Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – September 9 - 15, 2019

Theatrical shows and Staged Readings NOW registered on the Better Lemons calendar!

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

Through A Magicians Eyes: Starring Blaise

Share on social media.

House Of Me

Share on social media.

The Music Of Brian Gallagher

Share on social media.

Thelma Houston: From Sunshower To Motown

Share on social media.

In Trousers

Share on social media.

Sight Unseen

Share on social media.

Aleichem Sholom! The wit and wisdom of Sholom Aleichem

Share on social media.

The Pack

Share on social media.

The Three Musketeers At North Coast Rep Theater School


More Guns!

Share on social media.

Opening Night: The Improvised Musical

Share on social media.

The Really Awesome Improv Show

Share on social media.

Canuck As F*ck

Share on social media.

Life In Boobs

Share on social media.

All My Sons

Share on social media.

Omniscope: Dance And Architecture Show

Share on social media.

Supportive White Parents

Share on social media.

To T, Or Not To T

Share on social media.

Steve Grand: The Pink Champagne Tour

Share on social media.

The Nosotros 49th Annual Golden Eagle Awards at The Montalbán Theatre

Share on social media.

Now Registered on the Better Lemons Calendar – May 6 - 12, 2019

Theatrical shows registered on the Better Lemons calendar!
For more shows visit our Calendar. For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.

Too Blunt!

“Your typical Midwestern-African American-Gay-Cat Loving-Sagittarian-Coming-of-Age Story in Los Angeles. A Black gay boy from Missouri shares his long and liberating journey to weight loss, dating in the gay-app era, while unpacking the complex intersectionality of race and sexual orientation– and the twisted heartbreak and humor that ensues.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“CLEMENTINE celebrates the exhilaration of motherhood, balancing poetic passages with humorous detours into the modern realities of raising small children...[moving] forward and backward through time, exploring the pressures and the promises of parenthood. Unapologetically feminist and powerfully tender, CLEMENTINE studies a matriarchal family's traditions, exploring the connection between generations through Wish's lens as both a mother and a daughter...In this dynamic and often hilarious piece, April Wish has crafted a love letter to her daughter, Clementine, as well as to the little girl she used to be herself.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

The Institute for The Opposite of Longing

“Please enter the Opposite of Longing Chamber and state your primary symptom of longing. And where do you feel it in your body? And how much do you feel it on a scale of 1 to 10? And are you running out of time? The Institute for The Opposite of Longing can cure that thing deep in the pit of your body. But what happens when its owners and operators can't let go of the little boy they had to give back? And can't stop reenacting the day they packed his bags and watched him go. Or tucking him in at night or talking to his empty shoes or unpacking the bag of his things they keep hidden. What happens when these are the women who are responsible for curing that thing, that thing you feel deep in the pit of your body? Please enter the Opposite of Longing Chamber. We can help you. The process is simple.”

Share on social media.

The Institute for The Opposite of Longing

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“'Radicals' is a Bollywood Musical about a love story struggling to survive in the war-torn valleys of Kashmir, aimed at tackling Islamophobia and the trauma of warfare on civilians.”

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Siren Call

“The siren call is driving me to my end, like a ship to wreck on rocks”. Two frustrated actors accidentally kidnap their favorite movie star… or is it really her? What is identity in a world where myths are stronger than we dare think? A dramedy about identity and oneness, frustrated actors, classism, depression, myths and a quote by Albert Camus.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“'Love, Madness and Somewhere in Between' is a no holds barred glimpse into a mystical journey filled with love, pain, insanity, and redemption. Scattered along the way is a sprinkling of ironic comic commentary that can only come from a true survivor. “Jimmy” is not so much a hero but more a human being traversing an abusive childhood, a descent into alcoholism and finally plunging into a world of fantastical personifications which dwell amidst humanity's darkest sins. Will closure, forgiveness, and healing come in the unlikely form of the “angel warriors” – patients on the pediatric cancer ward of Children's Hospital? Does pure love, in fact, transform and redeem, or are some lives beyond salvation?”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Tattered Capes

“In 'Tattered Capes,' it's Kevin and Stephanie Connolly's fifth wedding anniversary, and Kevin has a night of celebration planned for them. Of course, this means he won't be going out on his regular patrol of Metro City as his alter-ego, M-Pulse, the self-appointed Eminence of Electromagnetism. But things should be fine without him for one night, right? Wrong. One would think that there could be no secrets left between a husband and wife after five years of matrimonial bliss, but when a powerful supervillain's attack interrupts Kevin and Stephanie's date, a hero's unmasking bears significant consequences for the Connollys…consequences that will resonate and redefine their relationship forever. ”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Squeeze My Cans

“A true journey in to and out of Scientology. 'Moving, hilarious, heart-breaking and redemptive.' Lets you experience for yourself how Scientology devours money and lives.' -Chicago Reader 'Schenkelberg easily switches characters and time periods with dizzying energy, that is both exhilarating and electrifying.'- Edge Media 'At the top of the best performed, brilliantly written, elegantly directed one person shows I have ever seen.'- Buzz News”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“On a bitterly cold London evening, schoolteacher Kyra Hollis receives an unexpected visit from her former lover, Tom Sergeant, a successful and charismatic restaurateur whose wife has recently died. As the evening progresses, the two attempt to rekindle their once passionate relationship only to find themselves locked in a dangerous battle of opposing ideologies and mutual desires. Can they find their way back to each other, or has the time for their tumultuous romance reached its end? ”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Tigers Be Still

“'Tigers Be Still' — a ferociously funny play from New Girl writer Kim Rosenstock — centers around the infinitely-trying-to-be-optimistic Sherry Wickman, who has earned her art therapy degree and promptly moved back in with her family. Matters take a turn for the better once she gets hired as a substitute art teacher. Now if only her mother would stop hiding upstairs, her sister would stop watching Top Gun from the couch, her petulant patient would do one of his assignments, her boss would leave his gun at home, and someone would catch the tiger that escaped from the local zoo, everything would be just perfect.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

CORINA, From Lap dance to Sundance

“Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to keep your dream alive. CORINA: FROM LAP DANCE TO SUNDANCE is a one-woman show about finding purpose and direction to a life long dream in the least likely of places. A story of family, tradition, and perseverance.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Legends, Movement and Memories

“The performers include: Florence LaRue, an original member of The 5th Dimension, the pop group that so often dominated the charts in the 60s and 70s with their hit songs, will perform some of the award-winning singing group's big hits. Freda Payne will perform an excerpt from her show Ella Fitzgerald, First Lady of Song, bringing to life the immortal Ella Fitzgerald and her revered career as an extraordinary jazz singer. Sheetal Gandhi in BAHU-Beti-Biwi (Daughter-inLaw, Daughter, Wife). A tour-de-force excerpt combining dance, stirring vocalization, and percussive text that glides between humorous portraiture and active resistance. Juli Kim shares two dance works. Five Drum Dance exemplifies Korean traditional music with a touch of Western influence. New Leaf, deeply rooted in Korean “Han,” symbolically unfolds the innocence of the new leaf when there is change in life.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Mama Metal

“This joyfully irreverent black comedy entwines issues of identity with pop culture icons to tell a truly unique mother-daughter story. Sterling Milburn's mother is dying and Sterling is falling apart. She attempts to keep it together by rewriting the past with the help of two titans of the American theater and the world's greatest heavy metal band — but Sterling's mother refuses to follow the script. A love letter to those who shape our lives, hold us together and break our hearts.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Dancing to the Edge of a Cliff: One Woman's Musical Mythological Journey toward Self-Acceptance

“Incorporating music, multimedia, humor, a touch of mythology, and embodying over twenty characters, Margaret whimsically puts her psyche on stage to explore her struggle with self-acceptance and her experience of two mental breakdowns. Margaret explores not only what outside influences molded her personality when she was growing up and as an adult, but also confronts two internal voices, representing the competing compulsions of artistry (Puella) and perfectionism (Miss Perfect). Realizing in the end that what she has been taught her whole life was right, doesn't work for her.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Ride or Die: The Hip-Hop Musical

“Elliott and Michael are best friends. They're of different temperaments. Elliott is boisterous and outgoing. Michael is more tentative and shy. One day, Elliott dies in an accident. He's allowed to come back to earth, where he can only be seen by Michael. Elliott is tasked with finding Michael a new best friend. Only then will Elliott earn his angel wings and be allowed to ascend into Heaven. Michael wants to be friends with Ciara. Will Elliott be able to help Michael connect with Ciara, or will he mess things up for them all? Will Michael and Ciara ultimately become friends? Will Elliott earn his angel wings? The cast is unique in the fact that most of the performers are differently-abled: John JT Tucker Jr. (Elliott), has Down syndrome. He is the star of the A&E tv series Born This Way. Domonique Brown (Michael) has autism and recurs on the Netfiix series Atypical. He's the nephew of Marvin Gaye. Spencer Harte (Ciara) has autism and also recurs on Atypical. The supporting players include Coby Bird who has autism and will be a regular on a Netflix series to be announced; and Caley Versfelt, who has Down syndrome.
The rest of the cast is neurotypical and includes Brendan McCay, Stanson Chung, Alexa Russo and Callie Ott.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Karaoke Saved My Life

“Scotty D, just a city boy from South Detroit, invites you on a Journey, showing you how karaoke saved his life, and how it can save yours, too. With stories, power ballads, big anthems, and cheesy pop, and a bit of bopping, we might even save the World. Don't stop believing!”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Fight Song!

“Texas. 1964. Following a deadly car crash, four cheerleaders navigate through the afterlife. Both Lucifer and God herself pay a visit, and High School drama turns into madness in this strange nightmare of a story – a never-ending fight song.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Fight or Flight

“Isaac Easton, a recently retired boxer, and his former sports manager open a gym together to help advance the popularity of female boxing. When their first female boxer gets into trouble only three weeks from the fight, they scramble to find a new fighter to train. Enter Zoey Jones, a young and shy fighter who has never fought in the professional circuit. Easton and Jones take a crash course in trusting and learning from each other over three weeks in preparation for the fight, and the two often butt heads. Can Jones pull out a win and save Easton's reputation and gym? Through voice-overs and grueling workouts in preparation for the fight, this one-act play shows the audience how intimate a platonic relationship between a man and woman can be, the beauty of physical strength, and what happens when you are stuck in fight or flight mode.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Five Pieces of Paper: Stories My Hungarian Grandmother Refused to Tell Me and Other Family Tales

“Moti Buchboot, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, created this show in response to the 2017 Charlottesville riots. He reveals lessons learned from his Hungarian grandmother who began her life in a village in Hungary, survived the Holocaust, and eventually settled in a small town in Israel. Buchboot's tale unfolds through storytelling, Yiddish song, puppetry, and baking.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

The Narcissist Next Door

“The power of positive thinking goes hilariously wrong when a new neighbor teaches two dispirited best friends an Ancient Peruvian Self Help Philosophy. Instead of their lives being transformed they end up held hostage by two inept kidnappers. 'Be careful who you wish for' has never been more appropriate.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“Set in the fictional British-ish kingdom of Crumpeton, POCKETS spins the tale of Bellamina Crumbledunk, a noble preteen, who becomes a pickpocket to win the attention of her overextended mother, the Duchess. Bellamina's misadventures take her into the underbelly of society, where she accidentally becomes the leader of a criminal uprising, but will she have the heart to sabotage her mother's well-laid plans for Crumpet Day? #CheckYourPockets for tickets to this fast-paced, funny, and touching period piece to find out!”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Straight White Men Trying to Woke

“Five short comedies exploring the middle age white male struggle to fit in during these confusing times.
FANDOM – navigating politics
POLITE RACISM – analyzing ethnicity
SUICIDE PACT – tolerating millennials
BRITTLE TROMBONE – contemplating economics
FANTASY FOOTBALL – grasping identity”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Girl From SchenectadyGirl From Schenectady

“Selected as an Honorable Mention for the Hollywood Fringe 2019 due to it's cultural theme, “Girl From Schenectady” is a story about a 38-year-old Nigerian Woman from Schenectady New York who is still a Virgin. Her story begins with her Journey to finding True Love. However, her plan is to find Mr. Right and to lose her Virginity before she turns 40. The story takes place at the Airport, while Ayo is waiting for her next flight to take off, she describes the metaphoric places she has traveled to Find True Love. She takes the Audience on a ride to her past and her Nigerian family traditions, Culture, and Values. She struggles to break free from her Nigerian Generational Cycle, Parental Divorce, Failed Marriages and to keep history from repeating itself. Ayo also takes the Audience on her dating journey starting with a Nigerian Man. She also dates a Mexican Man, an Italian Man and an African American Man. After several attempts to finding True Love and Losing her virginity before 40, she goes on a self-discovery, and Lands in the last place she ever thought she would find True Love.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Dames at Sea

