Thursday, May 14, 2009

Around Town: Charitable Connections

Local Realtors Fran and Rowena posted photos of Pasadena sites on their online photo-sharing account. They know that our once isolated hamlet is interconnected to other peoples, other places.

My favorite Fran and Rowena photo? The Pasadena Playhouse.

The theater, a California Mission Revival-esque marvel, was designed by Elmer Grey and built in 1925.

Last Sunday I attended an inspirational event there. Sheldon Epps, the Playhouse director, collaborated with Keren Taylor, the director of WriteGirl, a non profit program that pairs at-risk teenage girls with female mentors. During the afternoon, the girls attended play writing workshops, led by honest-to-god writers. The questions asked were practical and telling. “Where do you write?” One answer was, “I write at Carrows in Pasadena from 4:30 a.m to 9:30 a.m., every day. I tip big. Then, I’m done for the day.”

Later in the afternoon Sunday, the girls wrote their scenes. Then some girls’ pieces were performed on stage at the Playhouse. advertisement

Picture this: You are 13 and live in the inner city. You have been to the beach twice. To Disneyland? Never. Your dad has left. One day, your English teacher introduces you to a mentor, a lady from La Cañada.

She meets with you at Starbucks on Sunday afternoons. She gives you a notebook and pen. She buys you tea. She has a notebook too. You each sit and write.

One day, you go to the Pasadena Playhouse. You sit in a room with the other girls. Afterward, you write. That night, a famous actor appears on stage. Your words come to life.

The girls did not know which scenes would be selected. As each scene was announced, with the name and age of the teen writer, there were shrieks and cheers from the balcony, then utter silence as the words came to life, performed by Christine Lahti, Melora Hardin, Dana Delany, Kate Flannery, Erin O’Brien, Ellyn Stern, James Denton, Annie Potts, JoBeth Williams and Sprague Grayden. At the last minute, Angela Bassett appeared.

As the evening ended, the big question was this: “When will the WriteGirl program come to Pasadena/Tujunga/Altadena/San Gabriel?”

We are all interconnected.


ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at ANITA SUSAN BRENNER may be reached at La Cañada Valley Sun: La Cañada Flintridge, California

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