Saint of Darkness at the Olde Brick Theatre

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 22, 2018
Press Contacts:
Paige Balitski
570-499-6360
divatheater@comcast.net

Jeff Boam
570-351-4050
jeffboam@gmail.com

AWARD-WINNING TEAM REUNITE FOR DRAMA BASED ON LANDMARK PA POLICE CASE
Saint of Darkness by Jeff Boam Opens on November 1st!

SCRANTON, PA—Diva Production Company continues its 2018/2019 season at the Olde Brick Theatre with Jeff Boam’s original stage drama, Saint of Darkness. Set in 1979 and based on real events, the play finds a team of risk-taking detectives, led by Lieutenant Gerald Baker, using a mix of ingenuity, innovation, and old-fashioned police work as they try and find a serial rapist before his agenda turns to murder. Boam came to write this stageplay after befriending Baker in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Baker, then a decorated captain in the Philadelphia Police Department, asked Boam to “tell my story.” After the former passed away in 2003, a piece of loose-leaf paper was found with his will—a handwritten list titled “Stories to Tell Jeff” with the Jogging Rapist case coming in at the top spot. This case, which involved a man sexually assaulting or raping 17 young girls at night in Northeast Philadelphia and New Jersey, made national headlines in 1979 and established Baker’s career. After interviewing some of the detective’s colleagues, poring through his personal papers, and doing years of additional research, Boam was finally able to make good on his promise to his late friend Baker in the form of Saint of Darkness.

Director Paige Balitski has assembled an amazing cast, with 12 actors taking to the Olde Brick stage. The production stars Sam Falbo as Lt. Jerry Baker, the tenacious lead detective; Michael Madajeski as Lt. Jim Connell, his number one; Scott Colin as Capt. Richie Ross, their boss; Mike Lally as Hal Morgan, the Chief of Detectives; Melanie Speakman as Sharon Carnady, a mother of a victim; Eric Lutz as George Grey, the suspected rapist; Laura Osborn as Lorraine Jones, a bystander; and Rebekah Conrad, Grace Kapacs, Lily Opshinsky, Emma Ross, and Mickey Strasburger as the Victims. Sandra Connolly is Stage Manager, Meggie Roche is Assistant Stage Manager, Dominick Azzarelli is Set Designer, and Bob Balistki is the Light and Sound Designer.

This is the fifth collaboration for Balitski’s Diva Production Company and Boam’s Richlier Moving Picture Company. Their short film, Charlie Chaplin’s Body, won “Best Filmmaker” in a press poll and screened at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner. A new cut of the film recently screened as part of the 2018 Scranton Fringe Festival. The film was based on Boam’s first play, the one-act “Charlie Chaplin’s Body,” which won the University of Scranton’s 1998 Playwright’s Festival and was revived by Diva in 2003. In 2015, Boam’s second play, the full-length drama Behind the Six, was produced by Diva and went on to win “Best Production” in a local press poll as well as rack up four Northeastern Pennsylvania Theater Alliance Awards, including “Best Original Production” and “Best Overall Production.” It was the first time in the Alliance’s history that an original piece won the top prize. Boam’s third play, the full-length drama The Judas Sheep, was produced by Diva in November of 2016. The production would later win multiple Northeastern Pennsylvania Theater Alliance Awards, including “Best Original Production” and “Best Supporting Actress.” Boam’s fourth play, the full-length comedy Man on a Canvas, was produced by Diva last year. Earlier this year, the production won multiple Northeastern Pennsylvania Theater Alliance Awards, including “Best Original Production” and “Best Supporting Actor.”

The Olde Brick Theatre is located at 126 W. Market Street, Scranton, PA 18508 (rear entrance). The showtimes are on November 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, and 10 at 8 pm and November 4 and 11 at 2 pm. Tickets are $12 for General Admission and $10 for Seniors. Please call 570-209-7766 for reservations. For more information, visit the Facebook event  https://www.facebook.com/events/749165942092193/

 

 

Artemisia’s Intent, a performance as a part of Scranton Fringe

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Artemisia’s Intent
Scranton Fringe Festival 2018

Feeling the Kavanaugh blahs? Up for sticking it to the patriarchy this weekend?

Come see the female-inspired and female-created Artemisia’s Intent at the Scranton Fringe Festival. Winner of Best Solo Drama at the 2018 FRIGID Festival, this show is about the life and works of 17thcentury painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Her story is over four hundred years old, but “it is very much in a dialogue with today,” states director Melissa Moschitto. “Women are still fighting for fair representation and autonomy—as people and artists.” And don’t we all know it?

