• A Four-Decade Family Tradition

    Tania Thompson
     | Oct 21, 2019
    Fitzgerald Family

    The FitzGerald, Raymond, Jaeger and Eberle Families.

    Smith Family

    The Smith family

    Tuttle Family

    The ​Tuttle family

    Brett Bailey

    ​Brett Bailey and his wife.

    Linda Matranga

    ​Linda Matranga and Diane Glaze.

    Over the past year, South Coast Repertory has asked audience members to share their stories of the Christmas Carol tradition in their families. Here are some of the responses we received.

    It started some four decades ago as a simple holiday treat: Esther FitzGerald brought her first two grandchildren to see a newish show at South Coast Repertory—A Christmas Carol.

    “She initiated this family tradition,” says granddaughter Mariann Raymond. “As time moved on, and as other grandchildren ‘came of age,’ Esther was treating all nine of them and their parents to an evening of A Christmas Carol delight. As the years flew by, 15 great-grandchildren became a part of this fun-filled family tradition. We now total 38 family members and every year there has been many of us in attendance flying in from New York, Colorado, Washington D.C., Seattle and Northern California. In fact, as the holidays approach, we find ourselves amusing one another with notable quotes from the various characters in anticipation of the evening. Thank you, Hal Landon Jr., for pouring your heart and soul into the role of Scrooge for the last 40 years. You have brought our family much joy. You will surely be missed!” Pictured above: the FitzGerald, Raymond, Jaeger and Eberle families at the 2018 production of A Christmas Carol.

    ​"Last year was our 35th year seeing A Christmas Carol," say the Mark and Artha Smith​ Family. "It has always been the highlight of our holiday celebrations. We so appreciate the dedication of the "family of actors and the behind-the-scenes staff staff" for always making it a wonderful experience. It's evident they love performing as much as we love watching."

    “Our family has been coming to A Christmas Carol every year for 20 years,” says JoAnna Tuttle. “My mom started the tradition when my children were very small and we have been coming every year since. Our three generations look forward to wearing our red scarfs and soaking up the Christmas cheer that the show inevitably creates. Many of the repeat cast members actually feel like family. When I married the love of my life five years ago, I knew it was love when I heard he had a red scarf and attended A Christmas Carol annually! A match made in heaven! We cherish A Christmas Carol and are so grateful to the cast and crew for the joy they have given us throughout the years.”

    “My wife and I have seen the play every year since 2003, when we started dating,” says Brett Bailey. “We then took our parents to this play as a family night out with dinner and a play. Sadly, both my parents have died and so has my father-in-law. But that doesn't stop us as it only encourages us to remember the good times this night out has been for us all, you could say that these are the spirits that visit us for a short time. This play is when I know it’s Christmastime in OC. It does not matter how many times we see it or how many versions of the story we have on DVD, this will always be the favorite due to the live performance. Hal Landon Jr. is to be congratulated for all these years and performances, we are very excited to see what 2019's 40th anniversary show/celebration will be like.”

    “My friend, Diane, and I have been coming to the performance for years now—it is our tradition,” says Linda Matranga. “We are both excited to see Scrooge for this 40th year—we will be there! We hold our breath every time Hal tumbles into his hat!”

    More Stories of Christmas Carol Traditions

    “My family and I have been going to see A Christmas Carol since my boys were young,” says Alice O’Keefe. “Now I take my sons and their families, including six grandchildren. We all love it. It is a tradition that sets the tone for our Christmas. My oldest grandson, who is now 17, says going with the family to see A Christmas Carol is the highlight of Christmas for him. We’re looking forward to the 40th anniversary show.”

    “I have seen this show at least a dozen times,” Mary Margaret Johnston​ says in a Facebook post. “I finally got to take my grandson for the first time. He was gobsmacked! He finally said, ‘That was magic!’”

    Share your family’s story about A Christmas Carol here or on Facebook​.

