Local psychologist gets to ply trade in `Ricki Lake' TV episode on teens

NEIGHBORS

October 18, 2000|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WITH EPISODES titled "Send My Wild Teen to Prison," "CybersexAddicts" and "He's Mine Now, You Can't Have Him!" talk shows with hosts such as Sally Jessy Raphael, Montel Williams and Ricki Lake have become a guilty pleasure for many Americans. But don't count John Rhead among the genre's fans.

Rhead, a Columbia psychologist, had never seen Ricki Lake's show before agreeing to participate in an episode titled "Teen Couples on the Verge of Divorce."

"I guess I'm culturally deprived," Rhead said. "I don't watch much television, and I guess I don't read the right newspapers."

Rhead said that he had never heard of the show and assumed that "Ricki" was spelled "Ricky" and referred to a male. He also said, "Once I agreed to do this, I began asking friends and asking my daughter who's 14 what their take on the show is, and they said, `You could do worse.'

"They cited Jerry Springer. I found that Jerry was at the far end of the continuum, Oprah was at the other end and Ricki was somewhere in the middle," Rhead added. "I felt like even if the show were sensationalistic, it was enough on my terms and my turf that I would not be drawn into that."

So how did all this start? "I simply got a call from someone associated with the Ricki Lake show saying they were doing a show about teen-age marriages that were in trouble," Rhead said. "They tried to find a couples counselor in each of the couples' hometowns. They gave me a call and asked me if I would be willing to see this couple and allow them to film a therapy session."

Rhead said he agreed to see the couple, but declined the request to film the session because "it would violate the confidentiality of my clients, and it would misrepresent psychotherapy," he said. "Real psychotherapy cannot occur with a million people watching. I would not want to present that to the public as if that were psychotherapy."

Rhead met with the couple once, before a director, camera operator and sound technician from the show arrived from New York to interview Rhead at his office Sept. 19. He said he found the film crew to be professional.

"Overall, I enjoyed the experience," he said. "I felt like it gave me the opportunity to say some things about the nature of therapy and relationships that I thought were important. Of course, I have no idea if any of that will appear in the final show, but I hope so."

The "Ricki Lake" episode featuring Rhead is scheduled to air today. Times are 10 a.m. on Channel 50, 11 a.m. on Channel 54 and 1 p.m. on Channel 45.

Noh theater

Students at Atholton High School received instruction in the ancient tradition of Japanese Noh Theater last week as part of an artist-in-residency program at the school.

Mark Kittlaus, an instructor with the Ancient Mask Repertory Theater, worked with students for five days last week to develop a program that they performed Friday.

"Japanese Noh Theater is an ancient theater practice that's highly ritualized and stylized. It incorporates ancient beliefs and religious stories," Kittlaus said.

Performers traditionally wear elaborate costumes and hold or wear large masks while singing or reciting haiku poetry. Kittlaus said, "Noh incorporates equal amounts of singing, dance and acting. It centers around a single main character. Unlike western drama which takes a linear approach, Noh drama focuses on a single crystallized moment."

According to Kittlaus, Japanese Noh Theater is typically centered on one actor who holds a fan and wears a mask, a secondary actor who introduces the place and the moment, and musicians and singers who kneel on stage and are visible throughout the performance.

"There's generally a single pine tree for decoration," Kittlaus said. "Any other stage adornments are very suggestive, such as a wishing well or a pagoda. The focus is on the actor who uses a folding fan."

For Friday's performance, students from two honors English classes wrote haiku poems, and students in art classes made the masks. Students from theater and acting classes exhibited the dance and drama skills learned through the program.

Kittlaus was pleased with what the students accomplished. "It's very disciplined in flow and very focused, which creates a challenge and a goal," he said. "They did a very nice job."

Atholton dance teacher Trish Spruill said the program was funded by the PTSA, Maryland State Arts Council, the drama department at Atholton and a grant from Target.

Byrne honored

On Oct. 5, Emma Byrne was named Howard County Volunteer of the Year 2000 at the George Howard Building in Ellicott City. The annual event is part of a statewide program, "Maryland You Are Beautiful," sponsored by the governor's office.

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