Break the Floor Productions, longtime producer of the Capezio A.C.E. Awards, in partnership with The Montalbán, brings MOVES at The Montalbán, a three-day festival celebrating emerging talent in dance, to Los Angeles, Friday, March 15 – Sunday, March 17, 2019.
The dance festival offers audiences the chance to see new talent in the world of choreography and dance. The inaugural festival's three-day engagement inside the historic theatre will host engaging, world-premiere live dance performances inside the historic theatre.
After each performance, audiences can gain access to an exclusive Rooftop After Party featuring talent from the show and more live dancing.
The festival will feature all styles of dance, with pre and post-show entertainment, during the entire weekend.
According to a statement, MOVES at The Montalbán will feature a line-up to include "winners of the coveted Capezio A.C.E Award for outstanding choreography"--awards presented each year to the top choreographers of the future." The festival with include performances by recent Capezio A.C.E Award winners Entity Contemporary Dance Company, co-directed by Marissa Osato and Will Johnston, tap company Rhythmatic, directed by Nick Young, and contemporary choreographer Lukas McFarlane. The festival will also feature veteran choreographers of various backgrounds providing attendees a body of work and teachings from a variety of disciplines.
Will Johnston by Mike Esperanza.
“We wanted to create a dance festival here, in Los Angeles, for years and we're thrilled that the recent winners of the Capezio A.C.E. Awards will be able to show off their talents to all of the dance fans in LA," said Nikole Vallins, a producer with Break the Floor Productions in a statement. "Presenting this festival at the iconic Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood just adds to the amazing opportunity for these outstanding choreographers and dancers.”Led by owner Gil Stroming, Break the Floor Production is a dance entertainment company with a reach of over 500,000 dancers annually. The company has produced tours of Travis Wall's Shaping Sound shows "Dance Reimagined" and "After the Curtain," and this summer Al Blackstone's "Freddie Falls in Love" will be performed for New York audiences at the Joyce Theater.
Founded by Nick Young, Rhythmatic recently appeared on the NBC hit competition show "World of Dance." Since then, Young and his dancers have performed in Bermuda, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
Los Angeles-based Entity Contemporary Dance, founded in 2009 by choreographers Will Johnston, Marissa Osato, and Elm Pizarro, "interweaves modern, jazz, and hip-hop dance techniques" with a desire to "forge connections between the Southern California hip-hop and contemporary dance communities." The Company has produced two full-length works, "Braxon vs. Oregon" (2014/2015) and "PEEL" (2016/2017), which ran in Los Angeles, and toured San Francisco, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Locally, they hold open company class every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Hollywood.
25-year-old Creative/Choreographer Lukas McFarlane, from Canada, was crowned the UK and Ireland's best dance act, winning Sky1's hit TV show, "Got to Dance" in 2013 at just 19. Now assistant creative director to Brian Friedman on "The X Factor," he is also a choreographer on the show. He's choreographed for the BBC's "Strictly Come Dancing," ITV's "The Voice UK" and "Change Your Tune.," and has worked on "So You Think You Can Dance" in four countries, including here in the U.S. and is a teacher and Creative Director of his London-based dance company UnTitled Dance Company.
Located just south of the world-famous Hollywood & Vine intersection, The Montalbán is Hollywood's classic theatre reborn for a new era of performing arts, and screened entertainment. In 1999, Emmy Award-winning actor Ricardo Montalbán and his Foundation bought the building in 1999, with a goal to provide "inspiration and employment for young Latinos as well as other underrepresented people throughout the community," in Hollywood. Since 1927, the classic Beaux Arts building was the first "legitimate live Broadway-style theater in Hollywood" and is one of the few remaining mid-sized and fully equipped proscenium theaters in Los Angeles, featuring orchestra, mezzanine, loge, and balcony seating. The rooftop space, with a bar, concession stand, and full kitchen, hosts contemporary and classic films screened throughout the year. Once owned by Howard Hughes, CBS Radio, A&P grocery chain heir Huntington Hartford, and the Greek Theater's James Doolittle, The Montalbán is now under the direction of Montalbán's son-in-law Gilbert Smith.
MOVES at The Montalbán is located at 1615 Vine Street, Hollywood, CA 90028. Tickets are $40/$65 nightly, and festival passes are available for $80/$120 (general admission/VIP packages), Friday, March 15 - Sunday, March 17, 2019. For more information or for tickets, please contact the box office at 323-461-6999 or visit MOVES at The Montalbán.
The 2019 Season will open with the Los Angeles premiere of "Born To Win," written by Matt Wilkas and Mark Setlock, and Directed by Michael Matthews, and tickets go on sale today, Wednesday, December 5, 2018.
