Genuine entertainment at ArtsWest Theatre’s After Hours with Mathew Wright

Originally published in the West Seattle Herald 07/23/15

ArtsWest Theatre’s 2014-2015 season saw new faces—both on and off the stage—and record attendance. The production team, lead by new artistic director Mathew Wright, earned their traditional summer break between seasons. Instead, it’s cabaret!

Wright had this idea. Back in college, he and his friend Adam used to buy a case a beer on a Friday night, break into the Fine Arts building on campus, sit down at a piano, and sing show tunes into the night. It didn’t matter that Wright was a self-taught pianist, not classically trained. He banged merrily away and retains a fondness for those kinds of moments that exemplify the reason he taught himself to play the piano in the first place: to hear the music.

Also back in college, Wright watched repeatedly a DVD entitled, The Leading Ladies of Broadway, featuring beloved Broadway stars, like Ethel Merman, performing as themselves.

These experiences were the inspiration for ArtsWest Theatre’s current production: After Hours with Mathew Wright: The Leading Ladies of Seattle. There are two parts to the show: in one, Wright accompanies his ladies on the piano from show tune to show tune. In the other, Wright guides his ladies through interviews about the course of their careers. Over the course of the evening, Wright intermittently moves between these two show pieces.

Audiences can look forward to the genuineness of two performers stripped of character and dramatic context. Glamorous they may be, but their interaction is so casual that the audience comes away more with the feeling of having glimpsed two kids playing dress-up and belting out their favorite singles. Those two kids also just happen to be highly talented and practiced professionals.

It’s a performance that exposes the artists as artists, in the best way possible. Song to song, you can see the shift in the performer’s expression, hear her round or sharpen her voice to the character of the song. It’s an impressive act to see, and at the same time has an air of vulnerability. The first leading lady to perform, Sarah Rose Davis, admits, “Having performed for years now, this has been one of the few things that still makes me nervous. And being nervous is good. It brings you in tune with your work.”

“I see theatre as sharing,” Wright explains. “Now that I’ve been here for a year, I’ve come to see our audience as friends and conversation partners.” And what better to connect than converse about the craft itself?

One show out of five down, After Hours is a hit that has already inspired requests from the audience. The Leading Gentlemen of Seattle is tentatively scheduled for the fall, and Wright is also thinking about a Leading Couples.

The Leading Ladies will be performed at ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery (4711 California Ave SW) Monday nights from July 20th through August 17th at 7:30pm. General admission is $25 per show or $100 for the series. Eleven tables for two, featuring complimentary San Pellegrino, cookies, and flickering candlelight, are $75 per show or $300 for the series. Tickets are on sale at the box office or at http://www.artswest.org/theatre/buy-tickets/

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West Seattle Street Fair 2015

The weekend before last I had the pleasure of taking a day to vender-browse and people-watch at the annual summer street fair of the neighborhood I grew up in, West Seattle. While there, in between running into old friends, eating ice cream, and trying on floppy hats, I found myself dog-watching as well. I tried to render their experience of the day, which seemed to be particularly characterized by the heat, smells, joy, and human feet.

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Purple Haze Lavender Festival 2015

I’m grateful to have been able to spend the weekend at the Purple Haze Lavender Festival in beautiful Sequim, WA with my friends Sunny, Josh, and Krista. I soaked up some sun, drank gallons of lavender lemonade, and helped tend the booth for Sunny’s herbalist shop, The Hidden Alchemist. I also took pictures:

Sunny's hair

Master herbalist Sunny Savina, eyes on the road.

Joshua's shirt

Journeyman Joshua in his festive shirt.

Krista wind

Apprentice Krista, the wind in her hair.

Lavender perfume

Lavender perfume by the Hidden Alchemist.

Product

All-natural, hand-made tinctures, teas, elixirs, and lotions by the Hidden Alchemist.

Lavender syrup

Journeyman Joshua pouring samples of lavender syrup by the Hidden Alchemist.

The Hidden Alchemist

Master herbalist Sunny Savina and her apprentice Krista of the Hidden Alchemist.

Ferry music

Also, music…

Ferry hugs

…hugs…

Fairy people

…and fairy people.

 

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Keep fighting for your innocence

Originally published on 23 June 2015 by CNN Opinions here.


The first time I attended the Innocence Network Conference in 2014, I had to be coaxed into going. Greg Hampikian, director of the Idaho Innocence Project, informed me that not only was the conference going to be held in Portland, Oregon — a mere three-hour drive from where I lived in Seattle — but it was also about time that I met the crew. It’s all love! Hampikian promised. But I wasn’t sure.

