• "Oliver Twist" Inspires Adaptations

    SCR Staff
     | Apr 16, 2019

    Oliver Twist Logo


    A poster for the 1922 Jackie Coogan version of Oliver Twist.


    ​​A poster for the 1968 musical version.


    ​A poster for Roman Polanski's 2005 version.

    The Teen Players’* production of Oliver Twist (May 18-26, Nicholas Studio) stays true to Charles Dickens’ exploration of social justice in Victorian England. The tale follows the life and adventures of Oliver Twist, an orphan, as he confronts poverty and crime, unlocks the mystery of his birth and learns the meaning of family. It’s the story of one child’s discovery about the power of resilience.

    Since its publication as a serial in the late 1830s, Dickens’ story has inspired numerous adaptations from page to stage to screen to television and more. Here’s an overview.

    • 1909: U.S. silent film with Edith Storey as Oliver
    • 1912: British silent film with Ivy Millais as Oliver
    • 1912: U.S. silent film with Nat C. Goodwin as Oliver
    • 1916: U.S. silent film with Marie Doro as Oliver
    • 1919: Hungarian silent film adaptation with Tibor Lubinszky as Oliver
    • 1922: U.S. silent film with Jackie Coogan as Oliver. A popular song, “Oliver Twist”, written by singer Vaughan De Leath accompanied the film.
    • 1933: U.S. film with sound. Dickie Moore portrayed Oliver.
    • 1948: British film directed by David Lean with John Howard Davies as Oliver and Sir Alec Guinness as Fagin.
    • 1960: The musical play Oliver! debuts in London’s West End for a long run, followed by long runs on Broadway, on tour and in revivals. Keith Hamshere was the original Oliver in London; Bruce Prochnik was Oliver in the Broadway premiere.
    • 1968: Oliver! the film adaptation of the hit musical play; won six Academy Awards including Best Picture. Mark Lester was Oliver.
    • 1974: U.S. animated version with Josh Albee as Oliver.
    • 1982: Australian animated TV series
    • 1982: U.S. film with Richard Charles as Oliver and George C. Scott as Fagin.
    • 1985: BBC TV series with Ben Rodska as Oliver.
    • 1988: Disney adapted the story into an animated film called Oliver & Company, with Oliver as a homeless kitten who joins a gang of dogs to survive. Joey Lawrence was the voice of Oliver.
    • 1996-7: “Saban’s Adventures of Oliver Twist,” a French-American animated TV series with the characters as animals. Oliver, voiced by Mona Marshall, was an orphan dog.
    • 1997: Disney made-for-television film with Alex Trench as Oliver and Richard Dreyfus as Fagin.
    • 1999: British mini-series with Sam Smith as Oliver.
    • 2003: Twist is a film adaptation updated to modern times with Joshua Close as Oliver.
    • 2004: Boy Called Twist sets the story in Cape Town, South Africa.
    • 2005: Roman Polanski-directed film with Barney Clark as Oliver Twist.
    • 2007: BBC television adaptation with William Miller as Oliver.

    Learn more about the Teen Players’ production of Oliver Twist and buy tickets.

    The Teen Players are carefully chosen through auditions from students in the teen acting classes at SCR’s Theatre Conservatory, with a minimum of two years’ experience.

  • Get Your Groove On with "Poor Yella Rednecks" Playlist

    SCR Staff
     | Apr 16, 2019
    Poor Yella Rednecks Production photo

    Paco Tolson, Tim Chiou, Samantha Quan and Eugene Young dig the music in Poor Yella Rednecks.

    Qui Nguyen’s Poor Yella Rednecks incorporates original rap songs to help tell the story of one family’s immigrant experience while building a new life in a foreign land called Arkansas. The hilarious, heartfelt comedy also includes snippets of familiar hits from the ’70s and ’80s that set the tone between scene changes. Here’s a look at the show’s incidental music and some fun facts about these nostalgic tunes that offer a stroll down memory lane.

    “September” - Earth, Wind & Fire
    Released as a single in 1978, this song was included on The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 (1978). “September” went on to reach No. 1 on the U.S. R&B chart, No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 on the U.K. Singles Chart.

