School’s Out Forever: Budget Cuts & College Classes

At some point every semester, students ask about creative writing. They ask if we will get to do any.

And I have to tell them no, that poetry and fiction and dramatic literature are not part of the SLOs, the Student Learning Objectives, for the writing classes I teach.

But there are few, if any, creative writing classes offered. In fact, there are few, if any, creative classes of any kind offered any more.

Tonight a student asked the question. And I said no. He pointed out the video posted on this blog and the argument it makes for creativity.

There’s no budget for those classes any more.

Not enough people think the arts are necessary, important.

I hope you watch Sandra Hunter’s video on the topic of these budget cuts to the arts.

PS She teaches writing at Moorpark College. She’s a poet and she writes plays.

VC Spring 2012 One Act Play Fest Opens Th 2/2/12 at Wright Library

Enjoy an evening of affordable live theater during the next two weeks as the Ventura College Student One Act Play Festival opens Thursday February 2, 2012 and features four short one-act plays, “The Wedding Story,” “The Fourth Wall,” “Smokes Scenes,” and “Drugs are Bad.”

In “The Wedding Story,” a brave narrator attempts to tell the “perfect” wedding story while being interrupted repeatedly by the bride and groom revealing the “real” story.

“The Fourth Wall” explores what a play might look like if the actors’ mistakes were actually part of the script.

“Smoke Scenes” brings together two clever actors who decide to conceptualize smoke 50 different ways in 10 minutes.

“Drugs Are Bad” shows how two parents deftly influence their son’s behavior.

All four plays will be presented at each performance. Costumes are designed by students, and Isabelle Perez is stage manager. The Festival showcases the writing, performance, and production skills of numerous Ventura College Theatre students.

A free preview performance will be presented on Thursday evening, February 2, at 8 p.m., followed by performances on February 3-4 at 8 p.m., February 9, 10, 11 at 8 p.m., and a Sunday matinee on February 12 at 3 p.m. All performances will be held in the Wright Library, 57 Day Road, Ventura. Tickets: $7 General Admission, $5 Students/Staff/Seniors. Tickets available at the door onl

For more information, contact Judy Garey, Ventura College Theatre Arts Department, email or telephone (805) 654-6400 (ext. 3236).

My students can get in free to performances and write about it for extra credit or to make-up an absence.

Merton of the Movies: VC Play At Wright Library

Merton of the Movies
by George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly
Directed by Jay Varela

Since the Ventura College library building is being renovated, this comedy will be performed at the Wright Library located at the corner of Day Road and Telegraph, next to the college, and seats will be limited to first come, first served for $9 general, $7 students, seniors, and staff. My students will get in free with ID; your name will be at the ticket office on my class list. The box office opens 30 minutes before the curtain rises and you should try to be there when it opens to guarantee a seat. Students, if you want credit, save and attach your program to help you write your review or response.

Production Dates: Continue reading

Ventura’s Rubicon Theater Does Macbeth This Weekend (via art predator)

There’s lots of Shakespeare going on this summer under the stars and in theaters. This performance is in the old church on Laurel street. Check it out and support the young thespians–you might even know some of them! This weekend only! (PS For my Ventura College students, this definitely counts as a cultural or literary event!)

Ventura's Rubicon Theater Does Macbeth This Weekend This summer, a group of teens explored a classic play and the results will hit the boards this weekend. Veteran actor Joseph Fuqua directs this year’s Rubicon Acting Intensive class of 17 young actors in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth and they promise to illuminate this classic tragedy in a modern context. The show runs this weekend  Thursday July 15- Saturday July 17 at 8pm plus Sunday, July 18 at 2:00pm. Pre-sale Tickets are $10 and it’s $15 at the … Read More

via art predator

Summertime Shakespeare at CLU: Comedy of Errors & Winters Tale (via art predator)

A great way to expand your horizons, enjoy a summer evening, have fun–and likely earn class or extra credit! For my summer school students, this would count as one of your four cultural-literary-eco events.