The notoriety of my case made me feel claustrophobic. Could I handle walking into a room full of hundreds of people who might judge me? More importantly, I was not yet exonerated. I had, in fact, been very recently re-convicted. Did I even belong? At first glance, the conference was not only a nerve-wracking ride I had never been on, but I didn’t know if I met the height requirement.

The Innocence Network, it turned out, had a term for this: “still fighting.” That is, not “officially innocent.”

Unlike me, there are many innocent people who do not find the clear, satisfying justice of exoneration. Sometimes, a prosecutor can be made to see that there were deficiencies with a conviction, but may not believe — or want to admit — that the conviction was wrong.

In such cases, the Innocence Project can help people achieve freedom only by reaching an agreement with the prosecutor short of full exoneration, such as for “time served.” If the client agrees, she is freed, but she faces, as I was facing, the prospect of having to suffer indefinitely the disparity between a recognized, official verdict of guilt and the unrecognized, unofficial fact of one’s innocence.

Convinced by Hampikian’s optimism, I did attend. And I’m so glad I did because he was right: the people involved in the Innocence Project are incredible. They embraced me as a little sister. They assured me I was safe, that nothing was expected of me, that everyone was just pleased to finally get to know me.

I found a community brimming with love and understanding. That community has supported, and continues to support, me and countless others wrongfully convicted. The innocent individual who has not yet been exonerated — even more than the exoneree — is the symbol of the Innocence Project, because before the world can make your innocence official, someone must fight for it.

At the time of the case against Raffaele Sollecito and me in Italy, there was no Innocence Project in Italy. There was no organization that championed individual cases of actual innocence and advocated — through research, education and legislation — against the causes of wrongful conviction. The Italian Innocence Project exists as of 2015 and consists of just two legal experts, for now.

But the Innocence Network, the cooperative conglomeration of state-by-state Innocence Projects here in the United States, has existed since the first project was founded by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City in 1992. Since its founding, 329 people have been exonerated in the United States, 20 of whom were on death row. The Innocence Project was directly involved in 176 of those cases. Equally important, it has helped to find 140 real perpetrators, bringing justice to the victims.

The Innocence Project not only works to overturn wrongful convictions of individual innocents, but also analyzes the causes of convictions that have been proven wrongful. It works to implement best practices and legislation that would help prevent future wrongful convictions, including: allowing convicts to carry out post-conviction testing, such as DNA testing; preservation of evidence; reforming eyewitness practices; recording interrogations to protect against false confessions/admissions; and abolishing the death penalty.

Finally, the organization works to pass legislation that would provide financial compensation to the victims of wrongful conviction who, along with their freedom, lost their financial security to years of debt and inertia.

The victims of wrongful conviction are deserving of justice and help. The dedicated persons involved in Innocence Projects throughout the United States, and now throughout the world, provide the necessary resources for those wrongfully convicted to be set free.

They also provide the crucial network of support for those set free to reclaim their lives in freedom—something I was reminded of when I attended the recent Innocence Network conference in 2015, fully exonerated and eager to give back the support I have received to those who are still fighting.

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After War of the Encyclopeadists

Christopher Robinson & Gavin Kovite

Gavin Kovite (left) and Christopher Robinson (right) cuddling with a copy of War of the Encyclopeadists. Photo by Amanda Knox.

An interview with Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite about what comes next

I think there were four kinds of scotch. The reason I’m not completely certain about that number is because I am certain we each had a glass of each. Discussing characters, conclusions, and the measure of literary success degenerated into comparisons of Star Trek: The Next Generation to Moby Dick, a trip to QFC for roast chicken, a roof-top hang-out overlooking the Space Needle, and finally, a quiet meandering back to our respective Capitol Hill apartments in the wee hours of the next morning. This was the context of my interview with Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite about War of the Encyclopeadists, published May 19th. What follows is what fans can look forward to next:

Kovite: We’re going to write a book about Amazon in Detroit.

Why?

Kovite: Detroit because Detroit is super interesting. And also Amazon is super interesting. And Amazon is developing drones, right? And because of the plight of the economic issues in Detroit right now…The idea is that, in the near future, somehow Amazon gets the FAA of Detroit and Michigan to carve out a few blocks that so they can do a beta testing.

