THE BETTER LEMONS "ENLIGHTENMENT" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

DEBORAH KLUGMAN - Stage Raw

The "Enlightenment" Award goes to the critic who does the most to inform and educate.

Congratulations to Deborah from all of us!

Deborah Klugman has been writing for alternative media in Los Angeles since 1987 when she began writing theater reviews for the LA Reader. She was a theater critic for the LA  Weekly from 1995 through 2013. She has also reviewed film, books, and food for various publications, along with articles on social and political issues. She joined the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle in 2013. She also posts for ArtsBeatLA.com

To view all of Deborah's review excerpts, visit her Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

Tomorrow we will announce the last winner for 2019, which will be the "Critic of the Year" Award.

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.

THE BETTER LEMONS "NAME DROPPER" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SAY WHAT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Lorenzo Marchessi from The Geek Authority.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SILVER TONGUE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Vanessa Cate from Stage Raw.

THE BETTER LEMONS "DIRECTOR" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ernest Kearney from TheTVolution.

THE BETTER LEMONS "UP LATE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Eric Gordon from People's World.

THE BETTER LEMONS "THEATRE HOUND" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Shari Barrett from Broadway World.

THE BETTER LEMONS "I LOVE LA" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Paul Myrvold from Paul Myrvold Theatre Notes.


THE BETTER LEMONS "I LOVE LA" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

 PAUL MYRVOLD - Paul Myrvold's Theatre Notes

The "I Love LA" Award goes to the critic who did the most to promote LA Theatre in 2019.

Congratulations to Paul from all of us!

Paul Myrvold, has been writing theatre commentary for over thirty years, first in the Bay Area covering every kind of performance including plays, musicals, ballet, opera, circus, and even a Portuguese-style bull fight. He has written about theatrical performances at all levels in all kinds of venues from the premiere theatres, such as A.C.T., Berkeley Rep and TheatreWorks, to smaller, high quality venues such as San Jose Stage Company, City Lights Theatre Company, and Pacific Repertory Theatre in Carmel. He has also covered community theatre productions, college and university productions and, on occasion, high school productions.

Now residing in Southern California, Paul has been commenting on shows throughout Los Angeles County and has stretched his beat to Orange County and South Coast Repertory.

An Equity actor for over forty years, Paul played Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum in San Jose Stage Company’s award winning production of The Three Penny Opera and the dual roles of Sir Walter Elliot and Admiral Croft in the world premiere of Jane Austen’s Persuasion also at San Jose Stage Company. He earned a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for “Outstanding Performance” in the supporting roles of J. V. “Major” Bouvier and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale in the musical Grey Gardens at TheatreWorks (2008). In the summer of 2018, he appeared in the highly acclaimed Open Fist Theatre production of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood as Reverend Jenkins and Narrator. Paul has performed on Broadway (most notably in the hit show Shenandoah with John Cullum), off Broadway, off-off Broadway, in regional theatres, summer stock and as a Guest Artist at colleges and universities from coast to coast. He has performed his signature role Cervantes/Quixote in Man of La Mancha eight times over four decades, the latest of which was an intimate, theatre-in-the round production at Pacific Repertory Theatre. Some other favorite roles include King Lear, Fred Graham / Petruchio in Kiss Me, Kate, Trigorin in The Sea Gull, Fredrik Egerman in A Little Night Music and Caldwell B. Cladwell in Urinetown. Paul is never happier than when he is in the theatre, either on stage or in the audience, and he hopes to see you at intermission or after the show.

To view all of Paul's review excerpts, visit his Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of the "Enlightenment" Award - the critic who did the most to inform and educate in 2019.

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.

THE BETTER LEMONS "NAME DROPPER" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SAY WHAT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Lorenzo Marchessi from The Geek Authority.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SILVER TONGUE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Vanessa Cate from Stage Raw.

THE BETTER LEMONS "DIRECTOR" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ernest Kearney from TheTVolution.

THE BETTER LEMONS "UP LATE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Eric Gordon from People's World.

THE BETTER LEMONS "THEATRE HOUND" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Shari Barrett from Broadway World.


THE BETTER LEMONS "THEATRE HOUND" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

SHARI BARRETT - Broadway World

The "Theatre Hound" Award goes to the critic most likely to review the hidden gems, off the beaten path, those with short runs and small budgets.

Congratulations to Shari from all of us!

Shari Barrett, a Los Angeles native, has been active in the theater world since the age of six - acting, singing, and dancing her way across the boards all over town. After teaching in local secondary schools, working in marketing for several studios, writing, directing, producing, and performing in productions for several non-profit theaters, Shari now dedicates her time and focuses her skills as an independent publicist to "get the word out" about smaller theaters throughout the Los Angeles area. As a founding member of the LA Stage Alliance Leadership Council Task Force, she and reps from theaters throughout the city worked together to articulate a vision for the theatre community of Greater Los Angeles. Shari has received recognition from the City of Los Angeles for her dedication of heart and hand to the needs of friends, neighbors and fellow members of society for her devotion of service to the people of Los Angeles, and is honored to serve the theatre world in her hometown.

To view all of Shari's review excerpts, visit her Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of the "I Love LA" Award - the critic who did the most to promote LA Theatre in 2019.

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.

THE BETTER LEMONS "NAME DROPPER" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SAY WHAT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Lorenzo Marchessi from The Geek Authority.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SILVER TONGUE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Vanessa Cate from Stage Raw.

THE BETTER LEMONS "DIRECTOR" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ernest Kearney from TheTVolution.

THE BETTER LEMONS "UP LATE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Eric Gordon from People's World.


Rosie Glen-Lambert Pens Intriguing Work for the Attic Collective

The Attic Collective has devised a new intriguing play entitled "I Decided I'm Fine: A Roach Play" written by Rosie Glen-Lambert and Veronica Tjioe and directed by Rosie Glen-Lambert. Glen-Lambert (pictured above) talks to us in great detail about the Attic Collective and this fascinating new work.

Tell first and foremost about the mission of The Attic Collective.

