The first student-written play to be performed in about a decade at El Cerrito High School takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15. And the advanced theater students who penned it have a lot to say.
The three-act work "Rapid Transit" is described as "a metaphor for the transformations that students experience during high school," that investigates sexual identity, friendship, abuse and healing, according to teacher Carmen Bush.
Because it's an original work, student actors aren't confined by past interpretations. "It's always changing; the actors can put themselves out there more than in a (published) play," said ECHS senior Max Hauser.
Students are handling every aspect of the production, on stage and behind the scenes, including set design, video production, costuming and sound under the guidance of school district technical theater director Kevin Little and posters with artwork created by Carmela Segal.
This is a major undertaking that has support from the school and its nonprofit booster group Supporters of the Theater Arts, sponsored by the Student Activity Fund at ECHS. Contra Costa Civic Theatre and Berkeley Rep have been supporters as well, along with business community sponsors. Limited edition T-shirts will be on sale at the performance, along with coffee mugs, all to continue the revival of performance at the school.
Arts and culture awards: A cultural center in San Pablo and the founder of a successful annual world music festival in El Cerrito were honored at the annual Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County awards ceremony on Oct. 22 in the board of supervisors chambers in Martinez.
Recipients of this year's AC5 Awards were El Cerrito teacher and cultural promoter Corey Mason, Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center in San Pablo, and Walnut Creek architect James Phillip Wright.
Mason is a radio business veteran who now teaches broadcasting at El Cerrito High School through KECG, the school district radio station on campus. He is the founder of worldOne radio which broadcasts multicultural and community programming via KECG, 88.1 FM, and from that founded the worldOne Festival, a popular and free daylong event each July 4 that brings a variety of musical acts to Cerrito Vista Park.
Mason was recognized for his work and award at the El Cerrito City Council meeting Nov. 5.
Los Cenzontles Mexican Arts Center in San Pablo is a nonprofit serving some 200 students with programs that keep indigenous Mexican art forms alive and in practice.
The center, also home of the touring musical group of the same name, has attracted support from the arts community. Recording artist Linda Ronstadt is on its board and Jackson Browne headlined a benefit performance for the center in August.
James Phillip Wright was honored for his work in the ongoing restoration of a historic 123-year-old house in Orinda.
WEST COUNTY NOTES: Thomas Sarnicola of Hercules has been named 2014 commander for Division 5 of the Eleventh Northern District of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.
The post is "responsible for overseeing personnel throughout Sector San Francisco encompassing the counties of Contra Costa, Solano, Napa, and Sonoma providing operational support to the Coast Guard's homeland security missions, search and rescue, waterway patrols, public education, recreational boat inspections and ferry boat auditing."
Sarnicola, a native of New York City, is the recipient of numerous Coast Guard honors, including humanitarian support during Hurricane Katrina.
He will take the oath of office at a Dec. 7 ceremony in Vallejo.
Toys for Girls and Boys, at 3 p.m. Nov. 17, looks at the playthings children had during the war.
Dogs for Defense, at 2 p.m. Nov. 18, describes the little-known role of canines during the war.
Meet at the Pacific East Mall Jumbotron behind the bus stop on the east side of Pierce Street in Richmond, south of Central Avenue.