Monday, November 19, 2012

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it hard to:
  • Tell the difference between what is real and not real
  • Think clearly
  • Have normal emotional responses
  • Act normally in social situations

Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Schizophrenia affects both men and women equally. It usually begins in the teen years or young adulthood, but it may begin later in life. It tends to begin later in women, and is more mild.

Schizophrenia symptoms usually develop slowly over months or years. Sometimes you may have many symptoms, and at other times you may only have a few symptoms.

People with any type of schizophrenia may have trouble keeping friends and working. They may also have problems with anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

At first, you may have the following symptoms:
  • Irritable or tense feeling
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping

As the illness continues, you may have problems with thinking, emotions, and behavior, including:
  • Bizarre behaviors
  • Hearing or seeing things that are not there (hallucinations)
  • Isolation
  • Lack of emotion (flat affect)
  • Problems paying attention
  • Strongly held beliefs that are not real (delusions)
  • Thoughts that "jump" between different topics (“loose associations”)

Symptoms depend on the type of schizophrenia you have.

Paranoid schizophrenia symptoms may include:
  • Anxiety
  • Anger or arguing
  • False beliefs that others are trying to harm you or your loved ones

Disorganized schizophrenia symptoms may include:
  • Childlike behavior
  • Problems thinking and explaining your ideas clearly
  • Showing little emotion

During an episode of schizophrenia, you may need to stay in the hospital for safety reasons.

Antipsychotic medications are the most effective treatment for schizophrenia. They change the balance of chemicals in the brain and can help control symptoms.
These medications are usually helpful, but they can cause side effects. Many side effects can be managed, and they should not prevent you from seeking treatment for this serious condition.

Common side effects from antipsychotics may include:
  • Dizziness
  • Feelings of restlessness or "jitters"
  • Sleepiness (sedation)
  • Slowed movements
  • Tremor
  • Weight gain

Long-term use of antipsychotic medications may increase your risk for a movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia. This condition causes repeated movements that you cannot control, especially around the mouth. Call your health care provider right away if you think you may have this condition.

When schizophrenia does not improve with several antipsychotics, the medication clozapine can be helpful. Clozapine is the most effective medication for reducing schizophrenia symptoms, but it also tends to cause more side effects than other antipsychotics.

Schizophrenia is a life-long illness. Most people with this condition need to stay on antipsychotic medication for life.

Support Programs and Therapies
Supportive therapy may be helpful for many people with schizophrenia. Behavioral techniques, such as social skills training, can be used to improve social and work functioning. Job training and relationship-building classes are important.

Family members of a person with schizophrenia should be educated about the disease and offered support. Programs that offer outreach and community support services can help people who lack family and social support.

Family members and caregivers are often encouraged to help people with schizophrenia stay with their treatment.

It is important that the person with schizophrenia learns how to:
  • Take medications correctly and manage side effects
  • Notice the early signs of a relapse and what to do if symptoms return
  • Cope with symptoms that occur even while taking medication (a therapist can help)
  • Manage money
  • Use public transportation

Famous People and Schizophrenia 
There are relatively few famous people with schizophrenia because schizophrenia is a brain disorder that typically strikes people when they are quite young - age 17 to 28. People this age typically are too young to be famous, they are just starting out their professional lives after completing high school or college.

A recent Nobel Laureate in Economics, John Forbes Nash Jr., has a lifetime history of Schizophrenia but is now doing very well, as has been well documented in the book "A Beautiful Mind" and the academy award-winning movie of the same name.

Many "historical diagnoses" are frequently not entirely certain -- a "good guess" for schizophrenia includes Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln.

Following is a list of famous people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, or are highly suspected of suffering (or who had suffered) from schizophrenia.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fun Facts About the Month of March

The name of March comes from ancient Rome, when March was the first month of the year and named Martius after Mars (Ares), the Greek god of war. In Rome, where the climate is Mediterranean, March was the first month of spring, a logical point for the beginning of the year as well as the start of the military campaign season. It’s one of seven months that is 31 days long.


Aquamarine - a gemstone was believed to protect sailors, as well as to guarantee a safe voyage. The serene color of aquamarine is said to cool the temper, allowing the wearer to remain calm and levelheaded.

