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Lesser God

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ENTERTAINMENT
October 3, 1986 | KEVIN THOMAS, Times Staff Writer
For why is all around us here As if some lesser god had made the world, But had not force to shape it as he would? --"Idylls of the King," Alfred Lord Tennyson "Children of a Lesser God" (citywide), which had its stage premiere at the Mark Taper in 1979, is an exceptionally adroit adaptation of a play to the screen. As a film, it flows beautifully under Randa Haines' direction and has considerable humor as well as dramatic intensity.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 12, 2014 | Times staff and wire reports
Phyllis Frelich, a deaf actress who received a Tony award in 1980 for her performance in "Children of a Lesser God," has died at her Temple City home. She was 70. The cause of her death Thursday was progressive supranuclear palsy, her husband, Robert Steinberg, said. PSP is a rare neurological condition that also took the life of actor Dudley Moore in 2002. Born Feb. 29, 1944, in Devils Lake, N.D., Frelich was one of nine deaf children. Her parents were deaf as well. Credited with paving the way for other deaf performers, she never dreamed of acting until attending Gallaudet College, a school for the deaf in Washington, D.C. "The dream was to get out of wherever you were and meet and mingle with the cream of the deaf world, all together in one place," she told The Times in 2001.
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ENTERTAINMENT
September 25, 2009 | Charlotte Stoudt; F. Kathleen Foley; David C. Nichols
Sure, it's earnest, occasionally clunky and a little too long. But as Deaf West's revival makes clear, "Children of a Lesser God" remains remarkably durable, both as a landmark drama of the deaf experience and a portrait of a tempestuous marriage between equals. Mark Medoff's dramedy moved from the Mark Taper Forum to take Broadway by storm in 1980. The play's passionate cry for self-determination resonated at a moment when the struggles of many marginalized communities came to national consciousness.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 21, 2011 | By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times
His isn't a household name. But if you know who Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin is — if you've seen her on "Ellen" or caught a recent episode of "Celebrity Apprentice" — you're likely to recognize Jack Jason: He's the short man with close-cropped hair, lending his voice to her words. He stands at her side at movie premieres and shares the stage with her on talk shows. When Matlin won the Oscar in 1987 for her role in "Children of a Lesser God," it was his emotive voice adding sound to the young deaf actress' signs of appreciation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 12, 2014 | Times staff and wire reports
Phyllis Frelich, a deaf actress who received a Tony award in 1980 for her performance in "Children of a Lesser God," has died at her Temple City home. She was 70. The cause of her death Thursday was progressive supranuclear palsy, her husband, Robert Steinberg, said. PSP is a rare neurological condition that also took the life of actor Dudley Moore in 2002. Born Feb. 29, 1944, in Devils Lake, N.D., Frelich was one of nine deaf children. Her parents were deaf as well. Credited with paving the way for other deaf performers, she never dreamed of acting until attending Gallaudet College, a school for the deaf in Washington, D.C. "The dream was to get out of wherever you were and meet and mingle with the cream of the deaf world, all together in one place," she told The Times in 2001.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 21, 1991 | JUDITH MICHAELSON, Judith Michaelson is a Times staff writer
Randa Haines sits high in a director's chair--a tall, slim woman with a cascade of dark curly hair and an array of silver and turquoise bracelets--the only woman in a semicircle of men. Peering at the screen in the final days of post-production on "The Doctor"--her first feature movie since the much-acclaimed "Children of a Lesser God" five years ago, and her second movie starring William Hurt--her voice is soft, her manner calm and long fingers seemingly...
ENTERTAINMENT
May 21, 2011 | By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times
His isn't a household name. But if you know who Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin is — if you've seen her on "Ellen" or caught a recent episode of "Celebrity Apprentice" — you're likely to recognize Jack Jason: He's the short man with close-cropped hair, lending his voice to her words. He stands at her side at movie premieres and shares the stage with her on talk shows. When Matlin won the Oscar in 1987 for her role in "Children of a Lesser God," it was his emotive voice adding sound to the young deaf actress' signs of appreciation.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 30, 1987 | Academy Awards news, views and statistics from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press
Should William Hurt win best actor for his performance in "Children of a Lesser God," it would mark the first time since 1938 that one man has won that award two years in a row. Hurt (who won in 1986 for "Kiss of the Spider Woman") would repeat Spencer Tracy's feat in 1937--when Tracy won for "Captains Courageous"--and in 1938, when the actor won again for "Boys Town."
