Thursday, February 22 , 2018, 10:37 pm | Overcast 50º


‘The Jaguar’s Nest’ Performs Encore with VIP Reception at Center Stage Theater

Guests enjoy music and hors d'oeuvres between performances as co-writers Maria Lane Ross and Ed Giron lead a Q&A session

An outdoor VIP reception was held recently on the lovely patio adjacent to the Center Stage Theater between two well-attended performances of The Jaguar’s Nest.

Hors d’oeuvres, desserts and coffees were donated by local purveyors such as Marmalade Cafe, Cadiz Restaurant, Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Opal Restaurant, Pascucci, Sojourner Restaurant & Cafe, Savoy Cafe, Bouchon, Blush Restaurant & Lounge, Adama Vegan Restaurant and Petros.

Sponsors and guests mingled in the light of the setting sun, enjoying the live music performed by local vocalist Lois Mahalia and trio. Several couples broke out in dance to the world-class jazz notes. A lively a cappella group, The Ronelles, entertained guests before the first performance with oldies and doo wop tunes.

Joining the crowd at the reception between the two performances were some of the actors, including Leslie Story, Jesi Vasquez, Rosee McNeel, Bill Waxman, Carol Metcalf, Ed Giron, Martha Sadler, Jerry Oshinsky, Aden Hailu, Tyler Whitmore and Christopher Morris Danh, as well as stage manager Kat Garcia and technical director Brad Spaulding.

Sponsors included the Santa Barbara Foundation, The Fund for Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. Congratulatory proclamations were awarded during both performances by Santa Barbara City Councilwoman Cathy Murillo, Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal and state Assemblyman Das Williams.

The original play was developed by Santa Barbara author Maria Lane Ross and veteran director, actor and playwright Ed Giron, who joined forces to bring the world premiere of The Jaguar’s Nest to Santa Barbara. A former entertainment attorney, Ross was the producer, co-writer and story creator.

Ross describes the work as “a little masterpiece play about a fictional story of an individual’s struggle against a society that neglects mental illness. It is funny, irreverent, dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking.”

The question-and-answer session after the first performance was well-received, with about a quarter of the audience staying seated and asking questions of the author and director. Several psychologists as well as homeless and mental health advocates offered their verbal support of Ross’ premises during the Q&A.

Giron explained that the cast had to read from scripts because of the short timeline of the production, which was only four weeks from start to finish — not enough time for the actors to memorize two hours of dialogue. Dialogue was cleverly interspersed with music performed by excellent pianist John Enrico Douglas.

Ross said during the Q&A that she feels the big problem in the mental health system is that patients are offered medication, not therapy, and that licensed therapists are promoted to administrators so they don’t have time to provide to patients. Members of the audience asked, “What can a person from the public do about this?” Ross and Giron answered that building awareness in public officials is essential.

Proceeds from the performances benefited the nonprofit organization Peoples’ Self-Help Housing, with the specific designated purpose of providing the emotionally challenged, low-income residents of Santa Barbara complimentary access to the cultural events Santa Barbara has to offer.

Ross announced at the reception that creation of a new nonprofit effort called Cultural Access for All, which will provide funding for tickets and coordinate obtaining free tickets for cultural events in Santa Barbara for the underprivileged.

She said she plans to write a book about her life and to make The Jaguar’s Nest into a movie. If anyone can, it is Ross. Her drive and determination created the play, created the performance, garnered the sponsors and built the audience. The play has paid all of its bills and made its first installment donation of $1,000 to Peoples’ Self-Help Housing for its Cultural Access for All fund.

Noozhawk contributing writer Rochelle Rose can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook and Noozhawk on Pinterest.

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