Tag Archives: Politics

Something to Learn from ‘Obama-ology’ at Skylight Theatre

by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
gia on the move theatre reviews tracey paleo politics

Nicholas Anthony Reid in the American Premiere of OBAMA-OLOGY by Aurin Squire

He wanted to be a part of history and create change. He did.

Obama-olgy now playing at the Skylight Theatre Los Feliz, CA, is not particularly a story about the President or his election campaign but really of the mindset and identity of today’s youth.

Actor Nicholas Anthony Reid (Warren) absolutely embodies a middle-class, college educated, enfranchised African-American, delivering a crystal clear characterization of a young millenial, vibrantly enthusiastic about his goal: to seat this country’s first African-American candidate in the White House as an apogee of modern American History. Every moment he chronicles in his journey of hope deepens our empathetic understanding to every character, even ones we don’t necessarily like at first. And every failure brings us closer to the truth about black minority culture in America.

Naïve and idealistic Warren’s initial exuberance for his new position is quickly replaced with jarring realities about himself compared to the lower class African-American people of Cleveland, Ohio who are far removed from his own  sophisticated upbringing and world views.

Obama-ology is a brilliant comedy that speaks to basic human relationships at its core through Warren’s daily positive and negative community outreach experiences, surface politics at home-base, fear of change, narcissism and critical encounters, all entrenched in campaign agenda.

Inside the impossible and sometimes dangerous life of a volunteer is the ambition of creating something extraordinary. The problem for Warren who has been hired because of his potential marketing & strategy talents however, is that he is completely unrepresentative of the people he must convince to follow him to the polls.

Although for some whites he’s black enough to get suspiciously followed through convenience stores, insulted to his face, regularly ticketed, nearly arrested and almost killed by local police, for being black or simply a proponent of the unwelcome Obama campaign, he isn’t black enough for the locals he needs to recruit. His intelligence, education, status, and speaking style – even the Buddhist prayer beads he wears – are too, uppity, too offensive, too strange to understand or familiar enough to trust.  Stuck between the extremes and not entirely accepted by either, he is forced to question himself.

Obama-ology, simplistically lays down the challenging external complexities, internal emotions and identity issues of young people and especially young black people, who are wading through political/societal muck, and who are attempting to voice important personal insights into the world around them. And although the story may seem like a generational repeat of idealistic youth, its distinction pointedly resides in the hot-bed emotions and environments of the present time.

Very creative direction by Jon Lawrence Rivera who playfully weaves writer Aurin Squire’s earnest script away from heavy-handed political drama and instead offers a moving, digestible narrative in which caricature is mostly avoided. These people are real.

The screen projections throughout are a nicely set device inside the production where ‘stock’ characters offer hilariously unhelpful, pedagoguish canvassing advice. Double-cast roles by the rest of the ensemble, work well. Recommended.

Starring: Brie Eley, Sally Hughes, Kurt Mason Peterson and Nicholas Anthony Reid

For tickets and more information visit:  http://skylighttix.com

Gia #HFF16 Reviews: Politically Challenged

Reviewed by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

gia on the move theatre reviews tracey paleo hollywood fringe festivalAlthough a bit naively written, Politically Challenged has narrative moments of surprise especially when one of two assistant campaign managers outsmarts the other during an election meltdown all too similar to the current 2016 presidential landscape.  It’s a cut-throat tale of two ambitious competitors in a high stakes game.

Ted Larson (Robby Devillez) and Denise Ford (Jamye Grant) are the only two assistant campaign managers left after an off-color comment from congressman John Crest threatens his re-election bid. With only hours to spare before their candidate will be interviewed on TV all the remaining staffers must work together to save the campaign.

This is writer/director/producer Matthew Robinson’s first foray into the world of theater having crossed over from a mostly filmmaker background, interesting in that the action does have a filmic play to it. Most of the time, despite tiny sections of dialog that can be anticipated, Politically Challenged is extremely well put together and exciting with a fluid arc. Beyond the drama onstage it is a course in storytelling.  Great performances all around including Michelle Murphy and Hayes Dunlap who respectively bring the edge and the comedy to this performance.

