West Seattle Herald – 15

Originally published by The West Seattle Herald.

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.’ Photo by Amanda Knox.

 

West Seattle-based short film ‘See You On the Other Side’ by writer/director Wonder Russell seeks featured extras

By Amanda Knox

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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West Seattle Herald – 14

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

Shawn Belyea

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

By Amanda Knox

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

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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West Seattle Herald – 13

West Seattle Herald

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

By Amanda Knox

Published in the West Seattle Herald on 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 , , , | 89 Comments

Regarding Today’s Decision of the Supreme Court of Italy

I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy.

The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this

ordeal.  And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family,

friends, and strangers.  To them, I say:  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Your

kindness has sustained me.  I only wish that I could thank each and every one of you in

person.

Posted in Uncategorized | 360 Comments

West Seattle Herald – 12

West Seattle Herald

ArtsWest’s Chinglish is funny and refreshing

By Amanda Knox

Annie Lareau was right; David Henry Hwang’s Chinglish is not an easy play to put on.

There’s the fact that the script suggests multiple and various settings that the small, ArtsWest stage must somehow accommodate. Scenic designer Carey Wong accomplishes this with minimalism: the barest necessities as far as furniture, slight variations to the arrangement of bamboo screens, and a small decorative hanging to provide character and reference to familiar locations. The only hitch in this otherwise successful display is the armoire that lies down to become a bed. It might not have been so noticeably heavy and distractingly clunky had the script not necessitated that it be dropped down and picked up again multiple times throughout the show.

But the scenic design is a familiar obstacle. Chinglish also presents a unique problem where the audience will most likely not understand the dominant language being spoken. The script requires the use of sub- or super-titles. It milks the advantages of this requirement for sure—innuendo run rampant—but all the jokes require the comedic timing not only onstage, but also above-stage onscreen. The timing of the supertitles in this production could have been tighter.

Then there are the casting difficulties. Where does one find a middle-aged, British-accented, fluent-Chinese-speaking actor in the greater Seattle area these days? Or even a full Chinese American cast of fluent-Chinese-speakers? Director Annie Lareau makes the point in her interview on the production that, for lack of opportunity, actors of ethnic minority are driven away from theatre.

This is where the ArtsWest production shines. Lareau ultimately assembled a cast of character-driven actors who convince, compel, entertain, and yes, speak Chinese. Hing Lam as Cai was natural, dignified, and tragic in his believable loyalty and stoicism. Serin Ngai succeeded on putting on many hats throughout the show, bringing her characters to life with subtle, believable, and hilarious physical traits—from the slumping shoulders and insolent shuffle of the burnt-out waitress, to the bulging eyes and gawking, rounded mouth of the flustered and flabbergasted interpreter.

Kathy Hsieh as the lead female role, Xi Yan, steals the show. Hwang wrote her to be a complex and compelling character whose motivations and speech the audience is constantly trying to understand. Hsieh embodies all of her mysterious ferocity, wistfulness, passion, independence, and idealism.

Evan Whitfield plays her counterpart in the lead male role, Daniel Cavanaugh, a American businessman who, although clueless and pitiful as a puppy, is nevertheless is the key to the audience’s understanding of what is actually happening. Whitfield embodies him best when he’s pant-less and vulnerable, chasing Xi Yan around the bed with his tail between his legs and his heart on his sleeve.

Chinglish is about difference, and the chaos that arises from misunderstanding, even when both sides to a message are trying their best to give and receive what is truly meant. The perhaps unsurprising revelation is that Chinglish immediately lays bear is that language difference is secondary to cultural difference when it comes to understanding between Chinese and American people. Through Daniel, the audience is introduced to a world where yes means no, no means yes, and, “A curse upon your family for 18 generations!” means, “Meet me in your hotel room.” The perhaps surprising revelation is that Chinglish makes an even further revelation: that even recognizing cultural difference is an over-simplification of the chaos that arises when what is really meant and what is really at stake is misunderstood.

A small spoiler as to how the upside-down and backwards mess that arises all winds down comes with Daniel’s consulting presentation back in the United States, where he advises other businessmen to “know your place in their picture.” It is a lesson with deceptively straight-forward implications which Chinglish encourages the audience to pause and consider carefully, perhaps in all of our human interactions. After all, if you’re going to slip and fall, as we all inevitably do sometimes, you might as well “Slip And Fall Down Carefully.”

Chinglish is appearing at ArtsWest Theater in the West Seattle Junction through March 29.

Tickets are available at this link.

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Ballard News Tribune – 3

BallardNewsTribune

Kidney disease survivor Marcia Wold advocates for National Kidney Month

By Amanda Knox

We all know—by the green going up—that St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. But did you also know that March is National Kidney Month? Maybe not, and perhaps that’s because a lot of us don’t give our kidneys much thought.

