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Zelda Fichandler

Dominant Voice in Regional Theatre

Zelda Fichandler has been honored with the creation of the award named after her. She was a dominant voice in regional theatre whose company was mixed race. Fichandler started three theatres and excelled in a variety of subjects.


Zelda Fichandler was a dominant voice in the regional theatre movement in the 1950’s. Her work includes oeping a stage with a mixed-race resident company during “a time when the National Theatre closed its doors rather than integrate” (Glabraith). Arena Stage was planned and built with a classmate, starting from an abandoned movie house to its permanent home as two parts-the Arena and the Kreeger (Fichandler). Fichandler’s company was the first to have toured the Soviet Union and “Arena won the first regional Tony Award” (Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler).


Fichandler was born in Boston and was raised in Washington, D.C. since she was four. She was Helga in Helga and the White Peacock when she was eight and when she was eleven she won an essay contest in the Washington Star on how she wanted “’to be different people.’ It wasn’t really to be famous or rich, I said, but it was to show people ‘what other people could be like’” (Fichandler). Her father died without ever seeing the Arena and Fichandler says that “I don’t think he knew that I was going to land in theatre.”


Zelda went to Cornell where she excelled in piano and learned Russian. She made money translating Russian to English. She read Chekhov and took classes about Soviet civilization. It was a class when Edward Mangum said to her, “Do you all know that the professional theatre in America consists of [ten] blocks on Broadway and nothing more? Touring shows, a lot of community theatre, nonprofessional. How does this sound to you? How does this seem to you” (Fichandler).


In Washington they found an abandoned movie house that the converted into a 247-seat arena. Mangum and Fichandler had to raise $15,000 dollars to renovate the old movie house. “There was this economic  fallacy which we bought into—that it would be cheaper because it didn’t have flats and drops” (Fichandler).

They started planning their permanent location while they were in their second “home” called the Old Vat by their costume designer, Jane  planning their permanent location while they were in their second “home” called the Old Vat by their costume designer, Jane Stanhope. She had just been to England and seen the Old Vic and so name it the “Old Vat” because it was a “brewery and there were all these beer-making kettles lying around” (Fichandler). Mangum was intrigued with the arena stage because he saw Margo Jones’. “[I]t  was the intimacy of the form that caught his imagination” (Fichandler).  The Old Vat sat 500 people and was not air-conditioned. They were there for five years (Fichandler).

In October of ’61 the Arena was built and in 1970 the Kreeger joined it. “I prefer the Arena. I think I can do anything in there and it invites a more expressionistic, a more poetic discovery of the play” (Fichandler). In 1973 the company toured the Soviet Union.  She realized that “you can’t do everything in the Arena” because of one of the plays she saw there (Fichandler). “So the Kreeger serves its purpose,” Zelda Fichandler says. “It allowed us also to do plays where only 500 people a night need come, instead of 832, so maybe we could do our riskier plays in there” (Fichandler). In 1990 she stepped down from the Arena to be the “director of New York University’s graduate acting programme” (Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler).

The Arena won a Tony in 1976. In 1968 her production of The Great White Hope was “the first regional theatre to transfer a show to Broadway” (Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler).

The Fichandler Award

The Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society created the Zelda Fichandler Award.  It was established “to recognize an outstanding director or choreographer who is making a unique and exceptional contribution to the theatre through work in the regional arena” (Stage Directors and Choreographers). The first recipient  was “Jonathan Moscone of California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda, California” (Stage Directors and Choreographers).


Zelda Fichandler’s accomplishments as a director and a woman is best described by the woman herself. “I get asked quite a bit why women excel at running theatres. I don’t think that’s so much the case [anymore]. In the beginning of the movement, maybe, but I think there are more men than women now. Perhaps ‘we girls’ started our own because men wouldn’t hire us, didn’t trust us as leaders, or to manage money” (Fichandler). “As the director/producing director of Arena, Mrs. Fichandler has directed more than 50 plays herself” (Sweeney). These include The Crucible by Arthur Miller, The Seagull by Chekhov, and A Doll House which was written by Henrik Ibsen (Sweeney).




Works Cited

Faculty Directory. n.d. November 2012. <;.

Fichandler, Zelda. Zelda Fichandler is the founder and long-time producing director of Washingon, D.C.’s Arena Stage. She currently heads the graduate school of acting at New york University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She served as TCG president from 1993 to 1995. 2001. November 2012. <;.

Glabraith, Susan. Zelda Fichandler galvanizes artist directors at the Zelda Fichandler Awards. 31 10 2011. November 2012. <;.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance: Zelda Fichandler. n.d. November 2012. <;.

Stage Directors and Choreographers. 2012. Novemaber 2012. <;.

