Monday, March 29, 2010

A Holy Choral Afternoon

The Belvidere United Presbyterian Church in Belvidere, NJ presented The Pocono Mountain Community of Churches on Sunday March 28th in a performance of sacred songs as part of its 31st Annual Holy Week Concert Series. The concert provided an opportunity for those in attendance to share their faith in the singing of some selected hymns while offering an opportunity to simply enjoy listening to the blend of voices comprising of members from numerous church choirs. It was a relaxed and enjoyable Sunday afternoon filled with some meaningful music for those of the Christian faith.

The concert began with some welcoming words given by Rev. Sarah Weisiger of The Belvidere United Presbyterian Church soon followed by those of the Choral Director Jack Hamblin. The program commenced with a Choral Introit, and opening hymn, and an Advent Litany. This was followed by several specially selected pieces to commemorate the final week of the Lenten Season which is designed those of the Christian faith to prepare themselves for the Crucifixion and for what many in the faith believe to be the subsequent physical Resurrection of Joshua the Messiah (aka Jesus the Christ) circa year 40 CE.

Although the numerous voices lending themselves to the music was the focal the program, there were4 several solo and smaller group performances worthy of taking note of. The include the voice of Dirk Orner who provided a narrative during the song entitled, “Father, Forgive Them” written by Pepper Choplin, Michael Yasenchock who sang “Weeping Came Mary the Savior to Meet” written by Gregorio Curto, Ted Satterthwaite who performed with the Tenor and Bass Choir as they sung “Beautiful Savior” written by F. M. Christiansen. Musical soloist included Cellist Joseph Chacra and Organist Thomas Busteed. The concert accompanist on both Organ and Piano was Gary Raish. Those lending their voices to the concert included Anna H. Busteed, Suzanne McCool, Arline M. Smeltz, Jim Werkheiser, Bob Riday, and Ivan Moyer. You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society Music 2010 at

The 31st Annual Holy Week Concert Series continues with two more concerts to be held at The Our Lacy Queen of Peace in Gilbert, PA on Tuesday March 30th at 7:30pm and at The St. Paul Lutheran Church in Tannersville, PA at 7:30pm. Unfortunately, there is no contact information available for more information.

Websites of those mentioned in this article are The Belvidere United Presbyterian Church at and The St. Paul Lutheran Church at

Theatrical Review: The Importance of Being Earnest

Theatrical Review: The Importance of Being Earnest
Written by: Oscar Wilde
Directed by: Jan Julia
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA presented The Worthington Players production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde. The play is well know as a classic comedy of manners and this presentation of it demonstrates why. It is very well cast and the timing of the work is right on. This later aspect in regards to the play’s timing is very important in as any attempt to deviate from the author’s intent would unnecessarily place the impact of the work at jeopardy. It takes a keen eye and astute understanding of the work to make it work and Ms. Julia has such attributes.

However, it must be said, “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a hard play for a modern audience to get into. It’s timing is very much a reflection of the Victorian era in which is was written and it takes a while for those living in the modern era to slow their perspectives down from the fast pace life (including the modern comedic styles) we’ve become accustomed to absorb the sublime intricacies inherent in the script. It takes almost the entire first act of this three act play before the audience begin to laugh.

But, when the audience do laugh; they laugh heartily. There is a point in many modern productions of this play when the audience finally become in synch and are able to enjoy Oscar Wilde’s famous sense of humor. We begin to understand the subtle inferences on society and its mannerisms Wilde is making as we begin to recognize the universality of them by reflecting upon them in our own. We also begin to enjoy it as a sort of self congratulatory celebration we are now let in on the joke Mr. Wilde is telling us.

The cast of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” consists of Robin Kessler as Jack Worthing, Marshall Haskell as Algernon Moncrieff, Rob Eilenberger Howell (who also served the production as the assistant director) as Dr. Chasuble, Art Zulick as Merriman, Merlyn Clarke as Lane and the Footman, Pamela Kelly as Lady Braknell, Liza Grando as Gwendolyn Fairfax, Nicole Dietze as Cecily Cardew, and Pat VanVarick as Miss. Prism. As mentioned earlier, the casting of this play was excellent as the acting was superb. It’s difficult to maintain one’s faith in the play’s humor when no one in the audience is laughing. It can become discouraging after a while. But, this cast was able to perform the play at an appropriate pace as if the audience had been laughing from the very first humorous line.

The Worthington Players production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde was directed by Jan Julia and Stage managed by Leah Rosengarten. Don Slepian was the Music and Sound Technician while Travis Southard was the Lighting and. Also served as the Sound Technician. Kevin Hillman was the technical assistant and Missy Benefield was the costumer. The producers were Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood. The Shawnee Playhouse Executive Di4rector is Midge McClosky and The Group Sales of their productions are handled by Mary Horn (who also served as a member of the Box Office Staff) as assisted by Becky Haskell. The theater’s Publicist is Amy Cramer.

This production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde continues its run at The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA until April 11th. Although it is a hard play for a modern audience to find amusing right away, it is worth tasking the time to find its comedic nature. In doing so, an uncommon laughter will fill you heart. In actuality, you may find yourself wanting to see this play again now that you understand the humor. The next Shawnee Playhouse presentations will be The Center Stage Players’ production of “A Cheever Evening” April 16th - 25th, “Dr. Cook’s Garden” April 30th - May 9th, The Pocono Skies Electro Music Festival May 15th and 16th, and “Manhattan Casanova” May 21st - 30th.

Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $3.00 discount off the admission fee of The Shawnee Playhouse Productions (excluding Children Theatrical Productions and those presented by non Shawnee Production Companies). Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse at 570-421-5093 or Explore their website at for more information and to reserve your ticket.

Sweet Forwardian Spring

The Shawnee Gallery in Shawnee On Delaware, PA presented their Annual Spring Equinox/Maple Sugaring Celebration on Saturday March 27th. The event featured a revival of the ancient Lenape tradition in which sap was boiled to maple syrup. The tradition was reenacted in the Gallery’s sculpture garden. The celebration also featured a variety of Artists, Poets, and Musicians brought together by Pocono Jazz and Poetry and The Forwardian Arts Society who shared their talents in support of the new Literary and Arts Magazine entitled, “Forwardian.”

The festive day began with a demonstration in clay figurative sculpture modeling by Artist Andrea Robbins-Rimberg whose photography will be appearing in Forwardian‘s Premier issue. Many surrounded the sculpting table mesmerized as an common lump of clay was transformed into an image peering into their souls. This proved to be a opportune beginning as it foretold of the poetry and music that later transformed the souls of all who experienced it.

