Power vs Women in “A Gulag Mouse” at Sacred Fools

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

gia on the move danielle ozymandias arthur jolly women prison camp

“But if she could talk, she would tell you… what? That the skin can grow so tough that nothing penetrates- not the groping of men’s hands or the cutting of their whips? Or that there are places men cannot touch- places where you can remain inviolate, so deep inside, behind fences and guards and dogs, behind a thousand kalanchas, across 87 miles of frozen tundra, and that there you can stay, for years? Are these the words she is looking for? What would she say to you, if she could cry out from inside such a deep place?”

We need only pause for a moment to see the reality of prison life in A Gulag Mouse; to hear the violence of desperation.

Arthur Jolly has written, at face value, a myopic story of five women imprisoned in a brutal Siberian labor camp, without anything but what they can trade, work, lie, maim or even kill for. To the rest of the world they are forgotten. And there is nothing to hope for but survival. All of the women in A Gulag Mouse trapped as they are, will most likely not make it out alive to the end of their sentences. If any do, the scars of the mind will be far worse than the scars on their bodies.

The story centers around Anastasia, a former nurse, who, rather than succumbing to one more beating from her inordinately abusive husband, unexpectedly and unfortunately returned, alive, from the war,
stabs him, which lands her in a Siberian labor camp. Once there, she must deal with and defend herself against the vicious, bunk house inmates who have constructed a depraved pecking order over food scraps, bed privileges and sexual services; an intricate, ever-shifting, codependency which has them nearly killing each other at any given moment. Anastasia’s “soft hands” and “pretty hair” become an immediate battle grounds for the other women who know her beauty is about to usurp the regular favorite and possibly any remnants of certainty they’ve worked so hard to achieve. The reality is however, that the conditions of the camp are so harsh, she probably won’t even survive the week. She is therefore, expendable.

Written as a thriller, A Gulag Mouse, currently making its Los Angeles premiere at the Black Box theater at Sacred Fools (spectacularly renovated as an intimate semi-round) certainly has guts. The raw, gray, set design by Aaron Francis enhanced by the lighting design of Matthew Richter and Adam Earle, deeply evokes the stark and tenuous conditions of the camp as does the costuming by Linda Muggeridge. And although the direction takes a slightly disorienting turn towards the end of the show, it remains steady in its horrifying, realistic impact, entrenched in Jolly’s own idea of the “inextricable experience of being a woman”. Indeed this play was written as a response to his own personal struggle of being powerless to help the most important women in his own life, at a time when they were in crisis.

There is a strong sense of “sacrifice” in this play, indeed it is an overarching thread which ultimately separates Anastasia as the new prisoner from the gang.

Also remarkable is the way Jolly has amalgamated this “scenario of a thousand lives” into a single focal point of violent abuse and reprehensible ideologies or more than acceptable social standards by the men they’ve had to defend themselves against on the outside as well as inside of the camp.

In a word, brutal.

A Gulag Mouse
Now Playing Until May 15
Friday and Saturday at 8pm
Sunday, May 8 & 15 at 7pm
at Sacred Fools Theatre Company
1076 Lillian Way
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Written by Arthur Jolly
Directed by Danielle Ozymandias
Starring: Kimberly Atkinson, Heather L. Tyler, Dan DeRyuck, Emily Goss, Crystal Keith, Brandon Bales.

Produced in Special Arrangement with Next Stage Press

For tickets and information visit: SacredFools.org or call 310-281-8337

The Queen Mary Rolls Out Historic Menu on May 26

gia on the move history queen maryOn May 26, 1936, some 250,000 were on hand to wish ‘God Speed’ to the Queen Mary as she left Southampton for the first time. As evening approached, passengers dressed for dinner – perhaps sharing cocktails or sending telegrams to loved ones – or – like Mrs. C.N. Pillman, stopping in at the Purser’s office to pick-up her winnings for the ship’s first distance-traveled pool. Excitement must have been in the air as bellboys and stewards rang dinner gongs and well-groomed passengers – traveling in every class – made their way to the ship’s restaurant salons. But what did they eat? We now know.

This year, Queen Mary guests attending the May 26 Maiden Voyage anniversary dinner will be served a modern version of the menu presented to First Class passengers on their first evening at sea.