R G-L: The Attic Collective is a community of diverse young artists whose unique approach to live performance strives to redefine theatre, both in who it is for and what it can be. Our work investigates the human experience with equal parts joy and profundity; by utilizing magical realism, clowning, movement, music, and an emphasis on design, our work tackles universal questions through a lens of wonder and discovery. We offer our audiences universes unbound by the rules of reality as a sanctuary of escape to, and not from, their own emotions. We create theatre for theatre-lovers, theatre-haters, theatre-skeptics, theatre-believers, theatre professionals, theatre novices, or, put more simply: we create theatre for everyone.

How does this revamped play I Decided I'm Fine: A Roach Play fit into the mission?

R G-L: This is a play which tackles very difficult subject matter, so it would be easy for it to be two hours of difficult-to-watch drama. But our company believes in exploring the complexity of human emotion from seemingly unlikely vantage points. There is clowning in this show. There is comedy in this show. There is a fifteen minute cockroach musical in this show. It is our belief that, rather than minimizing the weightiness of this play, these moments of levity bring our audience closer to the emotional stakes present. Laughing one minute and crying the next is our brand. It is how we take care of our audience, assuring them that emotional release and enjoyment are not mutually exclusive. This is a very “Attic Collective” show.

The show is about hoarding. I am a hoarder myself, so can definitely relate to how serious a problem this is. What inspired you to write a play about this issue?

R G-L: It’s fascinating to me who self-identifies as a “hoarder” and who doesn’t. As a person who has held on to every note I’ve received since childhood and who cannot bring myself to throw out a single VHS tape in my storage unit, I used to sort of casually self-identify, finding it to be a kind of humorous self-deprecation. But the question of who and what a hoarder is is unbelievably complex. As we have been developing and discussing this show over the past two years I’ve gotten to hear varying responses to this classification. I Decided I’m Fine: A Roach Play was created after our company was commissioned by another theatre company to create a new, devised work as part of their season. The space we would be creating it for was wonderful but intimate-just 35 seats and two entrances. As we were pondering the best way to make the intimate setting for this new piece purposeful, I was simultaneously in the process of making multiple trips to Detroit to help my family sort through my grandmother’s home in preparation for helping her move into a nursing facility. My grandmother, a tough, wonderful woman, had a home teeming with belongings: antiques, documents, receipts, unopened purchases, etc. We always knew she was a collector, but the scale to which she had accumulated only really became evident as we were helping to facilitate this move.

I started to wonder about where this tendency stemmed from. Was it her impoverished upbringing, being raised by Jewish immigrants during the Great Depression? Was it a symptom of her abusive marriage? Had she collected to this extent as a response to her failing memory? I thought about the reality shows we have all become so familiar with, the ones which encourage us to shudder and retch at people who’ve “let things get out of control.” I thought about the way these shows focus on the symptoms of each “hoarder’s” lifestyle, giving little or no attention to the source of the compulsion. I thought about the way these shows are meant for entertainment. I did research about Compulsive Hoarding Disorder, and the ways in which hoarding is most often a response to a trauma. I thought about the way wealthier people are often considered “collectors” rather than hoarders because of the space they have to store their objects. I thought about my own overflowing storage unit (filled with things I inherited from my grandmother) and wondered what my own children will say about me as they facilitate my move one day. The topic felt too rich not to investigate further, so I brought it to the Company and we began devising this play.

The play concerns a serious problem with a couple who are experiencing a serious loss. How does the magic and clowning play into this scenario? How, as director, do you meet the challenges of the switch in tone?

R G-L: Hoarding is an incredibly delicate issue that is frequently handled indelicately. For many people, their only familiarity with the topic comes from reality television which has stigmatized and sensationalized the behavior. In creating a new piece of theatre which aimed to address hoarding empathetically, it felt impossible not to grapple with this cultural touchstone directly. We watched several episodes of both A&E’s “Hoarders” And TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive” as research and were struck by the presentational quality of these shows. Each “Hoarder’s” life was compressed into an hour-long episode where the most shocking and disturbing details were highlighted for the viewers benefit. This steered us towards a framing device for our show which addresses the sensationalism of these reality shows somewhat directly: celebrity doctors/lifestyle coach type characters who “present” the core story of Ellen, a woman who is hoarding as a response to loss. These characters are inherently clowns, representing a removal from the sympathy the audience may feel for Ellen. Separately, there is another frame through which the audience can watch the performance which highlights through magic and abstraction the comfort (as well as the distress) that Ellen gains from her accumulation. How do these different framing devices work together? I think quite similarly to the way we approach this topic in real life. Hoarding is something you are asked to gawk and laugh at when you’re watching strangers on television. It is something you feel sad about when you watch it have a stronghold over someone you love. It is something that can at times feel magical, like an incredible archive of a person’s life. The tonal shifts ask the audience to grapple with the complexity of the behavior itself.

Why did you revamp the original version of the play? Did audience reaction suggest this?

R G-L: As a company, we have created a number of new plays through our distinctive devising process which have all been well-attended and well-received. But I Decided I’m Fine: A Roach Play, which was originally performed in August of 2018, had a unique effect on our audience. It elicited the most vulnerable post-show conversations, resulted in the most thoughtful next-day email messages, and we continued to hear about the way it stuck with our audiences long past its final performance. People who thought coming in to the performance they had no personal connection to the subject matter left empathizing with friends and family, and people for whom the topic was deeply personal entered the performance with trepidation and left feeling validated and hungry for deeper conversation. And, thrillingly, a number of patrons who do not typically go to the theatre (some for whom this was their first live theatrical performance!) left excited about seeing more. One patron approached me afterwards to tell me that he “didn’t realize this is what theatre could be.” It felt like it was too special to put back in the vault, so we’ve continued to work on it in the hopes of bringing it to a wider audience.

Attic Collective has received awards and has a fantastic reputation in the theatre community. Could you talk about this a little bit?

