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This Man. These Stories. This Thursday.

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on February 8, 2016



Here is the link to the Winter With the Writers website that will give you all the details about why you won’t want to miss the debut of Philip F. Deaver’s new book, Forty Martyrs this Thursday, February 11th, at 7:30 p.m. in Bush Auditorium at Rollins College. Not since Sherwood Anderson gave us Winesburg, Ohio, has a master storyteller made us care so much about a small town, its people, and their secrets.

Now I’m going to tell you why I’m not going to miss this book launch.

I learned to read, and began to devour books, when I was three years old. A few years later, when I read Old Yeller, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I started with poetry, took a few journalism classes at the junior college, and got a few items published in the local paper.

Then life got in the way. My father died. I got a “real” job. I got married, had a kid. Before I turned around, I was in my early forties, and no closer to my dream.

That’s when I went back to school, at Rollins College’s Hamilton Holt school, signed up for a writing class, and met Dr. Deaver.

He taught us the craft, gave us assignments, and enforced deadlines. He led classroom workshops with a firm but gentle hand, and gave up time with his own family one night a month to lead First Fridays, inviting the whole community to read work aloud to one another and share what worked and what needed improvement. He treated everyone with the utmost respect, making each writer feel like the most important person in the room. One evening, in class, he plopped a graded paper I’d turned in the week before onto the table in front of me and laughed, quoting a funny line I’d written in the story. “Submit this to Brushing,” he said, and soon after that I held in my hands our college’s literary magazine with my very own short story published inside, byline and all. The stuff that dreams are made of.

There have been teachers after that, of course. At Rollins. At Spalding. At writers retreats and workshops. I owe them all more than I can ever repay or express, even in the acknowledgement pages at the front of the books I’ve written.

But he was the first.  The one who believed I could do it.  The one who made me believe I could be a writer.

So yeah, I’ll be there. And I’ll watch from afar as he reads, is interviewed, and speaks in his gracious, gentle way to the people lined up to have him sign their copies of his latest, and probably greatest, book. And when he hands me mine, I’ll tell him thanks.

For everything.


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Sewing Holes Book Club Discussion Topics

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on February 4, 2016

Art in the Garden

As more and more book clubs meet to read and discuss  Sewing Holes, here are some questions to get the discussion started:

  1. The protagonist of Sewing Holes, Tupelo Honey Lee, is bullied by a neighbor child named Kat. What caused Kat to be a bully? How did Honey choose to handle the bullying? Was it effective?
  2. Honey’s cousin Susie comes to live with the Lee family, and Honey has to deal with her own feelings of jealousy. How does this lead to Honey seeing how a bully might feel? Discuss how their new, non-traditional family structure leads to Honey learning that hearts are big enough to hold love for many people.
  3. The role of children in families has clearly changed from the 1970’s to the present. Were female children valued by the various characters in this book? How was it similar or different in your family?
  4. Honey’s family is torn apart due to differing opinions on the Vietnam War conflict. What is the nature of patriotism? Does it take cowardice or courage to refuse to fight?
  5. After a series of incidents, Honey comes to believe she can heal people through prayer. Then she is unable to save her own father, which results in a crisis of faith. How do different people react differently when things don’t go their way? How do some people find hope in the midst of despair?
  6. After her father dies, Honey tries to limit her mother’s grief and return things to “normal.” Instead, she makes things much worse. How important is it to let people be who they are, instead of trying to control them?

If your book club develops additional topics or questions, please send them to Darlyn Finch Kuhn at .


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Elephant and Piggie at the Shakes

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on February 4, 2016


Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Partnership with UCF presents the Central Florida Premiere of Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!”, script and lyrics written by Mo Willems and music by Deborah Wicks La Puma. Based on the popular book series Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems, the Children’s Series musical production runs from April 7 – May 7, 2016 in the Margeson Theater. Tickets ($9 – $15) can be purchased by calling (407) 447-1700 ext. 1, online at, or in person at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center (812 E. Rollins St.).


