Some Ventura County mid-July Lit Events


Ventura’s Favorite Poem Project
“Share your favorite poem with Ventura”
Tuesday, July 14 at 5:30pm-7:30pm
Zoey’s Café and Loft
no feature

Robert Peake, featured reader
Tuesday Night Poets
Tuesday, July 14 7:30pm
open mic follows

Feature: F. Albert Salinas
Open mic to follow
Host by Friday
7:30PM Saturday, July 18th
Bell Arts Factory
432 Ventura Ave, Ventura

Broken Word Happy Hour is a spoken word reading series featuring fiction and poetry writers from around Southern California. Thursday, July 23rd at 7PM Farmer & Cook. Come enjoy a summer evening on the patio, listening to stories and poems while enjoying Farmer & Cook’s signature vegetarian snacks as well as organic beer and wine. They have THE BEST chai. More info: Broken Word website.

Theater 150 presents Hamlet

hamlet poster web-1.jpgHamlet is coming to Theater 150!
Previews July 16 and 17: 8PM
July 18: 8PM -Opening Night Gala
Runs July 19-August 8
Thursday-Saturday: 8PM, Sunday 2PM
Tickets $15-$29 Gala-$50
Sundays, as always, 2-for-1

Ojai, California, nestled in a valley seventy five miles north of Los Angeles, lures visitors from all over with its world-class spas, idyllic natural beauty, and friendly, small-town feel. In June, music lovers flock to Ojai for the famous Music Festival, art lovers come in October for the Studio Artist’s Tour, and now theater lovers have their own reason to make the trek to the village locals refer to as “Shangri-La.”

Theater 150, already well loved by Ojai residents for its top-notch local productions, recently made a bold leap into full professional status, and is mounting its first Equity production: Hamlet, opening July 18. Guest director Jessica Kubzansky calls Hamlet “The best play in the world” and promises “a thrill ride” for actors and audiences alike. The award-winning Kubzansky, Co-Artistic Director of Pasadena’s Boston Court Theater, has long dreamt of directing Hamlet. She is “…profoundly moved by the rich and deep and flawed humanity in this play” and has temporarily relocated to Ojai to bring Shakespeare’s most famous characters to new life for Theater 150 audiences.

Chris Nottoli and Deb Norton, Theater 150’s dynamic artistic team, chose Hamlet to mark the already top-notch local theater’s debut as a Small Professional Theater or SPT (the distinction the Actors’ Equity Union gives to small, emerging professional theaters), not only for its 400-year track record, but because they believe there is something very timely about the piece itself.

“It’s a story about a guy who’s perfectly happy in his ivory tower, who gets wrenched home to discover an enormous mess which doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. He isn’t prepared to deal with it. But in the course of the play, he chooses to step up and face it,” explains Nottoli. “ ‘The readiness is all,’” he quotes. “The readiness to face your destiny, to make seemingly impossible choices, to do what it takes.” Nottoli and Norton see a parallel in the challenge Hamlet faced, to the challenges facing the arts in today’s economy “People ask how we are taking these giant steps forward when many other arts organizations are forced to send up the white flag,” says Nottoli, “and it’s simply this: We only had two choices, and the other one was quit. The mission of this non-profit is to create the best possible productions in Ojai and going unequivocally pro was the next step.” The community has responded enthusiastically by tripling of the size of T150’s board of directors and contributing huge new sums of money. “This is clearly what the people want and we are honored to deliver,” says Nottoli. “As a theater, we chose to ‘take arms against the sea of troubles’ now, and step up to the call, rather than hesitate until it was too late.”

Interpretations of Hamlet and the title character have changed drastically throughout the play’s history. The Jacobeans loved Hamlet’s madness and melancholy, Restoration critics saw the play and character as primitive and lacking in decorum. In the 18th century, Hamlet was recast as a hero, a pure and brilliant man thrust into damning circumstance. By the 19th century, the Romantics loved the character for his complex internal struggles. In the twentieth century, Freudian interpretations fetishized Hamlet’s struggle as an Oedipal fixation on his mother.

Kubzansky has seen dozens of productions of Hamlet in the years she’s been waiting for the perfect chance to direct it, and her Hamlet, played, as she says, “by the truly astonishing Leo Marks,” lives in “a young and vibrant kingdom in a time when monarchies matter. He is a perpetual student who suddenly has to grapple with affairs of state.” The production is set in a world inspired by the 16th century but with a fluid modern influence, so that the people don’t feel encrusted in the past. “This is a passionate, alive, terrifying, dangerous place to be,” she says, “both in Hamlet’s head and out of it, and I want the world to be immediate, visceral, evocative.”