Summertime Shakespeare at CLU: Comedy of Errors & Winters Tale Summertime is Shakespeare time as festivals and performances sprout in parks and on outdoor stages across the country and around the world. Watching one of Shakespeare’s plays under the stars or in the shade of a tree, listening to birds or crickets and frogs, relaxing with a picnic and a bottle of wine, is one of my favorite ways to celebrate summer. I’ve enjoyed Shakespeare outdoors at Ashland Oregon, in Colorado, and more recently, in Californ … Read More

via art predator

A Celebration of Irish Literature & Sights in honor of St. Patrick’s Day

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! This guest post comes to you from John McNally pictured here with his wife, Sally and their daughter on Summer Solstice 2008. They visit Ireland often; in this photo they’re touching the Lia Fáil or Stone of Destiny on the Hill of Tara at which the High Kings were crowned.

A few years ago, Sally and John McNally gave a presentation about Ireland and its culture to my college composition and literature students that included a Reader’s Theater performance of John Millington Synge’s classic Irish tragedy, Riders to the Sea. Read the play Riders to the Sea; this study guide will help you see Synge’s brilliance and this post will tell you something about the traditional language.

To celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, and to help people appreciate the Irish people and culture, John put together a selection of Irish websites along with a brief narrative for anyone with an interest in Ireland or who may be planning a trip there. “These are my favorite places and activities,” writes John, “carefully selected and happily experienced as a result of a dozen visits to the Old Sod over the last three decades.”

John McNally’s Top 20 Places to Go in Ireland
or at least visit on the web!

Around Dublin

1) The National Museum of Archeology on Kildare Street, Dublin.   It’s free, located in central Dublin, and has artifacts from throughout Irelands history from stone age gold jewelry and mummified Bog People to the uniforms and weapons of the Irish Rebel leaders.

2) The National Library: Next door, it has with a superb exhibit on poet W. B. Yeats:

3) Kilmainham Goal Tour is unsurpassed in telling the story of Ireland.  This former prison is preserved as a museum and is filled with history.  It has also been the site of several recent films.

4) Walking tour: the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl.

5) Dublin Writers Museum offers an excellent one hour presentation.

6) 1916 Rebellion Tour Another lively and informative walking tour

7) Sinn Fein Bookshop: If you have further interest in Republican (Rebel) Ireland then visit the Sinn Fein Bookshop:

8) Tourist Center on Suffolk Street. You may have noticed my personal interests lean towards history and literature so naturally my selections favor these enduring sites.  For a wider variety of activities visit the Tourist Center on Suffolk Street where you can find information on events, shows, and tours of all types.

9) Grafton Street is a favorite with street entertainers and should not be missed.

10) Temple Bar is Dublin’s Cultural Quarter where you can find modern and traditional Irish music and art.  It’s also a handy place to stay because it’s in the center of the city so you can walk to nearly all other venues.

11) Hop-On Hop-Off Busses The best way to see central Dublin in a day or two and not worry about getting lost or paying for parking are the Hop-On Hop-Off Busses which stop at all the major attractions and are a tour in themselves.

Outside of Dublin

12) The most significant attraction is Newgrange. These ancient Temples predate Egypt’s Pyramids and England’s Stonehenge. Tours take small groups inside the Passage Tombs from this well run center:

13) Brigit’s Garden is just the thing if you are a lover of Celtic Heritage and Mythology like ourselves.

14) Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is a living museum of rural Irish life.

15) Craggaunowen Nearby is my favorite pre-history site, Craggaunowen.

16) Cliffs of Moher A virtual tour of the Cliffs of Moher shows you why you’d want to visit:

17) Blarney Castle in Cork can be overcrowded with tourists but if you go anyway be sure to visit the Druid area in the nearby forest.

Northern Ireland

18) Black Taxi Tours are a good way to see Belfast.

19) West Belfast is the Irish-Catholic side of the city and they offer their own tours:

20) Dunluce Castle If you get up to the Antrim Coast, Dunluce Castle is unsurpassed with its rugged beauty.

Sin-e’   (That’s it)                                                                                        John McNally    March 2010

Performance Pioneer Rachel Rosenthal Publishes Book & Celebrates 83rd Birthday

According to The Los Angeles Times, “Rachel Rosenthal  bills herself simply as a performance artist. That’s about as accurate as calling the Taj Majal a house. The woman is a monument and a marvel. She is a force of nature…She is timeless, ageless, gutsy, quirky, exotic, potentially poignant.”