Debbie Burke of Pocono Jazz and Poetry and editor of Forwardian served as mistress of ceremonies with Paul Adam Smeltz of The Forwardian Arts Society and publisher of the magazine stepped in from time to time to talk about it. Poet Juanita Kirton began the readings with a recitation of her work from her recently published book entitled, “Inner Journey” which is available on and Her words touched upon a variety of topics which rang a familiar chord within each listener. Some of her work will appear in the Premier issue of Forwardian.

The readings continued with some mesmerizing poetry written and read by Jan Julia. Her words moved and flowed throughout the room as well as the ears of all who heard it. Its gentle motions reached the ear within its listeners and spoke of things not heard before in a voice that was their own. In addition to being a gifted poet and having some of her work appearing in the upcoming Premier issue of Forwardian, Jan is directing The Worthington Players current production of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” being performed at The Shawnee Playhouse.

The varying aspects of relationships were explored by Poet Valerie Cruz whose words encouraged the familiar nodding of many a heads. The gentleness found in many of her pieces wooed her listeners while the power discovered in others describing the harshness one sometime finds in a wronged relationship help those who encounter such extremities to know they’re not alone. Some of her work will appear in the Premier issue of Forwardian.

A joyous contrast followed as Patty the Poet shared works from her recently published book entitled, “Patty’s Heartfelt Poetry.” Her short pieces akin themselves to be resemble shots in the arm for those among the listeners requiring some thoughts of hope as they meet the challenges of their lives. Her book along with framed depictions of her poetry can be found in various businesses throughout Monroe County as well as through her publisher Xlibris. Some of her work will appear in the Premier issue of Forwardian.

A musical interlude was provided by Don Slepian on guitar. The soothing sounds which included several original compositions served to enhance the poetry read so far that day. Don Slepian hosts a monthly concert in his home as part of an ArtMusic Series. The next in this series will be Friday April 16th and features The Jack Stafford Foundation. Please Feel free to Contact Don Slepian at 570-476-6307 for more information.

The music shared by Don Slepian was followed by singer/songwriter Crystal Martinez. With a tape player in tow, her clarion voice led those who were wandering around the gallery into the room she was performing. The sound of her voice enhanced the songs she selected for the event and those who heard her. Crystal’s talents also lie in modeling and acting while she often appears in many functions benefiting various charities.

After a short break which gave everyone an opportunity to learn more about those who shared their talents this day, the readings resumed with those given by Poet Wayne Tuttle. From a slightly tattered notebook, Wayne read his words. They flowed in and out of the consciousness like a eternal river whose wisps barely leave note of their presence yet it is felt nonetheless. His work will appear in the Premier issue of Forwardian.

The final poet to read for the event was Donovan O’Brien. His words brought about an appropriate conclusion to the written word segment of the afternoon as they had a way of lingering in the thoughts and hearts of those who heard them. His work will appear in the Premier issue of Forwardian.

Donovan’s poetry was followed by a musical performance by Patti Keegan of the group Inner Mission and owner of Keegan Tee’s. A joyous frivolity accompanied her singing and guitar featuring a bevy of familiar songs lifting the heart as each person sung along with some magical songs. This was even true for some of us (well me) who sang out of tune.

This entertaining respite was followed by a demonstration in the fine art of Scagliola given by Jim Gloria of The Totts Gap Art Institute (TGAI). Scagliola is a decorative art utilized in homes throughout the European continent; especially in Italy. The demonstration guided everyone present through the measured process only to amaze us all as we learned the intricate patterns it creates. This proved to be a fitting end to The Shawnee Gallery’s Annual Spring Equinox/Maple Sugaring Celebration as it encouraged those who attended to explore their creativity and experience the sweetness of their accomplishments. You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society 2010 Spring Equinox/Maple Sugaring Celebration Gallery at

As mentioned, the event also served to raise funds toward the publication of the new Literary and Arts magazine called, “Forwardian.” A great deal of funds was raised but more could be used to print more copies of the Premier Issue. If you would like to learn more about the magazine and make a financial contribution, please feel free to contact The Forwardian Arts Society through its website at

The Shawnee Gallery hosts numerous exhibitions featuring a multitude of artists along with many workshops designed to enhance the creative desire of their participants. Please contact The Shawnee Gallery at 570-420-9404 for more information on all they have to offer.

Contact Information of those mentioned in this article are The Shawnee Gallery at, The Forwardian Arts Society at, Pocono Jazz and Poetry at, Artist Andrea Robbins-Rimberg at, Juanita Kirton at, The Shawnee Playhouse at, Xlibris (Publisher of “Patty’s Heartfelt Poetry”) at, The ArtMusic Coffeehouse at, The Jack Stafford Foundation at, Crystal Martinez at, Keegan Tee’s at, Jim Gloria at, and The Totts Gap Art Institute at

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Collegiate Art Rules

The Madelon Powers Gallery located in The Fine and Performing Arts Building on the campus of East Stroudsburg University (ESU) of PA held an Opening Reception Wednesday March 24th featuring the works of students participating in their Art Association Juried Student Art Exhibition with numerous awards and scholarships presented to those student demonstrating a talent transcending their peers. While the focal point of the exhibit was held in the main gallery, there were additional pieces presented in the upper gallery in an exhibit entitled, “Recycled City” featuring works made by recyclable materials. Both exhibits reflected a great amount of great talent which must have made the selection of those who received the awards and scholarships an even greater challenge.

When entering the gallery, one is struck by the great array of color that greeted the senses. They not only drew one further into the gallery but encouraged each visitor to allow the colors that dwell within to come out and play. The subjects individual work itself ranged from comic book themes to deep philosophical introspections. However, the one aspect all the work had in common was their overall uncompromising quality. This included their ability to engage those who experienced the work therefore enhancing it and themselves.

The award Ceremonies were led by Professor Darlene Farris LaBar of the ESU Art Department with some opening remarks given by Dean Peter Hawkes of the College of Arts and Sciences. Those who served as jurors for the exhibit were Assistant Professor of Art and Dr. Melisa Geiger and Professor Kim Snyder of The Parsons School of Art and Design and Pratt Institute. The first prize of $300, the second prize of $200, and the third prize of $100 were provided by The University’s Society for the Arts while prizes for those artists earning honorable mentioned were provided by The ESU Student Art Association.

