Posts Tagged www.thestage.org

The Toxic Avenger – Play Review


Musical comedy “The Toxic Avenger” based on Lloyd Kaufman’s film of the same name, originally derived from book and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and music and lyrics by David Bryan, is currently playing at The stage (www.thestage.org) in San Jose.  It is a silly show tackling a serious subject and features a talented cast that performs zillion roles.  Addressing the issue of climate change, the show shies away from becoming preachy or depressing. It begins with the lyrics

Global warming’s up ahead
The experts think we’ll all be dead
But they don’t know we’re here to fight

Image result for toxic avenger, san joseIt is a story of heavily polluted New Jersey town where Melvin Ferd III (Will Springhorn Jr.) resolves to get to the bottom of the cause of pollution and is pitted against town’s greedy, power-hungry and seductive mayor Babs (Allison F. Rich) and her gang of thugs. The mayor’s for-profit corporation is the cause of town’s growing pollution but the mayor is entirely focused on growing her bottom line.

Here’s a place between heaven and hell
Don’t need a map, just follow the smell
A place filled with filthy air
A place full of dark despair
A place you have no prayer
A place called New Jersey
New Jersey
Jersey, the Garden State
Ther’s an exit called the thirteen gee
Right off the turnpike where it smells just like pee
An exit no one dares get off:
An exit where the children cough

Image result for toxic avenger, san joseWhen the mayor’s thugs and Melvin engage in a fight, Melvin falls into a vat of toxic waste and emerges as a heroic green monster with superior strength. Melvin’s nagging mother (also played by talented Allison F. Rich) does not the express slightest shock and instead reiterates her disappointment with her son. Her lack of shock at the sight of her son is shocking in itself and at the same time her superb acting makes it feel like a natural response of a nagging mother to a child not rising up to his talents. It is all hilarious.  Melvin also reconnects with his blind love interest, Sarah (Courtney Hatcher). Sarah does not know that it is Melvin and falls hopelessly in love with who she believes is the superhero who saved her from the town’s thugs.

He’s strong and sweet and lives with his mother,
He saved my life so there is no other.
Such a man and man is he macho
Spicy cool like a bowl of gaspacho
Someday he’s ganna be my big, my big french boyfriend!

But Sarah soon gets an opportunity to touch Melvin’s ugly and scarred face and her love abets with the same speed as it had begun to overflow. When scorned by his sweetheart, broken hearted and depressed Melvin goes from being a town hero and a legend to a town pariah. However, Sarah soon changes her mind after she gets a talking-to by Melvin’s mother who explains “If blind people don’t like ugly people, than who will” and she and Sarah’s friends make a practical point that – after all
All men are freaks
It’s a burden every woman shares as she travels down life’s roads

Superbly directed by Jonathan Rhys Williams, the play is hilariously funny and witty. Cirby Hatano’s set is eye catching wasteland with scattered drums of toxic waste. Video design by Vijay M. Rajan occasionally fills the gap in the narrative and adds fantastically funny comic touches. When the fight ensues between the  hero and the thugs, blood is scattered or limbs are severed on the projected screen rather than on the set. The 80s style rock style songs are played by an onstage rock band directed by Brian Allan Hobbs.

The Toxic Avenger is produced at San Jose Stage at a critical time in our history, when depressing developments on the issue of climate change makes us feel both upset and helpless. Toxic Avenger is just the hero we need to transport us for a short while, to a place where we are not entirely helpless, and our righteous commitment enables us to find love and perfect solution for the cause of climate change. The Toxic Avenger will be playing at the Stage in San Jose until July 16, 2017 and tickets are available at www.thestage.org .

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“Disgraced” – Play Review


Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer prize-winning play “Disgraced” playing at San Jose Stage theater, takes the audience on a deep dive into the complexity of identity formation, change and dynamism of identity, and also identity destruction.