Starring Drew Droege and Wilkas, "Born to Win," tells the story of "Pinky Corningfield, who's always dreamed of her daughter winning the 'Supreme Queen.'" When newcomers to the child pageant circuit, Marge, along with her participating daughter, show up "to grab the glory," Pinky will stop at nothing to get that crown.
"I'm very excited about the fact that we are doing “Born to Win” [which] came out of our Celebrating New Works," said Shepperd. "[Celebrating New Works is] our program that we do once a month where we take a new or 'newish' writer and a newish play and we give it a stage reading to see if it can be part of our season.”
"Born To Win" opens Friday, February 15, 2019, and plays until April, 2019.
'The Secretaries' is going to be an all-female cast, helmed by a female director and all-female team," said Shepperd. "Lighting design, set design, props, costumes, sound design – everyone is going to identify as female.”
"A killer comedy, 'The Secretaries,' chronicles the initiation of Patty Johnson as she lands the job of her dreams at the Cooney Lumber Mill in Big Bone, Oregon. But those dreams turn into bloody nightmares when she discovers the truth her co-workers have been hiding from her!," according to the synopsis. Written 20 years ago, this play is "as fresh as if it was written today in its skewering of feminist archetypes of the ‘80s and ‘90s."
"I'LL tell you when we're getting in too deep!” - The Producers
Celebration's Los Angeles intimate theatre premiere of "The Producers" with book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, music and lyrics by Mel Brooks, and original direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, and directed by Matthews, will open June 2019.
"It's the first time the Celebration Theatre has gotten its hands on 'The Producers' and creates something spectacular in an intimate theatre," said Shepperd.
Winner of 12 Tony Awards®, two theatrical producers pull together a team of theatre wannabes, ne'er-do-wells, and misfits, and dream up a get rich scheme involving overselling "interests" in a Broadway play they're sure is destined to be a flop. Hilarity ensues when the show "unexpectedly turns out to be a massive hit!"
Celebration is located at The Lex, 6760 Lexington Ave., Los Angeles, 90038. Tickets go on sale here for the season tomorrow, Wednesday, December 5, 2019, and be sure to check their Calendar for updated information.
"Skin Like Milk." Illustration poster courtesy of Celebration, Celebrating New Works.
"Skin Like Milk" centers in "Berlin, 1941. In a makeshift basement gay bar, Heinrich and Otto have just strangled a Nazi officer ... after hiding the body, guests arrive attempting to forget the destruction from last night's air raids. ... Emile, Heinrich's former lover, and his new interest, ... Horst, show up to share a drink and a bit of music with their friends. As the night unravels, the alcohol disappears and air raids resume, the men realize that their dark bar is no longer a refuge from the hateful world above."
"Skin Like Milk," plays once only, Tuesday, December 11, 2018, 7:30 p.m. at The West Hollywood City Chambers, 625 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood.
For "Skin Like Milk" only, admission is free, with donations gratefully accepted. Contact Celebration via email for more info, or call 323-957-1884.
Celebration is a community of artists dedicated to entertain, inspire, and empower with innovative productions that celebrate the LGBTQ community.
To become a member, purchase a subscription, or get single tickets for "Born to Win" or any Season 2019 shows, visit Celebration, contact via email for more info, or call 323-957-1884.
Updated 12/6/18, 12:15 a.m.: Date change, "Born to Win" opens on Friday, February 15, 2019.
Updated 12/5/18, 10:00 a.m.: - Name correction for Michael A. Shepperd with spelling in attributions corrected.
Barbara Mallory and Lloyd Schwartz are two of the most delightful people that you could ever meet. Though this might be expected of the couple who founded and continue to run the most successful children's theater company in Los Angeles, it is somewhat unexpected coming from Hollywood royalty! They are so disarming and unassuming that it is a joyous surprise. We enjoyed a meandering conversation seated in the house of the historic theater on Cahuenga Blvd. near Universal Studios, that Storybook Theatre calls home.
Theatre West was founded by movie star Betty Garrett in 1962. It is an internationally acclaimed non-profit organization and is the oldest continually running theatre company in Los Angeles. They have earned countless accolades including Tony Awards, Obies, Ovations Award Nominations, 9 LA Drama Critics Awards, Valley Theatre Awards, 7 NAACP Image Awards, and over 130 Drama-Logue Awards. Many shows have transferred to larger venues, in both Los Angeles and in New York. Most recent was The Babies, directed by Lloyd and starring Barbara, which ran from October 2016 through the first week of January 2017. In addition to creating awesome work, they support actors, paying Equity rates and helping many actors earn their cards through the points system.
