Edgemar Center for the Arts Production
Arena Players Repertory Theatre production
Edgemar Center for the Arts Production
"Playwright Dale Griffiths Stamos is unafraid to delve into the human psyche to search for answers that will perhaps never be found; it makes for a brave new work whose deeply human characters with divergent opinions on faith vs. skepticism make us prick up our ears and really listen." –Broadway World
(click here for full review)
"Adeptly and honestly providing thoughts on all sides of skepticism and spirituality without being preachy or corny, is a testament to the brilliant writing of Dale Griffiths Stamos. One White Crow is a production I highly recommend everyone experience, as it quickly became one of my favorites thus far this year." –Life in L.A. (click here for full review)
"GO: Playwright Dale Griffiths Stamos's drama boasts a charged debate about faith versus science that's engagingly even-handed and surprisingly evocative." –LA Weekly (click here for full review)
"One White Crow written by Dale Griffiths Stamos and beautifully directed by Deborah LaVine is a very powerful play about faith, science and belief. And thanks to the excellent work of all three actors, this is a must-see play for anyone who simply enjoys good theatre." –examiner.com (click here for full review)
"Dale Griffiths Stamos explores grief and guilt in an interesting tale that allows the characters to dig deep into the intellectual side of their acting brain. ...This is a great script" –Los Angeles Post (click here for full review)
"The writing is solid, the acting is natural and believable, and the arc of the drama plays out." –Santa Monica Daily Press (click here for full review)
BROADWAY WORLD – DON GRIGWARE
Playwright Dale Griffiths Stamos is unafraid to delve into the human psyche to search for answers that will perhaps never be found; it makes for a brave new work One White Crow whose deeply human characters with divergent opinions on faith vs. skepticism make us prick up our ears and really listen. Now onstage at the Edgemar Center for the Arts, One White Crow, is intelligent, stimulating theatre with superb direction form Deborah LaVine and a trio of fine actors.
The analysis of a major issue is most productive when the varying components representing both sides are on hand. In this case there's a popular TV medium Judith Knight (Michelle Danner) who claims to have made contact with the deceased father of journalist Teresa O'Neill (Jane Hajduk), a disbeliever who is aided by friend, professional skeptic Alex Rimbaud (Rob Estes). So, Knight must attempt the impossible, namely to win over O'Neill. She insists that the reluctant O'Neill interview her for a reputable magazine. Both O'Neill and Rimbaud, who also has a TV program diametrically opposed to Knight's, are out to prove Knight a fraud, and for that reason and that alone, O'Neill agrees to do the interview. O'Neill's father was a major scientist, and therefore would be the last person who would have come to Knight for help, even after death. Stamos explores the issues with such humanity that we are allowed to see beyond the superficial, and as if under a microscope inspect Knight, O'Neill and Rimbaud up close and personal, warts and all. O'Neill is the most complicated of all, as she has an allegiance to Rimbaud. He worked closely with her father, and she was and still is sexually attracted to him; he definitely feels an affinity toward her.
In the beginning, Knight does not stand a chance of bringing O'Neill over to her side, and when it eventually does look somewhat good, there's Rimbaud lurking and pulling O'Neill back to reality. There's also a problem with Rimbaud whose mother, like O'Neill's father, died of cancer. But his mother was a new ager, trying to accept holistic treatments and giving herself over to more spiritual guidance. Her loss has made Rimbaud even tougher and unbending in his pragmatic beliefs. Such are the conflicting elements of the piece.
The acting is first rate. Judith Knight is a dream role for Danner; it's an ideal fit. As an acting teacher and coach, she is called upon to be patient and understanding, and all of this experience lends credibility and great subtlety to her performance. Hajduk is a marvel at conveying complexity. O'Neill is driven and carries a secret inside that is causing her great consternation and worry. When Knight discovers it, it becomes a breakthrough for her character's possible positive transformation. Hajduk carries through divinely. Estes is such a terrific actor/reactor that he makes Rimbaud totally his own. He has great warmth which comes through beautifully in his scenes of affection with Hadjuk. Deborah LaVine is a goddess director who keeps the pacing just right and allows her actors tremendous freedom throughout. The main thing I like about this entire presentation is its intimacy. With these actors onstage, every moment is intensely real, brutally honest...a joy to watch.
There is not much humor in the script; maybe the addition of some would be a good thing. At times I felt like I was watching an intense TV drama that needed some form of levity to brighten the horizon every now and then. But, overall, genuine and absorbing theatre!
