OLLI Executive Director Jennifer Disano hosts Barbara Comstock, former Republican representative in Virginia’s 10th congressional district, in discussion of perspectives on the 2020 elections, July 1
(also live on You Tube)
Attend the Contemporary American Theater Festival Online This July By Norma Jean Reck, Theater Lovers’ Group CoordinatorThe Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF), one of the top theater festivals in the world, is held during the month of July at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Each summer, CATF produces six new plays in rotating repertory for a global audience. It prides itself on performing the newest plays in America, in the oldest town in West Virginia.
This July, CATF was to celebrate its 30th anniversary and OLLI Theater Lovers’ Group members had planned to be there. Enter COVID-19 and the three CATF theaters went dark.
However, founder and producing director Ed Herendeen and his creative crew were up to the challenge. They decided to hold the 30th anniversary celebration in July 2021, promised the six playwrights that their plays would be produced in 2021, found ways to keep CATF personnel on, and, most importantly, created CATFUNMUTED to engage their growing audience in unique, digital, theatrical experiences in July 2020—for free.
“CATFUNMUTED gives you an exclusive deep-dive into what it takes to produce six bold, new plays,” according to the brochure. The program is scheduled for three Saturdays—July 11, 18, and 25. Each Saturday will feature two sessions: one at 12 noon and the other at 5:00. During the sessions, you will have direct access to playwrights, actors, directors, and designers—the people who bring the plays to life. You will learn about the artistic process, see scenes from each of the six plays, and speak with all six playwrights. To participate, you must register online by going to www.catf.org. Space is limited.
The themes of the six plays are quite current. The plays are: Ushuaia Blue by Caridad Svich that examines how humans relate to their environment and to each other; Whitelisted by Chisa Hutchinson, a world premiere that challenges the audience to see and acknowledge the tense dynamics of gentrification and disappearing neighborhood cultures; Sheepdog, by Kevin Artigue, a love story that examines racial bias and race in law enforcement and relations; Babel by Jaqueline Goldfinger, a comedy that addresses the extent of human arrogance and how we control it in parenthood; The House of the Negro Insane by Terence Anthony, a historic drama that studies the ramifications of incarceration; and The Fifth Domain by Victor Lesniewski that asks just how secure is our country’s cybersecurity.
Jeanne Muir, CATF staff, emailed that if I were to send her the names and email addresses of the OLLI members who will be participating in CATFUNMUTED, she would email reminders. If you would like to participate with OLLI, please email me your name and contact information at email@example.com. Note: Only one person per household should sign up.
Looking forward to seeing you at CATF theater soon.
Photography Club By Edward Marion, Photography Club Co-CoordinatorPlease join us for our next regular Zoom meeting on July 10. We will welcome Rosalyn Schanzer as our guest speaker, presenting “Jaw-dropping, Eye-popping Shots You Never Noticed:” Ten astonishing ways to uncover photo ops in the most unlikely places (and a few tips to make them shine to boot.) She is the author and illustrator of 16 award-winning books published by National Geographic, HarperCollins, and more. An avid photographer and world traveler, who speaks nationally and internationally, Roz has also presented numerous illustrated shows at OLLI.
The theme for July photo of the month has been changed to “Nearby Old Towns, Our Heritage.” The first thoughts that come to mind when we think of “nearby old towns” are likely Alexandria, Fairfax Court House (yes, that was its name at one time), and Falls Church. But there are many remnants of old towns very near to each of us in otherwise recently built-up areas, such as Herndon, Vienna, and Falls Church. Even besides those towns are Burke, Wiehle (the station still exists), and Clifton.
For further inspiration, click this link. For these places, try capturing the historical architecture, the landscape, contemporary things (buildings, parks, utilities), or how people use the area today. And remember the key word: nearby.
Upload links for photos will be sent to members in a follow up email next week. For non-members wishing to join and participate, email Edward Marion and I will send you the links.
