By Jean Hastings Ardell, Dec 21st, 1989, in The Los Angles Times
Taking the Arts to the People : Steve Mellow's Never Met an Audience He Didn't Entertain
Steve Mellow's passion for the arts came early in life. Once, in his fourth-grade classroom in Chicago, Mellow, who was 10 and taking acting lessons, volunteered to re-enact the events at Plymouth Rock. He says he took control of the class.
"The first row of kids was pilgrims, the second row, the Indians, and third row was the reporters. It was spontaneous; we had a great time," recalls Mellow.
And so began his career in The Readers' Theatre. Read more >>>
Hi fans of TGTG! Sadly, I was not in Chiang Mai for either Land of Smiles or Space. My husband, Jeff, was involved in both shows and he found them amazing. I am wondering if others thought this, plus what else came up for you as you attended either or both shows. Your thoughts....
Live Theater is Alive and Well in Chiang Mai
REPORT FROM AN EXPAT THAT HAS MADE HIS HOME IN NORTHERN THAILAND.
Chiang Mai is regarded in Thailand as an educational city, with some of the best universities and lower preparatory schools in the country, which brings with it an appreciation for the arts and humanities. Consequently, it is very fitting that Chiang Mai would also have an active Live Theater community, even among expats, and it does in the form of the Gate Theater.
The Gate Theater Group is a non-profit organization operated by volunteers bringing performing arts to Chiang Mai in the English language. It is run by an energetic ex-Chicagoan that has had a lifetime involved in live theater performance in New York, Chicago and other cities, ... READ MORE AT
The Narrator (played by Richard Childs): “On November 14, 1989, the members of Tectonic Theater Project traveled to Laramie, Wyoming several times and conducted over 200 interviews. The play is based on these interviews as well as from the members' journals.”
Marge Murray (local, 70s, played by Joyce Matchett, rt): “If you don't take care of the land, then you ruin it and you lose your living. So first of all, have to take care of your land and do everything you can to improve it. Yeah, I could run around the house in my all togethers, do the housework while the kids were in school. And nobody could see me. And if they got that close...” Alison Mears (close friend of Marge, 50s, played by Sarah Kirby, lf) “Well, then that's their problem.”
Doc O'Connor (local, 50s, played by Matthew Daly, lf): “Let me tell you something else here, there's more gay people in Wyoming than meets the eye. I know, I know for a fact. They're not particularly, ah, the whatta you call them, the queens, the gay people, queens, you know, run around...”
Matt Galloway (bartender, 20s, played by Paul Collins, rt): “So what can I tell you say about Matt? ...Manners, Politeness, intelligence. ...Now approximately eleven forty-five Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson come in...Dirty. Grungy. Rude. Gimme. That type of thing. They walked up to the bar...”
Governor Geringer (Republican, 70s, played by Jim Matchett, lf): “I would like to urge the people of Wyoming against overreacting in a way that gives one group special rights over others.”
Jon Peacock (professor, 40s, played by Mathilde Verhaar, below): “There's reporters everywhere, news trucks everywhere on campus., everywhere in town. We're not used to that type of exposure.”
Rebecca Hilliker (Uni of Wyoming, dept head for theater, 40s, played by Ann Fink, front): “...when you first called me, I wanted to say you've just kicked me in the stomach. Why are you doing this to me? But then I thought, that's stupid, you're not doing this to me. And more...”
Jedadiah Schultz (Uni student, 19, played by Ian Weatherseed, below): “It's hard to talk about Laramie now, to tell you what Laramie is, for us. ...before, I would have told you, Laramie is a beautiful town...after Matthew, I would say that Laramie is defined by an accident, a crime....”
Baptist Minister (came from Texas, 50s, played by Jeff Lynn): “My dear brothers and sisters. I am here today to bring you the Word of the Lord. Now, I have a simple truth to tell to my colleagues and I'm gonna tell it to you today. The word is either sufficient or it is not.”
The Dodo Bird played by Stephan Turner
My name is Archie Whitehead. I am an alcoholic. I've tried as hard as I can to get a hold on my drinking. But ever since I started having problems with work things have gone from bad to worst.
I met and married the most loving woman you could imagine. She's kind, soft spoken, smart, and creative and she loved me for who I was. She inspired me to be a better person and to be proud of myself.
She found out that I had a problem with liquor when I came home from work one payday and I couldn't account for what had happened to half my pay check. She was still willing to stay with me and help me work through the problem. But then I was out of work for a time when the Bolt Works went on strike. My wife, Madeline did not understand why someone who had a good job would not just go to work no matter if other people didn't want to go. She questioned me about it and became very nervous and upset when I could not make her understand what a strike is all about.