*One interesting and intelligent note about the title. One White Crow is a real phrase that was coined by 19th century psychologist William James of his association with medium Leonora Piper, who managed to convert him from an extreme pragmatist to a believer in psychic phenomena. Amidst all black crows, the original thinker exclaimed, there is one white one that stands apart, that can make a difference. In Stamos's play Knight serves as a white crow for O'Neill and O'Neill a possible one for Rimbaud.
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FORREST WILSON: LIFE IN L.A.
One White Crow
How much of what we believe is based solely on faith and how good it makes us feel? Who are we with, or without, our beliefs? Most importantly, when those beliefs and those foundations are utterly changed how do we carry on? One White Crow asks questions of spirituality, skepticism and anything in between, and comes to interesting conclusions while still being a wonderfully performed and moving play.
One White Crow is centered around three characters: Tess O'Neill (played by Jane Hajduk), an investigative journalist and daughter of the late Robert O'neill, a prominent and well-known science writer. She is invited to write a profile of the famous psychic medium and television show host Judith Knight (Michelle Danner) whose claim to fame is having the ability to communicate with the deceased, and connecting loved ones who have passed on with living family members and friends in her studio audience.
The third character is Alex Rimbaud (Rob Estes) the former protégé of Robert O'neill, who is a well-known and respected skeptic. Unconvinced and extremely doubtful of Judith's claims of communication with the departed, Alex is on a mission to disprove and discredit Judith and her field of work in its entirety.
Tess, wondering why she was asked to be on this assignment exclusively (and highly skeptical of Judith herself) enlists the help of Alex. Interestingly enough, Alex and Tess have a past together, and old flames start to rekindle.
We quickly see that this leads to some issues that create tension. As Tess is investigating Judith, whose "abilities" in the beginning start to look dubious at best, she is confronted with harsh truths about herself and the loss of her father three months earlier. This causes obvious conflict between the journalist and the medium, as Tess is mistrustful of what Judith claims to be "messages" from her late father, while receiving equally cynical and dissenting information and advice from Alex. Judith, concerned only for the lesson that Tess is supposed to learn, continually tries to gain Tess' trust even though on the surface she looks completely fraudulent. Alex Rimbaud stays the course to prove that everything Judith does is a hoax and can be explained with logic and a basic understanding of human psychology.
An interesting fact about One White Crow is that there are no heroes and no villains. It effectively and eloquently portrays all the different perspectives on each character fairly and clearly. On one end, Alex Rimbaud's arguments are correct—most television portrayals of psychic powers and awareness are merely fine-tuned and skilled acting techniques intermixed with psychology. At the same time, does that truly account for every case of supernatural communication? What stops the ideas of "empirical" evidence and science from becoming the very things they claim to refute: beliefs based on faith?
Adeptly and honestly providing thoughts on all sides of skepticism and spirituality without being preachy or corny is a testament to the brilliant writing of Dale Griffiths Stamos. She shows even the audience members who have a belief in the afterlife and paranormal, how easy it is to see how most television mediumship is a product of tricky mental ploys and displays of cleverly sought out information. Her message brings clarity, yet she leaves people deciding for themselves what is true--and she even helps them see what defines their belief in the first place.
Each character in One White Crow has to face some sort of harsh truth about themself that comes in conflict with the beliefs and essentially the lifestyles to which they have become accustomed. Tess has to face the possibility that everything that her father taught her may soon be turned on its head (in some pretty extraordinary ways, might I add). Judith must come to grips with aspects of her off-air life that she previously thought were buried—something she shares in common with her rival Alex Rimbaud. This is where the performances really shine and come alive.
Thought provoking and heartwarming, One White Crow is a production I highly recommend everyone experience, as it quickly became one of my favorites thus far this year.
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GO: ONE WHITE CROW: Playwright Dale Griffiths Stamos' drama boasts a charged debate about faith versus science that's engagingly even-handed and surprisingly evocative. Renowned TV celebrity psychic Judith Knight (Michelle Danner) offers an exclusive interview to hard-boiled reporter Teresa (Jane Hajduk), who is mystified by the request, given that she is a fierce disbeliever in the occult and is also the daughter of Christopher Hitchens-like religious skeptic Robert. Robert has recently died and Teresa is sure that Judith is scheming some sort of fake séance for PR purposes — but the real truth turns out to be far more ambiguous and disturbing.
Director Deborah LaVine's nicely character-driven staging crafts figures who represent two extreme poles of dogmatic belief — Teresa and her Richard Dawkins-like boyfriend Alex (a nicely prickly Rob Estes) contrast arrestingly with Danner's Knight, whose inscrutable, Paula Dean-meets-carnival fortune-teller persona is fascinating.
