On Tuesday February 24th, I had the great pleasure of moderating a Talkback Tuesday panel at the Pasadena Playhouse that followed a performance of The Whipping Man by Matt Lopez.
Joining me for the discussion “Writing Race for Television and the Stage” were Walter Allen Bennett, Jr., whose credits include writing for The Cosby Show and 704 Hauser Street, and executive producing The Steve Harvey Show and Ralph Remington, a director-producer who has served as a Director at the National Endowment for the Arts and an Assistant Executive Director of Actors’ Equity who also founded the Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis where he staged such shows as The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (by Lorraine Hansberry) and Streetcar Named Desire (by Tennessee Williams).
We discussed the lack of variety in the types of African American characters who populate our stages and screens and the need for more and more unique stories to be told so that the stereotypes can be broken in the next generation. We also tried to address the ways writers of all colors can write about characters of all colors respectfully. The audience was highly moved by the spirituality of the play and wanted to know more about the small number of Jewish slaveholders in the south –what happened to their slaves and their faith after the Civil War ended and, particularly, why people who praised Moses for bringing their ancestors out of slavery would ever maintain the practice themselves. That’s when I knew that our education system is failing in this area because no one realized the deep financial need for accepting and adapting to that labor system if one wanted to be wealthy as a Southerner.
Later in the discussion the cast joined us on stage as well. With Charlie Robinson, who played Simon (and once guest starred on Touched by an Angel) we discussed the deep research he conducted to create the role of a slave steeped in Judaism and the quality of roles available to African Americans and the difficulty in choosing well to build a career. He made some jokes about his earlier work in Night Court and we ran out of time before I could remind him that on that program all the characters were equally comical so his clerk was not merely there to create laughs. I then asked Adam Hass Hunter, who played Caleb the Jewish Confederate soldier dying of gangrene how much true history of slavery had been taught to him in his K-12 public school education as a child in Kentucky. As expected, he had no real memories of ever being taught the truth about slavery and had to conduct similar research.
Professors Peg Lamphier and Rosanne Welch are the advisors for the Whovian Society. Saeed was easily able to get both of them to back the club. “I had Dr. Welch in IGE 120, and she does ‘Doctor Who’ lectures on campus,” said Saeed. “We did an introductory activity in IGE where it really helped us to who we understand who we are. Since I already made a Whovian Society back in high school, that’s also what I talked about.
“Dr. Lamphier is a really good friend to Dr. Welch, and they both work really well together. It was a given that Dr. Lamphier should be our second advisor.”
Welch has been a fan of the show since high school.
“I watched it in the 70s with my college [and] high school friends,” said Welch. “When it was rebooted in 2005, I naturally came back to it. I found it was an interesting, well-written show.”
Welch believes that the show is beneficial for anyone to watch.
“I think it’s a positive show,” said Welch. “A lot of science fiction [television shows] focus on apocalyptic, end-of-the-world zombies eating us stuff, and [the Doctor] focuses on providing the change that will makes the worlds that he visits better.”
The writing world lost Al Martinez today – a beloved columnist from the LA Times who taught me about all the nooks and crannies and characters in Los Angeles when we first moved here. I had the pleasure of having breakfast with him many times at Jerry’s Diner after I began publishing reflections on my neighborhood in the Times. I had the audacity to email him about a column of his I particularly liked and then ask his opinion on one of mine that had recently been published. Al invited me to lunch to chat of TV (since he had written for a few shows) and life in general and it became an irregularly scheduled event for a few years.
He would bring me autographed copies of his latest books and ask MY opinion of HIS writing. The best thing he ever told me/taught me was that he always conducted interviews withOUT a tape recorder. He figured when he went to write the article or column, whatever he remembered was the most interesting part of the interview so that would be all that he needed… That’s the sign of a natural reporter. What I loved about his columns was that he covered real people from all over the city for all those years. AND when the LA Times first let him go after 25 years the outrage from readers was sooooo strong, they instantly rehired him for another few years.
Then I had the guts to ask him to write the Back of Book Blurb for the book Dawn and I co-edited in 2004, Three-Ring Circus: How Real Couples Balance Marriage, Work, and Family. THAT was a compliment and a great honor. Guess now it’s time to start rereading all his work again. Believe me, it’s worth the read. And Al was sooo worth getting to know.
IGE Professor Rosanne Welch gives a lecture on “Doctor Who” at the University Library, which is hosting a lecture series on a variety of topics this quarter.
Professor Rosanne Welch’s previous two talks on the television show “Dr. Who” were so popular that the library brought her back last month to a packed room for a third lecture. Welch, who teaches in the Interdisciplinary General Education Department, is a television writer and producer and a longtime fan of the BBC show.
Doctors aren’t known for fighting aliens or time traveling. However, Doctor Who is.
Perhaps that is why so many students crowded the library to hear a presentation on the TV series and novels called “Dr. Who.”
The event that took place Wednesday afternoon was put together in celebration of National Library Week. The fandom behind the books and TV show was the deciding factor in focusing solely on the Dr. Who series.
TV scriptwriter and Cal Poly Pomona faculty for the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education, Rosanne Welch conducted the presentation and spoke not only about the characters of the show, but the shows impact on British and American culture.
She used the popularity of the series to highlight various points on character development, sexism, American culture and racism.
“Doctor Who” fans, otherwise known as Whovians, gathered in the third floor of the University Library for “Doctor Who Regenerated” on May 13.
Rosanne Welch, interdisciplinary general education professor at Cal Poly Pomona and avid “Doctor Who” fan, spoke to guests about two of the show’s writers: Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffat, and compared the themes each writer has brought to the popular British television series.
Both writers were involved with the screenwriting for the show since its revival in 2005, with Davies taking charge from 2006-2008, and Moffat following in 2010.
According to Welch, both writers brought different themes that steered the show in different directions. Davies, who worked on the popular British series “Queer as Folk,” continued to portray “Doctor Who” as the “cheesy” children’s program it was during the 1960s while discreetly creating “deep” and “mature” themes for children to grasp.
Location: University Library 4th floor, Special Events Room
Doctor Rosanne Welch, Cal Poly Pomona Faculty from the Department of Interdisciplinary General Education will discuss Doctor Who and how the show has changed television writing. Doctor Welch will further discuss how society looks at culture and gender roles with the use of the Doctor and his companions’ adventures.