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HIGH IN THE PADUA HILLS
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I just wanted to thank you for the articles on the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival in your April 2026 issue. (I was a student there way back when it was up on the mountain. It was one of the best experiences of my life.) I was losing hope for theater in Los Angeles until Murray grabbed me from the front page of the Weekly and brought me inside to see some old pals. Reading the articles took me to my real home for a while. I hope Padua never dies.
Re: the articles on Padua Hills. As one of the original students, the manager for several years, an actor in the company and the guy who suggested the location to Robbie Baitz, Id like to say that Padua Hills was truly a magical place. Id like to point out, however, that Padua Hills grew out of the brainstorming of two men: Murray Mednick and John R. Jack Woodruff. Jack had been one of my drama teachers and directors at Carleton College (and had been asked to retire the year I graduated, 1974). Unable to leave the world of the theater, Jack had come to the University of La Verne to resurrect its defunct theater department. Murray was guest-teaching at the time. Over several beers, Jack and Murray came up with an idea for a summer program where Murray would invite some of his playwright friends to lead seminars on the grounds of the Padua Hills Playhouse.
That first session (1978) was the greatest, most inspirational experience I have ever had an amazing summer. Murray, of course, was a huge part of it, but I believe credit should also go to Mr. Woodruff, who at age 91 is still staging productions and readings of plays. He is a truly remarkable man.
James F. Dean
Id like to thank the L.A. Weekly and theater editor Steven Leigh Morris and his staff for their continuing dedication to theater in Los Angeles. This week in particular, the Weekly showed its commitment to the art form with a cover story on the Padua Playwrights Festival. Then, of course, there was the L.A. Weekly Theater Awards ceremony, as always a raucous celebration of the notion that theater, when well-done, is life-affirming, consequential and, well, fun. If all the people who think this isnt a theater town could attend, their ignorance would evaporate.
President and CEO
Theater League Alliance
COOLING THEIR HEELS
When I finished reading the article on the 22nd annual L.A. Weekly Theater Awards (April 27May 3), I put down the paper and laughed. It reminded me just how different human perspectives can be.
Take my perspective, for instance. I was asked to donate my time to this event, along with the entire Midnight Sun Circus cast to do a show, something I reluctantly did and now regret, for several reasons. First, we were there all day waiting to do our show. Second, we have a lot of equipment to haul around and keep organized. Third, we had to pay for parking. Fourth, we were treated with very little respect by a particular event coordinator. And, to top it all off, we never got to do a show. All this for free.
Oh well. Live and burn, I always say.
Midnight Sun Entertainment
I was a nominee in the category of play writing at last nights award ceremony, and I would like to share my experience of the event. I arrived with my mom, dad and brother an hour and a half early, only to learn that there was no record of my reservations. I was told that I and my family, who had traveled from Central California to attend, would be put on a waiting list and that I would be allowed inside the theater when my category was announced. We tried to stay patient and have a sense of humor about the esoteric fashion show in the lobby, and to tune out the nauseating, evil rumble of ambient noise, but it was hard.
When most of the crowd had finally taken their seats inside, we found a small table in the lobby at which to rest, drink sodas and watch the video display (which was virtually invisible). My category was something like 36th on the list, so I was preparing myself for a long wait. Still, looking on the bright side, I saw this as a chance to really search my heart for who I would thank if I were to win and to visit with my family. Even this was impossible, however, because, before â we could even finish our drinks, our chairs were whisked away by order of the fire marshal.
At that point, we left. When I got home, I left a message on some friends answering machine asking them to call and tell me who had won, and to thank them for coming to support me. Today I got the message that they, too, didnt know who had won. They too had left early, embarrassed and pissed off and they even had seats!
Which left me wondering what was being honored last night. If it was theater, no wonder nobody goes. And if it was your paper, why was I invited?
STEVEN LEIGH MORRIS REPLIES: The Midnight Sun debacle is attributable to a last-minute communications breakdown, a circumstance which we regret and are taking steps to avoid in the future. As for Cody Hendersons situation, 90 percent of awards-ceremony attendees consist of nominees and their guests. The extent of the interest in this years ceremony took us all by surprise, although I did contact Henderson and explain the nature of the seating situation to him well before he arrived with his family. Still, it was never our intention to disgruntle such an excellent playwright. For next years awards, we are looking for ways to better accommodate our nominees.
THE KEY TO RAPID WEIGHT GAIN
Apropos of John Prices letter in the May 410 Weekly: When I read Judith Lewis 28-pounds statistic [Auto Immune, April 2026], I figured it had to be wrong for the same reason. But then when I thought about the chemical reaction, which must be something like 2C8H18+25O2 produces 18H2O+16CO2, where two octane molecules combine with 25 oxygen molecules to produce 18 water molecules and 16 carbon-dioxide molecules, the statistic made sense.
Eight pounds of octane is about 32 moles of octane; 32 moles of octane produce 256 moles of carbon dioxide (note the ratio of the coefficients of octane and CO2 is 1:8); 256 moles of carbon dioxide weighs about 11 kg or 25 pounds.
While its true that you cant turn 8 pounds of gas into more than 8 pounds of anything, the writer forgot about the oxygen from the air which combines with the gas and results in the added weight.
HEAD TO THE ASPHALT
You should give Oliver Wang a raise for his exclusive on the death of rapper Fat Joe in his review of Run-DMCs Crown Royal [Music Reviews, April 1319]. Im glad you have a hepcat like Oliver keeping his ear to the streets and keeping hip-hoppers in the know.
Sir Kobe Bronson