Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D.

Recruitment for Biotech & Medical Device companies Training & Consulting in Diversity and Inclusion

Homepage: https://darshanavnadkarni.wordpress.com

The Humans – Play Review


The Humans by playwright Stephen Karam, offers a funny, sad and blisteringly realistic portrait of American family drama, at a thanksgiving meal.  The Humans was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Play.

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Blake family, father Erick (Tim Kniffin), mother Deirdre (Marie Shell), daughter Brigid (Madeline Rouverol), daughter Aimee (Lyndsy Kail), Brigid’s live-in lover, Richard (George Psarras) and Momo, (Jessica Powell) have gathered for the meal at Richard and Brigid’s run down apartment in Manhatten, New York. These are the people we know; they are our neighbors, friends; indeed they are us.

Like many families, the Blakes have strong bonds and deep resentments. At times, they differ and argue over what appears to be inconsequential stuff.  There are generational differences. Erick and Deirdre want the best for their two daughters but their best is not the same as what their daughters desire.  At times, subtly and at times overtly the parents show their disapproval of Brigid’s choice of apartment and her decision to co-habit with her partner, without a marriage. Blake parents agonize over their daughter Aimee’s apparent anxiety, her major bowel disorder and her apparent losses in life. While Richard tries hard to get approval from Aimee’s family and convey to them that he has cleaned up his life, it is not easy to come by. Jessica Powell’s acting as momo suffering from dementia, is absolutely amazing and realistic.

David Zinn’s fascinating two-tiered set with a spiral staircase connecting the floors enables the family drama and action to move between upstairs and downstairs, just like the ebb and flow of their emotions. Kudos to director Tony Kelly and to the scenic team including Guilio Perrone and Michael Truman Cavanaugh for this insightful show.  

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This family drama is a penetrating portrayal of psychological unease. And yet, even as imperfect individuals and imperfect families travel through uncertainties and challenges, it’s the same ties that create the discomfort that also give hope for the future.

The Humans will be running at San Jose Stage Theater in San Jose, CA till December 15, 2019. For tickets, contact www.thestage.org .

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Mark Twain’s River of Song – Play Review


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During every theater season, I select best plays as not-to-miss plays of the theater season. Right up front, I will say this is a must-see, not-to-miss-play of this theater season.  It is running at theatreworks in Mountain View. Mark Twain’s discerning eye and sharp pen is immortalized by master directors, Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman, in this theatrical production.

A musical devoid of any motive, morals or plot has plenty of all that, if you look deep and listen intuitively. Mighty Mississippi is witness to many heartaches, sorrows, and celebrations and there is much to learn. It is indeed America’s good fortune that this masterfully witty storyteller also traveled up and down the country. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, he took on the pseudonym Mark Twain on the banks of Mississippi, a term to mark when the depth of the water is two fathoms, meaning the vessel is on safe water,

For a short period when Twain worked in the river trade on Mississippi, a river that flows from Northern Minnesota all the way south for 2,320 miles, Twain astutely observed. As he explored America’s iconic cultural landscape, winds of change were blowing through the country. In his observations, people working on the river, feeding off of the river, living on the banks of the river, come to life. Stories of the riverboat pilots and brazen gamblers, farm wives who longingly looked back at carefree days as young girls, field hands looking for opportunity to run to freedom somewhere up North, the skillful hardworking lumberjacks and the boatmen all enrich this masterpiece.

In theatreworks musical, Dan Hiatt does a fabulous job as Mark Twain, giving commentary in speech that comes directly from Twain’s many novels, lectures, and essays as well as from actual histories on the lives of lumbermen, farmers, slaves, dock workers and others who stayed and toiled on the banks of the river. Big Kudos to Emily Anderson Wolf and Taylor McQuesten for fabulous stage design and to David Lee Cuthbert for brilliant scenic and media design in this journey on the muddy river. 

Of the mighty river Twain says, “you can hang on to her but you can’t control her” and “The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise….”

Music direction by Dan Wheeetman is brilliant. Songs are entertaining….

Well, I went on the mountain
And I gave my horn a blow
Thought I heard some purty gal say
“Yonder come my beau”
Crow black chicken and crow for a day
Crow black chicken and fly away 
There’s longing and lament in some of the soulful songs

When I was a single girl, dressed in clothes so fine,
Now I am a married girl, go ragged all the time
Wish I was a single girl again
When I was a single girl, had shoes of the very best kind
Now I am a married girl, go barefoot all the time
Wish I was a single girl again

Some songs offer images of incredibly skilled lumberjacks doing infinitely challenging tasks

Now, boys, if you will listen, T will sing to you a song,
It’s all about the shanty-boys, and how they get along;
They are a jovial set of boys, so merry and so fine.
They spend a pleasant Winter, in cutting down the pine.

