The theme of Waiting for Lefty is that all people deserve to be treated with dignity and fairness; in particular, the play supports the notion of collective power in the form of a union, in this instance cab drivers in the 1930s, trying to decide to go out on strike due to oppressive working conditions, in a situation where the top leaders are really organized crime people who are in cahoots with the company owners," said Theatre Tulsa's Michael Wright, Director of Waiting for Lefty, taking a deep breath before the opening Jan. 13 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
The one-act play, written 1935 by Clifford Odet, tells the story of a group of New York taxi drivers who are struggling during the Depression. The themes of of deprivation and injustice resonate with the current economic turmoil.
"I hope the play will reach the people it's truly aimed at, who are the working people of Oklahoma. In this 'right to work' state, employees are at the mercy of decisions made at the executive level with little to no power to counteract. The play portrays a group of cab drivers making the best possible decision they could make -- going on strike, even knowing the possible consequences -- and at the end encourages the audience to see how positive the decision is.
"It is a wonderful rabble-rousing piece of agitprop theatre that is directly tied to the 'occupy' movements and the concept of the 99 percent of the population who do not have the money or power owned and controlled by the 1percent elite. I hope they go nuts and get up on Monday determined to deal with their employment issues with absolute candor and fervor," says Wright.
Waiting for Lefty runs Jan. 13-14 and 19-21 at 7:30pm, and Jan. 15 at 2pm at the John H. Williams Theatre of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.
Passion and Duty
One might expect an artist who opens a space downtown to be leaning on accolades, praise for his work, or at the very least: one grand opening in which a piece sells for a handsome price.
Make It Count.
Aaron Heron, owner of Urban Color Works, seems to be turning that notion on its end. Aaron not only has a refreshing attitude about his talents, but makes a habit of distributing a portion of his earnings into several artistic charities to continue furthering the arts in Tulsa.
"I believe a responsibility, being blessed with a great talent, is to bless others with it as well. I am humbled and grateful to have helped raise thousands of dollars to assist the Arts and Humanities council of Tulsa and the American Cancer Society of Tulsa. These two charities have been my biggest recipients to date," he said.
"I chose the Arts and Humanities Council as a primary recipient for its devotion to expanding the arts in Tulsa and assisting the less fortunate with character and confidence building programs. I see great vision coming forth from this organization and am honored for the opportunity to help their cause. As for the American Cancer Society, They approached me and I gladly accepted the opportunity to help. Of course, I invite all request for charitable assistance."
Having a space of one's own downtown is an inspiration all its own. Artistic inspiration, especially in the middle of the art deco style buildings, drives Heron into flights of fancy.
"I am excited to be downtown. I have been watching the progress really take hold in recent years and I felt it would be beneficial to myself, and the area, to open the gallery in the heart of down town. We have the Blue Dome and Brady Districts that have some art venues going but I really feel there's a need for more artistic and cultural expansion in the Deco District. I really look forward to the continued growth and hope Urban Color Works will inspire more artist and galleries to consider the move to the deco district," said Heron.
"For me success is measured by the ability to help others through charity and doing my part to establish Tulsa as a world class place to work and live. I have been very blessed in life with a beautiful wife and family and a God-given talent I know will be best served as a vessel for charity."
Wicked Sense of Theatricality
What do you get when you mix a house band from Stillwater with a trajectory to stardom, a wacky group of theatre folks, all descending upon a large, eclectic arts driven venue? Explorgasm is conglomeration of the band DEERPEOPLE and the multidisciplinary art group The Drama Dept. This unique experience is at Living Arts, Sat Jan. 14 at 9pm.
The frivolity will be set to music by DEERPEOPLE, who began in the "catacombs" of Stillwater. This is not just another ordinary house band...this group has played with local bands, such as the Evangelicals, Starlight Mints, not to mention a show in Garth Brook's living room. They are slated to play at Oklahoma's Buffalo Lounge in Austin at SXSW in March.
The Drama Dept. is a mix of Oklahoma bred performers, with an enthusiasm for "life-size puppets, late-night crafting, a DIY sensibility." Michol Miller, Todd Robinson, Megan Mitchell and Nokosee Fields began their collaboration in 2011, and have performed at the Norman Music Festival and Café Kzany.
The upcoming production of Explorgasm is "an integrated performance between the band DEERPEOPLE and our group, the Drama Dept.," according to Miller.
Audiences can expect to see handmade costumes, a complete set of props, lighting, effects and maybe even a multi-person puppet, aka, the Octopus. "It's not like anything they've ever seen before," said Miller. "I've certainly never seen anything like it."
Having worked with DEERPEOPLE before, the Drama Dept. wanted this to be a dramatic interpretation of their music.
"We're hoping to break down some walls in performance... Our attitude is that if you can come up with an idea and execute it, then do it," Miller said.
Explorgasm tickets are $10 at the door. The event is located at Living Arts of Tulsa, 307 E. Brady St.
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