Available now for free viewing on YouTube: Hard Times in Sugar Town! This show presents parallels and insights into our present-day crises….
Filmed in nostalgic black and white, Hard Times in Sugar Town is an evening of songs from the Depression Era and an original story by yours truly, featuring Derrick Jenkins, Tiffany Estrada, and Frank Eisele.
Directed by Charles Urban with Enel Kerler as Assistant Director and Susan Schwarz as The Host.
“History does not repeat itself – at best it sometimes rhymes.” – Mark Twain
HARD TIMES IN SUGAR TOWN by Jadi Campbell
July 5 at 20:00 hrs in MERLIN
HARD TIMES IN SUGAR TOWN is an evening of songs from the Depression Era and an original story by Jadi Campbell featuring Derrick Jenkins, Tiffany Estrada, Frank Eisele. This show is the FIRST LIVE installment of the DARK MONDAY @ series in 2021!
The Dirty Thirties were a time of failed crops and banks, repossessed farms, and massive unemployment. The decade generated a great creative response to the country’s suffering, with the brilliant banter of screen stars, and poignant and pointed music lyrics.
When the U.S. stock market crashed in October 1929, it brought HARD TIMES to the nation. The Great Crash soon became the Great Depression – for millions of businesses and individuals, fear and failure became as commonplace as the optimism and prosperity had been before the economic collapse during the high spirited Roaring Twenties. In the downward spiral which lasted for a decade, society was devastated. During the bleakest point of the Great Depression, about a quarter of the U.S. workforce was unemployed. Those that were lucky enough to have steady employment often saw their wages cut or their hours reduced to part-time. Sound familiar?
Mark Twain states – “History does not repeat itself – at best it sometimes rhymes.”
During the 1920s, business owners pretty much did whatever they wanted and the rich got obscenely richer. Like today’s corona virus-driven economic crash, the Great Depression devastated a nation where things were already awful for a lot of people. Like the opportunists of today, business titans of the 1930’s, such as the 18 year old millionaire Howard Hughes, actually grew their fortunes thanks to shrewd investments, fortuitous timing and entrepreneurial vision.
The downtrodden population was in dire need of distraction and uplifting entertainment to take their minds off the troubling times at hand. Even as many Americans struggled to survive, they still found ways to have affordable fun. Miniature Golf became fashionable and a plethora of Board Games such as Scrabble and Monopoly were introduced.
The opportunity to earn money while having “fun” drew many desperate couples to participate in Dance Marathons. These became more than just a form of recreation and could last for days or weeks. As long as the dancers kept dancing, they had food (usually 12 meals a day), shelter and the chance to win a cash prize. Each hour they were allowed a break for 15 minutes, during which they might lay down on a cot and have a nurse attend to them. Because they had to stay moving for the other 45 minutes per hour, dancers learned to sleep while their partner held them up and dragged them across the dance floor.
Radio was at the height of its popularity and a pleasantly inexpensive form of entertainment for 83 percent of the population that owned a wireless set. New program formats were created – Daily Soap Operas, Game Shows, Radio Westerns, Crime Shows, Mystery Programs. Listeners tuned in to hear about current events, the latest baseball scores or juicy Hollywood gossip. In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt revolutionized the way presidents communicated with Americans by talking directly to them through the radio. During his“fireside chats,” as they became known, he spoke of issues that affected everyone; like the banking crisis, the New Deal and the Dust Bowl.
This was also the Golden Age of the Hollywood Film Industry. Tickets prices were under a quarter for the whole of the 1930s – down from 35 cents in 1929, so spending time in the cinema was an affordable form of escapism for many. The technical transition from Silent Movies to Talkies was fully achieved and many revolutionary new genres were created such as Screw Ball Comedies, feature length Cartoons by Walt Disney, lavish film musicals featuring the dizzying choreography of Busby Berkley, as well as the popular series of dance themed movies starring America’s Sweethearts – Fred Astaire & Ginger Rodgers. What better way to forget your troubles for a few hours?
Many composers of what is today considered the Great American Songbook, wrote songs specifically for the movie industry; among them George & Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern. These were melodies with words to console, lift spirits and have the audience leaving the lavishly designed and decorated cinemas whistling and singing… ready to face yet another dreary day.
As lyricist Dorothy Fields wrote in one of her popular songs in 1936 – Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again!
Photos by Uka Meissner deRuiz
NOTES: Original post by Charles Urban and New English American Theater (NEAT). The show will be posted on YouTube and available for viewing from July 6th-onwards!
I got to boast when 2 of my One Page Plays were accepted for performance! My play Baby You Were Great tied for runner-up as Best Comedy! The One Page Play Festival
So, it’s a wrap…. as 2019 ends, I invite all of you who have read my books to please write reviews for them on Amazon. These are vital to authors. And – if you haven’t read them – please consider buying my books as gifts for yourselves or your loved ones. As always, thank you for following me and being such a great tribe.
I’m over the moon that New English American Theater festival is presenting two of my plays. This is a brand-new form for me as a writer and I had a blast trying my hand at comic drama. If you find yourself in the Stuttgart area for any reason, come on out to the show! David Burmedi, Director of the One Page Play Festival, explains how the festival came to life.
Click to see more. If you make it the show, don’t forget to cast your votes! Signing off from somewhere over Cloud 9,
I’m honored to post this advertisement for The Vagina Monologues as presented by NEAT (New English American Theater) in Stuttgart. For two years I appeared on stage with real actresses and actors, women and men engaged and passionate about ending violence against women and children. This year I’m Stage Manager in order to remain involved in any way I can to support this important cause.
