Carleton Bluford’s Mama: You Will Call Your Mom When It’s Over

Photo Credit: Rick Pollock

Photo Credit: Rick Pollock

Plan B Theatre proves once again that it is a major force for progressive narratives in Salt Lake City with Carleton Bluford’s Mama. Mama is the first world premier play by an African-American playwright to debut in Utah. Ever. Bluford’s play explores motherhood across time, race, class, and technology. He gathered stories about mothers via Facebook, and the four actors, Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, William Cooper Howell, Latoya Rhodes and Elizabeth Summerhays,  read the stories verbatim in front of a projector with the beaming faces of mothers from all walks of life–some who are bald from chemo, others who are no longer alive. The play interweaves these Facebook narratives, timeless quotes about motherhood, and scenes with other mamas from history and Carleton’s life.

Mama is all the more powerful knowing a bit of the back story of its funding from the David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists (The Davey Foundation). The foundation is in its second year, and was created by Betsy Ross and her husband after their son David Ross Fetzer passed away unexpectedly at age thirty. David was a talented young man who was a fixture at Plan B. David and Carelton have been in several works together, and a snippet of David singing to his mother is featured in the play.

Mama rose to the top of the pile in the Davey Foundation’s funding competition, and was selected in a blind reading of more than twenty works. I was fortunate enough to attend a premiere of the play last week and meet Carleton. He was exuberant and kind, and his play is heart wrenching, beautiful, and expertly executed. I guarantee that you will walk out of the theatre and call your mom. If not, you weren’t paying attention.

Tickets are still on sale, and I can’t tell you enough how much you need to go see it! Performances will run Feb. 12-22, with shows Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. in the Studio Theatre at Rose Wagner Center for Performing Arts in downtown Salt Lake City.

Ticket Giveaway for Rapture, Blister, Burn!

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I have two free tickets to Rapture, Blister, Burn on November 15th at 2:00 p.m. 

Rapture, Blister, Burn by Obie Award-winning playwright Gina Gionfriddo and directed by Adrianne Moore. Synopsis: After graduate school, Catherine and Gwen chose polar opposite paths. Catherine built a career as a rock star academic, while Gwen built a home with her husband and children. This sharp-witted comedy takes an unflinching look at gender politics and asks, ‘Can any woman have it all?’

How to win:

Tell me who your three favorite feminists are on this post by Thursday the 13th at 9 p.m. That’s it. Just let me know who your favorite feminists are, and you will might have two free tickets!

Solitary Confinement, Torture, and Madness: Plan B Theatre Company’s Nothing Personal

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I didn’t think I could feel more opposed to solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, or waterboarding than I already do, then I saw Eric Samuelsen’s Nothing Personal at Plan B Theatre Company. Plan B dedicated the whole season to one playwright this year, and while that sounds risky, they are off to a great start with the season opener. Nothing Personal is an 80-minute, three person play that is loosely based on the Whitewater scandal of the Clinton Administration. Susan (April Fossen) pleads for her freedom after being jailed for a contempt charge, and you are pulled into a narrative so perplexing and so infuriating, that I hated Kenneth (Kirt Bateman) within the first ten minutes of the show.

Though based on Susan McDougal and Kenneth Starr, Samuelsen takes you on a contemporary journey through American headlines about “enhanced interrogation” tactics in a post 9-11 American. You watch as a woman is confined to a permeable space, a place where she can’t escape the gaze of her prosecutor, Kenneth. She is shackled and chained, left for days, wondering what is happening, and you are right there with her. April Fossen pulls you into Susan’s perspective. You begin to wonder what is real. Is the Matron (the prison guard played by Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin) real? At times you aren’t sure because she doesn’t speak except for an outburst of speaking in tongues that is so surreal you feel total-body discomfort.

The poignant performances in Nothing Personal are some of the best I’ve seen from Plan B actors. When I left the theater the only words I could get out were, “That was a lot to chew on.” You leave full of philosophical quandaries, opinions, and a distaste for the direction of our country, but all with a sense of idealism– knowing that the people in the theatre, and the mind behind the play want the status quo to change.

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The minimalist staging feels anything but with the sound work of Cheryl Cluff, because there is a constant stream of prison sounds, slaughterhouse noise, and hardcore rock music. The sound design is expertly complemented by the lighting design of Jesse Portillo. We feel the tunnel vision of characters with lighting that suffocates at times, and tortures at others. This expertly crafted script comes together from all directions under the work of Jerry Rapier, Plan B’s Producing Director. Nothing Personal is nothing short of hard-hitting, and it is worth every minute you spend with Susan, Kenneth, and the Matron.

Nothing Personal runs through November 3rd, and is selling-out quickly. Buy your tickets before it is too late to go on this wild ride.

 

Why Aren’t Utah Parents Using the HPV Vaccine?

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Public health officials have recommended the Gardasil or Cervarix vaccination to prevent cervical cancer since 2006, but in spite of the proven health benefits, only about 25% of age-eligible children in Utah will get the vaccination. Declining vaccination numbers are partially related to the number of injections required, coupled with  parent concerns that the vaccination is tacit acceptance of promiscuity, and a belief that marriage equates to prevention. Vaccination numbers are on the decline in Utah in spite of the fact that  “since the vaccine was introduced in 2006, vaccine-type HPV prevalence decreased 56 percent among female teenagers 14-19 years of age.”

Is there any truth to the fear that Gardasil or Cervarix will insight promiscuity? The short answer is NO.  And if promiscuity is your biggest concern, you need to reevaluate your parenting skills, because everyone should agree that cancer is much worse than premarital sex.

HPV Vaccination Facts

There are two major vaccinations offered in the United States, Gardasil and Cervarix. Both vaccines require a series of 3 injections and are available for women and boys from age 9-25. The Gardasil vaccine in particular touts some amazing health benefits:

  • In girls and young women ages 9 to 26, GARDASIL helps protect against 2 types of HPV that cause about 75% of cervical cancer cases, and 2 more types that cause approximately 90% of genital warts cases.
  • In boys and young men ages 9 to 26, GARDASIL helps protect against approximately 90% of genital warts cases.
  • GARDASIL also helps protect girls and young women ages 9 to 26 against about 70% of vaginal cancer cases and up to 50% of vulvar cancer cases.

Vaccinations for the Uninsured

If you’re unable to get your child vaccinated against HPV due to a lack of insurance, or a lack of coverage from your insurance, please try the Vaccinations for Children fund. For people in Utah who need help with vaccinations, the following contact information might prove useful:

Utah Department of Health, Immunization Program:

288 North 1460 West

P.O. Box 142001

Salt Lake City, UT 84114-2001

Fax: 801-538-9440

Contacts:

Janel Jorgenson: Provider Relations Coordinator (801-538-9450) & Karen Tsuyuki: Vaccine Management Coordinator (801-538-9450).

 The bottom line is this: Unless your child is allergic to the ingredients in HPV vaccinations, there is no good reason to forego the vaccine.

How to Help a Small Business Flourish

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A few months ago we profiled Christy Jensen from Mamachari Kombucha on this site, and we are so happy to see that the business is growing leaps and bounds. In fact, they’ve grown so much that they are asking for our help with a Kickstarter campaign. Christy and Nate have outgrown two brewing spaces in the past six month!

Help Nate and Christy make their dreams come true while they make our community a better place to live. Every dollar helps, are you willing to pitch in a few?