Robinson: They’re only like a year away from actual deliveries. It’s set near enough in the future that we’re going to have to be open to revising the concept as the future catches up. We want to be topical. We want to deal with race and class and the internet economy and the efflorescence of arts cultures. These things are combined in this complicated nexus in Detroit right now.

Who are the characters you’re grounding the reader in?

Robinson: We have a couple characters who are not based on anyone in particular. We’ve got one vet character who’s probably the closest hold over [from War of the Encyclopeadists] to this book, who’s just getting out of the army, who’s a Detroit native who comes back home and gets a job as an EMT and his wife just left him with a young baby and he has visitation with his kid. His best buddy from high school has been dabbling in petty crime. Nothing much has been happening for him and he’s competing in the local Mixed Martial Arts circuit. There’s a group of art hipster kids who move into a foreclosed house and start up an art colony. They have a rotating cast of artists and residents coming though. There will be some urban farmer types connected with them.

Kovite: There’s the Amazon drone nerds and the program head who comes over, who may or may not be based on my friend who works at Amazon. Which is cool because we live in Seattle and have access to people who work at Amazon. Although, Amazon is really secretive. My friend told me that there’s so much security in the company that people in one program don’t know what people in another program are doing and they’ll only find out from regular news, because there are these firewalls between the groups. It’s almost like the army.

Robinson: Our main Amazon character is this woman who’s a VP of some kind, and she’s responsible for spearheading this new Amazon program, Amazon Sports. They have their own TV network now, and they’ll have the NFL, but Amazon only.

Kovite: Well, it’s like lacrosse. Pingpong.

Robinson: It starts with a golf open. They pay a bunch of money to a bunch of golfers to do this four-day tournament and it’s broadcast only on this Amazon streaming service.

Kovite: And curling and arm-wrestling. Stuff that doesn’t have a big league already.

Robinson: And then they branch into MMA. The goal is maybe one day they’ve got MLB. So this MMA guy in Detroit is one of their first fighters in one of the fights they’re going to have at the Amazon Sports League. The Amazon VP moves from Seattle to Detroit to supervise this project. And there’s also someone doing the drone delivery program there. There will be some hacker kids in Detroit who capture a downed drone and reprogram it and use it. There’s a social activist, aspiring rapper girl who’s one of the black characters. There’s going to be a fair black-white divide, I think, between the Detroit natives and the immigrants.

Kovite: We’re going to Detroit for a month to get into the community.

Robinson: In Detroit, do you remember what the percentage is?

Kovite: It’s something like 80% African American.

Robinson: So most of our Detroit native characters are going to be black. And most of our arts colony kids and Amazon workers are going to be white and there are going to be tensions over that.

How are they going to come into contact?

Robinson: In a bunch of small ways. Things like the Amazon drone crashing and these kids finding it and reprograming it. Or like the aspiring rapper girl finds out that the arts colony kids have built a recording studio in their foreclosed house and they come together that way. Or this Detroit native guy who’s dabbling in crime who gets recruited to be part of the Amazon Sports League. So it will be…I don’t know if picaresque is the right word…It’s very grounded in characters, but not in plot. War of the Encyclopeadists was already a little like that, and this is pushed even more in that direction, where there’s even more characters and even less plot.

Robinson and Kovite spoke to me on the eve of their departure for a War of the Encyclopeadists reading tour across the country. The tour will come to end at the Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park on June 22nd at 7:00pm.

War of the Encyclopeadists is a thoughtful, touching, fun novel about two millennials coming of age via love triangles, grad school, and the Iraq war. You can purchase the novel on Amazon.

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War of the Encyclopeadists by Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite a hilarious and heartbreaking investigation of youth and truth

War of the Encyclopeadists

Originally published in The West Seattle Herald 05/28/15

After reading Chris Robinson and Gavin Kovite’s debut novel, War of the Encyclopeadists, I find myself wishing I could write about it in their narrative voice. I too want to be clever and sensually-aware and write lines like, ‘he drifted back to a sort of mental hand-wringing,’ and, ‘she moved in an invisible cloud of woman-smell.’ I too want to be as insightful and eloquent as the line, ‘life is just a string of ends, none of them simple, all of them seeds,’ suggests about these two young writers/friends.

Here’s another: ‘They had no real artistic talent, but they had a knack for carrying stupid jokes to their absurd conclusions.’ This is page one, and comes across as an explanation for each successive page to come, a challenge to the legitimacy of their own literature. Except that this is a novel about Halifax Corderoy and Mickey Montauk, who are and are not Chris Robinson and Gavin Kovite. What’s true? None of it. All of it. It might as well be.