The entire drama plays out in a tastefully decorated, beautiful Manhattan apartment, occupied by Pakistan born, Amir Kapoor (Damien Seperi) and his caucasian wife, Emily (Allison F. Rich). Amir is quickly climbing the corporate ladder at his Manhattan law firm and has so wholeheartedly embraced the American dream with its trappings of wealth and success that in order to get a better acceptance, he passes himself off as an immigrant from India, when a partner assumes him to be from India. That is an early peek into the close cousin of identity and the complex arena of stereotypes, where Pakistan generates stereotypes of terrorism and India of engineers and education.  If Amir may be embracing fiscally conservative values, his wife Emily is a bleeding heart liberal. While Amir is hiding aspects of his identity and rejects everything Islam, Emily seeks out liberal causes and implores her husband to stand up and fight for what is just and on behalf of those falsely accused of terrorism related activities, in the aftermath of 9/11.

Image result for disgraced, san jose stageEmily and Amir are hosting a dinner party for their elite, high-powered friends, Jory (Kathryn Smith-McGlynn), a lawyer from Amir’s firm and her husband Isaac (Jonathan Rhys Williams), a curator at the Whitney Museum. Just as Amir denounces everything Islam, Emily constantly contradicts his criticism of faith and insists on finding “beauty and wisdom in Islamic tradition”. Her paintings draw on Islamic art and she insists that the Muslims gave the world a “visual perspective”. She has created an Islamic piece of art and is hoping that she will get her big break through Isaac.  Isaac is Jewish but critical of Israel’s military actions in the region. His wife Jory is African-American and is fully aware of the impact of racial profiling.

As the story advances, through various twists and turns, a complex picture and many questions emerge. Do people feel pressured to renounce their “other” cultural identities in order to gain mainstream acceptance and climb the ladder of success in America? Do people suppress rather than erase, sometimes with bitterness, their primary identity, even as they embrace mainstream values? Amir shares the story of growing up Muslim where his mother not only wanted him to embrace his culture and religion but also taught him prejudice against “others”. Albeit he embraced mainstream values but deep inside he felt rage.

Image result for disgraced, san jose stageThe fascinating aspect of this play is that it centers not just around Amir’s story. Jory has her own identity battle, as does Isaac and in fact, Emily has her own identity issues.  At an individual level, there are multitude of factors that contribute to a person’s identity, including geographic location where one grows up, one’s religion, one’s peers, parents, teachers, siblings, as well as one’s personality and temperament.  However, when others perceive an individual, they tend to simplify and often judge or assume someone’s identity based on one or two factors that matter to the perceiver. At societal level what creates infinitely amazing kaleidoscopic reality is how diverse identities of multitude of people collide and intersect at multiple levels, especially when invited to focus exclusively on identity, as in the current political environment.  

And finally, constant and extreme pressure to prove oneself, to suppress one’s innate identity and everything it meant in one’s formative years; real or imagined pressure to renounce one’s faith, religion or culture in order to fit in, to prove oneself, takes an incredible toll on a person. The stress can manifest in diverse ways including depression, addictive behaviors, violence, and irreversible adverse impact on health. At least one or two of these are manifested in this story.

San Jose Stage Theater (www.thestage.org)  has always brought bold and relevant productions and participated in raising important questions and promote crucial dialog in our society and this play is immensely pertinent in the current political, cultural environment. Great kudos to the production team, to Ayad Akhtar, to Director William Ontiveros and the entire creative team.  

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The Night Alive: Play Review


The Night Alive, written by Conor McPherson and directed by Tony Kelly, is a kind of nativity story focusing on compassion and kindness although the beginning seems like it’s anything but that. The play starts by providing a glimpse into the slice of anguished lives of a few lost souls and faint but clear glimmers of hope appear by the end.

