Pat Launer on San Diego Theater
By Pat Launer , SDNN
Thursday, October 15, 2009
MINI-REVIEWS: “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later,” “Distracted”
THE SHOW: “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ?, ” a drama by Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Albee, at Compass Theatre
If you wanted to start climbing, you wouldn’t begin with Everest. Then there’s Shana Wride . The long-term, well-regarded actor chose to make her first full-length foray into directing with one of the most challenging, punishingly difficult plays in the American canon: Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf!” And she did a spectacular job.
The intensity and brutality of the writing is overpowering enough; but in a small, tight space, you feel like you’re right there in George and Martha’s shabby living room, swept into their awful games of “Get the Guest” and “Hump the Hostess,” as they humiliate each other and their unsuspecting guests in one booze-soaked night of truth and illusion, revelation and degradation. The 1963 play won the Tony Award and New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, but the award’s advisory board—the trustees of Columbia University —objected to the play’s then-controversial use of profanity and sexual themes, and no Drama Prize was given that year. Interestingly, there were no swear words in the original version. But for the 2004 revival, starring Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin (who won a Tony for his performance), Albee went back and revised the text, adding in the curses he couldn’t have written 40 years before and deleting one seminal scene, when the young “slim-hipped,” “mousy” wife, Honey, describes her avoidance of motherhood. When I asked him a few years ago why he did it, he said it “wasn’t necessary.” I thought it was the only scene that revealed her motivations.
The play still packs a whallop (with or without the profanity). This isn’t just a tale of two self-destructing marriages, one decadent and another decaying. It paints a bigger picture, of America , the American Empire. The central couple is named after our First Family. The confrontations between the two academics – the aging George, who teaches history, and strapping young Nick, who’s focused on biology, represent the eternal conflict between looking backward and forward, learning from the past vs. forging headstrong into the future, and the wonders (and horrors) of technology.
Most casts for the play are lopsided. It’s difficult to achieve a complete balance, with four actors who can successfully inhabit these enormously complex, multi-faceted characters. Wride has cast well, and there’s big payoff all the way through three riveting hours.
Glyn Bedington is spectacular as Martha, a blowsy, brash “floozy,” daughter of the president of the university who belittles her husband for being a failure and a disappointment, for not having gone further than associate professor, and not having taken over the whole college, as she’d hoped and planned. Martha has to be aggressive, sexual, feral and also vulnerable and deeply damaged. Bedington plays all the colors of the character with gleeful abandon and a taste for blood. As George, Dale Morris matches her tone for tone. He’s beleaguered and oppressed, but also wily and crafty, intelligent and conniving, able to out-game Martha and undermine his guests. George’s skillful manipulations and barely concealed venom are easier to play than his understanding and adoration of Martha. In its dysfunctional, warped way, this is a love story. Under Wride’s sensitive, muscular direction, Bedington and Morris display the couple’s playfulness and their underlying affection. That’s a masterful stroke all around.
Tyler Herdklotz isn’t consistently potent as Nick, but he does show some spark in standing up to George. He could show the character’s nasty, calculating underside, to greater effect. Kelly Iverson, who’s blossoming as a performer, is a wonderful drunk as Honey, not half as whiney and annoying as Sandy Dennis was in the Academy Award-winning 1966 film that starred Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (her best performance ever; both women won Oscars). Iverson’s strong throughout, stunning in several scenes (her dancing with uninhibited abandon, for instance). During the fight scene (nicely choreographed by Donal Pugh) she doesn’t quite reveal her darker side, her lust for violence.
The set (Adam Lindsay) is aptly detailed and dilapidated; the lighting ( Michell Simkovsky ) and sound (Matt Warburton) are fine. The only misfire is the costume design (Lisa Burgess), specifically, Martha’s supposedly sexy outfit, which should be a little outrageous, based on George’s sarcastically calling it her “Sunday chapel dress.” This Martha just wears black pants and a black, off-the-shoulder top, not at all the seductive get-up it should be.