Storybook Theatre was founded 36 years ago by Barbara and Lloyd when they realized that the Los Angeles Theatre community had nothing for their young sons. Lloyd was already an established writer and director and they were confident that they could create something worthwhile. Their first show was Little Red Riding Hood, which they staged at Studio City Park. They made a few mistakes; the wolf was too scary and the kids ran away at first, but overall it was a huge success, earning over $2,000 with a ticket price of only $4.00. They were members of Theatre West and management invited them to partner with the theater and the rest is, as they say in fairy tales, a happily ever after!
Storybook Theatre has a very specific mission: They present non-threatening, interactive musical theater appropriate for children 3-9 years old. Their goal is “to be everyone's first theatrical experience.” The shows are funny and sweet, with lots of singing and dancing and interplay between the stage and audience. Charming stories abound. One little boy fell in love with Little Red Riding Hood, attending every performance of the run. On the last day, he presented her with flowers, candies and a marriage proposal (no word on her answer). When Aladdin asked what people would wish for, one little girl yelled out “that Josh would love me.” (no word on that outcome either....). Many kids come back over and over, telling staff that “I love this movie.” Grown ups who attended the theater as children are now bringing their own kids in for their first theatrical experience.
There is a formula to the plays. The lights stay up the whole time to keep the kids from being scared of the dark. To avoid the mistake made in that early production of Little Red Riding Hood, the villain always introduces themselves before the show, is always a misunderstood rather than evil force and always reforms by the end. The plays are interactive, with the audience becoming a part of the story in various ways from dancing in their seats to becoming actual characters onstage. As Lloyd and Barbara explain, “The actors present the play but the audience is a willing participant and so a lot of times the actors look to the audience for approval, asking do you think I should do this, do you think I should do that? We explain to the actors that the audience is smarter than you are and everyone in it is five!” There are always chases! They keep the famous beats, but take out the violence. It's often the kid's first play so sometimes the conflict is just getting into the theater. You don't want the play itself to be traumatic.
There are over eighteen plays in rotation at Storybook Theatre. Shows are reassessed every time they are mounted. For instance, during a recent performance of Sleeping Beauty, the issue of consent came up. Lloyd shares, “The prince comes in and asks the audience, 'what should I do', and the kids yell 'kiss her, kiss her!' He responds, 'but she is sleeping, you should only kiss people who you know want to be kissed' and the audience broke into applause, so he said, 'what should I do?' The princess jumped up and said 'kiss me already!'” They review plays over and over, looking through them really carefully to make sure that the plays are teaching appropriate lessons. In the Ugly Duckling, they added a line to decrease bullying, having the mom duck say, “words matter.” In Jack and the Beanstalk, they encourage kids to eat their veggies by having Jack eat the beans!
Outreach and community action fuel Storybook Theatre. Barbara states it beautifully, “We want to be used...I envy fame because if you have fame you can use it for something good, that is joyous. I don't personally have that but we have the theater, where we want people to use us.”
The list of people who “use” the theater is long! Matt Asner's Autism Speaks Foundation, one of the world's leading science and advocacy organizations, has recently partnered up with Storybook Theatre. They also work with Grandparents as Parents, helping bridge that gap. Storybook Theatre is actively looking into additional ways to work with special needs kids, including bringing a therapist onboard. They also go into the community, doing workshops in schools and camps. There are discounts, free tickets, and fundraising partnerships. Barbara said once again, ”People want to know that the theater is doing something for the community, that it is not just actors acting.” When they see that, they will match you. For example, Universal paid for title one schools to bus kids to the theater. The busses are so expensive that even when tickets are free, the cost can be prohibitive.
Lloyd shared some concrete examples of how these plays stimulate learning and acceptance. Two kids have spoken for the first time in the theater. One occasion really stands out to Lloyd. He recounts how at a performance of Little Red Riding Hood, a little boy said to the wolf, “You leave her alone, you leave her alone.” It was the first time that he had spoken. The physicality and musicality of the shows work really well for kids with special needs. They will bring wheelchairs on to the stage and give them lines. Because lights and sounds are kept to a minimum, kids with auditory and light sensitivity are still able to enjoy the shows.
Storybook Theatre opens its new version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on October 20. The show will run through March 2, 2019. Shows are Saturdays at 1 pm. This promises to be a fun filled version of the play with lots of singing, dancing, audience participation, and a funny witch with a handsome prince. The children in the audience become the seven dwarfs who help rescue Snow White. The book by Scott Martin, lyrics by Rob Meurer, with music composed by Richard Berent. The production is directed by David P. Johnson and produced by Barbara Mallory. Katie Katini stars as Snow White. Reservations: (818) 761-2203. Online ticketing: TheatreWest.org.
