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March 3, 2005
Behind the Stage Door

Giant shadows in two venues


"For the graver spirits tended to imitate noble actions and noble persons performing them, and the more frivolous poets the doings of baser persons..."
Aristotle - Poetics Chapter 4

Young actor Jessi Sheiman explains that the Ferndale Repertory Theatre selected the Moss Hart and George F. Kaufman play, You Can't Take It With You [cast photo below], for its 12th annual all-teen production because, "It's important for people to see this play because it shows that every family has its quirks -- that's part of the charm and nothing to be Cast photo, teen production of You Can't Take It With Youembarrassed about."

And the Sycamore family has quirks, all right. They may live in Manhattan, but they'd fit right in here where "pursuit of happiness" is not always synonymous with "law-abiding normal citizens."

Their one normal child, Alice, is engaged to Tony Kirby, scion of an incredibly straightlaced and uptight family. The Sycamores arrive one day early for a supper meeting with the future in-laws only to discover dinner table pyrotechnics, ballet lessons, left-wing agitation, IRS avoidance and Grandpa Sycamore, who says, "Why not do what you want to do? After all, you can't take it with you!"

The cast directed by Gavin Donnellan, draws on teens from all over Humboldt County, including: Claire Bent, Emma Buschmann, Sam Cord, Jeff Friedman, Nick Garcia, Callie Hacker, Kelly Hill, Kelly Hughes, Evan Needham, Ryan Nelson, Hazel Santino, Jessi Sheiman, Katie Sutter, Laureen Tipple and Chris Weiderman.

On the technical side the Rep pulls out all the stops with Daniel L. Lawrence (set and sound), David West (light design), Leo Roehrich (costumes), and teens Jessica VanBrackle (photography), Sarah Brady, Megan Griffiths, Emily Martinez and Jennifer Stannard (tech and crew).

Sponsored by the Bertha Russ Lytel Foundation and Spencer Engineering, You Can't Take It With You runs six nights only, Thursday, March 3, through Saturday, March 12, all shows at 8 p.m. Call 786-LIVE for reservations.

Student artists from Ferndale and Fortuna High Schools are featured in an Art From the Hart Gallery show running concurrently with the play with an artists' reception on Friday, March 4, from 6:30 to the 8 p.m. curtain.

Shadow of Giants returns to Blue Lake

The story of one woman, the redwood she decides to occupy on a whim and the people and politics that swirl around her hasty decision are at the heart of Dell'Arte's Shadow of Giants, which returns to Humboldt County for three performances before heading out on tour to Eugene and Portland, Ore. then to Rohnert Park and Point Arena.

As with all Dell'Arte pieces, Shadow of Giants has changed in response to audience and production input since it was first performed here last June. Director Michael Fields said, "The story of a woman whose path led her to sit in a tree for a year as an act of resistance is a powerful one," adding, "In this new version, we have amplified her story and evolved the visual language and world of the play in hope of offering a perspective on where we are now."

Matthew Graham Smith, playwright and Dell'Arte graduate, said that the conflict between people fighting to preserve the remaining redwoods and the business interests of the big lumber companies who own the trees "is not being dealt with on a human level; so much of it is politics." He added that it has "gotten to the point where no one is capable of listening to anyone anymore."

Describing his intent to produce a universal tragedy in the spirit of the great Greek tragedies, he said, "I want the issues of Humboldt County to resonate with audiences as far flung as Scandinavia, New York City and Thailand."

Don't miss Shadow of Giants, running locally three nights only, Friday, March 4, through Sunday, March 6, at 8 p.m. at the Carlo Theatre in Blue Lake. Call 668-5663 or visit for more information.


Steve Martin's farce The Underpants continues weekends through March 12 at 8 p.m. at Redwood Curtain Theatre, 800 W. Harris Street, Eureka. Call 443-7688 or visit for dates, tickets and more information.


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