This past Saturday, the CW became the last broadcast television network to cut Saturday morning cartoons. The CW is replacing its Saturday cartoon programming, called “The Vortexx,” with “One Magnificent Morning,” a five-hour bloc of non-animated TV geared towards teens and their families.
Those of us who remember the age of three and only three networks, also recall fondly that, once upon a time the only way you could watch animated cartoons was to wake up on Saturday morning and catch what ABC, NBC or CBS had on offer. Here is what a typical Saturday line up looked like when I was my son Keelans’ age. It includes classics like Bugs Bunny and Woody Woodpecker mixed in with more circa 70’s fair, like The Scooby Doo/Dynamutt Hour, and a personal favorite, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, which came on so late, 12 noon, that my mom was usually hectoring me by that time to get outside because I had already wasted too much of “perfectly nice day” watching that “idiot box.”
“But Mom! It’s Fat Albert!”
Birth of an Institution
Happily, theatre—as specifically embodied by director/producer Jim Jewell— did not let the tradition of Saturday morning cartoons go gently into the good night. Instead, Jewell saw the demise coming, and made a plan to fill the gap with short plays written by teams of local Northwest playwrights and their kids. “Saturday mornings used to belong to kids,” says Jewell. “I remember waiting all week for that one day I could binge on cartoons for hours. So, we wanted to try and create that same feeling with some fun live theater, and what better way to understand what kind of art kids want to see than engaging them in the creation of it?”
The results of Jewell’s brainstorm will be making their world premiere over three Saturdays this November, at the Pocket Theatre [http://thepocket.org/] on Phinney Ridge in Seattle.
My sons, Declan and Keelan, and I teamed up to write “Magical Man and the Space Needle of Hideousness”, just one episode in the continuing adventures of Magical Man and his million-plus year sojourn in our paltry four palpable dimensions.
MAGICAL MAN: I call myself Magical Man. Yeah, I know it sounds stupid, but I can’t say my actual name in your universe. There aren’t enough dimensions.
I’ve been in your world for one million very, VERY boring years.
Today I will do what I have waited all those years to accomplish. Confront Roger Wickersham, bring him to justice for his transgressions. . . .
It certainly doesn't hurt that Cody Smith and Samuel Hagen will be staring as Magical Man and Roger Wickersham, Evil PhD, respectively.
Other playwright/kid combinations include:
“Don’t Touch That Dial!” by Penelope Venturini and Marcy Rodenborn
“Roderick Saves the World (or at least the Day)” by Finn Judd and Maria Glanz
“Feline Fitness” by Olivia and Jim Jewell
“The Family Jynx” by Jack and Joe Zavadil
The plays will be brought to life by a talented ensemble, including Val Brunetto, Sam Hagen, D’Arcy Harrison, Cole Hornaday, Kacey Shiflet, and Cody Smith, with a special guest appearance by Paul Shipp. Co-directed by Shawn Belyea and Jim Jewell.
Here are the details broken out real simple like:
What? Saturday Morning Cartoons – Live!
Who? B-Sides & Rarities, a Partner Project of The 14/48 Projects, in association with Pocket Theater
Where? The Pocket Theater, 8312 Greenwood Ave N
When? November 8, 15, 22 @ 10:30am
How? Tickets for Saturday Morning Cartoons are available at The Pocket Theater website (http://thepocket.org/see/) and are $10 adults/$5 kids online (or $14/$7 at the door). Seating is general admission and all children MUST be accompanied by an adult
Parents, I promise you a good time will be had by all!
children's theatre, children's theatreSaturday Morning Cartoons, Cody Smith, Cody Smith, Cole Hornaday, Cole Hornaday, Don’t Touch That Dial!, Don’t Touch That Dial!, D’Arcy Harrison, D’Arcy Harrison, Fat Albert, Fat Albert, Feline Fitness, Feline Fitness, Jim Jewell, Jim Jewell, Joe Zavadil
Val Brunetto, Joe Zavadil
Val Brunetto, Kacey Shiflet, Kacey Shiflet, locally grown plays, locally grown plays, Marcy Rodenborn, Marcy Rodenborn, Paul Shipp, Paul Shipp, Penelope Venturini, Penelope Venturini, Roderick Saves the World (or at least the Day) Maria Glanz, Roderick Saves the World (or at least the Day) Maria Glanz, Sam Hagen, Sam Hagen, Saturday Morning Cartoons, Shawn Belyea, Shawn Belyea, The Family Jynx, The Family Jynx, Theatre, Theatre
Took me two minutes tops over at Brown Paper Tickets. You better do the same soon or you could be wearing your hoodie out in the cold.
Here’s the all the latest updated information from producer Tyrone Brown.