For tickets and information visit: http://hff16.org/3470

“In Response” An Open Invite from Hollywood’s Towne Street Theatre

In Response

Towne Street Theatre, L.A.’s premiere African-American Theatre Company with Curator Connie Martin Trevino present a special “In Response” Visual Art Exhibit in response to Race Relations & Politics in America at the Stella Adler/LA Art Gallery from April 9 – 24 at Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood, CA 90028

The art exhibit has been specially curated and is meant to continue the dialogue created by the production, “In Response” which will run simultaneously with the exhibit which will be available one hour before show opening, during intermission and one hour after the show ends.

New works were created just for “In Response” and other works are conversations the artists have been working on throughout their career. Nathaniel Bellamy, Barbara Johnson Graham, Roz Myles, John David Trevino, Lamar Usher, and Connie Martin Trevino are the participating artists.  This exhibition will consist of photography, collage, painting, and drawings, and reflects the artists various backgrounds, experiences, and conversations.

“In Response,” is a multi-media, multi-author event told from a historical perspective through poetry, short plays, video and song; a “response” to systemic racism throughout American history.  It will address race relations and politics in America.  It touches on such poignant topics as interracial relationships, slavery, lynchings, the effects of race on public perceptions, job placement, freedom, and life experiences, as well as the hope and optimism for the future of race relations in America.

There will be talkbacks and a call for audience responses after every show.

Dr. Stephanie Leigh Batiste, will lead our talkback on Sunday, April 10th.  Dr. Batiste is Associate Professor in the Departments of Black Studies & English at University of California at Santa Barbara. Her book, “Darkening Mirrors: Imperial Representation in Depression Era African American Performance” (Duke University Press, 2011) is winner of the William Sanders Scarborough Prize for Research in African American Literature and Culture from the Modern Language Association and Honorable Mention for the Book Award from the Association for Theater in Higher Education.

As artists of color, the company felt it had to respond to the recent numerous police shootings and violence against unarmed black men and women, including the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the brutality suffered by African-Americans, beginning with slavery.

As April is also National Poetry Month, Towne Street has invited a number of Spoken Word Artists to share their poetry and feelings about racism in America.

Community Response:  Towne Street Theatre would like to empower the community and engage with their audience on their responses on this topic, each week after the 8:00 p.m. Saturday shows and the 4:00 p.m. Sunday shows. The public is invited to share a poem, a spoken word piece, a letter, or a memory.  The public can submit their ideas to tstsubmit@yahoo.com.

Towne Street Theatre, L.A.’s Premiere African American Theatre Company, was founded in 1993 in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Its mission is to create positive social impact by producing and developing original works reflective of the African American experience. Towne Street continues to be an oasis for creativity and imagination; a theatre that helps to bridge the cultural divide by bringing artists and audiences of all colors and ethnicities together. Originally, located in a downtown loft, the Towne Street Theatre has been in residence at the Stella Adler Theatre/LA in Hollywood since 2004. The 9th Annual TST Ten Minute Play Festival begins in October of 2016.

Tickets for “In Response” are only $8 for the Preview night (April 8th).  For the entire run of the production tickets are $16 General Admission and $12 for Seniors, Students and Groups of 6 or more.

Tickets on sale Now. Get them at http://tstinresponse2.eventbrite.com/

For more information visit our website at townestreetla.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/TowneStreet


Controversial “Mosque Alert” Play Opens in Chicago

Poster art for the stage play, "Mosque Alert." (PRNewsFoto/Silk Road Rising)

Poster art for the stage play, “Mosque Alert.”

“Mosque Alert,” a bold new play by award winning playwright Jamil Khoury, will receive a professional world premiere production, this Spring, from March 24 to May 1, 2016 at Silk Road Rising in The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St, Lower Level, Chicago, IL.