“While the Queen Mary has previously re-created historic menus to mark important events, the creation of this particular menu was difficult as no records of the meal are present in our archives. The information was uncovered in one of many Queen Mary books recounting the ship’s illustrious history and its maiden voyage – eighty years ago,” said Queen Mary Chef, Todd Henderson.

Cunard Lines Chef Martin Riccault welcomed his First Class guests with an elaborate table – now re-created by the ship’s present day Chef, Todd Henderson, which is not identical, but will reflect the historic evening through gastronomy research of the period.

Chef Riccault’s original menu included:

  • Honeydew Melon Glacé
  • Croutes-au-pot au Perles (Potato soup in pastry)
  • Tranche de Turbotin Poche Normande (Turbot)
  • Poulard de Braisée Belle Mère (Flattened Chicken)
  • Haricots verts at beurre (Haricot Beans)
  • Pommes Garfield (French Fries)
  • Salad francaise
  • Fraises Chantilly (Strawberries with Cream)
  • Petite-fours
  • Dessert
  • Café

Chef Henderson’s Menu will feature:

  • Chanrentais Melon Gelee (Speck, Sea Salt, Basil Herb Crystals)
  • Croute-au-Pot au Pomme Perles (Puff Pastry, Fried Ramp & Potato Soup, Bacon Leek Oil)
  • Cotes Courtes Braisée Belle Mère (Wagyu Short Rib, Fava Bean Purée, Glacé di Viande)
  • Salad Francaise (Petit Greens, French Vinaigrette)
  • Chocolate Creme Brûlée with Strawberries and Chantilly Cream
  • Café

The Maiden Voyage Anniversary Dinner will be held in the Grand Salon, formerly the First Class Dining Room. Guests will be treated to after dinner remarks by Randolph Churchill, great-grandson of the ship’s most illustrious passenger. Lord Alan Watson (MP), Baron of Richmond and noted Churchill scholar and author will discuss Churchill’s life-long connection to the Queen Mary; a relationship that began long before the maiden voyage and continued through Churchill’s retirement.

“It is my hope that those attending the Anniversary dinner will imagine themselves as part of a living history that now enters its ninth decade. Perhaps they will toast Mr. Churchill or raise a glass to the memory of the 800,000 Allied troops Queen Mary safely ferried during WWII. Or, maybe they will simply enjoy a wonderful meal served aboard the greatest ocean liner of all time,” Henderson concluded.

For more information, please visit: http://www.queenmary.com/80th

QueenMaryTicket

Theatre of NOTE’s “Phrazzled” Leaves You Frayed, I’m Afraid

Reviewed by Marc Wheeler
gia on the move marc wheeler theatre reviews

Keith Hanson and Will McFadden in Prazzled by Phinny Kyomura. Photo credit: Darrett Sanders

In Theatre of NOTE’s latest, Phrazzled, we find ourselves in the room next to the Room where it all happens. A room where the underpaid and underrated scratch and claw their way to the coveted Room where they’ll know they’ve finally made it.

INT. WRITERS’ ASSISTANTS ROOM

Here we meet Phraz (Tony DeCarlo), a disgruntled TV writer’s assistant who’s discontent with his station in life. Phraz asserts the only way out of the room he’s in — the room adjacent to the real writers’ Room — is to write his way out. In his downtime of doing brutish, agonizing work for his writer-boss (Gina Garcia-Sharp) whom he loathes, he’s writing a play of substance — unlike the crappy TV show to which he seemingly (ironically) aspires — with his buddy Travis (Will McFadden), a previous co-worker. With the guidance of his office-mate Barney (Keith Hanson), he decides to write about the most fascinating of subjects: His life — except not really. Instead of writing about a guy who’s a writer’s assistant to a boss he hates, he decides to write about a guy who’s a writer’s assistant to a boss… he loves! (Write what you know… with a twist!)

Next thing you know we meet a guy named… Frasz (Troy Blendell) who’s — you guessed it! — a writer’s assistant to a boss (Sierra Marcks)… he loves! Frasz has an office-mate Betty (Andrea Ruth) who encourages him to write a play about the most fascinating of subjects: His life — except not really. Instead of writing about a guy who’s a writer’s assistant to a boss he loves, he decides to write about a guy who’s a writer’s assistant to a boss… he hates! (Write what you know… with a twist!) And of course, Frasz has a buddy with whom he’s working on said script, and his name is… Travis (Will McFadden, once again).

