Thursday, July 30, 2009

YCTIWY Portrait – CCPT 2009

Here is a portrait of most of the cast members (mugging for the camera) in the Culver City Public Theatre (CCPT) production of You Can't Take It With You which closes with 2 final performances on Saturday and Sunday, August 1-2 at 2:00 p.m. in Paul Carlson Park:

Seated in front is Grandpa Martin Vanderhof (The Ancient One); leaning on his knee is Mr. Di Pinna (J.T. Moyé)

The row behind him L/R: Kolenkhov (Robert Kane), Essie (Hilary Chen), Alice (Katrina Straub), Penny (Donna Donnelly) and Rheba (Megan Beasley)

Back row L/R: Ed (John Glass), Tony (Kenny Seliger), Paul (Clyde FT Small), Donald (Jonathan Sherman) and Mr. Kirby (Jacques Freydont)

Missing from the photo, but equally important to the cast, are: Henderson/Mac (J-Man) (John Gutterman), Gay Wellington/Grand Duchess Olga Katrina (Laura Boccaletti), Mrs. Kirby (Melissa Skirboll), J-Man (Kamel Dickinson) and Jim (J-Man) (Chris Bonanno)

The Ancient One thanks Director John Glass for casting him in this wonderful play with such a talented cast. Thanks also to Assistant Directors Michele Howden & Elaine Russell, the "world's best" Stage Manager Suze Campagna, special effects master Paul Porter and Producer Milton Chen. What a great production team!!

As we draw this run to a close, all I can think of are the words of Grandpa, uttered 3 times in the play in totally different contexts, "WELL, WELL, WELL!"

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where Have All the Peafowl Gone?

A few years back there was a nasty political fight in the neighborhood over the number of peafowl gracing our streets, lawns, rooftops, yards, etc. It seemed that people either loved these regal birds or hated them. The Ancient One fell in the "love 'em" category. Yes, I know they are loud, almost like a baby crying in the night. Yes, I hear neighbors complain about how messy they are and how destructive they are of plant life. Well, my garden hasn't suffered and, quite frankly, I find the flocks of crows to be far messier.

Anyway, the fight went all the way to the City Council and an ordinance was passed that allowed for a "thinning out" of the flock. The city, apparently, would supervise the trapping of peafowl and shipping them off to what was described as a "sanctuary" in Colorado. The peafowl population dropped and neighbors started being pleasant to each other again.

But since that happened, the flock has been growing. This past Spring it was larger than I had ever seen and The Ancient One just knew that the fight would start again. This time, maybe because there were so many peafowl about, there was no public fight. Even I had to admit that it might be wise to "thin out" the flock a bit. And sure enough, while not becoming major news, there were references in the local weekly that the City Council had passed a couple of ordinances. One made it a crime, a misdemeanor I'm sure, for citizens to feed the birds. The other provided for the trapping and shipping of the birds in order to reduce the crop. This, by the way, raised a question in The Ancient One's simple mind. How were the peafowl lured into the traps? Was food placed inside these cage like structures to entice them? If so, were city employees breaking the law by feeding peafowl? Or, as agents of the government, were they exempt from the provisions of the anti-feeding regulations?

Anyway, this program must have been carried out successfully. Although I saw no public announcement about the "trap them and ship them" campaign, almost overnight peafowl disappeared. Only a few remain like this lonely peacock I spotted the other day:

In addition, I have seen only 2 or 3 peahens, one of whom had 3 of the smallest peachicks (Is that the right word?) I have ever seen with her. The disappearance of so many peafowl has made The Ancient One wonder if the goal was to eliminate the flock rather than just thin it out. In the absence of a public outcry, I guess I'll never know.

At least a few of these beloved birds remain in the neighborhood. And when they are spotted, they will continue to bring a smile to The Ancient One's face.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

CCPT 2009 Season – Weekend 1

What a week it was! The final dress rehearsals and then into Carlson Park for the opening weekend of Culver City Public Theatre's (CCPT) 2009 season. A bit of drama on the opening day when there were problems getting power for the sound system. Finally, everything was up and running 20 minutes before "curtain."

The weekend opened with the CCPT Children's Popcorn Theatre production of Aunt Fondeen and the Lost Dutchman Goldmine (written by Heidi Dotson, a CCPT member of several years. The audience loved it both days. Only 2 pictures are offered here (with apologies to all cast members not pictured).

Harold (Stefan Tabencki) and Aunt Fondeen (Osa Danam) riding off in Betsy Hacklebarney

Crazy Walt (Kamel Dickinson) and P. Pierpoint Ragright (Josh Gren)

The main stage production of Kaufman and Hart's You Can't Take It With You, directed by John Glass followed. It also was greeted by an appreciative audience that was entertained by both the antics on the stage and the special effects emanating from back stage. Since The Ancient One was in the cast, Milton Chen graciously agreed to take pictures, 2 of which follow (with a plan to bring forth more at a later date).