“Ruby gets off the bus from Utah with “nothing but tap shoes in her suitcase and a prayer in her heart.” As fate would have it, she is immediately cast in the chorus of a Broadway show. When the theatre is forced to close, Ruby's songwriting sailor boyfriend persuades the Captain of his ship to allow the show to move on deck. Voila! Dames at sea! When the show's lead gets seasick, Ruby may have to go on for her. Will Ruby come back a star? Do you need to ask? Dames at Sea at once pays affectionate homage to and sends up the optimistic early Broadway musicals of the 30s and 40s. It's filled with songs, tap-dancing and romance from start to finish. It is suitable for general audiences.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Rory and the Devil

“During the height of The Troubles, in a rural pub on the border of Northern Ireland, Mary Friel, a barmaid, strives to maintain harmony amongst the men in her life. Ancestral legends and secrets are revisited and a cycle of violence is revealed: can they forgive injustice and cruelty from their past, or will the cycle continue? Enjoy a Guinness and whiskey as a group of actors take you to Neil Friel's pub–a safe place for a good story–until it isn't. In this bare-bones production of Rory and the Devil you can enjoy the best of what Irish storytelling has to offer.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Johnny '81

“It's 1981! The corpse of disco, the flames of punk, the plastic smell of new wave, and the balls of rock ‘n' roll, all converge and merge on a seemingly peaceful street in West Hollywood, CA, along with the stories of a 12-year-old boy raised by a pill-popping single mother and the many gay men in their life...Against a backdrop of music, 'JOHNNY '81' weaves together a collection of stories based on a 12-year-old boy's experience of living in West Hollywood during the early 1980s. These semi-autobiographical tales bring to life the humor and drama of how a group of gay men became strange and amazing surrogate fathers to a pre-teen boy and his younger brother...'JOHNNY '81' is like spending the day listening to an old record album, or like being at a concert, with stories that make us reflect on our lives and the world we live in, or tales that make you just want to get up out of your seat and dance!”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Bronco Billy - The Musical

“'Voice from the Village' based upon one of Los Angeles greatest playwrights, Lynn Manning and his in real time visit to Skid Row Studios on Monday, August 26, 2013 for an interview on “The Qumran Report”, hosted by Melvin Ishmael Johnson to talk about his life growing up in Watts and turning a tragic situation into an art form.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

If It Goes There

“It's Saturday night, and Erik and Connor are looking to get laid. When they try their luck on a hook-up app, the night takes a turn they never expected and their true desires are revealed.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

A Time Traveler's Guide to the Present

“When 85% of the world is afflicted with a mysterious case of 'The Flake,' one man volunteers to travel through space and time to stop it. 'A Time Traveler's Guide to the Present' is a far-out, amped-up, one-man show about the hunt for human connection. ”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

The Scorpion and the Frog: a time-killer

“'The Scorpion and the Frog: a time-killer' is a comic interpretation of the oft-told story/fable/allegory/whatchamawhoositz about a frog who agrees to take a scorpion across a river. Will the two make it to the other side of said river? Will they learn anything? Will they grow as [an] intelligent species? Will these questions entice you to actually leave your homes and see this play?”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“In 'Uprooted,' the creatures of Vanessa Boss' inner world take you on the flight of her life! A disturbance triggers violent weather, endangering matriarch Elda, the elder tree, the voice of Vanessa's wisdom. Elda leads Vanessa's inner fantasy creatures on a journey to remind Vanessa of her strength, but Vanessa's demons take control of the flight and her mind as she is moved, again and again, facing bullies, saying unexpected goodbyes to friends, and hoping for the day to come where she'll get to choose where home is. But is home a place or a feeling? Full of exciting adventure, triumph, and heartbreak, Vanessa frees herself from the restraints of her inner demons and proclaims her power to define her own fate. Uprooted is a young woman's resilient story of growing into the strong, rooted woman she is meant to be. ”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“Orangutan is a haunting and absurd one-woman show about the mother of a brutish (slightly orange) would-be dictator, and the tribalism that's tearing our country apart. Deutch's provocative dark comedy was inspired by Bill Maher's challenge to Donald Trump's outrageous Obama “Birther” claims. Maher offered to donate five million dollars to the charity of Donald Trump's choice if Trump produced a birth certificate that proved he was not half-ape. Trump's lawyer responded: 'Attached hereto is a copy of Mr. Trump's birth certificate, demonstrating that he is the son of Fred Trump, not an Orangutan.' Trump then sued Bill Maher for five million dollars…”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“In this new play, Neil, a mediocre musician, and Kurt Cobain wannabe, moves to Los Angeles to “make it” as a rockstar. Through the constant ups and downs of LA living, Neil struggles between pursuing his passions or taking the practical path in life. Should he keep chasing his dreams or stop? This 60-minute three-person show explores idealism vs. cynicism, the practicality of pursuing art in a capitalist society, and millennials' struggle with mental health.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“Aren't you tired of going to the theater and seeing the same old shit? Check out 'Naked Man Rising,' a crowd favorite from the Solo Creation Festival. We're talking sold out, folk. This tale of revenge rips through the stage like a Grindhouse film and features a balls-to-the-wall performance by Canadian Wildman and naturalist Kyle Durack. Not for your Grandma…unless, she's a badass. Winner of the Hollywood Fringe Scholarship for first-time Producers, Kyle is thrilled to bring 'Naked Man Rising' to the 2019 Fringe Festival. The writing is crisp and the play moves along at a deft pace. But the words are simply a vehicle for Kyle Durack's powerful interpretation. The Canadian actor was born with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, and in this piece, he sheds his disability along with his clothes to reveal the inner strength concealed by a “weakened” body. 'Naked Man Rising' mixes humor and action. Durack uses his physicality well as he tells the story.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“The cult of Abaddon has a problem. The Angel of the Abyss, the figure with which they worship, is demanding a new leader. But not just anybody will qualify. Only the darkest, most demented contestants stand a chance at obtaining total power. A sadist, a murderer, and a predator, all share one common goal: to become the leader of the finest cult, the Ascendants of Abaddon. There's only one problem. In order to obtain this position, they must go up against each other in a riveting competition to impress the cult's current leader: Adam. He's spectacularly charming and possesses the uncanny ability to influence all those who cross his path. With secrets spilled and matches met, the three contestants grow more and more daring with their desperate attempts to gain total power. However, no matter what happens, no matter who lies and who cheats, Adam always calls the final shots.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Not Here Right Now

“The hilariously touching tale of a tall man in tight spaces, finding clarity and avoiding a quarter-life crisis in Southeast Asia, all while wearing strappy velcro sandals except to the wedding of the century. Tired of the monotony of New York City corporate life, Royce, an ambitious 20-something, trades in his promising media research career for a one-way ticket to Southeast Asia. In this live one-man show, Royce brings you on an 8-country adventure toward self-discovery. During 'Not Here Right Now,' audiences are treated to true stories and experiences of Royce's inspiring journey from corporate citizen to world traveler. The original production of Not Here Right Now was successfully funded on Kickstarter thanks to the support of 165 people from around the world.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“A raucous evening of comic stories, told by a woman who has seen a few things. Actress and humorist Jennifer Brown examines how the truth can play out in a variety of ways. What exactly is “the truth”? And when you are asked to tell the truth, whose truth do you stand in?”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Crack Whore, Bulimic, Girl-Next-Door

“A comedic romp through depression, eating disorders and self-loathing! Crack Whore, Bulimic, Girl-Next-Door is a one-act play chronicling one woman's journey through her depression and bulimarexia. It is a painfully funny look at body image, addiction, and the obsession with fitting into society's ideal of beauty and thinness. It is part poetry and prose, part sketch and part narrative with a few snappy dance numbers mixed in. Three actresses portray one woman in various stages of her eating disorder and crippling depression. They are joined by one male actor portraying various influences in her childhood development, teenage years and young adulthood. This autobiographical theatrical experience intimately exposes the perils of womanhood, the rawness of living through sexual trauma and culminates in discovering the inner strength to live comfortably in one's own skin ”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Mil Grus

“Previous Fringe award winners team up for this year's Hollywood Fringe to create the First official Bouffon/Clown troupe “MIL GRUS” led by world-renowned physical theater artist Dean Evans of “Honeybuns” fame. Be prepared as this motley crew of miscreants crawl out of the gutter to make you question reality in the most exhilarating way. This timeless satire features improvised feats of physical and existential comedy that defy explanation and provoke unfettered, eery glee. Come see what's behind the curtain, starting June 9, 2019, at The Mccadden Place Theatre”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Human Fountains

“As seen on America's Got Talent (quarter-finalists) and countless television shows around the world! Prepare for a fountain show like you've never seen before! The Human Fountain's hilarious choreographed water spitting routines will keep you laughing and thirsty for more. Always making a splash on stage, literally — the group has endless tricks up their sleeves (and in their mouths) giving you performances that are one-of-a-kind. Inspired by the world's most famous fountains, the comedy group adds a human touch to give you one of the most unique experiences you've ever seen. They couldn't be more excited to premiere their full-length show for Hollywood Fringe.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Les Mis-Cast

“Cast members from the National Tour of 'Les Misérables' (now at the Pantages Theatre through June 2) will perform in a very special cabaret concert to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and PAWS/LA. Patrons will support two great causes as they enjoy an intimate evening of cabaret-style performances. The evening will also feature a silent auction, allowing audience members to bid on items graciously donated by the Broadway community and local businesses.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Funeral Potatoes

“What would you do with only a month left to live? What would you look back on with nostalgia or regret? With laughter as the best medicine, Funeral Potatoes is a dark comedy about death and friendship, examining what makes it all worth it when you've spent your entire life planning for a future you won't have.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Food Bowl Events: Food and Film

Food and Film - Somebody Feed Phil: Dublin

“Somebody Feed Phil: Dublin' LA FOOD BOWL FEATURED EVENT. Join Phil Rosenthal, creator, writer and producer of the hit comedy “Everybody Loves Raymond” for a special screening of his Netflix hit 'Somebody Feed Phil: Dublin' and a conversation with Phil. This fantastic event will be teamed with none other than Nick Shipp (Upper West) who will be teaming the event with a specially curated Irish themed assortment of food! Specialty drinks provided...Screening with talk-back 75 mins. Nick Shipp Meal With Phil 75 minutes will be followed by a Q&A with Phil and Arena Cinelounge-Clamorhouse-LA Times-Phil Rosenthal event.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Food and Film - The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

“NC-17 LA FOOD BOWL FEATURED EVENT MON. MAY 20 - The 1989 crime drama is arguably Peter Greenaway's most famous (or infamous) film, which first shocked audiences at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival and then on both sides of the Atlantic. A gang leader (Michael Gambon), accompanied by his wife (Helen Mirren) and his associates, entertains himself every night in a fancy restaurant that he has recently bought. Having tired of her sadistic, boorish husband, the wife finds herself a lover (Alan Howard) and makes love to him in the restaurant's coziest places with the silent permission of the cook (Richard Bohringer). Sergio Corbia of Ciabatta Bar and Fabiolus Cafe crafts a specialty menu that complements Greenaway's paradoxical comments on the relations between eating and sex, love and death.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

More about the L.A. Times Food Bowl:

The 2nd Annual Trump Family Special

“the 2nd annual trump family special original musical comedy' parodies [the] First Family in “yuge” way. What if the First Family put on a live musical TV special – just like the Brady Bunch – starring Ice Princess Ivanka, her numbnut brothers, a still-not-caring Melania, and a host of ex's and deplorables.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Princess Magic's Trash Fire Time Revue

