Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Arlington Theatrical Treats: WSC Avant Bard & Signature

I hope you can take a few hours out of your busy life and enjoy some local theatre in the musical sense. Fortunately, for us we have three current shows to pick from in Arlington.

These are: The Bacchae by Euripides and The Tooth of Crime by Sam Shepard at the WSC Avant Bard Theatre at the Artisphere in Rosslyn and Xanadu book by Douglas Carter Beane and music & lyrics by Jeff Lynne and John Farrar at Signature Theatre in Shirlington, here in Arlington, VA.

If you are not used to classical theatre--the Greeks, that is--no need to worry, as the WSC Avant Bard is just that avant theatrically, and so you will be enthralled by this production and the music. I need to mention Nicholas Rudall who did the translation and Mariano Vales who composed the original music for this production. The music in and of itself is a character and this involves the whole cast as they dance and use the stage as an instrument. Aysha Upchuch had her work cut out for her as the characters move about the fairly simple but narrow stage--all the time keeping the audience engrossed. The vision that Steven Scott Mazzola had for the play not only works but it has me wanting to go back to re-see this once-in-a-lifetime play that I will not forget for some time, if ever. The use of actors as musicians and later as artistic puppets is clever and works visually while keeping to the Greek use of masks.

Also featured at WSC Avant Bard is The Tooth of Crime with music and words by T. Bone Burnett which are awesome. The funky production moves us back to the 1960s to Shepard's earlier works. This poetic/musical bar fight of sorts is directed by Kathleen Akerley.

I have to add here that it took a while to figure out what was happening and the first act moves a bit slowly but please hang on for the second act as you will not be disappointed, both musically and dramatically. Perhaps it helps to know some Spanish that is only hinted at in terms of meaning; for example, "viejo" = "old man" / "brujo" = "witch doctor" / "sangre" = "blood" / "hermano" = "brother" but one can still get the gist of Shepard's intent.

The musical "cock fight," if you will, between Hoss (John Tweel) the main character and Crow (Tom Carman) is truly worth a repeat visit. During this extensive duo Tom Carman soars as not only does he have a great voice but is able to use his body to pull off the rock star charisma and the costumes help exceedingly well. Keep a watch on Carman because I foresee great things from him in the future, not only here but in New York where he has relocated. Watching him brought thoughts of David Bowie, Sting, Prince--yes, that's right of that quality.

So what are you waiting for, call the Artisphere (703.875.1100) and see either play or both.

And not to be outdone, Signature Theatre is currently running Xanadu directed by Matthew Gardiner who also did the choreography, mind you at some times the whole cast is on roller skates. As a theatre goer, you can never go wrong by catching a play at Signature and the staging and set design truly move the audience.

I saw it on opening night of the previews and perhaps the lead singer had allergies but her opening song was a bit flat but fortunately she was able to recover later in the performance. It's a bit hard to sing in the shadows of Olivier Newton John but the energy is there in the cast members. Hopefully, the cast has warmed up and is ready to go. Catch this and go back a bit to Xanadu.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Novel Award with 3K Prize: Deadline May 30th

8th Annual Gival Press Novel Award

Deadline: May 30, 2012 (postmarked) Our dates never change, if the date falls on a Sunday or Memorial Day, then Monday or the next day (respectively) becomes the default postmarked date.

Guidelines: Submissions of a previously unpublished original (not a translation) novel in English must be approximately 30,000 to 100,000 words of high literary quality, typed, double-spaced on one side of the paper only, with word count in the upper left hand side of the first page, along with the title; please bind the ms with a clip or rubber band. The author's name should not appear on the numbered pages of the ms. Author should keep a copy of the submission as it will not be returned.
Please be sure that your package is securely sealed.

Author Identification: Submit name, address, telephone number, email address on a separate page, along with the title of the novel submitted.
A short bio should also be included.
If the manuscript wins, the author must make the manuscript available to Gival Press on an IBM-compatible CD or USB in Rich Text Format (RTF)—this refers to how one saves the document on one's computer disk.

Reading fee: $50.00 (USD) by check or money order drawn on an American bank for each novel submitted. Payable to: Gival Press, LLC.
International entrants must send a check drawn on a USA bank routed through a USA address, such as Bank of America; no international money orders are acceptable.
Please note that Gival Press can also accept the entry free by major credit card; however, we only take credit card information by phone (703.351.0079).

Mail to: Robert L. Giron, Editor
Gival Press Novel Award

Gival Press, LLC PO Box 3812
Arlington, VA 22203.

Notification of the Winner: Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) for notification of the winner or visit our website (, where the winner and finalists will be announced.
We try our best to announce the winner in the fall of the same year. Unfortunately it takes time to read and judge the entries and to contact the individuals involved.

Prize: Author will receive $3,000.00 and his/her novel will be published by Gival Press. He/she will receive 20 copies of the publication. A standard contract is offered.

Judging: Novels will be judged anonymously and the decision of the judges will be final. The final judge is announced when the winner has been determined.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Thank you, Mr. President!

I am absolutely thrilled and thankful to President Obama who has spoken up for the rights of Americans who by our Constitution should be granted the same rights as other citizens of the USA.

The point that so many Americans fail to realize is that civil rights must not be governed from a religious base, for to do that would put us back when not only the USA but many European countries endorsed and in fact justified the enslavement of Africans from a Christian base.

Imagine if we still had slavery today and all Americans had to vote whether to grant Africans and Americans of African descent the right to full citizenship in this country. Think about this for a few minutes: Who wouldn't like to have a personal slave to clean, cook, and do whatever needed to be done and his/her payment would only be minimum pay if any, some food to eat, and a place to sleep--and no work benefits whatsoever? Let's not give major corporations this option because I am sure many would jump on this option if there were not laws outlawing such injustices.

I was disgusted to read in the Washington Post today of local African Americans who say they cannot support a President who speaks out for the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender Americans yet they themselves have benefited from the Civil Rights Movement which granted them equal rights--this is the same principle that all Americans must be respected and granted equal protection by the Constitution that President Obama is evoking and recognizing. Thank God he has the courage to speak the truth and hopefully end bigotry that seems to be clothed in religious hypocrisy.

I am a very spiritual person who was raised Roman Catholic but I cannot endorse the double standard and premise that some Americans must not receive the same protection of the Law of the USA. I too have been discriminated against even in the court of law because of who I am and recently specifically by the same community of Washington, DC that screams for equal justice and protection by the law yet who have been adamant about discriminating against individuals because of whom they choose to love and live with.

Not too long ago, I had a student in my class at Montgomery College-Takoma Park/Silver Spring state after a fellow student gave a presentation about gays that if "[he] knew his daughter were a lesbian [he] would kill her." This very student who admitted to being a Christian had the audacity to make this statement public about his own flesh and blood--what would happen to others who are not his own flesh and blood?

Murder is murder and those who use religion to justify discrimination or hostility against anyone are false in my opinion. My reply to my student would be: Should God then do the same to you as you do to others?

Does the principle: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you
have any religious / spiritual / legal / cultural truth?

So thank you, President Obama, for setting aside politics and speaking up for the equal protection of all Americans regardless of whom they might love.

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