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Arts & Entertainment Presented by Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts


Gerald Carpenter: Speaking of Stories Offers 2nd Night of ‘Nothing But Laughs’

By Gerald Carpenter, Noozhawk Contributor |

Speaking of Stories will present the second and final night of “Nothing But Laughs” at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Center Stage Theater in Paseo Nuevo Mall.

Somerset Maugham wasn’t always the wrinkled squinter of his later public persona.
Somerset Maugham wasn’t always the wrinkled squinter of his later public persona.

The great — and I’m not just using boiler plate — actors participating in this offering will be reading, as the title implies, only the funny stuff. Any tears that flow will be tears of laughter. They had to use great actors because — as any actor will tell you — dying is easy, comedy is hard.

We will be treated to Nicholas Woolf reading Three Fat Women of Antibes by Somerset Maugham, Rudy Willrich reading Confido by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Leslie Story reading Returns and Exchanges by Elizabeth Berg and E. Bonnie Lewis reading Awake by Jenny Allen. Such a lineup is, as William Shakespeare said, devoutly to be wished.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, I note that men are reading stories written by men, while women are reading stories written by women. It can’t be a coincidence. One can easily imagine a very different arrangement, born of some overzealous leveler’s misguided notion of equality.

For the writer, there is nothing more personal than the voice, and the gender is always part of the person. For the actor, it is always useful, and more fun, to have a character to build — in this case, the author. It’s all in the voice, though. Willrich’s not going to come on sporting a cookie-duster mustache and smoking Vonnegut’s Pall Malls. At least, I hope he isn’t.

But how each writer writes is embedded in how that writer speaks. In one of his prefaces, Vonnegut recalled an anthropology class he took as an undergraduate.

“At that time,” he said, “they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody, anywhere, ever. They are probably still saying it.”

When I met him, back at the end of the 1960s, that is exactly what he sounded like, if you know what I mean. Writers aren’t undecided voters or disembodied neuters. It matters that a writer should sound like herself, not the HAL 9000, or himself, not a prosthetic voice box.

Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for students and military. Tickets are available at the door, by calling 805.963.0408 or online by clicking here.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are his own.

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