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Shirley Raab (1923-2003)

Executive director of the Casting Society of America Shirley Marion Raab died on Feb. 20 at her home from complications of a stroke suffered on New Year's Day. She was 80.

Raab was born in Los Angeles and was involved in both the fashion and entertainment industries before assuming her position with the CSA 20 years ago. Casting director Jane Jenkins (A Beautiful Mind, Harry Potter) was a friend and colleague of Raab's and spoke with Back Stage West about what it was like to work with Raab.

"Shirley was there almost from the very beginning of the CSA," said Jenkins. "I got involved with her 19 years ago because I am the creator of the Artios Award event. When we started it, there was a whole major production because nobody thought we could pull it off. For the last dozen years, Shirley, Alice Cassidy, and I have done the event ourselves. The Artios Award runs the way it does because Shirley had made all of the arrangements. Without Shirley, it's going to be really difficult."

Jenkins remembered what Raab was like on a personal level as well. "Shirley was very straightforward and very direct," said Jenkins. "There was no bullshit about her. If she liked you, she liked you, and if she didn't like you, you knew it. She was just a delightful, bright, funny, terrific human being."

Raab was married for 49 years to Bernie Raab, who died 11 years ago. She is survived by two sons, Larry and Lowell Raab; a daughter Sandy; and a grandson, Jason Victor Raab. Larry Raab continues to work as a general manager at the CSA.

—Laura Weinert

AFL-CIO Chief Backs Guild Consolidation

A day after his first appearance at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney addressed the joint SAG/AFTRA committee meeting on Mar. 10 to further voice his support of the proposed consolidation of the two unions.

"The affiliate structure you have proposed invites further growth over time. And that growth promises to benefit your members, your organizations, and the artists, performers, and media workers who face the same corporate conglomerates that you do," said Sweeney.

Sweeney was addressing the two committees that will be meeting throughout the week. Last month, the leadership of SAG and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists endorsed the principles of a consolidated entity that would be broken down into three affiliate categories—broadcasters, recording artists, and actors—all of which would fall within an umbrella organization. On Apr. 5 the two boards will vote to endorse the newly created constitution and a detailed outline of the new, yet-to-be-named entity.

"But it's also important to realize that what you are doing can affect the future for all working families in America. Those families look to you for leadership and guidance, and what you will have is a better platform for providing both," said Sweeney, who added that the leaderships of SAG and AFTRA were creating a "model" for other unions to follow. "Our movement and our nation, not to mention your members, are in desperate need of the new strength and solidarity you are creating."

—Peter Kiefer (The Hollywood Reporter)

Off the Wire…

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA—Deaf West Theatre will launch a new series of ASL Storytime Workshops for deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing children and their parents, at the company's North Hollywood venue. The one-hour interactive workshops will be held on Saturdays, Mar. 15-May 31. Offering children (ages 5-13) the opportunity to enjoy the spoken word through a visual language (American Sign Language), each workshop will feature professional deaf storytellers performing well-known children's stories in ASL, with voice translation for hearing children and parents. After each story is performed, children from the audience will experience the joy of creating the characters from the story onstage. They will learn new signs, stage presentation, and how to change written words into living characters. Admission is free and open to the public. For further information, call Brian Kapell at (818) 762-2998 (voice), or (818) 762-2782 (TDD)…

Twelve playwrights and theatres have been selected for the 2002 NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights, developed and administered by Theatre Communications Group (TCG) in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and with additional support from Vivendi Universal. The program was created to afford playwrights the opportunity to create new work in residence at a host theatre and to become an integral part of the theatre's artistic life and community activities. Through support from the NEA, each of the 12 playwrights will receive $25,000. Host theatres will receive a $5,500 Vivendi Universal Residency Award to enhance their ability to support the residencies. TCG will supply oversight, coordination, guidance, and material assistance. Among the recipients of the 2002 NEA/TCG Theatre Residency Program for Playwrights are Anne Galjour for The Kitchen at Brava Theater Center in San Francisco and Annie Weisman at South Coast Repertory Theatre in Costa Mesa. Weisman is currently working on a play about racial politics and mistaken identity. She will also work within the Costa Mesa community by holding workshops relating to the feminine voice in performance…

The postmark deadlines for the next round of the NEA/TCG Theatre Residency for Playwrights are: Intent to Apply card, May 30; application and supporting materials, June 20. Guidelines and application materials will be available in March through the mail or from TCG's website, www.tcg.org. To request an application package, contact Michael Francis, Artistic Programs Associate, Theatre Communications Group, 520 Eighth Ave., 24th Fl., New York, NY 10018-4156; (212) 609-5900, or grants@tcg.org…

L.A. Theatre Works' The Play's The Thing radio theatre series has announced its spring 2003 season: David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, Mar. 12-16; Lee Blessing's Going to St. Ives, Mar. 26-30; Stephen Belber's Tape, Apr. 9-13; Moss Hart and George Kaufman's Once in a Lifetime, Apr. 30-May 4; William Finn and James Lapine's Falsettos, May 28-June 1; Eugene O'Neill's Desire Under the Elms, June 18-22, and Hugh Whitemore's Breaking the Code, July 9-13. (310) 827-0889…

La Jolla Playhouse has announced its 2003 season: Emily Mann's adaptation of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, May 30-June 29; Francesca Faridany's adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's novella Fräulein Else, June 10-July 13; Martin Crimp's The Country, July 29-Aug. 31; Tina Landau's Beauty, Sept. 16-Oct. 19, and the Aquila Theatre Company's production of William Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, Oct. 21-Nov. 23. (858) 550-1010…

The first annual Scarefest, the only film festival devoted solely to horror, science fiction and fantasy, will be held on Mar. 13 at the Silent Movie Theater in Los Angeles. The event will consist of a reception followed by screenings of the Scarefest finalists. Winners will be announced and cash prizes will be awarded. The winning Scarefest entries will be released on DVD from Vanguard Cinema. Entries for Scarefest 2003 are now being accepted. For more information, visit www.scarefestfilms.com or call Jeff Miller at (323) 965-1100…

The Grace Players Theatre Company will present a special New Orleans kick-off performance of the Laurelgrove Theatre's production of Lament For the Moths: The Lost Poems of Tennessee Williams on Mar. 15 at the Egyptian Arena Theatre in Hollywood. The play will headline the 17th Annual Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans, Mar. 26-30. (323) 464-1222. The event will benefit the Grace Players Theatre Company. (323) 464-1222…

The Santa Monica Playhouse will present Chris Sullivan's Annual Irish Show, a celebration of Irish theatre, on Mar. 14. (310) 394-9779 ext. 1…

The C. Bernard Jackson Reader's Theatre will present a staged reading and book signing of Yvette Heyliger's Autobiography of a Homegirl on Mar. 17 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in Downtown L.A. (310) 585-4717.

—Rosa Fernandez

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