Back when I was in grad school at the University of Nevada Reno, Rachel Rosenthal came to visit. I didn’t know what to expect, but attending her performance came highly recommended by my friend Helen Jones who ran the Women’s Center. “Don’t miss it,” she said. And I was glad I didn’t. I can still feel the energy with which she filled the room, even if I don’t quite recall the particulars.

Flash forward many years later when another Helen, this one Helen O’Neil, invited me to Rachel Rosenthal’s 83 birthday celebration and book release party.

The DbD Experience: Chance Knows What It’s Doing! DbD, or “Doing by Doing” describes her signature method of teaching improvisational theater. In the 130-page book, the Obie winning performer explores improvisational theater and its relationship to life, offering a blow-by-blow account of what happens in her 34-hour DbD weekend intensive workshops (currently still happening on a bi-annual basis in Los Angeles). This mix of memoir, teaching manual, and manifesto was edited by Kate Noonan and is set for US release December 15 2009 by Routledge (ISBN 978-0-415-55102-1,

“Chance is the core of improvisation,” says Rosenthal when crystallizing the point of her teaching methods, “The DbD Experience is about breaking down borders, opening up to the givens, activating the moment, and paying attention to what is.”

“Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” I told her. “Unless of course I win that wine blogging contest and go to Portugal–haha!” Well wonders will never cease–I did win that wineblogging contest, went to Portugal, and was just too severely jetlagged to go to LA the day after I returned.

Fortunately, Helen went to Rachel Rosenthal’s 83nd Birthday Bash–and wrote about it for us:

The press was dubbing it “The Cultural Event of the Year” so I was expecting an over-crowded, stuffy event to honor Rachel Rosenthal’s decades of theater and performance art. All I knew was that Rachel did performance art in the 60’s and had a shaved head.

The hosting gallery, Track 16, in the Bergamot Station, Santa Monica CA, avoided décor with just plain white walls. Half the gallery was dedicated to the works for a silent auction that benefited Rosenthal Company’s TOHUBOHU! This new performance troupe, bills itself as an “Extreme Theater Ensemble” where nothing is scripted, rehearsed or repeated.

The event also premièred her new book The DbD Experience – Chance Knows What it’s Doing!, a mix of memoir, philosophical musing, and teaching manual. Here she explored improvisational theater and its relationship to
life, offering a blow-by-blow account of what happens in her DbD weekend intensive workshops.

Among the 83 pieces were works by John Baldessari, Mike Kelley, Robert Rauschenberg, Lita Albuquerque, Eleanor Antin, Judy Baca, Ed Moses and June Wayne. A Ed Ruska was going for $1,000; a happy celebrant won a large painting by The Unknown Heartist, for only $70, which several us felt was the superior piece. Many of the artists who contributed the art to the silent auction were in attendance.

Balloon sculpture, Pali X-mano, (www. whose works float around Burning Man and Santa Barbara Soltice, was there in his fun spattered pain over-alls, showing off his portfolio, which included a 20¹x20¹ tentacle
balloon that housed a 4-piece band.

Stand out art came from Photographer Lennybruce Lee, Llyn Foulkes collage “Letters to Rachel,” and metal and glass sculpture by George Herms.

While I never saw the Rauschenberg, I did see Clint Steinhauser’s beautiful necklace, “Rachel’s Head” which really showed the love these artists have for her and her powerful inspiration.

This was turning out to be more of a real Birthday party with people cooing over the birthday girl and chiming about her experiences with her.

There was a big cake from the Cake Divas, towering a top the 20 foot table lined with petit fours, gold sprinkled cookies, Croquembouche and chocolate cookies with handwritten ŒR¹s.

The Bar had a lovely supply of Hogarten Beer, White Cosmos and Bitch Bubbly. While Bitch, a grenache from Grateful Palate Imports, is considered by many a for the “label only” wine, the Bitch Bubbly was a lovely very dry Rose which complemented the desert table.