These are minor quibbles. The play is one of the American greats. And amid all the brutality, it can be brutally funny. If you haven’t seen it in a while, you should. Even if you have (I saw Kathleen Turner’s performance, and frankly prefer Bedington’s !), this one’s a winner, and a must-see.
THE LOCATION: Compass Theatre, 3704 6th Avenue . www.compasstheatre.com
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $20-23. Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. , through October 24.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BEST BET
UNDER THE VEIL
THE SHOW: “Nine Parts of Desire,” a drama set in Iraq , at Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company
Five months ago, Heather Raffo returned to her alma mater, the University of San Diego , to receive the 2009 Author E. Hughes Career Achievement Award from the College of Arts and Sciences. While she was there, she performed excerpts from her stunning play, “Nine Parts of Desire,” which she began writing while she was at USD (1996-1998), pursuing her MFA. In 1993, she had traveled to Iraq , the land of her father, where she spent part of her youth. She met, ate with and lived with many Iraqis, and over the course of a decade, distilled the stories down to nine women who touched and moved her, whom she couldn’t forget. Using only an abaya , a traditional Iraqi black, robe-like garment, she inhabited the various characters just by changing the way she draped or wore the cloth. It was a stirring, affecting performance, one for which she garnered acclaim in London and New York where, in 2004, she won a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Solo Show and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize Special Commendation. Career Achievement, indeed.
The play is an ideal match for Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company, which specializes in telling the stories of those whose voices are rarely heard. The mission of the vagabond group (last year in residence at the La Jolla Playhouse), focuses on speaking for varied and under-served communities and bringing new groups to the theater. Instead of presenting the play as a solo show, they’ve expanded it to three actors, each playing three roles. And they do something Raffo herself couldn’t manage, in spite of her prodigious talent. The women interact, they support each other, they sometimes echo each other’s words. Under the expert, delicate and meticulous direction of Janet Hayatshahi, they waft in and out of these heart-rending stories, passing one abaya among them, wearing it guardedly or carelessly, over the face or off the shoulder, as chador or as painting smock. Beneath it, they’re dressed in modern Western clothes, showing us that they’re really just like us, only in extremis.
They are all survivors, women of profound courage and strength, who share a great deal: guilt for the fortitude and good fortune that has kept them alive, grief for those they’ve lost and a deep and abiding love of their country. The play’s title refers not only to the number of women. It’s borrowed from a non-fiction book by Australian reporter Geraldine Brooks, who in turn quotes from Iman Ali in the Koran: “God made desire in ten parts and gave nine to women.” The proverb is often used as justification for cloistering and covering Islamic women. For Raffo , it’s an allusion to the earthiness and frank sexuality of the women who captivated her. But their most fervent desire may be for their lives to return to a semblance of normality, to a place of peace, where they can live openly, vibrantly, unencumbered by laws, rules, subjugation and heavy cloth.
The most colorful character is Layal , based on the artist Layla Al-Attar, who became curator of the Saddam Art Center (painting innumerable portraits of the leader) by placating the regime, offering her body to anyone who would help her stay alive. But Layla/Layal , a forceful, free-spirited woman, also made very subversive pictures, displayed in the upper floors of the Center – risky paintings, of nude women, that surreptitiously denounce the regime. She was only successful up to a point, killed in a U.S. missile attack in 1993. Also memorable is Amal , the lusty Bedouin, who has left two husbands and, still filled with hope, pursues a third, only to be devastated when he abandons her.
The actors speak in varied accents (coached by the Old Globe’s dialect-maven, Jan Gist) and move deftly through the evocative set (David F. Weiner), a snakelike array of water vessels and bowls, symbolizing both the daily tasks of a woman and the all-important River Euphrates. The background is a wall of blue-green Moorish architecture, the floors strewn with pillows. And there’s one tree, an important image in the art-work of Layal .