The 150’s black-box theater is being completely re-configured to accommodate this play. Audiences will appreciate the intimacy the new configuration offers. “We’ve done ‘theater in your lap’ and ‘tempests in a teacup,’ so why not ‘fencing at your feet?’ asks Nottoli, referring to the theater’s tiny (42 seat) original home. “We can do it safely because the actors are professionals, and they are training non-stop. There is no way to ‘fake it’ when you’re this close. I guarantee, you’ve never seen anything like it in Ojai.”

Which is why they are doing it. Nottoli and Norton, singled out by Ventana magazine as two of the forward-moving “9 for 2009” cite the words of Orson Welles as their guiding principle: “Don’t give them what they want, give them what they never thought was possible.” Their vision is to bring world-class professional theater to Ojai, both for the theater lovers of the community and the visitors who are already lured by Ojai’s international reputation as an artistic Mecca.

“Our Hamlet brings the best artists, working at the top of their game, to Ojai,” says Norton. “It’s our vision coming true.”

Those artists are finding Ojai to their liking as well. Kubzanski, when asked why she would come to Ojai to Ojai, laughed, “I can’t see why people would leave here. It’s beautiful, relaxed… and I love how many brilliant people I’ve met here.”

Leo Marks (AEA), playing Hamlet, goes for a run in the hills every morning, and says “It’s great to get out of the city [Los Angeles] to do this. It’s a huge show and we’re putting it together in a fairly short time. You can’t afford to lose any rehearsals. Ojai, allows serenity to focus you, not panic.” Tim Cummings (AEA), who plays Polonius adds: “To be living in Ojai, doing Shakespeare with Jessica Kubzansky, and getting paid for it, transposes Hamlet –our most renown tragedy– into an exhilarating fantasy.”

Theater 150 is named for the state highway that runs through town. The artistic team has plans to bring theater lovers along that highway for both a summer Classics Festival, and a winter New Works Festival. Hamlet is the summer festival’s first “shot over the bow,” explains Nottoli. Ojai embraces the 150’s vision of a world-class theater whole-heartedly. Local merchants are participating in a cross-marketing “Hamlet Trading Card” program, spreading awareness of the play and encouraging residents and visitors to visit their businesses. Several local Inns and B&B’s have gotten involved as well, offering “Play and Stay” discounts for guests coming to town to see Hamlet.

“We are really looking forward to this production” says Ojai City Council member and former Mayor, Sue Horgan, “Theater 150 already brings a lot to the community, and we are glad to have another great offering for our visitors. If you’ve been looking for a reason to visit Ojai, and you love great theater, the time is now.”

by William Shakespeare
Directed by: Jessica Kubzansky
Featuring Leo Marks as Hamlet

Theater 150
316 E. Matilija Street
Ojai, CA 93023

Previews July 16 and 17: 8PM
July 18: 8PM -Opening Night Gala
Runs July 19-August 8
Thursday-Saturday: 8PM
Sunday 2PM
Tickets $15-$29 Gala-$50
Sundays, as always, 2-for-1

For more information or reservations
Please call the Theater at: 805-646-4300
Or visit:

Theater 150’s flagship professional production features a dozen of Shakespeare’s most famous characters, and soon you will be able to collect all twelve!

Participating merchants will have the trading cards available free with store purchase. Will you get Horatio? Ophelia? Laertes? Rosencrantz? Guildenstern? Claudius, Gertrude, Polonius, the Player King and Queen, and of course, the Melancholy Dane himself round out the deck. But who is on the twelfth card? For if you collect all twelve, you will be able to piece together the puzzle on the back, and collect a prize. Prizes available for certain combinations as well. Stay tuned, more details to come.

“There are more things on Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Dir Michael Arndt: Macbeth from the page to the stage plus “The 32 Second Macbeth”

macbeth_poster for Cal Lutheran University dir. by Michael ArndtTomorrow, July 1 at 10:30am in Trailer 2 at Ventura College, Michael Arndt, Artistic Director of the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company at Cal Lutheran University, will discuss taking Macbeth from the Shakespeare’s page to the CLU stage.

In honor of this occasion, check out this 32 Second version of Macbeth, featuring many of the most memorable lines and evoking some of the most memorable scenes from the play.

The 32-second Macbeth

And, who said what?

Actors 1, 2, 3  Fair is foul and foul is fair

Actor 4  What bloody man is that?

Actor 2  A drum, a drum!  Macbeth doth come

Macbeth   So foul and fair a day I have not seen

Actor 3  All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!