Audio Interview: The cast of “PARADISE - A Divine Bluegrass Musical Comedy” at The Ruskin Group Theatre
Going from coal mine to prime time, a small town sees hope for salvation. On the verge of living the American Dream, this satirical musical lowbrow hoedown is about to be outsourced. Can a charming new preacher and a bombshell sidekick, he's rescued from the stripper pole at the Innuendo Lounge, save the day. listen to it here
Audio Interview: The cast of “The Glass Menagerie” at International City Theatre
The iconic American classic that launched the career of American playwright Tennessee Williams, this autobiographical “memory play” captures the fragility and stifled yearning of characters clinging to hope against the harsh realities of a rapidly changing world. Confined to a tiny St. Louis apartment on the eve of World War II, the Wingfield family struggles to find beauty amid the rough circumstances that surround them. listen to it here
Audio Interview: Kirsten Vangsness - Penelope Garcia on CBS's Criminal Minds stars in ‘Marian or The True Tale of Robin Hood' at Theatre of NOTE
A gender-bending, patriarchy-smashing, hilarious new take on the classic tale. Robin Hood is (and has always been) Maid Marian in disguise, and leads a motley group of Merry Men (few of whom are actually men) against the greedy Prince John. As the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, who will stand for the vulnerable if not Robin? What is the cost of revealing your true self in a time of trouble? Modern concerns and romantic entanglements clash on the battlefield and on the ramparts of Nottingham Castle. A play about selfishness and selflessness and love deferred and the fight. Always the fight. The fight must go on. listen to it here
Audio Interview: André de Vanny stars in ‘Swansong' at Skylight Theatre
Pulled from the streets of 1960's Ireland, this gritty monodrama tells the story of Austin “Occi” Byrne, abused and isolated, violent, vulnerable, and searching for redemption. listen to it here
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Offers Student $30 ‘All Access Season Pass'
Shrewd college students ages 17 to 30 can enjoy one of the best bargains in the city with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra's (LACO) Campus to Concert Hall All Access Pass, which provides admission to some thirty LACO concerts and events for $30, the equivalent of just $1 per ticket. read more here
American Theatre Magazine's #TheatreToo Issue Tackles Harassment and Abuse in the Theatre
State Theatre launches new season with more accessible theater
ITHACA, N.Y. — The State Theatre of Ithaca is launching its fall season this week with a big performance lineup and a more accessible theater to enjoy it.
"We're excited we're a more inclusive theater now," Executive Director Doug Levine said.
With the update, the theater has gone from five ADA-accessible seats to 13. The beauty of the project, Levine said, is that did not lose any seating with the upgrade. They are also adding a couple wider, "buddy seats" for people who don't feel comfortable in the smaller seats that will be available later in September. read more here
6 Theatre Workers You Should Know
From a lighting designer/electrician in Texas to a costumer in Chicago, here are some folks you should have on your radar.
Profession: Lighting designer and electrician Hometown: Born in Central California, raised in Austin Current home: Austin Known for: From 2016 until this past July she worked at ZACH Theatre, where she was the company's first full-time board programmer and assistant master electrician and worked with the organization to help define that role to best suit ZACH's needs. She also served as the theatre's light board operator. What's next: After spending some time at Maine State Music Theatreto help finish out their summer season as assistant master electrician, she plans to pick up freelance lighting design gigs in Austin and the surrounding areas. read more here
The new curtain at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre returns to the red of its original velvet drape.
Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco nears 100 with makeover
The grand opening of the Golden Gate Theatre — a building as massive as the old Yankee Stadium with a jeweled crown high above home plate — received a championship welcome 96 years ago. “New S.F. Playhouse to Have Continuous Vaudeville” read the banner above a photograph of it and the headline “Golden Gate Sets New Mark in Design.” read more here
Peppermint (center) and the cast of "Head Over Heels" on Broadway. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Queer Eye for Theatre Critics: 4 Writing Tips
Some writers have been stumbling in addressing work about and by LGBTQ artists. Here's a guide to help them do better.
In the past several months, Broadway has seen an influx of shows featuring queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming characters and actors, including Head Over Heels andStraight White Men.While this rush of new representation is heartening and has largely been praised both by members of the queer community and theatregoers, there has been a steep learning curve on the part of theatre critics regarding how to talk about queer folks in the context of these roles. read more here
FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Iran arrests Shakespeare theatre duo over video of men and women dancing together during a performance
Prominent stage director Maryam Kazemi and theatre boss Saeed Asadi were detained over the 'type of music played' and the actors' 'movements' in the trailer for A Midsummer Night's Dream
TWO leading figures in Iranian theatre have been arrested by archaic lawmakers over a social media clip of their Shakespeare play showing men and women dancing together.