“A child's birthday party takes an unexpected turn when the scheduled magician doesn't show and the job is filled by a drunk and wayward vagrant. There are prizes. You should come. Use discount code BETTERLEMONS for 20% off their regular ticket price of $15”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“As their final show of Season 27, Actors Co-op Theatre Company is proud to present Lucas Hnath's The Christians, directed by Thomas James O'Leary, produced by Carly Lopez. When the pastor of a megachurch unilaterally decides to enlighten his congregation with his own personal revelation, he is faced with doubt and dissension among his flock. Hnath's Obie Award-winning play examines the schism in today's church and the role of faith in America. ”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“The Group Rep presents StoryTime, a story salon produced by Patricia Willson, featuring fresh, live personal stories as entertainment – – an evening of joy, sadness, and a touch of comedy on Sunday, May 12 at 7:00 pm, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood, CA, at the edge of the NoHo Arts District.
Authors performing their stories include Vince Cefalu 'Eyes of A Child,” Devon Curry 'Mach Two,' Jana DiMaggio 'Conventional Wisdom,' Rick Hall 'Mom's Home Cooking,' Tripp Mills 'A Rainbow God Box,' Madeline Morgan 'Salute to Storytellers,' Candace Nicholas-Lippman 'Don't Get It Twisted, I Love My Mama,' Lila Silvern 'This Sperm is For You,' Jonathan Leigh Solomon 'Hello in There,' Lan Tran 'Overpolite, Shanghai'ed and Homeless in Vietnam,' and Pat Willson 'Momma.' ”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“The Whitefire Theatre Musical Mondays is proud to present...the musical spoof SHAME OF THRONES: The Musical returns to L.A. for more hilarious re-imagining of the show's backstabbing siblings, clever imps and dragon mamas, all set to an addictive rock score that'll stick in your head (unless the king orders it off, natch)...Watch your favorite daring and most despised characters sing and dance towards epic plot twists and the coveted Iron Throne.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“The Group Rep presents AVENUE Q...This fresh and unusual Tony-award winning musical is a coming-of-age parable, addressing and satirizing the anxieties associated with entering adulthood. Its characters lament that as children, they were assured by their parents, and by Sesame Street, that they were 'extraordinary' and 'could do anything'; but as adults, they have discovered, to their surprise, that in the real world their options are limited, and they are actually ordinary like everyone else. This quirky musical ranks 24th on the list of the longest running shows in Broadway history. Avenue Q is notable for the use of puppets, animated by unconcealed puppeteers. ”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.


“In remembrance of the 20th Anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, Loft Ensemble and the Whitefire Theatre are co-producing and reviving Paul Storiale's award-winning drama The Columbine Project directed by Bree Pavey. An atemporal retelling of the events leading up to, during and following the April 20, 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, the play challenges what we think we know about the victims, families, teachers and the shooters themselves. Praised by LA theatre critics, survivors and families of the victims. The Columbine Project was created from direct correspondence with people involved in and affected by the event”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Let's Write a Musical

“Let's Write a Musical is an emotional rollercoaster ride of music, laughter, and tears. David Hamilton decides to write a musical after he is diagnosed with cancer. While the couple deals with the ups and downs of their cancer journey, so are the characters in the musical on a rollercoaster ride of mishaps and shenanigans.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Aristophanes' THE BIRDS

“When the world has gone to the birds, the cuckoo is king. Two shiftless con men scheme to exploit the power of the birds by encouraging them to build a fortress in the sky, from where they can lord over mankind and Gods alike. Aristophanes' classic comedy THE BIRDS is about corruption, weakness, and power; how easily people are exploited based on fear, ego and greed; and how even noble ideas may be corrupted if those who have power are irresponsible and/or selfish. (Sound like anything going on now? Hm? Too soon?) Or, as John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton said to an Anglican bishop, 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men…'”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Jordan Maverick, History Teacher

“Welcome to the school of hard Glocks. Jordan Maverick is one of the nation's most highly-trained teachers – an excellent marksman, a black belt in Jujitsu, and an engaging History teacher. But when he transfers to one of the most dangerous schools in the country, he'll face one of his biggest fears: co-teaching with the loose cannon Miss Pitts. Can they find a way to work together in time to solve the school's problems? This favorite from Season 13 of Serial Killers at Sacred Fools returns as a complete production at this years Hollywood Fringe.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Come Back!

“'Every day's a goddamn audition.' Based on the 'Serial Killers' 2018 Playoffs winner, 'COME BACK' is the hilarious yet touching story of Edie and Petey Stevenson, an overbearing stage mother and her hapless son, attempting to stage a 'comeback' performance. One of three shows Sacred Fools is proud to present as part of this year's Hollywood Fringe.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

The Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition

“Who is the best Drag Queen in the whole wide world? Now's your chance to find out — at the first ever Drag Queen of the Year Pageant Competition Award Contest Competition. Millions of the best Drag performers from around the world applied, but only eight will compete, carefully chosen by a mysterious group of anonymous Drag Elders. ▪︎ The contestants are (in alphabetical order) Abhora (Miami, FL); Astrud Aurelia (Phoenix, AZ); Calypso Jeté (Los Angeles); Lyle (Los Angeles); Gigi Monroe (Juneau, AK); Kat Sass (Chicago, IL); Sabbyiana (Montebello, CA); and Aurora Sexton (Los Angeles). ▪︎ Judged upon the criteria of Presence, Energy, Nuance, Integrity, and Stunningness, this is a pageant for everyone — Drag Queens, Drag Kings, Trans Artists, Hyper Queens, Bio Queens, AFAB Queens — from first-timers to established pageant powerhouses. ▪︎ The celebrity guest host is Jackie Beat. The judges are (in alphabetical order) Nicole Byer, Jiggly Caliente, Landon Cider, Gia Gunn, Sharon Needles, Peppermint, and Willam.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

5 Women Wearing the Same Dress

“During an ostentatious wedding reception at a Knoxville, Tennessee estate, five reluctant, identically clad bridesmaids hide out in an upstairs bedroom, each with her own reason to avoid the proceedings below. They are Frances, a painfully sweet but sheltered fundamentalist; Mindy, the cheerful, wise-cracking lesbian sister of the groom; Georgeanne, whose heartbreak over her own failed marriage triggers outrageous behavior; Meredith, the bride's younger sister whose precocious rebelliousness masks a dark secret; and Trisha, a jaded beauty whose die-hard cynicism about men is called into question when she meets Tripp, a charming bad-boy usher to whom there is more than meets the eye. As the afternoon wears on, these five very different women joyously discover a common bond in this wickedly funny, irreverent and touching celebration of the women's spirit.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.

Hide Your Fires: Butoh Lady Macbeth

“'Hide Your Fires: Butoh Lady Macbeth' brings the audience alongside the accursed spirit of Lady Macbeth to experience her nightmare of stifled ambition, unfulfilled desire, and ultimate loss. Telling the story solely through her perspective, this production fuses Japanese Butoh dance, movement, and various texts to take you inside the mind and body of one of Shakespeare's most famous villains.”

Share on social media.

Visit their Better Lemons Registered Calendar Page for ticket and show information.



I've been looking forward to this event since I attended their picnic last year.

As the Los Angeles area's premier wildlife medical care and rehabilitation facility, California Wildlife Center strives to ensure that each animal in their care receives the highest level of help to allow them to return to their wild state. Since 1998, CWC has experienced a steady increase in animal patients, caring for more than 44,000 wild animals, many whose injuries were caused by the impacts of their urbanized environments.

A long term goal of the center is to promote protection of wild habitats and the environment through education, training and partnerships with the communities it serves. Many people have questions and misconceptions about how to help wildlife, which can create unintended consequences to the wildlife they admire. Some conflicts with wildlife occur when raccoons empty trash cans, deer raid gardens and birds nest in chimneys.

Coexistence begins with the understanding of how to share our communities with wild animals. In order to do this, the California Wildlife Center educates individuals about the animals in their environment and provide solutions to existing problems, such as helping a neighborhood discourage a prowling coyote.

When people learn about the hardships animals face each day, they are more willing to take a proactive approach toward protecting the natural environment and the habitats of our wild neighbors. At CWC, they educate communities, and in doing so, they challenge homeowners, teachers, students and businesses to continue learning about their environment and enriching the lands in which we all live and play. What could be better?

On Saturday, May 4, 2019 the CWC will be putting on their second annual Feathers, Flippers and Fur Picnic starting at 2:00 pm and running until 5pm at King Gillette Ranch located at the corner of Mulholland and Las Virgenes in Calabasas.

You will get to experience the wonders of wildlife while feasting on Gourmet Vegetarian Cuisine from your favorite local eateries as well as wine tasting from local wineries.

There will be live music by Wild Ride and a performance by Jimmy H. a comedy magician. Your kiddies can get their face painted while you are doing a guided meditation led by Draza Jansky. Also you can participate in a Silent Auction which will offer amazing packages for the whole family, plus many more fun activities.

Tickets are $75.00 for adults, $25.00 for children ages 3-16 and children ages two and under are free. Tickets include food, wine and all activities. All the proceeds go to this incredible organization. To purchase tickets and to learn more about the event, sponsorship opportunities visit

Now before I spend the day basking in the sun with all these wonderful animals and animal lovers, the night before, Friday May 3rd, I'll be downtown at the BUILD BRIDGES, PAINT WALLS show at the Rendon Gallery, which is partnering with the UCLA Department of Spanish and Portuguese, to present this amazing exhibit.

This is a multimedia exhibition featuring murals, graphic art and photography celebrating latinidad and the international cultural exchanges that make Los Angeles great.

Now what is an art show without music. That's why California punk band Deseos Primitivos will be performing and DJ Skwirl Sauce will be spinning ska, punk, reggae and music Latina. The corner dive bar, Licha's Bar and Grill will be open, serving beer sponsored by Angel City Brewery and Sus Arepas and Memije's Tacos and Catering will have food for sale on the site

The show starts at 7pm and runs until 10pm. The Rendon Gallery is located at 2055 East 7th Street, Los Angeles.

The event is put on by Cartwheel Art who focus on immersive experiences, designing community driven and diverse programming such as guided group tours, art activated events and curated exhibitions.

For more information and to purchase tickets go to I've been to many Cartwheel Art events and everyone has been unique and simply put, fantastic.

I love theatre and last week I got to see an extremely funny and touching play entitled BOXING LESSONS which is playing at The New American Theatre located at 1312 North Wilton Place in Hollywood.

​When a famous writer dies under mysterious circumstances, family and friends gather in his cabin on a remote island in Puget Sound to box up his belongings. In the process, they come to realize just how much they love, despise and need one another.

This is a world premiere dark comedy written by award winning playwright John Bunzel and perfectly directed by Jack Stehlin. This definitely falls into my 'must see' category. The cast is great and you will laugh big time. I even teared up which always makes me happy. There's tons of wild plot twists and revelations.

The play opened on April 26th and run through June 2nd. Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and some Sundays at 3pm. To purchase tickets and for more information go to or call 310-424-2980.

But most importantly, whatever you choose to do this weekend, make it a fun one people.

Better Lemons is going to Sacramento

April is Arts, Culture and Creativity Month!

Better Lemons is going to Sacramento to join activists from all over California in celebrating Arts, Culture, and Creativity Month (ACCM) by gathering on Tuesday, April 23, at the State Capital to engage our elected officials in advancing the arts across the state.

Arts and Creativity Activists will be addressing these topics with our representatives:

  • Support Governor Newsom's permanent funding increase of $10 million for the arts in the 2019 budget
  • Position arts and culture as creative solutions to pressing societal issues
  • Ensure that all students have access to arts education
  • Position the arts as a positive economic influence in community revitalization
  • Support the Youth Poet Laureate legislation
  • Enhance legislation for California's Cultural Districts Program
  • Fund the California Cultural and Historical Endowment's Museum Grant Program

The campaign is led by Californians for the Arts and participants will be advocating for increased public funding for arts and arts education and working to ensure that arts, culture and creativity in California is valued, funded, and recognized for its social and economic impact on our lives, our communities, and our state.

The Senate legislation that designates April as Arts, Culture, and Creativity Month says it well:

WHEREAS, Arts are not only an impressive and important agent for economic development, but also impact societal issues that include health, corrections, housing, immigration, veterans, transportation and education; and

WHEREAS, It is imperative for all children and youth in the state to have access to arts education in their schools; and

WHEREAS, California is the fifth largest economy in the world, with a creative economy totaling $407.1 billion in 2017; and

WHEREAS, California employs a higher number of people in creative industries, such as architecture, entertainment, fashion, media, and publishing, than any other state in the nation, according to the 2018 Otis Report on the Creative Economy of California; and

WHEREAS, In a state as diverse as California, the arts serve to give voice to our many communities, spark individual creativity, foster empathy and understanding, spur civic engagement, and serve as a continual source of personal enrichment, inspiration, and growth; and

WHEREAS, State support for the arts, arts education, and cultural institutions is crucial in order to achieve equitable access to the arts throughout California; now, therefore, be it Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, the Assembly thereof concurring, That the Legislature recognizes April 2019, as a significant time to recognize and celebrate the arts, culture, and creativity of all Californians; and be it further

Resolved, That the Legislature designates April 2019, and every April thereafter, as Arts, Culture, and Creativity Month

We'd love your participation and your support!

