News & Views

Hanford Monologue Slam goes cyber

Julissa Zavala

May 1, 2020; Updated May 16, 2020

HANFORD — The third annual Hanford Monologue Slam will be open to anyone, near or far, as it goes cyber for the first time this year.

Silvia Gonzalez Scherer, executive artistic director of Hanford Multicultural Theater Company, said the Monologue Slam was done in public its first two years, but current restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic will not allow for that this year.

However, being creative individuals used to adapting, Scherer said the artistic staff at HMTC came up with the idea for a “Cyber Monologue Slam.”

In the past, mainly people from the area participated in the monologue slam, but Scherer said there were a few who came from out of town to perform.

With this new online platform, she said the slam can open up to people from all over the world. Contestants can participate from anywhere just by sending a video file of their monologue.

Being a multicultural nonprofit, Scherer said videos will be accepted in five languages: English, Spanish, Russian, Korean and Urdu.

Judges will watch the video monologues and whittle them down to a top 10 before choosing a winner, who will receive a $500 prize.

Monologues must be 1½ to 2 minutes long. The first submission window is May 1-14, with a $10 application fee. The second submission window is May 15-30, with a $15 application fee.

Scherer said she expects the winner to be chosen sometime by the end of June.

Monologues can be original or from a movie, play, TV series or book. The slam is all-inclusive and any skill level is welcome, Scherer said.

While performing 2-minute monologues for auditions is something actors are used to, it may be nerve-wracking for a first time performer. Scherer said the cyber monologue may be easier for someone who’s never done a monologue slam before.

“You can do a number of takes, pick your best one and send it in,” Scherer said.

Scherer said HMTC has enjoyed putting on the slam the past couple years and they wanted to keep it going, even if it couldn’t be done in public.

Many people are home right now and have the opportunity to try something new, so Scherer encourages them to give this event a shot. She said it may even be one of the few, if there are any at all, monologue slam competitions done fully online.

A big part of past monologue slams was the audience, who Scherer said were able to participate by voting for their favorites. Hoping to keep that aspect, she said HMTC is thinking of ways to incorporate a virtual audience, perhaps by streaming some of the performances, but that process is still to be determined.

If it goes well, Scherer said the company may continue to do the Cyber Monologue Slam in the future.

“This might be something innovative,” she said. “I just see a lot of positive things about it.”

The reporter can be reached at

HMTC brings back radio's glory days with 'Gunsmoke'

Parker Bowman

Jan 10, 2020

January 10, 2020

HANFORD — Before Netflix, cable and even TV — families gathered around the radio for entertainment.
The Hanford Multicultural Theatre Company invites everyone to gather ‘round and relive the golden age of radio with two performances “Gunsmoke” this weekend.
“I thought that would be a great script to do. We’ve got some great kids here, we’ve got some good people,” said director and actor Don Brakeman.
Before the iconic western ran on television for a total of 635 episodes spanning 20 years, “Gunsmoke” the show ran on the radio from 1952-1961. It may seem odd to younger people who only see the radio as something to listen to classic rock and Top 40 hits on, but before television, radio dramas complete with large casts, sound effects and tight, well-written scripts were wildly popular.
The HMCT, at its new home at 14060 Hackett St., will host two live-action radio dramas this weekend at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday.
HMTC actors, dressed as radio actors would have been in the radio booth in the 1940s, will read the script from the first episode of the radio version of “Gunsmoke,” entitled “Start of a Legend.” The performance, which lasts about 45 minutes, will be accompanied by the sound effects and music cues that radio fans would have heard at the time.
“You can feel a lot of emotion sitting in that chair and reading those lines if you allow yourself to get into it,” Brakeman, who plays the character Dr. Charles Adams, said.
Brakeman has been acting for decades and while he has had many stage roles and parts in films and television shows including “ Unsolved Mysteries,” “Fever Pitch” and Pay it Forward,” the one role that eluded him was on the “Gunsmoke” TV show, ironically.
“I tried to be cast on ‘Gunsmoke’ so many times but it was so popular that the line to get on the show was fantastic,” he said.
Dinuba High School graduate Michael Adams plays the role of Matt Dillon. Adams is new to the HMTC, having just recently moved to Hanford and gotten involved with the theater company and found himself surprised to be cast in the lead role.
“The trickiest part of this particular style is getting your emotion across without making big motions,” he said of the radio-style drama. “With this, it’s all your voice.”
“Gunsmoke” marks Adams’ first performance outside of high school drama class and he said that informing his dad about the role got an immediate and supportive reaction.
“As soon as he heard ‘Gunsmoke,’” Adams said, clicking his fingers together. “My dad was always into westerns so it’s nice that a lot of the people who’ve been supporting me for a long time suddenly get it. Because I’m doing a show that they know.”
Adams, who begins his journey as a theater arts major at College of Sequoias on Monday, said he’s excited be working with the HMTC.
Artistic director Silvia Gonzalez Scherer said that the theater company will do subsequent episodes of "Gunsmoke" depending on audience turn out and reaction. 
Last month, the Rotary Club of Hanford donated $1,000 to the theater company to go toward a children’s puppet show series that will debut later this year.  
If you go
The Hanford Multicultural Theater Company presents "Gunsmoke: Episode 1: Start of a Legend" at 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at 14060 Hackett Street, Hanford. 
Tickets are available at

Annual Dia de Los Muertos event returns to Hanford

Oct 3, 2019 Updated Nov 6, 2019

October 3, 2019

HANFORD — Hanford's third annual Hanford Dia de Los Muertos celebration will take place at Hanford’s Civic Park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2. 