To get you reacquainted, the kidneys are two fist-sized organs in your lower back beneath your rib cage. Their main function is to filter metabolic waste (like urea, creatinine and uric acid), excess water and impurities (like drugs) from your bloodstream. They also regulate your body’s salt, potassium and acid content, release hormones that regulate blood pressure and control the production of red blood cells and produce an active form of vitamin D that allows your body to absorb calcium.

Those guys. It’s very important that they function. Otherwise, water and waste build up in your build stream (a condition called edema), calcium is drained from your bones, and the rest of your tissues and organs are denied access to oxygen because your red blood count drops (anemia). We cannot survive without our kidneys, which is why it may trouble you to know that the majority of Americans who suffer from kidney disease—the lowered or loss of kidney function—don’t even know it yet.

That’s where patient advocates like Marcia Wold come in. Wold has been given a second chance at life thanks to a kidney transplant, and her means of giving back is to share the story of her experience with kidney disease so that others might be spared her fate, or worse.

Wold survived the full gauntlet, and lives with the consequences. The recipient of a kidney transplant, Wold has to be extremely careful to protect herself against any kind of infection. She can no longer garden. She has to avoid physical contact with her cats—much less their litter box— and other people. She must take three kinds of anti-rejection medication every day for the rest of her life.

Before the gift of a new kidney, Wold, like most kidney disease patients, had to undergo dialysis three times a week for five hours at a time. Dialysis is a process where a patient is hooked up to an artificial kidney, a machine. It requires a patient to be permanently installed with a fistula called the Scribner Shunt—a U-shaped tube between an artery and a vein of the arm—from which their blood can be drawn out, filtered through the artificial kidney and returned to the body. A part from being an inconvenience to schedule so much time around a full time job, the process of removing and returning blood causes painful cramping. Wold’s toes would curl in under her feet and she often heard whimpering from the other patients. “I wish it were possible for people to just come in to view the dialysis clinic,” Wold says. “It would help people realize that they need to take their health into their own hands before it’s too late.”

But the tragic twist to Wold’s story is that much of this could have been put off, or even prevented. It is a regular part of one’s yearly physical for creatinine levels to be tested through lab work. Creatinine is one of the metabolic wastes filtered out of the blood through the kidney. If creatinine levels are above a certain amount, it is a sign of kidney malfunction. For years, Wold’s creatinine levels were slowly but surely rising, but she didn’t know what that meant or what she could do about it. Wold explains, “We don’t know what we don’t know. There’s a need to ask questions. If a doctor says to you, ‘Marcia, if your creatinine level goes up again next year, I’m going to refer you to a nephrologist,’ my questions should have been, ‘What is creatinine? What does it tell me? What do I need to do? How much at risk am I? What is a nephrologist?’ I didn’t ask any of those questions.”

At the Northwest Kidney Center dialysis clinic, Wold was notorious for her positive attitude. She “went to a happy place” via visualization during her treatments and made every effort to not let dialysis prevent her from living a full life in between those sessions. Eventually, a Center representative encouraged her to become a patient advocate—an ambassador for the over 26 million Americans who knowingly or unknowingly are struggling with kidney disease. Her main message to the public at large is encouragement to be one’s own advocate, to be informed and to partner with physicians who will answer your questions and discuss your options.

In light of National Kidney Month, the National Kidney Foundation is offering health activities—like free screenings and interactive Q&A with the Foundation’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph Vassalotti, via Twitter on March 14, World Kidney Day, from 12 to 2pm ET—to promote awareness of kidney health, disease and the risk factors in between. For more information, visitwww.kidney.org.

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West Seattle Herald – 11

Annie Lareau - Chinglish

ArtsWest: Ex-interim Artistic Director Annie Lareau on her direction of the theatre’s latest production, Chinglish

Article and photo by Amanda Knox

In the wake of Chinese New Year, ArtsWest Theatre has welcomed home ex interim Artistic Director Annie Lareau to direct the theatre’s latest production, Chinglish, by Tony award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang. Lareau—tall, warm, and full of energy—shared some time prior to rehearsal to discuss her vision and mission.

Let’s get right to it. What is your connection to this play?

I chose this play for a couple of reasons. One, I’m really interested in seeing more diverse casts onstage. It’s sort of a passion of mine. Then, David Henry Hwang is a seminal Asian-American writer in our country and he’s not done often enough. This is his newest piece, and when I heard that other theatres were passing it up because it’s challenging, I took up the gauntlet. It’s an important piece, it’s a comedy, and it’s fun. It’s also just doing his work and bringing more Asian-American actors to the stage. All those things combined led me to choose this piece, even if it’s a big challenge.

Can you talk to me a bit about the specific challenges?

