Roberta and the Deep Blue Sea

by Jay Gipson-King

The Verona Studio dives deep to uncover an unlikely romance between two broken people in Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, directed by Jeff Sanders.

Written by John Patrick Shanley, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea brings together Danny, a young man with anger issues, and Roberta, a woman with a troubling self-image. Danny believes he has killed a man; Roberta has committed an unspeakable act. They both suffer from unbearable guilt, and this burden—and the hope of solace—brings them together.

The play is named for Danny, but it is Roberta’s story. It is she who initiates the action and   drives the plot, and it is the performance by Hannah Alice Patterson that draws the eye. I have seen Patterson twice before in smaller roles, at Pentacle and Keizer Homegrown, and she absolutely pops out of the cast. It is a pleasure to finally see her in a part with real depth and stage time—one-half of this intimate two-hander. As Roberta, Patterson is bold, fearless, and sly. I don’t know if her Bronx accent is authentic, but it is certainly enjoyable. My only complaint is that in certain key moments, she lacks vulnerability. This seems small, but it is important. Her choices make sense by the end of the play, but they lack a layer of nuance.

McNary alumnus Justin Wanner turns in a strong performance as Danny, although he is not quite as charismatic as Patterson. He carries Danny’s anger (and affection) right on the surface, which is appropriate for this character, but he lacks an edge of real danger (perhaps a compliment to Roberta’s invulnerability).

Director Jeff Sanders is more often seen treading the boards, but his directing here is tight, interesting, and high energy. He easily finds the beats of the piece and highlights the key moments. The play clocks in at just over an hour, leaving plenty of time for a drink around the corner.

This play was shocking in its original time, 1983, for its graphic content and language. It is less shocking now. To be clear—there is still adult content and strong language, but ultimately, the play is full of heart. It is much closer to Shanley’s short play about first love, The Red Coat, than to the moral and political thriller Doubt. The play loves these two thoroughly flawed, messed up people, brought to life by two fine performances. Danny and the Deep Blue Sea plays through May 21.

 

Elsewhere in the Valley: 

• Drop Dead! Family farce at Keizer Homegrown Theatre. May 12–28.

• The Little Mermaid, at SKIT Theatre. May 13–21.

• Things My Mother Taught Me, at Aumsville Community Theatre, through May 22.

“‘They seek him here, they seek him there,” Jay Gipson-King is a local educator and theatre artist, and Salem Weekly’s Salem Pimpernel. Keep up with Jay and see the full list of area auditions and performances at facebook.com/SalemTheatreNetwork.

SW Art Picks

Nelson Sandgren: An Artist’s Life

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art

700 State St. 

503 370 6855

May 14-July 17

Corvallis Oregon artist and teacher Nelson Sandgren (1917-2006) created art in three primary media—watercolor, oil, and lithography.  His decades long career gained him viewers across the Pacific Northwest, up and down the West Coast, in museum exhibitions nationwide, and in gallery shows in Europe.  A concise retrospective exhibition of the paintings and prints of this important local artist will be on view at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art through July 17.  Organized by Professor Emeritus and Senior Faculty Curator Roger Hull, Nelson Sandgren: An Artist’s Life features 33 works of art drawn from public and private collections throughout the region. The exhibition is accompanied by a full color, hardcover book with an extensive essay by Professor Hull that places Sandgren’s work within the broader context of American and modern art.

 

Keizer Heritage 

Center Museum 

and Keizer Community Library

980 Chemawa Road NE

Keizer

503 390-2370 

Keizer Heritage Museum features rotating displays to showing collections on loan from people in the local community. The current collection is the Legos Exhibit,  which showcases a Lego set donated by a local Keizer couple. The display includes original creations by the collectors, contemporary takes on the old Lego themes, and in the Library, a Lego Robotics display and awards from the Summers’ participation in Oregon Robotics Tournament Outreach Program’s First Lego League. Stop by, check out this interesting collection and view Legos in a completely new light. The display runs through June 30. Free. Museum hours: Tues-Thurs, 2-4 pm; Sat 10am-4pm.

 

A to Z Alphabet Show

Currents Gallery

532 NE Third St.  

McMinnville 

503 435 1316

Currents Gallery presents a show celebrating literacy and the joy and beauty of the written language.  This is a juried show open to all Oregon artists in any media.  The  pieces depict one or more alphabet letters, in any language, in the artist’s own style and medium.  The show opens May 17, and runs  through June 13.  An opening reception is scheduled during McMinnville’s Art and Wine Walk on May 21st, 5-8 pm.