The show stars Mariah Freda. You can catch it at the pop-up venue at 518 Lackawanna Avenue. It deals with adult issues and is for mature audiences only.

Date and tickets:  Friday, September 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, September at 4:30 p.m.
Tickets purchase: $8-$12. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/artemisias-intent-tickets-48135597869?aff=ebapi

#vanlife: The Play, a performance as part of Scranton Fringe

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#vanlife: The Play
AFA Gallery
Scranton Fringe Festival 2018

As compelling as #vanlife: The Play sounds, something made me want to ask the characters for a bit more insight into what viewers can expect at this Scranton Fringe show. I asked only a few questions, but got varied answers.

Let’s start with Casey (the guy).

He feels his most redeeming quality is “the burning truth.” He claims people often enjoy these reality checks with some ketchup. He also believes that Kimmie (the gal) and Jean Claude Damn Van (the van) are there to bring out the best in him, specifically, Kimmie being his soul mate, to Jean Claude being representative of his personal growth, aside from being home and a good mode of transportation. Casey is sure this journey will get him out of his comfort zone, through a challenge (or two) successfully, and can be used as a way to learn about himself and his best friend in the process.

Now for Jean Claude Damn Van.

The Van has a redeeming quality too—it’s patience. As a way for the other two characters to find some morally questionable situations, the Van—well, the Van isn’t all that fond of its inhabitants, and sadly, is stuck with them regardless. But the stories Jean Claude Damn Van could tell if vans could speak…

And Kimmie? You’ll have to see the show to see how her views fit in. It’s bound to be an experience. And for you debate nerds like me—I hear there’s a nod to NFL Dramatic Interpretation in the performance style. If that doesn’t entice you—it’ll definitely be something new!

Chalk and Cheese present #vanlife: The Play, winner of Best Out of Town Show at the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival for 2018, starring Casey Thomas, Kimmie Leff, and Celine Carlier.

For more information about #vanlife: The Play:

Date and times: Friday, September 28 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, September 29 at 4:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Location:  AFA Gallery 514 Lackawanna Ave, Scranton, PA 18503
Ticket purchase:  $8-$12 https://www.eventbrite.com/e/vanlife-tickets-48142305933?aff=ebapi

Charlie Chaplin’s Body: A Film as a Part of Scranton Fringe

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Charlie Chaplin’s Body
Scranton Fringe Festival 2018
Pearn Auditorium, Brennan Hall
University of Scranton

In 2006, Jeff Boam had his debut film premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. His short film, Charlie Chaplin’s Body, a twenty-minute comedy about the theft of the famous actor’s remains wowed viewers, and went on to impress patrons around the world, including those at the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner and other festivals. Some locals may remember the play version of the film, which was produced at the University of Scranton in 1998. The black-and-white story of two unemployed mechanics will no doubt impress people in northeastern Pennsylvania, as will its original jazz soundtrack written by Marko Marcinko. For one night only, you can see the uncut director’s version of the film at Pearn Auditorium in Brennan Hall at the University of Scranton. The event will be held on Tuesday, September 25,  at 6:00 p.m. and is free to the public. After the viewing of the film, the cast (which includes Sam Falbo, E.L. Dougher in the lead roles), the crew, and the author will host a question-and-answer session.

Come celebrate this film’s 20th anniversary of its stage debut by seeing the film, but remember this even contains adult themes and is for mature audiences only.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1804317733017871/?active_tab=about

Diva Productions Presents, Bella Saves the World: A Frolic

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Bella Saves The World: A Frolic

Diva Theater Productions
Olde Brick Theatre
Providence Section, Scranton

The children at the Olde Brick Theatre have a spectacular play prepared for Scranton this summer. They will be performing Bella Saves The World: A Frolic, an original play written by local playwright, Michael Pavese.

I had the privilege to speak to two of the youngsters performing in this show last week.  Thirteen-year-old Rusty Morgan was one of them. This is Rusty’s first show with Diva Theater Productions. In this play, he’s performing the role of Riley the Chicken. Rusty admits that Riley is one of the smartest characters in the play—one who knows lots of definitions. Riley is one of the good guys who helps Bella the Labradoodle figure out how to stop the machinations of Marquez the Chihuahua and his evil gang who, of course, are trying to take over the world.

Not a stranger to the Diva stage, Kelly Phillips (age 11) shared that she is on Marquez’s team of bad guys playing Sidney the Badger. Her character, along with Marquez, Sophie the Porcupine, and Flash the Fox, try to conquer the world. Bella and her friends must work hard to try to stop them.