The big challenge is that about a third, if not more, is spoken in Mandarin Chinese. It’s a really difficult language, because it’s tonal. When you see the play, you’ll see a lot of supertitles, which allows for the comedy and tension of mistranslation. It’s in the timing of the lines, because, for a non-Mandarin speaker, you have to read it to get the joke. I also found that directing was difficult, because the tonality of the language affects the rhythm and cadence of the lines. There’s the added challenge of coaching actors through not only new lines, but a whole new language.

How are you playing up the role of language?

David Henry Hwang wrote it into his play, about how things are misinterpreted or misunderstood. We’re certainly playing up the comedic element of how you can say things in Mandarin to an English-speaking person because you can get away with things you normally wouldn’t get to say. There’s comedy and tension in the translation of the lines, and in the conflict between what a character is saying and what they’re really saying.

Is your production of Chinglish grounded in real-world current events, or does it stand alone?

It has larger implication to the community in terms of our ability to understand each other and our place in the world. It’s not just about language. It’s about culture. It’s about what’s important to all of us. It’s a play about business, but also about love, so it has larger implications about both cultural relations and human relations. But it’s a very fun look at that. It’s not heavy-handed.

Can you talk to me a little bit more about your passion to get diversity onstage?

I think there’s a real lack in American theatre in the equity of color on our stages. And diverse stories told by diverse voices. It’s also a problem in movies. I mean, look at the Oscars. But when we live in a city and community whose population is diverse, we have a responsibility in arts to show what our community is really like in terms of who lives here and what stories are told. This particular story is written for five Asian actors and two American actors, and that’s one way of getting at it. There are other ways too. There’s color-blind casting. It’s something everyone’s aware of now, but this awareness still needs to lead to concrete action.

When did it first occur to you that there needed to be more diversity onstage?

I’ve been aware of it for a while. I’ve been in the theatre community for over twenty-five years, and while I didn’t think a lot about it at the beginning of my career, it’s become important to me, especially when I’m directing and responsible for putting the actors and the story onstage. There are not many people in the city who get to do that. And it’s hard. It’s hard to find actors of color because there is not enough work for them to stay here. They don’t get the same experience. They don’t get to build their chops and become stronger actors. It’s become important for me to change that as much as I have the opportunity.

In directing this play, have you been surprised by anything?

I was telling my cast the other night that I started dreaming in Mandarin. Of course I didn’t understand it, but I was amazed at how it’s infiltrating my world. You start to pick it up. You realize you actually recognize what someone is saying. It’s surprising because at first it sounded like gibberish and I thought, “How am I going to do this?” It’s also been great to see the actors find the intensity in the moments.

What is the intensity of this play?

The intensity comes in the scenes between our two leads, a Chinese woman and an American businessman who fall in love, but they’re married to other people. It’s an intensity of finding love even if you don’t speak the same language and how it’s complicated.

That seems like a more universal concept, because even when two people speak the same language, it’s not necessarily that they’re speaking the same language.

Right.

How is the audience going to go into this play versus how are they going to come out?

I think they’ll go in through the comedy of mistranslation that we’re all familiar with. The background of the set will be plastered with all these mistranslated signs like, “Deformed Man’s Toilet” instead of, “Handicap Toilet.” And it goes both ways, like all these people in American wearing Chinese characters that they think means one thing but actually means something offensive. You go in through that lens, but you come out with a deeper understanding of the differences and similarities in the cultures. I don’t want to blow it, but there’s a whole crux of the plot that turns on what it means to be successful in business and what you deem as impressive. It’s both very funny and very telling, what success looks like.

Any parting thoughts?

I hope people come! And I hope people are able to come away having found the underlying truth through the process of being lost in translation.

Chinglish will be playing at ArtsWest Theatre (4711 California Ave SW) from March 5th-29th, Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$34.50 and may be purchased at the Box Office, online at https://artswest.secure.force.com/ticket, or by phone at (206) 938-0339.

West Seattle Herald

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West Seattle Herald – 10

West Seattle Herald

Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles premieres in the Northwest at ArtsWest theatre

By Amanda Knox

The modern, character-driven 4000 Miles by the young playwright Amy Herzog is artistic director Mathew Wright’s latest contribution to the ArtsWest stage. It stands out as a change in direction from the musicals of 2014’s autumn and winter in terms of genre, but keeps in line with the themes of connection, communication, and the weight of mortality featured in Dogfight and Judy’s Scary Little Christmas.

In this particular story, Wright sets a focused lens upon the importance of metaphor and experience that Herzog establishes in the text. Through the counterparts of the aged Vera, played by Susan Corzatte, and the youthful Leo, played by Adam Standley, the audience is introduced to a counter-balanced perspective of such epic themes as death, grief, and their weight upon a person’s psyche. Grounded in the plausible and realistic situation of a bike trip and convalescence in a family setting, death is both a sudden tragedy and a sad routine, the weight of years is set against the weight of feathers, and the convention of moving on as opposed to holding on is called into question.