    Learn more about the 40th anniversary production of A Christmas Carol and purchase tickets. The best ticket options are weeknights—Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays—and the 2:30 p.m. matinee on Thursday, Dec. 19.

  • The Rise of Korean Cuisine

    SCR Staff
     | Oct 18, 2019
    Food being eaten with chopsticks

    Julia Cho’s Aubergine (Oct. 19-Nov. 16) is a play about food, family, relationships and memory. Ray is a Korean-American chef whose career his father has never understood. Now that his father is in hospice, Ray returns home and learns to cook a dish that connects the two men in ways that words cannot. This perfect spoonful bite transcends time and cultural differences in this poetic tale of love, loss and healing.

    With food as one of Aubergine’s dominant themes, thought we'd round up some information about the steadily increasing popularity of Korean cuisine in the U.S.

    Korea’s traditional food and preparation techniques have evolved through centuries of cultural changes, and in today’s culinary world, Korean-style restaurants have been one of the most notable trends among U.S. diners in the past few years. Additionally, Korean food has been appearing regularly on mainstream restaurant menus. With a complexity of different flavors and cuisine largely comprised of proteins, vegetables, grains and assorted spices and chiles, Korean food is a great choice for the health-conscious and clean-eating consumer. Plus, Korean food seems to be everywhere at the moment, from large chains to smaller restaurants, including Korean BBQ establishments, where a grill is often brought to a table so diners can directly experience the meat-cooking process.

    A growing interest in Korean pop culture such as K-pop music and Korean TV shows and movies among American consumers has undoubtedly contributed to the growth of Korean cuisine. However, diners are also seeking exciting new culinary experiences and on-trend flavors. Foodies have been gravitating toward Korean meals that incorporate bold, innovative flavors used in the sauces and are balanced with banchan (small side dishes) to complement the main dish. Korean BBQ restaurants have especially become prominent on the national dining scene, especially among younger consumers, as guests flock to these establishments for the delicious combination of flavors—a little heat paired with sweet, savory, spicy, etc. that allow the Korean sauces to enhance the contents of the dish. Think of a menu featuring mouthwatering dishes such as pork belly, beef short ribs, chicken and other meats with unlimited sides of Napa cabbage kimchi, cucumber kimchi, fermented onion, jalapeños and much more.

    With Korean food’s authentic and healthful ingredients, not to mention bold, crave-worthy flavors, the popular cuisine is certainly resonating with American consumers’ palates, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

    Learn more about Aubergine and buy tickets.

  • Meet Judith Viorst, Author of "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"

    SCR Staff
     | Oct 18, 2019
    Judith Viorst

    ​Author Judith Viorst.

    Author Judith Viorst’s most famous book for children is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (1972). The title has sold more than two-million copies and was made into a feature-length film in 2014 that starred Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner and Ed Oxenbould.

    SCR kicks off its Theatre for Young Audiences season with the delightful musical version of Viorst’s ​iconic book that can turn around any bad day and put a smile on even the crabbiest of faces. Perfect entertainment for the entire family, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day runs from Nov. 8-24, 2019 on the Argyros Stage.

    Viorst was born in Newark and grew up in New Jersey. She earned her BA from Rutgers University and is an alumna of the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute. As a noted children’s author, Viorst’s works include The Tenth Good Thing About Barney (1971), The Alphabet from Z to A (1994), and the Lulu stories: Lulu and the Brontosaurus (2010, illustrated by Lane Smith), Lulu Walks the Dogs (2012, illustrated by Lane Smith) and Lulu’s Mysterious Mission (2014, illustrated by Kevin Cornell). She also wrote three sequels to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. In addition, She has written books of poetry for children including What Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About? (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 2016, illustrated by Lee White).