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And so the musical continues weaving in stories of wild lumberjacks, rovin’ gamblers, and dreamers of the Delta.
There are farmers, and sailors, likewise mechanics, too,
And all sorts of tradesmen, found with a lumber crew;
The choppers and the sawyers, they lay the timber low.
While the swampers and the skidders, they haul it to and fro.

The cast, Valisia LeKae, Tony Marcus, Rondrell McCormick, Chic Street Man, and Dan Wheetman bring to life all the stories of river folks. They entertain and enthrall, educate and elucidate and keep the audience on the edge of their seats, with foot thumping melodies. 

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Indeed America is the land of the free but Twain immortalizes the mighty Mississippi as the waters that carried many slaves to freedom, to the Northern states. 

I’m comin’ Lord, for my heavenly reward
I’m comin’ home to you, can you see me comin’ thru
Thru clouds of persecution, and stumblin’ on my way
I ‘spect I’m only makin’, ’bout a half a mile a day

Masterfully woven into the lyrics below are subtle references to the operatives of the underground railroad and the markings they left on trees and other landmarks to point the way to freedom.

Well the river bank makes a mighty good road
Dead trees will show you the way
Left foot, peg foot, travelin’ on
Follow the drinkin’ gourd
For the old man is waiting to carry you to freedom
Follow the drinkin’ gourd
Well the river ends, between two hills
Follow the drinkin’ gourd
There’s another river on the other side
Follow the drinkin’ gourd
 yearning for more. 

The musical does not have a singular plot, motive, or moral But if you look through Twain’s eyes, you shall find plots within plots and plenty of motives and morals. It is small wonder that in Twain’s iconic novel, “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, the river becomes both the setting of the novel and its central theme. And as Huck continues on, charting his own course and defining his own morality, the river carries on, offering both it’s umpteen bounty and it’s menace.

I wants to go back to Helena, the high waters got me bogged.
I wants to go back to Helena, the high waters got me bogged.
I woke up early this mornin’, a water hole in my back yard.
They want me to work on the levee, I have to leave my home.
They want to work on the levee, that I have to leave my home.
I was so scared the levee might break out and I may drown.

Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”. This journey down the Mississippi is an invitation for us to take an honest and also lighthearted look at the world around us. We may learn much and perhaps shed some baggage, if we can travel with Twain for some time, without malice and with genuine curiosity about the world around us.  Mark Twain’s River of Song” will be running at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, till October 27, 2019. Tickets can be obtained at www.theatreworks.org

 

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“The Wolves” – Play Review


A team of young soccer players in Sarah DeLappe’s play “The Wolves” start out with routine banter, typical of young girls, as they do pre-match warm-up sessions. A Pulitzer Prize finalist, the play offers a rich insight into the minds and hearts of young girls. It is inspiring and emotional, funny and sad and juxtaposes the trials and tribulations of growing up as a young girl in a manner that creates a rich tapestry of varying colors of adolescent life. 

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The play is not organized around a singular conventional theme. In fact, the points of tension are dispersed among many situations and issues and randomly emerge in the fast and fragmented girl talk. There is anxiety around being in love, getting recruited to a top college with athletic scholarship, being home schooled and moved around with a parent’s job, going for unsupervised parties with boys and more. Added to all the choices that young girls wade through, there’s the shame, guilt and secrecy around sex and sexuality. 

What emerges is a rich tapestry of adolescent angst, amidst glaring fundamental truths, the many choices that will have long term consequences and many responsibilities that they delicately seek to balance and navigate through, relying on each other, where only they can understand the depth of emotions. Should destiny require them to deal with loss and grief, what adult can fully understand or speak honestly about the emotional anguish that young girls standing on the dawn of adult life experience? But as the play unfolds, every adult is likely reminded of his or her mental turmoil of adolescence and of their young girls they raised, mentored or taught. There is a certain steady building of empathetic investment into the characters that we experience. By the end of the play, we want each of these girls to go to Harvard or Stanford or heck a community college, indeed any vocation of choice; be on a winning team or not play on one if they so choose; find a partner of choice or be happily single; indeed we want them to fulfill their dreams and grow into kind and happy women. DeLappe’s faultless dialogues on a diverse range of topics, makes these girls so real, we love them like our own. 

