Tag Archives: This American Life

From bullying to British theatre

When our youngest daughter Lizabeth attended Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix, she participated each year in something called “Day of Silence” — described by organizer GLSEN as “a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.”

This year’s “Day of Silence” was held on April 20, but folks who missed it can support the cause in other ways — including attending a screening of the new film “Bullied to Silence” taking place May 12 at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Bullied to Silence” is an 84-minute documentary that “gives a voice to bullied youth from all walks of life.” It was written and directed by local filmmakers and features several Arizona participants. I’m told it “tells the stories of children and teens whose ethnicities, physical challenges, and sexual orientations set them apart, and how they’ve coped with bullying by peers and adults alike.”

Susan Broude, the film’s writer/producer, describes bullying as “an epidemic in America” and hopes the film will help put an end to the verbal abuse at the heart of so much bullying today. GLSEN Phoenix co-founder Madelaine Adelman says the film complements their “mission to create safe, respectful and healthy K-12 schools for all.”

This 2012 feature documentay premieres May 1 in Sedona, then heads to the Phoenix Art Museum

“Bullied by Silence” will be screened at both 11am and 2pm on May 12. Nicole Stanton, wife of Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton, will introduce the first screening, and both screenings will be followed by a Q & A presentation featuring filmmakers Tami Pivnick and Susan Broude, plus several cast members.

The screenings are sponsored by GLSEN Phoenix in cooperation with the Scottsdale International Film Festival. Representatives of GLSEN Phoenix will attend the screening to provide “resource information to support safe schools for all students.” Earlier screenings in Sedona take place May 1-4, thanks to a partnership with the Sedona International Film Festival, and also include special guest speakers.

While you’re at the Phoenix Art Museum, grab a schedule of the museum’s film offerings. The museum often presents films it’s hard to find in other venues — such as “Anchors Away” (a ’40s musical starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Kathryn Grayson), “Gidget” (a ’50s teen flick starring the Sandra Dee most kids know only from “Grease” lyrics) and “Rothko’s Room” (part of their “Ab/Ex Film Series”).

The Phoenix Art Museum hosts a “Local Film Community Panel” May 30, and presents “This American Life” with host Ira Glass June 1 and 3. The latter will be captured live on May 10 and broadcast from the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, where Lizabeth enjoyed a performance of “110 Stories” last September.

The museum also broadcasts National Theatre Live productions. Upcoming encore presentations include “One Man, Two Guvners” (June 10) and “Frankenstein” (June 13 & 14). The cast of “Frankenstein” includes Benedict Cumberbatch, who appeared in the movie “War Horse” and stars in “Sherlock” on PBS’s “Masterpiece” (season 2 begins May 6).

– Lynn

Note: In addition to regular posts, I’ll be sharing posts on art and mental illness during May, which is Mental Health Month. If you offer art programs (dance, music, theater, visual art, writing) serving Arizona youth or adults living with mental illness, I’d love to hear from you at rakstagemom@gmail.com.

Coming up: I never met a box I didn’t like

Update: Ira Glass comes to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Jan. 19, 2013 as part of the 2012-13 season. Watch their website for details. And click here to see just-announced 2012 Tony Award nominees (which Lizabeth shared with me via text message at 5:47am this morning–clever girl). 5/1/12

The agony and the ecstacy

Actors Theatre of Phoenix has seen plenty of both in recent months after announcing that a huge infusion of cash would be needed to complete their current season, then deciding to move forward with a 2012-2013 season announcement though still working to raise full funding.

So it’s fitting I suppose that the first show planned for their 2012-13 season is Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstacy of Steve Jobs.” Daisey and his play became the focus of significant controversy after NPR’s Ira Glass retracted a January episode of “This American Life” featuring Daisey and the play due to “significant fabrications” — and Daisey’s been bombarded with more bad news since.

Folks eager to explore Daisey’s own take on his work can read an article Daisey wrote that’s titled “The Sin of Activism” — published in the April 2012 issue of American Theatre magazine, which has featured works of late that celebrate its four key values — artistry, diversity, global citizenship and activism.

Turns out Daisey was trained to think of activism as a dirty word, but drifted in that direction as his work “circled more and more around the fundamental conflict between the human and the inhuman in our culture.” His article for American Theatre details the evolution of his thought, process and product.

Today he’s a converstion story. “Action is the root of theatre,” writes Daisey. “Activism is the public face of that action. We need an American theatre that recognizes this. Now more than ever.” And I suppose Actors Theatre wouldn’t mind folks heeding the call by advocating on their behalf.

Following Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstacy of Steve Jobs,” Actors Theatre will stage “Opus” by violinist-turned-playwright Michael Hollinger – which imagines a string quartet preparing to perform a hefty bit of Beethoven at the White House when the erratic behavior of their resident genius necessitates that someone else  (who’s younger, less experienced and female) take his place. Think rehearsal room as pressure cooker.

New is next to godliness at Actors Theatre, and thank heavens for it. Next up is “The Fox on the Fairway” by playwright Ken Ludwig – described by Actors Theatre as “one of America’s greatest living writers of farce.” Ludwig is well-known to theater folk for writing “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Crazy for You.” But now, it seems, he’s turned his attention to “one man’s eternal love affair with golf.”

Also “A Steady Rain.” This baby was written by Keith Huff, lauded by Actors Theatre for helping to write and produce a little something on AMC called “Mad Men” — which Huff says he’s left behind to pursue other projects. “A Steady Rain” follows a pair of Chicago police officers whose mutual loyalty is tested when an unfortunate decision begets guilt, fear and corruption.

Actors Theatre plans to close its 2012-13 season with “Good People” by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, whose “The Rabbit Hole” won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for best drama. It’s the tale of a single mother with a special needs daughter who moves to the suburbs in search of new opportunities after losing her dollar store gig. “Good People” was nominated in 2011 for a Tony Award, the year “War Horse” went home with best play honors.

Turns out there’s a lovely piece about “Good People” and Lindsay-Abaire in the current issue of American Theatre magazine as well. It’s penned by Christopher Wallenberg, who details the playwright’s own working class roots and growing realization that new American plays weren’t reflecting the real struggles of folks to make it in a land that sometimes fails to deliver on its promises.

New is nifty, but relevance rules — and it’s something that Actors Theatre of Phoenix is nearing nicely with its 2012-13 season, which reads more “everyday” than “high art” during a period in American life in which few can afford time with theater experiences that feel more luxury than real-life. Let’s hope that Actors Theatre has accurately gauged the pulse of its audience, something absolutely essential to keeping their own heart beating.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about the May 10 movie theater broadcast of a live on-stage performance of “This American Life” (complete with dance and other fun things you can’t see through a radio) — and here to learn about Annie Baker’s “Body Awareness,” being performed by Actors Theatre through April 15.

Coming up: Photography on the fly