DTA Festival Day Three


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The cast of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Jumping get notes fro the adjudicator 

Like I said last time, Kate and I spent Friday night watching the first round of shows from the combined Delaware Theater Association (DTA) Festival and the Pennsylvania group called PACT (I have no idea what the acronym stands for). Regardless, we were there the first night.
A bit of inside baseball – the shows were broken into blocks and the show with which I was associated was in the last block starting at 1330 (1:30 pm).
The next day, Kate and I went to lunch then meandered our way back to Barnstormers. It hadn’t lost any of its charm from the night before. The Reedy Point Players (RPP) had taken up residence at front left hand corner of the theater.
At about 1300 (1 pm) the cast and crew from “Jumping” filed downstairs to the dressing and green rooms – to wait some more. The afternoon shows ran a tad late because one of the officials had to go home and feed his dog and ended up getting stuck in traffic coming back.
That’s cool – I get it. Dogs are important.
A little more inside baseball — Before a show starts at one of these competitions, the director comes forward and says, “Start.” A clock starts and the show has 80 minutes to set up, perform, and teardown the set; leaving the stage bare and the director announcing “Stop.” If you do it all in 80 minutes, you’re good, if not bad things happen. Not sure what those things are – probably public embarrassment.
While we waited in the wings for our turn we gave our director, Lyn Anderson, the business, “Make sure you say “start” when you go out there and not “stop.” Don’t screw this up.”
When Lyn said “Start” we moved smoothly and put the set up. (BTW Lyn would later win a set design award.) Then everyone took their places and I returned to my seat.
You see, I wrote Jumping and every time I’ve seen it I’ve astounded be the way they brought it to life. It’s pretty amazing. I sat there silently lip synching the words; using whatever body English I could muster to help things (I’m a big body and have lots to use). Lynn’s use of red, white and blue lights to create sunrise affect was so clever, I was very surprised she didn’t get a best direction award; I really was. Oh well – what do I know? I just write the stuff.
They were great and the audience laughter, gasped, and applauded when they were supposed to. I guess you can’t hope for more than that. But there was more.
Aniela Meinhaldt got an acting award, Lyn Anderson earned a set Design award, and Lance Thompson won a cameo acting award. Jumping took second (or first runner-up, officially). I was a tad miffed that L’Atanya Morrow-Caine didn’t get recognized; I thought she did a great job. I really did. Hmmm.
While most of the festival was focused on original works, one group decided to do an act from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” If the intent was to humble the assembled local playwrights – it succeeded. It was a superb performance that made me want to throw my collection of scripts in the trash and lift weights as an alternative.
There is a reason Tennessee Williams is an American master and I work at the Delaware Department of Labor.
He was great; I have to struggle to be not bad.
This production seemed to be the darling of the adjudicator; she ate dinner with the troupe, while we original playwrights ate tacos and ice cream – I guess that’s okay.
Anyway the awards ceremony was like you’d expect; representatives from Delaware and Pennsylvania dolling out awards. I’ve recounted those several in these three stories, but suffice it to say Reedy Point had a good weekend, earning enough kudos to sustain us and get more art done.




DTA Second Day

20180323_211324After a cold and nasty night at the Delaware Theater Association (DTA) tech rehearsals, we returned the next day for the shows and like the end of a Nor-Easter, the clouds parted and all was right with the world.
Barnstormers Theater in Ridley Park Penn was transformed into the most intimate theater you’ve ever seen. Tables were set up in a quasi-circular and theater style; allowing a place to put snacks and still focus on production. People were close together, yet there was shoulder room aplenty.
Purple seemed to be the color of choice for table cloths, napkins, and other table decorations.
“Meant to Be” was up first and the Reedy Point Players entry wowed the crowd. It was truly the best show of that production. I had seen it several times and this was – far and away – the best the cast had ever performed.
Andre Wilkins gave a standout performance as the tortured prisoner and murderer, who had been suckered in by the devil. Kevin Meinhaldt gave his consistently strong performance as the pitchfork wielding Beelzebub. Andre didn’t win an acting award and I thought that was shame; he was boffo.
Gail Wagner took the role of she-devil after another actor was forced to drop out. She eventually won a deserved award for her portrayal.
Even so, the night was stolen by a group from Pennsylvania – whose name escapes me at the moment — for their production of the “Bowl” (I think it was).
The show was about the activities of two goldfish in a fishbowl over the course of a year. It was delightful. And although it is hard to find an underlying them it really didn’t matter. The actors made you forget the angst of the show that went before – “I Dream Before I take the Stand.”
Some might argue the drama “I Dream. Before I take the Stand” from Wilmington Drama League was the big winner of the night (it did eventually win all the awards), it just didn’t float my boat. It’s probably me, not them.
“I Dream Before I Take the Stand” was a good two-person piece about a lawyer twisting a rape victim’s words to make things her fault. It was well executed and beautifully acted, but like I said, it’s probably me and I just didn’t enjoy it.
I guess I’m a heathen, or Neanderthal, or something.
The night ended on a high note with a 50/50 drawing and other fun stuff.
Day #2 Tomorrow.