Sweeney, Louise. Zelda Fichandler Looks for `Main Event’ In Each Play She Directs. 4 April 1990. Article. 26 November 2012.


Still Good – A Review of “Still Alice”

Still Aliceis about a woman who has been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease or EOAD. Alice has it all. A husband and three grown children. She’s a tenured professor of Cognitive Psychology and is asked to give speeches regularly. She’s noticed a few memory lapses, but thinks nothing of them until she gets loss in a place she goes to everyday for twenty-five years. When she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease its a conflicted time for everyone. Not just her, but her husband and children as well. Will they be able to make it through or will she succumb without helping others like her?

First, I’d like to mention that this is a textbook for my Sociology class, but I decided to read it early.

Written beautifully in Third Person Limited point of view by Lisa Genova. She easily conveys the emotions that come with any disease as will as the ones that are specifically attached to Alzheimer’s. Alice goes through frustrations, fears, strain from memory loss, and others on a month to month basis.

Separating each chapter as different months was a good device for helping us mark the passage of time as we ourselves grow attached to her as if she’s our own family members and loved ones. We watch her deteriorate with her family and with Alice herself. It is displayed that the victims of Alzheimer’s goes through the same emotions we do, but fifty millions times stronger. You even hear from people from her support group who’ve known they might get EOAD before they get it. The struggles everyone suffer are realistic and strikes a chord in the readers.

You get to really know the characters we follow throughout their months:

Alice was a tenured professor of Cognitive Psychology who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. We follow through her point of view as we deal with her frustrations and rewards. Her ups and downs show us what a patient dealing with Alzheimer’s is really going through.

Joh is Alice’s husband who has to watch his wife deteriorate every day. Through him, though not the point of view character, you see how the direct caregiver goes through every up and down of his or her loved one.

Lydia is their daughter who decided to be and Actress. Through her we actually get to see how even though Alzheimer’s is devastating, it can bring family members together.

Anna is their other daughter who got her law degree before the start of the novel. She’s married to Charlie and through her we see how the burden of the knowledge that you may be diagnosed can weigh heavily on someone, but also how it is possible for the grandchildren won’t have to go through the same thing.

Tom is their son and he’s the medical student int the family. He also comes across as a playboy. Even though the joy of not having the mutation should have lifted the weight from his shoulder, but the knowledge that his sister did kept it there. Shows love, but also the misunderstanding that Alzheimer’s patients need to either rely on someone completely or be completely independent.

Charlie is the son-in-law who just has to go through the knowledge that he may lose his wife as he knows her.

There were many believable situations laid out for us, but I can’t believe that there were be such a large gap in support for the patients.  And if there were, then it may have taken longer for the social worker to get even permission to get permission for the other patients to contact Alice. Other than that, all was believable.

Still Alice gets 4.5 out of 5 bookmarks.

Good Ol’ Girls at Hollins Theatre–A Review

Going to the Little Theatre to watch any performance is exhilarating, but musical especially. There’s something about the way the actors, the set, and the musicians come together that can let you know the style of the director as well as his or her teaching style. Ernie teaches his actors while he works with them. They don’t notice at first, but after a while its obvious. I should know, I was in Goodnight Moon in Fall 2011.

Good Ol’ Girls is a montage of different stories of the Good Ol’ Girls of the south. It has a Nashville, TN style of music that demands a twang to your voice. The girls are sassy, young, old, crazy, easy, in love, out of love, beaten, and even more. They go through birth, death, first love, last love, and so much more. The musical made me laugh, cry and my heart burst.

The story line is just that its a tribute to the good ol’ girls who go through so much. Its a montage of music and monologues that show who and what a good ol’ girl is.

“A Good Ol’ Girl…speaks her mind. Just ask them ol’ boys who crossed her one time.”

We see this throughout the musical.

The actors were phenomenal. Their voices fit together better than the lime and the coconut. The set looked like they took months to build, but I know it was shorter than that and for the first time the band was up on stage. I’ve never seen the band actually on the set. Above, yes. Below, yes. Offstage, yes. It was nice and the actors played to each member. It was like they were actors as well. It made things amazing.

I only had a few issues. Okay, ’twas only two.

1. There were a few technical difficulties. Mics cut off suddenly mid-line only to come back again. That was all the TD, but it was still annoying. Really important scenes were ruined because I couldn’t hear the girl’s voice.

2. I couldn’t understand half the songs’ lyrics. I understand there’s that twang, but I know its possible to sing in a way to be understood with the southern twang. Country stars who don’t act can do it. Why can’t actors. Alright, I’m being hard, but that’s because Ernie accepts nothing less than perfection. Most of these girls don’t naturally have southern accents, but its easy to learn the accent in Roanoke. Southern accent hotbed, people.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. I really wanted to give five stars, but it wasn’t meant to be. I do appreciate how hard these girls worked though. There are encore performances in May and June, so you should really really check it out and buy tickets.