By John Nash, E-News Staff Writer and Editorial Team
Many OLLI members are learning some important facts about our nation’s march to independence through a wonderful OLLI class on one of our country’s most sacred documents, the Declaration of Independence. “The Declaration Deconstructed,” taught by Heather Dudley via Zoom, explains how our forefathers developed this important document and many of its meanings. Heather, a historian, also taught a very popular course in the spring on understanding the U.S. Constitution.
According to Heather, the Continental Congress was having a tough time agreeing on a way to declare our freedom from Great Britain, so a committee of five people—Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston—was appointed to draft a document that would declare the independence of the 13 colonies. Thomas Jefferson was appointed to write the first draft, with changes made by other committee members. Heather pointed out that the declaration, a very poetic document, was written to be read to the colonists as printing was expensive and many people couldn’t read.
John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, that July 2 would be a celebrated day for the colonies as that was the day the congress approved independence. However, July 4, the day the congress ratified the actual text, became the celebrated day of independence. John Hancock was the first to sign the document and he did so with great flourish, saying he wanted the king to be able to read his signature. Interestingly, most others signed the declaration, a copy of which is in the national archives, on August 2, 1776.
Here are some other ‘fun facts” about the Declaration of Independence:
The first flag, designed later, had thirteen stars in a circle so no colony would be more important;
Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey as a national symbol but was outvoted by Thomas Jefferson and John Adams who championed the bald eagle;
Every July 4th, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia is tapped 13 times…not rung;
Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence, with two of them, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, later becoming presidents of the United States. Benjamin Franklin was the oldest at age 70; Edward Rutledge was the youngest at age 26.
Take a moment this July 4th to think about what an incredible course of events led to founding the greatest democracy on Earth. Let us always revere the courage of our forefathers and do our best to keep our country great.
Although Mason’s campus is shut down, online entertainment continues for us to access and enjoy. Dr. Linda Apple Monson produces a periodic “Notes from the Director.” This email is full of interesting online performances by the students and faculty of the School of Music. If you would like to receive these bulletins, just send an email to Brianna Schoen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, the Center for the Arts has a website Mason Arts at Home which has a calendar of on-line events.
Meetings & Clubs
Please note: Physical meetings for clubs and activities are canceled until further notice in accordance with Mason’s guidelines. OLLI is conducting its classes and activities online. Refer to the university’s coronavirus website for official university updates and check the OLLI Calendar for revised information.
The following list covering the next two weeks is extracted for your convenience from the master online calendar maintained by the office, with direct web links added when available. The list is accurate as of mid-week but for the most up-to-date information, please view the latest forecast of coming events on our website (News/OLLI Calendar). Note: All OLLI members are welcome at, and encouraged to attend (online), meetings of the Board of Directors, committees and resource groups, kick-off coffees, etc. (bolded below).
Sat Jul 4
Mon Jul 6
What’s in the Daily News?–Zoom (Meeting ID: 825 1457 5625)
OLLI E-News was created by Rod Zumbro, who served as its editor from 2005 to 2013.
Chief Editor: Paul Van Hemel
Associate Editor: David Gundry
Weekly Editor Team: David Gundry, John Nash, Sheri Siesseger, Leslie Vandivere,
Paul Van Hemel Proofreaders: Rebecca Jann, Susan Van Hemel, Linda Randall, Tom Appich, Roz Stark,
Backup Chief Editor: Alice Slayton Clark
Submissions: Members are encouraged to submit letters to the editor, letters to Ms. Ollie Ettakit (on etiquette matters), OLLI-related news items, articles, and photos. Submit material to: email@example.com. Deadline: Tuesday, 6:00, for that week’s issue (Monday, 6:00, for letters to the editor); early submissions are greatly appreciated. Please limit articles to about 250 words. Note: You can view past issues of OLLI E-News on the DocStore. To search the content of issues, use Search Our Site or put your search term in Google followed by “site:olli.gmu.edu/” without the quotes.