Image result for night alive, san joseTommy (Randall King) rents a room in his uncle Maurice’s (Julian Lopez-Morillas) old Edwardian house in Dublin. Uncle Maurice lives upstairs and though critical of Tommy, he also loves him.  Tommy’s friend, Doc (Lawrence Radecker) is Tommy’s little sidekick who also frequently sleeps in the room and helps Tommy with odd jobs.  They scrape by from day to day work and live amidst junk-filled squalor of the room. As the play begins, one night Tommy rescues a young prostitute, Aimee (Allison F. Rich) and bring her home to get her cleaned up. Aimee has no place to go and she ends up staying, for that night and another and another.

Tommy has been estranged from his wife and kids and does not have anything significant to look forward to in life. But a sort of friendship develops between Tommy and Aimee and it brings a little sunshine into his otherwise dark life.  Friendship also sprouts between Aimee and other men. Doc is a little slow and at first he is not quite approving of the loss of his sleeping place and of his friend’s attention. Uncle Maurice is also somewhat disapproving at first. Deadpan humor while all these lost souls are trying to find their bearings in a situation of change and chaos is often heart-breaking but things start to get resolved and just as there is emergence of hope for a kinder gentler life, the story takes a turn.

Image result for night alive, san joseAimee’s ex-boyfriend Kenneth (Jonathan Rhys Williams) comes looking for her and completely disrupts their lives. Is that not how life often unfolds for people with lower means and resources, and keeps them imprisoned in a vicious circle where while they continue to live, life in a true sense seems to emerge every now and then but continues to stay out of their reach?  For this group, as life unfolds in the moment, as they live without dreams, goals and a future, their little attempts at humor seem like attempts to grab fleeting happiness, whenever they can. Doc once brings a book titled “How to survive life-threatening situations”, and reads from it. As the audience laughs at totally non-helpful suggestions outlined in the book, a question lingers, how does one survive life that has nothing to offer?

If however, the ending is good, rest does not matter. Play ends ambiguously, albeit at a place where a little hint of hope, a faint flash of faith emerges.  Sometimes love and kindness may just be enough to open a future of possibilities.

The Night Alive is playing at www.thestage.org in San Jose till December 11, 2016.

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Venus in Fur – Play Review


Dynamics of power are always infinitely interesting.  Add to the mix, sexuality, erotica, and pure physical attraction, and you have a volatile mix, perfect for a theatrical production.  San Jose Stage had a full house on the opening night of David Ives’ “Venus in Fur”.  Tony nominated Best Play (2012), has received multiple awards and has also been made into a Roman Polanski film, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

English: Leo with Fannie (Leopold von Sacher-M...

English: Leo with Fannie (Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and Fanny Pistor Bogdanoff, note the whip). Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836–1895) – Austrian writer and journalist, who gained renown for his romantic stories of Galician life. The term masochism is derived from his name. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vanda, an aspiring actress arrives late for her audition for a play based on the nineteenth century erotic novel, when Thomas Novacheck, a playwright-director is about to leave.  Thomas is condescending, he talks over Vanda, interrupts her, and does not believe she has the capability for the role.  To his credit, Vanda seems totally unprepared, unprofessional, is spewing curses, is bursting with energy, even erotic energy, and seems an unlikely candidate for the role.  The power dynamics are in favor of Thomas and notwithstanding her many challenges of coming for an audition on a rainy, stormy day, he is about to throw her out, but gets interrupted by a phone call from his fiancee.

Vanda seizes the opportunity and steps into a costume to begin her reading.  As they do the reading, Thomas discovers, to his great dismay, that not only has Vanda come prepared with props and costumes for both, but almost seems to have mastered the play, literally and in spirit.   A prepared employee can have the boss wrapped around her finger and the power dynamics shift again.  The source material for the play comes from 1870 novel, Venus in Furs by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, which also happens to be the origin of the term “masochism”.  

Venus with a Mirror

Venus with a Mirror (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As the reading progress, the power dynamics shift again and then again, as Vanda and Thomas step in and out of their roles as Dunayev and Kushemski and step back into character, almost seamlessly but also quite discerningly, if that is possible.  Dunayev says,Why should I forgo any possible pleasure, abstain from any sensual experience?  I’’m young, I’m rich, and I’m beautiful and I shall make the most of that.  I shall deny myself nothing.”  Ahhh the reach of power that comes with it all.  But then again who wields the power, one who writes the script or one one who plays along?