Prominent director Maryam Kazemi and venue boss Saeed Asadi were detained on Sunday on the orders of the judiciary, revealed the hard-line ministry of culture and Islamic guidance. read more here
Assembling the next generation of diverse theatre-makers
Embedding culturally diverse young people in the theatre-making community requires more than just offering them opportunities to write, act or direct.
Performers from Haresh Sharma's godeatgod, presented by The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Squid Vicious (2018). Image by Ranson Media.
On Tuesday 7 August this year, the arrival of a new Australian – perhaps a migrant, perhaps a just-born baby – resulted in our population hitting the 25 million mark.
Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) statistics indicate that around 30% of these 25 million were born overseas, and about 27% speak a language other than English at home. read more here
Edward Hayter and Josh Williams in rehearsal for Touching the Void, the first production at the Old Vic's reopened auditorium. Photograph: Geraint Lewis
New life for historic theatre as it faces up to ‘slave trade' past
Bristol's Old Vic confronts its controversial 250-year-old past on its relaunch after a £25m facelift
One of the oldest theatres in Europe, Bristol Old Vic, is finally to have a proper front door. When it was built in 1766 it was deliberately hidden away from the street, as all public theatrical entertainment was officially banned. But later this month, at the end of a £25m project, a new glass foyer for its already refurbished auditorium will be unveiled, allowing the theatre to be seen from the pavement for the first time.
And, as the Old Vic welcomes back audiences, its acclaimed artistic director, Tom Morris, will also be facing up to the theatre's links with the slave trade that once made Bristol rich. read more here
Chinese audience's novel approach to immersive theatre – mob tactics and mini stampedes
Punchdrunk theatre company's Sleep No More, based on Shakespeare's Macbeth and staged in a five-storey Shanghai hotel, is not for the faint-hearted
I went to see British theatre company Punchdrunk's award-winning play Sleep No More fully prepared.
I wore sneakers to the immersive theatre piece, directed by Maxine Doyle and Felix Barrett, which takes place in the five-storey McKinnon Hotel in Shanghai. And I reread Shakespeare's Macbeth, on which the play is loosely based, so that, even if I got lost in the maze that is the performance venue, I would not be totally in the dark. read more here
Between shrine and shopping mall … Susanne Kennedy's version of The Virgin Suicides. Photograph: David Baltzer
Move over Ivo van Hove: Europe's hottest theatre directors
The Belgian director has blazed his way into the British theatre scene. Who's next? A French marathon man and an Austrian politico among others
Susanne Kennedy turns actors into avatars and makes human life seem alien. On her candy-coloured stages, masked figures glitch and glide like animatronics. Instead of speaking, they lip-sync along to recorded, distorted dialogue.
Yet her shows mostly sit in banal, suburban settings. She turned the small-town Bavarians of Marieluise Fleißer's 1924 play Purgatory in Ingolstadt into pallid zombies, and made a mannequin of Fassbinder and Fengler's Herr R, the petit-bourgeois conformist who ultimately cracks... read more here
Open to everyone: Common Wealth members work on costumes at their HQ, Speakers Corner, in Bradford last month. Photograph: Antonio Olmos for the Observer
All the world's a stage. And these women are radically changing that world…
Common Wealth is a female-led political theatre collective that aims to wrest the art form away from the elite. We joined them at rehearsals for their new show, Radical Acts
Evie Manning is a theatre-maker from Bradford. Rhiannon White is a theatre-maker from Cardiff. Together they are the driving force behind the Common Wealth theatre company. For them, theatre is a vehicle for change, a powerful form that can, in its best moments, encourage accountability, make you feel less alone and bring you closer to yourself. Their company was set up as a “reaction against the status quo” of stale theatre for middle-class audiences at £35 a ticket (if you're on benefits, you can see a Common Wealth show for £1).
“Theatre has created its own trap,” Evie tells me. “And all the theatres are freaking out, saying we want to get more diverse audiences, but they're so keen to cling to bricks and mortar, and they're so keen to stay safe and only put on the things they think are going to sell tickets and fill those seats, that no one will take a risk and think outside of what's been prescribed.” read more here
Reconstructed view of the entrance to The Theatre, Shoreditch ((c) David Toon and Lee Sands/MOLA)
London Excavations Reveal Theater Complex
LONDON, ENGLAND— Excavations at the site of Shakespeare's original London playhouse, the Theatre, suggest that the venue was part of a large complex for theatergoers designed by sixteenth-century actor and impresario James Burbage. According to a report in The Hackney Citizen, a team from Museum of London Archaeology has uncovered sections of an expansive gravel yard surrounding the polygonal playhouse—built in 1576—where patrons could eat, drink, and socialize during long performances. read more here
Darkness Comes Alive 7/6/18. Photo by Evan Lorenzetti.