Smash Fail–A Review

Smash is a show about creating a Broadway hit from complete scratch by two prominent writers. There are some major cliches in the entire thing (the sweet, naive girl from the south, the as–prick of a director, the seemingly innocent vixen who can’t keep her hands off the hunky singer) as well as somewhat original characters (the straight gay man). Including some major drama that should be shown on stage instead of behind curtains, I’m still not sure how to feel about this show.

The main character of Smash is Karen Cartwright, the naive and dreaming girl hoping to break out in some musicals. Okay, honey, you need to brush up on the jargon before you head into a big workshop where you’ll only be paid about $200 a week. I mean, really? And where the hell are your priorities? A major record owner wants you to meet him for a recording session, you don’t blow it off for a workshop you, again, only receive $200 for! I mean, seriously? Even a small town, legit inbred redneck would have passed on Marilyn the Musical. I would have. The only redeeming quality you have is that you refused to sleep your way to the top, though you could just bribe Derek with how much money your fiancee makes.

Sorry, way off point.

Karen auditions for the aforementioned musical and goes throughepisodes long of tension of whether or not she’ll get the part. And yes, there was more than one episode devoted to it.

Speaking of Derek… Derek Wills is a hotshot director, working on Marilyn because he has a personal friendship with Eileen (who’s going through her own shit). He is harsh and not well like by the only gay male main character who has any depth outside of sports. He tries to sleep with Karen and gets REJECTED. Seriously hard. She might have well dug her heels into his boner. He had that “I-got-kneed-in-the-balls-by-someone-in-eighteen-inch-heels” look on his face. It was pain. He finally gave the part to Ivy (whose a total sl–sexually minded female) because she had sex with him. I’m not sure who the bigger man-whore is really.

Eileen Rand is a producer for Broadway who just so happens to be divorcing her business partner. She’s an interesting character, mostly because she constantly douses her soon-to-be ex with a martini (snicker). Other than that, she really has no depth. I feel sorry for the actress.

Ivy Lynn is a former ensemble member who is a total slu–I mean sexually minded woman. She auditioned, same as Karen, and slept with Derek, obvious knowing that she was having sex with him for the part. I obviously disliked her, because she was keeping what she’d done from her friends. “Rumor Has It” alright, Adele.

There are two writers, who aren’t strong characters past their stereotypes. I wouldn’t bet on them. There are a few minor-ish characters who are only as deep as a piece of rice paper.

I’ve waited seven or eight episodes before I wrote this review, because I was waiting so long for the story to develop into something better. The only things that keeps me watching are the phenomenal vocal talents and the music. I understand that this is just the first season, so there will be some footing that still need to be cemented, but still. It isn’t working for me. Its like a bad fairy tale.

Anjelica Huston, what did you get yourself into? I mean, come on. You have a history of great stories and roles. I mean you were Morticia Addams!

Smash gets 2 out of 5 stars.


Dying a Skeptic–Death of a Ghost Hunter Film Review


Death of a Ghost Hunter starts slowly, where we see the murders of the family and a girl in the house by the wife. Then it switches to the ghost hunter who is talking on her journal.  After meeting with the house’s owner she gets a team to investigate. They are there for a while and the characters go as follows:

Seth Masterson, the owner of the house. He calls Carter and refuses to enter the house. He was in maybe all of three scenes, so getting a clear idea of Cordan Clark’s abilities is impossible.

Yvette Sandoval, the slutty writer who gets high with the camera man. She’s there to write a little story about the entire thing for the local paper. Davina Joy did a decent job showing a writer’s curiousity and obsession with knowledge.

Mary Young Mortenson, an overly religious girl who isn’t all that believable. She comes across as being overly religious, but is said to be a fanatic. The acting in this girl’s case was under done. I would have gone a step further. Lindsay Page could have done a better job.

Colin Green, the camera man who hopes for a glimpse at the supernatural. Mike Marsh did a phenomenal job playing a sinful man who smokes and does pot. I think that he did a good job.

Carter Simms, a investigator into all things supernatural. She’s one of the skeptical ghost hunters and she makes it clear from the very beginning. Patti Tindall does a good job showing fear and curiosity, but I really do think that she needed to step down a notch during the fight scene. She could have also been mistaken for the fanatic if she hadn’t been talking about things in her field. Leave that out and you have a fanatic of sorts.

The set was well done. It was obviously someone’s actual house because they had such a low budget, but it was well done. Getting pictures made up would be easy enough, as would some of the props. The chains looked real in coloring, but on closer inspection they looked like they might be foam. The sex helmet would be easy to build and set up as well as make a shallow book.