R G-L: We are very proud of the work we have created for the Los Angeles community. This past summer, our sold-out run of The Last Croissant, which we produced for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, won Best Ensemble Theatre, Best of the Broadwater, as well as Top of the Fringe, the top honor awarded. We were also nominated for the Larry Cornwall Award for Musical Excellence as well as the Steve Kent Award for Social and Political Change. Our previous Fringe project, Dead Dog’s Bone: A Birthday Play was awarded the 2015 Encore Producer’s Award and earned nominations for Best Direction of the festival as well as Best Performance. Our devised play, What Happened to Where I’ve Been, was chosen to be a part of Son of Semele’s Company Creation Festival in 2017 and enjoyed an extension after the close of the Festival. In addition to the award-winning work we do, we are also extremely proud to offer free theatre workshops that are open to the community. Every three months we gather to hone our skills, create and play. It is a wonderful opportunity for artists to practice their craft and deepen their sense of community. In this way we hope that in addition to making a name for ourselves by creating thoughtful and evocative theatre we are also adding to the Los Angeles theatrical landscape by providing a place for artists to connect with one another.

Is there anything you wish to add?

R G-L: I think this is a special, very difficult play. I hope it can be the beginning of a continued conversation about grief, mental health, stigma and compassion.

Content Warning: Please be advised that the following themes which may be triggering for some audience members are present in this performance: Alcoholism, Anxiety, Compulsive Hoarding Disorder, Death, Death of an infant, Hoarding, Mental Illness.

I Decided I'm Fine: A Roach Play runs Feb. 7 – Mar. 1. It plays Fridays, Saturdays @ 8pm, Sundays 6pm) at Studio/Stage 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004

For tickets, visit: TheAtticCollectiveLA.com/i-decided-im-fine-a-roach-play

(Photo credit: Rachel Rambaldi)


THE BETTER LEMONS "UP LATE" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

ERIC GORDON - People's World

The "Up Late" Award goes to the most prolific critic.

Congratulations to Eric from all of us!

Eric Gordon writes for People's World. He has written for dozens of local, national, and international publications, mostly about art, music, culture, religion and politics. His undergraduate degree is from Yale and his doctorate in history is from Tulane. He was director of the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring in Southern California from 1995 to 2010. Eric is the author of Mark the Music: The Life and Work of Marc Blitzstein, and co-author of Ballad of an American: The Autobiography of Earl Robinson. A book he translated from Portuguese (Waving to the Train and Other Stories, by Hadasa Cytrynowicz) appeared in 2013. In 2015 he executive produced City of the Future, a CD of Soviet Yiddish music from the 1930s. He is the former Southern California Chapter Chair of the National Writers Union (Local 1981 UAW/AFL-CIO).

To view all of Eric's review excerpts, visit his Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of the "Theatre Hound" Award - which goes to the critic most likely to review the hidden gems, off the beaten path, those with short runs and small budgets.

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.

THE BETTER LEMONS "NAME DROPPER" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SAY WHAT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Lorenzo Marchessi from The Geek Authority.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SILVER TONGUE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Vanessa Cate from Stage Raw.

THE BETTER LEMONS "DIRECTOR" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ernest Kearney from TheTVolution.


THE BETTER LEMONS "DIRECTOR" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

ERNEST KEARNEY - The TVolution

The "Director" Award goes to the critic who is most likely to write reviews that inform the artists.

Congratulations to Ernest from all of us!

Ernest Kearney is an award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note. He has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist three times in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His play Peddle was selected by the Midwest Theatre Network as one of the best plays of 1997. His most recent work 'The Salt Prince' was awarded honors from the Nathan Miller History Play Contest as well as the Fremont Center Theatre Play Contest. A passionate theatre and history buff, Mr. Kearney's reviews can be found on WorkingAuthor.com and TheTVolution.com.

To view all of Ernest's review excerpts, visit his Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

On Monday we will announce the winner of the "Up Late" Award - the award that goes to the most prolific critic in 2019.

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.

THE BETTER LEMONS "NAME DROPPER" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SAY WHAT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Lorenzo Marchessi from The Geek Authority.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SILVER TONGUE" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Vanessa Cate from Stage Raw.


THE BETTER LEMONS "SILVER TONGUE" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

VANESSA CATE - Stage Raw

The "Silver Tongue" Award goes to the most persuasive critic, capable of enticing anyone into a theatre seat.

Congratulations to Vanessa from all of us!

Vanessa Cate is the Assigning Editor for Stage Raw and former Editor-in-Chief for @thisstage.la. Vanessa is a performance artist, writer, and jack of all trades, and they can be found on stage, in strange audiences, and in interesting situations. Vanessa Cate’s passion for theatre and reverence for fantasy blinds them to how to best live a normal life. Apart from their work with Stage Raw since its inception, Vanessa is the Founder and Artistic Director of the feminist performance-coven known as TheatreWitch, as well as the fantasy dance group Cabaret le Fey. Vanessa performs, writes, directs, and generally creates however and whenever they can.

To view all of Vanessa's review excerpts, visit their Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of the "Director" Award - the most persuasive critic, capable of enticing anyone into a theatre seat.

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.

THE BETTER LEMONS "NAME DROPPER" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog.

THE BETTER LEMONS "SAY WHAT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Lorenzo Marchessi from The Geek Authority.


THE BETTER LEMONS "SAY WHAT?" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

LORENZO MARCHESSI - The Geek Authority

The "Say What?" Award goes to the most provocative critic.

Congratulations to Lorenzo from all of us!

Lorenzo Marchessi is a Chicago born transplant to Southern California who has several degrees in Theatre, Film, Radio, Television, Business and Communications and has worked both on stage and on camera before working directly behind the scenes for stage and screen. Directing over 50 theatrical shows like Annie, A View From The Bridge, and Noises Off for the stage, he has written and produced over 100 shorts, TV spots, and at live entertainment venues. The one thing he has done the most is writing. With stage play, teleplay and screenplay writing credits behind him has received most acclaim and Critics Choice awarded (twice in Illinois as well as Iowa and CA) and has been reviewing since his college days. Currently the owner/President of The Geek Authority which reviews, interviews, does live video feeds and photo expose's at more that 50 conventions a year that feature Fantasy / Sci-Fi / Anime / Comics / TV / Films / Products / Music / Toys / Celebrities / Pop Culture related events. Also, Lorenzo is constantly reviewing over 150 theatrical events (plays. concerts, opera, live entertainment) a year all over Southern CA, AZ and NV. The Geek Authority is now over 10 years old and has expanded with correspondents all over the country.