Join us in Sacramento on April 23. If you can join us, please let us know so we can work together!

Email us with a message that we can share with our representatives. “How can our state government do better in supporting you and our creative community and infrastructure?”

Email us with a personal story of how the arts changed your life and/or your community.

But most of all, keep doing the things that you do that have made Los Angeles the center of the creative universe!

For more information visit


To read Part 1 of this series, please click here.

To read Part 2 of this series, please click here.

To read Part 3 of this series, please click here.

To read Part 4 of this series, please click here.

To read Part 5 of this series, please click here.

It's been fifty-five years since Oswald's three shots rang out in Dallas and their echoes still reverberate throughout our nation. In that time, the conspiracymongers have accused 42 groups and 214 individuals of involvement with the murder of JFK and have put forward the names of 82 “assassins.”

I've no doubt in the years to come additional transgressors and villains will be placed on those lists, and new titles added to catalogue of “Assassination Dramas.”

The suspicions, paranoia and dissemblance of some have seemingly diminished the gravitas due the assassination of John F. Kennedy, while the shallowness and gullibility of others have rendered their historical awareness the death of America's 35th president to the level of a National Enquirer headline. For many the idea of a conspiracy is not a matter of study, evidence or plausibility, it is a matter of faith.

Not long ago I was at a pool party, when a casual remark on my part disparaging Oliver Stone's JFK brought on an onslaught by another guest.

Let's call him Don.

Don defended Stone, his film and ranked Garrison as the greatest American since Honest Abe.

Needless to say he was strident in his insistence that Oswald was innocent and that a vast and malevolent conspiracy was behind it all. As with all “True Believers” facts are meaningless, and I began to feel like Michael Palin facing John Cleese in the “Argument Clinic.”

Finally I put to him, “What proof, what evidence, would it take to convince you that Oswald was guilty?”

He snapped back, “There isn't any, because he's not!”

And there you go. The same mindset that denies the holocaust ever happened, insists FDR knew of the pending attack on Pearl Harbor, that NASA faked the moon landing, maintains 9-11 was an inside job, that Barack Obama was not a US citizen, that Hillary operated a child brothel in the basement of a pizza parlor, that the “deep state” is undermining Donald Trump's presidency and believes that the plays of Shakespeare were actually written by some guy named Rollo Gobermouche.

University of Miami political scientist and conspiracy theory researcher Joseph Uscinski warned that “Conspiracy theories are becoming part of our national dialogue.”

The danger here is all too present in our society. The maxim to “question authority” is sound, but to outright dismiss authority is fraught with peril. Hence the cancerous concept of “Fake News” and the hazardous inclination to put one's trust in the opinions of personalities and reject those of the experts.

That everyone is entitled to their own opinion is one of the bedrocks of this nation, but that foundation will be irrevocably damaged if we come to accept that everyone is also entitled to their own “facts.”

Sadly, it is as Eric Hoffer observed that one of humanity's great failings is that most people can only be completely certain about that which they know absolutely nothing about.

In her seminal book Virtues of the Mind (1996) Linda Zagzebski lists the barriers to sound inquiry and judicious appraisal as gullibility, close-mindedness, lack of thoroughness, rigidity, negligence, carelessness, prejudice, obtuseness and insensitivity to detail. These “intellectual vices” are the hallmark of the conspiracy minded.

There are those who readily point to the fact that the most recent polls suggest that over 2/3 of the country believe that some conspiracy was behind the events in Dallas as if this in some way establishes the historical facts. But to quote Robert Ingersoll “- majorities count for nothing. Truth has always dwelt with the few.”

Today the Assassination has become the great national Rorschach test for Americans. They look at the events that occurred on November 22nd, 1963 in the city of Dallas, and what they perceive tells you more about them than the ink blots. The ink blots never change.

And the ink blots say, “Oswald. Only Oswald. Nobody else but Oswald.”

  • Howard Brennan, a forty-five year old steam fitter had been standing across the street from the Book Depository on Friday November 22nd to watch the presidential motorcade.  Looking up he saw a man in the window of the sixth floor holding a rifle, just as the motorcade turned onto the street, the shots that killed the president immediately followed.  In the confusion afterwards it was Brennan who first directed the police to the Book Depository and provided them with a description of the man in the window, the information he provided would be broadcast over both channels of the Dallas Police radio.  Twenty-three minutes later, Patrol Officer J.D. Tippit pulled his squad car to a stop near the intersection of Patton and Tenth Street to question a man who matched the Brennan's description of the shooter. It was Lee Harvey Oswald. Witnesses observed Oswald fatally shooting Tippit before fleeing the scene. At Oswald's third lineup Brennan would claim he couldn't be sure Oswald was the man he had seen in the sixth floor window prior to Kennedy's assassination.  He would later confess before the Warren Commission that he had recognized Oswald as the man he saw in the window, but feared if he came forward as a witness that he would be placing his family in danger.
  • For my comparison review of JFK and Parkland see:
  • For a fascinating debunking of the film JFK go to
  • The “magic bullet” is only “magical” to those having no experience with firearms.  If you want an education in what bullets do once fired, I recommend you watch The Magic Bullet, Episode 2 from the first season of Forensic Files.
  • It should also be noted that Robert Caro, after 36 years of intense research into Lyndon Johnson, stated he found no indication whatsoever of an assassination plot.

Stages of Doubt: An Analysis of The Kennedy Assassination In American Theatre - PART 1

Over the half century since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, the public has been inundated with the ink of upwards of 2,000 publications confronting or concerned with the findings of the Warren Commission. These range from Mark Lane's Rush to Judgment the first publication (1966) to bedung a susceptible public with spurious claims of a conspiracy and cover-up to Vincent Bugliosi's 1,632 page encyclopedic Reclaiming History (2007) which lays to rest once any questions or doubts about the assassination for all but the most fanatical and dogmatic of conspiracy theorists (henceforth referred to as “CT”).

Hundreds of documentaries of course have delved into the assassination though few approached the subject with the consideration and conscientiousness it merits.

And numerous featured films such as Clint Eastwood's Line of Fire (1993) and William Richert's Winter Kills (1979) have employed the assassination in various manners as the catalyst to their story's plotline.

These films have generally fallen into the categories of “action-adventure” or “thriller,” but there have been exceptions. Robert Dyke's Timequest (2000) offers the unique storyline of a scientist (Ralph Waite) who as a child watching Kennedy's funeral becomes obsessed with the grieving Jackie, causing him to dedicate his life to building a means of time travel so that he can return to 1963 and save Jackie from the pain of her husband's murder by preventing it. He succeeds in this and by revealing to Bobby the conspiracy against his brother's life changes history. But now, without the impetus of witnessing Jackie's grief, the scientist's own destiny is altered and his life takes an entirely different course. One of the film's high points is the alternative history Dyke conjures up resulting from the assassination being foiled which includes JFK dropping Johnson from the ticket for his second term and replacing him with Martin Luther King Jr.

Regrettably the majority of films concerning the assassination, regardless of their genre, are as disconnected from reality as Dyke's sci-fi, and far less entertaining.

An exception to this, one of the very few, is director Peter Landesman's Parkland (2013). A former war correspondent, Landesman delved into the chaos surrounding the assassination and the two days that followed, by setting his story in the trenches with those who were there. His film featured strong performances by Zac Efron as Dr Charles Carrico, the 28 year old resident in charge of Parkland Hospital's emergency room where the mortally wounded Kennedy was brought, Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder whose life was forever changed by 486 frames of an 8-millimeter film, and James Badge Dale as Robert Oswald, Lee's older brother who never doubted his younger sibling's guilt.

The theatre, too, has undertaken to address and investigate the tragic events of Dallas, with the results of these reflecting the diversity of approaches such as only can be devised for and delivered from the stage.

Surprisingly, the first attempt by a dramatist to delve into the murder of America's 35th president was a British playwright whose work to this day remains one of the strongest on the subject.

Michael Hastings was among that cluster of writers and playwrights - John Osborne, Kingsley Amis, Harold Pinter and others - who rose to prominence in the United Kingdom following World War II and were known collectively as the “angry young men.”

The youngest of them, Hastings was the last to win recognition as a talent worthy of note.

He did so with Lee Harvey Oswald: A Far Mean Streak of Indepence [sic] Brought on by Negleck [sic], produced in 1966 at the Hampstead Theatre Club. It was Hastings' first commercial and critical success.

The unwieldy title is taken from a passage that appears in an account Oswald wrote about the period he lived in Russia. Written in the third person, his description of himself reveals more than the dyslexia that plagued him throughout his life; “Lee Harvey Oswald was born in Oct 1939 in New Orleans, LA. The son of an Insurance Salesman whose early death left a far mean streak of indepence brought on by neglect.”

For convenience later productions were generally billed simply as Lee Harvey Oswald.

Hastings immersed himself in the historical record, reading the Warren Report and pouring over the supporting evidence contained in its 26 volumes. His play relies heavily on testimonies taken from its 552 witnesses, especially those of Oswald's overbearing and unbalanced mother Marguerite, and his Russia born wife Marina.

As Shakespeare encased his voice of history in “Chorus” for Henry V, Hastings embodies the investigating tribunal appointed by President Johnson in the single character of “the Commission.”

With “the Commission” constantly injecting questions, Hastings leads us down a patchwork rabbit hole constructed from extracts taken from the Warren Report. Hastings reveals Oswald as terrorized by his own sense of insignificance, and enraged at the world for refusing to acknowledge him. Oswald saw himself as someone meant for greatness. When the Warren Commission counsel asked Marina what she thought induced her husband to kill the president, she answered, “He wanted in any way, whether good or bad, to do something that would make him outstanding, that he would be known in history.” Hastings' Oswald would finally claim, from the Book Depository's corner window, the greatness he believed was due him.

In 1967, the assassination arrived on an American stage with the satirical MacBird! by Barbara Garson, which has the distinction of being the first to re-work the tragic events in a Shakespearian mold.

Garson turned to a wide assortment of the Bard's works Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Othello and even Richard II to supply her with the linguistic stenciling she needed, but for overall structure and plotting she stayed with the Scottish play, hence JFK became John Ken O'Dunc, RFK Robert Ken O'Dunc, and LBJ the murderous titular MacBird!.

Initially staged at anti-war rallies and college protests, the work eventually attracted backers who opened it at New York's The Village Gate Theatre where it ran for a year. This success was due in part to Garson's clever writing with its serviceable faux Iambic pentameter, but some credit must go to the show's talented cast of young newcomers which included Rue McClanahan as Lady MacBird, William Devane as Robert Ken O'Dunc and Stacy Keach as MacBird.

As in Shakespeare's tale, Garson opens with three witches, but hers were cloaked in the personas of the radical left with Witch #1 an old Wobbly, Witch #2 a militant black activist, and Witch #3 a nubile coed and budding feminist.

Making his professional acting debut as Witch #2 was Cleavon Little who seven years later would enter comedy Valhalla portraying Sheriff Bart in the Mel Brooks' classic Blazing Saddles.

Kennedy's demise is facilitated by the ambitious MacBird in his rise to power, who then sets out to appease the people by implementing "the Smooth Society" which he assures them:

"…has room for all;
for each, a house, a car, a family,
A private psychoanalyst, a dog,
And rows of gardens, neatly trimmed and hedged."

But Macbird's interest quickly turns towards the international scene, and bending uncooperative nations to his foreign policies by military force if necessary.

When faced with growing opposition to his overseas interventions, the dialogue Garson gives MacBird, echoes the casual eloquence Johnson was capable of.

“Our force shall only force them to be free."


“I believe there is a light at the end of what has been
a long and lonely tunnel.”

President Lyndon Johnson
(September 21, 1966 – speaking of the conflict in Viet Nam.)

Ironically, in this first theatre work to question Oswald's guilt and cast a shadow over the findings of the Warren Commission, the assassination of John F. Kennedy was not the central conspiracy of the piece. A committed anti-war activist, the conspiracy at the core of Garson's MacBird! is LBJ's obsession to send American boys to fight and die in Viet Nam.