Wherever you are in our world, please support and pass the word about V-Day activities! —Jadi
NEAT is proud to be presenting Eve Ensler’s iconic The Vagina Monologues. All proceeds benefit local women’s crisis centers in the Stuttgart area. Please see descriptions of our beneficiaries on their Facebook page!
Funny, moving, and most of all, thought-provoking, The Vagina Monologues is a play that has been breaking down walls for the last 25 years. The monologues are a wonderful mix of well written human experiences and local stories of survival in today’s world. This year’s theme, resistance, is punctuated in the daily headlines we read.
Please see our two other performance dates- on February 15 at Theater am Olgaeck, and February 25 at Kulturwerk Ost-all in Stuttgart!
I’m a little slow sometimes. I recently realized that my new-and-improved wordpress website jadicampbell.com had a birthday in January and is now a year old. (Yes, I’m aware it’s already March!) So, what did I do with a year of blogging?
Last summer I lost my mother-in-law, an old friend, and my dad Bobbo, all within a shocking three-month period. Those were by far the hardest posts to write. But I discovered something: the most personal blog essays are the ones my readers (i.e., all of you) respond to most.
What you can look forward to in the Year of the Rooster: a huge blog thread for my father Bobbo that I’m calling The Animal Kingdom. Occasional notes about my volunteer work with refugees. Lots more quirky posts about places Uwe and I visit. And on-going musings about life, the Universe and everything in-between as I deepen the process of saying goodbye to those who have left.
May you find something here that makes you laugh, creates a spark of connection, and moves you enough so that you reenter your own life with a sense of touching upon mine. That would make the new year of blogging – and all the years to come – worthwhile. As Mae West says, “Come on up, I’ll tell your fortune.” 
Long-time followers of this blog will know that I post at 2-week intervals. I’m stepping outside my rhythm to tell you about 2 very special projects. The first is all about rhythms of song and speech, so perhaps I’m not breaking my pattern after all.
I Like a Gershwin Tune, How About You? will perform at Theater am Olgaeck in Stuttgart on December 15 at 20:00. For photos of the performers and more information, click on the link I’ve provided.
I LIKE A GERSWHIN TUNE, HOW ABOUT YOU? is an evening of beautiful music; instrumentals, solos, duets and four part harmony featuring the song stylists Jeanne Ragonese, Sara Conway, Anthony King, Joerg Witzsch, pianist Florian Eisentraut, narrator Derrick Jenkins, and a story by Jadi Campbell.
Ira Gershwin is the lyricist to musical composer and younger brother George Gershwin. This brotherly collaboration created some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century.
The compositions of George & Ira Gershwin are among the masterpieces of THE GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK; which is the most popular source of material for singers and musicians today. After George’s untimely death at an early age, Ira went on to work with other composers, such as Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen and Kurt Weill; with whom he continued to write many successful Broadway Musicals.
With this musical project we aim to celebrate the 120th Birthday of Song Lyricist Ira Gershwin; whom many consider to be a Modern American Poet. Heartfelt, high-spirited, sparkling with vernacular eloquence, the lyrics of Ira Gershwin defined the spirit of an era and have lived on as part of the American tradition. Ira distilled ordinary American speech into indelible verse; embodying his wit romance and dazzling virtuosity.
It’s vital to my sense of well-being that I feel safe. I grew up in Cazenovia, one of upstate New York’s beautiful small villages. No one locked their doors and crime was of the DWI and who-got-stopped-for-speeding variety.
I roam the streets of every place I’ve ever lived in. Uwe and I travel to exotic spots and go exploring with glee. We’re not foolish. You can’t go into situations where you don’t speak the language without being careful and keeping your radar up. We always do our homework before going.
But lately the world feels like a strange, strange place. ISIS openly auctions sex slaves on the Internet. Mothers, daughters, and little girls get ranked by age and attractiveness. On New Year’s Eve in Köln, Germany, one thousand North African men gathered at the main train station for coordinated robbery, sexual assault and in some cases rape. Over 500 women filed police reports. 
What does this mean for women? While the police aren’t reporting higher crime statistics overall, the danger is that people will become scared to leave their homes. We’ll alter our habits and our style of life out of fear.
About this time, Claire Deromelaere asked me to take part in a production of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues”. The play depicts women talking about sex and sexuality. Further, it raises funds for V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.
Claire is one very cool lady. I met her when I joined the Writers in Stuttgart. When she got up to read at our public readings, Claire owned the stage.
Her presence amazes me. Claire is poised and expressive, and her voice projects. She captivates an audience.
I have a beginner’s ego as a writer/reader. I can only get better; there’s nowhere to go but up. I was terrified at first by public readings. I wanted to read like Claire. I studied her, listening and watching. I talked to her about how to be confident (or at least less terrified) on stage.
It was probably inevitable that she got involved in language as performance. Claire left the writers’ group for NEAT, the New English American Theater. “The Vagina Monologues” is her first play as director.
So I’m getting renewed instruction on how to be a better reader from one of my role models. I’m involved in a positive, powerful response to the hate and violence directed at women and children. And I have met an outrageous, wonderful cast of women of all ages and backgrounds, united in the belief that art can change the world. Eve Ensler says it best:
Art has the power to transform thinking and inspire people to act
Lasting social and cultural change is spread by ordinary people doing extraordinary things
Local women best know what their communities need and can become unstoppable leaders
One must look at the intersection of race, class, and gender to understand violence against women 
NOTES:  I want to add that in the days after these attacks, some North African men held up signs in public squares in protest, saying the assaults in no way represent how the majority of foreigners living in Germany regard women.