    Viorst is also a novelist, poet and psychoanalytic researcher and journalist. Her series of light verse books on aging include Nearing 90 (And Other Comedies of Late Life), Unexpectedly 80: And Other Adaptations (2010), I’m Too Young to Be 70 and Other Delusions (2005) and Suddenly 60 and Other Shocks of Later Life (2000). She is also the author of the poetry collection Wait For Me: The Irritations and Consolations of a Long Marriage (2015). Her works of nonfiction draw on psychoanalysis and psychology, philosophy and the social sciences including the New York Times bestselling Necessary Losses (1986; 1998). Murdering Mr. Monti (1994) is her first novel for adults. Viorst lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, the political writer Milton Viorst.

    Learn more about Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and buy tickets.

  • Exhibit Focuses on Orange County’s LGBTQ History

    SCR Staff
     | Oct 15, 2019
    Dating a Girl Art

    You're Dating a Girl Now?!?! Unknown (2016); UCI Special Collections​, ​Zines.

    Gay Cruise to Comedy in Adam Bock's New Play The Canadians

    From award-winning playwright Adam Bock comes a new comedy, The Canadians (Sept. 29-Oct. 20, 2019). Life is good in Port Alison, Manitoba—Thursday night hockey, beers in Winnipeg, nice people. But lately, Gordy’s interests lean more toward The Magic Flute and pottery classes. When his pal, Brendan, is gifted two all-expense paid tickets on a gay cruise, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime—to experience life far from Canada! In this quick-change comedy where five actors play a ship-load of characters, small chances might lead to big changes. But can Gordy step out of his comfort zone? 

    Trans zine cover

    ​#TRANSLIVESMATTER. Third Woman Press Zine: Radical Feminist of Color Publishing. Vol. 1. (2015)

    The Langson Library at ​the University of California, Irvine, is currently featuring an exhibit on Orange County’s LGBTQ history. “Queering the Orange,” curated by the UCI Libraries Diversity Team​. The show focuses on the history of the county’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer residents as they found each other before the advent of the internet and their fight for countywide and on-campus rights.

    The exhibit includes a collection of photos and queer literature about sexual and gender identity. Materials for the exhibit were donated by the ​Orange County Historical LGBT Timeline Project, private collections and the LGBT Center OC, which is based in Santa Ana. “Queering the Orange” ​is on display on the fifth floor of the Langson Library through October 31.

    New Girl

    ​Thomas, Sandy. Mothers New Daughter Capistrano Beach, Calif: Sandy Thomas Advertising, 1998.

    Queer Zine

    ​Closets and Shadows. Carr, Harmonie (2016)

    Images: Courtesy of UCI Libraries Special Collections & Archives.

    Learn more about the exhibit in these Daily Pilo​t and Orange County Register stories.

    Learn more about The Canadians and buy tickets.

  • The Flavors of Remembrance

    John Glore
     | Oct 14, 2019
    Sab Shimono and Jinn Kim

    Sab Shimono and Jinn S. Kim.

    Julia Cho’s Aubergine centers on the relationship between Ray, a Korean-American man, and his father. Like so many father-son relationships, theirs is complicated and thorny. And perhaps the sharpest thorn stems from the fact that Ray is a chef, a profession that his father finds unworthy. As a corollary to that ongoing argument, they have a fundamental disagreement about food: Ray considers cooking an art form, while his father would rather eat a 10-cent package of ramen than the haute cuisine prepared by his son. Figuratively—and even somewhat literally—the two men don’t speak the same language.

    Their disagreement has deteriorated into a kind of cold war as the play begins: for some time Ray has avoided his father’s company and their occasional phone calls have tended to be short and awkward.

    But then Ray gets some news that changes the trajectory of their lives. His father is dying. Ray moves back into the family home, where his father will spend his remaining days in hospice care. A nurse named Lucien comes every day to help out, but otherwise the two men have only each other for company. That’s because they don’t really have any other family … except for the dying man’s brother, who still lives in Korea.