The sound is not the first thing you notice when you enter the Lili Lakich Studio, but it is the most surprising. You are surrounded by neon artwork created in Lakich's studio, but after a few moments you hear the most calming sound, a slight hum coming from the lights. White noise, maybe a few bursts of static, and immensely calming, meditative. The last thing you might expect from a room filled with so much light is to find such a soothing sound there.
Trap Street is a cartographers term for something inserted in a map – a street that didn't exist or an elevation for a mountain off by a few or several hundred feet – to catch copycats. If the non-existent street turned up in someone else's map, then they had stumbled into the trap, and their duplicity was obvious.
It is also the name of a group of writers and performers who want to tell stories about Los Angeles, especially spaces and streets that might have been left off the map, not necessarily to catch copycats, but because our eyes have forgotten to look. Trap Street has created a piece called Darkness Comes Alivethat marries fiction with reality in an audio-tour of the Lakich studio.
Darkness Comes Alive is not exactly immersive theater – as Trap Street Creative Director Chad Eschman says, "There's no backstory before you arrive and no one pulls you into a room to give you a password – but we do want you to feel like you're in a slightly different version of the world you know."
It's the combination of light and sound that creates Darkness Comes Alive. A typical audio-tour of a museum for instance, is all about facts--so and so was born in 1871, they painted everyday at noon, etc.--but these are stories--told from three different perspectives, each exploring the idea that our souls can be captured within those neon tubes that are illuminated by some eternal presence.
It's still more than a hundred degrees when I arrive at nearly eight o'clock at the Lakich gallery (it's hot bitch! a young girl yells at her friend as I take a few pictures outside.) The Lakich gallery is on what is now a very well trod street, around the corner from the New American Hotel (Al's Bar R.I.P.) and across the street from the always bustling Wurstkuche.
It wasn't so in the early 80's when Lakich first opened her studio – the area was off the radar, far less commercialized and home to a still underground art scene. Gentrification isn't the right word maybe – it's not exactly conformist Middle Class suburbia, but the Arts District has gotten far more expensive, and if we shouldn't mourn the passing of the rougher edges, we'll still feel a loss if the artists who created this neighborhood can no longer afford to live here.
Inside the studio there are less than a dozen people, attendance a victim of this high heat since the opening weekend had crowds closer to sixty. We have already downloaded tracks from our favorite podcast app. They are called the Vigilante, the True Believer and the Undertaker, each the name of a character telling us stories about the neon light installations we are seeing. We are free to follow the stories as we see fit, in whatever order. We wander the room in headphones, and the others having arrived in small groups of 3 to 4 compare their reactions to the piece.
Darkness Comes Alive 7/6/18. Photo by Evan Lorenzetti.
What was your first memory of light? asks one character. The studio's bright white walls are awash in it, different hues mixing together, and the result isn't garish, but like the sound of the lights, comforting. We all look a little better under neon lights I suspect. Julianne Jigour, Director of Development for Trap Street, says she had never before this project considered neon in the realm of high art.
Jigour tells me that Lakich's fascination with neon began when she went on family road trips, and they would choose the motel to stay in for the night based on the neon sign out front. So much for the distinction between high and low art--Lakich's work bridges that gap, and the sensuous quality of all the light makes me believe the show's conceit that souls are preserved inside those glass tubes.
One of the first things Eschman saw when he moved to Los Angeles three years ago was the Lili Lakich studio, but only from the outside. He was very interested by what might be going on there, but with no studio hours posted, there didn't seem to him to be any way to get inside.
Years later, when Amy Thorstenson, Director of Events for Trap Street, wanted to do a piece involving neon light, the group initially approached the Museumof Neon Art (MONA) in Glendale, but they weren't responsive. Eschman remembered his first impressions of Lakich studio and made the connection--and suggested the Lakich gallery. Thorstenson called Lakich and found she was willing to talk about their project.
Lakich co-founded MONA in 1981 with Richard Jenkins, but ended her association with them nearly 20 years ago. Her studio is the former home of MONA. Trap Street wasn't aware of this history when they reached out to Lakich.
Lakich gave them a copy of her book Lakich: For Light. For Love. For Life, and Trap Street took some of her personal history, also adding in fictional elements within the narration. The idea of electricity and neon as a source of life, or that souls are held within light, was inspired by the pieces they saw at the Lakich Studio.