Mosque Alert  tells the story of three fictional families living in Naperville, Illinois, whose lives are forever changed by a proposed Islamic Center on the site of a beloved local landmark. The play was inspired by the 2010 “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy in New York City.

“If Mosque Alert was relevant when I first started, that relevance has since exploded. Today the play exists within a cultural zeitgeist animated by fears of immigrants, fears of Muslims, demographic anxiety attacks, and calls to erect walls and impose bans—a more optimistic read is that of one big messy America struggling to work it out for the better,” says playwright Jamil Khoury.

Unlike most plays, Mosque Alert was developed through an open and public workshop process, originally conceived as an online video-based civic engagement project.

Director Edward Torres, who returned to his native Chicago from New York City where he recently directed Macbeth for the Public Theater, reflects on the themes of the play and says,

“Mosque Alert gives voice to multiple American perspectives and exposes the fears at the heart of intolerance.”

Over the last two years, Khoury has adapted the project into a stage play by working in communities with both Muslim and non-Muslim participants. Over 2,500 individuals have participated in the new play’s development and have expressed their surprise at how closely the play reflects real life scenarios.

“When I launched Mosque Alert as a digital online initiative nearly five years ago,” says Khoury, “how could I have guessed that my three fictional families in Naperville, Illinois, with intertwined lives and competing worldviews, would drive a story so reflective of actual mosque battles and presidential politics in 2016? Mosque Alert, I believe, not only responds to the current climate, but gives new spin to the adage ‘life imitates art.'”

Playwright Jamil Khoury, author of "Mosque Alert." (PRNewsFoto/Silk Road Rising)

Playwright Jamil Khoury, author of “Mosque Alert.” (PRNewsFoto/Silk Road Rising)

Mosque Alert explores the intersections of zoning and Islamophobia with humor, family drama, and refreshingly blunt honesty. The play provides no easy answers. Instead, it offers insights into conversations taking place within segments of the Muslim American community, the challenges faced by their allies, and the political beliefs that have contributed to a climate of fear.

The play isn’t one sided, either. Instead, it works to ascribe integrity to a wide spectrum of perspectives, even those we may find objectionable, and it presents characters that are complex, flawed, and ultimately relatable.

“With Mosque Alert we’re seizing the gray areas,” says Khoury, “and inviting audiences to grapple with unsettling truths about our post-9/11 world: namely, the resistance to mosque-building in communities across the US, and what that resistance tells us about ourselves.”

Mosque Alert performs from March 24 to May 1, 2016 at Silk Road Rising in The Historic Chicago Temple Building, 77 W. Washington St, Lower Level, Chicago, IL.

For more information, including purchasing tickets online, visit http://www.mosquealert.org.

About Silk Road Rising

Silk Road Rising creates live theatre and online videos that tell stories through primarily Asian American and Middle Eastern American lenses. In representing communities that intersect and overlap, we advance a polycultural worldview. For more information on Silk Road Rising visit http://www.silkroadrising.org.

Hungry for a Great Story? EAT YOUR WORDS

Eat Your WordsEat your words is back on February 5th!  If you haven’t participated in this mashup of stories, chefs, bartenders and urban foodies, this week’s event will make you salivate with stories inspired by a food politics.  It’ll be the best meal and food memory you ever ate!
 A Live Storytelling Event hosted by Greg Walloch Eat Your Words will be an intimate intimate evening of storytelling in the tradition of: 
The Moth and
This American Life
Each show features a rotating cast of the city’s most
outstanding storytellers and comedians with special guest appearances.
“L.A. audiences don’t seem to actually eat very much food, so they might as well come to a show where they can hear all about it.” 

– Greg Walloch on Eat Your Words at The Standard, Hollywood

The Standard Hollywood
Cactus Lounge 8300 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90069
February 5th 2015 ongoing the first Thursday of each month.