John Fleck MCed.  Performances of mime, vaudeville, and song included Amy Knoles from the California E.A.R. Unit and Jean Paul Monsché of the Mad Alsacians. All rich with accolades to Rachel, with her concluding, that she hoped we all had a lot of money to spend.

The receiving line was long and diverse: Rosenthal’s fame rose in the 1950s as artistic director and performer in her totally improvised “Instant Theater.” In the 1960s and 1970s, she was a pioneer in animal rights issues, and was a founder of “Womanspace,” a hotbed of feminism. Among the guests were her fellow comrades with the look of past battles in their eyes, while young students knelled down beside her with their glowing faces.

And then magically there was a break in the line. I turned to Rachel and mentioned that I just had turned 50 and it was amazing to see her here at 83. She just held my arm with both her hands, looked at me and smiled. Then I felt this great wave of energy. After a timeless moment I walked back to a chair. I sat and absorbed the whirl of joyous energy, strong enough to alter the Bitch Bubbly in my head. And I thought, Wow! does her art carry this energy across to an audience?

The evening closed with Alberto DeAlmar, playing Flaminco guitar in front of the Dosco Indian food truck, while the last of us danced and clapped.

Like The Los Angeles Times says of Rachel, “Rosenthal  bills herself simply as a performance artist. That’s about as accurate as calling the Taj Majal a house. The woman is a monument and a marvel. She is a force of nature…She is timeless, ageless, gutsy, quirky, exotic, potentially poignant.”

I believe ‘em.

Happy Birthday Rachel!

Accounts of Rachel Rosenthal’s Birthday party from the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly help to illuminate this force of nature:,0,499239.story and
as do these photos from
ARTinfo’s recent shoot:
and these images from the birthday bash:

Watch this space for an upcoming review of Rachel Rosenthal’s new book, the upcoming performance in February and more.

Ventura College One Act Plays November 2009

The Ventura College Theatre Department presents the Fall 2009 One-Act Play Festival beginning November 12. This semester’s one-acts include Seven Menus, a transcendental dining experience shared by multiple couples in ever-changing relationships, written by David Ives and directed by Aaron Manuyag; Variations on the Death of Trotsky, an exploration of how the great Leon Trotsky came to have a mountain climber’s axe smashed into his head, written by David Ives and directed by James Fraker; Night Visits, an endearing parable of love, loss, and ultimate happiness, written by Simon Fill and directed by Alex Manriquez; and Misreadings, a unique tale of the delicate and complex relationship between teacher and student, written by Neena Beber and directed by Wayne Hellstrom.

The One-Acts will be performed at the Ventura College Mainstage and Circus Theatres continue next weekend: Thursday, November 19 at 8pm, Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21 at 8pm, and a Sunday Matinee on November 22 at 3pm. Tickets are $7.00 for general admission, and $5.00 for students, staff, and seniors, and are available only at the door shortly before the performance begins. For more information, contact Judy Garey at 654-6400 ext. 3236 or Jay Varela at ext. 3194.

Students enrolled in my classes get in free! Just tell them you’re in my class and your name and they’ll look you up on the roster. I hope you’ll write up a review on your blog–please leave a link here so we can go see!

The Embark & The Goodbye: Luis de Camoes

Poetry from Portugal: The Embark & The Goodbye by Luis de Camoes

actorBelem Jeronimos Monastery
from Ploughing the Sea: Poems from the Lusiadas
by Luis de Camoes
Canto IV: 86-93

Having done everything practical
To make ready for so long a voyage,
We prepared our souls to meet death
Which is always on a sailor’s horizon.
To God on high who alone sustains
The heavens with his beloved presence,
We asked His favour that He should endorse
Our every enterprise and steer our course.

The holy chapel from which we parted
Is built there on the very beach,
And takes its name, Belem, from the town
Where God was given to the world as flesh.
O King, I tell you, when I reflect
On how I parted from that shore,
Tormented by so many doubts and fears,
Even now it is hard to restrain my tears.