Garson, who ran as the Socialist Party candidate for the vice presidency in the 1992 Presidential election, is on record that MacBird! was a work of satire and that she was not seriously suggesting Lyndon Johnson had any part in a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy.

In 2006, Garson admitted in a Washington Post interview, that after decades of arguing the absurdity in believing Johnson was in any way complicit in JFK's death, she had given up.

Afterwards, whenever people would approach her to asked if she thought Johnson played a significant role in killing Kennedy she'd answer “If he did, it's the least of his crimes.”

...continue reading

The picture was taken by Dallas freelance photographer James "Jim" MacCammon barely 80 minutes after gunshots reverberated through Dealey Plaza. MacCammon photographed 24-year-old Oswald as he emerged from the Texas Theatre into the bright midday sun, sandwiched between Patrolman C.T. Walker and, still chewing his cigar, Detective Paul Bentley. Although MacCammon contacted news agencies, including LIFE, his remarkable photo went unpublished until TIME ran it three months later in February 1964. Internal records show that Time Inc. shared that picture and others MacCammon made with the FBI. Eventually, in late 1964, three MacCammon photographs appeared in volume 20 of the Warren Commission's documentation. "It was always like a lecture," remembers Mary MacCammon, the photographer's daughter, who was in the 4th grade at the time. "He always wanted us to know the story of what happened when Oswald was arrested." The MacCammon photo of Kennedy's assassin essentially disappeared for more than 40 years, until the New York Times included it in Detective Bentley's obituary on July 27, 2008. The photo credit line read, Jim MacCammon, courtesy of Howard Upchurch. But this time, unlike when TIME ran the photo in 1964, the picture appeared in color. Howard Upchurch, a Dallas-area Kennedy assassination researcher, had befriended a man who in 1963 worked at MacCammon's favorite Dallas photo lab and kept a color print of the MacCammon picture. Years later he gave it to Upchurch, who showed it to me in the 1980s and later loaned it to The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. MacCammon, who died in 2005, captured a moment that says so much about the soon-to-be-accused assassin and why so many still do not believe Oswald was the sole killer of President Kennedy and the killer of Dallas Police officer J.D. Tippit. As reported at the time, when police led him out of the theater, Oswald shouted: I protest this police brutality and I am not resisting arrest! Oh? Moments earlier, as cops approached him, Oswald suddenly punched Officer Nick McDonald in the face, drew a revolver from his waistband and tried to shoot him. McDonald jammed his hand on the gun and prevented it from firing as other officers pummeled Oswald to the floor, sat him in a seat and cuffed him. (MacCammon took a picture of that moment, too, but the image is too dark to reveal much.) [Ed's note: The TIME-LIFE Picture Collection discovered several duplicate negatives in our search for MacCammon's photographs. We've reproduced one of them below.]

Audio Interview: The cast of “Confederates” at the Grove Theater Center in Burbank

A young and ambitious reporter uncovers a compromising photo of the daughter of a candidate for president. An older colleague urges him to publish it immediately while the daughter and his conscience tell him to bury it. In the end, he must decide if it's a legitimate story and whether such a distinction is even relevant for our multi-platform and relentless news cycles.*
Enjoy this interview with the cast of “Confederates” at the Grove Theater Center, running until Dec 16th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*taken from the website

Creating Mass Movements — Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

In these turbulent and twisting times that find so many bewildered and baffled, suckered punched by the events of the last two years, I find myself in this punishing period for our nation oddly consoled by a soothing sense of déjà-vu.
Yes, Trump's victory via that Three-Card Monte constitutional encumbrance called the Electoral College left me as bumfuzzled as a hoe-wacked goose, as his election was about as unexpected and unpleasant as finding a spitting cobra inside a box of Cracker Jacks as your secret prize.
However, in the days that followed, I felt a curious calmness creep over me, and it struck me that I recognized the dynamics at play.
Not that I've had prior experience of a long-established democratic system rending itself apart, or of a society being sucked down into the toxic swill of the most recidivistic and repugnant aspects of its national character.
I had watched as Trump infected the body politic, from the GOP convention to the November election, like a particularly viral strain of the French Pox. I had watched as his malevolent, blustering, vainglorious and clownish campaign bloated up into a “crass-roots” crusade fueled by his rabble-rousing duplicity and squalor and constant mudslinging in 140 character smears.  And while I had never beheld such an excremental engine as the Trump candidacy, I had studied the blueprints that built it.
I had read Eric Hoffer.
As far as foreseeing what the future holds, Jean Dixon, Criswell of “Plan Nine” fame and Nostradamus were a pack of third-rate wankers.
Eric Hoffer was the real deal, and his first work, a thin volume published in 1951, should be mandatory reading today.
The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, runs just over 150 pages, and consists of 125 brief commentaries distributed into 18 short chapters.
It's a book one can read in an afternoon; it's a book that explains why individuals would fly airliners into our buildings and how an inadequate, Pecksniffian nonentity finds himself in the White House.
When Hoffer died in 1983 at the age of 84, America lost one of its few native son philosophers and the world lost one of its most original and prescient thinkers.
How Hoffer came to that station is a narrative hued with the tincture of classic American mythos.
Much of Hoffer's life story derives from his own reports, particulars of which over the years have been challenged by biographers and historians.
But when one lives up to the myths woven around oneself, then they transubstantiate into “history” and, whatever myths Hoffer cloaked about himself, his life excelled them all.
His birth date is uncertain and the tales he told of himself over the decades often conflict, but certain details are constant in each retelling.
He was born in the Bronx.
His parents were recent immigrants from the Kaiser's imperial Germany.
He was orphaned at an early age.
Still, it is even possible that none of that is true and that, rather than having been born here, Hoffer came, illegally, into this country some time before the Great Depression.  This would account for attitudes towards and treatment of immigrants being a recurring theme in his work as well as explaining why he spoke with a distinct German accent throughout his life.
Hoffer told how he used the $300 insurance money from his father's death to travel to Los Angeles, where he said he spent the next 10 years on Skid Row: reading, occasionally writing, and working at odd jobs; including as a migrant field hand in California's central valley.
He acquired a library card and spent countless hours in both the Downtown and Hollywood libraries.   His claim that he taught himself Hebrew, botany and chemistry could be dismissed in someone of lesser stature.  But his recounting of reading Michel de Montaigne's Essays and the world they opened up to him seems validated in his adoption of Montaigne's personal, pithy and aphoristic heavy style as his own.
Also, like Montaigne, Hoffer's study was that of man.
Hoffer's life emerges from the mists of self mythology in 1934.
His internment that year in a federal transient camp, set up by California where any jobless drifters who crossed into the sunshine state were detained and put to work on state projects, is documented, and his own account of that period is included in his book The Ordeal of Change which is arguably the strongest narrative writing of his career.
It is of interest to note that in the enormous amount of unpublished writings and notebooks, Hoffer left at his death, there is nothing that predates his arrival in California in 1934.
In 1941, Hoffer moved to San Francisco where he would remain the rest of his life.  There, he took work on the docks as a longshoreman and began writing his first book.
Ten years later Margaret Anderson, a New York editor with Harper & Row, received an unsolicited manuscript by an author neither she nor anyone else, at that time, had ever heard of.
The work bore the sober title of Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.
Anderson expected to read the first page and set it aside.
By the second paragraph she knew she wasn't setting it aside.
Hoffer pronounced his theme in the opening preface:

“All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them demand blind faith and single hearted allegiance.   All movements, however different in doctrine and aspiration, draw their early adherents from the same types of humanity; they all appeal to the same types of mind.”

It would be Anderson, while working as the book's editor, who suggested the addition of “The True Believer” to the title.  Hoffer accepted the suggestion and dedicated the book to her.
At its publication in 1951, Hoffer lived by himself in a single room he rented in the Chinatown section of San Francisco.  His room held a few articles of clothing, a bed, two chairs and writing supplies.  There was no telephone, no radio, no television.  It would remain that way until his death.
Seemingly overnight the unknown, barrel-chested, balding longshoreman was hailed for the staggering insights of his book and stamped by the media as “the Longshoreman Philosopher.”
But Hoffer's impact reached beyond the hype.
In Britain, Bertrand Russell praised Hoffer, and in America the historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. in speaking of The True Believer said, “This brilliant and original inquiry into the nature of mass movements is a genuine contribution to our social thought.”
Hoffer continued to work as a longshoreman even after the success of his work.  When he left the docks, it was to accept an adjunct professorship at the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1959, it was divulged that Hoffer had another admirer of note.
Two years before the farewell address where he aired his concerns of the threat the “military-industrial complex” posed to our democracy, President Dwight D. Eisenhower(Ike) gave voice to another warning for our nation, in a letter to a dying veteran.
Terminally ill Robert Biggs, who had served in World War II, wrote to Eisenhower venting his concerns, admitting, “I felt from your recent speeches the feeling of hedging and a little uncertainty.”
He longed for the firm leadership of command that he'd known during the war, the lack of which he found disturbing.
He closed his letter with a confession, “We wait for someone to speak for us and back him completely if the statement is made in truth.”
Today Biggs would receive a standard White House form response like hundreds of others that are mailed off daily, consisting of a “thank you” and the president's automated signature.
But Eisenhower sat down and composed a reply.
A reply which reflected the turmoil of his term: Joseph McCarthy had paralyzed the country with his claims of Communist sympathizers at all levels of the government and had infiltrated the nation's schools and industries, and the John Birch Society had branded Ike a tool of the Soviets, all the while making inroads into the Republican party.
To Biggs, Eisenhower wrote:

“I doubt that citizens like yourself could ever, under our democratic system, be provided with the universal degree of certainty, the confidence in their understanding of our problems, and the clear guidance from higher authority that you believe needed.   Such unity is not only logical but indeed indispensable in a successful military organization, but in a democracy debate is the breath of life.”

Eisenhower recommended The True Believer to Biggs, then goes on to explain that the book:

“… points out that dictatorial systems make one contribution to their people which leads them to tend to support such systems — freedom from the necessity of informing themselves and making up their own minds concerning these tremendous complex and difficult questions.”

In warning Biggs of the danger in wishing “for someone to speak for us,” perhaps Eisenhower was recalling this passage from Hoffer's book:

“Unless a man has the talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden. Of what avail is freedom to choose if the self be ineffectual? We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or, in the words of the ardent young Nazi, ‘to be free from freedom.' It was not sheer hypocrisy when the rank-and-file Nazis declared themselves not guilty of all the enormities they had committed. They considered themselves cheated and maligned when made to shoulder responsibility for obeying orders. Had they not joined the Nazi movement in order to be free from responsibility?”

In his letter, Eisenhower acknowledges this “irksome burden” but he is quick to point out its blessing; “But while this responsibility is a taxing one to a free people it is their great strength as well–from millions of individual free minds come new ideas, new adjustments to emerging problems, and tremendous vigor, vitality and progress."
Eisenhower closes his reply praising Biggs for “pondering these problems despite your deep personal adversity.”
In the post war America, it was difficult to accept that the right-wing fascist and left-wing Marxist were interchangeable.
But Hoffer argued:

“All mass movements, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred, and intolerance… A mass movement attracts and holds a following not because it can satisfy the desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation.”

At the close of his life, Hoffer had ten more titles to his name including The Passionate State of Mind (1955), and The Ordeal of Change (1963), which he considered his best work.
But it is The True Believer for which he is best remembered, and 21st century readers can distinguish Hoffer's paradigm in Islamic terrorists such as Hezbollah and al Qaeda, right-wing, evangelical fundamentalists groups such as the World Church of the Creator, Zionist militants such as the followers of Meir Kahane, organizations of both black and white supremacists and a host of other groups.
Citizens of today's troubled America sitting down with the book would be stunned at how Hoffer's words provoke a reverberation so precise in echoing both the roots and allure of Trumpism.
When placed beside Trump and his political movement, Hoffer's commentary takes on the appearance of reversed engineered prophecy.
In the beginning there was Trump trumpeting the ridiculous allegation regarding Obama's birth certificate:

“I have people that have been studying [Obama's birth certificate] and they cannot believe what they're finding… I would like to have him show his birth certificate and, can I be honest with you, I hope he can. Because if he can't—if he can't, if he wasn't born in this country, which is a real possibility…then he has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.”
“The fact is, if you're not born in the United States, you cannot be president…”
“An ‘extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that Barack Obama's birth certificate is a fraud.“

You have Trump's assault on any press media or news outlet refusing to kowtow to his public image or challenging his contrived assertions:

“The press has become so dishonest that if we don't talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. We have to talk to find out what's going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”
“And I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It's fake, phony, fake. A few days ago, I called the fake news the ‘enemy of the people,' and they are, they are the enemy of the people.“

Hoffer would observe:

"It is startling to realize how much unbelief is necessary to make belief possible.”