Are you following this? Like a dog chasing its tail, I’m sure.

That’s the set-up, and what follows is a back-and-forth exploration of office politics, sexual tension and jealousy in the Phraz/Frasz-led world(s) of TV writing. It’s meta in concept, which actually kinda works. But it’s “frazzled” in content and experience, which sadly doesn’t.

Mid-show, I couldn’t help but think whoever wrote this piece must have experience in television. Turns out, writer-director Phinneas Kiyomura has experience as both a TV writer and TV writer’s assistant. (Write what you know… with a twist!) Furthering this meta concept, I also couldn’t help but wonder how much of Phinneas — the ultimate Writer/God of the play — made it into Phrazzled and its universe, intentionally or not. For starters, Phinneas’s (with a “Ph”) very name may have inspired the Phraz/Frasz, Phrazzled/frazzled concept. Beyond that, I have no idea, and that’s probably for the best. That being said, some aspects of the script at least seem to rely on a truthfulness and/or specificity of this world (or personal experience) to the detriment of its story. (Which is ironic, as this concern is discussed as a “no-no” in both internal storylines). For example, “boss from hell” homework assignments play as a playwright’s exaggerated, aired grievances. Likewise, the plays’s bosses (hired TV writers) are actually bungling amateurs, while their truly talented assistants struggle to catch a break.

While we all know talent isn’t always rewarded in Hollywood (and the inept can be unjustly showered in gold), in order to make a story like this work and not come across as rudimentary revenge porn, the writing has to be really, really good. And Phrazzled’s, unfortunately, isn’t.

Despite its protagonist’s quip, “First sign of a troglodyte? Slim vocabulary,” Phrazzled’s amateurish script is littered with mindless expletives. All the time. By everyone. (Fuck is most common, followed by cuntshit and ass). If this were a Tarantino flick, I’d lap it up. Instead, I bristle. These words play as a substitute for substance and prevent differentiation of characters.

Performances, overall, lean heavily over-the-top. The yelling and emphatic gesturing from stage actors to itty-bitty peeps in the balcony is gratingly unnecessary — considering this under-99-seat theater actually has no balcony, and by consequence, no itty-bitties. DeCarlo’s often bug-eyed-angry Phraz is probably the biggest culprit, and could use dialing down both vocally and physically. On a more positive note, Marcks’s writer-boss is sweet yet provocatively playful, while Garcia-Sharp’s writer-boss (in the alternate universe) ranges icy-hard to shattered.

Dean Harada’s music (especially pre-show) is edgy and fun, and Naomi Kasahara’s office design is dingy and effective.

Producers are John Money and Keith Hanson.

Stories on the inner-workings of Hollywood have been told countless times, to varying degrees of success. By their very nature they draw curious crowds. Phrazzled’s metatheatrical premise certainly provides a provocative structure to such familiar territory — yet a shell of a story does not a helluva story make. Had the interior of this piece matched its clever framework, it could have been a delightfully raucous journey behind-the-scenes of Hollywood. Alas, the best writing’s on the walls of this arduous tale.

Now playing through May 21, 2016

Theatre of NOTE
1517 N. Cahuenga Blvd (just north of Sunset)
Hollywood, CA 90028

Fridays and Saturdays – 8:00 PM
Sundays – 7:00 PM

Tickets:
General admission: $25.00
Students and seniors: $20.00

Call 323-856-8611 or visit:  www.theatreofnote.com 

 

2016 C.O.L.A. Exhibition Honors LA Artists – May 15th

gia on the move barnsdall art parkOn May 16th LA’s creative spirit is honored with the 2016 City of Los Angeles (C.O.L.A.) Individual Artists Fellowships


“Los Angeles is the creative crossroads of the world, with a dynamic and diverse arts scene,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The C.O.L.A. grants from L.A.’s Department of Cultural Affairs are an investment in our local artists, and the new works they produce through this program enhance our city as a global destination for art, culture, and creativity.”

Los Angeles boasts a high concentration of artists and is the only City in the country to support individual artists with grants each year.

The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) awards 12 exemplary mid-career artists whose achievements enhance our dynamic and diverse city.