Who are Elephant and Piggie? Only the best of friends! In this toe-tapping musical, best friends Elephant Gerald and Piggie sing and dance their way through pachydermal peril and swiney suspense as they face fundamental questions like, what do you wear to a fancy pool party? Should you share your ice cream? And how can two friends play with one toy? Backed by nutty backup singers The Squirrelles, the inseparable duo get the audience involved in the fun as well.


“Watching the joy on your child’s face when they see their favorite fictional characters come to life on stage is a moment every parent should experience,” said Elephant and Piggie Director Melissa Mason Braillard. “In keeping with the spirit of the books, Orlando Shakes production of Elephant and Piggie will explore everyday dilemmas like sharing, friendship, and problem solving in an engaging way.”


Orlando Shakes production of Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!” will be led by a Female creative leadership team.


Director Melissa Mason Braillard has appeared in several Orlando Shakes productions including The Taming of the Shrew,  A Little Night Music, Into the Woods, The Imaginary Invalid, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She has also appeared in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Mad Cow Theatre), Shhh! (PB&J Theatre Factory/Garden Theatre), and Sweeney Todd (Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra). Braillard currently serves as Director of Marketing Communications at Orlando Shakespeare Theater.

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Making her Orlando Shakes debut is Musical Director Megan Tsurumaki. Megan currently serves as the Director of Outreach at the Winter Park Playhouse, where she tours musical theatre productions into Title I elementary schools in the Central Florida region. She formerly served as chair of the Performing Arts Department at Maret School in Washington, DC. and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from UCF and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Appalachian State University.



Choreographer and musical theater triple threat Rachel Arnett will also be joining the creative leadership team.


“I’ve been watching an interesting conversation unfold about the lack of gender parity within the entertainment industry,” said Braillard. “Sitting around the table, I realized that the Elephant and Piggie all female creative team was unique and the first of its kind at Orlando Shakespeare Theater.”
The challenge of bringing the simply illustrated books to life on stage has been answered by three other women as well, Set Designer Robbin Watts, Lighting Designer Colleen Doherty,  and Costume Designer Mel Barger. Sound Designer Britt Sandusky will also be joining the artistic team.


Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!” features Jacob Valleroy as Gerald (Elephant) and Corynne Wagener as Piggie. Other casting includes Sarah Summerwell (Squirrelle), Kimmi Johnson (Dog/Squirrelle), and Austin Ryan Hunt (Penguin/Squirrelle).


Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!” is presented by Orlando Magic.


Orlando Shakespeare Theater is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of, and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts. This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts and Culture, and the State of Florida.



Preview Dates – April 7 and 8 at 10:15 a.m. and noon

Opening Date – April 9 at 2 p.m.

ASL Interpreted – April 30 at 2:00 p.m.



Join members of the cast for interactive pre-show fun for the whole family. The fun starts 10-15 minutes prior to every performance.



Stick around after Saturday performances of Elephant and Piggie for a special autograph session with the stars of the show.



Each actor is shadowed by a sign language interpreter, providing a rich theater experience for our patrons who use sign language. This is also an excellent experience for hearing theater patrons as well as they will be able to enjoy a new and different style of theater.




Monday/Tuesday//Thursday/Friday at 10:15 a.m. and noon – $9

Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. – $9

Saturday at 2 p.m. – $12 children; $15 adults


Group Sales: Up to 20% off groups of 10+

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Benefit Concert for Urban Think Foundation

by Darlyn Finch Kuhn on February 4, 2016

Orlando Mixtape Volume 4

Orlando Mixtape vol. 4: British Invasion

Thursday, March 10th | 6:00pm 


Presented by the Downtown Orlando Foundation

Benefiting the Urban Think Foundation


6:00 – 7:30pm – VIP “Never Mind the Bollocks Cocktail Tour,” $100

Tickets include concert admission, and specialty craft cocktails

at The Woods, The Courtesy Bar, Olde 64, and Aero


7:30pm – Benefit Concert, $25 (advance) / $30 (at the door)

Featuring covers of your favorites songs by your favorite Brits

The Social | 54 N. Orange Ave., Orlando, 32801



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