It is the true believer's ability to ‘shut his eyes and stop his ears' to facts that do not deserve to be either seen or heard which is the source of his unequaled fortitude and constancy. He cannot be frightened by danger nor disheartened by obstacle nor baffled by contradictions because he denies their existence.
All active mass movements strive, therefore, to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world.
Trump “interpose[d] a fact-proof screen” as a masquerade of “alternative facts,” yet he raged at the media:
They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name. Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out.
A feature in the make-up of a “True Believer” is holding others to a higher code of conduct than they do themselves or their leader, so Trump never needs to identify his “extremely credible source” who denounced Obama's birth certificate a “fraud.”
Trump lashed out unendingly at those forces plotting against him:

“We have losers. We have people that don't have it. We have people that are morally corrupt. We have people that are selling this country down the drain.”
“Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger by the way, and we as a country are getting weaker.”
“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places: SAD.”

Hoffer would retort:

"The enemy—the indispensable devil of every mass movement—is omnipresent. He plots both outside and inside the ranks of the faithful. It is his voice that speaks through the mouth of the dissenter, and the deviationists are his stooges. If anything goes wrong within the movement, it is his doing. It is the sacred duty of the true believer to be suspicious. He must be constantly on the lookout for saboteurs, spies and traitors.
Propaganda … serves more to justify ourselves than to convince others; and the more reason we have to feel guilty, the more fervent our propaganda."

Trump promised those who came to his rallies:

“I think that I would be a great uniter. I think that I would have great diplomatic skills. I think that I would be able to get along with people very well. I've had a great success in my life. I think the world would unite if I were the leader of the United States.”


"It is futile to judge the viability of a new movement by the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises. What has to be judged is its corporate organization for quick and total absorption of the frustrated. Where new creeds vie with each other for the allegiance of the populace, the one which comes with the most perfected collective framework wins."

“Sadly,” Trump lamented, “the American dream is dead. But if I get elected president, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.”

"There is no more potent dwarfing of the present than by viewing it as a mere link between a glorious past and a glorious future. Thus, though a mass movement at first turns its back on the past, it eventually develops a vivid awareness, often specious, of a distant glorious past. Religious movements go back to the day of creation; social revolutions tell of a golden age when men were free, equal, and independent; nationalist movements revive or invent memories of past greatness."

Trump positioned himself as able to fix all the wrongs of the country just by the force of his personality.

“So I deal with foreign countries, and despite what you may read, I have unbelievable relationships with all of the foreign leaders. They like me. I like them. You know, it's amazing.”
“We'll have companies pouring back into our nation. I mean, it's going to be — you know, it's going to be beautiful.“
“You know, I've had a lot of wins in my life, and I know where I'm coming from, and I know where I've been, and I know how to get the country to where people really want to see it.”
“Hey, I'm a nationalist and a globalist. I'm both.”

Other than the claim, “Only I can fix it,” Trump offered no detailed programs, but when he spoke to his base, where the rest of us heard words fluttering about as meaninglessly as cards flung in a child's game of 52 pickup, his supporters found revelations and reassurance.
Hoffer diagnosed the difference:

"Crude absurdities, trivial nonsense and sublime truths are equally potent in readying people for self-sacrifice if they are accepted as the sole, eternal truth. It is obvious, therefore, that in order to be effective a doctrine must not be understood, but has rather to be believed in. We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand.  If a doctrine is not unintelligible, it has to be vague; and if neither unintelligible nor vague, it has to be unverifiable.
For men to plunge headlong into an undertaking of vast change, they must be intensely discontented yet not destitute, and they must have the feeling that by the possession of some potent doctrine, infallible leader or some new technique they have access to a source of irresistible power. They must also have an extravagant conception of the prospects and potentialities of the future. Finally, they must be wholly ignorant of the difficulties involved in their vast undertaking. Experience is a handicap.
A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness, and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves"

To those immune to Trump's political paroxysm, his constant display of a fractured ego seeking to mask a glaring defectiveness of character beneath hyperbolic pronouncements were reminiscent of a cartoon coyote intoning of himself “Super genius.”
“My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don't feel so stupid or insecure; it's not your fault.”
“I'm very smart. My life has proven that I'm smart. I mean, I've had a life of success and I've had a life of victory."
“I've been winning all of my life. . .  My whole life is about winning. I always win. I win at golf….   My whole life is about winning. I don't lose often. I almost never lose.”
“To be blunt, people would vote for me. They just would. Why? Maybe because I'm so good looking.”
“I'm the most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far. Nobody's ever been more successful than me. I'm the most successful person ever to run.”
“I think I am actually humble. I think I'm much more humble than you would understand.”
It was difficult to understand how his supporters were so readily able to accept his self-aggrandizing when so ludicrously over the top, to the rest of us it seemed like dialogue plucked from Monty Python routines.
Hoffer had commented:

"The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world.
The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.
The frustrated follow a leader less because of their faith that he is leading them to a promised land than because of their immediate feeling that he is leading them away from their unwanted selves….  The True Believer is eternally incomplete, eternally insecure."

The final question most asked of Trump's devoted supporters is, ‘Why?'
Yes, both parties failed in fielding a candidate capable of communicating a vision or program that would inspire and unite a great people.  That accounts for what drew many to his standard at the outset.  But what is it now that binds his base to him despite a run of broken promises and failures:

  • Mexico is not paying for a wall that the country shouldn't build.
  • He didn't fully repeal and replace Obamacare with “something even better.”
  • He's alienated our allies and emboldened our foes.
  • He didn't enact new ethics reforms on special interests.
  • He didn't make two and four year colleges more affordable but instead cut student aid.
  • He didn't label China a currency manipulator but nearly plunged us into a trade war.
  • He didn't ban Muslims from entering the country.
  • He didn't expel Syrian refugees.
  • He didn't expel the “Dreamers”; though he is still threatening to despite the country's objections.
  • He didn't sue the women accusing him of sexual misconduct.
  • He didn't arrest Hillary.
  • He didn't defeat Isis in a week.
  • He didn't release his tax returns

And Trump just declares:
“Eventually we're going to get something done and it's going to be really, really good.”
Why would anyone see in that sad, arrogant little naffin, a leader?
Again, Hoffer has much to say on that topic.

"It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from their sense of inadequacy and impotence.
The permanent misfits can find salvation only in a complete separation from the self; and they usually find it by losing themselves in the compact collectivity of a mass movement.
Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves."

So much of Trump's rhetoric and persona is rancid with racism and xenophobia, describing Mexicans as rapists, criminals, “bad hombres,” declaring at his rallies he doesn't want Syrian refugees or Muslins coming “over here,” his obsession with building his wall.
There's one aphorism in The True Believer that reflects on these attitudes that accounts for so much of Trump's support, it is one of Hoffer's insights that has the most troubling resonance for me.
Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life.
There is little of optimism to be found in The True Believer, but then Hoffer was trying to Illuminate the interaction of individuals within a society that fosters insurrections, rebellions, Jacqueries, terrorism and dictatorships, not write fairy tales.
On the whole, Hoffer counsels caution with hope, writing in The True Believer:
When hopes and dreams are loose in the streets, it is well for the timid to lock doors, shutter windows and lie low until the wrath has passed. For there is often a monstrous incongruity between the hopes, however noble and tender, and the action which follows them.
In The Ordeal of Change, one of his later works, Hoffer still offers little in the way of hope.  But he does offer us reasons to at least have hope of “Hope.”
Hoffer lists the distinctly American virtues:

"…a superb dynamism, an unprecedented diffusion of skills, a genius for organization and teamwork, a flexibility that makes possible an easy adjustment to the most drastic change, an ability to get things done with a minimum of tutelage and supervision, an unbounded capacity for fraternization."

Contrary to the fear mongering of Fox News and Trump's dire cant, the demise of most democracies are not a result of external enemies breaching their walls or the mongrelization of their culture by an influx of the “outsiders.”
The death of a democracy begins when its people forget their history.
And a people without a history cannot have a future.
There will be a cost to this nation for neglecting its institutions and people until conditions had deteriorated to where Trump's candidacy was possible.  But Trump will eventually travel the same path as “the Know-Nothings,” Father Coughlin's National Union for Social Justice, the Share the Wealth movement of Huey Long, and McCarthyism.
The challenge before us is not defeating Trump and his Crusade of Deplorables.  The challenge is for the people of this nation to recommit to those principles forged at its founding.
For in the end, America will fail when Americans have failed her.
To read Eisenhower's letter in full, click HERE.
Reprinted with permission from

Casting, Activism, Connecting the Public to the Arts, and More News


Female Fusion - The Intersection of Art and Activism

Reena Dutt is exactly the artist that this column is named for. She creates art; theater, film, web, and video, that moves the conversation forward. The subject of the conversation changes, the message is sometimes obvious, sometimes more obtuse, but the medium stays constant. Art speaks and Dutt knows the language intimately.

There are so many stereotypes of what an ardent feminist, an activist, a person of color fighting for representation is; strong, powerful, angry. Dutt is quite disarming and funny. She laughs easily and often. She is petite, pretty and slightly self effacing. read more here

Audio Interview: Barbara Luna (Lt. Marlena Moreau of Star Trek) and the cast of "South Pacific" at La Mirada Theatre

Enjoy this interview about “South Pacific” featuring an opening interview with Barbara Luna (Lt. Marlena Moreau of Star Trek) who was in the original 1949 production. Rodgers & Hammerstein's South Pacific at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, runs until May 13th. listen to the interview on SoundCloud

Fire, Glass-Walk With Me: A Revealing Interview With Vixen DeVille

Fire-eating, glass-walking, circus aerial, magic, burlesque, costume crafting, comedy, and acting—British actress Cat LaCohie fits all of these skills into her life and her new solo show “Vixen DeVille Revealed”, coming to the Hollywood Fringe Festival this June.

Originally from Newcastle, LaCohie began her career in London, with appearances at Cafe De Paris, The Ritz Hotel and at the Charing Cross Theatre in West End, since relocating to Los Angeles. read more here

Deanne Bray and Troy Kotsur

Now Casting: World premiere ASL/Spoken English love story “Arrival & Departure” at Fountain Theatre

The Fountain Theatre is now accepting submissions from hearing actors for the world premiere of Arrival & Departure, a funny and poignant new play written and directed by Stephen Sachs that will blend American Sign Language and spoken English. read more here

Face To Face: Street Artist Teachr and Fairfax High School Students Come Together To Teach Peace

Renowned street artist Teachr (Keith Biele) will display his work and highlight the art work of 16 Fairfax High School students he has mentored, on Thursday, May 25th from 4-10 PM.

The art show will take place at Flux Rebellion (7763 Melrose Avenue), who generously donated their space to allow the students to sell their pieces and keep 100% of the income while learning the business of art and harnessing their creative energy in a positive way. read more here

Antaeus Academy Classes Open for Enrollment

Antaeus Academy is offering now 12 classes and this is the time to enroll for these summer sessions! read more here


Larry Harvey during the Burning Man festival in 2011.CreditJohn Curley, via Associated Press

Larry Harvey, the Man Behind Burning Man, Is Dead at 70

Larry Harvey, the guru-like driving force behind Burning Man, the globally celebrated anti-establishment, anti-consumerist festival that he and a friend began 32 years ago on a San Francisco beach, died on Saturday at a hospital in San Francisco. He was 70. read more here

Students in every Putnam City school are offered a variety of art instruction by 95 fine arts teachers. Western Oaks Elementary second-grader Siriwan Adsawathanat practices for a school program in vocal music class.

Interviews: Putnam City school district puts emphasis on the arts to inspire students to success

Whether playing the national anthem at an Oklahoma City Thunder home game or performing an intriguing string quartet cover of the Beach Boys' classic “Barbara Ann” at an Oklahoma Autism Center fundraiser, members of The Silver Strings of Putnam City stay on the move. read more here

Young Audiences Program Brings Teaching Artists To Students

‘You Did It So Well': Traveling Theatre Connects Shakespeare With Everyone

The team, called “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot,” takes their show on the road, performing at local schools and parks.