An Awareness and Fundraising Event for the Trayvon Martin Foundation
Seattle, WA – May 11, 2012. Brownbox Theatre presents HOODIES UP! Featuring original short plays written by seven Seattle-based playwrights. The production will be presented for one performance at 7:30pm on Friday, May 18, 2012 at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center in historic Columbia City.
The playwrights charge for HOODIES UP!? Write a short play “inspired” by the Trayvon Martin tragedy, no more than 10 minutes in length, utilizing any writing style, and include at least one “hooded” character:
“We Have So Much To Learn” by Kathya Alexander “Bottom Line” by Jose' Amador “Is This The Day, Walking While Black?” by Najee Sui-Chang “Trees In The Window” by Lois Mackey “White Boy Can Take A Punch” by Paul Mullin “An/Other” by Nick Stokes “End Of The Rainbow” by Sharon N. Williams
The HOODIES UP! plays feature direction by Jose’ Amador, Maggie Holmes, Pearl Klein, Danny Long, and Andy Jensen. The production will feature the talents of 15-20 local actors, designers, and community members representing a variety of social, political, and cultural backgrounds.
HOODIES UP! is an “awareness and fundraising” event. All ticket sales and funds collected will be donated to the Justice for Trayvon Martin Foundation - http://justicetm.org/ - as part the Advocacy Campaign for Truth by Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin.
Performance and Ticket Information
Date: Friday, May 18, 2012 at 7:30pm
Venue: Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 South Alaska Street, Seattle, WA 98118
Web and Phone: www.rainiervalleyculturalcenter.org / (206) 725-7517
Andy Jensen, Brown Box Theatre, Hoodies Up!, Jose' Amador
“Is This The Day, Kathya Alexander, Lois Mackey, Najee Sui-Chang, Paul Mullin, Sharon N. Williams, Trayvon Martin, Tyrone Brown, Walking While Black?”, “An/Other” by Nick Stokes, “Bottom Line”, “End Of The Rainbow”, “Trees In The Window”, “We Have So Much To Learn”, “White Boy Can Take A Punch”
Like any good theatre town, Seattle tends to lavish plenty of hype on the inaugural production of a new company when that company is made up of talented veterans who have proven themselves on other stages around town. Pressure mounts on the new ensemble to make their kick-off show one of the best audiences have ever seen, thus assuring crucial momentum for the future. Of course, the inherent danger lies in forgetting that no matter how earth-shatteringly brilliant your first play is, the primary law of show business remains as immutable as gravity: you are only as good as your last gig. A company that can never live up to the promise of its premiere production is a company destined to be loved like a first crush: fondly, but weakly, and with an ardor that fades even as the intervening years serve to burnish or blur the memory of love-at-first-sight’s luster.
Happily, through luck, hard work and great leadership, the Sandbox Artists Collective has managed to escape that fate with its quarterly audio offering, Sandbox Radio Live. Don’t get me wrong. We had a great initial outing, back in July of last year with our first show. And lots of delicious hype to go with it. But I don’t know anyone who would argue we couldn’t do better. And better we did, with the second iteration, a horror-themed show turned out just in time for Halloween.
With this third episode, however, every member of the team— writers, actors, musicians and production crew — stretched out into strong new strides: going beyond what we had done before with a confidence that surely grew out of our prior successes and failures. Everyone seems to agree that Episode Three, “To Hell With Love” was our best show yet. And best of all, now that the podcast is ready, you can listen and decide for yourself by clicking here.
For me, the evening did not contain a single clunker. I loved every segment, from Anita Montgomery’s hilarious plumbing of the particular hell that is on-line dating in “F- You, Cupid!” to Elizabeth Heffron and Leslie Law’s stirring tribute to the great radio drama talent, Norman Corwin, in the show’s finale, “Corwin on Corwin.” And I will never forget when Elizabeth Heffron’s delightful sex romp in space “T-Minus” gloriously dissolved into an Offenbach duet sung by Law and the shimmering soprano Heather Curtis Mullin. As Heather herself will tell, you it’s no great accomplishment that this brought me to tears. I’ll cry at a cell phone commercial. But that doesn’t diminish the welling of awe I felt witnessing that unrecoverable moment of live theatre.
Wait! What did I just say? “Unrecoverable?” Bullcrap! Due to the greater glory of Sandbox Radio you can go and recover it right now, here! (Act I, 52:50).
And here’s a list of all the evening’s pieces:
Episode 3, “To Hell With Love” recorded at West of Lenin on January 23, 2012
@1:55 "F-You, Cupid!" by Anita Montgomery @13:28 PSA-Coal Free Washington by Vincent Delaney @16:45 "Lost Love Blues" by Charles Leggett @22:53 "Markheim: Episode 3" by Paul Mullin @37:30 "T-Minus" by Elizabeth Heffron
@0:00 “Angry” by Charles Leggett @2:48 "Charlotte Doesn't Clean Here Anymore" by Scot Augustson @17:55 PSA-Communities in Schools of Seattle by Vincent Delaney @21:08 "Corwin by Corwin" by Elizabeth Heffron @40:03 Finale/Credits
True to the night’s pattern, my own piece, the third installment of the noir angel series, Markheim, was the best one yet. If I can modestly say so, I am really starting to find the action of the story. And the actors, foley artists and musicians have modulated the series’ unique and tricky tone to pitch perfection. As always, I’m providing the script for Episode Three below the fold.
