ARTICLE | How the #MeToo Movement Helped Make New Charges Against Jeffrey Epstein Possible

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Federal prosecutors unveiled sex-trafficking charges against wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein on Monday (July 8, 2019), revisiting years-old allegations. But their announcement was quickly followed by questions about why prosecutors (led by then-U.S. Attorney, former-Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta) had treated Epstein leniently in the past and why it had taken so long to meaningfully target allegations of sexual misconduct that were long an open secret.

Victims’ advocates and legal experts say the #MeToo movement in the past two years has fueled cultural change, putting pressure on prosecutors to take action and creating public support for the sexual misconduct cases they pursue.

“While the charged conduct is from a number of years ago, it is still profoundly important to the many alleged victims, now young women,” Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a press conference announcing the charges on Monday. “They deserve their day in court, and we are proud to be standing up for them by bringing this indictment.”

Berman declined to comment on what led his office to revisit the allegations now, but he said prosecutors were “assisted by some excellent investigative journalism” — an apparent reference to a November 2018 story by the Miami Herald that found 80 women who said they were sexually abused by Epstein from 2001 to 2006. It sparked a public outcry over Epstein’s lenient 2007 plea deal from Florida prosecutors, who allowed the billionaire to avoid federal criminal charges, plead guilty to state charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution, register as a sex offender and serve 13 months in jail while being allowed to work in his office six days per week… more.

SOURCE: TIME



ARTICLE | New Jeffrey Epstein case: A crucial test of #MeToo's staying power

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The surprise arrest of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein on Saturday — and the revival of a decade-old case against him for sex trafficking — is a big story in its own right. That's both because of Epstein's own unbelievably sleazy profile, but also because it's possible that other men who have been shielded from justice may be exposed for participating in the sexual abuse of minors. But the social implications may be even larger.

The Epstein case is a real test over whether the #MeToo movement, an explosive period in which thousands of women stepped forward with stories of sexual harassment and abuse, was just a flash in the pan. Will we see long-term changes in how our society deals with powerful men who commit sexual abuse with little or fear of consequences? Or are we moving back toward business as usual and sweeping such things under the rug?

Read more here.

SOURCE: Salon



INTERVIEW | Alyssa Milano on the #MeToo movement: 'We're not going to stand for it any more'

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It was like any other day for Alyssa Milano, the American activist and actor, until she started getting ready for bed. While reading a flurry of articles about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults, her phone went off.

It was her friend Charles Clymer, who sent her a screenshot. It read: “Suggested by a friend: if all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

“I thought, you know what? This is an amazing way to get some idea of the magnitude of how big this problem is,” said Milano over the phone from Los Angeles. “It was also a way to get the focus off these horrible men and to put the focus back on the victims and survivors.”

Milano added a sentence to her friend’s message before posting it on Twitter: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

And she sent it out.

Read more here.

SOURCE: The Guardian



ARTICLE | The Woman Who Created #MeToo Long Before Hashtags

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In 1997, Tarana Burke sat across from a 13-year-old girl who had been sexually abused. The young girl was explaining her experience, and it left Ms. Burke speechless. That moment is where the Me Too campaign was born.

“I didn’t have a response or a way to help her in that moment, and I couldn’t even say ‘me too,’ ” Ms. Burke said.

“It really bothered me, and it sat in my spirit for a long time,” she added.

Ten years after that conversation, Ms. Burke created Just Be Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps victims of sexual harassment and assault. She sought out the resources that she had not found readily available to her 10 years before and committed herself to being there for people who had been abused.

And she gave her movement a name: Me Too.

On October 15, 2017, those two words burst into the spotlight of social media with #metoo, a hashtag promoted by the actress Alyssa Milano. Amid the firestorm that ignited, some women of color noted pointedly that the longtime effort by Ms. Burke, who is black, had not received support over the years from prominent white feminists… more.

SOURCE: The New York Times



BIOGRAPHY | Robert Schenkkan

Robert Schenkkan is a Pulitzer-prize winning, Tony Award-winning, Writer's Guild Award-winning, three-time Emmy nominated writer of Stage, Television, and Film. He is the author of fourteen original full-length plays (including WICA’s production of The Kentucky Cycle in 2010), two musicals, and a collection of one-act plays. He co-wrote the feature film, Hacksaw Ridge (six Academy Award nominations) and The Quiet American, and his television credits include: All the Way, The Pacific, The Andromeda Strain, and Spartacus.

Learn more about Robert Schenkkan here.