Those students who participated in both the Juried and Recycled City exhibitions included Michael Marshall, Katherine Bach, Malinda Peters, Joseph Castronuova, Sarah Poore, Tom Kelichner, Jessica Moran, Julie Burns, Megan Carpenter, Lauren Moffett, Mary V. Anderson, Rebecca Mundrane, Elizabeth Dugan, Jaclyn Eichelberger, Michelle Dill, Spencer Weishaupt, Danielle Heinz, Paige Gausman, Evan C. Sells, Elizabeth Brennan, Doug Brehony, Nicole Thomas, Kelly Barrieres, Kyle Pezoldt, Nara Streete, Steve Simoka, Ilka Ivanova, Andrea Adebowale, Maria Sorrentino, Maureen Ordnung, Greg Wolf, Alexa Stine, John Carroll, Andre Hamilton, Mary Lynn, Erin Dunn, Tyler Fox, Michael Bloom, Jess Dunn, Brendon Wilson, Cayleen Foley, Daniel Hopkins, Spencer Hartey, Matt NcNultty, Brett Cummings, Brittany Knowles, Joe Lantieri, Ancel Archer, Fred Nocella, Megan McTernan, and Sebastian Waters. Many of these students received the awards mentioned earlier in this article. However, the names were not caught by this writer. So, if you are reading this and know their names, please feel free to share them with along with your comment. You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society Visual Arts 2010 Gallery at

The ESU Art Association Juried Student Art Exhibition will continue until April 22nd. The next exhibition to be held at The Madelon Powers Gallery will feature the works of students participating in their Senior Seminar and Portfolio in Art Student Show with an opening reception on Wednesday April 28th beginning at 5:30pm with the exhibit continuing until May 6th. Please Contact Dr. Rita Plotnicki at 570-422-3695 for more information.

Contact information of those mentioned in this article are East Stroudsburg University at, Darlene Farris LaBar at, Dean Peter Hawkes at, Dr. Melisa Geiger at, Nara Strete at, and Dr. Rita Plotnicki at

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Maria seen at PCT and discussed at UUFP

The Pocono Community Theater (PCT) in East Stroudsburg, PA presented The 29th Black Maria Film and Video Festival on Saturday March 20th. The festival was hosted by The Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of The Poconos (UUFP) in Stroudsburg, PA and a discussion was held at their facilities. Numerous film lovers attended both events which were enjoyable and left many eagerly anticipating next year‘s festival.

After a welcoming introduction given by Jim Elsaesser of the UUFP, the festival began at The Pocono Community Theater with the showing of several short independent pieces chosen from submissions made by individuals throughout the international filmmaking community. Although they were a sampling of the films awarded through the festival’s jury system, one can almost imagine the outstanding quality of the entire selection through the films presented that afternoon. They moved, touched, and informed their audiences in ways seldom accomplished making the experience a very worthwhile one.

The first of the nine films shown was entitled, “Benediction of the Beasts” received a Director’s Choice Award and was made in Rome Italy by Paul Zinder. It depicted an annual event of the Roman Catholic Church blessing the animals brought in by their owners. This is done in honor of St. Francis of Assisi who took the words of Jesus saying, “Go preach the Gospel to every nation and creature” quite literally. The film focused on the pet owners and the reasons why they were brining their friends to be blessed. Their stories were varied but shared the common faith that their God loved their pets as much as they do and is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to bless them.

The film concluded with the actual blessing itself. It seemed a bit of a contrast as the process was done in a somewhat assembly line fashion. The priest officiating the ceremony seldom spoke to the participants directly as he seemed more concerned in keeping the crowd moving in an orderly direction. This was most evident in his response of “Bravo” given to both those who introduced their pet to him and a child who said he was mean. Perhaps this contrast was presented to demonstrate the contrast between a faith in a loving God and the practices of an organized church. But, this could be stretching our interpretational imagination a bit too far.

The next film entitled, “Second Hand Dolls” received a Jury Choice Award and was made in San Francisco (a city named after St. Francis of Assisi), CA by Anthony Weeks. The film depicted the preservation of store mannequins by a shop owner who feels too many businesses are throwing away perfectly good statuettes just because new ones are available. The film also depicted an older woman in her mid seventies who continues practicing her art of ballet and is able to move through its poses in spite of her advanced age. This contrast led the film’s audience to explore who our society often cast its members aside when newer and more attractive models become available. We seldom realize many of the well established models have much to offer and can enhance the whole of society with their presence. The film was shot in black and white which enhanced it’s message by creating images starkly contrasted by their visual properties making the subjects more real and their stories more urgent to the viewer. Even the stories of the mannequins.

The next film entitled, “The Passenger” received a Jury Choice Award and was made in Marshfields, MA by Julie Zammarchi. The film reflected the personal decision of the filmmaker to end her life through a medically administered lethal injection rather than suffer the lingering effects of the terminal condition she was diagnosed with. Her story was told through the use of animation to great effect detailing her decision and speculating what she might discover after her decision is realized. The film brought many theological approaches to life and death but mostly considered those found in the eastern religions such as Buddhism and Vedanta (aka Hinduism). The film provided its audience with a nice mixture of humor and pathos which blended together to create a meaningful understanding of life and death and the decisions the affect.

The next film entitled, “Breaking Boundaries: The Art of Alex Masket” received a Director’s Choice Award and was made in Montclair, NJ by Dennis Connors. The film depicted the life of a 22 year old autistic man named Alex Masket who has created an enormous volume of artistic work made of Legos and other household items. His work has been recognized by the art community as something unique and is shown in many galleries. Indeed, their intricacies and the movement of the images he creates in his work are very impressive.

The film not only explored the effects of autism on the individuals and family along with all these people can accomplish in spite (or because of) their affliction, but the film also explored the very nature of creativity. As mentioned by one art expert appearing in the film, “One can not ascertain how Alex does what he does. However, no artist without autism can verbally tell you how they do what they do, either.” This leads to a deeper question as to the very nature of creativity and what initiates it. This is a perplexing question scholars, psychologist, and philosophers have been pondering for quite some time. But, seeing someone like Alex reminds us it’s sometimes best to put such questions aside and just enjoy the work along with all it has to offer.

The next film entitled, “Worlds of Sound: Ballad of Folkways” received a Director’s Choice Award and was made in Washington, DC by Andrea Kalin. The film chroniclized the history of Foilkways records who sought to collect every sound man and nature could make. These recordings included rainstorms, animals, and a variety of music not considered commercially viable by larger established recording studios. This music ranged from African and South American Tribal Chants to folk singers such as Pete Seger (who narrated the documentary), Woody Guthrie, and others who became well known for their musical endeavors.

What was striking about the story about this record company was how its founder decided early on not to use the company for commercial gain. In fact, there was a story depicted about how he wanted to take that approach at the very beginning by signing up a young Nat king Cole with the desire to put out a “Hit Record” and make a great deal of money like the established record companies do. However, after creating a great many records to be sent to stores, a freak snowstorm prevented him from shipping them and he became bankrupted soon afterwards. He then decided if he was going to have a viable record business, he should adopt the policy of “no more hits.” This took the pressure and limitations of only doing what made business sense and allowed him to explore new and exciting approaches to recording thus making it possible to make what doesn’t make sense work.

