Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Meet the New, New South, Part II — North Carolina Public Radio WUNC

Meet the New, New South, Part II — North Carolina Public Radio WUNC

Meet the New, New South, Part II

Meet the New, New South, Part II
International Civil Rights Museum, downtowngreensboro.org

Meet the New New South: In the past decade, 1.5 million new residents have moved to North Carolina, a trend that is echoed across the region. As demographics and economic forces change, the South changes with them. WFAE and WUNC began an on-air conversation last summer about the New New South. We continue that conversation, as hosts Mike Collins of “Charlotte Talks” and Frank Stasio of “The State of Things” talk with guests about food, theater and cultural tourism in a special joint broadcast. Joining the program are Michael D. Harris, curator of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art & Culture in Charlotte; Margo Knight Metzger, public relations director for the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Division of Tourism, Film & Sports Development; Kathleen Purvis, food editor for the Charlotte Observer; Greg Cox, dining critic for The News & Observer of Raleigh; Marcie Cohen Ferris, coordinator of Southern Studies at the Department of American Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill; Steve Umberger, resident director of Festival Stage in Winston-Salem; and Serena Ebhardt, co-founder of the theater company EbzB Productions, based in Chatham County.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Life Is So Good: The Tropolitan -- Troy University's Official Student Newspaper -- January 20, 2011

Richard Glaubman introduces 'Life Is So Good'

Jason Johnson A&E Editor
Author Richard Glaubman was in Troy last week to see the production of "Life Is So Good," a play based off of his book by the same title that tells the story of 103-year-old Texas Native George Dawson.
The book and the play tell the story of Dawson's remarkable life, showing the changing times of past century through his eyes.
Glaubman met with Dawson after he read an article about him learning to read after 98 years of being illiterate.
After meeting him they formed a friendship.
"I realized pretty early on that Dawson had a remarkable memory," said Glaubman. "The stories didn't come out for a good while though. Not until we became friends and I had been staying with him at his house."
Glaubman was here in Troy to give a series of lectures on the writing of his book and to give some tips on creative writing in general.
Before the play, which happened to be the first Glaubman has seen the performance, he gave a short introduction and discussed his time spent with George Dawson.
"George had never spoken to a white man in normal conversation before," said Glaubman. "After I opened up to him he began to trust me and invited me to live in his home for a while. "
Actors David zum Brunnen and Mike Wiley conceived and wrote the stage production and they took the stage once Glaubman had finished his introduction.
"Life Is So Good," is a two-man show that is based around narration.
One character would narrate and when the time in the story called for it the two men would use minimal stage props and exceptional acting to paint a picture for the audience.
Mike Wiley played George Dawson and a host of other characters through the show.
He is a graduate of Catawba College in Salisbury North Carolina and has over ten years of credits in theatre for young audiences.
David zum Brunnen who played Richard Glaubman has served as General Manager for Hedgerow Theatre, The Philadelphia Area Repertory Theatre and PlayMakers Repertory Theatre.
The two men were very talented and professional both on and off the stage.
The opening act was the two men meeting for the first time.
Wiley and Brunnen used scenes from Glaubman's second book titled "More Than a Book; A Story of Friendship," which is about the process of meeting George Dawson and writing "Life Is So Good."
The opening chapter of the book is George Dawson's personal account of seeing his childhood friend being hanged for something he did not do.
It's a really strong image that brings the readers emotions out very early.
The stage play of "Life Is So Good" was centered on the same thing.
Throughout the course of the play the actors would unexpectedly jump back to this gruesome scene until it climaxed with at intermission with Dawson's friend Pete finally being killed.
The rest of the play consisted of the more memorable scenes from the book.
This is where Wiley really showed his talents.
He was more than convincing as an elderly gentleman, from his choice in dialogue right down to his body language and eye movements he sold me.
He was as good as George Dawson.
Brunnen really did a good job of character acting.
His roll seemed quite difficult because he had to jump back and forth from the compassionate and uncomfortable Richard Glaubman to the hateful white men of the early 1900's with no time in between.
The play's conclusion was the end of George Dawson's life and the battle that
Glaubman went through trying to get Dawson to sign the rights of his story over to a white stranger from far away.
"I really enjoy the stage production," said Glaubman. "It really painted a very accurate account of 'Life Is So Good.'"
The book and the play are both well written and both based on quite a remarkable story.
The overall feel of the stage production is uplifting but it really hits hard.
The racy scenes aren't sugar coated, which helps for the message to sink in.
When I asked Richard Glaubman how meeting and befriending George Dawson had changed his life he had this to say.
"I try to be a better listener and to not judge but truly listen. I try to be grateful for what I have and be helpful to others when I can."
The moral of the play is simply George Dawson's mantra throughout his life--that is, despite all the hardships, Life Is So Good, and I do believe it's getting better.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Life Is So Good: Author shares insight

Richard Glaubman, David zum Brunnen, Mike Wiley: Life Is So Good Performance, Troy, Alabama



The two men had nothing in common.