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The Investigation | August 24, 2019


ARTICLE | How Mark Rothko Unlocked the Emotional Power of Color

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“The name Mark Rothko is synonymous with sensitive canvases that feature arrangements of rectangular panes in vivid hues. The artist was a skilled colorist. The great joy of experiencing his paintings is looking at how the colors, shapes, and backgrounds interact with one another, particularly around the edges. The soft, brushy borders that surround his color fields create one mood, while the sharper, straighter lines of the central forms elicit another. Alternate juxtapositions of similar or divergent tones—shades of deep blue against dark purple or bright red against brown—elicit disparate emotional responses. In employing a signature structure, Rothko found infinite variation.

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Untitled (Red, Orange), 1968

Despite his devotion to this modern, abstract mode, Rothko derived significant inspiration from ancient, medieval, and Renaissance art and architecture. An erudite researcher, the artist transformed his scholarly understanding of art history into pared-down paintings. If they can at first feel opaque to the viewer searching for reference points, Rothko didn’t mind. “My pictures are indeed façades (as they have been called),” he once said. “Sometimes I open one door and one window or two doors and two windows. I do this only through shrewdness. There is more power in telling little than in telling all.” That mystery and complexity have given him one of the most enduring and esteemed reputations in 20th-century art…” more

SOURCE: Artsy


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BIOGRAPHY | Craig Lucas

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Craig Lucas is an American playwright, screenwriter, theatre director, musical actor, and film director. He began his career as a New York-based playwright in the 1980’s. The success of his screenplay for the 1990 film Longtime Companion established him as an important contributor to the dramatic literature born of the AIDS Crisis. Although Lucas is identified with the gay theater community of his time, the characteristic themes of his work address broad issues of life’s absurdity and the arbitrary nature of fate. Lucas’s embrace of absurdity is reflected in the story of his origins.

He began life in Dickensian style, as a foundling, abandoned in the back of a car in Atlanta, beside a plaintive note from his mother explaining that she could not care for her child. His adoptive parents raised him outside Philadelphia, where his father worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His mother encouraged Lucas’s love for acting and singing. An early interest in writing poems and plays led him to the study of creative writing at Boston University, with an opportunity to study with poet Anne Sexton, who gently suggested that perhaps playwriting was his métier. He credits Sexton with helping him gain admission to the Yale School of Drama and also with encouraging him to skip graduate school and plunge right into the world of professional theater in New York.

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Lucas’s first job in New York was as a chorus performer in musical theater, and his career as a playwright has often been punctuated by collaboration with musicians. Indeed, his first produced work was a revue based on musicals by the acclaimed composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim. The show, Marry Me a Little, also inaugurated Lucas’s collaboration with Norman René, with whom Lucas worked closely until René’s death from AIDS complications in 1996.

Craig Lucas has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, the Rockefeller Foundations, and The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. He has received the Tony Award nomination for the books An American in Paris (2015), Light in the Piazza (2005), and Prelude to a Kiss. He was nominated for the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Prelude to a Kiss.

After penning the screenplay for Prelude starring Meg Ryan and Alec Baldwin; Lucas was quoted as saying:

“When Alec Baldwin kissed the old man onstage [in Prelude to a Kiss], the audience in the theater went, ‘Awww.’ When he kissed him in the film, you would have thought I brought a Rwandan child out and cut his head off. [Laughs] The studio said: Let’s make it a hug instead. And I said: Well, then we’d have to call it Prelude to a Hug. I didn’t come to the film with the adventuresome spirit that you need to take a play and rethink it. If I had the foresight, I would have made a more playful picture.”


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Prelude to a Kiss | Jun 07-22, 2019


ARTICLE | Explore the magic of WICA’s “Prelude to a Kiss”

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The fragility, complexity, beauty, depths and breadth of love will be shared and explored starting Friday, as Whidbey Island Center for the Arts in Langley brings its production of Craig Lucas’ “Prelude to a Kiss” to the stage.

WICA Artistic Director and the show’s director, Deana Duncan, said this play has been on her mind and in her heart for 20 years, but now seemed like the right time to mount the production. “When I first read it way back then it was a beautiful and funny love story, now all these years later I see, feel, hear the layers of depth beneath the romantic comedy,” Duncan described. “The play fit this season of taking chances, reaching beyond our comfort zones and trying new ways to tell story and share humanity.” While so many fairy tales end with the wedding, the “happily ever after” moment, that’s really just the beginning of any true love story. And so it is with “Prelude’s” main characters. Peter and Rita have the whirlwind, romantic courtship, celebrate their

