Community Palette

A Double Bill of Short Plays by Harold Pinter

October 11, 2017

Michael Kahn, Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) Artistic Director shares his thoughts on the two one act Pinter plays he directs before you even enter the theater. He wrote “I first encountered these two short plays by Harold Pinter when I was much younger. Back then, I didn’t understand them. Well, I’ve had enough relationships since then to understand them now. There are some plays you just shouldn’t do until you’ve been out in the world. These are probably two of them.” I think you can add to that these are also plays you shouldn’t see until you have lived life a little but anyone who has will find them intriguing and often mesmerizing. 

 Lisa Dwan and Michael Kahn (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Lisa Dwan and Michael Kahn

 

Kahn goes on to explain “The Lover is about a young married couple who live in a suburb outside of London. He goes to work in the City every day and she stays home. The surprise comes in the very first scene. Getting ready to go to work, he asks his wife if her lover is coming today. She says, “Mmm.” And he leaves. And that’s the beginning of the set of puzzles in that play.” The second play, The Collection is about two more couples, one married for two years, and the other, which was quite surprising for the time, a gay couple. They are clearly a couple—it’s never mentioned, but the intent is clear—an older, wealthier man and a younger guy from the other side of the tracks. The mystery of the play is a story that is told about a hotel room in Leeds. It motivates all of the action and the dynamics of all the relationships.”

 

After reading this missive from Kahn there was some trepidation as to whether I would get the plot and the subplots. Was my IQ and level of understanding equal to Trumps or Tillersons? I leave that to you to decide when I tell you I did understand the plays and loved them. Kahn’s direction brought out the best of the author and his actors. 

 

The acting is uniformly brilliant. Four actors make up the cast of both plays. Lisa Dwan is in both playing Sarah in The Lover and Stella in The Collection. Patrick Kennedy plays Richard in The Lover and James in The Collection. Patrick Ball is Bill in The Collection and Jack Koenig is Harry in The Collection.  

 

The evening opens with The Lover and from her opening looks and movements Lisa Dwan holds your attention. She is perfect going from the wife to the lover and Patrick Kennedy is often mesmerizing as the lover and the husband. Now you figure this out. The night we were there right in the middle of an intense scene the fire-alarm in the theater went off. While it was a false alarm it held up the show for about ten minutes. Few actors could come back on-stage and bring the scene back to the same intensity it had before being interrupted but these two did that. The humor can be subtle and if you get it, and under Kahn’s direction you should, this is a very funny play.

Patrick Ball and Michael Kahn (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Patrick Ball and Michael Kahn

 

The Collection is more serious and deals with the foibles of a straight marriage and how the husband and wife end up interacting with a gay couple. The battles within each relationship are played out against the other couple’s relationship. In this play all four actors shine but one is often focused on Patrick Ball as the young gay man who becomes the focus of strife for both couples. His movements and timing are perfect. Patrick Kennedy as James is great and one must give him extra kudos as he joined the cast late in rehearsals but one would never guess that. Jack Koenig is a wonderful foil and is actually the only actor who has performed with the STC before. We can only hope to see him back again. There is a live cat in a couple of scenes who I was told played his part to perfection the evening I saw the plays.  

 

The scenic design by Debra Booth is great especially when she has to have two apartments on the same stage in The Collection and Lighting Designer Mary Louise Geiger makes us believe. Legendary Costume Designer Jane Greenwood once again makes us see the designs as an integral part of the plays; and Veronica J. Lancaster’s sound design complements everything happening without being a distraction which is what it should be here.

 

Pinter is not always easy to understand but these two plays at the STC are definitely worth the time and effort and make for a great night in the theater. They will be at the Lansburgh through October 29th.  

 


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DC’s Own Food and Nutrition Guru Dr. Taylor Wallace

September 21, 2017

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Taylor Wallace and found out DC has its own food and nutrition guru. He has a consulting company and a blog and has written numerous textbooks in the nutrition and food science fields. He is a Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University and is now writing a cookbook. A really multi-talented guy. 

Listening to Taylor tell it “I have always had a passion for food.  When I was a kid, I basically lived in the kitchen with my grandmother (Mamawl), a self-made homemaker, who taught me how to cook, process and preserve a wide variety of foods.  Each year we would enter the open division at county fair; we won the overall championship 5 out of the 6 years we entered, capturing over 250 blue ribbons.  Mamawl’s homemade pie crust, divinity candy, and sweet pickles never received anything less than a blue ribbon.  My secret self-made sour cream coffee cake recipe followed similar suit, not only winning the blue ribbon prize each year, but also back-to-back purple grand champion ribbons at both the county and state fairs.  I used to tease Mamawl that my coffee cake was the only thing that could beat her homemade pie crust.” While Taylor preaches healthy eating, he agrees some things like his coffee cake are just too good to totally eliminate from one’s diet!  You’ll be able to access all of his secret family recipes in his upcoming cookbook to be released in 2018.

After graduating high school Taylor attended the University of Kentucky, where he studied food science; the science used to create a safer, healthy and more nutritious food supply in a world with a fast-growing population and diminishing natural resources.  As a scientist Taylor became particularly interested in the functional properties of foods, how different foods affect human health, and how specific diet patterns can be used to prevent the onset of chronic disease.  He did his doctoral research on the health-promoting properties of a group of compounds known as “anthocyanins,” the orange-red to blue violet colors in many fruits and vegetables.  He was one of the first to demonstrate their marked effects on cardiovascular disease prevention.  In 2012, Taylor was honored as the youngest individual to be inducted as a fellow of the American College of Nutrition, in part for this work.