To view all of Lorenzo's review excerpts, visit his Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of the "Silver Tongue" Award - the most persuasive critic, capable of enticing anyone into a theatre seat.

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.

THE BETTER LEMONS "NAME DROPPER" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Jill Weinlein from Onstage Blog.


THE BETTER LEMONS "Name Dropper" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

JILL WEINLEIN from Onstage Blog

"Name Dropper" Award goes to the critic who is most likely to review the big shows in the big theatres with the big names and the big budgets.

Congratulations to Jill from all of us!

Jill Weinlein graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Theater Arts. Her training gave her an understanding and appreciation for the writing, directing, acting and the technical team. Besides reviewing community and big Broadway shows, she lives in Los Angeles and writes restaurant reviews for the Beverly Press and Park LaBrea News. Her reviews can be viewed on dineandtravel.me.

To view all of Jill's review excerpts, visit her Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of the "Say What?" Award - the most provocative critic.

THE BETTER LEMONS "FOMENTER OF REVOLUTION" CRITIC AWARD FOR 2019 went to Ed Rampell from Hollywood Progressive.


The Better Lemons "Fomenter of Revolution" Critic Award for 2019 Goes To...

ED RAMPELL from Hollywood Progressive

The "Fomenter of Revolution" Award goes to the Critic who is most likely to stir a conversation about theater, politics, and social justice.

Congratulations to Ed from all of us at Better Lemons!

Ed Rampell is an L.A.-based full-time freelance writer and author. He majored in Cinema at Manhattan’s Hunter College. After graduating, Rampell lived in Tahiti, Samoa, Hawaii, and Micronesia, reporting on the nuclear free and independent Pacific and Hawaiian Sovereignty movements for: ABC News’ “20/20,” Reuters, AP, Radio Australia, Radio New Zealand, NewsWeek, Honolulu Weekly, etc. In 1999 Rampell relocated to L.A. and contributed to: “The Finger” column for New Times L.A., Variety, Written By, The Nation, L.A. Times, L.A. Daily News, Financial Times, New York Press, Guardian, The Progressive, Sierra Magazine, Earth Island Journal, Washington Post, The Forward, In These Times, AlterNet, DestinAsian, etc. Rampell currently covers L.A.’s arts scene for: HollywoodProgressive.com, Jesther Entertainment, People’s World, etc.

Rampell co-authored “Conversations with W.S. Merwin” and the film histories: “Made In Paradise, Hollywood’s Films of Hawaii and the South Seas,” “Pearl Harbor in the Movies, and “The Hawaii Movie and Television Book.” Rampell is solo author of the 2005 book “Progressive Hollywood, A People’s Film History of the United States.” Rampell appears in the 2005 Australian documentary “Hula Girls, Imagining Paradise.”

To view all of Ed's review excerpts visit his Better Lemons page HERE.

To view all the Registered Critics on Better Lemons who post their own review excerpts and give each show a LemonMeter rating, go to Better-Lemons.com/Registered-Critics.

All Registered Critics write theater and art reviews for their own publications and then rate registered shows on our website and add their LemonMeter rating. Please contact them through their own website to congratulate them and to get them to review your production.

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of the "Name Dropper" Award - the critic most likely to review the big shows in the big theatres with the big names and the big budgets.


Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – January 13 - 19, 2020


Theatrical, One-Person, Improv, and Comedy shows, Music, Dance, and Award Shows registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.


Making God Laugh by Sean Grennan

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Human Interest Story

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Ballet Folclórico Nacional de México de Silvia Lozano

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Cirque Éloize

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Ballet BC's Romeo + Juliet

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The MisMatch Game

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RED INK

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More Guns!

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Canuck as F🍁ck

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Earthquakes in London

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Plus One

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Ballet West's Giselle

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The 19th Annual 50 HOUR DRIVE-BY THEATRE FESTIVAL

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Surviving 'MN Nice'. . . and becoming brave AF

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The Los Angeles Women's Theatre festival

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STOMP: 25th Anniversary

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FOUND

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Activities of Daily Living

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Men are From Mars-Women are From Venus LIVE at North Coast Rep

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Theatre 40 Musical Matinee

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Best Theatre of the Year - Looking Back At L.A.’s 2019

I give to you my personal list of the best theatre Los Angeles offered in 2019, with a few swipes at the less of the best….

First off, the production of August Wilson’s Jitney at the Mark Taper Forum. Wilson’s works share a distinction with those of Shakespeare, in that when the plays of either are fortunate enough to be housed in a production of true artistry one finds theatre nirvana, which is what director Ruben Santiago-Hudson and cast provided L.A. audiences with.

The cast —Steven Antony JonesFrancois BattisteAmari CheatomNija OkoroRay Anthony ThomasHarvy BlanksKeith Randolph SmithBrian D. Coats, and Anthony Chisholm returning to the role which earned him a Drama Desk Award and Obie in 2000’s off-Broadway production— performed as keys on a perfectly tuned piano, with  Santiago-Hudson assuring not one false note was sounded.

Contributing to this perfect harmony were David Gallo’s set, Jane Cox’s deft light design and Toni-Leslie James’ superlatively unobtrusive costumes.


In six short years the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts has won L.A.’s appreciation for the work produced and Artistic Director Paul Crewes its respect for his guidance.

This year that appreciation and respect were given further validation: The Old Man and the Old Moon by the PigPen Theatre Company, was an intoxicating entwining of old world folklore, Arabian night tales and the poetic arts of a Celtic seanchaís resulting in an evening of wondrous magic which is the essence of theatre.


Some twenty-five years ago at the old Tiffany Theatre on Sunset Boulevard, the marvelous Hershey Felder presented his first solo show based on the life of a great composer.  Having previously brought Chopin and Beethoven to the Wallis, this year Felder returned again— and again was…well, marvelous.