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wedding and are preparing for their “happily ever after.” But a strange, magical twist of fate - in the form of a congratulatory kiss from an old man - turns everything upside down, inside out and backwards, forcing the couple to examine what true love really means. It prompts the question, what is it we love about someone, the package or the contents? “Deana sent me the script one afternoon and I read it after I got home from work that night,” said Ty Molbak, who plays Peter Hoskins. “When I finished, I remember staying seated in my living room chair for a while, as fragments of past relationships started to surface. First meetings, discovering shared humor, being completely embarrassed from my naiveté on certain topics, [with] a bittersweet mix of regret and joy accompanying it all.” “This play is so lovely, exploring the meaning of true love, and the preciousness of life,” said Gail Liston, who plays Aunt Dorothy as well as Leah. “Deana has come up with a wonderful concept which lets the young lovers be the realistic core of the story and surrounds them with characters that come from a heightened reality. This enhances the magic, as well as the beautiful sets, lights and costumes.” There are many who may remember the 1992 film version of “Prelude to a Kiss.” While the script for the movie is nearly identical to that of the stage play, and while the movie version of the story had a big budget, Duncan said she believes the play is better, because theater allows its characters to come alive right in front of an audience. “Theatre forces artists to edit to only what matters,” she said. “Craig Lucas wrote this exhilarating and challenging piece for theatre; it’s meant to be on stage, shared with a live audience who become part of the story. In the movie, when Peter shares his inner thoughts, it’s just words. In our play, when he does that, he will turn and speak to you, the audience, and your reactions will help propel us forward.” Developing those characters demands hours of work from the actors. But cast members say it is when actors can be vulnerable with one another that true magic happens. “It is a wonderful world of discovery as we

continue, day after day, in rehearsal and on our own, to discover the relationships my character has with the others and melding that with the character choices of my cast mates,” said Brian Plebanek, who portrays the bride’s uncle, Fred. “Discovery continues, even after opening night and all through the production.” “Everyone in this cast has such kind, generous, and interesting personalities,” Molbak said. “After a conversation or two, it’s impossible not to find some sort of connection with them. After that, it’s just about relaxing and opening yourself up enough so that you can really see them and can allow them to see you.” “These actors are professional level, everyone one of them brings a combination of experience and training,” Duncan said. ”They know how to quickly create believable relationships on stage and as they work through the intimacy required, they allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to believe in the love and loss their characters are feeling. “Theatre holds safe space for a group of us to come together and create story, to crack open our pains and joys and work wildly on something we all believe in,” she continued. “We do this with great love and a hope that our work will create emotion and dialogue not only around the themes of the play but around the greater themes of being human on the planet. Being given this opportunity to

work with this group of people on this script at this time – it’s a gift.” The cast also includes actors Bob Atkinson, Jessica Baxter, Ethan Berkley, Suzi Dixon and James Hinkley, with Zachary Schneider as understudy. Hinkley also composed several versions of the hit song “Prelude to a Kiss,” that are used throughout the show.

“We do have a wonderful cast of old and new friends,” said Plebanek. “This is a joy to be a part of and we hope to share that joy with every person in the audience. We hope our discoveries lead to their own discoveries.” “Deana has given us so much room to create characters,” Liston said. “This cast and crew are simply the best. I’m so happy to be a part of this show.” “Actors are amazing creatures, and they need audiences to witness and give feedback for the entire process to work,” said Duncan. “Come to the show, if only to support the work these actors and creative team have worked so hard to create and share with you…it will be worth it!”

SOURCE: Whidbey Weekly


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Prelude to a Kiss | Jun 07-22, 2019


MEET THE ARTISTS | Prelude to a Kiss

THE CAST

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Robert Atkinson is delighted though somewhat surprised to find himself once again on the WICA stage in what has turned out to be the most collegial and enjoyable production he has ever been a part of. He was last seen at WICA as Dr. John Watson in last season’s production of The American Problem, and is, apparently, beginning to establish a habit of portraying medical men whose profession is otherwise incidental to the theatrical storyline. Previous appearances include Charles Webb in Our Town (2014), Stine in City of Angels (2014), Harold Nichols in The Full Monty (2013), Jed Rowen in The Kentucky Cycle (2010), Prologue in Franklin & Figaro (2009), ensemble and prop master in Sweeney Todd (2008), and his WICA debut as Melersh Wilton in Enchanted April (2008). Off-stage, Robert pursues graduate studies in bioengineering at the University of Washington.

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Jessica Baxter is a recent transplant from the Kansas City area, and is excited to be performing on the WICA stage in her first role since arriving in Washington! Jessica received a BFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Central Missouri and she is an alumni of the Stella Adler Art of Acting Studio in Los Angeles, CA. Her most recent roles include: Barbara in August: Osage County, Regina in Little Foxes and this August you will find her playing the role of Jocasta in Play Your Part Seattle’s outdoor production of Oedipus the King. She would like to thank her family for their support, Deana for giving her this incredible opportunity!

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Ethan Berkley has been in human form for over a quarter of a century. Acting the part of thespian for half that time. Whidbey Island has harbored his theatrical career in it's entirety, including the role of Black Stache in WICA's December production of Peter and The Starcatcher. This past year, Ethan branching his Theater-based interests; from the front of house in Box Office at WICA, to backstage and in the booth as Stage manager for Next To Normal and Constellations. He is very grateful to be granted the opportunity to be supported in his passione teatrale. He is also very excited to be bringing a new human into fruition, coming this October!