Everyone is welcome to join us in this festive event. The free event will feature Aztec dancers, Mariachi Alas de Jalisco, Sugar Skull Ladies, P.A.T.Y.'Studio dancers,

Visitors will be able to take a photo with Calavera Gigante, the largest sugar skull in the Valley as well as the tallest Day of the Dead skeleton puppet in the state at 16 ft.

There will be altars created by community members, food, music, performers and a new pinata competition.

The event focuses on remembering family and friends and other loved ones who have passed. Remembering them helps support their spiritual journey. Scholars trace the origins of the modern day Dia de Los Muertos to 

indigenous observances dating back hundreds of years to an Aztec tradition dedicated to the goddess Mictecacihuati. The holiday has been celebrated throughout the world and has been absorbed into other traditions honoring loved ones.

“This year we are extremely excited to have mariachi,” says event coordinator Silvia Gonzalez-Scherer. “Also, we are extremely fortunate that Danza Ehecatl wants to make a return visit and perform traditional Aztec dance. This is a fantastic fundraiser for our multicultural theater. It is always well-attended and fun.”

Hanford Dia de Los Muertos is hosted by the Hanford Multicultural Theater Company, a local theater company founded by playwright Gonzalez-Scherer.

HMTC is accepting applications for spaces, altars and vendors, and for volunteers. Vendor applications close on Oct. 16. Applications can be found at or email

Youth and experience shine in Hanford Monologue Slam Cyber Edition

July 3, 2020

HANFORD — The Hanford Monologue Slam Cyber Edition, hosted by the Hanford Multicultural Theater Company, recently announced its top 10 for the global competition and two locals made the cut.

Locals Salma Alatorre, 12, and Don Brakeman, 86, bookend the competition as the youngest and oldest competitors. They made the top 10 after the first cut followed 107 submissions, followed by a subsequent 35 cuts, bringing the competition down to the final 10.

The judges selected to whittle down the field, including two casting agents, are based in Los Angeles, New York, Hanford and other cities.

“I kind of thought that was for the younger ones there, but it worked out that I got to run through there anyway,” Brakeman said. “Anytime you can do something like that and you’re voted into something or people think you did a good job, that makes you feel good.”

Brakeman, who lives in Hanford, performed a monologue from the film "The Jack Bull," a story about a crooked judge — Judge Wilkins — who in the scene is confronted by Joe B. Tolliver, Brakeman’s character. Tolliver lets Judge Wilkins know that he’s trying to get him off the bench.

“That’s a copy of the letter that I wrote to the governor asking that a committee be called to evaluate your fitness as a sitting judge,” Brakeman says in the scene. “And it is my deepest hope and desire that that committee finds you wanting and that articles of impeachment be drawn to remove you from the bench.”

Brakeman decided on the monologue after a friend of his, who has since passed away, originally did the part. His friend suggested he would be a good fit for Tolliver and Brakeman enjoyed it after reading the part.

Brakeman has been performing since 1951. He landed his first film role in a 1961 series called "Keyhole." Brakeman played a service station attendant who gets robbed.

“I’ve had myself a time and I’m still not ready to quit,” Brakeman said.

Alatorre, from Kettleman City, was giddy with excitement after finding out that not only did she make the top 10, but that the competition was international.

“That came as a huge surprise to me,” Alatorre said. “I was very happy.”

Alatorre’s monologue came from the 2019 film "Little Women." In the scene, Saoirse Ronan, who plays Jo, decries the standards women are given and gives her thoughts on how she sees women.

“I’m so sick of people saying that love is all a woman is fit for. I’m so sick of it. I’m so lonely,” Alatorre concludes in her monologue.

Before the monologue, Alatorre said she prepared herself by sitting in silence and “thinking about where the actor or character’s coming from.” She added that she’s always been a fan of "Little Women" and has seen various versions of it.

“She just gives this wonderful performance and that really inspired me to use all that emotion and portray the character well,” Alatorre said. “That’s what really inspired me to do the monologue.”

“I watched the scene multiple times just to mirror her facial expressions and body language and I just put my own spin on it.”

Alatorre has been performing for the majority of her young life. She started ballet at the age of three and has been with HMTC for approximately three years. She is also a performer with P.A.T.Y.’Studio.

The winner of the Hanford Monologue Slam Cyber Edition, the first of its kind, along with a grand prize of $500 will be announced on July 10.

Audiences can view the top 10 on the HMTC Monologue Slam YouTube channel. They can also vote for their top three at, which will help determine a winner. More information can be found on the HMTC Facebook page.

Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.

Top 10

Don Brakeman (Hanford, CA)

Salma Alatorre (Kettleman City, CA)

Jorge Romero (Fresno, CA)

Omari Crocker (Redoak, TX)

Chiara Garavaldi (Zurich, Switzerland)

Delaney Vallese

Angel Pean (Brooklyn, NY)

Emmanuel Okeke (Miami, FL)

Janelle Zharmenova (Penamth, UK)

John Anantua (Elmont, NY)

Ava Bianchi (Burbank, CA)

Silvia Gonzalez Scherer

July 28, 2019

Silvia to write weekly article for the Hanford Sentinel Newspaper called HMTC This Week.


14060 Hackett St, Hanford, CA 93230, USA

(559) 997-3838

(559) 633-8333 (f)

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