As the reading progresses, they share their histories, their kinks, pulled by magnetic attraction towards each other, they fight it when out of character, but fully exploit it, in character.  They concede that while people may render themselves explicable, people do not find themselves easily extricable  And these stories where people are unable to extricate themselves, make for great theatrical productions in capable hands like Director Kimberly Mohne Hill and actors Johnny Moreno (as Thomas and Kushemski), and Allison F. Rich (as Vanda and Dunayev).  Venus in Fur is running at The Stage in San Jose, till March 1.  For tickets, please go to www.thestage.org .

 

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2014 – Year-end Review ——- Theme: Confront Reality & Get Things Done!


English: Biosafety level 4 hazmat suit: resear...

English: Biosafety level 4 hazmat suit: researcher is working with the Ebola virus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Year 2014 is coming to a close.  As I see it, it has been a year to confront the reality and get things done.  Affordable Care Act became law in January, increasing the accessibility of healthcare, in the US.  TIME declared Ebola as the defining issue of the 20th century. It was no more in remote regions of Africa but in the capitals and it landed in the USA.  The reality is that we are living in a global world.  

And then President Obama reminded us that even though some of our neighbors entered the border illegally, they have made their home here, are working hard, supporting their families and they should have NOT amnesty, but an opportunity to make it right with the law, and live here temporarily, AND pay their share of the taxes, because people can’t live in the shadows, in a global world of visibility and accountability.   Long overdue immigration reform will enable many people to come out of the shadows and add to the national treasury – a win-win – what’s not to like?

The same applies to our gay neighbors.  They should not have to live in the shadows.  Majority of the states this year, legalized same sex marriages and US supreme court refused to hear appeals from states seeking to keep same sex marriage ban in place.  Many states also legalized marijuana.  But what about our veterans living in the shadows?  Department of Veterans Affairs got more resources (as house passed the bill, at the end of the year, averting shutdown), and it now has to get its act together and make it right with those who defend our freedom and values.

And what about skin color?  We are confronting the reality that more than 50 years after Dr. King laid out his vision for color-fair society, people are still being judged on the basis of the color of their skin and paying with their lives.  This does not just happen when young men turn 22 but prejudice hits in childhood  http://bit.ly/15EInJ4 and it splinters society.  We can heal and move ahead, but scars made by history, and distrust can only heal when there are no new wounds, when there is real dialog, when each side gets to even briefly experience the reality that the other lives with, and have compassion.  We are confronting the reality and lot of dialog is happening.  Much work remains to be done but the issue can’t be ignored any longer.

And then the lowest of the low, terrorists and those plotting terror.  How do we deal with them?  Report on CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the post-9/11 era reveals that “CIA detainees were tortured”.  When we lose sight of our values, when the boundaries between moral and immoral gets blurry, then we lose, regardless of what we were seeking to gain.  This is a true moment for national soul searching. (the fact some people may be only suspected of being terrorists is whole other story).

Globally, also we are confronting realities.  World’s largest democracy, India, elected controversial Mr. Narendra Modi as Prime Minister.  Mr. Modi has reached out to leaders across the world and declared campaigns to clean up India.  My birthplace has so much to offer to the world and if it cleans up its act, under the helm of Mr. Modi, I couldn’t be happier.  Our neighbors need to clean up their act too, even as they rightfully blame the US for its insatiable appetite for drugs.  Capture of “El Chapo” Guzman in Mexico was a HUGE victory that got overshadowed later by disappearance and ruthless murder of 43 Mexican college students.  “#YaMeCanse12”!  Abduction of 270 high school girls by Boko Haram in Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls and scores of Yazidi women bought, sold, raped, and murdered, underscores the need to define rape during conflict as a war crime and not a woman’s issue.  By some estimates, more than 7 million (50% are children) are displaced by war in Syria (200,000 are killed) and 100,000+ Yazidis are displaced by ISIS.  Let us continue to keep theses issues in the spotlight.