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Big kudos to the talented cast, Leila Rosa, Carol Amalia ALban, Taylor Sanders, Alex Bokovikova, Alexandra Velasquez, Ariel Aronica, Annika Nori, Erin Southard, Beca Gilbert, and Janine Saunders Evans. Credits go to MacKenzie Blair and Sara Session for excellent staging. Director Kimberly Mohne Hill with assistance by Elena Maddy has done a fabulous job of giving on stage life to Sarah De Lappe’s The Wolves. This is an absolutely not-to-miss-play of this theater season and will be running The City Lights Theater in San Jose, CA until October 20, 2019. For tickets, go to www.cltc.org .

 

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Speedy identification of pathogens: saves lives, reduces cost & lowers antibiotic resistance problem


At a recent Bio2DeviceGroup (www.bio2devicegroup.org) event, Kevin Hacker, CEO of BioAffinity Sciences talked about their new technology that when fully developed will identify pathogens more than 100 times faster than the traditional blood culture and related technologies currently in use.

Sepsis Problem

Sepsis, bacteria in blood. 3D illustration showing rod-shaped bacteria with red blood cells and leukocytes

Every year, in the US, 500 thousand people die due to sepsis related complications. Sepsis is a final common pathway for many infections, particularly when an individual’s immunity is low. Body normally releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight an infection. When the body’s response to these chemicals is out of balance, it results in Sepsis. That is when body’s immune system launches a massive counter attack that harms body’s own tissues and organs. The triggering changes begin to damage body’s vital organ systems that results in dramatic drop in the blood pressure, ultimately leading to death.

Sepsis and septic shock are more common if the individual is very young or very old, have a compromised immune system, have diabetes or cirrhosis, is already sick and frequently in a hospital intensive care unit, have wounds or injuries or severe burns, have invasive devices inserted into the body, and have previously received antibiotics or corticosteroids. Often people can recover from mild sepsis. However, if the body goes into septic shock, the average mortality rate for septic shock is about 40%. Additionally, an episode of severe sepsis may place a person at higher risk of future infections.

Given that widespread infections can progress to Sepsis and Sepsis shock in a matter of few hours, it is imperative that such infections be treated immediately with antibiotics. When given the right antibiotics, there is often a dramatic improvement and speed of cure.

Problem with speedy identification of pathogens

Petri dish with Escherichia Colli bacteria under the light of the laboratory microscope. Medical laboratory concept

Close up the media plate on hand medical technicians working on bacteria culture and drug resistance of pathogens in laboratory; bacterial identification.

Given that early treatment of sepsis is associated with vastly improved outcomes, rapid diagnosis is essential. However blood culture work is slow and often takes 1-3 days. The diagnosis of sepsis in critically ill patients, housed in hospitals is also challenging because it can be complicated by the presence of inflammation resulting from other underlying diseases and from prior use of antibiotics, making cultures negative. Most testing is done through mass spectrometry that gives mass to charge ratio of ions. Since culture-dependent diagnosis of infection is slow, sometimes patients are given antibiotics, before the results of the culture are available. Patients are given broad spectrum antibiotics and 40% are not effective. In such instances, antibiotics are withdrawn after one cycle of treatment, when the cause of the illness is found to be something else and this can lead to antibiotic resistance.

Bioaffinity Sciences solution will be able to identify pathogens within 10 minutes, 430 fold faster than blood culture. This is cell affinity based, low cost technology. Pathogens are run through microchannels comprising of a surface- grafted scaffold of reactive polymer onto which affinity molecules (sugars, aptamers, vancomycin, and methicillin) have been bio-conjugated. High capacity of the channels allows low numbers of microbes to be quickly identified. The unknown pathogen’s pattern of binding to the channels is recorded, and this pattern is compared to a library of known pathogens. When a match is made, the identity of the pathogen is reported. In addition to speed, this is also more sensitive in terms of the number of different pathogens detected than blood culture.

Disease burden to the healthcare system in the US due to Sepsis

Sepsis management is a major challenge and results in disproportionately high burden in terms of hospital utilization. The average length of stay for sepsis patients in the US is approximately 75% greater than for other conditions. The cost of sepsis management ranks highest among hospital admissions for all disease states. The cost is estimated to be between $25 billion and $27 billion, and represents 13% of total US hospital costs.

Considering that poor sepsis outcomes are directly tied to the delay in diagnosis and treatment, such a dramatic improvement in speed and accuracy of diagnosis leading to speedy and accurate treatment can not only dramatically improve outcome and quality of patient care but also significantly reduce cost of care for hospitals.

The talk was followed by Q&A.

