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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS : Envisioning a Dream : A Van Nuys man seeks to expose visually impaired people to theater to 'get them to live again.'

July 30, 1993|MICHAEL ARKUSH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Blindness doesn't prevent Mo Nadler from envisioning a new theater experience for the visu ally impaired.

Nadler, 76, of Van Nuys, who teaches a class at the Braille Institute in Hollywood, hopes to arrange for San Fernando Valley theater companies to perform plays before his students. He's already received a verbal commitment from Ed Gaynes, artistic director of the West End Playhouse in Van Nuys, to make future shows available.

"I want to expose them to theater," Nadler said, "to get them to live again and not be robots. Most go to class just to get out of the house."

But, he said, for most of his blind friends, finding transportation becomes an ordeal.

"We get tickets and nobody can take us," he said.

Nadler has been in love with the stage since he was a boy growing up in New York City.

"I used to stand in line and pay 50 cents to see the great thespians of all eras," he said.

As his vision began to deteriorate in the early 1970s, Nadler stopped going to plays. Two months ago, he attended his first show in 15 years when he went to the West End's performance of "Isaac Bashevis Singer's Stories for Children."

"I felt alive again," he said.

Nadler also said he hopes to eventually present plays for blind people at a Valley facility.

"BIG" COMEBACK: Last year, after a highly successful run of "Rage! I'll Be Home for Christmas," the Alliance Repertory Company in Burbank essentially closed down. It continued to hold workshops and staged readings, but it was not ready with another full-length performance to continue the momentum.

That will change in September when the company presents its first new production in almost two years--"The Big Knife" from legendary playwright Clifford Odets.

"The success of 'Rage' kind of threw people for a loop," said Meredith Wright, who recently took over as the company's assistant artistic director. "They waited and did a lot of readings but nothing happened."

Wright, along with Ron Orbach, will be in charge of selecting three other plays for the 1993-94 season.

"This is a great opportunity to work with dedicated actors who are doing this because they really love theater, not because they want to get agents," Wright said. "They already have agents."

The company is also planning to introduce a "Bagel Brunch" series Aug. 7. Each Saturday and Sunday, a one-act play will be presented after brunch.

The first two productions are "Brief Therapy," about a client who expects to be cured in one session, and "Yosepha of the Andes," about two sisters--a yuppie and a hippie--who must resolve their differences in a mountain cabin in Ecuador.

Brunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. at the Alliance Repertory Company Theatre, 3204 W. Magnolia Blvd., and the play will begin immediately afterward. Each brunch and production cost $10. Call (818) 566-7935.

LAST CASTING CALL: Stephanie Abrahamson, who has served as a liaison between the Antelope Valley and the film community since 1985, will stop volunteering Sunday.

"I will turn my answering machine on and get a real life," said Abrahamson, who plans to look for a full-time job in the film industry.

Abrahamson, who said she has assisted in the filming of scenes from such films as "Lethal Weapon 3," "Hot Shots" and "Diehard II," also said she has tried to get funding for her work from the Palmdale and Lancaster city councils, but never received an official response. A spokeswoman for Lancaster said the city has not received a formal proposal from Abrahamson since 1989.

Abrahamson said she has been paid occasionally by casting companies, but never by Antelope Valley authorities.

Abrahamson is not sure things will change that dramatically when she leaves. "There are a lot of folks who say Hollywood will film here anyway," she said.

She said she made a difference, though, by helping Antelope Valley residents land roles as extras. Without her, the film companies "might bring in more of their own people from Los Angeles," she said.

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