The year is ending on a rather sad note of the children who lost their lives in #PeshawarSchoolAttack in Pakistan.  Here is my short poem in their memory – http://bit.ly/1wfp47D .  It was heart warming to see India support its neighbor in the hour of grief as #IndiawithPakistan was a popular hashtag on twitter. And also deeply heartwarming to see Pakistan echo the sentiments when #PakistanwithIndia and sepecially #PakistanwithIndiaNoToLakhviBail became trendy topics on twitter as overwhelmingly Pakistani people reacted negatively to their government’s decision to give bail to Mumbai terror mastermind Lakhvi.  May the balanced sentiments always prevail over extremism, because the reality is that we live in a global world and terror can’t be nurtured and targeted because sooner or later it would hit home.  Global world also demands secularism.

As a ray of light and hope, Malala Yousafzai, courageous young lady from Pakistan, spearheading girls’ right to education and Kailash Satyarthi from india, a brave and dedicated activist for children’s rights and against child labor, shared the Nobel Prize, sending strong messages that fight to honor children’s rights will continue.

Personal

wpid-20140920_173123.jpgHard as it is to confront the reality that one’s parents may not be there forever, I was very happy to spend wonderful time with my mother and my aunty (her sister).  I tried to focus on giving them a break from their routines and enable them to have some fun, some unusual experiences.  Isn’t it amazing that when a mother gives, she gives with her heart and soul, but when she receives from her children, she receives with a feeling of enormous debt and gratitude!  Both my children are focused on their careers; wpid-20140805_201145-1.jpgNeil is working with Cisco in IT and Neesha is finishing college this coming year.  Both are my pride and joy :).  It has also been fun hosting my daughter’s friend from UCSD, originally from Palestine, during the holidays, and alternately being “naughty” with the girls, and playing aunty-mom to two daughters :).wpid-20141221_150415.jpg

wpid-20141221_161442.jpgThis year, I also visited Japan (we were hosted by many amazing friends and you can see all details in my travel blogs), an amazingly polite and most efficient culture, with world’s most interesting toilets http://bit.ly/1sYL5qs.  This year I also started travel blogs and you can see my many blogs at www.darshanavnadkarni.wordpress.com.

And finally, here are links to some of the most amazing things that I blogged about, this year.
Best movie – “Last Days in Vietnam” http://bit.ly/1qFIL28
Best play – “Truce” http://bit.ly/1trGhEG and “Andhera Hone Tak” http://bit.ly/1Aij5Rz
Best book – “The Glass Castle” http://bit.ly/1fchcIo
Best biomedical technologies — so many exciting technologies in early to mid stages of development for — treatment of ALS http://bit.ly/1AP2Yd0, for technology for early detection of cervical cancer http://bit.ly/1jalqEz, technology that aims to deliver drugs via inhalation for AFib, point of care solution to minimize prescription filling errors http://bit.ly/1jdfmgr

Wishing my readers, family & friends, and my clients and colleagues, peace and joy in the year 2015.  Best wishes to my many friends in fantastic groups that I am routinely affiliated with (each of them enhance life for many, personally and/or professionally) http://www.bio2devicegroup.org, http://www.eppicglobal.org, http://www.citylights.org, http://www.thestage.org, http://www.theatreworks.org, http://www.naatak.org, http://www.enacte.org, http://www.iwings.org .

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Iliad – Play Review


Homer’s Iliad is an ancient Greek epic poem, set during the Trojan war, a long ten year siege on the city of Troy, by Greece.  The poem is long and complex and centers more specifically around the short period of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the great warrior Achilles.  Setting this poem to a performance on stage, would seem like a challenge of epic proportion.  But it is effortlessly done at the current production of the “Iliad” running at www.thestage.org, in San Jose, CA.