In the story, Corderoy and Montauk hit it off in the best way two bachelors with bachelor’s degrees can. But then Corderoy screws it up with an object of his affection he’s not ready for and ships off to grad school. Montauk does as he’s told and ships off to Baghdad. Psychological and emotional implosions. Physical explosions. Lives that intersect with and mirror each other.

Robinson and Kovite write with directness that is not arrogant, cleverness that is not boastful, honesty and insightfulness that promises that wisdom has been attained and life has progressed past the final pages of the written story. You can tell they are poets because of the way lines proceed rhythmically and the way ideas and actions are juxtaposed for exponentially more emotional impact. You can tell they are hipster-millennials because they relish ideas and moments of beauty-ugliness, irony, unconventional perfection, and meaningfully loose ends.

And then, in the end, the reader is ultimately reminded—through language like ‘he might have been saying’—that the story is not real. Or otherwise that it is more real, even, than what came before it, because the story takes on a life of its own, and ultimately belongs not to those who have had a privileged glimpse into it, but to those who created it.

What’s for certain is that War of the Encyclopeadists is not a stupid joke with an absurd conclusion. Rather, it’s a serious, both hilarious and heartbreaking, investigation of the truth of two lives through fiction. ‘We needed to know the truth, and no one would give it to us, so we made it up as we went. We authored our lives in real time.’

Christopher Robinson and Gavin Kovite are from Seattle and graduated from the University of Washington. Robinson went on to get his MFA from Hunter College. Kovite served in Iraq and became an army lawyer. War of the Encyclopeadists was published on May 19th.

Photo courtesy of GoodReads.com
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West Seattle-based short film ‘See You On the Other Side’ by writer/director Wonder Russell seeks featured extras

Russell Coronado
Lisa Coronado and Wonder Russell, lead actress and writer/director of the upcoming West Seattle-based short film, ‘See You On the Other Side.’

Originally published by the West Seattle Herald 05/15/15

West Seattlite Wonder Russell’s new short film See You On the Other Side is about a depressed, reclusive, recently-widowed young woman who attempts to bring her dead husband back to this side of life by any means necessary.

Russell wrote the script in response to observing her mother after the death of her father. “It was world ending,” says Russell. “It was like living in an alternate reality that you don’t want so hard that you don’t want to be alive.”

Russell built a story featuring retreat, recreation, and redemption. The young widow retreats from the reality of life without her husband by altering that reality using living elements immediately around her. But at what expense? And are there better, more life-affirming alternatives to the young widow’s desperate and supernatural attempt to reshape life itself? These are the questions that the film promises to tackle.

Tackling the lead is Lisa Coronado. She’s West Seattle’s Zoey Deschanel, with bright blue eyes, pale complexion, dark hair, and overall perky pleasantness. Coronado will have to get in touch with a dark and desperate side of herself to play the part, but she says, “It’s written so well, it’s hard not to picture yourself as that person, experiencing that sense of loss.”

This is not Russell and Coronado’s first time working together. They bonded over the fact that they are both not only in the film industry, but also West Seattlites similar in age and family set-up. Both are moms—though Russell of two small, energetic, and affectionate dogs. They also both exhibit a bubbling-over passion and excitement for what they do. Coronado calls it, “crazy, awesome energy.” For example, when Russell finally envisioned the climactic scene of the story, which required a revamping of the entire script, instead of grumbling and shuffling papers she pounced on the opportunity and even called up Coronado to share in her enthusiasm.

For Russell, the outward expression of her innermost thoughts and feelings through storytelling is an experience of catharsis. It’s also this catharsis that she’s looking to portray in the film. “When writing, I just wanted it to be something to help people,” Russell says. “I want to portray how a tragedy makes you shut everyone out, but redemption turns your focus outward again.” So a resurrection story. Not of the deceased husband, but of the desperate widow.

Russell has scoped out a location near Alki beach and is poised to film the entire piece in three days, May 29th-31st. She has her male and female leads picked out, but is still in need of her featured extras. Featured meaning that each extra will have a significant close-up during the climactic scene of the film. She welcomes any West Seattlite who is interested in a part to contact her.

Besides that, the only other task Russell and Coronado need to wrap up before shooting is the crowdfunding effort that will pay for the film’s production. Russell is already about 85% of the way to her goal through the site Seed & Spark, and needs to earn another $1500 in less than 10 days. She hopes to make the final push at a “Join the Crowd” event hosted by the Northwest Film Forum on May 17th, where other filmmakers also undergoing crowdfunding efforts gather and present their projects to everyone’s cumulative supporters and investors.