Hershey Felder: A Paris Love Story, are the reminiscences of his first youthful journey to Paris which are placed as a palimpsest in homage to his favorite composer Achille-Claude Debussy.  Directed by Trevor Hay it was perhaps the most enchanting show of the season.


We have the Wallis to thank for Renée Taylor’s one-woman show, My Life on a Diet Best known to movie lovers as Eva Braun in Mel Brooks’ The Producers (1968) and to TV viewers as Fran Drescher’s mother on the CBS sitcom The Nanny, Taylor, with her late husband Joseph Bologna, co-wrote the Oscar nominated Lovers and Other Strangers as well as two additional screenplays and 21 more plays.

It was a privilege and a joy to be in the company of the 86 year old Taylor who is a juggernaut of talent as well as a living history of both Broadway and Hollywood, and, personally, I wanted her show to go on longer than its 90 minutes.

Like a week longer.  Maybe two.


The Wallis also deserves thanks for bringing back talented David Mynne, whose one-man presentation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations was one of last year’s high-water mark.

A Christmas Carol, this year’s Dickens offering, was less satisfying but Mynne’s performance was nevertheless amazing to watch.


The Fountain Theatre, which I regard as one of the jewels in the crown of the L.A. theatre community offered little this year that drew my interest and what did, I’m afraid, I was less than thrilled by.

Idris Goodwin’s play Hype Man, though not without merit, I found weak and I thought the cast, Clarissa ThibeauxChad Addison and Matthew Hancock and director Deena Selenow, brought more to the play than the play brought to the stage.

Of course, there was no performance of the Forever Flamenco series that I was not enraptured by.  These monthly Juergas of dancers and singers, overseen by Deborah Culver at the Fountain since 1990, I have often heralded as one of the best kept secrets in L.A. and one of its hottest tickets.


The Long Beach International City Theatre’s production of Arthur Miller’s The Price was a show one should regret if missed.

David Nevell as a man who sees in the wreckage of his father’s life the failure of his own, and Elyse Mirto as the wife who sees her husband’s true worth but is unable to make him believe it, were each outstanding.

In the most Biblical referenced of Miller’s plays, Bo Foxworth’s layered performance as the prodigal son allowed the audience to see that the chains forged by his choices were as heavy as those of his brother.

As the secondhand furniture dealer Mister Solomon, which is the heartbeat of the play, Tony Abatemarco fluctuated adroitly between the Old Testament’s wise Solomon and Faust’s wheeling-dealing Mephistopheles.

I find director John Henry Davis to be rather hit or miss, but with The Price he undeniably knocked one out of the stadium.

DoubleDouble playwright Guy Zimmerman and director Juli Crockett, by a fusion of the 1944 noir classic Double Indemnity with Shakespeare’s Scottish play, successfully brought another artistic chimera to the stage.

Zimmerman and Crockett juggled snippets of dialogue and hints of shared motifs, transforming a trio of Barbara Stanwyck doppelgangers  (Henita TeloJenny Greer and Isabella Boose) into a Greek Chorus to warn  Saughn Buchholz as Walter-Walter of the fate awaiting his Oedipus MacMurray.

From concept to execution, this production had the luster that craft and intelligence brings; sharing in the credit for this are scenic designer Melissa Ficociello and Michael Feldman’s ballads.


Bill Irwin’s On Beckett was perhaps more lecture than show, but what a subject to lecture on and what a lecturer to hear.  Having been a fan of Bill Irwin since his Old Hats and Fool Moon days, what I found so extraordinary in his discourse/performance/dissertation/sermon on the works of the great Irish playwright on the stage at Kirk Douglas Theatre, was Irwin’s ability to delve into those “linguistic non-spaces” Beckett supplies, and weave relevance into those silences found there.


Playwright Lauren Gunderson is the current “flavor of the month” from the New York theatre scene.  I find most of her works “vanilla” at best.  But there are a couple of her plays which, while not on the level of “Chocolate Therapy,” come close to “Chunky Monkey” status.

Ada and the Engine is one.  It tells the story of the rakish Lord Byron’s daughter, Ada, and her contribution to the development of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, precursor to the modern computer.  In their staging, Theatre Unleashed emphasized the play’s strengths while cloaking its weaknesses, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging production.

As the two dominant men in Ada’s life —William King-Noel, later Lord Lovelace and the driven Charles Babbage— Gregory Crafts and Alex Knox gave faultless performances.  But it was Jessie Sherman in the titular role that captured the audience and herded them on the pathway from the joys of dreams to the price paid for them.

Director Heidi Powers enriched the production by her employment of Denise Barrett’s costumes and use of Kevin Hilton’s animation which shattered the black box’s confines by expanding the vista of ideas.

Less successful, but certainly more frenzied was the Theatre Unleashed production of Never Ever Land by playwright Rider Strong, centering on the allegations against Michael Jackson’s involvement with underaged boys.  Director Michael A. Shepperd applied cunning and skill but was only moderately successful in masking the play’s faults.  On the other hand, Josh Randall as the “abused” lad’s manipulating father and Leif Gantvoort as the unctuous news commentator after a story turned in exceptional performances.


As a former puppeteer, I admit I was a sucker for Les Miz And Friends! A Puppet Parody and my hearty guffaws filled the Hudson Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Nathan Makaryk and Geneviève Flati co-directed their “re-envisioning” of Les Misérables, the much beloved musical based on Victor Hugo’s much renowned classic.  The crushing poverty, sexual exploitation, brutal police and civil bloodshed are still there, they just added a ton of puppets and screwed with the songs.

Performer-puppeteers Kelly RogersKevin GarciaGabrielle JacksonJaycob HunterHailey Tweter and Carter Michael kept the laughter coming, as did Christopher Robert Smith as Javert.

The production was packed with silly puns and dopey jokes, but what came as a total surprise, at least to me, was the quality of the cast’s musical chops.  Some credit for this must go to “musical accompaniment, Orchestrator and Arranger” David Norris.  Here’s hoping Makaryk and Flati set their satirical sights on another classic of the musical theatre.