Although Stamos' plot runs out of steam at the end, and the dialogue occasionally falters into banality, the premise is enough to make the play intellectually intriguing. (Paul Birchall)
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One White Crow -A Journalist, A Psychic & A Skeptic Equals Compelling Theatre
Performing Arts May 31, 2013 By: Joan And John Schwartz
One White Crow playing at Edgemar Center For The Performing Arts has only three characters...but they are fully developed and fascinating ones.
Tess O' Neill (Jane Hajduk) is an investigative journalist, assigned to profile Judith Knight (Michelle Danner) a renowned television personality, who just happens to be a psychic/medium. That's right folks, Miss Knight talks to the dead.
Tess just happens to be the daughter of the brilliant deceased science writer, Robert O' Neill, who would have been first in line to doubt Judith's abilities. It's no wonder that Tess is convinced that our famous psychic is nothing more than a con artist who preys on vulnerable people.
So you can imagine Tess's reaction when Judith tells her that she's been getting nightly visits from her dead daddy and that the profile was his idea.
Adding to this mix is professional skeptic, Alex Rimbaud (Robert Estes). Alex is Robert's former protege and he makes it his mission to go after psychics and expose them as frauds. His next target...Judith of course.
'One White Crow' written by Dale Griffiths Stamos and beautifully directed by Deborah LaVine is a very powerful play about faith, science and belief. And thanks to the excellent work of all three actors, this is a must-see play for anyone who simply enjoys good theatre.
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LOS ANGELES POST: THIS WEEK IN THEATER
REVIEW BY ROSE DESENA
One White Crow by Dale Griffiths Stamos
Judith Knight (Michelle Danner) is a celebrity psychic. She asks Teresa O' Neill (Jane Hajduk), a hard-nosed, cynical investigative reporter, to tell her story. Judith claims she is the real thing, and righteously honest in helping people contact their loved ones from the depths of the graves.
She considers herself a freak of nature; someone who is born with a gift. O 'Neill is not only a skeptic but she is out to prove the psychic is nothing more than a carnival act. This creates a polar conflict particularly when the story adds Alex Rimbaud (Rob Estes) to the mix.
Alex is a longtime friend of the investigative reporter, who also wants to expose Judith. Alex has pegged Judith as a con-artist and fake, and he plans on using his television program to expose her.
Rimbaud and O'Neill were lovers in college, and their old flame is rekindled, He is concerned about the growing relationship between Judith and Teresa. Judith, as the psychic, is determined to help Teresa come to terms with a deep, dark secret that lurks around the recent death of her farther. Estes is only interested in proving himself right for the sake of his TV viewers and getting back the women he once let slip away. Dale Griffiths Stamos, explores grief and guilt in an interesting tale that allows the characters to dig deep into their intellectual side of their acting brain.
Rob Estes and Jane Hajduk are great together. They really brighten the stage with their acting skill and strong stage presence. Estes commands your attention with his perfect pitched stage voice while Hajduk pulls out her confusion and frustration she feels as the conflicted reporter with great ease.
To my disappointment Michelle Danner, a seasoned thespian, seemed to be struggling and was no match for her co-actors. I don't know if some of her choices were directional or were simply staged for her own comfort but her constant pacing and fidgeting on stage with props like tea sets, wine glasses and cupcakes was very distracting to watch and did little for her stage presence. I am surprised an accomplished director like Deborah LaVine did not see that. It was as if Danner was co-directing from the stage. I know she teaches and directs so maybe it was difficult for her to hand over the reins.
That being said, this is a great script and it's a decent enough production that I am
comfortable recommending it.
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SANTA MONICA DAILY PRESS
A drama about the afterlife and its acolytes takes shape in "One White Crow" by Dale Griffiths Stamos.
A journalist, Tess (Jane Hajduk), whose adored and recently-deceased father was the ultimate skeptic about all things supernatural, has been assigned to write a profile about a TV medium, Judith Knight (Michelle Danner). Judith's reputation has been relentlessly challenged by Alex Rimbaud (Rob Estes), a professional skeptic trained by Tess' father who has made a career of debunking such proponents of the otherworldly.
In a twist, the usually media-shy Judith will only cooperate with the profile if Tess writes it. She has a message for Tess from her father-from the other side. The tussle between Tess' deepest beliefs, instilled by her father, and a long-simmering, long-repressed mutual passion between Tess and Alex set off the tensions in the play. Skeletons in Alex' and Tess' closets will be revealed as their relationship, alongside Tess' and Judith's, deepens.
The writing is solid, the acting is natural and believable, and the arc of the drama plays out.
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