Grandpa (The Ancient One) with Ed (John Glass) and Essie Hilary Chen) Carmichael

Penny (Donna Donnelly), Tony (Kenny Seliger), Mr. De Pinna (J.T. Moye) and Grandpa

All in all it was a truly wonderful weekend with a combined audience of about 240. Now on to the rest of the season. And, of course, a shameless plug: Information can be found at .

Sunday, July 12, 2009

6 Days and Counting (CCPT)

Only 6 days until the opening of Culver City Public Theatre's (CCPT) 2009 season. The Ancient One will be appearing as Grandpa Martin Vanderhof in You Can't Take It With You, a Pulitzer Prize winning comedy by Hart and Kaufman.

The Tech Weekend in Carlson Park went well. We actually completed a complete run through of the play today and it felt good. The Ancient One has really enjoyed working with such a talented cast and feels that the 3 weekend, 6 performance run will be a success. Now we just have our final 4 rehearsals to polish the performance, costumes and (numerous) props and we will be ready for those wonderful audiences that appear in Culver City's Carlson Park every summer.

You Can't Take It With You goes up every Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. starting July 18 and closing August 2. It will be preceded at noon each performance day by the CCPT Children's Popcorn Theatre production of Aunt Fondeen and the Lost Dutchman Goldmine, another 1 hour play written by Heidi Dotson. Aunt Fondeen. . . will continue for 3 additional weekends (August 8 -23). On those dates it will be followed by Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer.

For additional information, go online and visit The Ancient One looks forward to seeing at Carlson Park this summer. Be sure to say hello!

Monday, July 6, 2009

It Was the 4th That Was

We had a relaxing, and somewhat different, 4th of July this year that was a lot of fun, brought back some old memories and led The Ancient One to some thoughts about Independence and Freedom.

Of course, the morning walk took precedence and it was a beautiful day without the "marine layer" that seems to have been hanging over the peninsula for so long. A special treat came about because the city of Palos Verdes Estates moved their 4th of July Celebration from Malaga Cove to the grounds of Lunada Bay School. This resulted in a panoramic overview along the morning's route. (Unfortunately, the camera was not in hand). While my vantage point was from well above the site and from afar, the crowd and lines of flags could be seen. And voices carried well on the morning air as I listened to a young woman singing My Country Tis of Thee. . . and heard a couple of the orators holding forth.

Later in the day we joined some friends who were staying at the new, recently opened Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, less than 6 miles from our home. It was pleasant walking the grounds as Jim and Diane gave us the grand tour and then enjoying a wonderful dinner in one of the many restaurants before returning to our own home. It was at Terranea that old memories came flooding back.

This new resort is built on the land that was Marineland many years ago. When Alicia and Seth were pre-school age (she'll be 28 later this month and he's 26) we had season tickets to Marineland. We would often pack a picnic lunch and spend an hour or two there, generally seeing one of the shows (Orky and Corky were the resident performing killer whales) and always stopping by the marine hospital that cared for wounded sea life (especially sea lions), nursed them back to health and returned them to the ocean just below the cliffs. That was the pleasant part of the memories. The less than pleasant part came when the company that owned Sea World in San Diego bought Marineland and then suddenly shut it down, marked by the spiriting away of the many sea animals in the middle of the night. Folks around here have never quite gotten over that bit of corporate chicanery. It's nice to have this sparkling new resort but it isn't the same.

At various points during the day and evening, The Ancient One's thoughts turned to the meaning of the 4th of July, reflections on independence and freedom and what is happening in the world today. Now I appreciate the flying of the flag, the wearing of lapel pins and all the patriotic speeches as much as anyone. But they are only the out trappings of freedom and patriotism. When I look at the level of intolerance around me in this country it seems that there is a disconnect between the outward symbols of patriotism and what so many of our citizens believe. Some examples.

When referenda are passed that take rights away from a minority of citizens, we hear that it must be honored because we are a democracy based upon majority rule. But those majoritarians forget the other half of the democratic principle that guarantees inalienable rights to everyone, including minorities, regardless of what the majority wants. The drafters of our constitution added a Bill of Rights for that reason although it took a long time for that ideal to start to take hold and it generally has been the judiciary that has had to take on the mantle of defining and protecting minority rights.

The Ancient One is similarly puzzled when our citizens and some political leaders insist that it is our destiny to impose their definition of democracy on other countries and cultures. It seems to me that the heart of America's own fight for independence was to reject having someone else's system of governing imposed on us. Our earliest settlers escaped persecution and came to a land where they could live their lives within their own belief systems. In a line in the play You Can't Take It With You, Grandpa tells his granddaughter, "who says that they're right and we're wrong." I might add that the reverse is equally true, "Who says that we're right and they're wrong."

The essence of America ideally is tolerance, respect for others and their way of life. We believe in freedom. I remember an old saying that "one man's freedom ends when his fist reaches another man's nose." It seems to The Ancient One that this should apply to other countries as well. We no more have the right to impose our system on other nations than they have in trying to impose their systems on us. The ability to live together in a complex world and respect those whose beliefs are different than ours is the essence of patriotism.

Okay, time to get off my soapbox and get back to my daily life.