That unforgettable character is marvelously inhabited by Lisel Gorell -Getz, who underscores the character’s unshakable lust for life. She also does wonderful work as the doctor who only delivers deformed and diseased babies, due to the various contaminants left behind by the war; and Umm Ghada , sole survivor of the Amirya shelter where 400 people died, including her nine children, after an American, Gulf War bombing. Now she offers ghoulishly dispassionate tours of the place, and she asks us to sign the guestbook, too. They all speak to us directly, as if we’re their interviewers, or friends – or their eyewitnesses.
Dré Slaman is excellent as a wide-eyed 8 year-old girl who misses her father, realizing too late that her youthful, casual remark may have been responsible for his kidnapping and death. Slaman also makes a strong statement as Mullaya , the professional mourner and Huda, the whiskey-drinking exile who feels she should have been in Baghdad during the worst of it.
Frances Anita Rivera is powerful as the beggarwoman , Nanna ; as Amal , the Bedouin; and as the Iraqi-American (based, presumably, on Raffo herself), fingering her rosaries as she compulsively recites the names of the relatives in Iraq whom she’s unable to contact, hoping they’re still alive. At the end, all the women join in the litany of names. And then, in a rising chorus, they repeat the only words an Iraqi relative knows in English, “I love you,” until it crescendos into a prayer, a plea for recognition, not only from the relatives, but from the world.
THE LOCATION: Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company at the 10th Avenue Theatre, 930 10TH Ave. ( 619) 342-7395 . http://electrictemple.net
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $22-27. Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m., through November 1.
THE BOTTOM LINE: BEST BET
THE SHOW: “Long Story Short,” a two-person musical, at San Diego Repertory Theatre
First, a little history:
In 1951, Jan de Hertog wrote a play called “The Fourposter ,” which premiered on Broadway and starred the First Couple of the Theater, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. In 1966, Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones (creators of “The Fantasticks ”) made the story into a musical. Both shows contained one bed, center stage, and concerned one couple, seen over a period of time, through the ups and downs of their courtship, marriage, children, extramarital affair and old age. It was the first musical to feature only two performers, but those two happened to be megastars of Broadway musicals, Mary Martin and Robert Preston.
In 2002, the Old Globe presented the West coast premiere of “An Infinite Ache,” David Schulner’s modernization of “The Four Poster,” with an up-to-the-minute mixed-race couple – she an independent Asian go-getter, he an unfocused Jewish neurotic. And now, along come violinist Valerie Vagoda and keyboardist Brendan Milburn, a real-life couple and two-thirds of the alt-folk/rock band Groovelily , to make a musical out of the play that was an adaptation of a play that was made into a musical. (The project began as a commission by City Theatre of Pittsburgh; the writers chose the vehicle).
So, having seen all those incarnations, some of them more than once, it’s hard to find something new in this newly reworked little musical. It’s agreeable and engaging (more or less; the 90 intermissionless minutes do not fly by). It has a distinct whiff of been here/seen this. The performers are amiable and appealing; the actors’ voices are pleasant. But there’s nothing knockout here, and certainly nothing groundbreaking. The score is interesting and unpredictable, but it’s unlikely to produce any memorable, recordable songs like “My Cup Runneth Over” from “I Do, I Do.” The orchestrations are what’s unique; Vigoda has put some killer violin riffs in there (played by Victoria Bietz ), and a mournful cello (Diana Elledge ) also features prominently. Mark Danisovszky is the gifted music director/leader/pianist of the 5-piece band.
There’s one twist in the structure and one in the story. The dialogue is realistic and well presented. And the ending brings tears to many eyes, but I felt emotionally manipulated (I teared up at the end of “E.T.,” too; that didn’t make it a good movie).
