Tag Archives: Talent

High Praise and Glorious Notes for Amadeus at Camelot Theatre

High Praise and Glorious Notes

A Review of the Play “Amadeus” at Camelot Theatre, Talent, Oregon through February 24, 2013

Let me open by saying I absolutely adore this play!  The script is complex and clever and Camelot’s crew simply captivates the audience in this production of Amadeus.  Having to compete with the movie, which was adapted for film by its award-winning playwright Peter Shaffer, must have been challenging. But Camelot Director Livia Genise’s masterful staging gives us a more intricate view than the movie, with less music but more mystery, mores, morals and motive.

Right away, we are up close and personal with our “host”, Composer Antonio Salieri, whose narration and re-enactments of his competitive, jealous relationship with his younger, more gifted counterpart, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, carries the storyline beautifully. Kudos to Set Designer Paul R. Flowers, Sound and Video Designer Brian O’Connor, Choreographer & Movement Advisor Daniel Stephens, Costumer Coordinator Tina Skaletsky  and all others who provide a backdrop for these acts. The set, projected images, and attention to detail give us plenty of mood and recreate the effete affectations needed to describe the Court at Schoenbrun Palace in Vienna, between 1781 – 1791 and again during Salieri’s “end days” in November 1823.

The first scene opens with the aged Composer Salieri’s “Venticellis” – Italian for Little Winds – who spread the gossip among the elite in Vienna, The City of Scandal.  These two tuxedoed, rotund and mincing “men” serve as a chorus throughout the play. As Venticellis,  Ryan Primm and Brian O’Connor inform us with comic mock discretion of the fresh and nasty rumors circulating, thereby increasing our intimacy and an almost guilty identity with the devilish, misguided Salieri, played by Paul R. Jones  flawlessly and with incredible agility, flair and wit. (Primm also doubles as Teresa, Salieri’s wife, chosen for his bride, Salieri explains, because of her total lack of affect.  The device of D.R.A.G. is used well in the play, adding to the ambiguity with “dressed as a Girl” or D.R.A.B.? (dressed as a boy) and adds other  visual and subliminal dimensions.)

It is a true gift that the playwright provided such a deep, juicy script and a credit to all the actors whose delivery of dialogue is literarily heaven sent.  The interior monologues, and conspiratorial tone of Salairi’s shared confidences with the audience pulls us in immediately as he screams out from his wheelchair  “Mozart!. . . .  Have Mercy!  Pardon Your Assassin!” as the Venticellis whisper “Did he Do It After All?”

This outburst brings Salieri’s valet (played by David Eisenberg) and cook (played by Tim Kelly) running to serve him, as they have for the past 50 years in his employ.  He dismisses them and explains to the audience that this is the last night of his life.  Speaking directly to the audience, Salieri then invokes  the Gods of Opera to conjure us, Ghosts of the Distant Future, to witness his story of the sins, lies, plots and contrivances he perpetrated in order to destroy his musical rival, the young Wolfgage Amadeus Mozart.  Max Gutfreund brings us a Mozart we can love and agonize over in a comedic/tragic way.  He is impressive, impetuous and aggravating in turn, and it’s fascinating to see how in this sad tale his boyishness and buoyancy offer contrast to Salieri’s somber conceits yet provide confirmation that the follies of men take many forms but are often, in the end, their own self-created undoing.

From here we are led on quite a caper, filled with confessions of gluttony and worse. Infidelities and seductions by both Mozart-, using his silly, childlike charms and alcohol-lubricated antics, and Salieri, out of revenge and using his favorite sweetmeats called “Nipples of Venus”. Salieri ensnares both Mozart’s wife(played to perfection by Grace Peets), and “my darling girl” (Salieri’s student Katherina Cavalieri, played by the talented singer BriAnna Johnson, whose been previously debauched by naughty  Amadeus.)