Bloodstone - a dark-green jasper flecked with vivid red spots of iron oxide. This ancient stone was used by the Babylonians to make seals and amulets and was believed to have healing powers, especially for blood disorders. Sometimes called the martyr's stone as legend tells that it was created when drops of Christ's blood stained some jasper at the foot of the cross.

Birth flower: Daffodil - Cheerful yellow daffodils signal the end of winter cold and the return of warmer days. If you live in a moderate climate, daffodils are among the first flowers to bust into bloom every spring, making them a symbol of rebirth.

In the language of flowers, daffodils symbolize friendship, chivalry, respect, modesty and faithfulness. Apparently, the daffodil was originally called "affodell," a variant of asphodel. No one really knows why the letter "d" was added to the front of the name, but from at least the 1500s the flowers have been playfully known in literature as "Daffadown Dilly" or "daffadowndilly."
Daffodil is the common name for all members of the genus narcissus, and many people call daffodils narcissus. In North America, daffodils are also known as jonquils, the Spanish name for the flower. Daffodils range in size from 5-inch blooms on 2-foot stems to half-inch flowers on 2-inch stems and have a sweet fragrance.

March 1st: Ohio became 17th state (1803), Nebraska became 37th state (1867), Glenn Miller born (1904), Charles Lindbergh’s baby kidnapped (1932), President Kennedy established the Peace Corps (1961), 7 officials in the Nixon White House indicted for Watergate (1974)

March 2nd: Sam Houston born (1793), Texas declared independence from Mexico (1836)

March 3rd: Missouri Compromise passed (1820), Florida became 27th state (1845), Alexander Graham Bell born (1847)

March 4th: Vermont became 14th state (1791), President Franklin Roosevelt makes famous “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” inaugural address (1933)

March 5th: Boston Massacre (1770), Joseph Stalin died (1953), Winston Churchill made “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, MO (1946)

March 6th: Michelangelo born (1475), Elizabeth Barrett Browning born (1806), Fort Alamo fell to Mexican troops (1836)

March 7th: Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone (1876)

March 9th: Amerigo Vespucci born (1451), Yuri Gagarin born (1934)

March 10th: Salvation Army founded in the US (1880), Claire Booth Luce born (1903) 

March 12th: Juliette Low founded the Girl Scouts (1912)

March 14th: Albert Einstein born (1879)

March 15th: The Ides of March (Caesar’s assassination - 44 BC)

March 17th: St. Patrick’s Day

March 19th: Dr. David Livingstone born (1813), Wyatt Earp born (1848), William Jennings Bryan born (1860) 

March 20th: Henrik Ibsen born (1828)

March 21st: Johann Sebastian Bach born (1685)

March 22nd: The ERA was passed (1972)

March 23rd: Patrick Henry ignites American Revolution with his “give me liberty or give me death!” speech (1775)

March 24th: The Philippine Islands granted independence by President Franklin Roosevelt after almost 50 years of US control (1934), Harry Houdini born (1874), Exxon Valdez oil spill (1989)

March 26th: Tennessee Williams born (1911)

March 28th: Three Mile Island nuclear accident (1979) 

March 29th: The House Select Committee on Assassinations released final report on the murders of John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King (1979)

March 30th: Vincent Van Gogh born (1853), Ronald Reagan and James Brady shot (1981)

March 31st: Daylight Savings Time goes into effect in the US (1918)

Monday, October 29, 2012

An Interview With Sharyn Rothstein, the Author of March

Over the summer one of our interns, Jeremy, had the chance to interview Sharyn Rothstein about her play March. Here's what Sharyn had to say about March, the internet, and more! 

Q. Where did you get the idea for the play?
A. I had been wanting to write a play about that time in life when you suddenly realize the world is bigger than your family, and I happened to read an article in the New York Times about role-playing games. In the article the writer cited some statistics that most people on these games choose to create avatars that are very similar to who they are in real life. I thought that was fascinating: that people would engage in an online world to alter their reality, and then makes choices that actually mimic their real lives. And I thought it was very fitting to the nature of adolescence, when we’re trying to be independent, but are still figuring out who that independent person really is. Suddenly, I knew that these two teenagers who form the heart of the play would meet in an online world.