Our daughter, Marie, was growing up and going to school and we had a lot of bills to pay. I felt so much pressure that I didn't know what to do. So, I started going back to the tavern. I would walk in, sit down and tell Mick I was only going to have 1 drink and head home. But I couldn't have just 1. Pretty soon I lost track of the time and the day. My friends would take me home and I wouldn't be able to remember a thing when I woke up.
One time, I ended up in the hospital all tied up in a sheet in the crazy ward. After I got out I promised Madeline that I would never drink again. I even promised the priest and the doctor. I did pretty good for quite some time but then the Bolt Works shut down for good after the strike and I didn't know what to do with myself. I didn't have my machine or anybody to talk to who could understand me. I went back to the tavern again and didn't come home for several days. The priest told me I had done something very shameful and embarrassing while drunk. I did not believe what he said until Bull started teasing me about it.
When I did come home, Madeline didn't even know who I was. She had torn up the house, smashed all her beautiful dishes and was standing in the dark. She had lost her mind. The police came because someone heard all the noise and thought we were fighting. When they saw I was drunk they took Madeline to the hospital and called the city to come and pick up Marie.
I was all alone in an empty house. Nobody to love and nobody to love me. I know it was my own fault. Everything that went so wrong in my life and with my family is my fault because I couldn't keep my promise not to drink.
But now I am being given another chance. I called my daughter and we talked for a long time. She forgave me for everything I've done to her and her mother. She came to see me and we had another long talk. I love her so much. She looks just like her mother.
We are going to stay in touch now but she is afraid. She's afraid because she knows what liquor does to me. She never wants to see me drink again. I told her that she would never see me drunk again as long as I live. I promised her the same way I promised Madeline.
William,The Bull, played by Joel Johnson
I have been working at that shop more than 20 years. I done every job there is to do there, and if you think that's got me anywhere you better think again, buddy. That's the way it is in this country now. The little guy can't get ahead no more 'cause there's always a way for the company to get a little more money by screwin' him over.
After work I go to Mick's across the street. There's usually a buncha guys there relaxing and havin' a few, and they're all right. These days that's better than going home to the wife. The kid and her don't even hardly talk to me no more.
Yeah, I used to be Chief Steward. I don't have nothin' to say about that. Except I'll say this: I did what I was supposed to do. I looked after the guys and I looked after the union. If they don't appreciate that, to hell with 'em.
Russ, Union Shop Chief Steward, played by Jeff Lynn
My name is Russ Nowark and I'm a millwright at the steel foundry across the road from this hole-in-the-wall bar that I call my “home away from home before I go home.” Mick's not just a decent bar-tender, I count him as a friend, if not a best buddy. He's a good Joe for a “mick,” who still talks funny even though he got here from the Emerald Isle thirty years ago, served in the good ol' US of A Army, and set up shop selling beer and booze to us foundry louts after he busted up his legs when he had to jump off a pouring deck before getting knocked off by a swinging crane bucket and dropped 15 ft to the floor. Lucky he didn't fall in the trough.
I did my millwright apprenticeship for 2 years after an honorable discharge from the Army myself. I was a lance corporal when I left after 6 years in the infantry. A sharpshooter, too. I can handle a rifle and a machine gun. Was in after Korea but we trained to be ready if the Commies wanted some of what we had for 'em. Yeah. So Bull don't scare me.
I'm not tall by anyone's measure, but I'm stout – and strong. Wrestled 145 in high school. My best weight ever. No fat. All muscle. I'm not real fast, but I am quick and I got great balance. Even now. That's why I can climb around like a monkey up in the rafters of that stinkin' place and not fall and hit the deck while moving and setting those casting and milling machines.
Gotta keep an eye on my helper Dodo, though. I love 'im like a brother – a soul brother, anyway – but he needs lookin' after. He's had a tough row to hoe these past few years, losing his job......
Yeah, he needs lookin' after - and someone to take up for him when a loud-mouth bully like Bull Blatter takes into him. Now there's a piece of work. A big bag of wind that's really just full of shit. I say he's full of “shit” and he shovels it – deep. Sometimes he piles it so deep that I'm side-steppin' around it and can't get what he's sayin'.
Well, he don't have no love for me neither. Especially since the boys voted me into the shop's Chief Steward job after voting him out. Dodo's not the only one who voted against him. I did, too. Lots of us were tired of seeing him get fat off our union dues and double-dippin', with the company payin' him for the same time he got paid by the union for handlin' grievances. Nah. Bull don't scare me.
Yeah, Bull's a loud-mouth alright, but I hear louder every shift. Many a man in that shop has gone “deef,” as Bull likes to yell, hearing protectors or no. When Bull takes off on or tears into Dodo, I gotta step in. The Dodo's not really a dodo. Maybe a fallen sparrow like they talk about in The Good Book. Now I ain't God and I sure as hell ain't no Jesus, but I kinda figure myself to be a sorta Guardian Angel when it comes to the Dodo Bird.
