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Theater Fund-Raiser to Stage Swimm Shorts


You've heard about "Swimming to Cambodia," Spaulding Gray's hit monologue about his experiences acting in the film "The Killing Fields."

Now comes "Swimming to Santa Ana," wherein the New Voices Playwrights Workshop hops on the versatile shoulders of one of its members, Tom Swimm, to raise a chunk of the money the writers' consortium needs to drop anchor at a theater of its own in the downtown Artists Village.

Swimm earns his living with his brush, selling his oil paintings to collectors. Playwriting has become his second passion; hence "Visions & Voices," a benefit showcase of his artwork and stagecraft Sept. 11 at the Laguna Playhouse's Moulton Theatre in Laguna Beach.

Four of Swimm's short plays will make up the bulk of the theatrical evening.

The titles are "Rain Delay," "Just a Little More Blue," "Bed," and "Humphrey, Nevada." Swimm also will present a monologue, "Power of the Picket Fence," written by fellow New Voices member Amity Westcott.

Meanwhile, some of his new paintings will be on display and for sale in the lobby. A Laguna Beach landscape by Swimm will be auctioned at intermission, and more works by him and other artists will be among the items in a pre-show silent auction.

The planned New Voices theater would be a showcase for its members' work as well as other new plays.

Negotiations are proceeding on two fronts, according to the group's president, Michael Buss.

The more likely, but more expensive possibility, is a move into a newly renovated space at Broadway and Third Street. The other would be to take over the former Alternative Repertory Theatre stage in the nearby Grand Central Art Center.

The first option--which would cost about $40,000--requires special construction to equip the space for theater.a

The Grand Central theater comes ready-made, but officials at Cal State Fullerton, which operates the center, have not yet made up their minds about what to do with it.

Mike McGee, project administrator, said Cal State's options include renting the 82-seat theater to a single tenant as in the past, turning it over to the university's theater department as a satellite stage for student productions, or bringing in a coordinator who would book various groups on a show-by-show basis.

Swimm's medley on stage and canvas begins at 6:30 p.m. with a reception; the plays start at 8 p.m. $25 to $75. (949) 225-4125.

Now Onstage--Golf

There may or may not be truth to the rumor--originated right here--that Stephen Sondheim is working on a new golf musical called "Into the (Tiger) Woods."

If so, New Voices founder Christopher Trela can brag that he teed off first with a golf script of his own.

"The Science of Golf" plays Saturday through Monday at the Discovery Science Center, in conjunction with the Santa Ana museum's "Par for the Planet" exhibit detailing the physics of the world's most frustrating (unless you're Tiger Woods) sport.

Actor Scott Ratner plays Ben Golf, doctor of drivers and professor of putters, in this half-hour nonfiction monologue, which seeks to explain in entertaining fashion how the physics of the golf swing and the aerodynamics of the golf ball result in totally unexpected and dismaying flight patterns (unless you're Tiger Woods).

Trela, the Discovery center's public relations and marketing manager, says his golf swing has improved markedly since he researched his play, but his scores remain dubious.

"I do play, but my handicap is not one I'd rather go on record about," he said. "Miniature golf I do pretty well."

Shows are at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. and are included in the museum admission price of $7.50 to $9.50. (714) 542-2823.

Playwrights Plan Reading

The county's other playwrights' consortium, the Orange County Playwrights Alliance, serves up a four-course menu of staged readings of its members' work Sept. 9 at 2 p.m. at Stages, 400 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton.

Themes include mothers and daughters, fathers and sons and a man's struggles with sexual identity on a program that features "Onionfish" by Johnna Adams and Martin E. Williams, "Magic Box, Evil Eye" by Jordan R. Young, "Cocktails" by Richard Freedman and Alex Dorman, and "I Remember China" by Eric Eberwein. $5. (714) 850-1176.

Ensemble Takes Five

The Ensemble Theatre in Orange is on indefinite hiatus due to poor attendance and more pressing show business for its founder, Roosevelt Blankenship Jr.

Blankenship says he is devoting most of his time and effort to marketing a new interactive show called "Happy Anniversary, Angel, Love, Gino," that he hopes to put on at hotels, private parties, corporate events and the like.

The 50-seat Ensemble, founded in 1992, had announced an ambitious six-play 2000 season of one original plus five standard repertory works, including plays by David Mamet, Sam Shepard and Harold Pinter.

But the original show, "Volcano," received withering reviews when it opened in February. The Ensemble staged a second play, "On Golden Pond."

Attendance for the two shows averaged only eight to 10 people, Blankenship said, and the for-profit Ensemble could not afford to mount a full season.

While the interactive shows will be the focus of his Eastern Boys Productions company, Blankenship said he will keep the Ensemble active as a creative outlet and to maintain a local profile.

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