Tag Archives: theater

Interview: Beacon Hill musician/playwright Gretta Harley

Gretta Harley performs with  Mitch Ebert and Fiia McGann in These Streets. Photo by Charles Peterson.
Gretta Harley performs with Mitch Ebert and Fiia McGann in These Streets. Photo by Charles Peterson.
Among many other creative lifetimes including co-founding the Home Alive organization for women’s self-defense and graduating from and then working for Cornish College Of The Arts, Beacon Hill’s Gretta Harley co-created (with Sarah Rudinoff and Elizabeth Kenny) These Streets, a rock musical derived from interviews with women on the Seattle rock scene. She graciously took a few questions over email.

Beacon Hill Blog: How is Beacon Hill like, and unlike, Long Island, where you grew up? How long have you lived on Beacon Hill and what are your impressions of the place? How, if at all, does it influence your work?

Gretta Harley: I bought my condo on Beacon Hill at the height of the market, 2006 — so I am “stuck” here. I love Beacon Hill. It is a neighborhood, with small businesses and a lot of families, and diversity. Tree-lined streets are an easy place for me to walk my dog. Fantastic views! Jefferson Park is awesome! I know a lot of my neighbors. There are block parties and neighborhood watches. Long Island was suburban, so the tree lined streets and neighborhood feel are similar in that way.

There were no good views on Long Island. It’s completely flat with lots of concrete and fewer parks, but the beach was a stone’s throw away. The Atlantic Ocean is beautiful and the beaches where I grew up were gorgeous (before Hurricane Sandy).

“I was never a fan of Ken. I thought he was a dweeb.”

Long Island is a very very different culture. Where do I begin? Long Island is a trip. The people are a little harder on the outside… very direct with their opinions (which I like), and not as PC as in Seattle. I like the liberal ideals of Seattle. Several famous hip-hop artists from my generation come from my section of Long Island, but the Island was extremely segregated when I grew up. A bit of white, macho, braggadociousness. I still have a lot of connections and love over there though. Ya know, this is a conversation over a martini…

I am not sure if I can identify specifically how the place I live influences my work, but I do believe that any environment does. I did say Beacon Hill has a neighborhood feel, but I live on the main drag, so the energy of movement and city is always right outside of my windows. It’s not quiet. I like that.

Beacon Hill Blog: You mention in your bio that your Barbie dolls gave rock concerts. What were their favorite jams?

Gretta Harley: Ha ha. When I was a little kid playing with dolls, I listened to The Beatles, Grass Roots, Argent, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Carol King, Elton John — so those were the jams those dolls’d be jammin’. I got most of the records by stealing a mailer for a Columbia Records offer. “Buy 10 Records For A Penny.” I thought that sounded good. And I had a penny. I went through the catalog and checked off my records (largely by liking band names and record artwork), and put my choices and a penny in an envelope.

When the box of records came, my mother was furious. She got on the phone immediately and chewed out the person who answered the phone from Columbia (because the deal was that you got charged every month after the first delivery for the 5-10 records they’d send you every month, at full price). My mom let me keep the records I ordered, and thus began the merging of my pastime of doll weirdness, with music.

I recall building a stage for the dolls out of spare wood blocks my dad would bring home from his shop, stored in an old refrigerator box for my using. Those blocks were a constant source of re-building “sets” I designed for my pleasure.

Ya know, back in the 60s, we weren’t scheduled like kids are today. We made our own entertainment. I spent a lot of time alone. I didn’t have a ton of toys, so I made do with what I had. I never felt like I was missing anything. My turntable was as much my joy as the “characters” I created out of my Barbies and “Little Kiddles.” I also remember making clothes for my dolls, ’cause I didn’t like the ones they came with. And I cut their hair and drew on their bodies.

I was never a fan of Ken. I thought he was a dweeb.

Continue reading Interview: Beacon Hill musician/playwright Gretta Harley

Beacon Bits: Classes, workshops, and work parties

Starting today and running through the 15th, the Goodwill Job Training and Education Center, just below the north tip of Beacon Hill on Lane Street, will register people for free classes in the eight-week session that runs from October 18 through December 9.

Classes include a Retail and Customer Service Training Program, Community College 101, the National External Diploma Program, and Adult Basic Education classes covering English, computers, reading, writing, math, and cashiering.

Additional classes may be available. For class availability and enrollment information, call (206) 860-5791.

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The performance space at Art's on Beacon. Photo by Wendi.
ART’s on Beacon is hosting a Culture Forum Acting Workshop from October 11 through December 19, for “actors and non-actors alike focusing on the healing aspects of performance.” Workshop participants will have the opportunity to share their work in a three-night performance to be held at the ART’s on Beacon theater.

Workshop participation is limited. Workshop sessions will run Mondays through Thursdays from 6:30 through 9:30 pm. For more information, contact Michael Perrone at 206-861-6260 or email him at egodd1@msn.com.

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There are a couple of volunteer work parties scheduled on October 10 to improve local parks. We previously posted about the Maple School Natural Area Invasive Species Removal and Native Planting work party from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm on Sunday. Find out more about that event and RSVP at the website.

Elsewhere on the Hill, the Friends of Lewis Park are also holding a work party at the same time on Sunday. The work will involve planting native trees and shrubs, and removal of invasive plant species such as English Ivy and Himalayan Blackberry. Afterwards, the volunteers will gather for a celebratory party. To find out more and RSVP, see the website.

