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Archive for the ‘Of Mice and Men’ Category
Leigh Whipper starred as Crooks in Of Mice and Men on Broadway and in the 1939 film. But likely you’ve never heard his name. (He doesn’t even have his own entry on Wikipedia). Regardless, he was a talented stage actor, an accomplished film star, and a barrier-breaker.
Whipper became the first African American member of Actor’s Equity Association in 1913, and he was one of the founders of Negro Actors Guild of America in 1937. He was an active member of the Screen Actors Guild and remained a strong presence in the acting community throughout his life.
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Of Mice and Men, with its appearance on so many school reading lists, gets a rap for being academic (not to mention more than a little tragic). But, remember this: When you were a kid watching Saturday cartoons, you might have been hearing your favorite toons talk about Of Mice and Men.
Do you remember hearing “Which way did he go George? Which way did he go?” in Bugs Bunny and Daffy cartoons? The line has been used in Warner Brothers cartoons since a 1940 Tex Avery animation. Cartoon comedian Mel Blank imitated the voice of Lon Chaney Jr. (who played Lennie in the movie) to create stupid but hilarious characters.
Lennie’s voice was transformed from the slow, down-on-his-luck ranch-hand to the rabbit-rabbit-obsessed Abominable Snowman. The snowman who would hold Bugs Bunny (or a hapless Daffy Duck) and say, “I will name him George, and I will hug him, and pet him, and squeeze him and call him my own!” Yes that snowman.
You can also hear Of Mice and Men references in “Falling Hare” with the sinister Gremlin who tricks Bugs.
And that’s just to start.
See, you’ve been surrounded by Of Mice and Men references long before your 8th Grade English teacher had you highlighting important vocabulary words in the novella. And it’s not all dust and tears, folks, sometimes it’s Daffy Duck wearing PJs that have bunny ears. (You can read more about the many adaptations of the novella here.)
Mark your calendars! On Saturday, March 26 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., the University Village Barnes & Noble hosts the Of Mice and Men Book Fair. Composer Rob Witmer will play music from the show and artists from the show will chat and answer questions from the audience.
PLUS, a percentage of all books sold at the U Village Barnes & Noble on the day of the event will be donated to the Rep. Even purchases in the music section and at the Café will benefit the theatre. And if you have a special occasion coming up, you can purchase whole cheesecakes that will also count towards a donation to the theatre. All you have to do is mention “Seattle Rep” at the time of your purchase.
And say you like to sleep in on Saturdays, or you’re busy that morning, or you’re more of an online shopper. Guess what? From March 26 through March 30, a percentage of all online sales at www.barnesandnoble.com also gets donated to the Rep. How great is that? This is a little trickier though. You have to type in the following voucher number when you check out online:
Not quite as easy to remember as “Seattle Rep,” but we know you can do it.
We hope to see you on the 26th!
The U Village Barnes & Noble is located at:
2675 NE University Village Street
Seattle, WA 98105
The first thing you notice about a student matinee performance at Seattle Rep is the noise. More than 800 students packed into the Bagley Wright Theatre make a lot of noise. It’s pretty dramatic when the house lights dim and the room gets quiet.
One of the unofficial perks of working at Seattle Rep is getting to duck away from my desk for a couple hours to watch a student matinee performance. We do at least one 10:30am matinee for most shows, and in the case of a classic like Of Mice and Men, we’ve got three scheduled. (All three of those performances quickly sold out and now have a waiting list.)
Watching a show with a student audience is a totally different experience than watching a public show. With a public audience, a funny joke might get a polite chuckle. With a student audience, the same joke might cause a two-minute delay as the actors wait for the laughter explosion to die down. I’ve heard actors say that when a student audience is really engaged with a performance, the energy—and its effect on the performance—can be electric.
At Seattle Rep, we care a lot about students. The goal of our YES Project is to inspire young artists and audiences. One of the ways we make this happen is by keeping student matinee tickets affordable, at just $10 each. In addition, we provide hundreds of free scholarship tickets to students who cannot otherwise afford to attend. No student is turned away for financial reasons.
On the one hand, we see this as an investment in our community’s future: studies have shown that students who participate in the arts are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to tolerate racist behavior. On the other hand, our commitment to student audiences is a little more personal: we just really like performing for young audiences. Their excitement and energy can be felt on stage, and the questions they ask during post-play discussions always surprise us with their intelligence and insight.
To help support our student matinee performances of Of Mice and Men, we’ve set a goal to raise $500 from our blog, Facebook, and Twitter followers by March 31. The money raised will pay for 50 scholarship tickets to Of Mice and Men. We hope you’ll consider helping us reach this goal.
There are two ways to make a gift:
- Make a gift online. When you make your gift, please be sure to mention the social media campaign under “Additional Comments.”
- Make a $5 donation with your cell phone: Text THEREP (that’s all one word, without a space) to 20222.
Some things to note about text donations:
A one-time donation of $5.00will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your prepaid balance. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. Service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for
the benefit of Seattle Repertory Theatre by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.hmgf.org/t. Messaging & Data Rates May Apply. All purchases must be authorized by the account holder. You can unsubscribe at any time by replying STOP to short code 20222; Reply HELP to 20222 for help.
Of Mice and Men is officially in tech. Everyone at the Rep is staying up late and getting up early to put the finishing touches on the show before previews start on March 18. So you might be asking yourself, “What can I do to get geared up for Of Mice and Men?”
To get in the mood, I suggest you listen to the sweet sounds of folk-master (and my personal hero) The Woody Guthrie. You’ve heard his music if you’ve ever listened to “This Land is Your Land.” Why listen to Woody Guthrie—besides his obvious talent? Dubbed the “Dust Bowl Troubadour”, Woody G. traveled around the country in the ’30s with families and workers who were displaced by the Dust Bowl. His years wandering would later be the inspiration behind some of his greatest songs and the force behind his political convictions.
Charles Leggett plays Lennie in Of Mice and Men (starting in previews Friday). Here he provides his thoughts on playing a character that has become such an icon.
Funny thing about icons—we all know them, yes, but for all their ubiquity it’s a long arm’s length at which we hold them. Half an analogy: the moon yields much, when invited, to a telescope. This only, however, of its surface; what of what lies underneath? And science would yield much in this regard, in the cases of both Lennie and the moon. But the moon is, on average, 238, 857 miles away, and Lennie is an icon.
This is where the imagination comes into play: the text provides the surface; what lies underneath it bubbles up through the surface in the rehearsal hall, and impels the choices that lead toward an interpretation.
Because of that long arm’s length at which an icon is held, one’s immersion into what is actually there, in the text, affords rich surprise. The task, after all, is the same as with any role in any play. Once one is given over to the nut-and-bolts of scenework, of building with one’s colleagues the arc of the story, with its often violent confluence and refraction of motives, any concerns about iconography slip away, are dissolved into one’s sheer appetite for the work, like a calorie-count at Thanksgiving dinner.
In my conversations with people who work with folks facing the challenges Lennie faces, I am repeatedly, fiercely admonished that beneath a social surface—of rhythms, comprehension and memory—that differs from ours and betrays what appear to be limitations, the fires that burn and the complications that arise are one and the same. Don’t you dare sell him short, they seem to say—and not because he’s an icon, but because he’s very much flesh and blood.
Yearning. Anger. Fear of abandonment. Delight in the world of the senses. Sound familiar? Icons themselves, these are; rooted by this play in the fertile soil of the particular, and no further away than our skin.