The next film entitled, “Found: Nothing Missing” received a Director’s Choice Award and was made in Albuquerque, NM by Patricia McInroy. The film dealt with the situation of missing animals and the signs per owners put up to find them. What could have been a bad Sarah McLaughlin commercial soon become something very amusing as the director began to wonder what happens when the animals are found and the posters still remain posted. She also explored the language used in some of the posters which sometimes gave the pets the power of speech. The film left one to wonder what happens if a pet is not found over a period of time. Do some owners hire a computer expert to work on the photograph of their pet saying, “Our cat was lost 5 years ago. This is what he looked like then. This computerized images is how he would look like now.?”

The next film entitled, “Sabastian’s Voodo” received a Director’s Choice Award and was made in Sherman Oaks, CA by Joaquin Baldwin. The computer animated film depicted a collection of Voodoo Dolls who suffer the torments of their master as he places pins in them. One doll decides to escape and put an end to this. He does so by placing pins into himself and they effect to voodoo practitioner but does not cause him to cease his activity. It isn’t until the doll sacrifices himself by placing a pin through his heart does the torture stop.

The film was enjoyable to watch and the theme of self sacrifice in order to save one friends was well taken. However, the look and style of the film lacked a certain sense of originality as it too closely resembled the 2009 film “9” directed by Shane Acker and produced by Tim Burton. Although “Sabastian’s Voodo” was made in 2008, Shane Acker did make a short film in 2005 from which his full length feature was based. This by no means suggests Joaquin Baldwin purposely set out to imitate the film “9,” but this writer would have appreciated it more if the similarities weren’t so prevalent.

The next film entitled, “My Girlfriend Sleeps Like Superman” received a Director’s Choice Award and was made in Boston, MA by Steve Gentile. This animated love poem can only be simply described as funny. Every person who ever slept alongside another person could easily relate to how their bedside partner often positions themselves into a pose resembling the flight of Superman and how that position sometimes dispels them from the bed. This often causes the male of the sleeping arrangement (like me) wondering what he did wrong now. Yet, the filmmaker utilizes this experience to reflect upon his affection by imagining himself protecting his sleeping girlfriend from the likes of Lex Luthor who is entering their bedroom with a bowl full of Kryptonite to which he pushes him down the stairs. The dude is smarter than your average Jimmy Olsen.

The final film entitled, “Missed Aches” received a Jury Choice Award and was made in Sherman Portland, OR by Joanna Priestley. This animated piece was even funnier than the film shown just prior to it. It explored all the mistakes one makes while typing away even with the help of spell check. This led to the film maker to circumstances such as “not getting into a good colleague because he’s a bed spiller.” Many who have read my articles can attest I have a similar problem. The film did inspire me to be more careful in what I write. After all, I’d like to get into a good colleague as much as anyone else.

The discussions held at The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Poconos in Stroudsburg, PA explored the many themes the films offered as well as an examination of the quality of the films presented. The discussion was lively and all viewpoints were expressed in a manner denoting those present desire to learn more from the films than what was easily seen. In other words, those who participated in the discussion sought to discover the deeper meaning of the works not commonly seen by the average moviegoer. You’ll find more photographs of the festival and the subsequent discussions in The Forwardian Arts Society Pocono Community Theater 2010 Gallery.

The 29th Annual Black Maria Film and Video Festival began in 1981. The festival takes it’s name from a motion picture studio built by Thomas Edison in 1893. The festival holds an international juried competition and award tour seeking to fulfill its mission to advocate, exhibit, and reward cutting edge works from independent film and videomakers. The Award tour began on Friday February 5th at New Jersey University in Jersey City, NJ with an Opening Night and Awards Ceremony. It then commenced upon it’s nationwide tour to include venues in California, Colorado, New Jersey, Florida, and The Pocono Community Theater in East Stroudsburg, PA. They will welcome entries form filmmakers for the 30th Annual Festival in July 2010 at

The Pocono Community Theater in East Stroudsburg, PA offers local film lovers an opportunity to experience Independent and Foreign Films not commonly shown in larger movie venues. They also offer community minded events such as film festivals, art exhibitions, live theater, and other live events designed to enhance creative expression and appreciation. The next events at The Pocono Community Theater includes The Forwardian Arts Society Film and Chat Gathering on Friday April 2nd offering a late afternoon screenings of a selected film along with an opportunity to share in a discussion in the theater’s coffee house area, Lunafest on Saturday April 3rd beginning at 12pm featuring a series of 10 short films created by, for, and about women, and The First NEPA Poetry Slamfest Friday April 30th beginning at 8pm featuring 2009 Women’s Individual Word Slam Champion Rachel McKibbens along with voice performances by Youth Poets featured in HBO’s “Brave New Voices,” Urban Word NYC, The Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement, and Urban Mountain Voices. Please contact The Pocono Community Theater at 570-421-3456 for more information about them and all they offer.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Poconos in Stroudsburg, PA holds a weekly service every Sunday morning along with other programs designed to enhance the spiritual experience through the acceptance and inclusion of a variety of religious teachings in their worship. The next events at The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Poconos includes their Yogananda Kriya Yoga Meditation Sessions held the first and third Mondays of each month beginning at 6:30pm and their Buddhist Meditation Meetings held every Thursday beginning at 7pm. Please contact The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Poconos at 570-420-0580 for more information about them and all they offer.

The Websites of those mentioned in this article are The Pocono Community Theatre at, The Black Maria Film Festival at, The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Poconos at, The Forwardian Arts Society at, Lunafest at, Rachel McKibbens at, “Brave New Voices” at, Urban Word NYC at, The Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement at, and Urban Mountain Voices at

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Clockwork Sherman

The Sherman Theatre in Stroudsburg, PA presented another installment of their Severed Sinema Series on Thursday March 18th entitled, “Cult Movie Madness” featuring the films “Suspiria” and “A
Clockwork Orange” with special musical guests Nu Prosta Kaif along with work from a variety of artists that enhanced the event. The musical performance was taped by Shane Izykowski for a future video featuring the band. A sizable crowd attended the event including those who formed a picket line protesting the nature of one of the films.

Those entering the Sherman Theater were greeted by a variety of works created by numerous local artists. They included Judy Zarach, Jennifer Smith, David B. Schappert, Brittney Stever, Kailei Picciotti, and Abby Braman. The work complimented the evening’s event as many of the images sought entry to the same areas of the mind most horror films do. Many depicted emanative scenes entreating the viewer to linger for a while.