Macbeth  If chance will have me king, then chance will crown me

Actor 5  Unsex me here

Macbeth  If it were done when ‘tis done

Actor 5  Screw your courage to the sticking place

Macbeth  Is this a dagger that I see before me? (Actor 4 dies)

Actor 5  A little water clears us of this deed.

Actor 6   Fly, good Fleance, fly!  (dies)

Macbeth  Blood will have blood

Actors 1, 2, 3  Double, double, toil and trouble

Actor 7   He has kill’d me, mother!  (dies)

Actor 8  Bleed, bleed, poor country!

Actor 5  Out damn’d spot!  (dies)

Macbeth  Out, out, brief candle!

Actor 8   Turn, hell-hound, turn!

Macbeth  Lay on Macduff!  (dies)

Actor 8  Hail, king of Scotland!

So who said what? What’s my line?

In Shakespeare’s time, actors didn’t receive the whole script–only their part which they received rolled up hence the word “role” to describe an actor’s part in a play.

Weds July 1: Each student will receive a “roll” with his or her lines on it. Figure out “who” you are, and prepare to tell us in class about where in the play your line can be found, what’s the context of the line, what it means, why it’s important.

Thurs. July 2: You’ll have a chance to discuss your role, lines, and scenes with someone else in the class who has the same part. We will go over some of the lines in the first half of the play, and we’ll “do” the 32 second version of the play with one cast of characters; when your character “dies” (as 5 of them do), please gratify us by falling down dead.

Mon. July 6:  We’ll “do” the 32 second version of the play with the second cast; when your character “dies” (as 5 of them do), please gratify us by falling down dead. In class, we’ll go over the rest of the scenes in the play represented by these lines.

You can write about your character for your Thursday Reading Response OR write up your notes for your presentation and put it in your portfolio. If you miss class, and don’t have a part, email me and I will let you know which one to do.

Since Macbeth has 7 lines, one person will do the first 5, and one person will do the last 5 so that there’s overlap for lines 3, 4, and 5.

J.M. Synge’s One Act Tragedy “Riders to the Sea”

J.M. Synge’s one act play, “Riders to the Sea,” is considered by many to be the best one act tragedy written in the English language. I know it’s one of my favorite plays for many reasons, but I’m curious why you might think it is considered one of if not the best.

If you’re not familiar with the play, or want to reread it, here’s a link. I strongly recommend reading it aloud; it will only take about 15-20 minutes. Relax and picture the scenes in your mind; you might even look on-line and find images of Galway and the Aran Islands to put you in the mood. Here’s a link about an article which discuses the native language of Ireland: LA Times: Speaking of Riders to the Sea…

Warning: Have plenty of tissue nearby when you read this play.

J.M. Synge’s One Act Tragedy “Riders to the Sea”

While you’re reading the play, consider:

1. who was J. M. Synge?
2. where and when has the play been performed?
3. symbols: the colors white and red
4. the symbol of water
5. the passing on of various articles—examples and meaning
6. allusions to fate/who were the 3 fates?
7. allusions to religion and the Bible, especially Revelations
8. when does the play take place and why is this important?
9. the comment of the priest
10. define tragedy—Aristotle’s and contemporary (what’s comedy?)
11. the role of the supernatural
12. pagan beliefs, in particular with relevance to the cake
13. keening and other unknown words and acts
14. the setting in the Aran Islands (Ireland)
15. historical context within which the play takes place
16. what and when was the Irish Literary Revival and who was involved?
17. refer to handout with questions to consider when reading drama

(For my English 1B students, in your reading response, do some research in order to answer and discuss one or more of these questions.)

Steve Martin’s “The Underpants”

The Underpants, written by Carl Sternheim and adapted for the modern stage by Steve Martin, will be performed on Friday, April 25 at 8pm, Saturday, April 26 at 8pm, Thursday, May 1 at 8pm, Friday, May 2 at 8pm, Saturday, May 3 at 8pm, and Sunday, May 4 at 3pm. Thursday, April 24 (8 pm), the final dress rehearsal, is open to the public at no charge.
The Underpants features the performance and production talent of Ventura College Theatre Arts students:, Kevin Bass, , Michael Byrne, James Culbertson, Drew Davenport, Berkeley Deitch, Dayna Miles, TJ Mora, Dan Saad, Elyse Sinklier, and Josh Zelman.