Melody Butiu , who was impressive in “Boy” and “ Dogeaters ” at the La Jolla Playhouse, and also appeared previously at the Rep, in “Celebration of the Lizard,” does a fine job as no-nonsense Hope. Robert Brewer is kind of sloppy/ zhlubby likable as Charles. But after it’s all over, all you say is ‘Hmmm… that was nice. It made me think of my marriage/relationship/life.’ If that’s what it intended (not enough to sustain an riveting evening of theater, IMHO), then the show met its goals admirably.
THE LOCATION: San Diego Repertory Theatre in Horton Plaza . ( 619) 544-1000; www.sdrep.org
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $34-53. Wednesday at 7 p.m., Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m., through October 31.
THE SHOW: “Fires in Heaven,” a world premiere by local scholar/dramatist Marianne McDonald, resident playwright at The Theatre, Inc.
Did you know there was a female saint in Islam? Me neither.
Born in the year 717, in what is today modern Iraq , the Sufi mystic Rabia al- Adawiyya was blessed. As the story goes, when her master found her with a halo of light surrounding her head, he released her into the desert. After performing many miracles, she spent her later years living as something of a hermit, inside the Tomb of Pelagia on the Mount of Olives , where she was ultimately buried. True to the then-emerging Sufi philosophy, she preached the “Love of God,” in marked contrast with the traditional religious dogma of “Fear of God.” She was, according to her biographer, the medieval poet Attar, “an unquestioned authority to her contemporaries.”
Her fascinating life story intrigued Dr. Marianne McDonald, a scholar/playwright who’s best known locally for her translations of Greek tragedies. Her book, “The Living Art of Greek Tragedy,” is a wonderful synthesis of historical and modern productions.
Her newest creation, a world premiere, is “Fires in Heaven: For Those Who Believe in Miracles,” presented by The Theatre Inc. As McDonald notes in the program, Rabiya “shunned the traditional trappings of religion, devoid of genuine depth and spirit, which means [that today] she would be a thoughtful, powerful ally against the rampant fundamentalism in Washington and the Islamic world.” So, this is not just a biopic; it’s intended to be enlightening for us all, a lesson in true religious fervor and unconditional love.
The language of the play, which borrows liberally from Rabiya’s passionate poetry, is lyrical. The musical underscoring (by Hossein Omoumi and Shahrokh Yadegari) is haunting and hypnotic. The cast includes eight people, but they are mostly backdrop to the primary relationship, between Rabia and the thief, Misbah . The choreography (Douglas Lay and Bianca Chapman) that often plays out in the background, sometimes stylized, sometimes slow-mo, is lovely and evocative. The suggestive set (Vince Sneddon ), sound (Blair Robert Nelson) and lighting (Mitchell Simkovsky ) create a somber mood. Lay’s direction is precise and understated.
As Misbah , Brian Abraham, always an effective and imposing presence, is brought to his knees – and to deep and abiding, life-changing truth – by this soft-spoken, numinous woman. At first, he wants to steal from her, to take all she’s got. But with the promise of a treasure, she convinces him to spend the night with her, talking and praying. His life is changed by that experience.
Diana Sparta exudes a luminosity ; she gives a beautifully calibrated, centered performance as Rabia . If only she wouldn’t race through some of her lines, in an apparent effort to sound natural and unstilted. Even so, her radiance overpowers all.
THE LOCATION: The Theatre, Inc., 899 C St . (619) 216-3016; www.thetheatreinc.com
THE DETAILS: Tickets: $29-62. Friday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., through October 25.
THE BOTTOM LINE: GOOD BET
Can I Have Your Attention?
I caught one of the final performances of “Distracted,” the local premiere of a fast-paced, amusing/disturbing 2007 comedy about ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) in our hyperactive, hyper-connected society. It was written by award-winning playwright Lisa Loomer , who often places social messages in her fascinating work. “The Waiting Room,” for example, is about the definition of beauty in various cultures/time periods (ancient China, Victorian England, modern-day America) and what women do to themselves to achieve it (foot-binding, damaging corsets, breast augmentations). She usually finds intriguing ways to play with form and structure, to make her activist points a little obliquely.
