Five things worth knowing this week
1 – Delightfully Odd Couple – Female Version
I’m not the person to opine on the relative ranking of Neil Simon’s incredible oeuvre, but I can say that for me, The Odd Couple is the piece that put him firmly on my mind map.
Depending on your age, you might remember the story from the long running (1970 to 1975) television series starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman in the lead roles. Or perhaps it’s the heavily nominated and perfectly cast movie adaptation featuring Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau (Broadway fans will recall Art Carney as the original Felix Unger) with theme music by the multi-talented Neal Hefti.
As a complete aside, true geeks will know Frank Sinatra (Felix) and Jackie Gleason as Oscar were under consideration at one point! Oh to have seen that!
Zoom forward to 2019 to Drama Dock’s presentation of The Odd Couple – Female Version, a delightful refresh of the original concept and script completed by Neil Simon in 1985.
In this version, the lead roles have morphed to become Florence Unger and Olive Madison, and instead of the poker party that begins the original version, Ms. Madison has invited the girls over for an evening of Trivial Pursuit. And it goes from there.
I asked the show’s producer Trudy Rosemarin why Drama Dock decided to stage something by Neil Simon. She told me . . . “Neil Simon died last year, and we wanted to do something to honor him. The Odd Couple was such a huge hit. The Female version was a big hit.”
Trudy went on to tell me, “I’m excited about this production because we have some new semi-professional actresses in the lead roles who are just wonderful. When you laugh your head off during rehearsals, you know you have a hit on your hand.”
Opening on our stage February 15, Drama Dock’s “The Odd Couple” will be Directed by Chaim Rosemarin and Produced by Trudy Rosemarin. The cast includes: Cate O’Kane, Dedra Dakota, Bonny Moss, Chai Ste. Marie, Thea Vernoy, Sue DeNies, James Norton, and Russell Baker (Vashon’s very own, not this one ).
As a fun side note, director Chaim Rosemarin played Felix in a Drama Dock production of The Odd Couple many years ago
Tickets: $20 General, $18 Students, Seniors, VCA and Drama Dock Members
Online ticket sales end 2 hours prior to curtain
Performances at 7:30pm: February 15, 16, 21, 22, and 23
Sunday Performances at 1:00pm: February 17 and 24
Thursday, February 21 is “Pay What You Will” night and donations will be accepted at the door.
2 – Full House for Martin Luther King
This past Monday, VCA held a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s life with a presentation in the Kay White Hall. This event was born as a simple opportunity to give students in VAIS project Just Speak an opportunity to share their work but grew into a full-scale community event connecting neighbors in a united purpose to examine social justice.
Daemond Arrindell, poet, performer and teaching artist, gracefully emceed our evening as we heard from Lois Watkins, Trish Dziko, Thrett Brown, Thomas Pruiksma, and students Maléa Dickerson and Kevin Estrada-Alamo.
300 people were in attendance and 10 Vashon organizations were represented in the lobby where we had food (provided by the fantastic Jennifer Brenner and a team of dedicated volunteers), conversation, and connection. Student art from Carpe Diem and The Harbor School was showcased in VCA’s Thumb Gallery and will be hanging through February for all to enjoy.
Just Speak is a student group piloted this year by VAIS and led by Daemond Arrindell using spoken work to examine identity and social justice. After hearing that the group would be taking a break until the fall, islander Janie Starr took the focus of the MLK Day event (“what can YOU do to support social justice today?) and backed it up with action. She has donated seed funding to keep Just Speak going through the end of this school year. Thank you, Janie, for your generosity!
If you have questions about Just Speak or the MLK Day event please contact VAIS Program Director Kaycie Alanis.
3 – Oompa Loompa in the house
In case you missed it, I mentioned we were kicking-off Willy Wonka Jr. rehearsals this week on the 23rd. Watching the kids pile off the bus and into our Green Room bears strong testimony to two important observations:
- Musical theater is alive and well at VCA
- This is going to be a fabulous production
The level of excitement and energy are enough to carry even the world-weariest adult for months. Get ready Vashon!