 

Chloe Raymond & Totem Shriver

Camas Gallery

Bush Barn Art Center

600 Mission St. SE  

503-581-2228  

May 7-June 25 

The abstract woodcarvings of Chloe Raymond

and Totem Shriver are featured at Bush Barn’s Camas Gallery through June 25th.  Raymond, who lives and works in Bend Oregon, uses the organic qualities in the wood juxtaposed with geometric forms to create her pieces. Her current body of work revolves around the theme of time—as in both the conception of an idea, as well as the carving process itself. Totem Shriver,  an adjunct professor who teaches art foundation courses at Linfield College, focuses on providing a beautiful experience and a conduit for thought for his viewers, with a goal of  creating  “something simple and beautiful that will last for all time in someone’s mind as a special moment.”

Making Connections and Building Community

by Judith Walden

What makes a vibrant and growing art scene in a community?  Well, artists of course, but what about all the things making up the framework that artists operate in?  According to Marika Garvey, Artists in Action’s new Publicity Coordinator, a big part of the equation is volunteers. This is something Garvey is very familiar with, as she volunteers as a gallery guide at the Salem Art Association in addition to her position with AIA.

Artists in Action, which was started in 1999, was established to get Salem artists involved with each other and the community, and to promote and support creative endeavors. The organization has no paid staff and all the work is performed by volunteers.  AiA manages and presents a calendar of popular Salem events including Paint The Town, the Something Red Art Walk and Exhibit, and in alternate years the Willamette Valley Open Studios Tour. Artists in Action also participates in other events throughout the year including a booth at the World Beat Festival, the Outside the Box auction at the Salem Art Fair and shows at the Salem Public Library, CCTV, and the Capitol. There is also an ongoing showing of members’ work at the Spinnaker Place building.

May marks the beginning of AIA’s first event of the year, Paint The Town, their much anticipated “en plein air” painting extravaganza, which culminates in October at the Elsinore  Gallery with a show of work from the event. This is the 18th year AIA has put on Paint the Town.  An exciting change this year is the addition of a poetry element.  The poets of the Mid Willamette Valley Poet Society will be joining in at various sites to “Write the Town” and compose poetry about the painting sites included in the event.  Painting sites for the event are among the most diverse, beautiful, and interesting in the area.  Also new this year is a workshop presented by well-known plein air painter Mike Rangner of Albany.

Despite the paint specific nature of “Paint the Town” Garvey stresses that AIA membership is open to artists in all media.  Garvey lists fiber art, metal work, wood work, photography, and ceramic art as some of the media represented among AIA’s membership.  The organization is a resource for established and emerging artists and newcomers to the area, providing connections to the local art community, support, ideas, and information. Meetings are held the third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 PM, and are open to everyone. Garvey states that she attended several meetings before joining, and cites the information and connections as one of her favorite aspects of the organization.

Garvey joined AIA about a year ago. She is enthusiastic about the group, and what it brings to Salem and to individual artists.  For the community she says “AIA brings the idea of art to people who aren’t necessarily exposed to it on a daily basis.  It can inspire people to try something they haven’t, or just to enjoy the art of others.”  She also returns to the subject of volunteering, pointing out that “there are always things that need to be done” and having lots of people helping ensures that Salem’s art community remains active and growing. Information on AIA can be found at: http://artistsinaction.org
For Paint the Town dates and locations: http://aiaptt.org/

DEEP AND DARK

by R. S. Stewart

“Tightly knit and heartbreaking,” says director Jeff Sanders of Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Verona Studio Theatre’s final play of the current season. The play is by John Patrick Shanley, who won the Pultizer Prize in Drama for Doubt, later made into a film starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymore Hoffman. Shanley also won an Oscar for his screenplay of Moonstruck starring Cher.

Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, says director Jeff Sanders of this two-character play now in rehearsal, is the story of two “battered and bruised” individuals searching for love, with “forgiveness, hope, and redemption” as three of its most searing themes. He describes the characters as “sweet, funny, and moving.”

