Oklahoma Christian’s production of “Tom Thumb”

Media Writing Assignment (March 26, 2010)

Oklahoma Christian presents production of British play “Tom Thumb”

Story Highlights:

  • “Tom Thumb” was produced in closer style to the original than the societal norm.
  • The production is part of a four-year plan to expose students to all types of plays
  • The cast and crew blended well from the beginning
  • As the play was written almost 300 years ago, the use of the English language was a slight barrier for students watching the performance

The Oklahoma Christian University theatre department performed “The Tragedy of Tragedies; or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great,” over two weekends in late February.  The performances were held on the last two Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. in Judd Theatre.

“Tom Thumb” was published in 1731 as a play written by Henry Fielding, which for actors today, can be rather challenging.

Differences from Norm

Men have frequently played the main role of Tom Thumb over the last century, but when the play was written, it was to be the part of a woman.  The directors for OC’s production decided to stick to the original plan for the role and cast Kyra Ruddy as Thumb.

“Tom Thumb” is rarely staged when it is performed in the United States, requiring the audience to use more of their imagination.  Professor of communication Barrett Huddleston also wanted to use some sort of puppet, which he did to perform the role of Glumdalca, which was done by three actresses.

Four-year Plan

According to Huddleston, one of the goals of the theatre program is to expose theatre students to as many styles, genres, and staging practices as possible.

Three years ago, Huddleston sat down with fellow professor Phil Reagan and discussed the types of plays they wanted OC students to be exposed to.  They came up with a four-year program that allowed them to—in that period—produce a play of many genres and requiring a different skill set.

Auditions were held for “Tom Thumb” and the upcoming topical play, “Two Rooms,” late in the fall semester, so the costume shop can start taking measurements of actors and begin making the costumes required for the performance.

Great Chemistry

Practices began after winter break.  The cast and crew quickly bonded quickly.

“There was a real all-hands-on-deck spirit in the cast and crew that I think shows a forward momentum for the program overall,” according to Huddleston.

“It was a great production,” freshman and lighting console operator Adam Doyle said.  “We got a lot of laughs out of the one-liners, and overall the production was very well done from tech all the way down to the actors.”

Spectators of the play were amazed that the production was pulled off so well.

“The production flowed very well,” freshman Caleb Griffin said.  “It seemed like the actors had great chemistry with each other.”

Different Language

Since the play was written in 1731, the use of the English language is different. The type of language used is called “Elizabethan pentameter.”

Some spectators said that, although they enjoyed the performance, it was a little bit difficult to understand the language in the show.

“I had an English class in my senior year of high school that focused on older, mostly British literature, so after a few minutes of listening to the show, I was able to comprehend what was happened and really enjoyed it,” spectator Andrew McClellan said.

While the show is in a style of English that most are not used to, spectators as well as the cast and crew really enjoyed the show and comprehended it well.

FB & FBI

Due to a lawsuit involving the Freedom of Information Act, it has been revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has a number of agents whose work consists of surfing the Internet–with the majority of their time being spent on Facebook or Twitter.

Many of the FBI agents will send a Friend Request that anyone might accept.  The agents look on the pages of their new “friends” to look at the information you have posted and your pictures for anything related to a suspect the FBI or another agency could be investigating.

The information obtained because of agents’ use of the internet could be used for the prosecution and conviction of defendants.  I would assume this is so because since you willingly accepted an agent’s friend request, you willingly gave up all of your information and your pictures that are posted on your page.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, received the 33-page document giving an outline of online activity while it was suing six federal agencies in court.

Since agents are going undercover, local and state police departments coordinate their online profile investigations with the federal agencies so their cases and investigations do not overlap.  This is a stark reminder back to about ten years ago when police agencies across the country began to log on to chat rooms attempting to find sexual predators.

Keep in mind, the federal government cannot just go to a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter and demand that the requested information be released.  To do so requires a search warrant, which are only allowed when the information on a page in known to be incriminating or vital to an investigation.

Honestly, I don’t have much of a problem with this–no citizen who follows the laws laid out by our government should.

UK PM: U.S. caused all the trouble in Iraq

According to The Times, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown, said Friday that the United States is to blame for most of the problems that have occurred due to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March of 2003.

Although he says that U.S. has caused the problems, he still believes that the war/conflict that has ensued was for the right reasons.

During the invasion of Iraq, Brown held the title of Chancellor.  In this role, he attended some of the same security briefings as Prime Minister Tony Blair, but was not in some of the meetings leading up to the multi-national military effort.

A lot of public opinion in the United States has turned against the conflict in Iraq, but it is nothing compared to the public opinion of the war in the United Kingdom.  People there have protested it from the beginning.  They have said that even if the United States thinks they have a right to be there because of the events that unfolded on September 11, 2001, the U.K. has no right to be there at all.

This begs the question–should we be in Iraq?  A lot of public opinion has turned against it, but yet, we are still there.  And the Iraqi government has asked for an extension of our presence in Iraq, which, in my opinion, should not happen.  Iraq was the U.S.’s last chance at saving the Middle East from themselves.