The evening’s festivities began with the showing of the 1977 Italian horror film entitled, “Suspiria” which was a directed by Dario Argento and co-written by actress Daria Nicolodi with whom the director was romantically involved at the time. It stared Jessica Harper, Udo Kier, and Joan Bennett in her final film role. It’s said “Suspiria” is the first of a film trilogy the director refers to as "The Three Mothers" which were followed by the films “Inferno” in 1980 and “The Mother of Tears” in 2007.

However, Earl Kessler who is the curator and host of the Severed Sinema series expressed doubts about the verity of the claim as the films seem very unrelated to one another and the claim could have been simply a publicity ploy. But, the film does have one distinction that doesn‘t seem to be in dispute. It was the final feature film to be processed in Technicolor before the plant was closed.

The film itself takes place in Germany at a prestigious dance academy in Freiburg. An American Ballet student arrives and strange things begins to happen not only to her but those around her as well. The director Dario Argento does a very good cinematic job in creating a sense of suspense and atmosphere, but it never really seems to pay off. It comes close at times, but not quite close enough. It even had elements common in the severed sinema series of being so bad it’s good. But, the film’s plodding pace diffused this potential. Still, it was good to watch this film with your friends if only for them to hold your hand to assure you it was almost over.

During the intermission, the heavy metal band Nu Prosta Kaif performed led by Dmitry on vocals, Lex on lead guitar, Iggis Nossdrugis on bass guitar, and Wil Mohlenhoff on Drums. The performance included a dancer of whom I was to shy to ask her name. The music was loud and befitting the very best of the genre. This included the added spectacle of the costuming and special effects seen on stage. The songs written by Dmitry and played by his band mates hit the audience hard and they kept coming back for more. As mentioned before, the whole performance was recorded by Shane Izykowski for a future video featuring the band.

Later that evening, the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film “A Clockwork Orange” was shown. This classic film was based on the 1962 novel by Anthony Burgess and stared Malcolm McDowell as a charismatic, psychopathic delinquent named Alex DeLarge who leads a violent street gang who he calls “Droogs” which is from a Russian word meaning friends or buddy. Besides the artistic approach of violence which led the film to be so controversial it was banned from many theaters throughout the world, another creative attribute is the language spoken by the characters comprising of a mixture of Salvic and English set to a Cockney rhyming slang and used as a secret language between the gang. Although the linguistics is confusing, they begin to draw an audience member deeper into the film and the main character’s psyche. In fact, the film stands as a criminating indictment on psychiatry and attempts to utilize the practice to control the behavior of others.

The film takes place in the near future and opens with the street gang at the Korova Milk Bar which serves mescaline-spiked milk. They are soon seen beating up an elderly vagrant, fighting another gang, and performing a home invasion in which the a man is assaulted, restrained, and made to watch while his wife is brutally raped by Alex as he sings “Singing in the Rain.” They return to the milk bar as a group of performers are sitting at a neighboring table. A woman among them begins to sing a piece from Beethoven and one of Alex’s gang mocks her. It is then we discover Alex’s affection for Beethoven’s work when he quickly chastises him.

Later in the film, Alex become challenged by the gang who wants to give him less power and perform more ambitious crimes. This leads Alex to attack the gang to re-establish his leadership of them. He succeeds and becomes “benevolent” by agreeing to invade another home which belongs to a woman who owns a health farm. However, Alex’s Gang set’s him up to take the blame for the home invasion and the death of the woman. He is then sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Once in prison, Alex becomes friends with the chaplain and takes an interest in the Bible’s more violent passages even envisioning himself as a Roman soldier who beats Jesus on the way to his crucifixion. The minister of the Interior arrives at the prison seeking volunteers for the Ludovico technique which is an experimental aversion therapy for rehabilitating criminals. Alex eagerly steps forward and is accepted.

Alex soon finds himself restrained with his eyes mechanically affixed to remain open while being shown films depicting acts of extreme violence. He is also given a drug to induce revulsion while witnessing the acts. However, in one sequence involving scenes of Nazi Germany, the soundtrack of the film features the 9th Symphony written by Beethoven. Alex protests fearing he may experience the same revulsion to the music as he would the images, but his protests are unheeded.

Alex is later seen in front of a large audience who wish to see the result of the experiment. A man soon appears on stage with him who physically assaults him to which Alex is unable to respond. He then encounters a semi nude woman on stage which he is also unable to respond to. He’s declared cured but the prison chaplain protests saying Alex has no real choice and morality is all about choices and free will. He is quickly quieted by those who accuse him of merely arguing semantics.

Alex leaves a “free” man but soon discovers he’s still in prison as his responses to all he encounters are limited by the Ludovico technique. He is no longer able to express his out rages nor is he able to defend himself when being attacked. He soon becomes beaten and bruised finding himself taken unwittingly by the man whose home he invaded and whose wife he raped. He offers to help Alex as he had heard of the technique and thinks it’s an inhumane punishment. While taking a bath, Alex begins to sing, “Singing in the Rain” and the man begins to realize his wife’s rapist is in his house. The man calls his friends, they drug Alex, and torture him by playing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony through loud speakers.

Alex tries to commit suicide by jumping out a window, but he survives to awaken in a hospital. He soon discovers the Ludovico technique has been reversed and the Minister of the Interior visits him offering an important government job and some financial compensation on the condition he causes the government no grief over their actions. As proof of Alex being cured, the Minister of the Interior has loud speakers rolled in playing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Alex no longer suffers revulsion from the music. In fact, he begins seeing images of sexual pleasure to which the film ends with Alex’s words in a menacing voice over saying, "I was cured, all right!"

As mentioned earlier, the film is an indictment on the physiological quick fixes which are even more prevalent in our society than they were in 1971. There are so many pills and procedures on the market it is easy to choose what mood we’re in or how to respond to anything we don’t like in a non disturbing manner. We’ve always had this power and we don’t need a pill or anything else to exercise it. However, we do need patience and perseverance which is in very short supply thus making taking a pill all the more an attractive proposition.

Although there is an absolute need for such remedies in some cases, there seems to be a desire among those who don’t really need the remedy but only want it. It’s unrealized this has an adverse of only allowing one the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors the medication allows one to have. For instance, many who take anti depression medication often notice their sexual drive and their ability to make timely decisions are compromised. Many are also report being no longer able to respond to a volatile situation in a manner to assure their safety. These experiences are very similar to those of Alex as depicted in “A Clockwork Orange.” The film seems to herald a warning that our abilities to live life without the constraints of the drugs and procedures we volunteer for is slowly leading us to a life not worth living. Perhaps we will one day heed such a warning.