Q. Did you play online role-playing games prior to writing March?
A. I dabbled in the Sims while growing up. When I started writing the play, I signed up for a couple of different games just to make sure that I understood the world and vocabulary. I was amazed by how complex these games have become, and how diverse.

Q. How do you think the Internet and online personas have changed people, families, and communities?
A. For this play, I was mostly interested in how the internet has changed what it means to be a teenager. It used to be that if you weren’t allowed to leave your house or your neighborhood, your frame of reference was severely limited. But now, any kid with a computer can log on and meet people all over the world. The way we make and keep friends has changed radically, and we now have the ability to share intimate details about our families and our lives with people we’ve never even met. For the characters in March, an online persona means escape and adventure are possible in a way that wasn’t imaginable for people who grew up before the internet.

Q. Have people reacted to the play in a way that surprised you?
A. One of the most consistent and consistently surprising reactions to the play is that audiences really embrace a show where the internet isn’t evil or dangerous, but actually a place where people can meet each other and share ideas and conversation. The internet has become such an integral part of our lives, but entertainment still seems to focus on its negatives, which I don’t think reflects reality. I’ve also been happily surprised by how easily audiences understand and enjoy seeing avatars on stage – for most people it’s a new theatrical experience, which is exciting, and they love that they can still connect emotionally with the characters.

Q. What are you currently working on? 
A. I have two new plays in development. Queen Bee, a dramedy about an upper-middle class American woman who gets kidnapped by Somali pirates, just had a reading at Ars Nova in New York. My newest play, All The Days, is just making its way out of my laptop and into the world… please wish it luck! 

Please join us for March, our LAST SHOW in Palo Alto, November 8th thru December 2nd. You can look up the cast, watch some videos, and more here! You can meet Sharyn after the show on Saturday, November 24th. Tickets are now available online or by calling 1-800-838-3006.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Construction Update the Third!

The construction team is just clicking right along. We have the frame for the new stage and the risers up.

The stage is the object to the right, the seat risers to the left. There will be some seats on ground level. Most of the seats are removable so we can reconfigure if we want to. We'll also have a few tall cabaret tables in case we want to do something a little bit different.

Then the work to make it a safe and functional stage started.

The upper level is getting all built out.

And the latest is the staircase to the upper level. We had to have the steel frame custom made but it's up and ready for some actual stairs!

Exciting! It's starting to feel like an actual theatre!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hey Diddle Diddle the Rhyme Behind the Play's Title

“Hey diddle diddle” is a fantasy rhyme designed to delight children with impossible images such "the Cow jumped over the Moon!" The phrase "Hey diddle diddle" can be found in the works of Shakespeare and was a colloquialism used in much the same vein as "hey nonny no" which can be found in traditional English folk ballads. The original title was "High Diddle Diddle" but this has been altered to "Hey Diddle Diddle" over the years with changes to the English language. The first known date of publication for the words of the “Hey diddle diddle” rhyme is 1765.

Hey diddle diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport
And the dish ran away with the spoon!

[ Image

Construction Update the Second!

Huge progress is being made at our new home in Redwood City.

We've gone from rough frames:

To solid walls!

That orange piece of equipment in the front is a scissors lift - it's a platform that lifts people up and down. Necessary when you're doing silly things like building an all new mezzanine. 

That little window up there is for the tech booth. The stage manager and various tech folk will sit up there during a show to run the lights and sound and program all the whizz bang effects that go into prettying up a show. 

Here's a look at the interior of the new theatre from the point of view of an actor standing on the currently imaginary stage: 

They've even got the new mezzanine up and safe enough for Executive Artistic Director Meredith Hagedorn to check out the view from the future balcony. We might have some fun VIP seating up there some day. 

I love  that on the wall across from Meredith you can see where the old staircase was.

Boom! Gone! 

And last but not least, here's a look back toward the front of the building from the new hallway. Note the size of that part of the lobby and that we've moved the front door front and center! 