Danny and Roberta, both escaping pasts filled with violence, brutality, and raw depleted emotions, meet in a Bronx bar and yearn for touch, in spite of being “inarticulate, dangerous, and vulnerable.” Although the play is dark in tone, it has moments of humor as the two learn to trust each other. It is a realistic piece of theatre in its emotional drive, which Sanders is emphasizing. The characters “come together quickly, then just as quickly break apart.”

Music by Lou Reed accompanies this production, giving it a very late 1970s, early 1980s atmosphere. The play was first produced in New York in 1984. The set is minimal, true to the author’s explanation that only those “scenic elements necessary to the action should be on stage. Only those areas that are played should be lit.” The most striking part of the set will be a huge deep blue wall the same rich color as the sea of the title.

Danny is played by Justin Wanner, whose last role was Prince Hamlet in Shakespeare’s tragedy at McNary High School, a profoundly complex role that would prepare any actor for any emotion, any level of discovery. Roberta is played by Hannah Alice Pattersen, who appeared recently in Time Stood Still at Keizer Homegrown Theatre. Both of them appeared in the film You Are Another, recently shown at Salem Cinema.

Now in their sixth week of rehearsal, both actors say that they reached their characters’ emotional levels by realizing that Danny and Roberta are “whole human beings” in spite of their broken pasts and spirits.

Recreating characters different from themselves, Wanner and Pattersen say, is challenging but also a revelation in that all humans share a large spectrum of emotions. Pattersen cites the scene in the play when Roberta refers to the metaphoric title, describing a dream of whales in the ocean coming to surface, exciting her “to realize that nothing is as it seems on the surface, that under the water is a wild and terrifying life.”

This is Jeff Sanders’s first directorial production at Verona, although not at Pentacle, where he last directed Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. He has also been on stage performing in approximately 25 productions and directing 9, as well as taking on numerous jobs backstage. He is proud to have been made a Lifetime Member of Pentacle. He appeared last at Verona on stage in Dead Man’s Cell Phone.                                                                                                 Danny and the Deep Blue Sea is in three scenes and runs for approximately 70 minutes without an intermission. It opens on May 5th and runs through May 21st. Check the website for times and ticket prices.

Two in Salem: The Holy and the Vital -The Salem Pimpernel

Enter the Dream

A fever dream. An obsession. A Zen meditation. Willamette University’s double-bill of The Feathered Mantle and The Weaver & the Dress, directed by Jubilith Moore, is all of these things and more. The first is an English translation of the Japanese Noh play, Hagoromo; the second is a modern poem about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera performed in the Noh style. The combination is absolutely unique to Salem, and if you have any curiosity in theatre at all, you should see it.

Noh is the oldest of the traditional Japanese forms, dating from the 14th century. A Noh play combines Buddhist stories with ritualized movement, chanting, drums, flute, and masks into an hour-long performance. That is a description of Noh. But experiencing Noh is like… eating a chocolate so rich you can only have one a year: delicious, exquisite, ephemeral, with a taste that lingers.

Willamette has brought in another highly talented guest director to helm this project, Jubilith Moore, formerly of the Theatre of Yugen in San Francisco, one of only two active Noh companies in the United States. Moore translated the first piece into English and trained Willamette’s actors from scratch in just five weeks. (Traditional Noh performers practice for a lifetime, passing their secrets down family lines.) What is the play about? Both Moore and the pre-show lecturer describe Noh as a dream: a non-linear series of images that are internally consistent but difficult to recall. So there was this fisherman? And he finds a magic cloak… and then a ghost dances? The description loses all flavor and does no justice to a piece of such aesthetic power. Moore explains that bad Noh keeps you awake; good Noh takes you into the dream.

The Willamette students are, as always, possessed of incredible talent and dedication. Whom to praise in the cast? The chorus, who maintained a steady rhythm of Japanese chanting for over an hour? The two fisherman, who sat motionless for forty minutes? The two actors who played the Celestial Maiden, each with absolute precision of movement? (Watch the feet: Noh is sometimes called “the art of walking.”) I give one special praise to Jenny Salwitz for what I can only describe here as VOCAL POWER. Kudos as well to Willamette’s regular production team for recreating the traditional Noh stage, costuming, and lighting exactly right.

Noh is clearly not for everyone. Larry Kominz, the pre-show lecturer from Portland State, warned us that “Noh is not something you enjoy. It’s something that happens to you.” But I did enjoy it. I loved it. I want more. It is pure theatre See it (and you should): Relax. Let the play wash over you. Enter the dream. The Feathered Mantle and The Weaver & the Dress run through April 30.