The music was suspenseful when it’s perfect timing and unassuming when it was necessary. The special effects were obviously cheap, but well done. It was so amazingly well done that I actually had to take a closer look at the special effects. The blurred out apparitions was a little obviously played with in photoshop, however.

Timing had a bit of an issue. It took too long to get into the important actions. When you are establishing a timeline in a movie, especially in the last two decades, you show what happened in the past. Then, you show your main character and get a bit of the backgrounds. Afterwards, you get everyone together immediately. Having Carter interview the housekeeper before the group got there was too soon.

The characters had one major flaw: they trusted Mary Young’s words. Carter should have double checked everybody’s names with Seth because a true skeptic would not take anyone at their words. Later, when its obvious, they don’t actually call the police like they should have. They should have also paid more attention to the girl who had obviously become possessed by Mary Beth. As soon as she started acting weirder than she had been before they should have gotten the hell out of there. Of course it was possible that hindsight after she died, as hindsight is twenty-twenty.

The ending was incredibly predictable. I mean it was obviously residual hauntings going on and it was obvious that Mary Young was the daughter of Miranda and the father of the family. As soon as Miranda came in and there was a mention of the baby in the police reports (I think). It was obvious to us, anyway. Dramatic irony for the win, by the way.

I give Death of a Ghost Hunter 4 out of 5 stars.

Breaking through Writer’s Block

The following tips are a combination of the best techniques online as well as what helps me out.

Listening to music

  1. I find that if I can’t figure out what to write I will often pull of Pandora and just listen to the kind of music my characters would listen to. Sometimes I make a list of what bands who would like who.

                                                              i.      i.e: Li-On likes Halestorm, Linkin Park, Seether, Puddle of Mudd, Paramore, and Evanescene.

                                                            ii.      i.e: Hyun prefers Seether, Evanescene, Christina Aguilera, and BoA.

An Outline

  1. I know that everyone says to use a full outline, but I’ve found that it doesn’t really help. A set outline doesn’t help me write, which is why I’ve often just waited until I’ve finished a paper in school to write one. However I have found that if I can’t write something I do skip a head with a few chapters, staying two or three ahead and have two things I want to happen mentioned in brief details. Patty gave me this idea.

                                                              i.      i.e: Chapter Eleven-Rehabilitation of Hyun and Li-On + August Jones makes an appearance.

  1. Writing Excercises
    1. Noticing that I often grow tired of writing my novel, I’ll take a chance to take a breather and write something else. I did that yesterday, actually. I wrote a review of the new show Alcatraz and put it up on my online writing portfolio.  I found that I wasn’t bored with writing my novel any more.
    2. says to “Take a few minutes, step away from the project that has you sweating, and write something for fun. These exercises can range anywhere from using a word randomly selected to detailing the dream you had the previous evening to the quirky how-did-this-green-umbrella-get-in-this-room explanations.”

                                                              i.      I’m giving you homework to relax by:

                                                                         i. Take the following words and create a piece with them:

                                                                                1. Bicycle,

                                                                                2. Pizza,

                                                                               3. Needle,

                                                                               4. Cow,

                                                                               5. Boo

Your Audience

  1. If you haven’t picked who you’re writing to, you might want to figure it out. Your audience (or in my case my roommate) wants to find out what’s going to happen just as much as you do. If its not fun, then they aren’t going to find it fun, so yes add the random brothel until absolutely necessary. You’ll be able to figure it out.

Set Reasonable Writing Goals

  1. On the days you have absolutely no inspiration, don’t set your goals quite so high. Don’t expect to get ahead on those days. Just try to get the 1667 words you need or if it’s less to get to the next day’s goal, reach that. Don’t try to write 3000 words if you just aren’t inspired.

Move Around

  1. As writers, we end up spending about 95% of the time sitting in front of a computer, staring into the screen. Try getting up and moving around. Even a few minutes to walk around the local park or garden can get your blood moving. The more blood you move around your body, the more gets sent to your brain.

Rest Hours!

  1. Since this is a nanowrimo sort of class, you can’t really give it a rest for a day or two, instead take a couple of hours and do something fun. Do something that’ll get your blood pumping or cooled, depending on what you’re writing.

A Buddy System

  1. Just like when you were on a field trip and needed a “buddy” you need one on the road to the finished product. Use another writer or a critique group (coughcoughourclasscoughcough) to push through the block. You need someone who will be professional about your work, so friends don’t work unless they are also hardcore writers.

Warm Up

  1. Takes some time—outside of class and before you start your night writing—to free-write. Its just taking some time to put down whatever comes to mind. Its warm-up and might only be used as such, but you might write something that’ll give you a boost in your novel.


  1. You have to be absolutely willing to scratch out or burn ideas, sections, or even chapters that aren’t working. This can help you break the block and start writing again.

Thank you for reading and if you want more information my sources are below.