 

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Hope for Devastating Small Bowel Syndrome Disease


Andre Bessette, CEO & Co-founder at Eclipse Regenesis talked about Short Bowel Syndrome at an event by Bio2DeviceGroup (www.bio2devicegroup.org) held at Wilson Sonsini (WSGR) in Palo Alto. Bessette shared information on prevalence of the disease, it’s impact, and the new technology that offers hope for restoration. 

Feel free to skip the short tutorial below and jump to SBS and the technology solutions for treatment of SBS

Movement of the food

Typically digestion begins in the mouth where chewing and saliva begin to break down the food. As it passes through the esophagus, the contractions in the esophagus moves the food forward towards the stomach. In the stomach, the food breaks down further into liquid or paste and is mixed with acids and enzymes. The stomach slowly empties the contents, called chyme, into the small intestine. 

Small Intestine
It is the tube shaped organ and is located between the stomach and large intestine. The small intestine is regarded as the workhorse of the digestive system. It is 20 FEET LONG and includes the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. 

Duodenum is the first part of the small intestine where typically iron and other minerals are absorbed.
Jejunum is the middle section where cabs, proteins, fat and most vitamins are absorbed.
Ileum is the lower end of the small intestine where bile acids and vitamin B12 are absorbed.

From small intestine the food travels to the large intestine which is about 5 feet long in adults and helps in absorption of water and other remaining nutrients. It then changes waste from liquid to a solid matter called stool. 

Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS)

short gut. Before surgery and after surgery. Short bowel syndrome is a disorder caused by a lack of part of small intestine. Vector illustration for biology, scientific, and medical use.

Short Bowel Syndrome or SBS is a devastating condition where the small intestine is simply too short. The inadequate length of the small intestine leads to a whole host of problems primarily related to malabsorption of nutrients and depending on the degree of shortness, sometimes it drastically shortens lifespan. Typically SBS is diagnosed when people have at least half of their small intestine removed and sometimes all or part of their large intestine removed due to disease or injury and significant damage of the small intestine. Sometimes it is a congenital abnormality, where a baby is born with very short small intestine. Depending on the length, SBS may be mild, moderate or severe. 

Malabsorption

People with SBS cannot absorb enough water, vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, calories and other nutrients from food. Difficulty in absorbing nutrients depends upon the area of small intestine that is removed or non-existent. This inability to absorb nutrients and water causes severe and frequent diarrhea, weight loss and other symptoms related to loss of essential vitamins and minerals. 

Disease prevalence 

There are about 8 thousand new cases of SBS in the US, each year. About 65% of them are due to congenital or acquired defect. Typically pediatric patients die before they reach 3 years of age. Their short life is marked with TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) treatment where by nutrients are given directly into the bloodstream bypassing the gastrointestinal tract. Gattex (teduglutide) is a prescription medicine given through intravenous (IV) feeding or subcutaneous injection. Not only is it a costly treatment, averaging around 200-300K annually without much improvement but a baby would need to continuously be wearing or accompanying a backpack. Surgical treatment costs 150K to 400K and transplants cost over a million dollars and require life long care, possibility of rejection and infections and has about 5 year mortality for 50% of patients. NONE OF THE CURRENT TREATMENT OPTIONS RESTORE FULL BOWEL FUNCTION.

Eclipse Regenesis Solution

The Eclipse XL1 therapy is a restorative solution designed to grow a longer, healthy intestine rapidly in the course of 2-3 weeks. The solution is entirely mechanical and repeatable, without any harmful or toxic effects. Eclipse has devised a nitinol coil that is introduced into the small intestine via a stoma. Plication sutures are then applied outside the intestine to hold it in place. During the course of the therapy of 2-3 weeks, while the device is in place, nutrients continue to flow through the intestine. Over 2-3 weeks period, the coil gradually expands. As it expands, it gently pulls the small intestine, stimulating new tissue growth and lengthening the treated region 2 to 3 times. The solution is striking in its simplicity and beautiful uncomplicated. After expansion, the sutures dissolve, allowing the coil to move forward and finally get passed out naturally.

Besssette shared information on the team of co-founders with impressive credentials and answered various questions from the audience. Yes, the contractile function continues in the newly lengthened intestine, no the length sustains and does not snap back and the process is repeatable to produce clinical significant length of the intestine and all of these is indicated by the animal trials. 

Small Bowel Syndrome is an orphan disease and as such the Eclipse XL1 has received a HUD designation (which requires incidence rate of less than 8000 new cases a year, in the US). Eclipse is anticipating using the HDE regulatory pathway which requires safety and probable benefit data. Eclipse plans to commercialize in pediatric market, in the near future.  