Each artist will present new work created specifically for C.O.L.A., at DCA’s

Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) located at:
4800 Hollywood Boulevard in Barnsdall Art Park
from May 15 through July 3, 2016

Opening Reception is on May 15, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

gia on the move art C.O.L.A. tracey paleoChosen by a team of experts, the 2016 C.O.L.A. award recipients in the visual arts include: Paolo Davanzo, Marsian De Lellis, Keiko Fukazawa, Megan Geckler, Won Ju Lim, Blue McRight, Sandeep Mukherjee, Christine Nguyen, and Jim Skuldt. The 2016 C.O.L.A. award recipients in literature are Sarah Maclay, Claudia Rodriguez, and Lynne Thompson. Each artist will present new work created specifically for C.O.L.A. with a $10,000 grant awarded by DCA.

Kids On Bridges: Something in the Water

gia on the move musicLiverpool’s Kids on Bridges are Christian Bragg, Daniel Rankin and Andrew Culshaw, a trio of Pop Artists producing electro-pop with sound like Phoenix,  MuteMath and Depeche Mode partying with Daft Punk .

Their new single ‘Something in the Water’ is currently receiving airplay across the UK, Europe, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The band’s promotional trail has seen them take in the 58th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.  They sold out iconic LA venue The Viper Room and Tipitinas in New Orleans, and were the UK’s only representatives to play alongside Stevie Wonder at the Special Olympics in LA. The band also beat Nile Rodgers and Grammy Winner Ledisi to the honour of remixing a track for INXS’ ‘Kick 25’ album

‘Something in the Water’ follows the success of Kids on Bridges’ last single ‘When The Needle Drops Featuring Shea Seager’ which charted at number one on Hype Machine. Their remix EP reached number 10 in the UK Dance charts.

Check out their new video which was filmed in Los Angeles:

Find them on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Youtube

Palm Beach Film Festival Winner Highlights Announced

fb52ffa3-04c4-47e9-aa9d-b96f75526a94The 21st Palm Beach International Film Festival (www.pbifilmfest.org) ended dramtically last night by presenting its coveted Jury Award for Best Feature Film to “PO” directed by John Asher.

Winner of the festival’s first ever horror film competition was “The House at the End of Time” directed by Alejandro Hidalgo from Venezuela and best documentary went to “When Elephants Were Young” directed by Patricia Sims from Canada.

The winner of the Jury Award for Best Short Film was “Randy” directed by Shawn Ryan.

#PBIFF2016 @PBIFF

PBIFF President and CEO Jeff Davis and Director of Programming Larry Richman said this year the festival welcomed a record number of more than 150 filmmakers and actors from around the world to present their outstanding works and for the first time winners in the various categories received not only a trophy but a cash prize of $2,000, a sign the Festival is spreading its silver screen wings.

The festival awards included presentation of the first Flossy Award for Lifetime Achievement to Yvonne S. Boice, PBIFF Chair Emeritus, for her years of dedication to making PBIFF one of the world’s most respected film festivals.  The award created by celebrated artist Yaacov Heller was presented to Boice on opening night.

“What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas”…except in Coachella

beerCoachella gets an extra buzz this year as Las Vegas extends the essence of “What Happens Here, Stays Here” (WHHSH) and adult freedom, with an unveiling of  its limited edition #WHHSH Beer this month during the music and arts festivals in Palm Springs, on April 16-17.

Guests will celebrate the craft brew along with performances by chart-topping artists, delicious culinary offerings from top Vegas eateries, beauty services from the leading glam squads of the Strip, surprise celebrity guests and more.

“’What Happens Here, Stays Here’ has always been about the freedom to be and do in Vegas what you can’t at home. We felt that #WHHSH Beer is the perfect embodiment of that and a reminder of what awaits when you embrace the Vegas lifestyle.”

#WHHSH Beer will be the first of Las Vegas’ limited edition #WHHSH signature products to be introduced for a tangible extension of the famous Vegas experience.

coachellaCrafted locally in Las Vegas by Tenaya Creek Brewery, #WHHSH Beer is an easy drinking, pale ale with hints of citrus and pine creating a cool, clean finish. The exclusive beer will only be available at select Las Vegas sponsored events. 

ABOUT THE LVCVA

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is charged with marketing Southern Nevada as a tourism and convention destination worldwide, and also with operating the Las Vegas Convention Center and Cashman Center.  With nearly 150,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas alone and 11 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space citywide, the LVCVA’s mission centers on attracting ever increasing numbers of leisure and business visitors to the area.  For more information, go towww.lvcva.com or www.LasVegas.com.