“Shakespeare is for everyone. It can pop up, and perform in your parking lot,” said Allison Watrous, Executive Director of Education for the DCPA.

Using an old Ford pickup truck as their set, cast members perform iconic Shakespeare plays like “Romeo and Juliet” and “A Midsummer Night's Dream.” read more here

CPHS teacher to receive national theatre award

Charles Page High School teacher Andrea Campfield will receive the Distinguished Merit Award from the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT).

The AACT Distinguished Merit Award is reportedly presented to individuals and organizations in recognition of contributions made to promote and develop the highest standards for community theatre. The award will be presented at an awards ceremony during the international theatre festival aactWorldFest 2018 June 18-23 in Venice, Florida. read more here

24 Teachers and Teaching Artists Board Educational Theatre Association's Model Curriculum Framework Project

The Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) has named 24 individuals to form its Model Curriculum Framework Project, which aims to expand instructional practices for both teachers and teaching artists around the country.

The project, supported by a National Endowment for the Arts grant, pairs 12 teachers with 12 teaching artists, each selected from a pool of over 100 candidates. The pairs will receive online training in standards-based teaching and assessment strategies before convening in Cincinnati July 12–15. read more here


Andrew Garfield in Angels in America. Photograph: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg/AP

EU rule could leave theatres dark

The president of the Association of Lighting Directors warns that a new directive could make all existing equipment obsolete
I am writing to you as the president of the Association of Lighting Designers, and as the Founder of Theatre Projects, an international theatre design company that for 60 years has been at the forefront of British theatre technology, responsible for the stage design of the National Theatre, and for over 1,500 theatre projects in 80 counties. read more here

An Interview with Homeward LA Founder Jason Lesner

Jason Lesner (center) at the Homeward LA preview performance at Pico Union Project 4/10/18 Photo by Mike Dennis

Homeward LA is a 10-day theatrical event concluding this Sunday intended to focus attention on the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, as well as raise money for the Midnight Mission on Skid Row.

Starting late last year, a group of writers met with 12 people who had experienced homelessness, and crafted monologues based on interviews with these individuals. Those monologues have been performed from April 13-20 by nearly 300 actors in more than 20 productions across the city.

The project has an ambitious intent: convincing the community to commit to ending homelessness. All of the proceeds from the project will go to the Midnight Mission, who helped find the storytellers. This is Homeward LA's first year but they plan to continue the project.

Jason Lesner is the founder and project director of Homeward LA. We met with him recently to discuss his project and the homeless crisis in Los Angeles.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Better Lemons:You have been saying that you don't want the cliched homeless story, the downer – can you explain what you mean?

Jason Lesner: It's not that I don't want that story, if that's what someone's story is, than that's great. I just think that's not the only story and that seems to be the story everyone thinks of when they think of the homeless. In the show, there are sad stories and there are stories where it's hard to tell whether you should feel sad or not sad about it. I think there's all sorts of things.

Marcelo Tubert performs "The Set-Up" photo by Mike Dennis

BL: But you're not trying to have the producers do the show in one specific way – they have leeway to interpret the material.

JL: This is what I said to the producers overall – I'm not going to micromanage your productions. Here is the piece, they can even change the order of the monologues. I've allowed them to do that and they can really envision it for what they want.

The one thing I did insist on is to not dress people as "homeless" people because again that's a cliche, and it's not even necessarily who these people are, and whose stories they are. And I think when I said that almost everyone who was involved in it said of course. In general, there is a bigger note in me even saying that, which is to avoid the cliche. My advice to all of the producers was for this show to work or not work comes ultimately down to the performances and the pieces themselves. If the pieces don't work, there's nothing you can do.

BL: Are you afraid of that homeless cliche because if I'm an audience member and I come in with certain expectations – like this is what a homeless person is and this is what they look like, and then those expectations are confirmed, then it only reinforces what I already believe and doesn't challenge me?

JL: I think that's part of the reason. I think a lot of people will walk in with a cliched idea of what homeless means, and anyone, you say homeless and some vision comes in their mind. I wanted to create a piece that humanized people who are homeless and showed that homeless people are much bigger than their homelessness, that that doesn't define them. I also just think from a sheer theatre standpoint...playing into those cliches is just not very interesting and inaccurate. Horribly inaccurate. What it means to be homeless is such an array of different things and then of course there are different life experiences that are vast. I wanted to portray as much of that as we possibly can.

Nicole J. Butler performs "A Nice School" Photo by Mike Dennis

BL: How did the project begin?

JL: I worked at LA Family Housing and I did community and corporate engagement there. It just came to me at some point that non-profits and the amazing work and try very hard and are filled with caring people, but I realized unless the community buys into this, I don't think were going to really solve the problem.

I was just thinking about something the other day-when I worked on homelessness, there were action plans created and goals set for ending homelessness – there was a goal to end veteran homelessness within a year and chronic homelessness in 2 years. And I was inspired, I thought that was amazing, we're going to end this thing. But one of the problems we ran into is that it just lived in world of government and non-profits. I think somewhere we failed in achieving that goal was we didn't engage the community. If you can really engage the community in ending homelessness, you can increase your chances enormously.

BL: Define what engaging the community means – what will people do once they are engaged?

JL: I think it is being aware, taking action, letting their representatives know that this is important to them. They are volunteering, they're donating money and they are being vocal. It just needs to be a certain mass of people who are active and caring. This is a hard issue and it takes a deep commitment and there is going to be trial and error. We know that we increased how many people were housed from 2016 to 2017, yet homelessness went up. I don't think we should look as things like that as failures, but as learning opportunities.

BL: Do you think we're setting ourselves up for failure when we say something like "we're going to end chronic homelessness in two years?"

JL: I think unless you have a plan of what that is going to look like than we are setting ourselves up. I think we should really define how that happens. When I worked in the non-profit sector as a manager, I always said that I believe in ambitious yet realistic goals. All that realism means is that you have a theory of here's what needs to be put in place and here's how it happens. and you really map that out.

BL: Homelessness is everywhere in Los Angeles – conditions on Skid Row have gotten worse, there are tents underneath freeways. Is it really a question of awareness? People have to be seeing it.

JL: I've gotten more away from the word awareness because of the reasons you just said, and I've been working on focusing attention on homelessness. We want Homeward LA to be a rallying cry for the community. It's more those things than it's about awareness, because you're right, we are all aware of it.

BL: People aren't oblivious to the problem, and I think a lot of them want to help, but it's just so overwhelming. How do we get from that feeling of being overwhelmed by the problem, and instead start feeling that we can help end homelessness?

JL: I have many days where I think why am I doing Homeward LA, and I have many days where I think the problem is too big. I think it's normal to have those doubts. I'm not looking to alleviate people's doubts. The problem is growing, it's really coming to a critical mass where we're going to have to deal with it, whether it's today, or in a year, or in five years. It's going to hit that point. As people grow and care more deeply, the doubts will become less and less cause they'll see more people working toward the goal. Doubt is part of the human condition and it's something for us to contend with always. I don't expect to do anything like this without having sincere moments of doubt. It's just normal (to feel that way)

Our nature is we have logical minds and it's great for strategy, but we also need a good doze of idealism and dreaming as well. You won't even think to end homelessness if you don't have that there too. Anyone who has a vision of ending homelessness should be at the table no matter if they have loads of doubt or whatever point of view they have or what political party they belong to. It will take everyone coming together to figure it out.

Leo Breckenridge performs "I Met the Devil Twice" Photo by Mike Dennis

BL: The project started over 18 months ago – was Midnight Mission involved from the beginning and were there other groups that you considered working with?

JL: I was dealing with different organizations before Midnight Mission. This was a new project and it wasn't a small project. And for the Midnight Mission, an organization that doesn't know me, it was a leap of faith on their part, so quite frankly, part of it was that they took the leap. I was thinking of doing this the first year with multiple organizations and I'm glad we ended up doing it with just one – cause just being its first year doing it, it made it a lot easier.

BL: Did Midnight Mission find the people you're basing the stories on?

I just talked to them about what we were looking for in very general terms and they [Midnight Mission] chose the individuals. They just put it out there to individuals who were interested in doing it.

BL: Were these people still involved in the programs at the Midnight Mission?

JL Some people were alums of the program and some people were still in it. It was no one on the streets right now – and I think realistically for this project, cause the writing process went on for so long, that to do this with someone who is presently out on the streets would probably be difficult. It could be hard to guarantee that after the first meeting you're going to hear from that person again. We knew doing this that there needed to be some consistency.

BL: What were some of the challenges?

People not showing up for their writing meetings. One person who dropped out. We went out with 13 people and I thought we'd have more drop out, but in the end we only had one drop out.

BL:Describe the writing process.

JL: Last October, we set a weekend where half of the storytellers and half of the writers came on one day and half on the other. I met with them, told them what the project was. The writers toured the Mission, then we sat down with the storytellers and did some exercises around story.

I didn't necessarily want all their stories to be about homelessness, I just wanted them to share stories from their lives. They seemed to really connect with the idea that we wanted to show that individuals who experience homelessness were more than being homeless. I told them I'm not necessarily asking you to share your deepest darkest story. I wanted them to tell the stories they wanted to share – it could be funny, it could be anything.

I watched everyone and saw who would work well together and partnered different writers with storytellers. I asked them to make a meeting with each other. First meeting they were asked to just talk and come up with 3 to 4 story ideas. Almost everyone met that first week and came up with stories, and then all of the writers met at one of the writer's houses and talked about all the stories that we had gathered, and then we chose the stories. Then they met individually for probably months. The idea was they would meet once a week. Some did, some met more sporadically. Writers would meet with the storyteller, come up with a draft, and I might give them some notes. Interviewing and then draft and interviewing and then draft to keep honing in on what that story was.

BL: Did you consider having the storytellers perform their own monologues instead of actors?

JL: We had a conversation around that. There's a number of reasons why we didn't go that way. I would say that structure and the very model of doing multiple productions of the same piece – we obviously couldn't have them be in all the places – but also many of them are still...very vulnerable.

It's possible but it's a tricky thing. The Midnight Mission and I had conversations about this very topic, and we decided certainly for this very first year that we weren't going to do it. Cause there are so many things to consider in doing that – let's say it doesn't work out; for someone who is in a vulnerable place, that can be a horrifying experience.

I have film program I do with foster youth and we use actors for that as well. I think there is something about telling your story...and then witnessing your story from someone else. I think getting to see your story from the outside is a very interesting and maybe healing experience.

Cast of Homeward LA at Pico Union Project preview 4/10/18 Photo by Mike Dennis

BL: How do we get the audience, who when they're sitting in the theatre are profoundly moved by what they see, but when they leave and get caught up in everything else that is going on – the power of the story dissipates. How do you keep people from forgetting?

JL: That's the thing – you're trying to create a snowball effect and you're trying to make a cultural shift. If you're just talking about an individual, but for anyone, any emotional experience is going to dissipate and they'll go back to their normal life – it's whether you affect the culture. This first year in doing 26 productions, is that going to affect the culture? Maybe not, it might have a smaller impact, but where does it go from there, as an annual thing, growing every year, is that enough? One of the actors brought up the idea of getting celebrities to do monologues online and do them that way. It being the first year I have my vision of where I'd like it to go – but I also try to keep an open mind of where it can go. If it starts to get attention, then to me it's whatever helps it to grow and grow. Ultimately none of this happens unless we make a cultural shift; achieve a critical mass.

BL: When someone says, oh these agencies and charities are using images of suffering to raise money for themselves – have you heard people say that and what has been your response?

JL: I have responded to people who have said this. This is my feeling on it: I think we all can understand the best way an organization can promote their organization is by people who benefitted from the organization. My experience is that if the organization is making it okay for the person to say no if they're not interested, than I think it's fine. These are adults and we should give people the respect as adults to make adult decisions. If someone is asked would you be willing to speak on behalf of this organization you benefitted form, I think we should trust that individual can make a decision for themselves. Only an organization if they're being manipulative or if they putting pressure on that person or not – and I personally think if you are putting pressure on someone than it is not right – and certainly if you were holding their services over their head, then that would be terrible, but I've never seen that happen. There something a little insulting--to say you're better than that person to make a decision for themselves. It doesn't feel right to me, I think it's unempowering.

We talk about the meaning of even the smallest acts of compassion.