Many have now heard of probiotics, especially if you watch late night TV, they are advertised all the time.  Probiotics are “good” bacteria. They are live microorganisms, similar to the ones already living in your gut, and may offer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. The word “probiotic” itself is often translated to “beneficial for life.”  It is a derived from the Latin word “pro” meaning “for” and the Greek word “biotic” meaning “life.” Probiotics are simply the good bacteria, which may lead to improved digestion and better immunity. Taylor is now developing his own Probiotic… but not just any traditional probiotic… this dietary supplement is a mixture of viruses known as “bacteriophages.”  Sounds scary, right?  Much like bacteria there are good and bad viruses.  Taylor explains “what’s incredible about these viruses (i.e., bacteriophages) is that they selectively target and kill off only the bad bacteria in your gut, allowing the good bacteria more room to grow and flourish.  We’re seeing incredible results among participants in our ongoing clinical trial.  This is the first human clinical trial of its kind and is going to be a game changer in the field of nutrition.”

Today, Taylor focuses much of his professional career on nutrition and lifestyle changes for preventing disease.  He’s worked in academic, company, and the not-for-profit sectors of the food industry, and currently owns his own scientific consulting firm, Think Healthy Group, Inc., which he uses to continue his research passion, conduct scientific reviews, author books, and communicate the importance of nutrition, food safety, and food technology. He has recently appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, NBC4 Washington and has been interviewed by The Washington Post, Food Network, and Shape Magazine. To learn more about good food and nutrition just click on Taylor’s website.

 


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Rehoboth Beach is More than a Summer Resort

September 5, 2017

It is generally agreed the summer season in Rehoboth Beach officially ends on Labor Day. The kids are back in school and most people are back at work. But if you think Rehoboth Beach is closed until next Memorial Day you have another thing coming. There is always something happening at the Beach. On September 15th a new Mayor will be sworn in for the first time in twenty-seven years and Paul Kuhns’ election bodes well for the beach. 

Courtesy of Paul Kuhns (Photo by: Paul Kuhns) Courtesy of Paul Kuhns

Rehoboth is a great destination all through the fall and winter. It’s a great place to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. Yes January, February and March can be a little slow but even then many good restaurants are open and it can be a great time to shop at the 133 outlet stores on Rte. 1, tax free, and without the summer traffic. In addition after September 17th, you no longer have to feed the meters in downtown Rehoboth till next Memorial Day. 

The fall is replete with special events at the beach. The first is the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival which will be bigger than ever. It runs from October 12-15th and takes place at different venues throughout the Rehoboth Beach area. This year they are celebrating over a quarter century of smooth jazz! Friday night hopefully at the reopened Rehoboth Beach Convention Center, Saturday afternoon at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand, a Jazz Fest Fashion Show and much more! Four days packed with amazing jazz performances. All your favorite restaurants, or the ones that will become your favorites, will have jazz performers entertaining.

Then on Sunday of Jazz Festival make plans to join in the fun at the CAMP Rehoboth Block Party. Block Party 3 will be held on the second block of Baltimore Avenue, from 12-4 pm on October 15th. Crowds estimated at well over a thousand filled the block last year, with dozens of local restaurants, caterers, businesses, non-profits, and other organizations participating. This is a great event for all and promises to be even bigger this year. Bring the kids, they will have a great time. 

Then mark your calendar and come back to enjoy the Rehoboth Sea Witch Festival for Halloween October 27-29th and follow that up with the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival (RBIFF) which this year runs from November 2-12th. RBIFF is the oldest and largest event of its kind in the State of Delaware. 2017 is its 20th year, and the award winning festival has developed into a mid-Atlantic fall destination event for film enthusiasts from more than fifteen states. The nine+ day event is held every November and offers a wide variety of American and international features, documentaries, and short films. It is presented by the Rehoboth Beach Film Society, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit arts organization which also provides a broad scope of independent film screenings, mini-Festivals, and theme-oriented film series throughout the year. In March, 2016 the Film Society opened the Cinema Art Theater, a brand-new theater with 104 tiered and staggered seats and professional projection and sound equipment. 

Because there are many more full-time residents, and more and more visitors continue to come and enjoy the beach throughout the year many of the great restaurants and bars which once closed after the summer season now stay open all year. While a few fun places, mainly outdoor venues like the great Aqua Bar and Grille, and the Iguana Grille close for the winter season after Halloween, others like the Purple Parrot on Rehoboth Avenue, with its good food and reasonable prices, and the Coffee Mill in the mews between Rehoboth and Baltimore Avenues, are open. Funland closes in the off-season but the one mile boardwalk is open for strolling and biking and you can take your dog for a run on the beach. 

(Photo by: Courtesy of Rehoboth Beach)

Many good restaurants serve Thanksgiving dinner and Rehoboth starts its holiday season celebrations with a fun Christmas tree lighting at the bandstand the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend. It is a great small-town celebration, children singing Christmas carols, with a huge diverse crowd of visitors and full-time residents celebrating together.   

For the past twenty-five years I have spent the week between Christmas and New Years at the beach. Rehoboth Avenue is festooned with lights and many good restaurants including the Blue Moon and Eden are open and have New Year’s Eve celebrations. This year there is the new La Fable restaurant on Baltimore Avenue, now one of my favorite places to eat, which will also be open through the holidays.  Remember for many of the better restaurants, even in what some call off-season, you still need reservations. There are also the more casual dining spots including a great new addition on Rehoboth Avenue, Dogfish Head Brews and Eats, expanding Rehoboth’s own brew pub. Another favorite is Café Azafran on the first block of Baltimore Avenue.

Part of the fun of planning to be at the beach during the holidays is never knowing much in advance what the weather will be. One year on New Year’s Day we walked in the snow on the beach; then the next year we headed to the boardwalk in shorts and t-shirts.

So as you make plans for fall and the holidays don’t forget to include Rehoboth Beach. You will be missing out on a lot of fun if you don’t.  

 

 


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