Wright put together a strong cast, especially Corzatte and Sara Porkalob as Amanda. Their vocal intonations and facial expressions are both subtle and distinct, their gestures both natural and highly characteristic. They give off a sense of fully embodying the history of their characters up until the moment of the present on the stage, and their charismatic enjoyment of their comedic moments in contagious.

While you’d have to be lucky to live in an apartment in New York’s West Village with as much floor space as the ArtsWest stage, the design of the set is well-researched and consistent, from the oriental rug, to the leather-bound books and the paisley pillows, to the exposed brickwork around the windows. As usual, the ArtsWest stage comes across as a well-played character all its own, with subtle details that pull the
setting together and allow the actors to interact more realistically with the space. So it is when Vera turns her back on Leo to riffle through a drawer in search of her missing checkbook; or when Amanda leans over conspiratorially to whisper into the Buddha statue’s ear; or when Becca tenderly touches her fingertips to the radiator just before breaking some bad news to Leo.

The emotional gravity of the play hinges around center stage, where Leo and Vera share three beautifully-rendered, intimate moments that echo each other. Wide-eyed, marijuana-laced couch confessions give way t dark, narrative confession that elicit the audience’s imagination and imitate the feeling of suffocation, which gives way to the writing a of eulogy, where truth-telling is an ultimate expression of love because it means caring enough to know.

The audience comes away from the production with a sense of having had the privilege to glimpse a real unfolding of tension in the lives of the characters. Just as the characters come to experience ease and closeness, so do we.

ArtsWest’s production of 4000 Miles runs from January 22nd through February 15th, Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15-$34.50 and may be purchased at the box office or online http://www.artswest.org/theatre-plays/4000-miles/. ArtsWest theatre is located at 4711 California Ave SW.

Posted in Journalism | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

West Seattle Herald – 9

West Seattle Herald

Delridge Grocery Co-op: $25K more to permitting, less than 300 more members to open

By Amanda Knox

Last we heard from them http://www.westseattleherald.com/2014/02/28/features/delridge-sustaining…, Delridge Co-op, the grassroots grocery mission for the Delridge corridor, was hosting music events at Skylark Café in order to inform the local public of their activity and attract potential members. Now, almost a year later, the Co-op is so close to finally opening it hurts. The board members, however committed, are weary. “They’ve been at it so long and it’s been completely volunteer,” explains Ranette Iding, a member of the board.

They’ve had some set backs—six years of them in fact, where it usually takes a new co-op only three years to come together. A big part of that delay had to do with the fact that for the first three years, the board had proceeded with a mind towards a different business model: a produce stand instead of a grocery store. Then the acting president of the board, Galena White, moved away to be closer to family. Most recently, a mailer wasn’t sent out as scheduled, so it was only by mid-January that the community received word that Delridge Co-op was soliciting a membership count of at least 300 by December 31st. “We’ve had some bad luck,” says Iding. But these greater and lesser setbacks have also taught the board a great deal towards constructing an ultimately successful business.

They’ve also made a lot of progress. Despite the late arrival of the mailer, they met their goal of 300+ members by the end of this year. They have secured a location below Cottage Grove Commons off Delridge Way, as well as the moral and financial support of their landlords, the DESC. They’ve updated their business model from produce stand to grocery store, which they hope will be more useful and profitable to the community. In addition to that, they’re also determined to be a multi-stakeholder company, extending ownership and management of the company to all interested parties. “It’s the idea that not just the consumers own the co-op and have a voting arm and it recognizes their needs and their wants, but the producers, like the farmers and small item producers, can also option to be owners of the co-op, as well as the workers,” Iding explains. The board hopes this will guarantee fair prices for consumers as well as fair wages for workers and farmers providing the store’s service and product.

The grocery store is yet to be built, but the construction is expected to take only three months to complete and can begin as soon as the co-op can scrape up another $25,000. They hope to receive this investment through member loans. The timing of this campaign, immediately post the holiday season, isn’t ideal, but the board is confident that existing members will step up to support this latest financial push, especially when they understand what it’s all going to. “One of the questions we get from the community is, ‘Why do we need so much money?’ The main reason is industry standards. We’ve researched what we need, but on top of that, it’s money to keep our business solvent without necessarily expecting a profit for a period of time,” Iding explains.

Despite their bad luck, Delridge Co-op has had the good fortune to rely on the talent and passion of its community members, who for six years have volunteered their time and talents to the fresh food mission. The board also knows that there’s even more talent out there in the community, and they are working to better communicate and reach out to the resources that are hidden in plain sight across the corridor. Even when the ball hasn’t bounced the way they planned, Delridge Co-op has somehow survived. “We know what we’re doing,” Iding explains. “We just need to keep trudging along.”

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