Penny for a Pee?

On the completely other side of the spectrum, Pentacle delivers another solid musical theatre production with Urinetown: The Musical, directed by Katie Lindbeck.

Half parody, half satire, Urinetown tells the unlikely story of a town (a country? The entire world?) beset by a water shortage that forces all of the citizens to pay to use a public toilet (private toilets having long since been outlawed). The burden falls hardest upon the poor, while the corporate overlords of Urine Good Company rake in the profits. Half the fun comes from the play’s send up of the musical comedy form, with constant winks to the audience in songs like “Too Much Exposition.”

Vocal performances were strong throughout the cast, but especially from leads James Owen as plucky hero Bobby Strong, and Pentacle newcomer Kurleen Nowickas as ingénue Hope Cladwell. Nowickas was a refreshing and welcome addition to the lineup; her training in opera made her a standout vocalist. Choreography by Geri Sanders is lively and fun. Overall directing was clean and fast-paced. Both directing and choreography took advantage of the thrust stage and played to the sides of the audience (thank you).

On the night I went, the actors were hitting their beats, but for some reason the audience was not responding. A slow night? The second act worked better, with choreography and singing firing on all cylinders and getting the audience moving.

Whereas The Feathered Mantle elevates to the sublime, Urinetown wraps itself in the familiar tropes of musical theatre and revels in the self-parody. Famed British director Peter Brook would call the former Holy and the latter Vital. Both are essential. Urinetown plays through May 7.

 

“‘They seek him here, they seek him there,” Jay Gipson-King is a local educator and theatre artist, and Salem Weekly’s Salem Pimpernel. Keep up with Jay and see the full list of area auditions and performances at facebook.com/SalemTheatreNetwork.

The Business, Poems by Stephanie Lenox -Review by Vere McCarty

 

It is a confident title for a book of poems, but The Business put me off at first.  Why would I read poetry if not to get my mind off the stress of business?

Stephanie Lenox explains that the idea came from her co-office-worker Carla, who whispered, “You’re a writer, right? You should write about this. ”

“Working in an office,” she admits, “is not particularly poetic. But I wrote this book because I wanted to address that part of our lives that few poems touch. I believe that poetry can be a way to celebrate and mourn the hours of our lives we give, out of necessity, to others in order to survive.”

Agro-business is also represented.  The title poem goes right down to the farm, where my own work life began.

The tractor in the field

does not take things personally.

It is not affronted by the way

wheat bends before it, all that luscious

weakness.

There is no mind, just a motor,

a servitude of parts churning

politely together.  The oily smoke

is only smoke, no more.

I still think my uncle’s old combine hated me.  But the writing feels needed, like knocking off for a mid-morning break.

The farm is hard on the body and easy on the spirit.  The office, for me, is just the opposite.  Nice people, benefits, a comfy chair – why should it be such an uneasy bargain?  The Business gets down into that question, concisely, dryly, sometimes politely.  “Aubade for the Next Week” exhales this anxious morning music:

The day’s corridor is full of nameplates                         and doorways,

institutions that act as though they

could survive

without us.  We pick and choose

what we are willing to sell and dress

ourselves.

Meanwhile phones ring, keys are

turned

in their locks.  We fall in love with

hands

that brush away minutes like flies.

So then, is the glass half full or half empty?  The poet puts this conundrum into motion.

The bowl

tends toward emptiness.

You have responsibilities.

You must prove yourself.

Will you fill it?

If the paint on a new pencil were unrolled, it would just about cover a slim page-long poem, “The Pencil.”  Its nub is a reminder of something often forgotten – how writing begins.

with it the child

traces & erases

one stiff hesitant

letter then the next

Whether you trade your labor indoors or out, at home or away, these poems are well worth

having in your pocket.

 

Stephanie Lenox wrote The Business entirely on paper pilfered from her day job.  She is the author of two other volumes of poetry, Congress of Strange People and The Heart That Lies Outside the Body.  Her books are available at the Salem Public Library or through her website, www.stephanielenox.com.

Vere McCarty is an everyday writer living in Silverton.

If you would like to receive ongoing email notifications about writing events, contact Laura Sauter, salemwrites@outlook.com.