Here, too, though she presents all the various health care and alternative specialists and treatments that can drive parents of children with ADD batty, she employs a lot of clever theatrical conventions, too: breaking the fourth wall (so an actor can defend the use of medication, for instance, saying that he could never have learned his lines without it); or having the whole story related by the mother, with the young boy appearing only as an offstage voice, until the last moment of the play. That 9 year-old, the source of all family/school/neighbor concern, was effectively played by Jonah Gercke , son of the co-founders of New Village Arts, Kristianne Kurner and Francis Gercke . He does a fine job with a thankless role; the kid screams and curses at his mother the whole time.
Eric Bishop, chair of the theater department at MiraCosta College , has chosen another provocative play, and done an excellent job with it. The wide range of accents was a bit disconcerting, especially since some of them tended to come and go at will, but the performances were solid and humorous and some students were convincing in multiple roles.
This was something of a coup; Bishop snagged the first non-professional performance rights to the play, which just completed a run on Broadway, with Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”) in the lead role. The scenic, lighting and sound design wonderfully complemented the fanciful nature of the storytelling, as well as the omnipresence of technology in our lives. This isn’t some esoteric consideration; there’s a growing incidence of ADD (perhaps up to 10% of the population). What Bishop learned during his rehearsal period was that a large proportion of his cast of 11 had first-hand experience with ADD. This play walks the fine line between art and edutainment. And after all the considerations and ruminations, it has a disappointingly simplistic conclusion (forget the medication; just pay attention to your kid). But it was a gutsy effort and a thoroughly engaging production.
What a thrill it was to be part of the sold-out performance of “The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later.” On Monday, October 12, there were more than 150 such readings nationwide, and in eight other countries, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard , a gay student at the University of Wyoming . Moisés Kaufman and his Tectonic Theater Project revisited the town a decade after their first interviews, which led to the international phenomenon, “The Laramie Project.” The group touched base with those they’d met before, and even got to see the two killers, who are serving consecutive life sentences.
With acclaimed director Darko Tresnjak, the La Jolla Playhouse amassed a stellar 32-person cast, making it a genuine community event. The big excitement was for the high-end actors (Richard Dreyfuss , Mare Winningham , Robert Foxworth , Kandis Chappell, Bruce Vilanch , James Sutorius , T. Ryder Smith and many others, including young Stark Sands, who’s playing Clyde in the new musical, “Bonnie and Clyde,” opening at the Playhouse next month). Local actors Monique Gaffney, Sam Woodhouse, James Winker and Trina Kaplan were there. And the Chair of the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, Colette Carson Royston. On the political side, the Mayor was part of the action, as was his daughter, Lisa Sanders; also City Council member Todd Gloria and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis .
It was heart-breaking, to hear that so many residents of Laramie are telling revisionist stories, asserting that Matthew was the victim of a robbery or drug deal gone bad, not a hate crime at all. It was inspiring to watch a post-performance feed from Lincoln Center , featuring Kaufman, his company, and activist Judy Shepard , Matthew’s mother. On that very same day as all those performances, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a gay rights bill and proclaimed May 22 a day of recognition for slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk. You’d have to call that one triumphant moment of history!
NEWS AND VIEWS
… SEE THEATER FOR FREE!: The 5th annual, national Free Night of Theater is currently taking place in more than 120 cities, with 750 participating theater companies and 75,000 tickets being given away. The ticket giveaway, which is spearheaded by the Theatre Communications Group in New York , includes San Diego organizations such as the La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Symphony, Diversionary Theatre, ion theatre, Cygnet Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Playwrights Project, Orchestra Nova, San Diego Ballet, and more. The free tickets are good for performances from Oct. 12 to November 8. This is a great way to visit companies you haven’t tried before. It’s been a win-win situation: developing audiences, filling seats, intriguing theatergoers. Visit www.sdwhatsplaying.com and click on the orange arrow that reads “Free Night of Theater 2009” to select and claim your tickets.