The Underpants tells the story of Louise, a pretty young wife with an inattentive husband, who, while stretching to get a better view the King in a parade, realizes that her dainty underpants have fallen around her ankles! Embarrassed, she quickly retrieves them and hopes no one has noticed. The only concern of her husband Theo, a stuffy bureaucrat, is that her indiscretion may affect his reputation and career aspirations. While her husband may be unaware of Louise’s feelings and charms, two men who witnessed the underpants “incident” come to rent a room in the couple’s flat in the hopes of romancing Louise. Theo, oblivious to the threat to his marriage, conspires to split the room and rent to them both in an effort to double his money. Gertrude, a nosy neighbor, urges the naïve Louise towards an amorous affair with one of the men, while the men themselves try to outdo and undermine each other to gain her attention. All this admiration brings Louise to a new awareness of her circumstances, her own worth and empowerment. When the King shows up looking to rent a room (it seems he, too, witnessed the underpants event), Louise has developed an understanding of how to get what she wants in the world.

Students in my classes will each receive one complimentary ticket. Come early, as these tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional tickets are available for purchase at the box office one half hour prior to each performance, and are $9.00 general admission, and $7.00 for students, staff, and seniors.

We hope this opportunity to use the theatre as part of our shared teaching and learning experience is of value to you and that you will take advantage of it. If you have any questions regarding The Underpants, please contact Jay Varela at 805.654.6400 ext. 3194.

Al Young at VC M. April 21: noon, 1:30, 7p

On Monday, April 21, Al Young will do a live interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, then he will drive up to Ventura College to participate in three events:

7-9pm–”A Celebration of the Earth:
Poetry & Performance featuring AL YOUNG “

in Guthrie Hall on the West side of campus; park near the gym; $1 to park

The evening begins with live music and a living history performance by Suzanne Lawrence as Anna Paquette on “One Hundred Years of Growth: 1815-1915–from remote agricultural Mission Town to car accessible county seat” followed by Theater Arts student KM Hageman and Friends who will sing Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.”

At sunset, Al Young will perform backed by jazz musicians and with an accompanying slide show of eco-art images contributed by Debra McKillop, Steve Schafer, Dan Holmes, students, and others. The slide show is organized by student Art major Tanya Orozco. The evening will close with another song by KM and Friends.

For more about Al Young, author of over 20 books of poetry, prose, and fiction including the National Book Award winner in 2002, The Sound of Dreams Remembered go to

A reception, funded by the Ventura College Foundation, will follow. Al Young’s performance in funded by Associated Students.

Al will give two readings during the day: a lunch time brown bag poetry reading in the Garden Patio between the new library (LRC) and the old library (SSC) from 12-1245p, and a prose and poetry reading with writing tips and techniques from 130-230 in the same location.

All events are free and open to the public.

ideas to consider while considering Riders to the Sea

English 1B: Monday, 3/24, Readers Theater style presentation of the “Riders to the Sea.” The play is in the public domain, so you can find it several places on-line as well as lots of information about Synge, etc. The play is also posted on the class blog, http:/ If you read it on-line, leave a comment!

Main characters:
Maura (Gwendolyn)
Bartley (Eric A?)
Cathleen (KM)
Nora (Amanda)
Minor characters (one/few lines)
Old Man
Another Man
One Woman
Second Woman

While you’re reading the play, consider:

1. who was J. M. Synge?
2. where and when has the play been performed?
3. symbols: the colors white and red
4. the symbol of water
5. the passing on of various articles—examples and meaning
6. allusions to fate/who were the 3 fates?
7. allusions to religion and the Bible, especially Revelations
8. when does the play take place and why is this important?
9. the comment of the priest
10. define tragedy—Aristotle’s and contemporary (what’s comedy?)
11. the role of the supernatural
12. pagan beliefs, in particular with relevance to the cake
13. keening and other unknown words and acts
14. the setting in the Aran Islands (Ireland)
15. historical context within which the play takes place
16. what and when was the Irish Literary Revival and who was involved?
17. refer to handout with questions to consider when reading drama
We will be discussing these topics in class Mon. 3/24/08. Any research and documentation that you do on the play and bring to class will be considered extra credit, could count toward making up an absence, or as an literary/cultural event.

“Here is Always Somewhere Else” 3/13

Norbert Tan, VC Foundation director reminds us:The Ventura College Spring 2008 Arts and Lecture Series continues with the screening of the 2006 documentary “Here is Always Somewhere Else,” followed by a discussion with Mary Sue Anderson, Ader’s widow, and filmmaker Rene Daalden, on March 13 at 7:00 p.m. in lecture hall UV1 on the Ventura College campus.

As seen through the eyes of fellow emigrant filmmaker Rene Daalder, the picture becomes a sweeping overview of contemporary art films as well as an epic saga of the transformative powers of the ocean. The film features artists Tacita Dean, Rodney Graham, Marcel Broodthaers, Ger van Elk, Charles Ray, Wim T. Schippers, Chris Burden, Fiona Tan, Pipilotti Rist and many others. The film has been nominated for numerous awards at film festivals around the world.