Based on Homer’s Iliad, writers Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, created the stage piece, over a period of 5 years, utilizing video, video transcriptions, improvisation, original music and diligent research.  It was translated by Robert Fagles.  Kenneth Kelleher is a brilliant director who has directed over 20 productions for The Stage, and once again he did a marvelous job, in The Iliad.

DAVE LEPORI/SAN JOSE STAGE COMPANYDavis Jackson, as The Poet, for the most part rises to the demands of "An Iliad," a 100-minute solo showJackson Davis in the role of the poet, gives a spell binding performance.  Although the story itself covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, the Iliad alludes to the preceding events, including the cause of the war, the hundreds of thousands of wounded soldiers who returned home to find their spouses and fashions changed, and those who kept fighting but had forgotten the true cause of the war.  Towards the end, it sets the stage for the sequel, the Odyssey, also attributed to Homer.  This poem is regarded as more or less a complete narrative of the Trojan War.  Davis holds the audience as he tells this complex tale, alternately playing various characters, and using the many props, to set the stage for the next sequence of events.

Paris, a wayward and handsome younger brother of prince Hector of Troy, abducted Helen, the most beautiful woman and wife of the Greek king Menelaus, and brought her to Troy, as his wife, and thus began the Trojan war, that lasted for 9+ years, and took tens of thousands of lives.  Towards the end of the war, where the poem begins, Agamemnon, the Greek leader has abducted Chryseis, a daughter of a Trojan priest, and he refuses to give her up, despite being offered wealth and riches by the father.  Chryseis prays to Apollo who causes plague on the city.  Agamemnon returns Chryseis back but abducts Briseis, Achilles’ captive, as compensation.  This angers Achilles and he refuses to support Agamemnon any more in the fight against Troy.  This sets the stage for the succeeding epic battle.

English: Triumphant Achilles: Achilles draggin...

English: Triumphant Achilles: Achilles dragging the dead body of Hector in front of the gates of Troy.details (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Without Achilles, the Greek side is enormously weakened, and is getting slaughtered, prompting his closest and most dear friend Patroclus to beg Achilles, to allow him to don the great Achilles’ armor, and fight in his stead.  Soldiers imagine Patroclus to be Achilles, and Patroclus inflicts great casualty, before he is found out, and killed by Hector of Troy.  Achilles is mad with grief upon hearing of Patroclus’s death, and in turn not only kills Hector, but drags and dishonors his body.  King Priam of Troy comes to Achilles to beg for his son’s body.  Achilles is deeply moved, and not only returns Hector’s body, but halts the war for 9 days, allowing Troy to mourn Hector’s death.

Like any war, this is a classic tale, with all critical ingredients, like politics, regret, deep losses, innocent victims, and women taken as captives, against their will.  Like any war, time and again, the fighters, winners and loosers alike, appeal to the higher power, for mercy, for compassion, for winning.  This is one of the greatest stories ever told and Jackson Davis does a fabulous job of conveying this complex narrative.  There is a point when he puts this war into larger perspective and names every single war fought and recorded in history.  Wow, wow, wow!  Sickened by war and the destruction it inflicts, the poet says, “Every time I sing this song, I hope it’s the last time”.

 

 

 

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The Threepenny Opera – Play Review


Virgil Thomson has called Bertolt Brecht’s “The Threepenny Opera” “one of century’s most powerful creations” and Bob Dylan said about the music “I was aroused straightaway by the raw intensity of the songs”.  Powerful lyrics by Bertolt Brecht, were originally set to music by composer, Kurt Weill and it was Elisabeth Hauptmann who maintained the raw intensity of the lyrics when originally translating them into English.  The translation of the dialogs and lyrics for this production was done by Robert MacDonald and Jeremy Sams.  It is absolutely incredible that the musical that was originally produced in Germany, in 1928, as a scathing social and political critique about the clash of the haves and the have-nots, echoes true today.

SJStage_TheThreepennyOpera2On the sidewalk, one Sunday mornin’ 
Lies a body oozin’ life 
Someone’s sneaking ’round the corner 
Could that someone, perhaps, perchance, be Mack the Knife?
You betcha!!