… Theater for Youth: The California Center for the Arts – Escondido, is providing an affordable introduction to the world of live theater with its “Center Stage: Performances for Youth” program, which features quality shows for only $2 each. The season includes eight weekday performances that plug into the curriculum in history, literature and music. When classes book their tickets together, a free, standards-based Educators’ Guide is provided. First up is “ Tomie de Paola’s Strega Nona: The Musical,” presented by Maximum Entertainment Productions. Geared for grades K-4, the show is based on the award-winning children’s book series by de Paola, about a friendly witch, her young assistant and a magical pasta pot. Students will be able to greet the characters after the performance. Wednesday, October 28 at 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. in the Center’s Concert Hall, 340 N. Escondido Blvd. Tickets: (800) 998-4253; www.artcenter.org
… Gender Bender: It’s a ribald send-up of a movie classic. “Shut Up, Sweet Charlotte ” takes on the 1964 Bette Davis thriller, “Hush Hush , Sweet Charlotte.” This Charlotte has even more on her hands than her namesake: she has to fight for the Hollis estate, her sanity AND top billing! The cast includes two of New Orleans ’ biggest drag personalities vying for center stage (and there are two other drag performers, too). Directed, written by and starring “ über -drag celebutante ” Varla Jean Merman (AKA Jeffery Roberson), the over-the-top spoof, fresh off a four-city tour (from Provincetown to Palm Springs ), plays here for five performances only. At the Birch North Park Theatre, October 21-24. (619) 239-8836; www.birchnorthparktheatre.net
… Doin ’ it for Nina: Calvin Manson, founder/artistic director of the Ira Aldridge Repertory Players, has been asked by the family of the late, great Nina Simone, to write a play about the beloved singer , songwriter, pianist , arranger and civil rights activist . The musical, which will open in February, covers the life of “The High Priestess of Song,” from age 16-65. Manson promised Nina’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, that he won’t even try to have performers imitate Simone, either vocally or physically. He’s already had 20 audition requests, but this one will be tough to cast. More info as it becomes available.
… Need Comedy ?: The Needeman Brothers are here to help. The two-man musical comedy cabaret show, featuring Jorge Luis Abeu and Anthony Bollotta (musical director/composer Rayme Sciaroni), will soon be back at Tango Del Rey in Pacific Beach. These childhood friends, one Afro-Cuban, the other Italian, look nothing like brothers. But theey move in perfect synch and complete each other’s sentences. They’ve appeared around the country, with their signature brand of zaniness and old standards (“Delta Dawn,” “Stop in the Name of Love,” etc.). Their feel-good show is part camp, part heart, part gay romp, with odes to Jeannie, Maude and That Girl, and a heavy dose of poking fun at stereotypes – and themselves (their name seems to reflect their lives, i.e., Need-a-Man). October 24 at 9 p.m. at Tango Del Rey, 3567 Del Rey St . (619) 920-1315; www.tangodelrey.com
WHAT’S UP WITH …
… The Reynolds Clan: acclaimed local actor Rosina Reynolds is spreading her wings — and her talent – to other locales. She’s currently appearing in “Steel Magnolias” at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in southeast L.A. county (through Oct. 28), where she earned a great notice in the L.A. Times. The cast also includes Cathy Rigby and Michael Learned. Meanwhile, husband Rojo has just become the box office manager at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. And their daughter Kate, a graduate of Yale’s theater program, was in “Private Lives” in the Finger Lakes area of New York this summer and then moved on to horror flicks, and an independent feature-length comedy called “Stick It To Them.”