Sticks and Stones installation by Lili Lakich. Photo by Evan Lorenzetti
Trap Street, originally an off-shoot from a Chicago company that did similar work, has been around for about two years. They start with a location and then build the show around it; they don't build sets or costumes to create another imaginary world within a space. They like to take the space exactly as it is.
"We always start with a space that has a story to it already, and the story inspires everything we write, everything we create," says Eschman. "That's why each show is different." Darkness Comes Alive is an audio tour because it somehow felt more appropriate to use that form to explore an art studio and gallery. They used the Iron Triangle Breweryfor their first production (Nautapocalypse), and that became a live show, a party where it turned out some of the partygoers were actors playing roles.
"It's really interesting because, unlike (Darkness Comes Alive) where the space is ours, Iron Triangle was still open to the public, so it created this interesting dynamic," says Jigour. The show went on while people drank beers or played bar games. Performing in that environment became a funny challenge, part of the beauty of performing in a public space.
Whatever the exact form of the piece, Eschman wants an audience to come to Trap Street shows to explore an interesting space, knowing they're getting something extra unique to their productions.
"We did a show in Chicago where there were two groups of people who went on an audio tour thinking they were taking the same tour, but they were actually listening to different narrators," says Eschman. "So what happened is that when they went through the space, they encountered live scenes. They all saw the same scenes, but in reverse order. They came together at the end and realized they'd seen the same scenes, but heard a different person explain it."
Chad Eschman and Julianne Jigour of Trap Street. Photo by Evan Lorenzetti
Having each been in Los Angeles for about three years, Eschman and Jigour both feel like they are discovering a city that is changing so rapidly. "One thing about not being...from L.A. is the way it directs your attention in different ways," says Jigour. "I have no really ingrained roadmap of where to look in L.A. so it's kind of like a wildcard."
Inspiration for their projects is intuitive, like driving down the freeway and seeing some sign or building that triggers your imagination. Serendipity. It's how Nautapocalypse came together--Atlas Obscura, publishers of a guidebook celebrating "700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world"--did a tour of Los Angeles buildings that formerly housed brothels. Matthew Johns, Director of Design and Technology for Trap Street, went on the tour. It sold out before Eschman could get a ticket--but they met where the tour ended, the Iron Triangle brewery.
"We just sat there for a few hours and said this place is amazing," Eschman says, and little by little the idea for Nautapocalypse began to take shape.
Trap Street, along with completing a short film based on the writings of William S. Burroughs and hosting a podcast about cocktails called Rogue Bottle, are looking for more spaces that they and their audience can explore. Lakich has already suggested to them that they might return to her studio in the Fall for a remount of Darkness Comes Alive; they may revise or expand the piece if that happens.
They want to create more audio tours across the city, perhaps releasing them for people to download and experience anytime they want. Whatever the project, they want to give the same experience of asking the audience to question what is real and what is fiction.
"We're interested in creating a partnership with different spaces, where it's not just about us and our work and our creative stuff, but it's about inviting the community to these cool spaces that should be seen," Jigour says. They want spaces they can collaborate with and not just be viewed as another rental.
And even though they are newcomers here, Eschman and Jigour say Trap Street is encouraged by how welcoming the artistic community has been. "I just love that everyone in this town seems up for trying something weird and new – it's a little like the Wild West out here," Eschman says.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THESE WINNERS who have registered their shows on Better Lemons and encouraged audiences and critics to voice their opinion about their show, regardless of the outcome, and to those who submitted all the reviews from online publications! read more here
The Blank Theatre's Founding Artistic Director Daniel Henning Named a 2018 Pride Honoree by California Legislative LGBT Caucus
Daniel Henning, the Founding Artistic Director of Hollywood's Blank Theatre, has been named a 2018 Pride honoree by the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. A special floor ceremony was held on June 18 during the California State Assembly floor session in Sacramento. Honorees were presented with resolutions in commemoration of their accomplishments and contributions to the LGBT community. read more here
Audio Interview: The cast of “The Blade of Jealousy” at Whitefire Theatre by Ashton Marcus
Dashing Melchor moves to Los Angeles to court his online dating connection but unexpectedly falls in love with a mysterious veiled lady (Magdalena), and she with him. He later meets her sans veil but is unimpressed, thus igniting Magdalena's jealousy–of herself! A madcap comedy of disguise and deception, Henry Ong's modern take on a 17th century Spanish play is surprisingly relevant today, in light of society's obsession with outward beauty and how it relates to self-worth. listen to the podcast here
