Dock of the Bay
Volume VI Number 44
November 5-11, 1998
Beloved's Local Star: Child Sethe
photo by Margo Turner Brittany Winfrey plays the young slave Sethe in Toni Morrison's Beloved.
Oprah Winfrey - the daytime television talk host, actress and producer - and eight-year-old Brittany Hawkins of Prince Frederick have something in common: both are in Winfrey's new movie, Beloved.
In Beloved, based on the 1988 novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, Winfrey portrays Sethe, a runaway slave with haunting memories of her past. In one scene, Sethe watches as her mother is hanged. The camera closes in, showing sadness, bravery and strength in the youngster's face.
That's Brittany you're seeing as the young Sethe.
The acting bug bit Brittany when she was a toddler. At age three, she wanted to be in television commercials.
"I thought you just touch the TV and then get inside," Brittany said. "I didn't know you have to put a lot of effort into it."
In the five years since, Brittany has not stinted on effort. She has been in pageants, was crowned Little Miss Princess at the Calvert County Fair for three years running, 1995 to 1997, and worked in a 30-second public service announcement still to be aired for the Catholic Communication Campaign.
She is also a soloist with the Collins Gospel Choir and a baton-twirling majorette at her church, Brooks United Methodist in Port Republic, where she also participates in children's ministry. Her interests span singing, dancing and modeling, roller skating, bicycling and T-Ball.
Beloved, filmed in Philadelphia and Delaware, introduced Brittany to movie making. On an October night in Philadelphia last year, she spent six hours doing what turned out to be a two-minute scene in Winfrey's movie. "There were 84 shots taken back to back," Brittany remembered.
The experience was also memorable for Brittany's parents, Alice and Michael Hawkins. She works in the daycare center at Calvert Memorial Hospital; he is a sergeant with the Maryland State Police.
Brittany was chauffeured to the movie set for her scene. "When she arrived at the set, the whole cast applauded her arrival," Alice Hawkins recalls. Brittany had her own dressing room with a sign reading 'child Sethe' hanging on the door.
While sharing a makeup and hair trailer with actress Thandie Newton, who plays the title role of Beloved, Brittany learned something about herself and was given some advice as well.
"Thandie asked Brittany if she knew the origin of her name. Brittany said no," Mrs. Hawkins recounted. "She said the name Brittany originated from France. She asked Brittany if she has been to France. Brittany said no. Thandie said, 'If you work hard, you'll get there some day.'"
Brittany continues to learn her craft at Kids International Inc., the Fort Washington-based talent agency that found her this role. The agency represents talented, multi-ethnic children from toddlers to young adults. The youngest of 11 girls, ages 13 to 16, in her acting class, Brittany keeps up with the other aspiring actresses.
"You can ask Brittany to cry and she can cry on cue. Her warm-up time is absolutely zero," said her mother.
Though Brittany has been in the movies, her third-grade classmates at Cardinal Hickey Academy in Owings treat her, her mother said, "like a normal eight year old."
Neighbors Helping Neighbors - Dance for Baby Abby's Sake
photo by M.L. Faunce The Orrs, from left, Bubba, mother Billie Lynn, baby Abby, father Dusty and daughter Star.
At two months old, Abigail Orr is a little young for dancing. So on November 21, friends and neighbors will do the dancing for her. They'll be dancing in hope that someday Abby will, too.
Tender age isn't the only thing holding Abby back. She was born with neurofibromatosis. That's a big word for a genetic disorder that affects the development of bones, skin and nerves and can cause disfigurement. Neurofibromatosis can also lead to blindness and deafness. In Abby, it brought severe bowing of the tibia, the inner bone of the leg that extends from knee to ankle.
The neurological disorder is caused by a single gene. Children of an affected parent have a 50 percent chance on inheriting the gene and developing neurofibromatosis.
Dusty and Billie Lynn Orr, of Deale, discovered the risk before Abby was born; the oldest child, Charles "Bubba," 10, a boy who loves fishing and crabbing, is mildly affected. Star, their middle child at 16 months, seems to have missed the gene.
Giving Abby a chance to dance as she gets older means giving her braces now. The tiny white plastic braces the infant now wears will need to be replaced every several months as she grows. That means regular trips to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore for baby and her parents. The braces - and many of the other exams neurofibromatosis forces on the family - are expensive and not all paid for by Dusty's HMO coverage with Prince George's County, where he works as a corrections officer.
In the midst of their worries, the Orrs have found a community full of spirit and eager to help. Some say the family is just getting back help they've already given.
Kitty Wilkerson got to know Abby's grandmother, Linda Dawson of Deale, in just such situations: helping others in need. Now Wilkerson is one of four friends who, she says, "became a committee" to help the Orrs. Working with Wilkerson are daughter-in-law Kathy Wilkerson of Prince Frederick and Terri and Bob Costa of Shady Side.
You can tell Wilkerson knows the ropes. She suggested the family ask the help of their state senator, Thomas V. "Mike" Miller. "I know Mike will get on the insurance company and do all he can," said Wilkerson. Elected officials are often called on to help cut through red tape, a role they feel is part of their job in representing their constituents.