Starbucks vs. Gun Control

According to this article from The Huffington Post, gun control advocates have found out that Starbucks is one of the largest chain stores that allow their patrons to openly carry firearms into their stores–if that complies with local laws, of course.  The reporter in the article wrote, “Just as shops can deny service to barefoot customers, restaurants and stores in some states can declare their premises gun-free zones.”

The move by Starbucks prompted The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to circulate a petition to ban handguns in all Starbucks locations.  The petition gathered 26,000 signatures which stated that Starbucks should “offer espresso shots, not gunshots.”

Although I may lean to the left politically a little bit more than I do to the right, I do think that people should have the right to carry their own weapon anywhere they go except for in certain cases such as in schools (with some exceptions), police stations, hospitals, etc.

While I do think some sort of psychological testing should be set in place for people wanting to acquire either a personal firearm or a license to own a firearm, there are too many flaws in this system to keep individuals from getting a firearm, therefore I do think that we should have an armed citizenry to possibly keep people from committing such crimes.

February 18, 2010–Austin’s Oklahoma City Bombing

I have heard it said in the last day and a half that the attack on a federal building in Austin has “become Austin’s Oklahoma City Bombing.”  Luckily, only one innocent person was killed as well as Joe Stacks, 53, the pilot of the plane that crashed into the Echelon building in northwest Austin.

There were also thirteen people injured, two seriously.  One was treated in Austin, but one was injured so badly that he had to be flown to Brooke Army Medical Center’s burn unit in San Antonio.

This attack has hit home for me in too many ways:

  • I know the man who was injured so badly he had to be transported to San Antonio.  As of last night, he was said to not be expecting any surgeries and is planning to leave the hospital sometime next week.  He will then need 4-6 weeks of recovery before he is well.
  • Stacks’s house is one block away from some close family friends and just two houses down from someone else I know.  This home is two miles from my church.
  • The office building that was hit is about three miles from my dad’s office.  It is about five blocks from where I get my car serviced.  It is in the same immediate area where one of my friends worked last summer.
  • The spokesman for the Stacks family is an elder at my church and I know him very well.  He did not previously know the family; a mutual friend referred the family to him.

It just hit too close to home–almost too close.

In the last few years, I have wondered how a terrorist–or a disgruntled tax payer, in this case, could cause a lot of harm and damage without really being a ‘blip on the radar’ until after the event.  This is exactly what I thought of: someone with a private jet–owned or leased could take it and fly (below radar level if it is a longer distance) it into a building or landmark of great recognizability.

Only one thing is different in this case–it was in a nondescript building on a stretch of road that has many office buildings, hotels, and shopping center in the immediate area.

The Associated Press spoke to one aviation security analyst (see article here), Tom Walsh, said that terrorists would realize that small planes, similar to the Piper Cherokee PA-28 that Stacks flew, do not pack enough of a punch that they would want to attack with.

“I don’t see a gaping security hole here,” Walsh said. “In terms of aviation security, there are much bigger fish to fry than worrying about small aircraft.”

When the world comes together…

…NBC doesn’t let everyone see it.

According to The Washington Post, the NBC network’s parent company, NBC Universal, has decided to only offer online video of certain events and only to people who currently subscribe to cable or satellite companies that carry NBC Universal’s channels.

If you go to certain videos on NBC’s olympic website, you will see that you are able to watch a variety of videos.  But when you click on some of those videos, you are prompted to give NBC your name, address, phone number, social security number, your AA (American Airlines) Advantage points number, and your Marriott rewards points number–okay, not really, but you are required to give them your account number from your cable provider.

Some people will argue–well, you have a TV!  Go home and watch it!  Well, some people cannot do so due to other obligations such as work.

My proposal: NBC should offer live streaming of EVERY channel in their enterprise (NBC, MSNBC, USA, etc.) and maybe a web-exclusive channel or two and offer it to online viewers for $25-$40 for the duration of the Olympics.  I guarantee NBC would make a HUGE profit on this.  And so what if cable companies aren’t happy about it?!  Give the cable and satellite companies (as a whole) 20% of the profits!  It’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.

Some Interesting Poll Numbers

I happened to stumble across this while reading about the happenings of everyone’s favorite political-wannabe Sarah Palin.

CBS News took a poll (of which you can read the results here) and asked people if they would like to see Sarah Palin run for President of the United States.

71 percent of Americans said they did not want to see her as a candidate while 21 percent wanted to see a candidate Palin, with 8 percent undecided.

Of course there are going to be more Republicans that want to see her run than Democrats, but over half of all Republicans, 56 percent, do not want to see her run.  Let me reiterate that, the majority of Republicans don’t want Sarah Palin to run for President.  88 percent of Democrats also don’t want to see her run, along with 65 percent of Independents.

In the same survey, CBS asked the participants in the poll their view of Sarah Palin: 41 percent had an unfavorable view, 26 percent had a favorable one, 19 percent were undecided and 13 percent hadn’t heard enough about her (which kind of shocks me because she pretty much dominates the news–usually being attacked by pundits from both sides of the political spectrum).

It seems kind of funny to me that she is such a popular conservative spokesperson while most do not want to see her run for president–58 percent of conservatives (not the same thing as Republicans) don’t want to see her run.  Although, I guess it makes sense because they want to see her as a controversial political pundit on television like Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.  Just the thought of those three having a very dominant influence on part of the political spectrum makes me want to throw up.