Along the way we meet Joseph II, Emperor of Austria played with elegance and humor by Jack Seybold, and three cronies of the Court and fellow composer friends of Salieri – Baron Gottfried van Swieten (David Dials), Count Franz Orsini-Rosenberg (Buzz London) and Count Johann Kilian von Strack (Ric Hagerman). This trio delivers scathing and back-biting commentary on the state of Opera and the battle for supremacy in that Venetian arena between the German and Italian composers.  They serve as a sounding board for Saliari’s spiteful and secret plots against Mozart, and constantly add fuel to this smoldering fire.

Ultimately, however, Salieri’s grievance is with God, who has bi-passed Salieri and bestowed his most coveted and holy gifts upon Mozart. In this unhinged state Salieri systematically dismantles every possible opportunity left for Amadeus to make a living, and with snakelike cunning and intentional bad advice, Salieri manages to disconnect Mozart from his doting, overbearing  father and other sources of sustenance and support, or so the aged Salieri would like the audience to believe! In this he has lots of help from Mozart’s own bad judgment, his innocence and self-indulgence and we are held in doubt as to what really transpired.

The role of the father figure, embodied like a Greek myth within the story, repeats throughout the play. The question of whether genius does in fact settle where it will, gifting itself to unlikely innocents who appear to The Great Mediocrity as either undeserving or insane or both is visited with scintillating discourse by the characters of the Court and Salieri’s conversations with God and the audience. Salieri appeals to our future judgment and grapples with his fame or lack thereof and how history may remember him as a weak note in the massive and perpetually loved scores of Mozart.  In this present time the bottom line of taste comes from Emperor Joseph, who can embrace a musical composition or reject it for the flaw of “too many notes”. In a similar regal way he brooches any dissent, discourse or debate on any topic by simply dismissed it with a terse “And there you have it”.  But for perpetuity Saliari recognizes God’s Infinite Jest and realizes how he has lived to suffer the worst imagined punishment: the fading of any trace of recognition of his music within his lifetime.  To Salieri’s credit he is one of a tiny contingent who recognizes Mozart’s genius in his own time, and rails against the ever-present condition wherein the Mediocre Worship at the Trough of Banality while Genius goes Wanting.

How this all transpires is a rowdy jaunt with plenty of arch observations about the sacred versus the profane, transcendence and servitude, attachment and personality disorders, bad habits, the two-edged sword of intense creativity, the thinking errors and prisons of conformity, culture and rigid mindsets, as well as the soul-bending process of seeking worldly fame, or of misusing God’s gifts.

True artists can be driven mad by society and by the way their own minds work.  Because they are not geared to deal with the cynicism and grind of the everyday, artists transform obstacles into myths and better stories.  This ability to transform and transcend chaos, along with their personal tragedies and inability to fit in, can bring insights and reason back to society and, at times, can touch the divine.  Transcending circumstance through strength of imagination, without the usual practical tools to navigate the bitter real world, Mozart is driven to mastery of his art, transcendence, poverty and death, while Salieri must endure a long ride through old age in his handmade conveyance through shame, obscurity, doubt and spiritual bankruptcy.

The word Cativo is used as a fashionable buzz word of this 18th century portrayal of Vienna and it best translates as Captive.  It’s a perfect motif for every person in the play and in the audience to contemplate:  We are all Cativo to the human condition and we don’t get out of here alive.  Only art is immortal, and only time will tell.

I don’t usually mention the names of cast and crew in my reviews, but the performances were so exceptional I feel compelled.  High praise to Dramaturg Mark Roper who brings a Shakespearean grandness to the language, plot twists and character development.  Special appreciation to Monica Rountree for her handling of the Italian translations.  And most heartfelt thanks to Livia Genise, Camelot’s Board, donors and staff for bringing us this intelligent and entertaining play in a beautiful and comfortable new venue.  Don’t miss it!

Catie Faryl,  February 8, 2013

Issues & Potential Answers for Southern Oregon from the Center for Creative Change

by Catie Faryl, Center Director, November 7, 2011

ISSUE: FOOD SECURITY

We are importing 97% of our food and other necessities to our region. Our fragile and isolated geography means even a bad freeze on the Sexton Summit (I-5 near Roseburg) and the Siskiyou Pass could leave us completely isolated and cut off for a period of weeks. Other scenarios like quarantine, cyber-attack or systems shutdown, mega weather, solar flares or seismic events could make us extremely vulnerable. In addition, our local farms have a shortage of labor, especially during spring planting season and could maximum production if there was coordination of labor needs and eligible workers. The Rogue Valley has the opportunity to explore and implement solutions that could lead other small towns in problem solving.