UCSD Alums :
… Jennifer Barclay (MFA, ’09), who trained in Playwriting and wrote three fascinating works for the Baldwin New Play Festival (“ Obscura ,” “The Attic Dwellers” and “Freedom NY”) was recently selected as one of five finalists for the prestigious Goldwyn Screenwriting Award, whose previous winners include Francis Ford Coppola. Barclay’s “Prank,” a sexy dramatic thriller about a gang of vigilante sisters, was selected from among 150 scripts. “I make it a priority to create stereotype-busting roles for women,” says the playwright/screenwriter. One of the three judges is actor Hilary Swank; the awards will be presented Nov. 2.
… Kirsten Brandt (BA ‘94) is directing the West Coast premiere of “ Groundswell,” by Ian Bruce, at the San Jose Repertory Theatre (through 11/8). Kirsten is former artistic director of Sledgehammer Theatre, and now serves as the associate artistic director of Vox Nova Theatre Company and a lecturer at the U C, Santa Cruz . In the spring, she’ll be directing a world premiere play with music, an adaptation of “Little Women,” by another former San Diegan, Jacqueline Goldfinger, commissioned by North Coast Repertory Theatre (2/20-3/14).
… L arry Herron ( MFA ’08), who gave wonderful performances in three Baldwin New Play Festival works, as well as UCSD productions of “The Physicists” and “The Labyrinth of Desire,” will be appearing on the following TV shows this fall: “N umb3rs,” “Lie to Me,” “Cold Case” a nd “M edium.”
… M atthew Patrick Davi s ( BA ‘01), who appeared in “Veronica Mars” and several episodes of “Days of Our Lives,” now has a recurring role on “G reek” o n the ABC Family TV network.
The READING Corner :
… Tweet, Tweet? How much can you say in 101 words? (Twitter, you may recall, is 104 characters). Turns out, quite a lot. A whole story’s worth, in fact. WRITE OUT LOUD, the local company dedicated to reading literature aloud, is presenting the second annual reading of San Diego CityBeat’s “Fiction 101” writing competition winners. The contest has been running since 2002; the editors of CityBeat select and print the winning stories. The only rules of entry are: “You have 101 words to craft a compellingly humorous, sad, tragic, scary, heart-warming, silly or abstract story.” As Write Out Loud co-founder/executive director Walter Ritter puts it, these are “terrific examples of how much can be said with very few words.” An impressive array of San Diego actors will read 28 very short stories. Monday, October 19, 6-9 p.m. at Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge, 2906 University Ave. Admission is FREE.
… Lobbying Hard: Carlsbad Playreaders presents a staged reading of the hit comedy, “Lobby Hero,” by Kenneth Lonergan , directed by and starring Joshua Everett Johnson, who’s keeping very busy in the final weeks before he moves to New York . Our very great loss. Others in the cast include Mark Broadnax , Manny Fernandes and Kelly Iverson (currently playing Honey in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ?, ” see above). Monday, October 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Carlsbad City Library, 1775 Dove Lane . Information at: www.carlsbadplayreaders.org . No advance reservations.
PAT’S PICKS: BEST BETS
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” – up-close , personal and intense. Superbly acted and directed
Compass Theatre, through 10/28
“Nine Parts of Desire” – heart-rending stories of Iraqi women, wonderfully told
Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company, through 11/1
“Man from Nebraska ” – beautifully nuanced production of a quietly provocative play
Cygnet Theatre, through 11/1
“Creditors” – a brutal ménage à trois , excellently executed
La Jolla Playhouse, through 11/1
“Sammy” – a promising world premiere musical, in its earliest incarnation
Old Globe Theatre, through 11/8
“August: Osage County ” – big, sprawling, spectacular family epic; the outstanding touring production stars Estelle Parsons, who played the lead role on Broadway
Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles , through 10/18
“ Godspell ” – inventive, energetic, inspiring
Lamb’s Players Theatre at the Horton Grand Theatre, open-ended
Pat Launer is the SDNN theater critic.
To read any of her prior reviews, type ‘Pat Launer’ into the SDNN Search box.