 

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JOBS: September, 2019


Good deal. Close-up of two business people shaking hands while sitting at the working place

Please see some of my current opportunities below. All opportunities are for local (US based) candidates with valid work visa and require deep industry experience.  If you have an interest then please send an email (resume as an attachment) at wd under score darshana at hot mail or find me on Linkedin.

Clinical Trial Manager – San Jose, CA

Ideal experience: 8+ years experience in medical devices, ideally in neuromodulation.  Required, experience running clinical trials, and working with clinicians and medical centers.

Head of Regulatory – San Jose, CA 

Candidate must have 15+ years experience in bio/pharma industry. Experience working with biologics and taking a drug to market in the US and EU is essential.

Mechanical Engineer – San Jose, CA

The Mechanical Engineer is responsible for evaluating the current manufacturing processes and making design improvements to increase throughput, quality and reliability. This will be achieved by redesigning the current tooling and/or creating new tooling and equipment. The successful candidate will work independently and use sound judgment to deliver optimal manufacturing solutions. This is a hands-on position that requires interaction and collaboration with a cross-functional team.

Responsibilities

· Evaluate the current manufacturing processes /workflows and identify opportunities to realize improved product consistency and increased throughput
· Develop concepts and ideas for improving the exiting tooling as well as creating new tooling including semi-automation where applicable
· Take full ownership of tooling /fixture designs, conduct concept reviews, show proof of concept through prototyping coupled with supporting test data, coordinate with appropriate stakeholders for successful verification /validation, launch and documentation
· Create 3D models, engineering drawings and bills of materials
· Create comprehensive work instructions and manufacturing SOP’s
· Work closely with Process Engineering through the creation of verification /validation protocols (IQ,OQ,PQ) as well as successful execution, data generation, report and documentation
· Establish working relationship with outside vendors, machine shops, contract manufacturers and manage the work accordingly
· Comply with company’s policies and guidelines regarding design control, validation activities and documentation

Qualifications
· Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical, Manufacturing or related engineering fields
· 5-7 years hands-on experience in a manufacturing environment
· In-depth experience with complex mechanical /electromechanical design
· Extensive experience with precision mechanisms, pneumatics, fixtures /tooling and mechanical components such as motors, belts/pulleys, gears, actuators, sensors, etc.
· Experience with creating engineering drawings, BOMs and product specifications
· Deep knowledge of material properties, heat treatment and surface finish
· Good understanding of DFM and lean manufacturing
· Excellent verbal, written, presentation and interpersonal skills
· Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
· Knowledge and/or hands-on experience with machine shop tools
· Deep knowledge of GD&T as well as proficiency with SolidWorks
· Prior experience with FDA regulations and ISO, cGMP, QMS standards
· Creative, self-motivated, flexible to work in a small company environment and assume a wide variety of tasks

Preferred Qualifications
· Knowledge /experience with electrical /electronics and PLC programming a big plus
· Knowledge /experience with plastic injection molding
· Experience with metal stamping, laser cutting and chemical etching
· Familiarity with cleaning and sterilization processes

Sr. Molding Engineer

Job Summary

The Sr. Molding Engineer is responsible for evaluating the current molding processes and leading the effort to increase throughput, quality and reliability. This will be achieved by redesigning the current tooling, creating new tooling /equipment as well as leveraging outside molding expertise. The successful candidate will become the resident expert in the areas of plastic injection molding and material selection. This is a hands-on position that requires interaction and collaboration with a cross-functional team.

Responsibilities

· Evaluate /characterize the current molding processes and identify areas of improvement while focusing on rapid manufacturing scale-up
· Work closely with the consumable engineering group and make recommendations for molding improvements such as use of alternate materials, parts consolidation, setup /process optimization etc. without compromising the design intent
· Conduct design concept reviews and present fresh ideas, new technologies and creative ways to take the current molding process to the next level
· Show proof of concept through rapid prototyping and supporting test data
· Take full ownership of all injection molding initiatives, coordinate with appropriate stakeholders from initial concepts through FAI, optimization, successful verification /validation, launch and documentation
· Work closely with Process Engineering through the creation of verification /validation protocols (IQ,OQ,PQ) as well as successful execution, data generation, report and documentation
· Develop /optimize molding parameters and establish best practices in molding methodologies
· Work with external companies as needed to outsource injection molding activities and manage the vendors through all phases of the projects including user requirements, RFQ, vendor selection, concept & design followed by verification /validation
· Create comprehensive work instructions and manufacturing SOP’s
· Comply with company’s policies and guidelines regarding design control, validation activities and documentation