No matter what, though, the film is going forward. Russell hopes to have it fully produced and ready by the fall, in time for submission to Sundance. Until then, you can search for Russell and Coronado’s previous collaborations, the short films Revelation and Ten Years Later, each featured at SIFF in the past years.

For more information and to offer support, visit Russell’s See You On the Other Side page at Seed & Spark here.

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Shawn Belyea directs ArtsWest revivial of Seattle cult classic, Angry Housewives

Shawn Belyea

Photo: Director Shawn Belyea is taking on the cult classic Angry Housewives at West Seattle’s ArtsWest Theater.

Originally published by the West Seattle Herald 04/23/15

Tonight at 7:30pm ArtsWest Theatre will open its production of Angry Housewives. Written and originally produced by Seattleites A.M. Collins (book) and Chad Henry (music and lyrics) in 1983, the punk-rock musical was a cult phenomenon that ran over six years at the Pioneer Square Theatre until the theatre’s closure in 1989. While Angry Housewives has since been produced elsewhere, ArtsWest will be the first to revive the show in its original Seattle setting.

This will also be ArtsWest’s final show in its 2014-2015 season, so the desire to send out the season with a bang, coupled with the pressure to live up to the show’s legacy, means that the Angry Housewives production team is feeling the heat from multiple directions.

Yesterday, after the audience rollicked into the night after a pre-show fueled by $1 beers courtesy of Elliott Bay Brewery, director Shawn Belyea stayed late into the evening with his team giving copious notes. Artistic director Mathew Wright let me in the back for a privileged glance of Belyea’s team hard at work.

As it turns out, audiences may look forward to the type of show where the standard notes on light cues (“Bring the purple in during the transition.”) and line delivery (“Keep it tight. Don’t swallow it.”) are interspersed with observations like, “I missed the butt smack!” and suggestions like, “More Muppet arms!” Choreographer Troy Wageman posed voluptuously to emphasize that his heroines should, “Do the full drag.” Meanwhile, tech-dog Beezus (so read her bandana) meandered around the stage and up the rafters, finding cosy perches in actors’ laps.

Shawn Belyea has been an active in Seattle theatre as director and performer for many years and for many companies, such as the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Seattle Public Theatre, ACT, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and the Village Theatre, to name a few. He founded the 14/48 Project, which produces the World’s Quickest Theatre Festival (where 14 plays are produced and performed within 48 hours) and Theatre Anonymous (where performers first come into contact with each other on the opening night). Belyea’s mission is to foster a theatre community that trains and encourages new generations of theatre artists.

Angry Housewives fits into that mission because, above all else, Belyea’s direction aims to celebrate Seattle’s theatrical and musical heritage. Belyea says he acknowledges the other angles available within the script—the story of female empowerment, which he says is “relevant because there is still wage inequality and inequity in the arts for women,” and the entertainment value of 80’s nostalgia—but his primary focus is the celebration of that defining period of time where Seattle became a punk and grunge capital and center of counterculture.

“It’s a ton of fun,” Belyea promises. “We’ve done a really good job of bringing it home.”

Angry Housewives will be performed at ArtWest Theatre (4711 California Ave SW) April 23-May 24, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 3pm. Tickets cost $17-$36.50 and may be bought at the box office or at this link.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Kimball Allen’s live talk/variety show “Triple Threat” at the Triple Door, featuring ArtsWest’s Mathrew Wright and Chelsea Le Valley

Originally published in the West Seattle Herald 04/05/2015

On Friday, April 3, the Triple Door hosted the inaugural performance of Kimball Allen’s talk and variety show, “Triple Threat,” directed by Emma Hassett. Allen confesses that his dream is to establish it as a “Seattle staple.” So how did it go? Well, it came across like the pilot of a new TV show: a good idea, entertaining, not yet fully formed. Here are the DO and DON’T suggestions on how to make Allen’s dream come true:

DO integrate emerging and established Pacific Northwest talent. Allen started off with an excellent balance: reknown author Dan Savage, entertainer Mama Tits, and the Captain Smartypants ensemble of the Seattle Men’s Chorus next to lesser known but emerging aerial artist Tanya Brno, storyteller Summer Waldron, comedian Wilfred Padua, and actress Chelsea Le Valley.

