Mitchell J. Near

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THE MAG: Unforgettable horror

KC production of 'Playing for Time' examines an overlooked bit of Holocaust history

By Mitchell J. Near Arthur Miller's plays have created some of the theaters' most memorable characters, while in the process launching stinging indictments against the cruelty of a collective group-think society. "Death of a Salesman" rallied for the forgotten common man, while "The Crucible," which centered on the Salem witch trials, was actually an attack on the 1950s McCarthy hearings.

'Pirates' still a pleaser

By Mitchell J. Near Special to the Journal-World Gilbert and Sullivan's opera, "The Pirates of Penzance" made its New York debut in 1879, appearing on the scene long before automobiles or airplanes.

THE MAG: Model behavior

'Femme Fatale' examines history of marketing feminine image

By Mitchell J. Near Hollywood likes to roll out the biggest movies during the holiday season, hoping to garner critical consideration from pundits, while, more importantly, getting the consumers to part with their money before the year ends. But Hollywood studios are not the only group that plays that game; book publishers have been doing it for decades. And for many brick-and-mortar bookstores, the winter holidays are make-or-break time, where they gladly accept and stock a variety of items from suppliers that they know will be big sellers during the Christmas season.

THE MAG: A study in Scarlet

Pulitzer-nominated play 'In the Blood' offers modern retooling of literary classic

By Mitchell J. Near The latest production staged by The Unicorn Theatre is one of those rare adaptations of a known classic that can be viewed as an outright success in its own right. The fact that most people have yet to hear of it, or its playwright, makes that almost a crime punishable by a lifetime of attending New Theatre productions.

THE MAG: Though this be madness

A Kansas City theater troupe reinvents the world's most over-performed play

By Mitchell J. Near In the year they have been performing, the coalition of writers, actors and technicians that make up the Evaporated Milk Society have been determined to turn theatrical productions, and the way they are viewed, in a new direction. After mounting some original works including the outdoor version of "A Tall Tale" that featured actors on stilts the company is attempting a new version of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet."

THE MAG: I want my MTV!

20th-anniversary tome celebrates network's cultural influence

By Mitchell J. Near In the beginning there was MTV. Music Television. And it was good. Very, very good. The fledgling network devoted to playing rock and roll videos debuted on Aug. 1, 1981, with the words, "Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll," and love it or hate it, there is no arguing over the station's cultural influence since then. v

THE MAG: Lure of the rugged plains

A Lawrence sculptor is inspired by his roots

By Mitchell J. Near There is an old joke that says the speed limit on the nation's highways should be based upon how boring the scenery is in the area you are driving through the less spectacular vistas would allow motorists to accelerate accordingly. So, for parts of Western Kansas, that means the speed limit should be about 135 mph.

THE MAG: Cover story - The Art of war

A Lawrence artist captures photos in the world's hot spots

By Mitchell J. Near When the World Trade Center towers were attacked in September, Lawrence photographer Gary Smith was in Amsterdam at an arts festival, doing what he does best: taking pictures of the local street scene. When he heard the first reports of the plane crashes, he ducked into a coffee shop surrounded by fellow Americans and a hodge-podge of nationals from all over the world. Smith knew instantly that he would soon be on his way to Afghanistan.

THE MAG: Cover story - Third annual good, bad, just plain stupid awards

Tragedy, comedy intermingled as never before

By Mitchell J. Near Like most people, I know exactly what I was doing the day the Twin Towers were attacked. I was sleeping in I am a professional writer, after all. My friend Becky called and said a plane had struck one of the towers, and then she hung up. I turned the tube on, thinking that I'd see a report on some out-of-control small turbo-prop slamming into the building, just in time to see the second airliner hit the other tower.

THE MAG: Hold your applause

The region's 2001 theater season offered only so much to clap about

By Mitchell J. Near The theater is exciting in that, unlike movies which mostly hover near mediocrity there is too much good material out there waiting to be performed onstage. Between show-stopping musicals, classic plays and independent new works, there is usually something happening in the area to get pumped about. And because most theater venues play to smaller crowds, they can get away with concentrating on a specific genre, or providing an interesting mix of shows, and still put enough bodies in the seats to break even. That means they can usually take more creative risks.

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