Qualifications
· Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical, Manufacturing, Plastics or related engineering fields
· 7-10 years of extensive, hands-on experience with plastic injection molding including but not limited to mold design, capability studies and process characterization /optimization
· Experience with rapid prototyping and multi-cavity plastic injection molding
· In-depth knowledge of material science /plastics properties and metrology techniques
· Experience with creating engineering drawings, BOMs and product specifications
· Good understanding of DFM and lean manufacturing
· Excellent verbal, written, presentation and interpersonal skills
· Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
· Prior experience with FDA regulations and ISO, cGMP, QMS standards
· Knowledge and/or hands-on experience with machine shop tools
· Deep knowledge of GD&T as well as proficiency with SolidWorks
· Creative, self-motivated, flexible to work in a small company environment and assume a wide variety of tasks

Preferred Qualifications
· Knowledge /experience with micro molding
· Knowledge /experience with DOE, SPC, FMEA
· Experience with metal stamping, laser cutting and chemical etching
· Familiarity with cleaning and sterilization processes

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The 39 Steps – Play Review


The 39 Steps is a theatrical spoof on the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock. Authors of the parody, Simon Corble and Nobby Dimon envisioned the theatrical spoof in 1996 and was later rewritten by Patrick Barlow, with four people playing many roles. At Theatreworks, Lance Gardner, Ron Campbell, Cassidy Brown, and Annie Abrams do a fabulous job of quick role changes as the fast paced spoof moves on, drawing the audience into the murder mystery, with a twist. 

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As the story evolves, Richard Hannay, a man with a boring humdrum life meets an exciting woman who confides in him that she is a spy and requests him to take her to his home. Soon she is mysteriously murdered at his home, leaving the bewildered and scared Hannay to go on the run, both from law enforcement and the people who murdered the spy woman. As Hannay expected, he is accused of murder. As he goes on the run in search of the murderers, Hannay has encounters with constables, spies, village farmers, traveling salesmen, inkeepers, newsboys and he crosses streams, assumes false identity, meets a blonde and even dangles from the bridge.  All this makes for lavishly theatrical and hugely hilarious production. 

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The 39 Steps at Theatreworks, mixes an engrossing masterpiece with juicy characters and hilarious role changes with exciting staging by Leslie Martinson, perfect scenic designs by David Lee Cuthbert, and all the excitement unfolds inside a fast paced whodunit murder mystery, brilliantly directed by Leslie Martinson. This play has been extended to run through September, 22 and tickets are available at www.theatreworks.org .

 

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Alaska – Land & Cruise — August, 2019


Alaska – via land — Wasilla, Palmer, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Healy, Fairbanks, Denali

IMG_20190807_161150440-1.jpgMy Alaskan adventure began in Wasilla and Palmer, Alaska. During 1930s, Great Depression, at a time when people had few sources of income, the Government invited Americans to settle in Alaska and do farming. After strict screening of applicants, 203 families were selected. Each family was allotted several thousand acres in Alaska and was given $3000 as starting incentive. They settled near Palmer. Today Palmer is a little town with a small but vibrant downtown with a little museum that celebrates the original inhabitants and their descendants. While I waited for my friend to arrive, I had a beautiful day visiting the shops and learning some history from chatty shop owners.  

IMG_20190811_105424848.jpgIMG_20190813_170931147.jpgWe stayed the night in Anchorage and began the 250 mile drive towards Healy. We were greeted by most amazing vistas with rolling snow capped mountains, glaciers and rivers interspersed with forests. In Alaska, you get all the nature your heart desires and it is teeming with wild life. We saw a hare, a black bear and a couple of hyenas. On the way we stopped at the beautiful town of Talkeetna and enjoyed its quaint shops, had fireweed ice cream and birch candy and then came across what we thought was a routine vista point. That was Mount Denali South viewpoint and the view was just breathtaking.

 

Denali, also known as Mount McKinley, with elevation of over 20,000 feet is the highest mountain in North America. It was a clear day and we could see the gorgeous mountain, in all its majestic beauty.

IMG_20190809_204306653.jpgFrom Healy we went to town of Denali and then visited Cheena hot springs in Fairbanks.  Besides being known for its sulphuric hot springs, Cheena is known for viewing of Aurora Borealis. Unfortunately, we did not get to see Aurora, except in a documentary, in a museum.  But we thoroughly and absolutely enjoyed soaking in the hot springs. Very reluctantly, I emerged out the relaxing waters.  We drove back to Anchorage enjoyed the day in Anchorage touring the downtown area, visited a little street fair and market and then proceeded on the beautiful drive South to the port of Seward. The drive was lovely. Seward is also a lovely little town and we enjoyed the walk through in the town before boarding the cruise at Holland America.