Salem Writes seeks to reflect the creative writing spirit in the greater Salem area. Contact Vere McCarty at salemwrites@outlook.com.

SW Art Picks

Metal and Glass

River Gallery 

184 S Main St.

Independence 

503 838-6171

May 3-28

This show features two Corvallis artists, metal sculptor Tamera Greiter, and Jerri Bartholomew a research scientist and glass artist. Greiter uses  100% recycled metal in her work, incorporating old, traditional blacksmith forging and today’s new technologies.  Bartholomew combines her two passions into what she describes as free form imagery.  Black and white photos are central to all of her pieces using a variety of fusing and cold working techniques to transform each image.

 

“New Lenses”

Elsinore Gallery

444 Ferry St SE 

503 581-4642

“Seeing the world through NEW LENSES” is a photography show with entries from both the traditional(film) and digital photography genres.  New printing methods and presentations including canvas, metal and other print media are also highlighted.  Featured Salem area artists include: Larry Goss,Chris Fischer, Doug Bearce, Joel Zak and Philip Augustin, with a possibility of more.  Elsinore’s Featured Artist Showcase through July will include: Chris Cummings, Caly Garris, James Southworth, Jim Shomaker, Larry Kassell, Rod Frederick.  New original works by Susan Bourdet are also being shown.

 

“Asymmetry: The Art of Letting Go”

Lunaria Gallery 

113 N Water Street

Silverton

This show  features abstract pastel and acrylic paintings by Jane Castelan Buccola, a versatile artist who  has worked in oil, watercolor, batik, pen and ink over a career spanning more than 40 years.  She  favors abstract painting because she feels it is more open to fuller involvement of intuition and imagination.  Castelan Buccola  is a member of Lunaria Gallery, the Northwest Pastel Society, and Silverton Art Association.  She is inspired by Albert Einstein who said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.  We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” The show runs May 4-30 with an artist’s reception May 6 from 7-9pm

 

Michael Boonstra: Between Horizons

Bush Barn Art Center

May 7-June 25

With major advancements in satellite and space technology since and the advent of Google Earth has changed the way we see the planet.  Viewing the Earth from a great distance changes our perspective, with natural formations and the linear elements of human development coexisting.  Award winning artist Michael Boonstra creates invented landscapes that examine our aerial perspective through drawing and photography. Boonstra’s work has been exhibited  at SOIL Gallery in Seattle, Duplex in Portland and Root Division in San Francisco. He has created site-specific projects in Michigan, California and at numerous sites in the Pacific Northwest. A reception  May 6 from 5:30-7:30 pm will include an artist talk at 6 pm.

 

Newly Exposed: Low Tide Landscapes by Rich Bergeman

Focus Gallery 

Bush Barn Art Center

May 7-June 25

Rich Bergeman is particularly drawn to the exposed beaches at extreme minus tide. When the sea recedes far enough, the exposed landscape unfolds a whole new world to explore, a terrain that lies hidden under the waves and out of sight most of the time.  Bergman’s photographs are even more striking when the viewer realizes that the tool used to create them is the most basic homemade camera imaginable—a wooden cigar box with a tiny pinhole on one side and a sheet of film on the other.  See the Oregon Coast in a more intimate way, through the eye of Bergman’s humble pinhole camera

Finding the Quiet Space

by Judith Walden

Despite being a working artist and teacher for 20 years, Julie Jeanseau didn’t always see herself as an artistic person. Encouragement from her parents prompted her to take some painting classes at Chemeketa and through them she found her “artistic self.”  Jeanseau is passionate about art, describing it as “a fundamental language our brains need to communicate in.” She is especially committed to helping children develop this form of expression, which is one of the reasons she enjoys teaching.

Jeanseau states that she primarily considers herself to be a painter. “Painting,” she says, “takes discipline and time to develop the skill set to express  your artistic voice.”  For a period she had to give up doing some of the other art forms she loves to concentrate on building those skills. Now she feels that she is at a place where she can again add work in some of the other media she enjoys including drawing, clay, and fiber collage.

Talking about her art, a recurring theme for Jeanseau is spirituality.  Her favorite subjects, nature and landscapes, are places where she finds spirituality, connection, and stillness. She hopes that viewers will be able to find some of that connection through her work. She strives to make her work a place that viewers can “walk into nature, and find their place of stillness, connection and contentment.”