I did manage to see Rogue Machine’s Disposable Necessities in their new space in Santa Monica.  Playwright Neil McGowan has conceived a clever work akin to an old “slam-door” comedy where an actor would rush out as one character to re-enter as another seconds later.  But, McGowan does away with the “doors” by setting his work in a protean near future when bodies are changed with wardrobe like ease.  The device supplies the show with laughs, but also with difficulties.  Claire Blackwelder isn’t up to the demands of conveying the persona of an elderly chauvinistic lecher dwelling in young lady with a body worthy of Vargas’ watercolors.  Nor does Jefferson Reid have the acting apparatus to conjure the reality of a spoiled white boy deposited into the body a black urban teen; the rest of the cast, Billy FlynnDarrett Sanders and the always superb Ann Noble, having the benefit of experience turn in stellar performances.

We look forward to what Rogue Machine and Artistic Director John Perrin Flynn have in store for us in 2020.


The Judas Kiss by British playwright David Hare travels the oft-treaded ground of Oscar Wilde’s disgrace following the infamous trial for libel he foolishly instigated against the father of his young lover Boise.

Director Michael Michetti’s production at The Boston Court was lushly mounted with sets by designer Se Hyun OhDianne K. Graebner’s costumes, and lighting design by David Hernandez, but all the lushness could not conceal the piece’s anemia of dramatic tension.
Some atonement was found in the performances of Darius De La Cruz as Robbie Rose, Wilde’s most stouthearted friend and that of Colin Bates as the self-centered Boise.
But it was the sincerity and depth of humanity which Rob Nagle brought to the role of Wilde that served as the most memorable feature of a rather forgettable show.


The Hollywood Fringe Festival held every June along the strip of Santa Monica Blvd running from Highland Avenue to Vine Street should be a seasonal Mecca for the creative souls of this city and those with any reverence towards the arts.  HFF 2019 boasted a total of 405 individual productions and sold over 67,000 tickets.

Here were the standouts for me:
Mil Grus, featured the absurdly inspired clowning of Helene UdyGrayson MorrisJeremy SappJenson Lavellee and Isaac Kessler under Dean Evans’ direction and took TVO’s “Best of the Fringe.”   The show, along with its five misshapen blobs of bizarre silliness, just opened in New York.

Theatre Unleashed made their presence felt at the Fringe with Tattered Capes by Gregory Crafts, an intelligent and clever account of the marital woes that befall two caped crusaders.  With outstanding performances from Chris ClabaughTravis Joe Dixon and Joanna MercedesCrafts’ play celebrated the superheroes of our childhood while reverberating with deeper questions regarding the secret identities we use in concealing our true selves from those we love.

Designer Denise Barrett provided the super costumes and Corey Lynn Howe’s direction was more powerful than a locomotive.

With Son of A Bitch, Director Billy Ray Brewton fashioned an American Morality play about, to quote my fellow critic David Narine, “Lee Atwater’s  – Republican-Strategist-Liar-Driven-Liar-Brilliant-Liar- Son of a Bitch – rise to power.”

Featuring solid performances by Dennis Gersten as George H.W. Bush, Luke Forbes as “W” and David McElwee as Atwater, playwright, Lucy Gillespie’s work was a much-needed history lesson.

Another political offering at the Fringe was The Mayor’s Debate of Tranquility, Nebraskaa silly and sinister parable on the American electorate.

A local news broadcaster, Emily Dorsett, hosts a mayoral debate in the American heartland.  The candidates include the gay uber-liberal lesbian (Kate Hellen) a Tea-Partier (Lucie Beeby) and the slimy incumbent (Jim Hanna who also penned the script).

The debate goes from glad-handing to backstabbing with gleeful alacrity and the laughs roar out.  But beneath the chortles, Hanna and his cast slip a grim warning; that in this nation today, the “amber waves of grain” are closer to Rod Sterling’s “cornfield.”

Butcher Holler Here We Come written by Casey Wimpee was perhaps the Festival’s most successful immersive piece.  The audience is confined in a room dark as pitch, sharing in the fate of five miners trapped beneath the earth.  Under the astute direction of Leah Bonvissuto, the voices of the unseen miners, Michael MasonIsaac ByrneAdam BelvoMorrison Keddie and Adam Willson, spin about the audience, webbing them in desperation.

Spencer Green’s twisted take on the anthropomorphic beast fables of Aesop, The Scorpion and the Frog, was riotously engaging.  Showcasing the talents of Matthew LeavittChristine Sage and Alex Parker it was hands down one of the Fringe’s most thoroughly enjoyable offerings.

Public Domain the Musicalwhile not perfect, had highpoints that would make your nose bleed. Sam Pasternack (who wrote the book, composed the music, supplied the lyrics and directed) gathered some first-rate performers for this musical ragging of the Disney Corporation’s propensity to squeeze profits from any character in the public domain.  Pasternack uses those public domain icons that Disney overlooked: Oedipus (Max Mahle), The Monkey Paw (Max Ash), Rosie the Riveter (Codi Coates) and…er, Potato Mussolini (Ben Cassil).  Let it be known, costume designer Ember Everett, rose to the occasion.  One of my favorite numbers was Oedipus’ song, “The Way to Become a Hero (is to be at the right place at the right time.)  Were there flaws in the production?  Of course, but it also had a Potato Mussolini!

Solo shows are the stock in trade for any Fringe and HFF 2019 had some extraordinary ones, with the TVO’s “Best Solo Show (Female) going to Raised By Wolves, a cautionary tale about life among alpha-males and evil step-mothers, written and performed by Marla Black.

TVO’s “Best Solo Show (Male) went to Monica Bauer’s Made For Each Other, an astonishingly tender tale staring John Fico as a man who learns that even those in their flabby fifties are deserving of love.

Cathy Schenkelberg arrived at the Fringe with a double whammy for Scientology; first there was Squeeze My Cans, her harrowing one-woman show about the 20 plus years she spent in the cult of L. Ron Hubbard.

Then there was that show’s musical clone Squeeze My Cabaret, in which Schenkelberg related the same tale but showed that she has a pair of pipes on her that could knock the smug superciliousness off Tom Cruise’s puss at twenty yards.