It's starting to look like an actual theatre! If you come see our current show, The Little Dog Laughed (and you SHOULD because it's HILARIOUS. Don't take my word for it, here's a great review) there's a nice scale model in the lobby - check it out because it's pretty darn cool. And you'll get a better idea of what we're buildling toward. We are still fundraising for the build so if you have a few bucks, please donate in the buckets in the lobby when you're at the show or contact me (Kim) at for more information! See you at the show! 

Monday, September 10, 2012

50 Shades of Little Dog Laughed

I was doing some research on The Little Dog Laughed for some background and ran across an interview with the playwright, Douglas Carter Beane, from 2009. Here's the excerpt that initially interested me.

Julie White won a Tony for playing the ruthless agent in Little Dog Laughed who's desperate to keep her movie star client in the closet
Which, by the way, is so dated!  I joke. Certain reviewers say the play is so dated and I think, "Do you want the list?" What I was making fun of was the rules. At one point, the character says,  "I think I want to come out as a gay actor" and his agent says, "Are you British?  Are you knighted? If not, shut up!"  Now you can be on television, but you have to be the comedic character, you can't be the romantic character. So there are certain rules to it. 

And I was feeling that as a culture, maybe we've made progress in this arena. Neil Patrick Harris is probably the most visibly "out" actor in Hollywood, and he's been terrifically successful on the television comedy How I Met Your Mother as (straight) lothario Barney Stinson. Matt Bomer, the leading man on the cable television show White Collar,  recently came out as a happily partnered gay man in a long term relationship. He plays the (straight) hunk Neil Caffrey on his show to little outrage. Or so I thought until I read an online rant by Brett Easton Ellis, the author of, among other novels, American Psycho.

Here's the backstory. Ellis was up to write the screenplay for the film adaptation of the book Fifty Shades of Grey (and we're not even going to talk about that). Ellis had been publicly talking about how much he wanted the job, was fantasy casting online with his fans, and so on. Then Ellis announced that he'd met with the producers and he was out of the running. A number of ladies are suggesting that Matt Bomer could easily take on the lead role of Christian Grey. Ellis started Tweeting that, basically, no, Bomer couldn't be Christian Grey because he "comes off totally gay in White Collar." He then said "I am NOT discriminating Matt Bomer because of his sexuality. Fifty Shades of Grey demands an actor that is genuinely into women. Get it?!?" Ellis also Tweeted that "Hollywood is the most homophobic place in the entire world."

So maybe Beane's 2009 interview stands.

I think it's kind of funny, Christian Bale played Patrick Bateman in the film adaptation of American Psycho and nobody thought "you know, he's not really a serial killer." We have actors regularly playing superheroes, vampires, doctors, and scientists and nobody bats an eye. (I mean, Denise Richards played a nuclear physicist named Christmas Jones in that James Bond movie.) It's called acting - you're playing a part. Does an actors' personal life really matter? If a woman hasn't had children should she never play a mom? Where's the distinction made? Why is it that "playing it straight" still raises some eyebrows?

Watch the play and tell me what YOU think.

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Construction Update

We broke ground at our new facility on Broadway in downtown Redwood City a few weeks ago and our contractor, Louis, is just building like crazy and it's starting to look like, you know, a theatre!

We started like this, at the July Sneak Peek event:

The staircase is on the left, there's a half balcony with office space, and under the stairs are offices. There's HVAC piping all over the place for the heating and cooling systems.

Then demolition happened. First the carpeting was pulled up.

 Then the HVAC piping came down.

Then walls started coming down.

The offices under the stairs are basically where the backstage will be.

Looking to the front from the back of the building. That open space on the right WAS office space. 

And the side staircase came out and the framing for the walls went up.

Louis conferring with our architects from Chiu Lao Architecture Design.

The mezzanine walls were gutted because we're expanding it. We'll have an office, a classroom, the tech booth, and a small balcony upstairs when we're done.

All of the walls are getting framed out so the shape of the theatre is becoming more clear.

This is the view from the current front door. 

This is the view of the new lobby.

The framing for the upstairs.

This is the back wall of the theatre where the fixed seats will go.

Not bad for only a few weeks work! We're making great progress on our fundraising efforts but still have a ways to go. If you can help us with a gift, please visit our fundraising page for details on how you can help build the next generation of the Dragon Theatre in downtown Redwood City!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fun Facts About Redwood City

Since we're starting to spend more time downtown, I wanted to learn a little more about our new home. Here's what I've learned about Redwood City so far...