As also mentioned earlier, there were a number of protestors picketing outside The Sherman Theater during the event. I did not meet with any of protestors but I did see sentiments proclaiming a need to fear God on some of the signs. Given the history of “A Clockwork Orange” in regards to the censorship it encountered in 1971, I could only guess these protestations had to do with it. Although I respect the views of others, I do wonder why people are still upset over a film made nearly 40 years ago. Wouldn’t the religious precepts of forgiveness and tolerance help parishioners of the faith get over their distraught by now? Just wondering. You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society Severed Sinema 2010 Gallery at

The Next installment of The Sherman Theatre Severed Sinema Series will be on Friday April 16th at 7pm and be entitled, “Bloodthirsty Bunnies” featuring the film “Night of The Lepus,” short films submitted by Severed Sinema Fans, pictures with Evil Easter Bunny taken by Shane Izykowski, and musical guest Mad Lucas. Other future events at The Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, PA will include “Train” on Friday March 26th, Jo Dee Messina on Thursday April 1st, their “Clash for Cash The Ultimate Battle of the Bands!” on Saturday April 10th, The “Library Alive V” on Thursday April 15th, and Carmin Appice’s SLAMM on Saturday April 17th. Please Contact The Sherman Theatre at 570-420-2808 for more information.

The Websites of those mentioned in this article are The Sherman Theatre at, Nu Prosta Kaif at, Shane Izykowski at, Jennifer Smith at, Brittney Stever at, Abby Braman at, David Schappert at, Wil Mohlenhoff at, and Mad Lucas at

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Cinematic Outing at PCT

The Pocono Community Theater (PCT) in East Stroudsburg, PA presented a screening of the award-winning documentary entitled, “Out in the Silence” on Saturday March 13th. The film was followed by a Panel Discussion featuring Robert Nead representing Rainbow Youth, Anita Lee representing Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of Monroe County, Steven Barthold-Rivera who is the faculty co-sponsor of The Stroudsburg High School Gay Straight Alliance, Debbie Weatherford from the Northampton Community College Gay Straight Alliance, Susan Odessky, Esq representing the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Fellowship, and Josephine Mero therapist and social worker. The event was sponsored by The Pocono Action Lambda Society (PALS) along with over 50 community minded individuals, organizations, and businesses who support Gay and Lesbian rights throughout the community, state, country, and the world. They include The Tapestry Corner, Christ Episcopal Church Stroudsburg, Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center, Trinity Episcopal Church Mt Pocono, Unity Coalition of the Poconos, Cakes and Scones, ASSI Systems Solutions, Mountain Mutts and Pocono Pups, Pocono Community Theater, Josephine's Fleur-de-lis, and Ginger B. Realty.

The Film, “Out in the Silence,” was created by Joe Wilson and his life partner Dean Hamer and is about Joe Wilson’s confrontation with homophobia and the limitations of religion, tradition, and the status quo in in his conservative, rural hometown of Oil City, PA. The film centers mostly around the school system who often allows bullies to victimize their gay classmates and the parents of these victimized students legal moves to establish an environment where their gay and lesbian children can be educated without the fear of harassment. The film also depicted endeavors from other members of the gay and lesbian community to enhance the overall community by vitalizing the cultural and business environment by restoring a theater once intricate to the town.

The film was well made and addressed a great many issues gay and lesbians face as they try to lead a productive live in society. There were many members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans sexual (LGBT) community present during the screening who often nodded their heads in recognition of the challenge those depicted in the film were experiencing. There were also those present who were moved to a deeper level of sympathy and understanding for their friends and family members as the film began to share its insights. The film was followed by a Panel Discussion led by The Pocono Action Lambda Society (PALS) and included an opportunity for the audience to ask questions and to enhance the event by sharing their personal stories and provide additional information to those in need of it. You’ll find more photographs in The Forwardian Arts Society Pocono Community Theater 2010 gallery at

The Pocono Action Lambda Society (PALS) is a LGBT organization active for over 15 years with membership in areas including Monroe, Pike, Wayne, and Northampton Counties in PA along with Warren and Sussex Counties in northern NJ and Orange and Sullivan Counties in southern NY. In addition to presenting community minded events such as this screening, The Pocono Community Theatre (PCT) in East Stroudsburg, PA also presents Independent and Foreign films not commonly seen in larger venues along with Art Exhibition and other cultural events. The next event scheduled for The Pocono Community Theater will be will host The 29th Black Maria Film and Video Festival on Saturday March 20th beginning at 1pm. Please contact The Pocono Community Theater at 570-421-3456 for more information.

Contact information of those mentioned in this article include The Pocono Community Theater (PCT) at, Out in the Silence at, The Pocono Action Lambda Society (PALS) at, Parents, The Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) on Monroe County at, Rainbow Youth at, The Stroudsburg High School Gay Straight Alliance at, The Northampton Community College Gay Straight Alliance at, The Universalist Unitarian Fellowship of the Poconos at, Josephine Mero at 570-595-9590, Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center at, The Tapestry Corner at, Christ Episcopal Church Stroudsburg at, Trinity Episcopal Church Mt Pocono at, The Unity Coalition of the Poconos at, Cakes and Scones at, Mountain Mutts and Pocono Pups at, Josephine's Fleur-de-lis at, Ginger B. Realty at and The Black Maria Film Festival at

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Congratulations to Local Thespians

The Forwardian Arts Society would like to congratulate our local theatrical companies for receiving nominations for “The 2010 Northeast Pennsylvania Theatrical Alliance (NEPTA) Awards” to take place on Saturday April 10th at The Ehrhardts Waterfront Banquet Center located on Lake Wallenpaupack, PA. The awards dinner and ceremonies take place every year to honor local non profit theatrical productions throughout the North East PA area. This year’s event will be hosted by Froggy 101 Morning Show host Doc Medek The doors open around 5pm and reservations are required. There are also price listings for those who would like to attend both the dinner and show or the show only. Please Explore The Northeast Pennsylvania Theatrical Alliance (NEPTA) Website at for more information.

Among the nominations received by The Worthington Players were Best Musical and Best Family Show for their production of “Daddy’s Little Girl,” nominations for Best Original Production and Best Drama went to their production of “Pieces of Evelyn” in addition to nominations to Dan Eash for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama (in multiple roles), AmyJo Schaefer for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama (in multiple roles) and Amy Cramer for Best Lead Actress in a Drama (as Evelyn). Nomination for Best Drama went to their production of “The Gin Game” as did nominations for Best Director of a Drama to Midge McClosky. The Worthington Players production of “Snapshots” received nominations for Best Costumes, Best Comedy, and Best Overall production with nominations for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy going to Brydie Jacques as Sherry and Midge McClosky as Hollis along with a nomination for Best Director of a Comedy going to Rob Eilenberger Howell. Their production of “A Life in the Theater” received a nomination for Best Sound Design for Chris Centrella and their production of “’Night Mother” received a nomination for Best Lighting Design for Eric Dwyer.