After we boarded the cruise…… 

 

Haines, AK – Absolute awesomeness of natural beauty in Alaska will make your soul sing happy tunes. A small five mile inlet called Glacier Bay exposes travelers to perhaps world’s most majestic wilderness area. It covers over 3.2 million acres of forest, inlet and shore with mountain peaks rising over 15,000 feet, towers of ice and many glaciers. Tidewater glaciers are rivers of ice that flow to the sea and from time to time large chunks of ice break free and flow into the ocean. There are seven such glaciers here. 

 

Margerie Glacier – Margerie glacier is truly Alaska’s spectacular gem of a glacier. The views were so amazing that on a sunny day, a boat load of people were watching on the deck, in stunned silence. And after rumbling sound followed by thunderous cracks, when large chunks of ice began to break off, the people erupted in oohs and aahs…

 

Juneau, Alaska & Mendenhall Glacier – This land keeps revealing more and more beauty and each new sight competes with the previous one for top spot. Mendenhall Glacier is about 13 miles long, located in Mendenhall Valley it is about 12 miles from downtown Juneau. The glacier terminates in Mendenhall lake where the views are stunning. We gazed upon the blue hues emanating from this spectacular glacier, then walked up to the visitor center and gawked upon more spectacular views from the top. Mendenhall Glacier is overflowing with beauty, with nature and wild life. While we didn’t see the bear, we saw a porcupine very up close.  Here’s a little joke we heard on the way. Why are Alaska state employees not allowed to look out of the window in the morning? So they could look out of the window in the afternoon. Actually life moves in a slow lane here and many residents take up to 4 month break and go away to the “lower 48” during winter, to work as a contractor or visit family. Small request: Regardless of your political affiliation, please take care of these gorgeous glaciers. Gunalcheesh (thank you) in Tinglits lingo. We also took Mount Roberts Tramway from right near the cruise ship dock for a short ride up 1,800 feet up the mountain. From there we got to see spectacular views of the city of Juneau and Gastineau Channel and did some shopping of gifts for friends. 

 

Kachikan, Alaska – Kachikan is a lovely city facing the Inside Passage and is known for its Native American totem poles. We did not get to visit Misty Fjords, a glacier carved wilderness with snow capped mountains and waterfalls and salmon spawning streams. Kachikan has a vibrant wild life with black bears, wolves and bald eagles. We visited Tongass National Forest which also has a salmon spawning stream. We were incredibly fortunate to see a bald eagle fly fairly up close with its completely majestic display of wings spread out. I could not get to my camera in time to capture the incredible flight but I will forever savor the sight. We also visited a bald eagles sanctuary. Injured or old eagles who cannot survive in the wild, are cared for there and they also work doing little shows for visitors.   We visited Totem Pole museum and then visited Creek Street, the former red-light district that is now turned into an arts and craft and museum area. 

 

Our Alaska journey ended in Vancouver, Canada but the incredible expansive beauty of  Alaska is seared forever in our memory. Alaska is truly the last most glamorous frontier that is easily accessible and offers spectacular awesomeoness in all its majestic glory for everyone to enjoy. It is up to each one of us, to do little some thing that we can do to preserve and protect this incredible and gorgeous land.

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Language Archive – Play Review


“What is death to a language.  There are 6900 languages in the world,  Every two weeks, a language dies. This statistic moves me more than any other.  It is death of imagination”. This dialog from Theatrework’s Tony Award-winning “Language Archive” is a celebration of the power of words. And the play itself is also a heart touching rendition of the limitation of language because after all, love transcends words.

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Above everything else, playwright Julia Cho’s quirky sentimental comedy is a celebration of human spirit, with all its tenacity and vulnerabilities. Superbly directed by Jeffrey Lo, every dialog in the play is Muni-Muni (means makes on think deeply in Philippine language). The play centers around whimsical brilliant linguist George (Jomar Tagatac). George’s affirming love for the spoken word and his deep inner struggle to verbalize his innermost feelings are contradictions that point to a larger conundrum – what is more important and more fully defines humans, words or feelings. Even as George devotedly works to preserve and record dying languages of the world, internally he struggles to communicate his feelings to his beloved wife, Mary (Elena Wright). Mary on the other hand, lives in the world of feelings, wears her heart on her sleeve, composes and leaves littler verses for George to find, and cries at the drop of a hat. She is critical of George’s lack of emotions. When George insists that he feels and feels deeply and that his work is devoted to preserving languages and he also deeply mourns the death of a language, Mary counters, “You mourn ideas, not people”.  Mary, a woman of feelings, speaks some of the most memorable lines, including telling George, “There is a certain language, our language, and if you don’t come back, I can’t speak it any more,” and when George does go back, Mary indeed fails to understand him. Emma (Adrienne Kaori Walters) works with George and she understands George more deeply.  She also secretly loves George and pines for him.