Redwood City's Slogan

Redwood City's slogan, emblazoned on arches across Broadway at the east and west entrances to downtown, is "Climate Best By Government Test." This is based on a climatological survey conducted by the United States and German governments prior to World War I. The area centered on Redwood City tied for the world's best climate with the Canary Islands and North Africa's Mediterranean Coast.

Education in Redwood City

Sequoia High School is a high school in downtown Redwood City, California, United States. Established in 1895, it is the oldest high school in the San Francisco Bay Area between San Francisco and San Jose. It was founded as a preparatory school for Stanford University. Today, it is one of the few schools to offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme within the Bay Area.

The present-day campus is located on the grounds of the former estate of Horace Hawes, author of the legislative bill that created San Mateo County. The grounds include a Japanese tea garden and is surrounded by a number of historical trees; the Giant Sequoia, Monkey-puzzle tree, Australian Tea tree, Ginkgo biloba trees, Cork Oak tree and many others.

Sequoia High School is part of the Sequoia Union High School District.

On September 13, 2007 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger visited Sequoia High School to sign bill SB 33, which prohibits persons who are under the age of 18 years from using a wireless telephone or other mobile service device while operating a motor vehicle.

Law and Order in Redwood City
The Scott Peterson trial was held in Redwood City.

In 1976, Patty Hearst was held at the San Mateo County jail, as it was the most secure facility in the Bay Area at the time. Hearst, the heiress and granddaughter of the legendary newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped by a radical group, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), and made national headlines when she joined the group in a series of crimes.

Author Ken Kesey spent time in the San Mateo County jail in 1967 for possession of marijuana. During his incarceration he wrote Kesey’s Jail Journal.

In addition to the new 20-screen theatre, major improvements were made to the historical courthouse located on Broadway. In the late 30's an addition was built in front of the original structure, obscuring the view. It was torn down as part of the revitalization project. The building has been replaced with a large courtyard flanked by water fountains on either side, leading to the main steps of the courthouse. The courthouse's glass dome is lit at night and changes colors every 11 seconds.

On Location in Redwood City
Harold and Maude was filmed at various Northern California locations. There is a scene of Maude liberating a "poor tree that can't breathe" which was filmed in front of the San Mateo County Government Center in downtown.

The courthouse scenes of Mrs. Doubtfire were filmed at the Redwood City courthouse.

Famous Redwood City Residents

  • Gary Beban: 1967 Heisman Trophy winner, briefly played professional football for the Washington Redskins.
  • Ray Dolby: 1951 Founder of Dolby Laboratories, producer of Dolby Sound used in nearly every movie.
  • Spencer Folau: 1991 Super Bowl Championship Team with the Baltimore Ravens.
  • Tim Genis: 1984 Boston Symphony Lead Timpanist
  • Roger Dennis "Denny" Hansen: Rhodes Scholar All American Swimmer @ Sequoia, Yale University, Subject of Calvin Trillin's Remembering Denny (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1993; the true story of a golden boy's rise and fall),
  • Charles Johnson: professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors.
  • Paul McClellan: Major League Baseball (MLB) player for the San Francisco Giants.
  • Gordon Moore: 1946 Co-founder of Intel Corporation, best known for Moore's Law.
  • Paul Noce: former MLB player with the Chicago Cubs.
  • Kenny Ortega: 1968 Emmy Award winner and Director and Choreographer for the High School Musical franchise. Longtime choreographer for Michael Jackson. Directed and choreographed the film Newsies.
  • Eric Dane (in school as Eric Feldman): Former Student 1987–1990 — Actor on Grey's Anatomy and Marley & Me.
  • Dick Sharon: former MLB player.
  • Dick Stuart: former MLB player with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Bob Svihus: 1961 Played with the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets from 1965–1973.
  • Tim Twietmeyer: Ultramarathon runner, best known for his completing the Western States Endurance Run more than 25 times in under 24 hours.
  • Linda Cardellini: actress born in Redwood City, best known for her roles in ER and Freaks & Geeks.

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