Tattoo covered Jonny Moreno, as Macheath, with the words HUSTLER tattooed on his chest, is the fierce king of the 1930s Berlin’s underbelly, where the women admire him and cops make deals with him.  Moreno’s acting is fantastic and his voice commands respect.  The bagger king Peachum also runs his little kingdom where he trains the baggers on concocting tales of woes, to generate maximum sympathy from the donors.  No one can bag on his turf without prior permission from Mr. and Mrs. Peachum, who get a commission from all bagger earnings.  Paul Myrvold and Susan Gundunas last seen together at The Stage, in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, are fabulous as colorful Peachums.  With all the respective turfs well defined, there is a functional system that keeps things organized, up to a point.  But in the end, Macheath’s undoing happens because of the women.  With two wives and his visits to the whore house, his women love him and hate him, in equal measure.  Monique Hafen is fabulous in the role of innocent Polly Peachum (the bagger king’s daughter).  She marries Macheath, unaware of his prior marriage and other passing interests.  Halsey Varady as astute heroin shooting druggie, Jenny Diver, is superb. SjStage_TheThreepennyOpera3

Director Kenneth Kelleher, Musical Director Richard Marriott and Vocal Director, Allison F. Rich have done a marvelous job in capturing the underbelly of 1930s city streets of Europe, where alliances shift rapidly and the downtrodden have their own code for survival, where you gotta watch your own back.

This absolutely spell binding performance is undoubtedly “not to miss” play of this quarter.  Kudos to Artistic Director, Randall King and Executive Director, Cathleen King for bringing such evocative, edgy, intense productions to San Jose Stage.   For tickets, go to http://www.thestage.org.

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On Writing a Blog Part II – Why you should write a blog


This blog is part ii of series or 3 blogs.  In part I, focused on “When NOT to Write A Blog” – http://bit.ly/13MqJFh.   In this part II, I will focus on When to write a blog and what you gain from blogging, and in part III I will focus on “How to Market A Blog” and will be posting it in few days.

Top 10 reasons, you must start blogging.

No. 10 – You have ongoingly information to share that will resolve a pain point for consumers/ buyers/ sellers etc.
If you are knowledgeable about some technical aspects that could help people make better decisions for the products they want to buy, or regarding food choices, regarding their health etc. then you should blog.  If you have technical information that can help people solve their technical challenges and you are able to demonstrate that effectively with step by step directions then you should blog.  Similarly, if you have information about cars, cameras and more that can help people and you can clearly write about it then please consider writing a blog.

No. 9 – You absolutely cannot help yourself.
If your need for self-expression is so strong, you absolutely need to share, then you should become a blogger because this is an easiest medium to share your perspectives.  For instance, one day early in the morning, I had put on some music and was dancing, rather vigorously and I bashed into my living room wall, and broke my toe.  The pain was immediate and intense.  I sat down and then crawled to my desk and with the support stood up and sat on the chair.  Then I was thinking if I should call a friend, yell to wake up my daughter, hobble to get ice and through it all the humor of how it happened struck me.  Instantly, I though of a poem http://bit.ly/XOemzn and I had to write it and post it on the blog. The urge to write and share a poem became stronger than the impending need to alleviate the pain and stop the swelling that was fast ballooning.  You may not be world’s best writer, but if you must share then blog is the best medium J and you can ignore everything else said in part 1 about When NOT to write a blog.

No. 8 – Your urge to share your perspectives is consistent and frequent.
Sometimes, you see a wonderful movie and you want to share how absolutely delightful the movie was or you visit a gorgeous site and you want to share with others and tell them that they must visit the site and that may make you feel that you need to blog about it.  For instance, I had to share about #lifeofpi – http://bit.ly/XizQZL or #BhaagMilkhaBhaag – http://bit.ly/1cUwG4o .  However, if this only happened once in a while, then blog may not be the best medium.  Or, you might be delighted but you may express it lamely in writing then writing may not be the best channel.  But for the most part, if you are yearning to share your experience, then you should consider writing a blog.