TICKET INFO: The event is free. RSVP is strongly encouraged: hollywoodRSVP@standardhotel.com

This month’s storytellers include:

Steven Brydle
@midnight, FunnyorDie

Lex Vaughn
films, Maddy, Short Bus
Greg Cope White
On the Menu, memoir The Pink MarineChris Gorham and Anel Lopez Gorham
Covert Affairs, PopularAlec Mapa
Ugly Betty, The Tonight Show

Hosted by GREG WALLOCH – 

The Moth, The Howard Stern Show
Produced by Greg Walloch + Zachary Foster + Adam Gould + Dave Srock 

Is The Cost Too High for the Garment Industry?


Fresh off the heels of National Women’s Day, the celebration which began in the 1900’s as an initiative by women for  fair compensation in the workplace, among other issues, Gia On The Move is getting a small dose of modern day awareness on the subject.

Now, it’s Fashion Week here in LA.  And a lot of what we see in this city are Indie brands that are gaining ground through not only local support, but local workers and technology breakthroughs that have begun to put newbie designers on a level playing field, according to Csaba Fikke, Publisher and Founder of The Los Angeles Fashion Magazine (more on what Csaba is doing to push that along in a positive way, later).

So it bears understanding the state of the Garment Industry and what we are really up against.  Unfortunately, I’ve begun to receive far too many press releases lately regarding worker injustices.  It’s the down side of selling the dream of beauty and hip/cool.

Below is the latest.  Gia On The Move makes no claims to accuracy or the intention of sending us this information other than to “make it known”, however, this is from the US Labor Department’s website and  linked to the department’s garment industry enforcement actions in Los Angeles from last summer and fall. Following is a blog by Patricia Smith talking about the daily reality of clothing shopping and how it impacts her own family.  Worth the read.

News release:

Federal court orders Forever 21 to surrender supply chain information subpoenaed by US Department of Labor

Forever 21LOS ANGELES – U.S. District Court Judge Margaret Morrow has ordered Los Angeles-based apparel retailer Forever 21 to produce documents demanded by an administrative subpoena issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. The order is the latest in a series of actions to arise from the department’s continuing effort to address widespread violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s minimum wage, overtime and record-keeping provisions in the Southern California apparel industry.

“Garment workers historically have been subjected to exploitation and paid substandard wages,” said Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith. “The order underscores that everyone in the supply chain has a responsibility to ensure that workers receive the federal minimum wage and earned overtime, and it demonstrates our commitment to enforcing those protections despite tactics designed to obscure the employment relationship.”




Fair Garments…Forever

by Patricia Smith on March 14

Parents have a lot on their minds when they’re out shopping for their families. Price is often a big factor, and teens can be especially conscious about brands and style. I’ve spent a long time in government, trying to make sure that workers get paid the minimum wage, so I try to spend some time thinking about the workers behind the clothes, too.

As I’ve written before, the Labor Department is responsible for making the laws that protect workers count. And that means strong, agile, innovative enforcement practices that hold employers accountable for violations of the law. One of our challenges in providing workers with the protections to which they’re entitled is knowing how and where to apply the law by making an assessment of who bears the legal responsibility for any violations that we find. Accurate, thorough information about a business’ structure is critical to overcoming this challenge.



International Women’s Day – Remember Your Rights


International Women’s Day traces its origins back to a protest by women garment workers in New York (circa 1908) against poor working conditions. At its core, International Women’s Day was about the right to work – and the right to work in fair conditions, be properly compensated for labor, and legally organized in open forums.

2013 International Women’s Day

The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th during International Women’s Year 1975. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2013 is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women,” while International Women’s Day 2013 has declared the year’s theme as The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum.

On 2013 International Women’s Day, the [International Committee of the Red Cross](ICRC) is drawing attention to the plight of women in prison. All over the world, women and girls living behind bars often face particular hardship in terms of protection, privacy and access to basic services, including health care.[wikipedia]