Accommodation Review – How Do We Make Our Schools Better?

Sufe Bradshaw, Laura Niemi, and Sandy Bainum in ACCOMMODATION - Photo by Matthew Brian Denman
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Penned by Greg Burdick and directed by Brandon Baer and Garrett Baer, ACCOMMODATION is currently playing at the Odyssey Theatre. Courtesy of Christopher Sepulveda and 3 Gems Productions, this world premiere will probe the ramifications of Federal and State mandated modifications required for individuals with learning disabilities. An added plus for rounding out the controversial topic is playwright Burdick’s personal decades-long history in the public school system, offering the stamp of authenticity to the role of teachers coping with today’s educational system. Directors Brandon and Garrett Baer, who come from a family of school marms, add an equally deep understanding of public school dynamics and failings.

Sandy Bainum and Massi Pregoni – Photo by Matthew Brian Denman

Ruth Lopez (Sufe Bradshaw) has come to a school meeting with her son’s counselor and his science teacher in order to figure out how to handle a burgeoning problem – rapidly declining grades in science – a course which may prevent the teen from eventually graduating. As it turns out, Michael (Massi Pregoni) has serious problems with attention and focus, taking notes, and adequately completing his homework assignments due to significant learning disabilities. In his other classes, where he has been doing passing work, Michael has been given special accommodations, including extra assistance and more time to complete his assignments. It quickly becomes apparent that Celeste Dawkins (Sandy Bainum), his science teacher, does not feel that such accommodations are warranted – despite recommendations by his counselor, Anne Roteman (Laura Niemi) and his principal, Ruth Lopez (Sol Marina Crespo). Fireworks soon erupt between parent and teacher – ultimately leading to legal ramifications. Probing questions are raised: Why is Dawkins’ stubbornly – and heatedly – refusing to adhere to court mandates? How has the problem affected this struggling student? Does class size determine level of individualized instruction? Will society more generally always offer accommodations for different styles of learning? Is there a simple answer to these complex issues?

Sandy Bainum and Sufe Bradshaw – Photo by Matthew Brian Denman

ACCOMMODATION is an intense and thought-provoking drama which probably raises more questions than it answers. Skillfully helmed by the Baer brothers, this play gives ample time to problems encountered by both students and educators in the current educational system. The well written and carefully considered script does not miss a beat as it reaches for solutions to today’s obvious dilemmas. Of course, the topic is one close to the hearts of the author and the directors – and will also quickly become an important one for audience members. The talented cast does an excellent job of studying the issues from multiple perspectives. ACCOMMODATION is strongly recommended for parents, teachers, students, and – given the impact of these concerns on society as a whole – every citizen. The play is interesting, involving, and moving as it treads – especially today – into very controversial waters.

Laura Niemi and Sufe Bradshaw – Photo by Matthew Brian Denman

ACCOMMODATION runs through July 9, 2023, with performances at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays through Fridays, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays (no performance on 7/5/23). The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, California. Tickets ranged for $32 to $42. For information and reservations, call 310-477-2055 X 2 or go online.


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