Jason Isbell Review


As I have said in previous blogs; I am an old rocker and over the past 45 or so years have dabbled in a diversity of music ranging from 50’s Golden Oldies, to progressive rock, to rockabilly, to soul and disco. For example, the first albums (on eight track) I ever bought were Orange Blossom Special by Johnny Cash and Tapestry by Carol King. The first vinyl album I ever bought was Brothers and Sister by the Allman Brothers.
While they are not my favorite band nor even a super group, I’ve always used the Doobie Brothers as the standard by which I measured all bands. I’ve always thought they were a complete bland. Their electric music was tempered by acoustic virtuosity.
In recent years I’ve been listening to Jason Isbell and for my money he meets the Doobie Brothers test. His acoustic guitar is as well executed as Toulouse Street. Of particular notice is Isbell’s work on Hudson Commodore off the Something More Than Free album. The electric and acoustic blend  in Tupelo off the album The Nashville Sound from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit is a moving and sweeping song.
Isbell doesn’t boom any of his songs. They are simply designed, wrought, and delivered. If you are looking for embellished vocal riffs, falsetto done for falsetto’s sake, and over-singing you won’t find it here. Rather you will find great songs, with deep universal meanings, well delivered, and competently sang.
So I guess the point is if you like your music with a bit of lyric virtuosity and superb guitar work, this may be the guy for you.

Finally Some Good Guitar

I have in recent years lamented the passing of quality guitar work for presumed vocal virtuosity (which I contended has much fewer virtuosos than is recognized). Regardless, a rant about the people yelling at me instead of sinning to me is for another day.

Last night I watched the CMA awards and was quite impressed by the handy guitar work of Brothers Osborne. John Osborne seems as comfortable laying rifts, which would make Eric Clapton proud. His ability to use the totality of his fret board was first rate and was his style
And while I’m on it. If you get the chance to listen to Jason Isbell, do it. He too has a deft hand. While not as rock as John Osborne, Isbell blends acoustic guitar and electric with a skill reminiscent of the original Doobie Brothers – pay special attention to Cumberland Gap, with his band the 400 Unit of the album The Nashville Sound.
Though I know this, I was nonetheless struck by Keith Urban’s guitar skills as well. He like Osborne can put together solos that can make many an old rocker (like myself) nod their heads in agreement.
Neither Osborne, nor Urban, nor Isbell overplays their guitar the way many hard Rockers do these days. Each note of these fret boards is a demonstration of individual artistry. It’s all quite thoughtful.



Big Brother 19 Orgy of Bullying

I have been watching Big Brother for years and for the most part have enjoyed it, but Thursday’s episode was horrific. If CBS does nothing about it – by inaction – the network endorses this abhorrent behavior.
Even though Jessica Graf and Cody Nickson may be the worst players ever to play and perhaps the two tilt toward the obnoxious;

the abuse, bullying, and terroristic threatening heaped upon them by the house was repellant, disgusting, and dangerous.

The entire house, except two cowards hiding inside, followed Graf and Nickson to the back yard and seemingly circled they two lying on a Hammock and began hurling insults. It was akin to watching African wild dogs corner wildebeests. Josh Martinez ran around banging frying pans (not unlike psyops in a military operation), Raven Walton hurled expletive after expletive at the two, an through it all Paul Abrahamian danced in the background like some satanic character whose vile plan was coming to fruition.

On to the cowards and there are two and one honorary coward
1. Matthew Clines watched from a far mumbling about how the even was all wrong. Yet he did nothing.
2. Mark Jansen watched from the doorway shaking his head and also did nothing.
3. Honorary coward Kevin Schlehuber the oldest of the group, did nothing as well. He of all of them should know better

These three were aware enough of the situation not to get sucked in, but were too cowardly to act. Shame on them.

The whole thing showed the worst of television and breakdown of decorum.

Pop TV’s Wolf Creek is Great

wolf-creek-tv-posterI have a guilty pleasure I need to confess.

Maybe I should start with a prayer, Naaaah it’s not fitting given the topic.

Anyway, I have a dog. Just throwing that out to set the stage, because the heroine of this guilt pleasure also has a dog. Her name is Eve and she is the protagonist in the bleak Outback thriller “Wolf Creek” on PopTV.

Set in Australia, an American young woman relentlessly hunts down the killer of her family; a serial killer named Mick Taylor. Eve is played by Australian actress Lucy Fry. She plays the role with both vulnerability and strength (a rare combination).

Mick Taylor is menacingly play by longtime Aussie TV staple John Jarret. He has a long list of credits and it is hard to believe he once hosted a lifestyle show on Australian TV

Anyway, the cast of characters populating the show is fairly unusual for the kind of slasher/revenge flick we’ve grown used to. Even so, the story moves so fast and the Outback so bleak there is something special about this production.

I think that is the power of the show. The characters are so unusual that you never get bored. There is the drug lord chasing Eve , not because she stole his money (she did), but because he thinks she would provide the perfect DNA for his future offspring. There is the cop who is obsessed with her because his wife is cheating on him; there is the soiled dove women from some kind of strip/non strip club where the women walk around suggestively, but never take their clothes; and finally there is the useless dog that never seems to be around when trouble erupts.

If you like your tension mixed with cornucopia of oddball characters, this is the show for you.



Bullworth — An Overdue Review

Somewhere along the way – I’m not sure when it happened – I missed a great movie; 1998’s Bullworth. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118798/. It stars Warren Beatty and Halle Berry. Beatty is titular US Senator and Halle Berry a hit woman sent to do him in as a contract killer.
The movie is a lot of fun, but with topical racial overtones, which sadly, still seem relevant– racism, healthcare, graft-loving politicians from both parties, and the omnipresent chase of cash.
Berry is tremendous as the 26-year-old hit woman disguised as a hotty with informed political opinions from the poor side of town (aka the black side).
Beatty– who co-wrote the script – is clever in that he allows the main black characters to make the salient points, which Bullworth later co-opts co-ops for a fall down hilarious political interview.
It is a farcical look at politics and race relations that will have you hooting and thinking – rare these days for a movie.
I guess some call it socialist propaganda, or liberal baiting, but it seemed to go deeper than that. Regardless, as we move full bore into the election season this film is worth another look,