I guess you'd have to say he's an alcoholic. He can't help himself. But he hasn't always been a drunk. He's a gotta a good heart, and even though he's done some things that he's gotta be ashamed of, he's really a decent fella. Bull don't see that. He's got no respect for him.
Yeah, at heart Dodo's a decent fella. She musta knew her papa before he was a drunk and ruined his life - and his wife's - and hers. Thank God she's forgiven him and wants to see him again. It's gonna be the life of him. And even he drinks when she ain't around, it'll be good for him to sober up to see her whenever she can get to town with her boyfriend, who will be her fiancée soon. I hope he does try to help them out on their little farm when they buy it. He'd be a good farmer. He likes takin' care of things, and Lord knows he can keep things runnin' and knows how to fix a machine, so I imagine he'll be able to keep a tractor or pump runnin' and build a fence or chicken coop.
The wife, she don't mind me drinkin' a bit with the boys after knockin' off work, just long's I make sure the bills get paid and we got some savings - and, for sure, I don't drink in front of the kids at home. I do 'preciate a shot and a beer or two - or three. I ain't a drunk like Dodo. I like it but I don't need it, and I don't get the shakes if I can't have one, like him.
Mick, the Bartender, played by Jim Matchett
I've been running this bar for a lot of years now. Most of my customers work in the Foundry. They're really a good bunch of lads, even if they are more than a bit rough around the edges. I try to make this a place where they can feel at home and are able to let off a bit of steam. Working in the Foundry is a tough life and they need to be able to unwind after a hard day. I just have to make sure they don't get too out of hand.
Ian Weatherseed, new to TGTG, will play Russell Henderson. This is one of the young men who kidnapped Matthew Shepard then went on to pistol-whip him into a coma while he was tied to a fence outside Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. Shepard, 21, died five days after the gruesome attack.
"I know what I did was very wrong, and I regret greatly what I did. You have my greatest sympathy for what happened. I hope that one day you will be able to find it in your hearts to forgive me..." Russell Henderson was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Ian shared that "Russell Henderson didn't make sense to me for the longest time, and then, suddenly, when doing the first public reading, it hit me - everyone is repulsed by him, by what he did. As he's standing there in the courtroom, waiting for the verdict to be read, he is regarded as nothing more than a human cockroach... and all because of one stupid act that did not have to happen."
"For him, the courtroom is unreal. How did this come to pass? How did one drunken mishap change everything? And then, the wretched question: Why on earth did I do what I did? And how can I ever make things right again?"
After reading Ian's notes on Russell, Sarah-Kate shared the following:
Every day we make mistakes. At home, at the office, at the gym, socially, with our friends and family, and sometimes alone. Some are bigger than others. Some we don't even think about after we realized what we have just done.
Then, there are the ones that we hold on to for years; in our minds and for some in our hearts. We replay the entire situation, the conversations, the actions, and the reactions of all involved and finally, we slowly turn our mind’s eye to our part in the not to be forgotten miserable mistake.
I believe we spend such time on our bigger mistakes because they not only hurt/harm us but the consequences have the power to touch those that love, like, and care for us.
Speaking for myself, some of my mistakes have cost me a car, a job, a friend, some money; okay more than one friend and a lot of money….the consequences of being young and hardheaded.
But to make a mistake that would cost me my life??? To be locked away at 21 FOREVER, my brain can’t wrap itself around this concept. It also can’t grasp what Russell and Aaron did to Matthew that resulted in their sentences of life imprisonment.
Because of Russell's and Aaron's choices, the lives of the people living within the small community of Laramie completely changed overnight. All because, as Ian shared, "one stupid act that did not have to happen."
Thoughts and insights are welcomed on this and all TGTG blog topics.
Due to such compelling performances, The Dodo Bird, will take to the road this coming May 10th. In Chiang Mai Mail's article, The Dodo Bird played to a full house, Stephan is given much praise for his emotional and very touching monologue at the end of the play. New comer Joel Johnson plays a ‘true to life’ Bull with returning TGTG actors, Jim Matchett and Jeff Lynn playing convincing roles of Mick and Russ.
If you attended the show, we loved to hear your feedback.
If you weren't able to see The Dodo Bird, you have a great opportunity by coming up to Chiang Rai for either the May 11th or 12th show.
Let us know how TGTG is doing. Do you have suggestions for a new show? Let us hear from you!
For those theater lovers who were at the opening last night, here's a couple questions that you might want to share your thoughts about. Why does Russ enter into this 'agreement'? What do you think 'drives' Bull to be so angry. And what about Mick? Whose side is he on?