    “Upside Down” - Diana Ross
    Written and produced by Chic members Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, “Upside Down” was issued as a single through the Motown label (1980). The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, No. 1 on the Billboard Disco and Soul charts and the single was also a big international hit. “Upside Down” is listed at No. 80 on Billboard’s “Greatest Songs of All Time.”

    “I’m Coming Out” - Diana Ross
    Written and produced by Chic members Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, the song was released as the second single from Diana Ross’s self-titled tenth album Diana ​(1980). Rodgers stated that he got the idea for the song after noticing three different drag queens dressed as Diana Ross at a New York club called the GG Barnum Room.

    “I Wanna Be Your Lover” – Prince
    Released in August 1979 as the lead single from Prince’s second self-title album, Prince, the song was Prince’s first major hit single in the U.S., reaching No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart for two weeks.

    “Funkytown” – Lipps Inc.
    From Minneapolis group Lipps Inc.’s debut album, Mouth to Mouth, the song was released as the album’s lead single in 1980. A smash disco hit, “Funkytown” held a record for reaching the No. 1 spot in 28 countries, more than any other single release until Madonna’s “Hung Up” reached No. 1 in 41 countries in 2015. “Funkytown” was reportedly written while the band lived in Minneapolis and dreamed of moving to New York.

    “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” – Daryl Hall & John Oates
    Written by Daryl Hall and John Oates, and co-written by Sara Allen, the song was released as the second single from Hall and Oates’ tenth studio album, Private Eyes (1981). The song became the fourth No. 1-hit single of their career on the Billboard Hot 100 and the second hit single from Private Eyes. “I Can't Go for That” was voted No. 6 on VH1’s list of “The 100 Greatest Songs of the ’80s.”

    “Fire” – Ohio Players
    A hit song by R&B funk band Ohio Players, the song was the opening track from the album of the same name and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Soul Singles chart in early 1975. The single is currently used as the theme song to the FOX reality series, Hell’s Kitchen. It was also featured in the fourth season of Gotham, in addition to appearing in a 2019 TV commercial for the Toyota RAV4.

    “Just the Two of Us” (featuring Bill Withers) – Grover Washington Jr.
    A 1981 R&B song recorded by Grover Washington Jr. and Bill Withers, “Just the Two of Us” originally appeared on Washington’s album Winelight (1980). An edited version reached No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100, a position it held for three weeks, behind “Morning Train (9 to 5)” by Sheena Easton and “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes. “Just the Two of Us” won a Grammy Award for Best R&B song.

    “9-5” – Dolly Parton
    This song was written and originally performed by Dolly Parton for the film 9 to 5, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Parton in her film debut. Released as a single in November 1980, the song was the centerpiece of Parton’s 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs album. The song earned Parton an Academy Award nomination and four Grammy Award nominations, and won her the “Best Country Song” and “Best Country Vocal Performance, Female” awards.

    “Call Me” – Blondie
    Released in the U.S. in early 1980 as a single by American new wave band Blondie, “Call Me” became the band’s biggest single and second No. 1 hit. The single was No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s 1980 year-end chart and the song was ranked at No. 57 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100. Nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, as well as for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song, “Call Me” was also the theme song of the 1980 film American Gigolo, starring Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton.

    “Miss You” – The Rolling Stones
    Released as a single by The Rolling Stones in May 1978, one month in advance of their album Some Girls, the song peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 on the U.K. Singles Chart. The song was featured in the debut episode of the TV series “Miami Vice” and at the beginning of the film At Close Range.

    “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be) – Sly & the Family Stone
    “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” appeared on Fresh, the sixth album by the American funk band Sly and the Family Stone. Released in June 1973, Fresh was the band’s final album to reach the U.S. Top 10. Significant as the only cover song issued on an original Family Stone album, “Que Sera, Sera” was a cover of Doris Day’s Academy Award-winning song from Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 film The Man Who Knew Too Much, sung here by Rose Stone.