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Suzi Dixon is happy to toss her horses in the pasture, run down the road to perform in this fabulously creative hub, with loving and talented people for a community with vision and heart.

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James Hinkley is making his fourth theatrical appearance on WICA’s stage in this production. Last year James was cast in the rôle of Smee in Peter and the Starcatcher. Earlier this season, he played “Uncle” Vanya in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. WICA audiences will most likely remember James from the WICA Box Office where he spent many happy years selling tickets.

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Gail Liston appeared as Hannah in When We Were Young and Unafraid and Chris in Rumors. Other WICA roles include Jean in Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Sarah in The Norman Conquests, Kate in Sylvia, and Dotty in Noises Off. She directed WICA productions of The Mousetrap and A Christmas Story. With Outcast, she has appeared as Phyllis in Follies, Barbara in August: Osage County, and Jeannie in The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Other favorite roles: Roxie Hart in Chicago and Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. Gail trained with Jose Quintero, Arthur Lessac, Tony-nominee Lara Teeter, and members of the Royal Shakespeare Company. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Acting and has taught theatre at Cal State Fullerton, Victor Valley College, and Skagit Valley College. Gail is honored to work again with her husband, Brian Plebanek, and this amazing company of talented friends.

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Ty Molbak is an actor and director raised in New Orleans, LA and on Whidbey Island, WA. He is currently based in New York City. Acting credits include: The Sabbath Girl (upcoming at Penguin Rep), Richard II & Henry IV Pt. I (Shakespeare’s Globe), Constellations (Blue Collaborative), Ten Blocks on the Camino Real, Marie, Gloria, The Emperor of the Moon, and The Cider House Rules: Part Two (Rutgers Theater Company). Directing credits include: SCORCH (Blue Collaborative/OutCast Productions), Deserve (Music Video - Round Room Image), Something Yellow (Short Film - acquired by IndieFlix), Sam Shepard Memorial Project (supported by OutCast Productions), and Mary Poppins (Whidbey Children’s Theater). Before theater and film, Ty studied ballet for six years and has danced lead roles with New Orleans Ballet Theater, Whidbey Island Dance Theater, and South Bay Ballet (Torrance, CA). Ty attended Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television before earning his BFA in acting from Mason Gross School of the Arts - Rutgers University.

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Brian Plebanek is 17-year WICA veteran. His most recent WICA appearances were as Ken in Rumors and Tom in Dr Fritz. Some favorite WICA roles: Father Flynn in Doubt: A Parable, Greg in Sylvia, Dwight in Deadman’s Cell Phone, Bill in On Golden Pond, Adult Ralph/Narrator in A Christmas Story, Wayne in Inspecting Carol, Clive in See How They Run, Orsino is Twelfth Night. Brian’s roles at OutCast Productions include: Steve in August: Osage County and Michael in Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me.

Brian’s favorite musical roles are Frank’N’Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, Ernst in Cabaret, Sky in Guys and Dolls at Whidbey Playhouse, Norbert in The Great American Trailer Park Musical, and Ben in Follies at OutCast.

Brian is a singer/guitarist in local band “Breaded Fish.” Brian is thrilled to perform again with his wife, Gail Liston, and this cast and crew of good friends.


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Prelude to a Kiss | Jun 07-22, 2019


DIRECTOR'S NOTE | "Prelude to a Kiss"

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One of the actors told me that the word amateur came from a French word meaning “from the heart” or “lover of” – this amazing cast, crew, and creative team have poured their hearts and souls and time and talent into creating this little gem of a fairy tale and I am so very proud of them. Most of them do this for nothing more than the chance to crack open their joys and pains and work wildly on something they believe in. So, first, a thank you to them. Then, a thank you, to you the audience. We couldn’t do this without you. We need you to: witness, react, give feedback, be moved, and to create dialogue – you are the last and vital piece of our theatre puzzle – you are what make this art form stay relevant, thanks for showing up!

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Prelude to a Kiss is a modern day fairy tale, and like most fairy tales, there are darker and greater forces at play than what we first see. This story centers on a simple romantic comedy with a magical twist of fate, but at its core this is a story full of ideas on life, love, loss, and aging. Mary Oliver wrote one of my favorite poems, “The Summer Day,” which ends with:

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?

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That’s the question propelling our story, that’s the inspiration for the work, that’s the theme I hope you go home with. We have this one wild and precious life “never to be squandered… the miracle of a human being.” We are enough, we are here right now for a reason…this journey is worth the process.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

 Deana Duncan


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Prelude to a Kiss | Jun 07-22, 2019