NEWS
April 5, 1987
Not only was Marlee Matlin's Oscar victory a satisfying response to her wonderful performance in "Children of a Lesser God," but it was a gratifying rebuttal to Rex Reed's inane comments about her (Outtakes, March 22). I do not agree, however, that Reed should no longer be given newspaper space, simply because he's mentally impaired. With that attitude, how many critics would be left? BARRY CUTLER Los Angeles
ENTERTAINMENT
October 20, 2002 | Diane Haithman, Times Staff Writer
For the next few weeks, things may be a little quieter backstage at the Mark Taper Forum. That's because some Taper staff members have begun signing to each other instead of speaking -- busily practicing their new skills in American Sign Language in preparation for the Nov. 14 opening of Deaf West Theatre's musical "Big River -- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," performed by a cast of hearing and deaf actors using music, voice, sign language and dance.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 25, 2009 | Charlotte Stoudt; F. Kathleen Foley; David C. Nichols
Sure, it's earnest, occasionally clunky and a little too long. But as Deaf West's revival makes clear, "Children of a Lesser God" remains remarkably durable, both as a landmark drama of the deaf experience and a portrait of a tempestuous marriage between equals. Mark Medoff's dramedy moved from the Mark Taper Forum to take Broadway by storm in 1980. The play's passionate cry for self-determination resonated at a moment when the struggles of many marginalized communities came to national consciousness.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 13, 2007 | Philip Brandes, Special to The Times
Nearly 30 years after Mark Medoff's watershed "Children of a Lesser God" reshaped popular attitudes toward deafness, watching Rubicon Theatre's revival inevitably invites the question of how much progress we've made toward solving the issues it raised. The short answer is: enough to make the play feel dated in spots, but not enough to diminish its relevance.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 20, 2002 | Diane Haithman, Times Staff Writer
For the next few weeks, things may be a little quieter backstage at the Mark Taper Forum. That's because some Taper staff members have begun signing to each other instead of speaking -- busily practicing their new skills in American Sign Language in preparation for the Nov. 14 opening of Deaf West Theatre's musical "Big River -- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," performed by a cast of hearing and deaf actors using music, voice, sign language and dance.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 27, 2000 | TODD EVERETT, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Ventura County's unofficial Neil Simon festival continues with the current run of "God's Favorite" at the Ojai Center for the Arts. One of Simon's less well-received plays at its original 1974 run, it's a seriocomic retelling of the biblical book of Job, set in contemporary New York City. It wasn't an original idea: Poet and playwright Archibald MacLeish had done pretty much the same thing with "J.B.," with some success, in 1958.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 25, 1996 | Jan Breslauer, Jan Breslauer is a regular contributor to Calendar
Although she loved the stage, Phyllis Frelich grew up with little hope of becoming an actress. "I always enjoyed theater," she explains in an interview, speaking through her interpreter and husband, set designer Robert Steinberg. "But when I was young, it was hard to have those thoughts [of being an actress]. "There were no careers [in the theater] for deaf people," she continues. "And there was no way for a deaf person to study theater." That was back in the 1950s.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 15, 1992
Who should they have hired to do "Children of a Lesser God" if not Marlee Matlin? I myself have been pitching a movie of the week around town about the disability movement as a civil rights movement--a great story based on a true event. I'm asked about putting Jaclyn Smith in a wheelchair. My response is that it would be insulting as well as counterproductive for the 43 million people with disabilities in America to have an able-bodied woman play a disabled civil rights activist in a movie about an event that changed history.
ENTERTAINMENT
March 28, 1987
A new category should be added to the Academy Hall of Shame: Worst Remark Uttered by a Movie Critic. According to Rex Reed, nominating Marlee Matlin for an Oscar for her role in "Children of a Lesser God" would be a waste because there aren't many (if any) roles for a "deaf mute" to perform (Outtakes, by John M. Wilson, March 22). Ahem. Correct me if I'm wrong, Mr. Reed, but aren't the Oscars given for a single performance, not for past or future roles? Whether or not there will be other roles for Matlin to perform in is irrelevant; it is her fine performance in "Children" that matters and should be recognized.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 15, 1992
Who should they have hired to do "Children of a Lesser God" if not Marlee Matlin? I myself have been pitching a movie of the week around town about the disability movement as a civil rights movement--a great story based on a true event. I'm asked about putting Jaclyn Smith in a wheelchair. My response is that it would be insulting as well as counterproductive for the 43 million people with disabilities in America to have an able-bodied woman play a disabled civil rights activist in a movie about an event that changed history.
NEWS
May 4, 1992 | JACK SMITH
As movies are the common denominator of our culture, we remember certain scenes, certain conflicts, certain endings all our lives. Who can forget when Clark Gable carried Vivien Leigh upstairs in "Gone With the Wind"? Or when Richard Gere carried Debra Winger out of the factory in "An Officer and a Gentleman"? We also remember some last lines. Last lines are a critical part of any movie. They often summarize the story and suggest the future.
ENTERTAINMENT
July 21, 1991 | JUDITH MICHAELSON, Judith Michaelson is a Times staff writer
Randa Haines sits high in a director's chair--a tall, slim woman with a cascade of dark curly hair and an array of silver and turquoise bracelets--the only woman in a semicircle of men. Peering at the screen in the final days of post-production on "The Doctor"--her first feature movie since the much-acclaimed "Children of a Lesser God" five years ago, and her second movie starring William Hurt--her voice is soft, her manner calm and long fingers seemingly...
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