    When Ray belatedly remembers his uncle, he reluctantly decides he must let the man know about the impending death of his only brother. But Ray speaks no Korean and his uncle speaks no English, so Ray must enlist the help of his former girlfriend, Cornelia, who is fluent in Korean but who hasn’t forgiven Ray for the abrupt way he ended their relationship – without an explanation or even a good-bye.

    That’s the set-up for the play’s story, which flows like the current of a slow river, headed towards its only possible outcome … and yet there are surprises in store, because while his father’s death may be inevitable, the way Ray and the others get there, and what they discover when it arrives, can’t really be anticipated.

    There are a few other characters: a woman named Diane who talks to us at the beginning of the play and then doesn’t return until its conclusion (that’s one of the surprises); a hospital worker who helps Ray navigate the medical bureaucracy; and a turtle (another surprise). Ray’s mother also figures importantly in the story, although she never appears, having died long before the play begins.

    As for the play’s title, aubergine is the word commonly used in France and the U.K. for what Americans call an eggplant. The word is also used for the dark purple color of most eggplant found in the U.S. (they also come in white, red, green and other hues). That deep, nearly black shade of purple conveys a certain sepulchral foreboding, but it’s also lustrous and vibrant with vegetal life. The fruit of the eggplant (it’s actually a berry, not a vegetable) doesn’t have much nutritional value, but it absorbs oils and flavors into its flesh and is used in cooking the world over.

    Almost every character in Aubergine talks to us about food at some point during the play. They talk about their favorite foods and the memories associated with them. They talk about the emotional flavors absorbed by those remembered foods. Food becomes its own language in the play, a language that transcends the limitations of the spoken word. It conveys history, culture, family, tradition … and sometimes love.

    For a play that culminates in a death, Aubergine manages to be uplifting and life-affirming. Among the unexpected flavors it offers are abundant humor and a little bit of magic. You’ll probably walk away feeling both content and hungry.

    Family Circles

    Julia ChoJulia Cho
    Lisa Peterson ​Lisa Peterson

    In describing the structure of Aubergine, Julia Cho suggests the play takes the form of a series of concentric circles, stories nested within each other. There’s another circular story that reaches completion with SCR’s production of the play.

    Cho wrote Aubergine for Berkeley Repertory Theatre at the same time that she wrote Office Hour for SCR. The two plays had their premiere productions at the originating theatres within a month of each other in Spring 2016. Two years later, Berkeley offered its own production of Office Hour, staged by the company’s associate director, Lisa Peterson—who now directs Aubergine here at SCR. (Another little circle nested inside that one: Berkeley’s original production of Aubergine was directed by its then-artistic director, Tony Taccone, who will make his SCR debut later this season when he helms the world premiere of I Get Restless, the final production of the Argyros season.)

    Peterson, who recently left her staff position at Berkeley Rep, directed SCR’s production of Culture Clash (Still) in America last season and will direct that show again at Berkeley this season. She also directed the original production of Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories at SCR in 1996. For Aubergine she has assembled a stellar design team that includes Myung Hee Cho (sets and costumes), Ruoxuan Li (associate costume designer), Yee Eun Nam (projection design), John Gromada (composer/sound designer) and Peter Maradudin (who estimates this is his 50th lighting design for SCR).

    The cast includes Jinn S. Kim, making his SCR debut in the role of Ray. Ray’s father is played by Sab Shimono (who made his SCR debut in 1996 in The Ballad of Yachiyo). Jully Lee plays Cornelia (returning to SCR after appearing in tokyo fish story in 2014). Bruce Baek as Ray’s Uncle, Irungu Mutu as Lucien and Joy DeMichelle as Diane are all appearing at SCR for the first time. Luzma Ortiz plays the Hospital Worker only weeks after her Segerstrom Stage debut in American Mariachi.

    Learn more about the cast and creative team for Aubergine here.

    A footnote: including cast members, designers, stage management staff and the playwright, SCR’s production of Aubergine features the work of seven Korean or Korean-American theatre professionals.