Stillness is an interesting thing to associate with Jeanseau, because she is a busy woman. Co-owner of The Abbey Art Studio, teacher, and mother of three, a logical assumption would be that she would  try to pare down demands on her time, but instead, she is adding to them. Her newest venture, The Abbey Gallery, opened last month at Mission Mill in the Willamette Heritage Center. A small space at just 200 square feet,  the gallery is shared with her father, photographer Ron Wolf.  Jeanseau hopes to “create an installation space to highlight and create an environment for her work so that viewers can understand what it is about.”

Asked how her work and that of her father, Ron Wolf will mix, Jeanseau says that even though they don’t always agree on things, their approach to art has been a place they come together. Their pieces have similarity of composition, and frequently are sourced from the same place, Wolf’s wooded property. Like Jeanseau, much of Wolf’s work focuses on nature, and the quiet places where people can find stillness, connection, and spirituality.

Jeanseau is excited about the new gallery and the vibrant art environment building at the Willamette Heritage Center. She plans to participate in the monthly Art After Dark event, and points out the many things for visitors including a cafe and retail spaces.  Her new venture doesn’t mean that the Abbey Art Studio is being forgotten. New classes are open, and Jeanseau has plans to have more focus on adult classes and possibly adult “art camps” in addition to offering open studio time.

Jeanseau hopes that The Abbey Gallery will provide visitors with a chance to share something she was raised with, the opportunity to stop, find the quiet space and see the beauty around us, instead of rushing through the world. Information and images can be found at juliejeanseau.com.

Disposable fast fashion and who it hurts

by Helen Caswell

“The True Cost” of the cheap clothes sold at Salem retailers like Walmart, Target and Forever 21, says this documentary coming to the Salem Progressive Film Series, [is human misery and environmental degradation.]

Shot in crowded garment factories in Third World countries and peppered with ads, old documentaries, vintage fashion images and news clips, the film discusses the changing way garments are sold in the United States and Europe.

The price of clothing in our country has decreased markedly in the last few decades, and that has to do with where it’s made. In the 1960s, 95% of North American clothing was manufactured in the United States. Currently, only 3% is. Stateside garment making has been inexorably replaced by a grim, highly-competitive supply chain that runs from impoverished countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America where clothing is constructed in squalid conditions and under appalling labor practices – to the malls of the West where the resulting garments are sold so cheaply, and through advertising that creates such an insatiable demand for more and more – that Americans throw out an average of 82 pounds of textile waste every year.

The film explores a number of the “prices” the world pays for this excess, including the toxics used to meet increased cotton demand and the fundamental unhappiness that results from compulsive spending. But is most empathetic when it describes the living conditions and workdays of Third World countries like Bangladesh or China.

A woman describes the horror of the falling factory that crushed her and cost both her legs. Workdays are long; factories are dangerous and uncomfortable and the pay is terrible. Cambodian textiles workers are shown being shot at when they demand a living wage.

Clearly, these are jobs for people with no alternatives who live in hard circumstances, and the film examines arguments by moneyed interests who say this work is a salvation for them.

The least successful part of the movie is its somewhat unfocused, flighty nature and the self-indulgent narration of director Morgan. But if you didn’t know that Bangladeshi workers earn as little as $2 a day to make garments that cost Americans not much more than that, the movie is an essential eye-opener.

Two speakers will round out the evening by addressing the audience after the film. The first, Professor Jerry D. Gray, who teaches economics at Willamette University, has examined institutional labor market theory and income equality, themes shared by “The True Cost.” Known for his enthusiasm and dedication to making economics relevant to everyday life, Gray was honored as the 2005 CASE Oregon Professor of the Year for his dedication to teaching, commitment to students and innovative instructional methods.

Ann Niederehe will be the second presenter. She has lived in Oregon for more than 40 years, and found her interest in fair trade sparked 15 years ago when she was invited to join others to bring a fair trade outlet to Salem. She is one of the founding board members of Salem’s non-profit fair trade shop, One Fair World, on Court Street in downtown Salem.

“One of our greatest powers as individuals in the western world,” says a One Fair World pamphlet, “is how we choose to spend our money.” The publication lists Fair Trade business practices that would make a profound difference to the workers described in the film, including: ensuring a living wage, ensuring safe and healthy working conditions for all, providing a daily meal, and providing for retirement.