    “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” – Stevie Wonder
    A 1973 single released by Stevie Wonder, the song became his third No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and his first No. 1 on the Easy Listening chart. The song won Wonder a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and was nominated for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Rolling Stone ranked the single as song No. 287 on its list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

    “We Are Family” – Sister Sledge
    Composed by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, the song was recorded by American vocal group Sister Sledge and eventually became the group’s signature song. “We Are Family” went gold, becoming the No. 1 R&B and No. 2 pop song on the American charts in 1979. The single reached No. 1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs. It was also the theme song for the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2017, the song was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or artistically significant.”

    Poor Yella Rednecks’ playlist on Spotify.

    Learn more about Poor Yella Rednecks and buy tickets.

  • A Guide to Getting the Most Out of the Pacific Playwrights Festival

    Tania Thompson
     | Apr 15, 2019

    PPF Logo

    South Coast Repertory’s three-day national showcase of new plays—the Pacific Playwrights Festival—is just around the corner​, April 26-28, with five readings and two full productions of new works.

    In addition to local new play fans, the festival draws theatre industry professionals from across the country and everyone wants to be among the first to see some of the best new plays in the country.

    “PPF is the most exciting 48 hours in our entire season,” says John Glore, festival co-director and SCR associate artistic director. “Chances are good that audience members are going to see a play that will go on to be very prominent in American theatre.”

    Here is our PPF New Play Starter Kit—your guide to getting the most out of your PPF weekend.

    Get Festival Updates and Join the Conversation
    Follow SCR on Twitter at @SouthCoastRep for updates throughout the weekend.
    Connect with us and other PPF attendees, tweet with us using #PPFSCR.

    Go Behind-the-Scenes
    Follow us on Instagram at @SouthCoastRep for behind-the-scenes photos of the festival. Follow our PPF story on Snapchat at @SouthCoastRep. Get a look at the PPF weekend through the eyes of SCR Communications Associate Nicholas Pilapil.

    New Play Development at SCR
    SCR has produced more than 525 plays over its 55-season history. And the number continues to climb as we watch plays developed here go on to other productions across the country. Check out the lobby display ​for ​highlights from our new-play development history.

    Playwrights Panel: Playwrights and Institutional Change
    Sunday, April 28, at 9 a.m.,​ the post-breakfast panel discussion will focus on Playwrights and Institutional Change, a discussion about what theatre leadership change means to writers and to the future of their work. Moderated by playwright Aditi Brennan Kapil, the panel members include Kevin Artigue, Adam Bock, Sean Hartley, Chisa Hutchinson, Craig Lucas, Dan Messé, Qui Nguyen, Ana Nogueira and Melissa Ross. Admission is free or you can live stream the panel via HowlRound.

    Something For Everyone!
    From a concert-reading of the musical adaptation of Prelude to a Kiss to a rap and hip-hop infused family immigrant story (Poor Yella Rednecks) to a horror story about gentrification and unconscious bias (Whitelisted) to the story of two police officers—partners and lovers—whose relationship is rocked to the core (Sheepdog), there's no better way to experience the festival than by seeing a new play.

    Packages for all five readings are a great value. Learn more about PPF and purchase tickets.

  • In Other Words: Stories of Police and Community

    SCR Staff
     | Apr 11, 2019

    Lea Coco and Erica LaVonn in Sheepdog.

    The story of two people—Amina and Ryan—in Kevin Artigue’s gripping drama, Sheepdog, is complex and mysterious. Actually, it's a mystery within a love story because, in addition to being police officers and partners, Amina and Ryan are lovers. Until something happens that rocks their relationship to the core.

    Artigue explains that the term “sheepdog” comes from a concept that suggests police officers are like sheepdogs, which have qualities of both sheep and wolf—including the capacity for violence—in order to do their job effectively. Read below to hear other voices on the stories and issues of community and law enforcement.