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Alta (Emily Kuroda) and Resten (Francis Jue) are endearing old couple who are amongst the last people to speak their native language. However, they only speak in their tongue when they are speaking with love. When they are fighting or sniping at each other, they choose to do that in English. George and Emma are keen to record their language but end up terribly frustrated as Alta and Resten are fighting and refuse to speak in their native tongue, as they snipe at each other in English.  In many ways, it makes intuitive sense that they speak in their native language only when they are communicating deep innermost feelings. After all, language of love is the language of the heart and it supercedes the language acquired through learning of words. Language of love is acquired in infancy, long before an infant learns words. The play beautifully weaves together the amazing power of love beyond words with the power inherent in words that give human feelings of love, longing, fear and vulnerabilities, meaning and substance and enables people engaged in a deep relationship an ability to create their own language.

This is a not-to-miss play of this theater season in the bay area and will be running till August 4 at Lucie Stern Theater in Palo Alto, CA.  Tickets are available at www.theatreworks.org .

Language Archive, Play, Review Julia Cho, Jeffrey Lo, Jomar Tagatac, Elena Wright, Adrienne Kaori Walters, Emily Kuroda, Francis Jue, Lucie Stern Theater, Palo Alto, www.theatreworks.org 

PS: World’s oldest continually operating library where lost languages have been found
archaeology-world.com/this-is-the-wo…

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Response to Tom Friedman (NY Times) – We need outrage, No that is not going to get Trump re-elected.


This is in response to Thomas Friedman’s column “Trump’s Going to Get Re-elected, Isn’t He? Voters have reason to worry”, published on July 16, 2019 in New York Times. .With all due respect “Sir, you are wrong”. With your prescribed cerebral approach to keeping the eye on the prize to winning elections, asking for money when Trump tweets, IS NOT GOING TO HELP DEMOCRATS WIN, not to mention it further corrodes the moral soul of the country.

No, we are not seeking revolution AND yes, we want to beat Trump at the polls. But expressing immense OUTRAGE isn’t exactly revolution. IF we don’t express outrage and let it be our new normal, IF we don’t stand steadfast with our black and brown people and with LGBTQ and with women, then what sir are we going to be able to do for the country? IF a 3 year old Sophie is going to be given a choice between her two parents and we simply collect money to beat these people at the polls, than what about our moral soul, how is our party different from the other party?

But since you want to focus on practicalities and not sentimentalities, then let us do that for a moment. 1) Just as Donald Trump is energizing his base with his relentless racist and sexist tweets, there is a whole Democrat base looking to have their opposition to blatant racism and sexim channled though a leader who can take Trump on. Money is a natural outcome of an energized base. 2) How large is Trump’s base? For the most part, his approval has hovered around 44% and disapproval has hovered around 51%. Do you want to sacrifice or water down the 51% of those looking to beat Trump in order to win a few swing voters? Well sir, those swing voters are right now few or non-existent. People have made up their minds and his base may get more obstinate but will never grow. The country is divided into people who feel morally outraged and those who are enchanted by moral liquidation coming from the highest office in our country. 

Right now, those of us who are outraged that such an individual who got there with outside help is allowed to use his office to incite racism and sexism, are banging our heads in frustration. No, perhaps #impeachment is not an answer because we need to go there only when we have certainty to win. But expressing our outrage in every other way, we ought to do; standing together with our citizens under attack, we ought to do. And even if we don’t take steps to impeach Trump, we need to get every one of his minions who have violated rules and regulations and hatch acts and plaster them all with criminal indictments. We need to blend our forward looking agenda about infrastructure, job creation, minimum pay raise, treating refugees with dignity, with hard issues of border protection, opioid flooding by big pharma and interference into our elections by foreign actors.  These are not simple issues, but to win, we will need to balance complex issues with both firmness and humanity.  No sir, don’t tell us that all we can do is send in money. All our frustrations cannot be culminated into sterile act of writing a check. We need outrage and a leader who will not stoop low to Trump’s level and yet will not balk at standing steadfast against everything wrong that is going on. Right now, we have 20+ awesome individuals who have taken on the challenge to beat Trump and as long as they are not afraid of taking on Trump and of being heard, we will win the election.

You are wrong, because sir, the way to beat Trump at polls is to not let him steal our voice.

 

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