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Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 16 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm for a North Beacon Town Center Action Team meeting at Beacon Lutheran Church, to help plan the North Beacon Urban Design Framework for the Town Center. We will post more about the meeting as the information becomes available.

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Today NAMSAYIN will announce the release date, time, and location of the “Know Where You Came From” shirt we posted about the other day. Keep an eye on namsayin.com for the announcement. In the meantime, though, you might enjoy this homage to Beacon Avenue and the “ghetto limousine.”

More places to go and things to do, late April additions

Adding to our previous run-down of places to go and things to do:

Tonight, April 28:

Friday, April 30:

Saturday, May 1:

Tuesday, May 4:

Wednesday, May 5:

Monday, May 22:

Don’t forget about the Beacon Hill Music/Beacon Rocks! fundraisers and Beacon Idol tryouts, along with numerous other still-upcoming events, mentioned in the last roundup!

Beacon Bits: Chekhov, snakes, and liquor

Volunteers are building a better home for snakes like these in Jose Rizal park. Photo by benketaro.
Volunteers are building a better home for snakes like these in Jose Rizal park. Photo by benketaro.
  • Performances of Anton Chekhov’s The Lost Highway are tonight (June 6) and next Thursday through Saturday, June 11-13, at 8:00 pm. The venue is Art’s on Beacon Hill, 4951 13th Avenue South. (Thanks to Audrey Chesnutt for letting us know.)
  • Craig Thompson reports that, as part of today’s Seattle Works Day event, a team of folks was to help build a herpetarium (an environment for garter snakes) near the northwest side of the off-leash area at Dr. Jose Rizal Park. Additionally, volunteers picked up rocks and debris in the off-leash area to make it easier for Seattle Parks and Recreation to mow the meadow. (Garter snakes are not poisonous, so have no fear of the snakes!)
  • Inay’s beer/spirits/wine application has been approved. Inay’s Asian Pacific Cuisine is at 2503 Beacon Avenue South and the food is quite tasty. In other liquor license news, two local businesses have liquor license renewals coming up on August 30: Thai Recipe at 2609 South McClellan Street and Dahlak Eritrean Cuisine at 2007 South State Street. If you have comments or concerns about either of these renewals, send them to John McGoodwin at john.mcgoodwin@seattle.gov. (Thanks to Shelly Bates for the report.)
  • Can’t wait to see the inside of the Beacon Hill light rail station? Sound Transit has posted a photo of the recently-installed artwork inside the underground station. A couple of weeks before that, they posted a photo of air-flow testing within the station.

Drama, chess, and bazaar events in local schools

Garfield students in The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Garfield students in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

School may be winding down for the year, but there are still some events at local schools to take note of.

Tonight and tomorrow are the last two nights of Garfield High School’s spring musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Though Garfield is in the Central District, we are told that some Beacon Hill students are among the more than 100 kids who are involved in the production. The play has a bit of a twist; in the story, Victorian actors are putting on a production of Charles Dickens’ final work, but Dickens dies before he can complete it. To solve the mystery of Edwin Drood’s disappearance, the audience votes each night to choose the murderer, and the ending of the play varies depending on the results. Performances are tonight and tomorrow at 7:00 pm, at the Quincy Jones Performance Center at Garfield High School, 400 23rd Avenue. Tickets are $10 ($7 for seniors and students).

Here on the hill, Beacon Hill International School is hosting a Summer Chess Club camp from June 22 to June 26, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. The camp is for kids of all levels, in grades K-6, and students will be able to learn chess from the basic moves and rules to “strategy, cool openings, and all the tools to get ahead in the game.” Three-time US Women’s Champion Elena Donaldson and National Chess Master Joshua Sinanan will be the teachers. The registration fee is $219 with a $10 discount for siblings, and single-day and half-day registration is also available. For more information, visit the website, call 206-363-6511, or e-mail chess64@comcast.net.

Beacon Hill International School is also holding its fourth annual Beacon Bazaar on June 13, from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm. The bazaar will be held along the front of the school on 14th Avenue South. If you’re interested in purchasing table space to sell your wares, stop by the school at 2025 14th Avenue South, or contact Ferdinand deLeon at jifdeleon@gmail.com.

Thanks to Matthew Bates for the chess camp info, Dorothy Orzel for the news about Edwin Drood, and Shelly Bates for info about the bazaar.

Beacon Hill past and present: movies on Beacon Avenue

Beacon Avenue South, just north of Bayview, facing south.
Beacon Avenue in October 1949, just north of Bayview, facing south, near the current location of Baja Bistro. Courtesy of the Seattle Municipal Archives, item 41958.
The same street, almost 60 years later in February 2009.
The same street, almost 60 years later in February 2009.

Some of the sadder losses to Seattle are the neighborhood theaters that used to exist in just about every part of the city, including Beacon Hill. On the left side of the “past” photo, you see the Beacon Theatre at 2352 Beacon Avenue South, then showing a double bill of Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal in The Fountainhead, and Glenn Ford and Ida Lupino in Lust For Gold.

The Beacon was previously the Grey Goose Theatre, and featured a pipe organ, installed in the 1920s to play music with the motion pictures of the day. The theater was demolished in 1964.

The 1949 photo looks very different from the modern scene on the left side of Beacon Avenue, but the right side is remarkably unchanged. The house with the vertical stripes still exists, as does the retail building to its left (though it has had changes to its façade). McKale’s service station is now a 76 gas station (just beyond the edge of the photo), but sadly, full-service gas stations have also gone the way of the old-time neighborhood movie theater.