MONTECITO DOCENTS (PART 1)

This issue we’ve begun a special mini-series on docents and the Montecito residents behind the positions. Our first subject is Santa Barbara Museum of Art, which has two Montecito docents: Kathryn Zupsic and Shirley Waxman.

In our first profile we meet Zupsic, who says her inspiration to become a docent came after her first visit to Santa Barbara Museum 10 years ago. She had toured the museum with her daughter, Jackie, a Cold Spring School graduate. On their way out, Zupsic remembers picking up a brochure on being a docent.

“I had real trouble with public speaking and I thought this would be an interesting way to become more confident in that,” she says. “What occurred is history.”

Zupsic immediately completed the docent training program – one day per week for nine months. With her background in Spanish, she quickly became interested in creating tours for Spanish-speaking visitors and students in local schools. From there, she developed PowerPoint presentations that she brings to local elementary and high schools. The presentations include seventh grade world history, eighth grade American history, ESL, Spanish and French translations of her lectures and she recently created a high school level presentation on Santa Barbara Museum’s current exhibit, “Renaissance to Rococo.” Students at Santa Barbara High receive six credit hours when they attend her presentations.

Zupsic’s main specialty is Latin-American Art, a facet she says fulfills her love in her position by utilizing her talents in language, writing, entertaining and working with children. “The docent’s job is to bring the art work alive,” she says. “What you learn as a docent never ends; each exhibit teaches art, history, literature and challenges you to consolidate all the information into a tour…it’s just the most interesting job one can have.”

Adults interested in becoming a docent can attend the museum’s Orientation & Coffee on May 12 at 10 am. For additional details or to make a reservation, contact Kristy Thomas at 884-6434 or e-mail kthomas@sbma.net.

Cold Spring Students Visit DAWG Headquarters

Members of the Cold Spring School Student Council recently took a field trip to visit the Dog Awareness and Welfare Group (DAWG) facilities in Goleta. Each year, the school's council (grades 3-6) votes to support and promote a local non-profit organization. This year's council members donated a gift basket and a check to DAWG for $905. The funds were raised at "Olympians of Talent," a talent show presented in the school auditorium on March 3.

Students met with Bryan Moody and toured the facility, learning how to be a DAWG volunteer. And of course, each of the students met the dogs: Buzz, Mary, Rio, Isabel, Jackson, Brownie, Harry and Yankee Schnoodle (a schnauzer poodle mix) – among others.

For more information on DAWG visit www.sbdawg.com.

In ‘Hughie’ Santa Barbara Theater Passes the Test Making late changes is rarely the modus operandi of theater companies, especially the young ones. Which was why Santa Barbara Theater’s recent and sudden decision to cancel productions of “A View from the Bridge” and “Dinner With Friends” in favor of Eugene O’Neill’s “Hughie” could have been too risky. But the one-year-old theater troupe and the proven testability of the play held up mightily against the odds. In so doing, Santa Barbara Theater may have established itself as a mainstay in the local performing arts as “Hughie” made its last showing on April 15 after a 10-day run at the Center Stage Theater.

The success of “Hughie” can easily be attributed to Santa Barbara Theater’s co-artistic directors Asaad Kelada and Stephen Sachs, who were backed by producing director Albert Ihde and a stellar local cast. But the warm response by audiences may have just as much to do with the play itself. “Hughie” is among O’Neill’s most powerful, profound and funny plays, and Erie is among his greatest characters. The play takes place in the lobby of a small hotel on a West Side street in midtown New York City, between 3 am and 4 am in the summer of 1928. Erie is played by Morlan Higgins and the hotel desk clerk by Gregory Sanders. Higgins’s poignant performance ranks well in line with his predecessors Jason Robards (on Broadway) and Al Pacino (in Los Angeles).

”Hughie is timeless because Erie’s plight is timeless,” says Higgins. “The play will always be relevant.”

Asked whether the experience was worth all the last minute efforts Higgins replied, “I am looking forward to coming back next season to play Eddie Carbone in A View from the Bridge. And after the run of Exits and Entrances in New York City, who knows?” (“Exits and Entrances” opens in New York City in June 2007 starring Higgins and William Dennis Hurley.)

Santa Barbara Theater’s season rescue also included an ambitious attempt for eyebrow-raising theater with Michele Lowe’s “String of Pearls,” which runs from April 20 to May 7. Ladies, remember to wear your pearls. For more info 963-7282.