production and to really find out if the show is as great as everyone who has seen it claims it to be! (I found it “amusing”, but not “great”! Maybe that’s just my personal tastes!)

So a friendly bit of advice from yours truly. Please don’t text during a show or even use your phone during a performance. And don’t capture any of the show’s performance. You can even be ejected from the theater if you are caught doing this. (I know this because I have actually seen somebody being thrown out for violating this rule. At least the management waited until the intermission to bounce this person out!)

And for that person who insists to let everyone know where he is going thanks to his Facebook notices, I’m glad that you are able to prove to the world on what play you are attending by capturing the stage set. And if you are indeed a theater reviewer, how about actually writing a review rather than just showing off to what production you did attended?

But that’s just part of show biz!!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

The Sacred Fools Theatre Company presents for their second entry of their 2019-2020 season, Dave Hanson’s WAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOT, a comedy about a pair of understudy actors waiting for their big break in appearing in a production of a classic play and it performs on a stage.

Bruno Oliver and Joe Henandez-Kolski star as Ester and Val, two thespians that are stationed at a theater dressing room set backstage. On the bill is Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot. Ester attempts to be an actor’s actor who performs for the sheer art of emoting other people’s lines taking a director’s directions. Val is another actor that holds a lot of comical charm and grace. In spite of the talents they possess, they are cast as the understudies, meaning that they can shine on stage assuming that the real stars are not able to perform! As they wait, they sweat it out with themselves on how they can become the performers as they are. As they emote with one another, they discuss through words and actions about everything from the art of acting, their place in the theater world, and if they could score an agent! As the play progresses, they become trapped inside of their own personal play where the conflicts and pathos is presented to an audience of one–each other! That is, unless they can count upon the assistant stage manager Laura (Julie Marchiano) to notice what they can do. But she is just the assistant stage manager a.k.a. the ASM, whose job is to make sure that everyone involved doesn’t miss their cues as it states in the script’s stage directions!

This single act play written by Dave Hansen and making its west coast premier courtesy of The Sacred Fools, is a comical piece about two thespians that can act better off stage than on! The two leads, Bruno Oliver and Joe Hernandez-Kolski perform with the same comical timing in the style of a comedy team from the days of vaudeville and burlesque when physical comedy was king! (Also very common as seen in two reel film comedies of yore before the movies learned how to “talk”!) Jacob Sidney as director keeps their pacing up from frantic to near panic stricken as the duo hope they can emote the lines that made Beckett one of the theater world’s most respected playwrights.

Besides the action that progresses on the intimate stage, Aaron Francis’ scenic design consists of a dressing room one would normally find in a small theater, complete with racks of costumes, posters from past plays tacked upon a side wall, as well as the lighted mirrors where the actors apply their greasepaint on their faces. Edgar Landa provides the choreography, and Stephen Simon serves as the physical comedy consultant that takes its cues ranging from Stan and Ollie to Olson and Johnson!

And with the spirit of what this play is all about, it also features real understudies, with Steve N. Bradford and Zach Smith appearing as Ester and Val, with Marion Gonzalez appearing as Laura. Since these three are the genuine understudies, it’s not known to this writer if they are actually backstage awaiting to appear in this production with the same method and finesse as to what is seen with its main players. One can call this practice Waiting For Waiting For Waiting For Godot, but this is overkill as that stands! So much for theater!

WAITING FOR WAITING FOR GODOT, presented by The Sacred Fools Theater Company and performs at The Broadwater Second Stage, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. one block west of Vine Street, Hollywood, until December 14th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, Sunday, November 17th, December 1st and 8th at 5:00 PM, and Monday, November 18th at 8:00 PM.

For ticket reservations, email the Sacred Fools at SFReservations@SacredFools.org, or via http://www.SacredFools.org
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DEFENDERS, Caillin Maureen Harrison’s drama about three fighting solders trapped in a remote location and those in the region who ply themselves between those invaders fighting for the cause in connection to the land they are set within, makes its world premier at The Broadwater Blackbox theatre in Hollywood.

It’s the spring of 1942. In the remote island and village of Hrisey, Iceland, a battle exists between the allied forces and the invading German troops who are attempting to take possession of this nation, currently in neutral status. A trio of American G.I.s consisting of Lt. Marcus Jansen (Bryan Porter), Sgt. Frank McKinley (Tavis Doucette) and Pvt. Fred LeFleur (Spencer Martin) take refuge in a well weathered church. A massive storm has settled upon the island where they become isolated through weather and circumstance. They have minimal ammo, and a radio device that isn’t operational. Lt. Jansen is the leader of this troupe that are out looking for the invading Germans that may be near. Without their firearms, its connected equipment, and a communication device, they are out on their own. While inside of the church, they encounter the pastor, Geir Styrsson (John P. Connolly) and his daughter Vigdis. (Una Efferets) Although Pastor Geir tolerates these G.I. taking refuge in his church, he informs these servicemen in the mists of their battle about the myths and legends this island community has faced over the many years and centuries from other invaders. Lt. Janson is a man that takes orders through his C.O., and accepts the pastor’s warnings as contained anecdotes. But these mysterious sagas are not just fables, but play a role between surviving the forces–those that are part of nature, military strength, and of mythology.

This single act play written by playwright Caillin Maureen Harrison is a drama that is as intense as a war-related saga can withstand. The action is fierce, tight, (very tight mind you), and is a stage piece that one can’t take one’s eyes off of! It’s not just limited as a set where a war ravishes and the fighting men go gung-ho through the process. It’s more of how a ragtag troop of military peacekeepers are in the center of battle between the enemy and the surroundings they face with the quest of who they are defending for.

The characters that consist of the solders, Sgt. McKinley as portrayed by Tavis Doucette, Lt. Jansen played by Bryan Porter, and Spencer Martin as Pvt. LeFleur, have their conflicts yet stick to being a military team that use their wits to survive. And the pair of locals, Pastor Styrsson as played by John. P. Connolly and his daughter Vigdis Geirsdottir as featured by Una Efferets, stand upon their neutral ground with the awareness that there is more power existing within their land that isn’t military force. These elements make this play work its magic as it crosses the line between a war drama to one that is of the human side of things through a mythological based milieu.

The real attraction to this production is what is seen on the intimate stage. David Goldstein’s scenic design consists of a weathered worn church that has seen its better days. Adding to its mythological effects is Dominik Krzanowski’s lighting design, showing off the aspects of battle along the lines of real and mythos.

This production directed by Reena Dutt is a turnaround that speaks for the writing talents of playwright Callin Maureen Harrison. A play she also composed and was recently presented on stage, Last Swallows (see review, Vol. 24-No. 38) was a rather cute and charming little comedy. DEFENDERS is a very intense and “big” drama that shows more of a “war” than a war itself! This reviewer will look forward in experiencing more stage plays as created by this playwright. This program is highly recommended!

DEFENDERS, presented by Pandelia’s Canary Yellow Company, and performs at The Broadwater Blackbox theatre, 6322 Santa Monica Blvd. (at Lillian Way), Hollywood, until December 8th. Showtimes are Saturday and Monday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM.

For ticket reservations and for more details, call (323) 960-5770, or via online at http://www.Onstage411.com/Defenders
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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!