In HFF 2018 Yokko brought her New York based company Ren Gyo Soh with a Japanese Butoh re-fitting of Euripides, Butoh Medea.  This year Yokko turned her efforts on Shakespeare with Hide Your Fires: Butoh Lady Macbeth adapted by Sean Michael Welch and directed by Brian Rhinehart.  Both shows were equally entrancing.

Two excellent productions which deserved greater exposure were Clark Wade-A Jazzy Tragedy, written and performed by Esquizito, AKA EP Perez which drew on memories of New Orleans’ Golden Age;

 And

Stephen Lang’s Beyond Glory based on the recollections of Medal of Honor winners for which Steve Scott took TVO’s “Best Actor” award.

From Ireland came Drought, poetess-songsmith-performer Kate Radford’s haunting indictment of the toxicity of sexual abuse, which TVO acknowledged as the “Best International Show.”

Her true-life tale of a model being afflicted with alopecia was shared by Jannica Olin in (IM)Perfekt. Olin managed to inspire her audiences and at the same time convulse them with laughter.

With Black Boxing, playwright Matt Ritchey held a funhouse mirror to the very concept of solo shows.  Directed by Matthew Martin this raucously funny gem chronicled every pitfall solo shows face.  Fittingly, this send-up of a one-man show featured performances by Ritchey and Jim Niedzialkowski.

Finally, I’ll close with one of the most satisfying shows in HFF 2019, Temple Tantrum, written and performed by Nicole Steinwedell. Raised in a right-wing Christian cult, Steinwedell broke free and plunged into a world diametrically different – Hollywood.  Steinwedell told her tale with the slashes of vibrancy one expects on a Jackson Pollack canvas.

Steinwedell’s dynamism, like the dissonance of a “perfect storm,” may have dissipated into an ineffable silence, but for director Kimleigh Smith who ably applied orchestration to the tempest, assuring awareness of the work’s import and clarity, for which she took TVO’s “Best Director” honors.

Of course the Fringe had disappointments: Olivia Wilde Does Not Survive the Apocalypse, Princess Magic’s Trash Time Revue, and Lincoln 2020.  But these were in a minority.

And the larger L.A. theatre scene had its pratfalls too:

Between Riverside and Crazy, (It won a Pulitzer Prize for drama, just like Enter Madame and Men in White!), Scraps (whose playwright the program told us “never learned to properly write a play.” I buy that.) and The Play That Goes Wrong (which I’m sure would have been much funnier if I hadn’t seen it.)

But these were in a minority as well.

The demands of theatre are arduous, and despite good intentions, dedicated labor and inspired concept, we often fail or falter through our own faults or fate’s callous insensitivity.  This is when we should recall the words of Robert Ingersoll:

“…when men and women belong to a profession
that can count Shakespeare in its number,
they should feel nothing but pride.” ¹

And so I say to all my good friends, to all the stagehands, house managers, dancers, marketing directors, composers, ushers, wardrobe supervisors, directors, set designers, choreographers, carpenters, light board operators, set dressers, producers, sound designers, singers, dramaturges, dialogue coaches, box office agents, fight choreographers, company managers, janitors, make-up artists, musicians, spotlight operators, set builders, technical directors, videographers, dressers, prop masters, parking attendants, playwrights, actors, stage managers, wig makers, publicists, scene painters, critics and most importantly to all who make up our theater, let us join together in 2020 and do what we do best – make magic!

From all of us at theTVolution.com we hope 2020 brings you good fortune, good health and of course, great theatre.


Ovation Awards Playwrights Roundtable

On the brink of their big night, I checked in with four of this year’s Ovation Awards nominated playwrights: Malcolm Barrett for Brain Problems with Ammunition Theatre Company; Jami Brandli for Bliss (or Emily Post Is Dead) at Moving Arts; Jonathan Caren for Canyon at Latino Theatre Company in association with IAMA Theatre; and Nate Rufus Edelman for Desert Rats at Latino Theatre Company.

You've been nominated for an Ovation! Major congrats! How do you feel about this exciting moment?

MALCOLM BARRETT: It’s a pretty amazing feeling considering this is my first full-length play, made all the more meaningful by being recognized for a story as personal as this: the journey of a man trying to cope with death via his imagination, based on a buddy of mine, Thomas Mejia who suffered from multiple AVM's. I think it was both therapeutic and cathartic for both of us to go through this process.

JAMI BRANDLI: I feel very blessed, extremely grateful and, of course, honored.

JONATHAN CAREN: Before I even answer that question, I want to acknowledge the many world premieres of plays that are happening in Los Angeles these days. It’s exciting to know that LA is becoming a hub where plays can gestate. I look at Kemp Powers career, starting off at Rogue Machine, and then bringing his play One Night in Miami across the country and then even to the Donmar in London. I think every aspiring playwright in LA should take that in. I’m very happy to be a part of the larger movement here.

NATE RUFUS EDELMAN: Surprised. I caught the majority of the other plays nominated and they’re really good. It’s an honor to be nominated alongside them.

How did your LA production come about? If it was a regional or world premiere, how was that experience of seeing this work put up for the first time?

MALCOLM BARRETT: I first shared a couple of pages of it for my company’s writing workshop, it was my way of coping. After the reading those first couple pages aloud, Bernardo Cubria, who would later become the director, encouraged me to continue writing. It was a tremendous experience to have it up on its feet for the first time. I never actually got to see it as I was always in it and seeing the audience’s reactions as a performer is always surreal, but it was always enjoyable seeing my friends eyes light up from the stage. It wasn’t until we had our understudy performance that I realized that this play had legs, that it wasn’t relying on my particular performance to carry the writing, which can be a fear when trying to create work you’re featured in.