But George Dawson needed to tell his story and Richard Glaubman needed to listen.

As Dawson talked and Glaubman listened, both of their worlds were changed.
Dawson was an African-American living an obscure life in South Dallas. Glaubman was a teacher and writer living comfortably in Seattle.

Odds of the two ever meeting were astronomical and a meeting would never have happened except for a newspaper article that caught Glaubman’s eye and tugged at his heart.

The article told the story of Dawson, who at age 98 had learned to read.
For some reason, the story captured Glaubman’s interest and he was soon on a plane bound for Dallas to meet Dawson.

“I’m not sure what compelled me to get on a plane to talk to an old man that I didn’t know,” Glaubman told those who attended his lectures at Troy University Thursday. “But sometimes you just know when the time is right.”

The first meeting was a bit uncomfortable for Glaubman as he and Dawson were from two different worlds. And, he said, it was probably the same for Dawson.

“Before he learned to read, the only sense of the world George Dawson had was what others were telling him,” Glaubman said. “And what he was hearing was filtered through their opinions. He had always wanted to learn to read but never had the chance. He was delighted at having learned to read.”

Dawson’s favorite reading material was the newspaper and he was finding the world a new and exciting place as he was no longer having to depend on others to tell him what was happening in the world around him. He was beginning to think for himself.

Glaubman realized the importance of Dawson’s story and Dawson agreed to tell it to him.

Over time, the two men became friends and Glaubman was invited to live with Dawson while his story unfolded.

“We were in the grocery store and Dawson was reading the labels on one product after another,” Glaubman said. “I asked him why he was doing that and he said, ‘Because I can.’”

Dawson’s reading level was rather low so he especially enjoyed reading children’s books to his great-grandchildren.

“Once, when we were driving along the highway, I could hear him reading the billboards just as I had done when I was about 6 years old,” Glaubman said. “His excitement at being able to read was much the same as mine had been. The sequence was the same.”

Together, with Dawson talking and Glaubman listening, they co-authored a book about Dawson’s life and his eagerness to learn to read at age 98.

The book titled, “Life Is So Good” is George Dawson’s autobiography. It’s the story of his struggles and his greatest triumph, learning to read at a very advanced age.

It’s also a book of inspiration because it comes for the heart of a man who treated others like he wanted them to treat him. It’s the story of a man who lived for the day because he had no promise of tomorrow.
It’s the story of a man who graciously and humbly accepted his “celebrity.”

When people crowded around him, Glaubman said Dawson said, “I’ve been ignored for a hundred years, if they want to talk to me, that’s all right.”

Dawson traveled to Glaubman’s home state for a book signing and attended a party in his honor.
“I didn’t think I would live so long that there would be a party where it didn’t matter what color you are,” he said.

Dawson died in 2001 but he lived long enough to attend a party like that and to know that the challenge that he had met and won will inspire others to learn to read no matter what their age and that they, too, can walk into another world all because they learned to read.

Glaubman isn’t sure whether Dawson ever read, “Life Is So Good.”

“He said that he had so many other things to read and that he had already read it,” Glaubman said, laughing. “That was George Dawson.”

Arts Council knows ‘Life is Good’ | The Troy Messenger

Arts Council knows ‘Life is Good’ | The Troy Messenger

Life Is So Good: The Tropolitan -- Troy University's Official Student Newspaper -- January 12, 2010

The Tropolitan -- Troy University's Official Student Newspaper -- January 12, 2010

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Life Is So Good: Isothermal College

Life Is So Good...
http://www.isothermal.edu/foundation/All_Shows2010-11.html

Compliment

Hi David,
It was my pleasure working with you, and I hope we can do it again, too. Patron response was really enthusiastic. I  watched it again on PBS over the holidays, and it was still great the second time.
Here's a statement you may use:
"David zum Brunnen is fabulous as Charles Dickens in Elliot Engel's clever and charming depiction of the creation of the classic holiday story A Christmas Carol. Highly recommended." 

--Maria Butler, Community Relations Coordinator, Lawrence Public Library.