DON’T work against the guests’ talents through chunky time management and technical blunders. Taking a cue from other shows that feature a live band, Allen could have better integrated his musical guest, rock band Prom Queen, had he timed the performances of their songs throughout the show as opposed to leaving them for the end. It was also a shame that the sound mixing wasn’t more closely managed, allowing for awkward blunders – some microphones peaking over others and Mama Tit’s soundtrack coming in too early.

DO pick a theme and have confidence in it. While Allen didn’t originally set out to make “Queer” the theme of his inaugural show, when the run down of his guests made it look that way, he ran with it, inviting the audience to put on their “gay hats” for the evening and even integrating a special costume change – prom dress – for the occasion.

DON’T blame the audience when they chicken out and ruin a bit. When the audience talent show turned up no talent, Allen briefly betrayed his nervousness with the passive-aggressive poke at the audience, “You’re in trouble.” No, they weren’t. Not everyone is an entertainer.

DO promote the professional and personal work of the guests. Throughout the show, Allen was as much a grateful host as a gleeful groupie, ever-ready and willing to make his party as much fun for his guest talent as for the audience. Allen offered a welcoming atmosphere for his guests to talk about their personal passions and professional successes. He was particularly gracious in sharing the hosting spotlight with the glamorous Mama Tits, who strutted onstage in her pink, spike-heeled glory, powerfully performed Etta James’s “I’m Feeling Good,” was interviewed on her advocacy for HIV health awareness, and then proceeded to judge the talent contest.

DON’T have the only black talent to grace the stage be the sexy servant. Allen didn’t mean it that way, but that kind of misunderstanding is so avoidable. There’s plenty of talent in Seattle to choose from.

DO put together a well-rounded show that, as director Emma Hassett says, “puts the audience through the emotional gamut.” Hassett and Allen thoughtfully tempered glamour and theatrics with grounded storytelling and personal interaction. Each performer brought a different energy to the stage – Dan Savage’s casual brilliance, Wilfred Padua’s awkward assertiveness, Summer Waldron’s eager earnestness – that elicited here laughter, there compassion, here again embarrassment.

DON’T rely on the guest talent to structure the narrative arch of the show. As much as the themes of queer issues, bullying, and ultimate self-confidence and celebration successfully flowed throughout the acts, “Triple Threat” lacked a landing pad. If Allen wants his show to become a staple, “Triple Threat” endings need to be as strong, if not stronger, than their beginnings. Allen needs to provide the audience with a message to take away that lingers and makes the audience feel they should come back for more.

DO put on another show. The pilot is full of well-intentioned promise and legitimate value. Allen is a fun, refreshing host because he’s a fan, just like us.

 

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The Seattle Times / Oggi – 1

AMK 03:27:15

Moving Forward, With Gratitude and a Purpose

“Daro’ voce agli innocenti condannati ingiustamente”

By Amanda Knox

Photo by Reuters.
Published in The Seattle Times and Oggi 0n 04/03/2015

THROUGHOUT these past seven and a half years, knowledge of my innocence propelled me forward. Your kindness sustained me. I am, and forever will be, grateful to the many people who helped me survive when I was at my most vulnerable and almost entirely lost. To them I say, “Thank you.” Many times over, thank you.

After so many years of trial and uncertainty, I feel relieved and grateful for the decision of Italy’s highest court to find me innocent of Meredith Kercher’s murder. And I am equally grateful that Raffaele Sollecito can now also move past his own wrongful conviction. I am acutely aware, however, that this story does not have a happy ending. Unlike a wrongful conviction, which can be overturned, nothing will ever bring Meredith back to her family and loved ones.

Whatever the future holds for me, I know that I must give back. I survived because my dear family gave up their lives to be with me in Italy; because scores of friends donated their resources; because my lawyers worked tirelessly to bring attention to the evidence that exonerated me; because strangers — from world-renowned DNA experts to former FBI crime-scene investigators to everyday citizens — saw the injustice in my case and spoke out; and because kind residents of Seattle gave me jobs to help me financially while I tried to clear my name. I will do everything I can to pay forward all everyone has done for me.

I am all too aware of how lucky I am to have received such strong support. I am also aware that countless other wrongfully convicted people do not have such support. I will work to give a voice to those individuals. I will do this because I know how a wrongful conviction can destroy one’s life, and because we best honor crime victims by ensuring that the actual perpetrators are brought to justice.

To everyone who has spoken out on my behalf, from Seattle to Rome: Thank you. I look forward to making you proud for having supported me and my family.

Posted in Journalism, Meredith Kercher Murder | Tagged , , , | 102 Comments