JAMI BRANDLI: Moving Arts' Artistic Director, Darin Anthony, first gave BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!) a workshop in 2016 and committed to a future production. As luck would have it, two more theaters wanted to produce the play. So, in 2018, BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!) received a rolling world premiere with Moxie Theater in San Diego, then Promethean Theatre in Chicago and finally with Moving Arts here in Los Angeles. I had a very unique experience in that I got to see three different productions, which ties in nicely with the next question…

JONATHAN CAREN: It was a world premiere. I workshopped the play with IAMA two years prior to this production. I first got to know IAMA when they did my play THE RECOMMENDATION in 2014. They were incredibly generous to me with space and time to develop it with their ensemble, and when the Latino Theater Company got involved, things took on a whole different energy. The collaboration brought disparate audiences together, which was the most exciting part of the experience.

NATE RUFUS EDELMAN: Desert Rats went through years of development from Los Angeles to London. The Latino Theater Company produced it at the right time with the right cast and crew. It has been my favorite experience in the theater.

Tell us a little about your role in the rehearsal process? What did you learn about the work through production?

MALCOLM BARRETT: My role in the rehearsal process was to listen. Serving as playwright and lead actor, you have to pick and choose when and where to wear which hat. We had over a year of rewrites and readings - that’s where I was the playwright. Once we got deep into rehearsal I had to let go of being a playwright so that I could allow the actors to do what they do, myself included. That was a lot me learning when to shut up and get out the way.

JAMI BRANDLI: Although the San Diego and Chicago productions of BLISS (or Emily Post is Dead!) were solid, I realized there were some areas of the play I wanted to revise and Moving Arts was more than game to work with me on my revision. So I took full advantage of the collaborative experience during rehearsals and the dramaturgical notes from Darin Anthony (the director), Chuma Gault (the assistant director) and Cece Tio (the head producer) were, quite simply, invaluable. The cast and creative crew were truly stellar, and their talent and vision helped me to bring my play to the next level. The play is now set for future productions, and I am forever grateful--especially since BLISS has another production this February at Defunkt Theatre in Portland, OR.

JONATHAN CAREN: I loved working with Whitney White. She challenged me to keep pushing each character’s perspective up against each other. Keep tightening the screws. All the actors brought personal antidotes and perspectives that I considered and sometimes even wove into the text. This was a long collaborative process and to me, feels like a tapestry of colliding worlds and viewpoints, that may never find common ground, but buttress up against each other in our sprawling city.

NATE RUFUS EDELMAN: I production manage the plays at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, which is operated by the Latino Theater Company. Desert Rats rehearsed and ran in tandem with my friend Oliver Mayer’s Member Only. It was a lot of work balancing dual roles, but I was able to be very present in the rehearsal room, share thoughts, and rewrite. I also teach and help run a Summer Youth Conservatory at the LATC with Angie Scott, the director of Desert Rats. We were able to hire alumni of that program to work on the play as the stage manager, assistant director, costume designer, and production assistant. It was particularly rewarding to give these bright young adults their first professional gigs. Rehearsals were like a very happy family making a play for ourselves. I’m extra happy people seemed to dig the production.

Though our reputation is growing, not everyone knows how vibrant the theatre-making scene in Los Angeles really is. Please share your perspective on making theatre in Los Angeles.

MALCOLM BARRETT: There’s clearly a lot of talent here as New York and Los Angeles are the a Mecca for young actors but it gets overshadowed by Broadway and by LA’s film and television scene. But as our theatre communities grow so has the city’s reputation for it’s work on the stage.

JAMI BRANDLI: I feel Los Angeles has entered into "a golden age" with theater, especially developing new plays. In addition to Moving Arts, I've had the great fortune to develop my plays with The Inkwell Theater, The Road Theatre Company, Chalk Rep, Antaeus Theatre Company, The Playwrights Union and HUMANITAS as a 2019 PLAY LA Winner. Every organization has their own exciting approach to new play development, which has helped me grow as a playwright and breathe more life into my plays. I've been *very* lucky in that two more of my plays have been produced here in LA because of this development: Through the Eye of a Needle with The Road Theatre Company and Sisters Three with The Inkwell Theater.

JONATHAN CAREN: The biggest problem with LA theater is that it used to be completely overshadowed by the film industry. Now, I think the problem has more to do with geography. There are great shows happening in Venice, but I don’t think I can get to an 8pm curtain on a weeknight from Echo Park. I’d love to see more co-pros and even transfers where a show doesn’t have to move to another city, but to another part of Los Angeles. We’re that damn big.

NATE RUFUS EDELMAN: I’m from Eagle Rock and, while I have spent years away from Los Angeles in Ireland and New York, Los Angeles and its theater community are my home. The diversity and talent of the theater scene in LA is immense. I am lucky to be friends with great artists, designers, and other playwrights who constantly inspire me.

What advice would you give to a young playwright living and creating in Los Angeles?

MALCOLM BARRETT: Write. See plays. Find your community, find people who are smarter than you, and work with them.

JAMI BRANDLI: Go see all types of LA theater! From 99 seat to CTG to The Hollywood Fringe Festival and everything in between. I can't stress this enough. Then, once you're familiar with LA's amazing theater community, introduce yourself to theaters that would be a good match for your work and inquire about development opportunity. If there isn't a development program, perhaps the theater has a writers group or they're looking for volunteers (volunteer if you have the chance!). The important thing is to show up and support first, and then inquire. There are so many new play development opportunities in LA, but you have to be proactive about it.

Goodness, aren't we all so lucky to be a part of this incredible theater community? I know I am, and I'll never take it for granted.

Thanks for much for the interview!

JONATHAN CAREN: I started out by volunteering at The Elephant and Black Dahlia theaters as an usher. I assisted Matt Shakman on a show back when he ran the Black Dahlia and now he runs The Geffen. I’ve worked with sound designer Jeff Gardner multiple times after first meeting him at The Elephant. Just show up because theaters depend on volunteers. They need you. If you want to put in the time and energy, someone will take you up on the task, but be pro-active. Find a way to show that you are dependable and follow through consistently. Don’t just help once. Do it for a year. Then you’ll know what it’s like to be a company member and soon enough you’ll become a part of the community.

NATE RUFUS EDELMAN: Have patience. Be authentic and humble. Explore and engage with the theater community. Write plays you love. Others will too.