The event is FREE .
More about Bas Jan Ader:
Continue reading

One Act Play: Riders to the Sea by JM Synge

Here’s the full text of the play “Riders to the Sea” by John Millington Synge. The source is below; if you go there, you’ll find the introduction with some background information. The numbers refer to page numbers and can help with citation and discussion. Enjoy!

Synge, John Millington, 1871-1909. Riders to the Sea
Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library
| <!– The entire work ( KB) | –> Table of Contents for this work | | All on-line databases | Etext Center Homepage |


First performed at the Molesworth Hall, Dublin, February 25th, 1904.

[SCENE. — An Island off the West of Ireland.]
[(Cottage kitchen, with nets, oil-skins, spinning wheel, some new boards standing by the wall, etc. Cathleen, a girl of about twenty, finishes kneading cake, and puts it down in the pot-oven by the fire; then wipes her hands, and begins to spin at the wheel. Nora, a young girl, puts her head in at the door.)]

[In a low voice.]
Where is she?
She’s lying down, God help her, and may be sleeping, if she’s able.

18-[Nora comes in softly, and takes a bundle from under her shawl.]CATHLEEN
[Spinning the wheel rapidly.]
What is it you have?
The young priest is after bringing them. It’s a shirt and a plain stocking were got off a drowned man in Donegal.[Cathleen stops her wheel with a sudden movement, and leans out to listen.]NORA
We’re to find out if it’s Michael’s they are, some time herself will be down looking by the sea.
How would they be Michael’s, Nora. How would he go the length of that way to the far north?
The young priest says he’s known the like of it. “If it’s Michael’s they are,” says he, “you can tell herself he’s got a clean burial by the grace of God, and if they’re not his,

19-let no one say a word about them, for she’ll be getting her death,” says he, “with crying and lamenting.” [The door which Nora half closed is blown open by a gust of wind.]CATHLEEN
[Looking out anxiously.]
Did you ask him would he stop Bartley going this day with the horses to the Galway fair?
“I won’t stop him,” says he, “but let you not be afraid. Herself does be saying prayers half through the night, and the Almighty God won’t leave her destitute,” says he, “with no son living.”
Is the sea bad by the white rocks, Nora?
Middling bad, God help us. There’s a great roaring in the west, and it’s worse it’ll be getting when the tide’s turned to the wind.[She goes over to the table with the bundle.]
Shall I open it now?

Maybe she’d wake up on us, and come in before we’d done.[Coming to the table.]
It’s a long time we’ll be, and the two of us crying.
[Goes to the inner door and listens.]
She’s moving about on the bed. She’ll be coming in a minute.
Give me the ladder, and I’ll put them up in the turf-loft, the way she won’t know of them at all, and maybe when the tide turns she’ll be going down to see would he be floating from the east.[They put the ladder against the gable of the chimney; Cathleen goes up a few steps and hides the bundle in the turf-loft. Maurya comes from the inner room.]MAURYA
[Looking up at Cathleen and speaking querulously.]

21-Isn’t it turf enough you have for this day and evening?
There’s a cake baking at the fire for a short space[Throwing down the turf]
and Bartley will want it when the tide turns if he goes to Connemara.[Nora picks up the turf and puts it round the pot-oven.]MAURYA
[Sitting down on a stool at the fire.]
He won’t go this day with the wind rising from the south and west. He won’t go this day, for the young priest will stop him surely.
He’ll not stop him, mother, and I heard Eamon Simon and Stephen Pheety and Colum Shawn saying he would go.
Where is he itself?
He went down to see would there be another

22-boat sailing in the week, and I’m thinking it won’t be long till he’s here now, for the tide’s turning at the green head, and the hooker’s tacking from the east.
I hear some one passing the big stones.
[Looking out.]
He’s coming now, and he in a hurry.
[Comes in and looks round the room. Speaking sadly and quietly.]
Where is the bit of new rope, Cathleen, was bought in Connemara?
[Coming down.]
Give it to him, Nora; it’s on a nail by the white boards. I hung it up this morning, for the pig with the black feet was eating it.
[Giving him a rope.]
Is that it, Bartley?
You’d do right to leave that rope, Bartley,

23-hanging by the boards. [(Bartley takes the rope)]
It will be wanting in this place, I’m telling you, if Michael is washed up tomorrow morning, or the next morning, or any morning in the week, for it’s a deep grave we’ll make him by the grace of God. Continue reading