    ​David A. Love

    The Untold Story of the Black Cop by David A. Love
    From The Philadelphia Citizen
    Black officers often experience conflicting loyalties to the community versus the department. Many face racial discrimination in their own departments, which helps explain why African-American police have their own organizations to look out for black interests and sometimes even their own unions, as in St. Louis, where the name of the African-American union—The Ethical Society of Police—hints at the internal chasm between the races. On the force, many report being subject to retaliation from their agency if they speak out against police corruption and abuse. And on the street, black officers are often victims of racial profiling, harassment and shootings from fellow officers.

    Despite the introduction of inclusive hiring policies, police culture has not changed, and a “blue mentality” has prevailed in cities with a majority black and brown population—including localities with African-American police leadership.

    Rochelle Bilal—who served as a Philadelphias police officer for 27 years before retiring—said she faced racism from her days at the police academy, and was called “Angela Davis” by her colleagues for not allowing white officers to commit misconduct in her presence.

    A recent report dealing with Philadelphia' force found that blacks account for 80 percent of people shot by police, and black suspects in officer-involved shootings were most likely to be the subject of “threat perception failures”—unarmed and carrying a nonthreatening object such as a cellphone or wallet, but perceived by police as carrying a weapon. Whites, on the other hand, were most likely to be involved in a physical altercation with police leading to a shooting.

    Internally, the black cop is often similarly targeted. Cariol Horne, an ex-Buffalo police officer who was fired for stopping a white fellow officer from choking a handcuffed man. The offending officer—who punched Horne in the face, requiring her to replace her bridge—was forced to retire after choking and punching other fellow officers, and indicted for federal civil rights violations against black teen suspects. But Horne has been fighting for her pension for 10 years.

    In New York, Officer Edwin Raymond resorted to recording NYPD officials in an attempt to reform the department. He became the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by a dozen cops of color who claimed the NYPD forced them to meet racially discriminatory arrest quotas against blacks and Latinos. Other NYPD officers have received death threats and lost backup on duty from other cops for piercing the blue wall of silence.

    According to Rochelle Bilal, black officers have to ensure that they do not allow the system to change them, and stay grounded in the community.

    “Because most of us do the job of policing, we move on up and disconnect ourselves from the communities that mold us. And then we separate ourselves from the people who raised us,” Bilal says. “Then you build this mentality of us versus them, and you get this false sense of security. Then, you find out you’re black again.”

    Read the full article. David A. Love is a journalist and commentator who writes on politics, social justice, race and human rights. His work has been featured in numerous outlets including CNN, MSNBC and CBC news. He teaches in a social justice journalism lab at the Rutgers University School of Communications and Information.


    ​Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    Quotes From His New York Times Bestseller
    “You may have heard the talk of diversity, sensitivity training, and body cameras. These are all fine and applicable, but they understate the task and allow the citizens of this country to pretend that there is real distance between their own attitudes and those of the ones appointed to protect them. The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of this country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will.”

    "You are a black boy, and you must be responsible for your body in a way that other boys cannot know. Indeed, you must be responsible for the worst actions of other black bodies, which, somehow, will always be assigned to you. And you must be responsible for the bodies of the powerful—the policeman who cracks you with a nightstick will quickly find his excuse in your furtive movements."

    “It is not necessary that you believe that the officer who choked Eric Garner set out that day to destroy a body. All you need to understand is that the officer carries with him the power of the American state and the weight of an American legacy, and they necessitate that of the bodies destroyed every year, some wild and disproportionate number of them will be black.”

    "In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body—it is heritage.”

    “My work is to give you what I know of my own particular path while allowing you to walk your own.”

    “Black people love their children with a kind of obsession. You are all we have, and you come to us endangered.”

    “All my life I'd heard people tell their black boys and black girls to be 'twice as good,' which is to say 'accept half as much.' These words would be spoken with a veneer of religious nobility, as though they evidenced some unspoken quality, some undetected courage, when in fact all they evidenced was the gun to our head and the hand in our pocket. This is how we lose our softness. This is how they steal our right to smile. No one told those little white children, with their tricycles, to be twice as good.”

    “The streets transform every ordinary day into a series of trick questions, and every incorrect answer risks a beat-down, a shooting, or a pregnancy. No one survives unscathed. And yet the heat that springs from the constant danger, from a lifestyle of near-death experience, is thrilling.”