Because the film asks how real changes can be made to better the lives of workers in different parts of the world, the appearance by Professor Gray and Ms. Niederehe should be inspiring and instructive.

 

The True Cost

Salem Progressive Film Series

Guest speakers & audience discussion follow 

Tuesday, April. 19, 7 p.m.

The Grand Theater

191 High St. NE, Salem

(503) 881-5305

salemprogressivefilms.net

Accidentally and Roughly Yours

by Jay Gipson-King

Accidentally Yours, playing at Brush Creek Playhouse and directed by Michael Wood, is an uneven affair, but what it lacks in gloss it makes up for with rough enthusiasm.

Billed as a “comic farce,” the humor is not of the manic, door-slamming variety, but of mistaken identity and improbable situations. The plot revolves around a frustrated yet wishful writer, his supportive yet wacky family, and a mysterious Arabian lamp. Mishaps ensue. The tying and untying of the plot is reminiscent of turn-of-the-century French farces, with a fair bit of innuendo (Nothing explicit. I rate it PG). It is rather like a longer, more complex episode of I Love Lucy.

Accidentally Yours was written in 1949 by Pauline Williams Snapp, and the dating shows in interesting ways: the three-act structure and slower pacing, long-set ups for simple sight gags, and, of course, language (“this is my twenty-fifth spinster summer” jumped out as the strongest cultural and linguistic anachronism). Curiously, the large cast of fifteen also stood out as a product of the play’s times. No straight play since 1950 has been written with so many actors, many with simple walk-on roles; post-war Broadway economics make such ventures too expensive. Brush Creek’s production sets the play in a nebulous past, with 1940s music but cordless house phones. The overall tone evokes nostalgia for simpler times.

The performances are mixed, and many actors had first-night jitters. Shannon Copeland plays the credulous writer, Spencer Mosby, with wide-eyed earnestness. Kelly Lazar gives Vivienne Mosby, Spencer’s “spinster” niece, intelligence and self-assurance. (Why a niece? Presumably, like Donald Duck’s nephews, she is an invested blood-relation, but without the messiness of being an actual daughter—another product of the times.) Much of the play’s fun comes from the oddball supporting cast, who, for the most part, deliver: the put-upon maid, her “punk” boyfriend, the uptight secretary, the frantic publisher (played with glee and a fair bit of scenery chewing by Norman Gouveia). Other performances fell short. Phillip Wade put on the charm as boyfriend Lawrence, but his choices were frequently unclear. Julie Mackinnon as the wife, Gladys Mosby, was shooting for (I believe) a 1950s television housewife, but she came across as simpering and pouty.

Opening night featured a crowded, boisterous house for Brush Creek, with a gaggle of older ladies singing along to the classic tunes played during scene changes. They laughed throughout and clearly had a good time. I left disappointed. I always want Brush Creek either to be a rougher theatre that befits the school house, or else a much cleaner theatre that befits the play choices (Broadway comedies). This one fell in the middle. It was also very long, clocking in at over three hours. This production is fun and silly and funny; just don’t look at the seams too closely. Accidentally Yours runs through April 24.

Good night, sweet prince. 

April 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death on April 23, 1616. April 23 is also, we conjecture, Shakespeare’s birthday (based on a Christening of April 26, 1564). Theatre people all over the world are geeking out about this, Salem folks included. You have several local options to get you Bard on: Shakespeare at the market every Saturday (see details last issue), a film series of BBC performances at the Salem Cinema, and two high school productions (Othello at West Salem, April 21–30, and Romeo & Juliet at McNary, April 28–May 7). Also look for a Shakespeare season for 2016–2017 at Willamette University.

What more needs to be said about Shakespeare? What more can be said? In 1938, theatre theorist Antonin Artaud said to burn all masterpieces, starting with Shakespeare; it was the only way to make way for the new. And yet we return to this master craftsman, again and again, like to no other playwright in the history of theatre. However you choose to celebrate (or ignore) this 400th anniversary, the Bard’s mark on the world is indelible. Happy birthday!

“‘They seek him here, they seek him there,” Jay Gipson-King is a local educator and theatre artist, and Salem Weekly’s Salem Pimpernel. Keep up with Jay and see the full list of area auditions and performances at facebook.com/SalemTheatreNetwork.