Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle

Congratulations to the winners and nominees of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards. The 42nd annual awards represent excellence in Los Angeles and Orange County theatre for the year 2010.
I was thrilled to have received two nominations this year (lighting design and video design for “The Who’s Tommy” at the Chance Theater). Unfortunately, due to a gig-related schedule conflict, I wasn’t able to attend the nominee reception or the actual ceremony. However, the Chance Theater’s Managing Director (Casey Long) attended. Shortly into the ceremony, he sent me a very excited text informing me that I had won in both categories.
Given the talent represented in my categories, I was honored and humbled as well.
You can read the full list of recipients here.

Are Smart People Drawn to the Arts or Does Arts Training Make People Smarter?

I’m going to be working at the California State Thespian Festival in a few weeks (April 8, 9, 10 2011) and, in thinking about how I want to approach the students this year, I’ve dug up some recent research on how being involved in the arts while attending school improves academic performance in other areas.
Now, these are all theater students so you’d think they really don’t need any additional reasons to stay involved in their theater classes. But that’s not necessarily the case.
I was blessed with supportive parents in high school. Whatever I wanted to try, they encouraged. Music, art, theater – all classes that lead down a road of limited career options. My parents, however, saw it differently. They somehow knew that being involved in the arts could have a profound impact on my life. And they were completely correct. That’s not to say that they didn’t ask me if I was absolutely sure that I wanted to be involved in the arts, because they did. They asked me (only once, to their credit) to consider what I’d do if my theater/artistic aspirations didn’t yield fruit. Despite my snottily-delivered, overly-confident answer of “I don’t need a Plan B”, they continued supporting my creative endeavors.
However, many students who attend theater classes in high school will not make their careers in theater because their parents reinforce the argument that the arts are a pleasant diversion, not a career path. Worse, many parents believe that the arts are a waste of time and detract from academic performance.
But what’s interesting is that being involved in the arts can make you smarter in other subjects, which is something most parents would be surprised to hear. There’s a great in-depth article, “Arts and Smarts – Test Scores and Cognitive Development” over on Sharp brains.com that is fascinating reading for those interested in this subject. An excerpt-
—In 2007, Lois Het­land and Ellen Win­ner pub­lished a book, Stu­dio Think­ing: The Real Ben­e­fits of Visual Art Edu­ca­tion, that is so far one of the most rig­or­ous stud­ies of what the arts teach. “Before we can make the case for the impor­tance of arts edu­ca­tion, we need to find out what the arts actu­ally teach and what art stu­dents actu­ally learn,” they write.
Work­ing in high school art classes, they found that arts pro­grams teach a spe­cific set of think­ing skills rarely addressed else­where in the school curriculum—what they call “stu­dio habits of mind.” One key habit was “learn­ing to engage and per­sist,” mean­ing that the arts teach stu­dents how to learn from mis­takes and press ahead, how to com­mit and fol­low through. “Stu­dents need to find prob­lems of inter­est and work with them deeply over sus­tained peri­ods of time,” write Het­land and Winner.—
Of course, theater isn’t what they studied, but the same thought-processes evident in the visual arts are also found in theater; and I’m inclined to believe the results would be the same.
You can read the full article here.

Holiday Stocking Stuffers and Gifts

Alright everyone, it’s time to gather ‘round the ole Yule log with a fresh batch of egg nog and some pumpkin-bread (with cranberries) to review your Christmas list. Just in case you’re still looking for some stocking stuffers, allow me to suggest any of the following goodies that I’ve enjoyed this year. Click on the pics to see more info… Read the rest of this entry »

Give the Arts as a Holiday Gift

It’s that time of year again – what to get my husband/wife/spouse/brother/sister/etc… for Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa/New Years/Boxing Day.
Allow me to suggest a wonderful treat that will not only nourish your creative life, but that will support others as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Ovation Nominee Profile

Here is the Ovation Nominee profile!

Click here to go to my Ovation Nominee Profile

Ovation Awards Nominee Reception

Nominees enjoy the cool autumn air, drinks, appetizers, and jazz.

On Monday, November 15th at 7pm, many of the nominees for the 2009/2010 LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards gathered at a new arts facility (Inner City Arts) on skid row in downtown L.A. We were welcomed into a beautiful venue and given nametags and “O!” pins, then encouraged to mingle around the bar and buffet. A live jazz combo filled the crisp autumn air with snappy tunes as the nominees chatted amongst themselves and with other notable L.A. theater people. Read the rest of this entry »

How Do I Find A Good Lighting Designer?

I’ve been asked (quite a bit) how to find a good lighting designer. It’s a simple question with no easy answer – so here are some clarifying, specific related questions – which do have fairly straightforward answers. Read the rest of this entry »

Schools Kill Creativity?

Here’s a great speech from creativity expert Ken Robinson, proposing the idea that many schools kill creativity, an opinion with which I whole-heartedly agree. Enjoy


Jesus Hates Me

The Chance Theater production of “Jesus Hates Me” closed last weekend at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA and it was a brief but great run.

The Chance Theater (where the show was initially performed in January 09) was approached about doing this show last year and jumped at the opportunity. South Coast Rep had been looking for ways to partner with other theaters in Orange County and make use of its Nicholas Studio space. It seems they thought our show would be a good fit. Read the rest of this entry »

HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical

This is an update to a previous post:

The Chance Theater production of HAIR was nominated for six Ovation Awards (in our first eligible year) and six nominations from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle. Read the rest of this entry »