SOLUTIONS:

  1. Support the creation and functioning of a Community Kitchen where glut from local farms can be served and preserved during summer and harvest seasons. Train food bank clients in food preparation and develop this labor force and system whereby farmers can access good help as needed
  2. Advocate for changes in Health Department regulations that encumber food saving goals, and work with County to allow reasonably priced and healthy food restaurants to accept Food Stamps for cooked food. Work with Growers Markets to expand on token system and develop, along with Community Kitchen site a place where growers’ produce can be sold every day at locations and times when working people can buy them.
  3. Advocate for and facilitate the boosting of food growing, food preservation and stockpiling. This is not the same as Food Banking, this is an emergency store for the public in event of any emergency situation
  4. Re-create the seed banking systems of the past.  Make sure we stock the right kinds of seeds that are open pollinated, untainted by GMOs and regionally viable.  Keep secure seed saving system for future use.

ISSUE: JOBS

This is our most urgent problem, as it is throughout the country. Fortunately we have the ability to address it more readily.

SOLUTIONS:

  1. Advocate for a 32 hour work week and removal of overtime during jobs crisis. Work to reduce legislative encumbrances and overzealous taxation that limits hiring of new employees
  2. Create direct relationship with State legislation to hire unemployed local residents in newly funded State programs, including but not limited to “new health care delivery system, “school retrofit” and any jobs related to logging and forest management
  3. Choose a few simple jobs ventures and enable capable unemployed persons begin these startups – see “Three Million Jobs in Three Months” which I prepared in 2009 (see Addressing Change chapter)
  4. Work with State of Oregon to create hybrid biofuel, alternative energies, flex fuels and landfill diversion programs.  Incubate them at Oregon Rest Stops, which become fuel stops for travelers and worksite to reprocess waste for a “home free population.”  This would protect the intellectual property and “sweat equity” of developers and innovators and give revenue to the State through taxes or direct % participation of fuels.  This is also means whereby existing fossil fuel monopolies and garbage company monopolies can be broken in favor of revenue to the State and employment for thousands of Oregonians.

ISSUE: CONNECTING CREATIVE THINKING, INNOVATORS, INVENTORS AND ENTREPRENEURS WITH VENTURE CAPITAL; SEEDING PROMISING PROJECTS WITH LOANS AND ONE TIME GIFTS

SOLUTIONS:

  1. Cultivate lenders, bankers, service organizations and anonymous donors who see the need and benefit of moving into the “New Economy” (see separate back cast vision “Report on January 1, 2045)
  2. Help inventors, thinkers and tinkers by translating their ideas into business plans, power point presentations, and budget documents that are intelligible to potential investors, political and civic leaders, and venture capitalists. Protect creative property of innovators and serve as liaisons to bring forward designs, systems and products that replace polluting, antiquated and energy-wasting technologies
  3. Through speaking engagements, films, visual displays and outbound presentations to regional clubs, organizations, non-profits, and other entities and institutions, bring information and build interest and consensus on new ways to answer society’s needs and nature’s demands and accumulate funds to advance the ideas

ISSUE: KEEPING DOLLARS CIRCULATING MULTIPLE TIMES THROUGH LOCAL ECONOMY, EDUCATING ABOUT “ACTUAL COSTS” – Triple Bottom Line Economics

SOLUTIONS:

  1. Encourage trades and re-gifting and through displays, lectures, demonstrations and development of model projects would increase understanding of complimentary currency systems that help people stretch their dollars by using local skills in trade and in use of exchange, time bank and other systems
  2. Help the Growers Markets, Artisan Markets, local small farms and restaurants to launch a complimentary currency system using food trades as the basis and let tokens,credits, on line point systems, and/or other means of “monetary markers” to spread this system gradually through the region
  3. Work to promote “Move your Money” in order to reduce the impact of huge banks, their policies, fees and susceptibility to costs associated with fluctuation of national and international markets and unscrupulous dealings at high levels of power. Educate the public about risks of certain investments, create watchdog group to limit fraud, bad lending practices, and scams. Have speakers and workshops about safe local investing, Slow Money, and why everyone should have a small stash of silver or gold in their “rainy day” or preparedness kit.
  4. Educate elected officials, business leaders, decision makers and people of influence on new ways to look at “the bottom line”. This means making them comfortable with evaluating what things “actually” cost – transporting cheaper products from far away because they are “cheap” might not be true – local products may be superior and have less  effective cost – and the biggest concept to convey here is WHAT IS ACTUAL COST TO ENVIRONMENT AND JOBS”
  5. Working with women regarding “Smart, Healthy and Environmentally Friendly” purchasing choices (women buy 80% of what is sold)

ISSUE: HEAT, FUEL and FIRE PREVENTION

SOLUTIONS:

  1. Renew understanding of careful husbandry of our forests. We live in a forest region where more use could be made of forest undergrowth as a source of heat, fuel, biomass, and non-food based ethanol. Create awareness of new forest management practices that use manual labor and consideration of tree types for best survivability (see Dr. Peter Kolb’s presentation on German and Montana Forest Management models). Wood as heat source has less polluting effect than natural gas; wood particulates fall back to Earth with rain since they do not travel into the outer atmosphere
  2. Foundation speaks for regional forestry jobs and supports and finds funds to increase the work, and new jobs, of groups like Rogue Valley Fuel Committee, Lomakatsi Reforestration, horse logging and manual work in forests, Headwaters, tribal work at Jackson Wellsprings, Red Earth Descendants, and other groups and programs
  3. Link with Builders Associations, contractors and inventors to make use of small timber, sawdust and viable building materials to create enclosures and fences to protect domestic farm animals from predators on rural/ag interface, to create deer fences to safeguard food supplies and to convert commercial properties for use as food storage units, new food processing plants, and for use in repairing railroad tracks all over the State of Oregon and beyond

ISSUE: COMMUNICATIONS AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

SOLUTIONS:

  1. Centralize emergency response by incorporating WebSpirit’s Community Online Response with City’s Disaster Preparedness Team. House community system and staff in Center
  2. Provide education on personal preparedness; create and sell or disperse minimal preparedness supplies (potential revenue stream). Advocate for the retention of as many manual and mechanical systems as possible, thereby maintaining a back-up plan in case computer technology fails. Even a brief lapse could prove disasterous, since almost all machinery and systems are now depended on computer technology.  Trade people in skills necessary to conducting essential services without dependence on communications and information through internet and similar technology.  Support radio waves, postal service and neighborhood support systems.
  3. Partner with KSKQ, Ashland Resource Center, Ashland Free Press and other community and on line calendars to maximize dissemination of information and to build strong communication systems that have a least one communication option available regardless of any worst case scenario. Work as advocates to streamline not lose the U.S. Postal Service, which is perhaps only vestige of communication where all people can be reached and accounted for.
  4. Communications Center – overflow for KSKQ Radio and a collaboration with our Community Radio’s have started a weekly community newspaper with partners like Jobs with Justice, Phronesis, Peace House, Ashland Free Press, etc. Also possibly move the antique letter press I saved (in storage now) to set up our own letter press where we can do print our own hand bills, print the weekly newspaper, run hand printed posters, political poetry and social justice pieces, invitations, posters, etc. and do demonstrations of the early printing technology, while training and preparing to create manual printed communications should it ever become necessary. (potential membership & revenue stream)

ISSUE: CONSERVATION, CREATIVE REUSE AND LANDFILL DIVERSION, SMARTER & BIODEGRADABLE PACKAGING

SOLUTIONS:

  1. All Interstate rest stops develop Landfill Diversion Centers adjacent to their sites.  These become the backbone of a national program whereby useable objects are repurposed by a transient labor force.  This would resemble the Worldwide Agricultural Work system known as WOOFRs where people can travel from farm to farm, working and being housed and fed for brief stays while paying their way by laboring. Rest Stops also become filling stations for vehicles using alternative fuel sources and the incubation of these fuel sources by the State is rewarded by a tax or % of profits system.
  2. Having Landfill Diversion Centers near cities would mean less reclaimable items would end up a City dumps.  This system would create jobs and also salvage of valuable metals, plastics, and serviceable items; our country would be reclaiming these “already mined” resources instead of shipping them off to developing countries who take those resources for free, re-process them, then sell them back to America as imports, and sometimes toxic ones at that.
  3. Creative Re-Use Depots can be in abandoned or under-utilized commercial spaces.  People drop off things that are reusable and the public can purchase them in order to support new jobs at these sites. Also this is a valuable resource center for non profits, cash-strapped schools and other public entities to acquire free supplies. This can also become a “re-gifting” center or Abundance Fair project that links year round to welfare agencies, churches and other agencies and groups addressing economic equity.
  4. Sponsor contests and competitions where inventors and innovators come up with new packaging that reduces waste and plastics in the environment. Offer substantial cash prizes for winning concepts and products. Give awards to companies producing environmentally friendly products and under-right coupon programs to get customers to try/switch to better choices.
  5. Plan and prepare a “Harvesting the Sea” recycling program to deal with islands of refuse floating on the oceans, and new threat of refuse coming from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.  Build platforms and train workers on barges to collect and organize refuse for processing items.  This is a “treasure hunt” on the seas, with tons of valuable metals, chemicals, electronics, cars, appliances, wood, in a floating waste dump twice the State of Texas, coming to America’s West Coast.  This is the biggest job generator we have coming straight to our vulnerable coastline.  Let’s get ready and use this as a way to jumpstart jobs and the economy. Check out new Japanese inventor’s system for making fuel out of garbage!
  6. In “Exburbs” like our area (towns financially suffering in rural and resource-rich regions) support the development of non-food ethanol projects, which would additionally stabilize the farming sector who could grow already sold crops of sorghum and other climate-appropriate crops for non-food based ethanol.

ISSUE: WATER, WATER CATCHMENT, TALENT AND MEDFORD IRRIGATION DISTRICTS, RIPARIAN WATER AND POTABLE WATER – BEST USES and Regional Water Project

SOLUTIONS:

  1. Help every city in Jackson County create a Water Commission as part of their City Government.
  2. Support City of Phoenix in developing, during Urban Renewal process, a water study that considers future water needs of agriculture, industry, recreation and population uses
  3. Build water cisterns, water catchment systems, and extend access to irrigation district water for use in outdoor common areas, for use in yards of homes on TID and MID and those with prior water rights.  Make use of outdoor water for firefighting purposes as well as industrial, agricultural and landscape uses.
  4. Educate the public on relaxed legislation regarding “gray water” and advocate for and help facilitate the implementation of gray water systems in all structures in the region. As legislation allows, implement gray water systems and water catchment.

ISSUE: LAND USE, REAL ESTATE REUSE

SOLUTIONS:

  1. Advocacy and lobbying at County and State level for legislative changes that support better resource use and development in our region
  2. Influence and work support for National Grange to be revitalized
  3. Strategize and working with National and Local Board of Realtors to invent and broker future property uses
  4. Change banking legislation so that agriculture uses are considered “highest and best use” over residential and commercial development in our region
  5. Actively support all “homesteading” programs and work with Board of Realtors to reclaim abandoned and blighted properties to be re-commissioned for low income, teen and homeless housing.

ISSUE: Preparing to ACCOMMODATE A HOME-FREE, MOBILE SOCIETY

SOLUTIONS:

  1. All Interstate Rest Stops add Landfill Diversion Centers where Home Free can work and stay for brief  periods before travelling on to next site.  These sites would include showers and services for transients
  2. Small towns and cities form informal labor pools by having a “clearinghouse” for unemployed and travelers who want work.  This would entail a process where an agency would get to know these Individuals and make an assessment of their appropriateness for day work.  There would be a known system or place where workers would gather and be employed for the day by those needing help There would be go betweens (agencies like the Center, Peace House, the Homeless Task Force) who act as representatives of benefactors who want to make micro loans to help the unemployed.