No. 7 – Your access to materials worth sharing is frequent.
For instance, if you love to write movie reviews and want to blogg about it then you should be watching a lot of movies.  If you want to write book reviews on your blog then you should be reading a lot of books; if you want to write about technology, then should be constantly accessing/ researching newer technologies and so on.  I attend a lot of conferences and talks and write previews of upcoming talks or reviews of the events and talks at www.bio2devicegroup.org, www.eppicglobal.org, www.jpmorgan.com, www.tiecon.org and so on.  I also love live theater and write a lot of play reviews and attend shows at www.theatreworks.org, www.cltc.org, www.sjrep.com, www.shadyshakes.org, www.naatak.org, www.thestage.org and so on.  You might focus exclusively on sharing your own perspectives but share them with creativity and originality.

No. 6 – You are not targeting your friends to be your primary blog audience.
You have to target more broadly, outside of the circle of your friends.  Even if you are a great blogger, all your friends will not have the same interests as you do.  Although, your good friends will read, comment, give feedback, and will encourage you, so do share with your friends, but without pestering them, where they feel compelled to read your blog.  I am forever indebted to my friends for bringing so much joy in my life that enables me to create a space for writing and here is my gratitude blog – http://bit.ly/ZaXuYj .

No. 5 – You have plans to market your blog.
I will write more on this in the last segment on how to market your blog.  But remember that writing a blog is not like writing a diary.  You want people to read and take interest in what you have to say.  And only way people can do that is if they have access to what you have to say.  As I have already said earlier, targeting your friends solely as your blog audience, is not a good strategy for long term health and vitality of your blog.  (By the way, if you wish to follow me, my twitter handle is @DarshanaN and tweet the links to all my blogs).

No. 4 – You are actively accessing/ researching wide range of information.
One engaging discussion about some political topic and a perspective you want to share, may not make a good reason for starting a blog.  Yes, people do that sometimes.  But good blogs with wide viewership, come from bloggers who are doing wider research and share perspectives with more depth and value.  For instance, I felt strongly about the declining status of education in the US and finally I put in time to do some research, before I wrote the blog – http://bit.ly/AwLq7G .  You must enjoy reading and hearing different perspectives to be able to share your own thoughts effectively and authentically.

No. 3 – You are religious about not compromising on content and quality.
You can compromise on frequency but never on content.  If you provide sloppy content, wrong facts, or poor quality material then eventually your readership will diminish and disappear.  To keep up frequency, you can invite guest bloggers who can provide equally good content, as you.

No. 2 – You are not obsessive about privacy
Privacy violations are scary in the digital age.  And we all need to take appropriate steps to protect our privacy.  However, as I said earlier, if you want to reach a broader audience for your blog then you have to allow them a way to reach you.  You need to decide the channel and the boundaries that work for you to manage your more visible public profile.

No. 1 – You want to focus on intentional living and self-development
It is my belief that blog writing gives clarity in thinking and brings greater intentionality and purposefulness to life.  My writing has enabled me to pursue my disparate love for theater and for conferences on new technologies.  I read books with greater focus, listen to speakers without ever falling asleep, and see little rhymes in life’s adversities and challenges.  Writing a blog has helped me to prioritize my lifestyle, cut down activities that suck a great deal of time and bring little pleasure, and has enabled me to create more time, with minimal lifestyle.  I credit my blog writing for enabling me to have a wonderfully engaged life, as an emptynester.  I am generally a happy person but writing makes me happier.  It is at once a social activity and yet a private activity.  It helps you to retreat from people for some personal meditation space and it helps you to more meaningfully engage with the world.

So now go ahead and start your blog, give it a go, and in next part I will discuss how you can market it.

Blog With Authenticity Without Getting Fired

Blog With Authenticity Without Getting Fired (Photo credit: Search Engine People Blog)

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