Then Wilkerson's committee planned a dance. They're holding it at the Deale Volunteer Fire Department, a hall known for good works. Everything's being donated. DJ Joe Gibson of Sounds Sensational will spin favorite tunes. The Ladies with the Gavel, auctioneers Pam Parks and Judy Howard, are donating their time to put on an auction during the dance. Local businesses have donated everything from designer nails to a weekend in Ocean City. Claire Mallicote of Mali's Office Supply has printed up tickets and posters announcing the benefit dance.
The outpouring has been so great that Abby's mother, Billie, was overwhelmed. That's when Wilkerson passed along a lesson she'd learned from her own mother: "One of the biggest blessings that a person can give to others is accepting their kindness."
Dance to Benefit Abby Orr Sat., Nov. 21 at 8pm at Deale Volunteer Fire Department Hall: $10 at the door. For advance tickets or to offer donations, call Wilkerson (410/867-0391) or Terri and Bob Costa (410/867-2007) or stop by Mali Office Supplies.
'Seven Virtues' in Annapolis
The "Seven Virtues" artists: Sigrid Trumpy, far left; Maureen Delaney, front left; Paul Callens, back left; K. Bergen Smith, center; David Sunshine, back right; DH Banker, front right; Moe Hanson, far right.
Vanquishing the forces of darkness after their brief Halloween reign, All Saints Day shifts our thoughts to surpassing virtue. Or so it should, were we to follow the Calendar of the Saints that celebrates November 1 as the feast day of all who've made it to heaven.
That godly procession less sways earthly affairs these days than it might have done in earlier ages. Still, saintliness drew a big crowd to 49 West, the Annapolis coffee house, where The Seven Virtues opened All Saints Day for a two-month run.
That ambitious art show realizes the compact of seven area artists to illustrate, each in their own way, the fathers of the faith's list of saintly hallmarks. Those virtues are faith, hope, charity, justice, fortitude, prudence and temperance.
"The seven virtues are those qualities one would strive for in attempting sainthood," says artist Kathy Smith, the show's photographer.
Seven times seven makes 49, about the number of art experiences in the show.
Our age, as viewers of these Seven Virtues soon see, is less precise than the founders of the age of faith. Those worthies ably reduced the infinity of possibility to nicely finite lists: The Ten Commandments, The Seven Virtues (and the opposites, the Seven Deadly Sins), The Three Persons of God. We, on the other hand, do not count so well.
So The Seven Virtues is comprised of
If the count is illusive, the concept is challenging. The artists confessed as much in explanations collected in the program of the show, subtitled "a mixed media study of our best intentions."
"Many nights I have labored, wrestling these words and thoughts," allowed musician David Sunshine.
"I had never heard of the Seven Virtues before starting this project," admitted jeweler Maureen Delaney.
"Took time to peel off layers of syrup thick sweetness," complained sculptor DH Banker.
Sometime in the show's two years of planning, the artists got past wrestling to work.
"I started classically, and that's where everyone started, with our Catholic encyclopedias and the saints," explained Smith.
The trouble deepened when the artists tried to make the connection between saint and self. In Smith's words: "Then you look around you and think of virtue in practice in our lives and our really kind of pathetic attempts at it."
Trouble became Smith's bridge: "That's when I decided I would focus on the gritty work of trying to do well in the world rather than focusing on the ideal. Polishing our souls became a big idea for me, so I chose metal to work on and industrial imagery."
Rising to the challenge, the artists leapt and struggled, like salmon swimming upstream. Some took their virtues literally. In that vein, jeweler Delaney sealed the lips of prudence with a stone.
Moe Hanson's Faith, at right.
Others rose with wit. Sculptor Banker formed love into a hopeful dog, asking "For what is love if not hopeful?" Printmaker Trumpy, who found virtue in vegetables, saw hope as an artichoke.
Others aspired wryly. Moe Hanson, who conceived the show, began with the classical conception. Each of her virtues is a half-clad woman. But there she breaks with tradition, for each is pert and impertinent, a modern woman despite her long skirt. Hanson's Faith clutches a carpetbag to her breasts as she waits as for a dance or a train.
"Attempting those virtues is nearly impossible for human beings. We fail, but we try," Smith explained.
If virtue isn't easy, it's nonetheless appealing. The Seven Virtues' opening night drew a crowd of some three hundred to wrestle not only with virtue but also with how others saw it.
The why of the project is easier: The artists had already sinned. The Seven Deadly Sins, a group show of five artists (three repeat this show) opened at 49 West two years ago.
Sin was not only first; it was also intuitive. Wrote Hanson:
"It had been so much easier to wrap my creative impulse around the seven deadly sins. There was nothing in them to fear, for how could I fear what I already possessed?"
Contemplate The Seven Virtues through the year from 7:30am-midnight Su-Th; 7:30am-2am FSa @ 49 West Café, Winebar & Gallery, Annapolis: 410/626-9796.
Movie Shunned by Chesapeake Maine Attraction
photos by M.L. FauncePaul Newman crossed here, below: Spurned by Bay, N.C. movie made in New Harbor, Maine.