And in case this ear worm isn’t already in your head, here’s “that song.”
4 – Personally and politically poetical
I just checked the long term weather forecast and the weather on Sunday, January 27 looks perfect for poetry. That and the endless cacophony provided by the 24-hour news cycle make for a timely gathering in our building to join with Tacoma writer and poet Rick Barot to contemplate the work of poets Lucille Clifton, Danez Smith, Layli Long Soldier and others . . . and more broadly, how poetry and verse can provide a lens, a guidepost, or perhaps a north star for navigating and interpreting these tumultuous times.
Mr. Barot is the poetry editor for New England Review and director of The Rainier Writing Workshop, an MFA program in creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University and is an accomplished poet and writer of verse. He has published three volumes of poetry — “The Darker Fall” (2002), “Want” (2008), and “Chord” and has been celebrated with a pile of awards.
Bring your heart, mind, and soul to VCA Sunday, January 27 | 4 pm
Tickets: $18 Member | $20 Student & Senior | $22 General
All Tickets at the Door: $24
5 – New Whatsits
Our multi-talented Ian Metler has been crafting on three fabulous new Whatsits for our gallery spaces. Called periaktoi, these clever prism shaped standards were first mentioned in Vitruvius’s book on architecture, De architectura(c. 14 BC). Not to be left behind on what is clearly a trending idea, we’ll be deploying them in February as part of our Brian Doyle celebration.
6 – Finally, and this is a sixth thing
Thoughtful (though not necessarily prescient) people have been predicting the demise of the humanities at least since1964.
But over the past five years, things seem to have significantly changed. Perhaps you saw this article in the Seattle Times carrying the headline, As STEM majors soar at UW, interest in humanities shrinks — a potentially costly loss
The gist of the article is this . . . the number of students studying the humanities at the U is shrinking. Indeed, this is a trend across the universe of US colleges and universities. Some majors are down 50% over the past decade.
At least since the onset of the global financial crisis, anyone paying for a higher education has been focused on the seemingly obvious connection between STEM education (science, technology, engineering, math) and high-paying jobs.
Quoting now . . .
Academics worry that the nation would be impoverished — both culturally and intellectually — if only an elite few understand the arc of American history, know how to find meaning in poetry, or can discuss the ideas of the great philosophers.
As a matter of fact, the view that a degree in the humanities is an expensive ticket to nowhere is a canard (English majors rejoice in the use of the word!). Robert Matz writes in a well-supported article entitled The Myth of the English Major Baristathe following:
So where, in fact, do English majors end up working? The top occupations for English-degree holders ages 27 to 66 are elementary and middle school teachers, postsecondary teachers, and lawyers, judges, magistrates and other judicial workers. Indeed, English majors, who go on to a range of careers, are less likely to work in food service than in many highly skilled positions, including as chief executives and legislators (1.4 percent), physicians and surgeons (1.2 percent), or accountants and auditors (1.2 percent). Parents worried that their children will study English and end up as baristas should know that their sons and daughters are statistically more likely to end up as CEOs, doctors or accountants than behind the counter of a Starbucks.
It’s an interesting article and I urge you to read it.
So why spill words on this? I have one of those degrees. I have lived a life loving the arts and humanities. I’ll bet you have too. The clue is in the word, “Humanities.” Let’s not give up too easily on what the study and contemplation of art and humanities provide us.
And in that spirit, in the spirit of the “sixth thing,” pleas enjoy this TED talk by our PNW neighbor, David Whyte, as he verbally meditates on the frontiers of the past, present and future, sharing two poems inspired by his niece’s hike along El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Why “Fish Wrap”? Years ago, living in San Francisco, I became a devotee of a legendary journalists named Herb Caen. While he may not have been the first to use the phrase in connection with “yesterday’s news,” he is the one I remember. Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish wrap. Maybe it’s a generational thing. At any rate, we call our Friday wrap up, The Friday Fish Wrap . . . Five things worth knowing about VCA this Friday.