The Pennsylvania Rep Company received a nomination for Best Drama for their production of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” along with nominations going to Amy Cramer for Best Supporting Actress as Lady Capulet, Patrick Murphy for Best Lead Actor as Romeo, Marshall Haskell for Best Juvenile Actor as Benvolio, and Michael Harron for Best Director of a Drama.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Landscaping Dreamland

The Dreamland Creations in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists’ Reception on Sunday March 7th for their exhibition entitled, “The Landscape Show.” A variety of artists shared their work including Laura Below, Denise McKellick, Eryck Pelzer, Frank Del Nero, JD Taylor, Jenn Smith, David Schappert, John Kolbeck, Tom LeFever, Michael Parsons, MJ McCauley, Michelle Rowe, Myke Maldando, Nara Strete, RenDi, Shane Izykowski, Sheena Purcell, Chris Francz, Helen Victoria, Judy Zurach, Kailei Picciotti, Arielle Skida, Will Daskal, Victoria Penna, Debbie Frantz, Jean Perry, Wil Mohlenhoff, Cindi Britt, Sander Martijn, Alison Gray, and Sherley Ebcribino. The variety of work centering upon one these relating to landscapes of both the inner and outer aspects of the concept was stunning to experience.

The work seemed to compel those attending the reception to move from one piece to another. There were many wonderful conversations to be had while roaming among the valleys and hills touching the horizons seen and unseen. The food and beverages fed the body as well as the soul as the large gathering shared the culinary and artistic treats with one another. Much of the food and beverages were provided by the gallery and its artists while some were given as a gift by a coffeehouse who recently opened called, “Cheeky Monkey.”

The Exhibition of “The Landscape Show” continues until March 29th. You’ll find more photographs at The Forwardian Arts Society Dreamland Creations 2010 Gallery at The next Artist’s Reception will be Sunday April 11th featuring the work of Ren Di. Please Contact The Dreamland Creations Tattoo Studios at 570-421-6313 regarding their exhibitions and all they have to offer.

The Websites and contact information of those mentioned in this article are The Dreamland Creations Tattoo Studios at, Eryck Pelzer at, David Schappert at, John Kolbeck at, Tom LeFever at, Michael Parsons at, MJ McCauley at, Myke Maldando at, Nara Strete at, Shane Izykowski at, Chris Francz at, Will Daskal at, Victoria Penna at, Jean Perry at, Wil Mohlenhoff at, Sander Martijn at, Alison Gray at, Sherley Ebcribino at, and Cheeky Monkey at 570-420-8222‎.

Ainslie Hielich at The Main Street Jukebox

The Main Street Jukebox in Stroudsburg, PA held an Artist’s Reception on Saturday March 6th featuring The Art of Ainslie Hielich along with musical guest Dark Matter Void. Ainslie has become best known for The Vintage Karma Tattoo Studios she and her partner owns but little is know of her life which influences her artistic approach to her work on both human and non human canvases. Her life was very much on display upon the walls of The Main Street Jukebox for all to see.

Ainslie was born in neighboring New Jersey but her family moved to rural southwestern Virginia when she was 10 years of age. Throughout her life in the Appalachian community she was exposed to, led her to author “Secrets from the Dirty Old South” which describes the still prevalent North versus South mentality. This is coupled with the geographical isolation of the area encouraging its inhabitants to see outsiders as interlopers not to be trusted.

Upon moving to New Jersey at the age of 22, she found an atmosphere of acceptance for who she is and her work. She has begun to accept her own Southern heritage although she often finds herself torn between the two worlds. Much of this is evident in the work that is currently on display with depictions of banjos, the stars and bars, and some very insightful pieces touched with a glimmer of humor as it communicated on a subconscious level.

The musical guest for the reception were Dark Matter Void. Their music complimented the art it too communicated on a subconscious level. Many of the songs reached into the mind of the listener with sounds almost hypnotic. Their psychedelic sounds moved the awareness to altered states before bringing the transformed back to themselves anew. Artist Nara Strete painted the musicians while they performed. You’ll find more photographs at The Forwardian Arts Society Main Street Jukebox 2010 Gallery.

The The Art of Ainslie Hielich Exhibition continues until March 28th. The next event will be The Art of Abby Braman and Omni Artists’ Reception on Saturday April 3rd beginning at 6pm with musical guest Meshach Richards beginning at 7pm. Please Contact The Main St. Jukebox at 570-424-2246 for more information about these events and all they have to offer.

Websites of those mentioned in this article are The Main Street Jukebox at, Ainslie Hielich at, Dark Matter Void at, Nara Strete at, Abby Braman at, Omni at, and Meshach Richards at

Mediums Well Done at PCT

The Pocono Community Theater in East Stroudsburg, PA held an Artists on Saturday March 6th featuring a show entitled, “Artist and their Mediums” exploring the work of six local artists created on various mediums. These artist included Lenore Fiore Mills whose medium was Batik, Jan Selving whose medium was Collage, Jim Hannan whose medium was Charcoal, Julie Wane whose medium was Pastel, Don Manza whose medium was Photography, and Marcos Oksenhendler whose medium was Watercolor. Each set of works reflected the individual artist’s approach to their creative endeavors but there was also a flow connecting the entirety of the works unifying the experience for those who attended the event.

This flow allowed the viewer of the pieces to connect with a widening concept of the world around them. By observing each medium and how seemingly very different approaches created a coherency, one gains an opportunity of examining the apparent random incidences embodied in their life’s journeys to discover their apparentness is an illusion and they aren’t random at all. In fact, it’s a very intricate pattern which can be understood as our awareness becomes receptive of its flowing nature. The exhibition will continue at The Pocono Community Theater until April 3rd. You’ll find more photographs at The Forwardian Arts Society Pocono Community Theater 2010 Gallery at

The Pocono Community Theater continues to serve the film lovers throughout the area with their showing of independent and foreign films not commonly shown in larger venues. The films presently being shown art “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Last Station” and “Shutter Island.” The film “Alice in Wonderland” was the film recently seen and discussed during The Forwardian Arts Society Monthly Film and Chat Gathering for March. You’ll find our review of the film posted on our profile.

The next events to be held at The Pocono Community Theater are a screening of the award-winning documentary entitled, “Out in the Silence” at 1pm on Saturday March 13th followed by a Panel Discussion and another installment in their Silent Movies to Loud Music Series on Thursday March 18th at 8pm. Please feel free to contact The Pocono Community Theater at 570-421-3456 for more information on their film showing times and other offering they have.