JL: I remember when I worked at LA Family Housing, and I was surprised by it actually. We had groups come in and they would service in the kitchen – it seemed to mean a lot to people in the shelter that groups would come and serve. And I wasn't always sure why cause there wasn't a load of interaction necessarily happening, they were just serving the food, but people always seemed really grateful about it – I believe it was that it reminded the people in the shelter that there is a community out there that cared about them. Any action like that is meaningful – maybe it's not going to solve the problem, but I think any compassionate kind act is a meaningful act and it should be done. What I'm trying to do with this project is raise the level of compassion--we only benefit if we just learn to be more compassionate.

Madeline Zima (left) with Temple Willoughby, whom she portrays in the monologue called "Being Grounded." Photo by Mike Dennis

BL: And be compassionate even if things like handing out bottles of water or feeding people at a mission, those seem like small things that might not solve the problem--

JL: Well, who knows? I used to give money to every homeless person I came across many years ago, and then I hit a point when I said I don't know that I'm helping people by doing that, and then I didn't give very often. And now sometimes I do and sometimes I don't – but I will never say that giving someone a dollar isn't going to help. I'm not going to say what act of kindness is going to be the thing or not the thing that is going to spark something for that individual. I just think there isn't any way for us to know. I just think we'd all be better off if we just learned to be more compassionate with each other and more understanding, and not just with someone who is homeless, but all of us.

For Hire, Funding Theatre, Homeward LA, AEA Campaign and More News


Come One, Come All: Funding Available to Help Sustain L.A. Theater

On Mondays April 16 and April 23, from 7-10 p.m., LA STAGE Alliance is hosting community meet-ups aimed to help guide those interested in participating in funded opportunities to develop any of four collaborative models to help sustain LA theater. Admission is free. RSVP to [email protected]. LA STAGE Alliance is located at 4200 Chevy Chase Drive, Los Angeles. If we're able to proceed, this will be Phase II of the LA Theater Sustainability Program. read more here

Geffen Playhouse Launches Inaugural Writers' Room

In a move towards more new-play development, a group of Los Angeles writers will receive one-year residencies at the theatre.

Writers' rooms aren't just for television anymore. As part of its new focus on new-play development, the Geffen Playhouse has announced the launch of the Writers' Room, giving L.A.-based playwrights one-year residencies at the theatre. read more here



The Geffen Playhouse will honor legendary stage and screen performer Dick Van Dyke and award-winning composer, lyricist and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda at its 16th annual Backstage at the Geffen fundraiser. read more here

Homeward LA Shines Light On The Homeless Crisis in Los Angeles with a 10-Day Performance Event

Homeward LA is a 10-day citywide event taking place Friday, April 13th – Sunday, April 22ndfeaturing biographical monologues about individuals in Los Angeles county who have experienced homelessness. Showtimes and tickets can be found on the website. read more here

Know a college student looking for a paying job this summer? A young person who likes theatre and enjoys working in a crazy, eccentric theatrical environment? Search no further. The Fountain Theatre is the place.

Now Hiring: paid summer internship for college student at the Fountain Theatre

The Fountain Theatre is now accepting applications to hire one Development Intern for 10 weeks this summer between June and August. It is a full-time position (40 hours per week for 10 weeks) that pays $530 per week. read more here

The Dance Theatre of Harlem will perform at the Irvine Barclay Theatre on April 18. (File photo / Los Angeles Times)

Multi-ethnic ballet company Dance Theatre of Harlem coming to Orange County

Arthur Mitchell was on his way to an airport when he heard that Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated.

Mitchell, the first African American principal dancer in a major ballet company, was headed out of the country to establish the National Ballet of Brazil — a task given to him by the United States government. read more here

Audio Interview: the cast of "THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE" at the Road Theatre

Enjoy this interview with the cast of THROUGH THE EYE OF A NEEDLE at the Road Theatre on Lankershim, which closes May 13th. listen here

Some Enchanted Evening, John Cudia Will Bring Him Home With Just The Music of the Night

The perennial Rodgers & Hammerstein favorite SOUTH PACIFIC with its magnificent songs and its oh-so relevant messages will light up the stage at The Soraya April 13 to 15, and then on to La Mirada Theatre for the Performing ArtsApril 20 through May 13. John Cudia, the first and only actor to have performed both The Phantom in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and Jean Valjean in LES MISERABLES on Broadway, will once again impart his vocal and acting talents to the role of plantation owner Emile de Becque at both venues. John took some time to answer my inquisitive queries. read more here


6 Theatre Workers You Should Know

From a choral composer to a classics adapter, from a Boston dramaturg to a Chicago writer/performer, here are some theatre folks who should be on your radar. read more here

Industry Interview: How Charity Network and the Miranda Family Are Making the World a Better Place

As BroadwayWorld recently reported, "Lin-Manuel Miranda and Charity Network Rise Up for Good" has been nominated for best campaign in the Social - Public Service & Activism category in the 22nd Annual Webby Awards.

Capitalizing on a unique moment in Broadway history, Charity Network and the Miranda family teamed to implement a record-breaking series of digital sweepstakes through Prizeo and auction fundraising campaigns via Charitybuzz, offering fans around the world the chance to experience the groundbreaking cultural phenomenon Hamilton: An American Musical and monetize for good. read more here

Cast members making their Broadway dedut during the Actors' Equity Gypsy Robe Ceremony honoring Rod Harrelson for 'Motown The Musical' at the Nederlander Theatre on July 14, 2016 in New York City.

Actors' Equity Launches Campaign For Tony Awards Categories To Recognize Broadway Ensembles

Actors' Equity Association announced today the launch of a new national campaign to create two new Tony Award categories, Best Chorus in a Musical or Play and Best Ensemble in a Musical or Play. The inclusion of these categories would recognize all Equity performers who appear on a Broadway stage. read more here

Members of the Jose Limon Dance Company performed an excerpt from Mr. McKayle's "Heartbeats" at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan in 2010.CreditAndrea Mohin/The New York Times

Donald McKayle, 87, Broadway and Modern Dance Choreographer, Dies

Donald McKayle, one of the first choreographers to weave the African-American experience into the fabric of modern dance and the first black man to direct and choreograph a Broadway musical (“Raisin”), died on Friday at a hospital near his home in Irvine, Calif. He was 87.

His wife, Lea Vivante McKayle, confirmed the death. He was a professor of dance at the University of California, Irvine, for almost 30 years. read more here

SXSW 2018 Film Interview: Human Rights Filmmaker Jason Outenreath

Making its world premiere at this year's SXSW was the feature-length documentary They Live Here, Now, conceived and directed by human rights filmmaker Jason Outenreath. Shot on location at Casa Marianella, an emergency homeless shelter in East Austin, it depicts the daily lives of recently arrived immigrants as they relate their frequently harrowing stories about their journeys to the United States. read more here


Shirley Henderson and Sheila Atim © Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Is it time to change theatre award ceremonies?

Sarah Crompton considers whether the age-old format shows theatre off in its best light

British theatre has had an extraordinary, vibrant, creative year, packed with great plays and terrific new musicals. But watching the Olivier Awards from my front row armchair last night, I wasn't sure I saw that. Certainly, if I wasn't already interested in theatre the major prize giving of the theatrical year would have done nothing to convert me. read more here

Photo: Shutterstock

Theatre's working culture ‘passively endorses harassment' – report

A “passive culture of endorsing bullying” is allowing inappropriate behaviour to thrive in the industry, a new report claims.

This is one of the conclusions of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre's Encouraging Safer and More Supportive Working Practices in Theatre report – which brings together advice and guidance on how to tackle harassment and abuses of power in the sector. read more here

SXSW 2018 Film Interview: Human Rights Filmmaker Jason Outenreath

Making its world premiere at this year's SXSW was the feature-length documentary They Live Here, Now, conceived and directed by human rights filmmaker Jason Outenreath. Shot on location at Casa Marianella, an emergency homeless shelter in East Austin, it depicts the daily lives of recently arrived immigrants as they relate their frequently harrowing stories about their journeys to the United States.

With this film, Outenreath pushed the boundaries of the documentary format by blending actual portraits of immigrants who live at Casa Marianella with scripted characters who were drawn from real life. Here, he explains the reasons for this unorthodox approach.

Your feature-length documentaries, They Live Here, Now and

Country Kids, as well as a number of your short films, have focused on immigration.

Can you tell us about why this is frequently your subject?

I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua for a couple of years. I studied in Mexico, and I also lived there afterward. I developed close relationships with the people there. When I came back to the U.S., I sought out groups that were immigration-oriented. As a filmmaker, I felt a social responsibility to respond to what was happening and how people were being treated. Immigrants deserve to be treated with the same dignity as any other human being.

How did you locate Casa Marianella?

I was a student at the University of Texas at Austin. Someone in passing mentioned Casa Marianella to me and said, “You might be interested in this place.” I began visiting it on a fairly regular basis, not with a camera or anything, but I was just blown away by the community and the diversity of people coming there. When I was pitching my project to them, it involved talking to the entire house, just standing in front of immigrants from 20 or 30 countries.

It was something that left a really deep impression on me. As I realized the gravity of this place in Austin that deserved more attention for the services it was providing, it also needed to be celebrated for the immigrants and what they had gone through to get there.

How long did it take to secure the subjects and make the film?

It took about three and a half years. I make relationship-based films, and I'm very concerned with the connections I make. So I spent the first year, you might say, in preproduction, forging those relationships and learning about the house before I began filming at all. The editing process took about a year and a half to complete, and I edited it myself.

Filmmaker Jason Outenreath talks about his new film, “They Live Here, Now" at SXSW. Photo: Kurt Gardner.


Were there some people who were afraid to come on camera and tell their stories?

Yes, they were divided along two lines. There were a lot of people who didn't want to appear on camera or who were very afraid of what that would mean to their legal status or their families in their home countries. At the same time, there were also people who wanted to be heard. My job as a filmmaker was to work with the people who wanted to share their stories while also respecting their privacy.

I didn't set out to make a political film, but I have my political ideas, and they're embedded in it. I think it goes back to the respect that people deserve, regardless of where they're from or what their circumstances are.

In terms of adding the narrative story to the piece, what was the purpose?

There were two main goals I had with interweaving that story. As a documentary filmmaker, one of the questions that I ask is, “What constitutes social reality?” I'm always interested in pushing the boundaries and asking both myself and the audience, “What really is documentary?” I had artistic reasons for doing it, too, and it does enrich the story of Casa Marianella.

I had ethical reasons as well. I wanted to show aspects of the house that were essential to that experience, but I couldn't get conversations with lawyers and recent arrivals who just came to the house. Those are things you just can't film without putting someone's actual legal status at risk, so they were some of the reasons I decided to weave in the fictional narrative.

The storyline of the fictional character [Nayeli] would have been impossible to film without the reality of the house and the reality of the people she was interacting with. She was a composite character of a lot of people I'd met, working at the border and living in Mexico and Nicaragua. The actress [Regina Casillas] brought a lot to the role. I feel like I've met that character before.

She blends quite well into the film, too.

Right. Nobody was told that she was an actress. I wanted it to appear as if she was coming to Casa Marianella for the first time. She went through all the actual steps that someone would go through to be taken in. I had in mind the arc for her story, but a lot of the scenes were improvised. I just gave general direction, like, “You're going to cook rice,” and she would say, “I don't know how to do that,” and I would say, “Figure it out.”

What do you want to inspire in viewers who see the film?

I'd like people to identify with the immigrants in it who were brave enough to share their really personal stories. Hopefully, they'll take a stake in the next chapter of this story, since it's not really a culminating project so much as it is ongoing. I hope people will watch it and think, “I really need to do something about this. I need to be a part of the solution.”

It's obvious you're going to continue to tell these stories.

Right. I wouldn't say solely immigration, but I can see myself continuing in the specific vein of human rights films. I feel a very strong need to use filmmaking to tell humanizing stories about people.

Where is They Live Here, Now going next?

That's in process at the moment. I'd personally love to see it shown in schools and educational institutions. It's so important to humanize the issue, especially with younger generations, since they are the people who will be making some of the decisions in the future.

The PBS documentary series Independent Lens would be a great place, too.

Absolutely. Other festivals as well.

What other projects do you have in development?

I'm working on my first fiction feature film, which I'll be shooting this summer. I'm also working on a web series about the indigenous cultures of Oaxaca, Mexico.


Featured photo: 'They Live Here, Now': Refugee Teo sits thoughtfully before lights out at the Austin based refugee house, Casa Marianella. Photo: Jason Outenreath.