You'll remember that New Bay Times reported this spring that Warner Brothers had fled to New England in search of a location to film Message in a Bottle, the romantic drama that the people of Tangier Island thought too worldly to be filmed in their community.
There's more to this story.
In Maine, NBT checked on the movie-making progress and found that Warner Brothers had moved on from its original location in New Harbor. But not before the film company had transformed the tiny lobstering village into coastal North Carolina, scattering plastic blue crabs on the dock for authenticity.
As Bill Burton would say, go figure.
Shaw's Wharf, a local institution famous for lobsters and fried clam rolls, became Chet's Cafe for the movie and got a new paint job, which was sorely needed. Now life has returned to normal and getting an ice cream cone was once again just an afternoon treat, not a rendezvous with Paul Newman.
Since, Warner Brothers has moved on to Popham Beach, a rare sandy stretch on this rocky coast, and to Bath, the historic shipbuilding port on the Kennebec River. People here were more amazed than amused as the scenery was rearranged. At a house overlooking the harbor, set designers hung scaffolding loaded with trees.
This is the land of tall firs.
Like black fly season, Warner Brothers stay in Maine was short, but the sting remains.
At church bean suppers, locals are still talking about the film company's mobile kitchen that served up Chateaubriand, duck l'orange and sushi to cast and crew.
In a place where seasons unfold slowly, memories run deep and the economy jerks along like an old Chrysler, the Hollywood extravaganza was tolerated if not relished.
Now, with movie set props auctioned off, Maine is returning to "The Way Life Should Be," which is also the state's motto.
One Mainer, local historian Bud Warren, suggested NBT see Message in a Bottle "to enjoy the scenery, if not the movie."
It turns out that Tangier Islanders may have been right to forbid Hollywood to turn them into North Carolina.
Of course, you could make a great movie about Maryland or Maine. Wonder why Warner Brothers hasn't thought of that?
Who's Here? November, Already
Mother Nature has a way of pulling out all the stops when she's on the verge of moving on in seasons. There's no other way to describe these glorious fall days that seem to go on and on.
House flies and horse flies, ladybugs and crickets vie for our attention, often clinging like glue this time of year. Their pace is slowed but their determination heroic. Do they see us as their protector as they enter our homes just when the weather is about to turn? Sensing the alternative, do they see our homes as their refuge before winter sets in?
Now, rather than mowing grass, I mow leaves. A confetti of crisp, colorful foliage mixes with the dusty earth of my back yard, sending up clouds of fine powder. At dusk, the cardinals still come to the birdbath to drink sweet fresh water my friend always remembers to set out for them. In Bay country, it's still dry as a proper martini, and the birds are no less interested in a little refreshment as we are at day's end.
The sun may go down earlier now, but the glow lasts in the sky, bursting into flame. Nature almost always compensates when she takes something from us. Remember rainbows?
In our hearts, we know these golden days can't go on forever. Even the trees for all their glory are starting to look as brittle as a leftover Halloween skeleton. After the passing of that hallowed eve and the dawning of a day made for saints, the die is cast. November is upon us with all the suddenness of remembered scent, like burning leaves in autumns past. We'll soon look inward to our hearths and homes and hearts as we prepare for the holidays.
This is not a warning about shopping days left. Others will do that very well, frightening us like the kids that ran from the spooky scene in my neighbor's garage just a few nights ago. It's just a reality check on the month that may give us more clouds than color, more grays than blues.
Before you know it, those thirsty cardinals will be coming 'round for hot chocolate.
Way Downstream ...
In Pennsylvania, conservationists' honeymoon with Republican Gov. Tom Ridge is history. Ridge's Department of Environmental Protection is moving to relax water pollution regulations - and we could feel the effects downstream in the Chesapeake Bay. The plan removes "aquatic-life" standards for 76 chemicals and allow companies to receive general discharge permits instead, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The changes must be approved by the state legislature ...
A Florida man has a whole lot of egg on his face. Turtle egg, to be precise. In the West Palm Beach area, Alvin Keel pleaded guilty to snatching 388 eggs from the nests of endangered loggerhead turtles. It was his seventh arrest for turtle poaching; he could get five years in the penitentiary...
In Michigan, Boy Scout David Hahn may have been a bit too eager to win a merit badge. The teen built a breeder reactor in his back yard that generated nuclear energy, CBS reported. The U.S. EPA looked into it and shipped the kid's tool shed to a radioactive waste dump in Utah...
Our Creature Feature comes to us from California. The sunfish we caught in farm ponds when we were growing up were sometimes fat and feisty, but another kind of sunfish that has been living at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a monster.
He's so huge - nearly 600 pounds - that the aquarium plans to deploy a stretcher and airlift him out into the ocean, the Houston Chronicle reports. Aquarium staffers say they worry that they'll never be able to set him free if they don't do it now. We think the burden of keeping the big fella in fish food may have something to do with it: When he swam into the aquarium a year ago, he weighed just 57.5 pounds.
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Volume VI Number 44
November 5-11, 1998
New Bay Times
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