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I attended the final dress rehersal for Be it ever so Humboldt last night.  If you’ve never seen a Recycled Youth presentation, this would be a terrific year to start.  The kids and their adult helpers put together something that will hopefully make local history, bringing to the surface issues the community doesn’t often want to tackle.

In particular, the piece Secrets brought me to tears.  Initially there was considerable laughter from the audience as the kids presented a very funny local school scenario of children trying to come up with responses when their teacher asked them about their parents’ line of work.  The skit in general dealt with the load placed on children by the local industry dealing with everything from not being able to bring friends over to their homes to the nightmare scenario some local families found themselves in last June.

I was concerned that the laughing negated thinking and reflection, but at the skit’s conclusion Sara Sweet-Landes sings beautifully and seriously about the issue.  Some of the kids feel trapped.  What I hope is that the presentation will not just have parents laughing, but thinking about the burden their choices placed on the children, and maybe reflect on their obligation to make sure they are doing everthing to ensure that their kids have choices which they can make on their own, and make that the number 1 priority.

For next year I’m going to lobby the troupe to tackle the local class structure – the kids of parents who don’t grow who can’t afford the toys and clothes their friends bring to school, while their own families don’t qualify for the public benefits which often subsidize the industry lifestyle.  I’m certain they can do an excellent job.

There are also excellent pieces about homelessness (I’m told that the life stories of the individual homeless characters are based on real life experiences), teen drinking (and driving), transgender issues, chain businesses replacing local, and last spring’s trip by Sohum students to Sacramento to discuss budget cuts when they were given the runaround.  Lacing them all together was a series of vignettes of an amusing Wizard of Oz parody (following the “Yellow Dirt Road” to visit the Wizard of Hum in the “Emerald Triangle”).  Ironically, or perhaps not so, the ultimate message was identical to that of the actual story – “look within.”

Visually, my favorite was Icons, with great costumes of the various fast food chains who meet and conspire

McDonald and Wendy

McDonald and Wendy

to take over Garberville and Redway.  During that particular piece my son’s borrowed robot dinosaur makes a cameo appearance.  He was quite tickled to see it walk on stage.

The photos come courtesy of Kim Sallaway.  You can read more in Cristina’s excellent review.  Tonight, tomorrow night, and Saturday night at the Mateel.  Don’t miss this chance!

What: “Be It Ever So Humboldt,” a Recycled Youth production
Where: Mateel Community Center, Redway
When: Thursday through Saturday, Dec. 4 – 6; doors open at 7:30 p.m., curtains at 8:00 p.m.
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for 19 and under
More Info: Call 923-3368, or go to the Mateel website

Who: Recycled Youth

What: Their newest play, Be It Ever So Humboldt

When: December 4th-6th, 2008

Where: Mateel Community Center (Redway, CA)

Why: Support teen/ community theatre!

Recycled Youth’s Be It Ever So Humboldt At Mateel December 4-6

On December 4th, 5th, and 6th, the Mateel Community Center in Redway is proud to host the newest theatrical work by Recycled Youth, a teen theatre troupe directed by Joani Rose, Barbara Penny, and Susan Alexander. This year’s play is entitled Be It Ever So Humboldt, and it once again tackles a variety of important social and political topics. The play shows exclusively at the Mateel Community Center for 3 nights only on December 4th, 5th, and 6th. Doors open at 7:30pm with curtain at 8:00 for all performances. Admission is at the door only and offered for a price of $10 adults and $5 for those under 19. Additional donations will also be accepted to help support this great community program, which is made possible in part by funds from the Mateel Community Center, Mel & Grace McLean Foundation, North Coast Cultural Trust, and community donors. For more information call the Mateel office at 923-3368 or visit and don’t miss Recycled Youth in Be It Ever So Humboldt, December 4th-6th.

I saw the dress rehearsal tonight. Themes of romance, adventure, politics, religion, fear, angst, greed, consumerism, with music and dance numbers, and ironic satire surprisingly sophisticated. And some very graceful dance numbers guaranteed to get the teen hormones boiling.

The kids are great! Please go support them.

In a thread below somebody was arguing the futility of the Mateel Community Center programs, suggesting that the nonprofit should simply keep the hall open, clean, and in good repair for other groups and individuals to make use to the community benefit. A question was asked, “just how many students participate in Recycled Youth anyway?” When the question was answered (28 this year), a suggestion was made that the concert parties which various groups throw on Friday nights serve so many more people that maybe they should be the focus and presumably that Recycled Youth is an inefficient waste of resources.

Well, one item the poster should consider is that while the “participants” may number fewer than 30, the audiences include three nights at 300 plus the entire high school. But more importantly, the actual participants are learning skills as well as self-expression. The participants in the past have tended to be those on the margins of the school’s social hierarchy for whatever reason, and on their first performance at the school 10 years ago the “in crowd” booed them. Fortunately, the school performance is followed up by general public performances where the same group received standing ovations. Over the years they’ve taken on various issues from teen perspectives, sometimes pushing the audience comfort levels just a little bit – in a healthy way.

Last night I spoke to one of the repeat participants. She tells me Recycled Youth will be taking on several issues this year, including one or two issues such as the death penalty. Apparently the recent felony-murder rule execution in Texas made an impression on them. As one who believes the felony-murder rule itself should be abolished, I look forward to the skit.

But Recycled Youth this year will be addressing issues closer to home as well. They intend to perform a Romeo and Juliette adaption for the Reggae War, emphasizing the impact of the conflict on the community’s teens – something which has not been discussed. I’ve heard about kids not being invited to birthday parties where the parents are on rival sides. Kids have been forced to hear nasty things said about their parents. My understanding is that for the most part there’s a taboo at the high school against just talking about it.

I’ve made the analogy before. In Farewell to Manzanar the father was being interrogated after being brought to the Japanese-American internment camp and was asked, “which country would you prefer to win the war?” Jeanne Houston’s father responds, “if your parents were fighting, would you want one to kill the other, or would you just want them to stop fighting?”


June 2020