Websites of those mentioned in this article are The Pocono Community Theater at, Lenore Fiore Mills at, “Out in the Silence” and, and The Forwardian Arts Society at

Theatrical Review: “A Wee Bit O’ The Irish”

Theatrical Review: “A Wee Bit O’ The Irish”
Written by Rod and Janet Foote along with Midge McClosky
Directed by: Midge McClosky
Theatrical Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA is currently their presenting their production of “A Wee Bit O’ The Irish” featuring a collection of songs, jokes, and a taste of Ireland going beyond that of a pint of Green Beer. The revue is an adaptation of “Great Day for the Irish” written by Rod and Janet Foote. The presentation includes a cast consisting of Patrick Bresnyan, Sara Ferguson, Byrdie Jacques, Midge McClosky, and Scott E. McIntosh. Dancers from The Gallagher School of Irish Dance were also on hand to add some cultural atmosphere to the production.

The revue was enjoyable enough in spite of the opening night technical problems arising throughout the presentation. However, this reviewer remains hopeful the misdirected sound cues and the music overpowering the songs being sung will become adjusted as the production continues to be presented. All in all, it was a good show reminiscent of an enjoyable night at the pub which everyone hears a good joke and has an opportunity to sing along to their favorite song.

The Shawnee Playhouse production of “A Wee Bit O’ The Irish” was written by Rod (who also served as the production’s Sound Designer) and Janet Foote along with Midge McClosky (who also directed the production as well as serving the playhouse as its Executive Director). The play was Staged Managed by Kevin E Hillman who also served as the production’s Technical Director with Missy Benefield serving providing the with costumes. The Shawnee Playhouse producers are Ginny and Charlie Kirkwood while group Box Office Sales of their productions are handled by Mary Horn as assisted by Becky Haskell. Amy Cramer serves as The Shawnee Playhouse’s Publicist.

This production of “A Wee Bit O’ The Irish” continues its run at The Shawnee Playhouse in Shawnee on the Delaware, PA until March 16th. The revue is an entertaining evening out for those who enjoy all things Irish as it compliments the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Holiday. The songs range from those which are touching to the heart to those that are fun to sing along with. The play also has some moments detailing the history of Ireland and it’s people as they migrated to the United States.

The next Shawnee Playhouse presentations will include “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde March 27th - April 11th, “A Cheever Evening” April 16th - 25th, and “Dr. Cook‘s Garden” April 30th - May 9th. Those who enjoy the Passionate Art Lover level of membership in The Forwardian Arts Society are offered a $3.00 discount off the admission fee of The Shawnee Playhouse Productions (excluding Children Theatrical Productions and those presented by non Shawnee Production Companies). Please contact The Shawnee Playhouse at 570-421-5093 for more information and to reserve your ticket.

The Websites of those mentioned in this article are The Shawnee Playhouse at and The Gallagher School of Irish Dance at

Photograph provided by The Shawnee Playhouse depicting Midge McClosky, Scott E. McIntosh, and Byrdie Jacques.

Film Review: Alice in Wonderland

Film Review: Alice in Wonderland
Directed by: Tim Burton
Performances by: Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp.
Film Review by: Paul Adam Smeltz

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

From the poem "Jabberwocky" written by Lewis Carroll 1872 as a part of his novel “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.”

The Tim Burton film, “Alice in Wonderland” is not only based upon novels written by Lewis Carroll entitled, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There,” but it expands upon the work as only Tim Burton can. After all, many of his films already takes place in a Wonderland type setting with characters as rich and unusual as those created by Lewis Carroll.

The film begins with the young Alice telling her father of her bad dreams which takes place in wonderland. He calms his daughter fears of insanity by saying she is quite “bonkers” but the very best of people often are. The film soon moves forward in time to when Alice is an adult being prepared to be engaged. The audience viewing the scenes related to this occurrence who are familiar with the novels soon begin to wonder which is more bizarre; wonderland or the world Alice is living in with all its Victorian etiquettes.

We are soon relieved as we’re taken to wonderland with Alice as she follows the white rabbit down his hole and begins encountering the sensible world of the non sensible. The images Tim Burton creates for the film are fanciful while allowing us to feel at home with them. This is partly due to his earlier works, but there is something unique about how this film invites the audience to become a part of its world.

As we travel with Alice on her new Adventures in Wonderland, we become reacquainted with the characters from the novels. However, this time we’re not seeing them from a child’s point of view but through a more adult one. They are more darker and complex than those portrayed in the novels. But, just as a child grows older still loving his or her parents in spite of the realization they’re not perfect, we still can embrace the Mad Hatter, The White Rabbit, the Door Mouse, the hookah smoking Caterpillar, and even the Cheshire Cat if he can stay materialized long enough for us to do so.

As the film progresses, we discovered Alice has been sought out by Wonderland’s denizens (who we learn prefer to call it “Underland”) to kill the dreaded Jabberwocky and end the tyrannical reign of the Red Queen. She is hesitant to embark on such a quest as she learns of the beasts ferocity, but she soon discovers her “Muchness” as she remembers her fathers advice to do six impossible things before breakfast.

After completing her task, she returns to the “Real” world and decides to keep all she won within her. With the scars of the Bandersnatch still upon her arm, she begins a business adventure with her late father’s partner expanding upon his visionary dreams. The film ends with Alice traveling afar transformed in very much the same way the caterpillar has since transformed into the butterfly who accompanies her.

“Alice in Wonderland” is a delightful film and can be considered one of Tim Burton’s best. Johnny Depp’s performance as the Mad Hatter is great. However, he and the other actors seen in other Tim Burton films merely supports Mia Wasikowska portrayal of the adult Alice though their considerable skills. The film remains centered around her and her experiences. Thus making her adventure our adventure as well.

“Alice in Wonderland” is rated PG and is currently running at The Pocono Community Theater in East Stroudsburg, PA. You may call 570-421-3456 for show times and dates. Most films run one week but some films may be held over for an additional week or two depending on ticket sales.

After the Friday March 5th showing of the film, The Forwardian Arts Society Gathered in The Pocono Community Theater’s CafĂ© to chat about it. The turnout was minimal but the conversation was very engaging and proved to be as fanciful as the film. We invite you to join us Friday April 2nd to watch a film and participate in an equally stimulating conversation. You’ll find more photographs at The Forwardian Arts Society Film and Chat Gathering 2010 Gallery at Please contact us through our website for more information.

The Websites of those mentioned in this article are The Pocono Community Theater at and The Forwardian Arts Society at