“B. Franklin,” at the Stephanie Feury

Our LA-culture group caught the last performance of “B. Franklin,” a one-man show, at the Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre on Melrose in the Larchmont neighborhood. But first, we got our vegan-on at Cafe Gratitude. Gratitude hails from Northern California and adheres to an ethos of transparent communication, among other values. That means the menu is explicit so as not to provoke disappointment in anyone with any kind of food allergies or food sensitivities. Such frank communication via printed text is refreshing.

After our lunch we walked over to the Feury for a fantastic monologue by Robert Lesko as American rebel Ben Franklin. The play, produced by the industrious, and connected, Laura Hill, revealed more about Franklin’s intimate life, and his connections to France and Great Britain, than the typical history textbook. For example, while in France, Franklin spent his time in formal meetings with French and American officials. Yet, he spent his social time in the company of “ladies”. The friendly relations he cultivated with women in France allowed him to learn much about French culture and society. By establishing friendly relations with French women, Franklin gained an edge that would prove invaluable as he negotiated with France and England to establish the United States of America after the war with Great Britain.

Franklin’s romantic and Platonic dalliances with women were not well-received by Franklin’s American rivals like John Adams, and claims of immorality haunted Franklin after returning to the States.

Lesko’s portrayal of Franklin as a victim of American politics and American morality is convincing. Yet, equally convincing is the old claim (with a modification): When in France …


Above the Fold: Theatre as Pedagogy


Part of my responsibility as a language instructor is to create socio-linguistic experiences for students. Theatre is one such experience. Going on a theatre outing is an amazing way to spark students’ curiosity and wonder. Of course, going to the theatre can also be challenging for my students who have come to the United States to improve their English. That is why I take plenty of class time to prepare students for what they are about to see live on stage. Most theaters have a community-outreach staff member, or team, prepare an education packet for students so that they may be briefed about the play.

The Pasadena Playhouse prepares excellent educational materials for students. Recently, I used the resources provided by the theatre, plus my own writing prompts, to guide students through writing and discussion activities about the play, ABOVE THE FOLD.

The theatre’s website contains a link to the educational packet.

Community theatre experiences get students excited about language.

“Surprised, exciting, amazing, and confusing,” were words my students visiting from Japan used to describe the Bernard Weinraub play, ABOVE THE FOLD.

The students will write about their experience of the play, and they will be asked to consider alternative outcomes, as well.

#pasadenaplayhouse #education #theatre