Anita Montgomery, Annette Toutonghi, Charles Leggett, Charles Leggett, Charlotte Doesn't Clean Here Anymore, Corwin by Corwin, Cupid!, Dan Tierney, Dan Tierney and Rob Witmer., Dave Pascal, Elizabeth Heffron, Eric Ray Anderson, F-You, Heather Curtis Mullin, Kathryn Van Meter. Jose Gonzales, Ki Gottberg, Larry Paulsen, Lost Love Blues, Markheim, Markheim: Episode 3, Mik Kuhlman, Norman Corwin, Rik Deskin, Sarah Harlett, Scot Augustson, T-Minus, The Sandbox Radio Orchestra, Tracy Hyland, Vincent Delaney
Last night I joined a small but extremely energized group of theatre professionals at the second iteration of “Seattle Theatre: What’s Next?” hosted by Jim Jewell and Peggy Gannon. I want to talk more about what was discussed and what action items came out of that discussion, but I think I will wait until Jim publishes the official minutes. Until then, here’s a transcript of the three minute spiel that I was asked to give on what’s currently exciting me about Seattle Theatre:
Be careful what you wish for, sure. But when it comes to Seattle Theater, it’s also wise to be specific what you wish for. For a good while now Seattle’s Big House theatres have been gradually increasing the percentage of local actors they hire. And rightfully they have then touted this change as a noble step in the direction of locally grown theatre. But let’s be honest. We all know one of two things happened. Either the artistic administrators of Seattle’s Big Houses all got together in a room and decided, “Hey, we should do the right thing and hire more local actors.” Or... they all independently realized that in the current depression it was becoming cost prohibitive to fly in every actor from New York or LA. I’ll leave it to you to decide which scenario seems more plausible. But look, when a good thing happens it’s churlish to over-analyze the reasons for it.
The problem is that using local actors isn’t enough. And so when we advocate for locally grown theatre, we need to be more specific… Whole Theatre. Theatre that is soup to nuts local: written by local talent in collaboration with local talent. Zero degrees of separation among everyone from the playwright to the director to the designers to the actors to the audiences.
Zero degrees of separation.
If what I am proposing sounds radical or overly ambitious, consider this: we do it all the time. In fact, if I can brag a little, as a playwright and an actor, I have done very little in the last five years that hasn’t been Whole Theatre. Going back to 2006, there was the Empty Space production of Louis Slotin Sonata. When the floor needed final painting, Allison Narver was there in jeans, helping designer Gary Smoot to finish it. I’m trying to picture one of Seattle’s Big House artistic directors doing that. To be fair, I’m sure there are union rules against it.
And most recently there was Newswrights United producing two living newspapers, researched, written and produced by Seattleites, about Seattleites, for Seattleites.
And of course it’s not just stuff I’m working on. There’s the incomparable 14/48, perhaps the most consistently exciting weekend of theatre in town. All local actors, directors, designers and crew mixing it up on plays written by local playwrights in the space of maybe ten hours, tops.
There’s Sandbox Radio which just staged its second all original slate of short pieces, combining some of Seattle’s best actors with the best playwrights and musicians.
And right on the horizon is Rebecca Olson’s new project Custom Made Plays, commissioning local playwrights to write for specific local actors. I’m happy to be the playwright on the pilot play, writing for Rebecca herself and Hana Lass.
Whole Theatre. Theatre that hasn’t had the yummy good-for-you stuff processed out of it. Non-corporate theatre that ain’t stale from being packaged three years ago in a theatre scene 2,700 miles away by MFA’s who have never stepped foot in your town. Whole Theatre. Seattle’s crawling with it. And surely it gives us the most solid shot at World Class.
(I want to do a version of the poster that saysEnjoy Whole Theatre! Or as Shakespeare, Molière and Chekhov called it, “Theatre.”)
14/48, Custom Made Plays, Etta Lilienthal, Gary Smoot, Hana Lass, hiring local actors, Jim Jewell, Living newspaper, locally grown plays, Locally grown theatre, Louis Slotin Sonata, NewsWrights United, Peggy Gannon, Printer's Devil, Rebecca Olson, Sandbox Radio, Scot Augustson, Shadow Odyssey, The Ten Thousand Things, Whole Theatre, World Class Theatre, zero degrees of separation