The show is actually a musical, complete with singing and dancing, according to director, Laura M. Heffron. She and her production team are orchestrating quite a feat with a cast of twenty-nine youngsters. She insists though that with the patient crew and determined and talented children in the play, it’s been gratifying to work towards making an extraordinary show as a team.

Both Rusty and Kelly share that the best part of working on this show is the new friends they’ve made. They both seem to want to return to Diva’s free summertime program next time around. They feel everyone should come see the show because everyone is working hard to make it an outstanding production, and that it’s a really funny play.

Come have a good time at Bella Saves The World: A Frolic which runs August 2, 3, and 4 at 7:30 p.m. and August 5 at 2:00 p.m.  Seating is limited, but you can reserve your seats by calling Diva Theater Productions at 570-209-7766.

 

 

The Sizzle-Fingered Scribe

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NEPA-based writer, Karl Hubert

The Sizzle-Fingered Scribe

 

When I asked Karl Hubert what made him start writing, I didn’t know what to expect.  One never can with Karl.  His response was that he was very photogenic as a child, so I followed up with the question of when he started writing.  Again, I was not disappointed.  His response:  “when I laughed at the end of Pan’s Labyrinth.

And a new writer was born.

Karl is a stalwart member of our Ink Writers Group, but I’d mostly heard poems and short stories from him until he raised the idea of National Novel Writing Month (or more affectionately known as NaNoWriMo) last November.  Turns out he’s been hiding numerous novel drafts.

If you’re not sure what NaNoWriMo entails, it’s simple.  You write fifty thousand words of a novel draft in the month of November.  If you make it within that amount of time, you win.  It’s hard.

Karl’s won it six times.  He’s been doing it for the past decade or so.  Most of it is his own genre—a “fun and squicky” comedy-horror-sci-fi blend.  Some of his completed drafts include “Needlin’ the Dermis,” a story of a tattoo parlor plagued with tattoos coming to life to kill people, and this past year’s “Meme the Dream.”

Having a particular personal interest in “Meme the Dream” (for it follows Karl’s character, Benjamin James, from our Unknown Armies roleplaying game), I asked about it.  He admitted that this year’s winning draft came somewhat easily.  It was a familiar character and a chance to develop the ten years prior to the game for the character’s background.  It was a bit of Benji’s things fondly remembered and ranged to things that might have been able to happen to him.  It even had his cheerleading girlfriend from high school.

The nerds always get the best girls, right?

There are many writing benefits beyond a draft of a book though.  Karl feels that NaNoWriMo is a great experience for writers mostly because it forces you to write, whether you reach the final goal or not.  He can ease your mind about it though—“No one’s going to hurt you if you don’t write,” but a good support group of people (like the ones you can find with NaNoWriMo or a local writers group) helps you.  And you don’t have to write anything great—just write.  If it’s bad though?  Karl says if it’s bad, just cry, maybe drink, and then that’ll get you more to write about.  And that’s the point.

NaNoWriMo isn’t all fun, however, but Karl encourages us to keep trying to get past the days of falling short of your daily goal, or when you can’t get in the writing groove.  If you’re really stuck, he has the best advice that he shared with me when I had writer’s block:  “When in doubt, write porn.”

It sure helps pad that word count.

Karl is a good example to follow.  He’s been writing off and on since senior year of high school with not only novel drafts but a couple of novellas and a script about shark attack survivors on a cruise.  You can, and should, write about anything that interests you in any form you feel like playing around with.  And if you’re bored, just write.  “Just don’t post any stuff on the internet that could get you arrested.”

Karl’s full of good advice.

Karl also shared that he feels writing has been “part therapy and part giving a louder voice to the voices in my head.”  It can be easily done, and it’s pretty fun.  And as “one of the oldest forms of entertainment, it’ll let people argue about your work for years.”

Karl’s always one to get people talking.

Find his works on his Deviant Art page (he’s “wendiigo”) or on The Game Chateau’s Ink Writers Circle, “Rolling the Dice” blog. He’ll also be reading at the Ink Writers Circle event, Unexpected Landscapes, on April 20, at The Game Chateau in Plains.  Our theme is “Unexpected Landscapes.” Karl’s sure to come up with something unexpected, as usual.

Poet Progressing

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Mischelle Anthony, Poet

Poet Progressing

Sometimes it’s daunting to do an interview with your boss. But when you have a talented and sweet boss like mine, it makes it easier.

Mischelle Anthony is a poet, department chair, associate professor, and Poetry in Transit creator hiding and writing in plain view. I honestly don’t know how more people in Northeastern Pennsylvania don’t know about her and the good she does for our community and its local university students.