Portuguese explorers statue near Belem
That day, a vast throng from the city
(As friends, as family, others
only to watch), crowded the shore,
Their faces anxious and dismayed
Looking on, as in the holy company
Of a thousand zealous monks
With heartfelt intercessions on our lips
We marched in solemn file towards the ships.

The people considered us already lost
On so long and uncertain of a journey,
The women with piteous wailing
The men with agonizing sighs;
Mothers, sweethearts, and sisters, made
Fretful by their love, heightened
The desolation and the arctic fear
We should not return for many a long year.

One such was saying: “O my dear son,
My only comfort and sweet support
In this my tottering old age, now
Doomed to end in grief and pain,
Why do you leave me wretched and indigent?
Why do you travel so far away,
To be lost at sea as your memorial,
And bloated fish as your only burial?”

Or one bareheaded: “O dearest husband,
But for whose love I could not exist,
Why do you risk on the angry seas
That which belongs to me, not you?
Why, for so dubious a voyage, do you
Forget our sweet affection?
Is our passion, our happiness so frail
As to scatter in the wind swelling the sail?”

As these piteous, loving speeches
Poured from gentle, human hearts,
The old and the children took them up
In the different manner of their years.
The nearest mountains echoed them,
As if stirred by nearest sympathy,
While tears as many as the grains of sand
Rained without ceasing on the white strand.

As for us, we dared not lit our faces
To our mothers and our wives, fearing
To be harrowed, or discouraged
From the enterprise so firmly begun,
And I decided we should all embark
Without the customary farewells,
For, though they may be love’s proper course,
They make the pain of separation worse.

published 1752

Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes (1525-1580) led quite an adventurous life, which included traveling to India and China by ship. His hands-on experience enriches his epic poem The Lusiads about Vasco de Gama on the voyage which ultimately connected Europe to India. He is such an important figure to the Portuguese that his birthday is Portugal Day and his tomb is at the Jeronimos Monastery (pictured–with an actor from a Portuguese Ren era play waiting in the wings!). More to come about and from Camoes!

For more poetry, ride the Monday Poetry Train!

PS I send my gratitude to Enoforum Wine for the copy of the book from which I quote. I was admiring it in the book store at the monastery and trying to find it on the shelf to buy it when it was quickly purchased for me along with a collection by Fernando Pessoa. Enoforum Wines recognizes that a wine is more than the grapes; it even includes the poetry of the people who make the wine and live on the land. I agree. Thank you!

Harvest ArtWak to feature children’s play at Bell Arts

 Bell Arts Art walk play "We Source: We are our greatest resource"There’s plenty going on around with the Ventura Harvest Artwalk this weekend downtown.

 We Source ActorsBell Arts Factory is always a highlight of any ArtWalk, but today Sunday at 2pm, my son will be performing there in a very unusual and free theatrical presentation, “We Source” about “magical beings in a magical forest who discover what empties the spirit and feeds the soul.”

About 11 children from 5-12 have been developing the story and rehearsing the play two afternoons a week for two months. Numerous adult artists from Bell Arts and the community have also been involved in various aspects of the play written and directed by Tracy Hudak, created by the young artists of the Bell Arts Youth Program, and with live music. The set includes a fabulous tree created by MB Hanrahan, Rosel Weedn, and Michele Foster. Bell Arts is located at 432. N. Ventura Avenue.

 My son The WizardMy son plays a Wizard and he’s very excited about being part of this performance. He’s worked very hard to understand his character and the character’s motivation. Being part of this play has been an important journey in his life. He’s had lots of fun but he’s taken it very very seriously. I see how much he’s grown in terms of understanding the world, 7331_158274900269_553815269_2638111_5962357_nhis place in it, and how we are each motivated by various factors. As he has come to understand what motivates the characters in the play, and why and how they respond to conflict and opportunity, he has understand to himself and the world better.

If you can’t make the performance of the play on Sunday at 2pm at Bell Arts, a second performance has been added for Tuesday Oct 27 at 4pm. Hope to see you there!

And if you can’t make either performance, drop by Bell Arts to check out the set. Or join us for the First Friday ArtRide –it will still be up and lit up for our Bikers Ball gracing the stage where band The Sideshow Preachers will be performing!