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HIGH IN THE PADUA HILLS
I just wanted to thank you for the articles on the Padua
Hills Playwrights Festival in your April 20–26 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
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, I’d like to say that Padua Hills was truly a magical place.
I’d 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
I’d 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 isn’t 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 27–May 3), I put down the
paper and laughed. It reminded me just how different human perspectives can
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 night’s 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, didn’t
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 Henderson’s situation, 90 percent
of awards-ceremony attendees consist of nominees and their guests. The extent
of the interest in this year’s 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 year’s awards, we are looking
for ways to better accommodate our nominees.
THE KEY TO RAPID WEIGHT GAIN
Apropos of John
Price’s letter in the May 4–10 Weekly: When I read Judith Lewis’
28-pounds statistic [“Auto
Immune,” April 20–26], 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
While it’s true that you can’t 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-DMC’s
Crown Royal [Music Reviews, April 13–19]. I’m glad you have a hepcat
like Oliver keeping his ear to the streets and keeping hip-hoppers in the know.
—Sir Kobe Bronson