Professor and Poet

For more than a decade now, Mischelle has been teaching in the English Department at Wilkes University. Her favorite thing to teach isn’t creative writing though—and it’s not really even a class. Her chosen subject matter is getting her students to analyze structures and to find what the piece is actually about. She also likes to have students analyze first-person plural narrators. The “we” fascinates her—and it’s even better when the narrator is unreliable because it’s, as she says, “way too true to life.”

But it’s not all unreliable. Since 2007 Mischelle’s creation, Poetry in Transit, has been a staple of Wilkes-Barre. Not familiar with it? Just hop on one of the Wilkes-Barre buses and you’ll see the fruits of her program. Poetry—short poetry—lines banners on all of the city’s buses for riders to read and enjoy. The program idea came to Mischelle when she was on the #6 bus that runs from Luzerne to Wilkes-Barre. She and the other usual riders she talked with on their commutes would read the advertisements for fast food and community groups. Often, they’d be encouraged to find a breakfast sandwich when they got off at their stop from the encouragement of said advertisements. Mischelle thought—why not give riders poems that they can read and talk about on their bus rides instead? She mentioned it to the marketing department at the university, who offered to pay for the program for the first year or so. After that, the bus company had had such good responses from their riders that they cover all of the costs of the program now (after a grant that helps out). Poems are switched out every month, and the program gives local writers the chance to submit their works for consideration each April. Submissions are chosen by English departments of five local colleges each year and in late August the launch of the new set is held in downtown Wilkes-Barre. Writers in NEPA—watch for the new theme coming this April.

She’s not only busy on the buses or in the classroom though. Mischelle is also a poet who’s been writing since her piece about her Cheer Bear Care Bear she wrote at just nine years of age. She admits she hadn’t taken creative writing too seriously until graduate school, but since then has been active in poetry and writers circles and has been published often in American Chordata and, by the poetry press Foothills among others. Much of her writing focuses on her family and growing up in Oklahoma. She feels “it’s the only thing [she] knows how to write.” She credits this progression in her writing to Sir Richard Hugo, for after having read his Triggering Town (about how writers need to find the one subject that is theirs—and then keep writing on it), she realized her days in the Midwest were what she had to tell others about in her writing. One of her poems, “Keep Your Eyes Open,” which was recently nominated for Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net Award, treats the subject of her Aunt Karen’s rape that the family avoided talking about, and only finding a voice in Mischelle’s work.

Fertile Space and Sage Advice

Mischelle stresses that to become a better writer or a published writer, you need to gather with other writers and be a part of writing community. “This is not a world for writers—we need each other,” she says, and goes on to say that it needs to not only be writers—but it needs to be writers that you can trust showing your work to as well. Whether it’s writing groups or workshops, just try to find other writers you know that want to get together and share writing and ideas. Creating a positive environment is crucial to being able to feel confident to keep producing writing and to be able to test out the new. This “fertile space” will yield more pieces and more words and will give you a chance to figure out how to think about your writing in new ways. And that’s what it’s really about.

And here, a taste from Mischelle Anthony:

Simulacrum

Sure, we had cowboys. I knew five
men from different families
with “Bubba” worked into
their State Fair belts. But my town
was no metaphor. The dairy farmer’s
son grew up a banker with that
fieldstone walkway, every Saturday
digging irregular shapes in the clay.
His shovel tangled in chickweed,
sent up red eddies from his sloping
lawn. We all sucked our teeth
when his corner bank went under.
We worked stalks of dried grass
with our tongues, nursed porcelain
mugs at the Cafe. Some of us sympathized.
Most didn’t. That family had it coming
with their Lincolns and slacks. Mr. Morris
approached the wife’s office, belt buckle
shining over Lee denim, to show that woman
she deserved it, perched there while electric
hands swept around the dial, her buzzing
typewriter’s metal ball ready to strike.
Later we recalled a prairie woman captured
in some silver-screen Western, pale dirt rivulets
dividing her skirts, straddled
by a Seminole who made her swallow
her own jeweled chain, the necklace
stubborn as a bull snake in a well line.
I want to tell you the superintendent
sheriffed in, paunch spilling over
his trouser snaps, and defended her
from the savages. But he didn’t.
My town was no metaphor—
the secretary lived, no sticks or stones,
just a quiet dinner that night,
my father’s grim mustache
over the Swiss steak,
my mother smiling, smiling
across the dark wood expanse,
even as she choked around
the clasp and settings in her mouth.