    Learn more about the book. Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic. His book, Between the World and Me, won the National Book Award in 2015. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship.

    In California News

    “Why California’s proposed law on deadly police force isn’t as tough as it seems” Los Angeles Times April 4, 2019

    Learn more about Sheepdog and buy tickets. This world premiere is part of the 22nd Pacific Playwrights Festival.

  • Party Play: "Poor Yella Rednecks"

    Beth Fhaner
     | Apr 09, 2019

    The world premiere of Poor Yella Rednecks, the next chapter in playwright Qui Nguyen’s story about his parents’ immigration from Vietnam to the United States, opened to an enthusiastic First Night audience. Nguyen’s highly anticipated new work captivated the crowd right from the start and never let up, delivering two hours of raucous comedy, heartfelt performances, colorful characters, kung-fu, puppetry, projections and more.

    Nguyen’s first chapter of the story, the award-winning Vietgone, was commissioned by SCR and had its world premiere here in 2015. With Poor Yella Rednecks—also an SCR commission—Nguyen continues his family’s hilarious, yet deeply moving take on the immigrant story. Set six years after Vietgone, the second chapter has married couple Tong and Quang building new lives in El Dorado, Arkansas, but nothing is easy in this foreign land.

    Theatregoers showed their appreciation for Poor Yella Rednecks with generous applause, ​lots of laughter and an immediate standing ovation. Led by May Adrales’ expert direction, the entire ensemble created a truly memorable evening that transported First Night attendees to Arkansas in 2015 and 1981. The buzz was overwhelmingly favorable surrounding both the play and the performances of the talented cast: Tim Chiou, Samantha Quan, Maureen Sebastian, Paco Tolson and Eugene Young, with Quan, Sebastian and Tolson reprising their Vietgone roles.

    Honorary Producers and First Night attendees Talya Nevo-Hacohen and Bill Schenker found the play to be highly entertaining.

    “Poor Yella Rednecks is a brilliant play full of energy and surprises performed with grace and joy by an amazing cast,” they said. “A story of an immigrant family’s assimilation told by the playwright through the prism of a young boy’s imagination where mom is a martial arts warrior, dad is a bad-ass with a heart of gold, and the boy himself, played by a puppet, can fly like a superhero. Watching the performance, we cheered, laughed and cried for each of the characters, including the puppet, as they persevered to make a new life for themselves.”

    Honorary Producers Marci Maietta Weinberg and William Weinberg were also in attendance on First Night and they greatly enjoyed seeing the play.

    “Marci and I were so excited after we sat through the table read,” said William Weinberg. “Imagine our joy at discovering that the play had truly come alive on opening night. We were thrilled.”

    Guests who attended the cast party in the Plaza Ballroom at The Westin South Coast Plaza, which was a co-sponsor of the event, were welcomed to the elegant space with beautiful floral arrangements consisting of white and yellow dahlias and yellow billy buttons, along with greenery such as Bells-of-Ireland and Amaranthus.

    The celebratory fête featured an assortment of tantalizing bites including passed hors d’oeuvres such as veggie spring rolls and beef potstickers with dipping sauce. Partygoers also enjoyed a noodle station featuring flavorful options like rice noodle salad with sesame ginger chicken, Soba noodle salad with seared soy sauce tofu and spicy udon noodle salad with sweet chili sauce and mushrooms. For a sweet finish to the evening, guests indulged in a tempting array of scrumptious miniature desserts such as lemon bars, brownies, cheesecakes, tarts and eclairs.

    The evening’s signature cocktail was dubbed “Vietgone—again”, a delicious take on a Cosmopolitan comprised of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and lime juice.

    Guests lingered into the evening as much appreciation continued for the cast and creative team of Poor Yella Rednecks, an extremely funny, touching take on one family’s immigrant story—told with hip-hop style. All in attendance at Poor Yella Redneck’s First Night agreed—it was an exciting evening, indeed!

    Learn more about Poor Yella Rednecks and buy tickets.