AUDITION: She Loves Me
Set in a 1930s European perfumery, we meet shop clerks, Amalia and Georg, who, more often than not, don't see eye to eye. After both respond to a “lonely hearts advertisement” in the newspaper, they now live for the love letters that they exchange, but the identity of their admirers remains unknown. Join Amalia and Georg to discover the identity of their true loves… and of all the twists and turns along the way! get the breakdown here
Audio Interview: The cast of “THEIR FINEST HOUR: CHURCHILL AND MURROW” at Write Act Rep's Brickhouse Theatre by Ashton Marcus
This full-length play sheds light on the unique relationship between Winston Churchill and Edward R. Murrow during the early years of WW II when England was under attack by Hitlers air-force. Murrow, who was covering the war for CBS Radio News, not only became friendly with Churchill, but had a passionate and adulterous love affair with the Prime Ministers daughter-in-law. listen to the podcast here
A Conversation with June Carryl by Roger Q Mason
I met June Carryl back in 2010 when the two of us were participants in Directors' Lab West. Her ideas about theatre mesmerized me because of their narrative specificity and rootedness in sound dramaturgical practices. In 2011, June was part of my playwright renaissance: I'd taken about 3 years off of writing in order to find out why I still told stories through this medium. When Son of SemeleTheatre invited me to present my play ONION CREEK, an Adam and Eve tale set in rural Texas, I immediately called June because she was an exciting theatrical mind whom I knew would direct the HELL out of that piece. My instinct was right – her work on the show was wonderful. But more importantly, I learned that she was a fellow writer, and her mentorship of my creative development process (as a burgeoning post undergrad finding his way in LA's theatre scene) helped mold the writer I am today. read more here
Audio Interview: The cast of "The Foreigner" at Little Fish Theatre
Charlie, a pathologically shy Englishman, accompanies his friend Froggy on a trip to rural Georgia. Charlie is overcome with fear at the thought of having to make small talk with strangers, so Froggy informs the locals that Charlie is from an exotic foreign country and speaks no English. From the author of The Nerd comes another sidesplitting and heart warming comedy brimming with misunderstanding and mischief. “one comic surprise after another.” — THE NEW YORKER listen to the podcast here
Audio Interview: The cast of "The 39 Steps" at International City Theatre
The 39 Steps — Hitchcock meets hilarious in this fast-paced comedy mystery thriller for anyone who loves the magic of theater. Train chases, plummeting planes and old-fashioned romance lead to a death-defying finale as a cast of four actors breathlessly reenacts hundreds of characters, locations and famous scenes from Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 film of the same name. Winner of the 2007 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and the 2008 Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience. listen to the podcast here
A White House without art
This White House has been, and is likely to remain, home to the first presidency in American history that is almost completely devoid of culture. In the 17 months that Donald Trump has been in office, he has hosted only a few artists of any kind. One was the gun fetishist Ted Nugent. Another was Kid Rock. They went together (and with Sarah Palin). Neither performed. read more here
Fountain intern Saif Saigol is passionate about theatre and social activism
Hello Fountain community! My name is Saif Saigol and I am the new Development Intern at The Fountain Theatre this summer.
A little bit about me: I am an Indian-Pakistani-Canadian raised in Montreal, Quebec. I came to the US in 2012 to pursue my high school studies at a boarding school in Connecticut. Currently, I'm an undergrad student with a Music Major and Gender & Sexuality Studies Sequence, and I'll be graduating from Claremont McKenna College next Spring, in 2019. Music, theater, and all performing arts are my passion and source of comfort in life. As a performer, I've trained classically as a vocalist for 6 years, and specialize in the Lied and operatic traditions. I'm also a proud member of the Claremont Shades, a co-ed a cappella group of the Claremont Colleges. read more here
2018 Stage Raw Theater Awards Announced
The fourth annual Stage Raw Theater Awards – celebrating the best work in L.A.'s intimate theater scene as determined by StageRaw's jury of critics will take place on Monday night, August 20, 2018 at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring Street in downtown Los Angeles. read more here
Bringing boring theatre to the masses
We're into the thick of the summer theatre season, so lets see what's on offer down the road at Stratford.
The cover of this year's Stratford Festival playbill features "The Music Man." And you can't help but notice the title role of Harold Hill, the shyster who bamboozles the 1912 white-bread midwestern town of River City is, unconventionally, played by a black actor. read more here
At One California High School, Gender Neutral & Color Conscious Casting in “1776”
The musical 1776 has been a favorite of my family's for decades, but I never considered it for my high school's annual musical until I realized the opportunity that lay in gender-neutral, as well as color conscious, casting. read more here
14 Theatre Stars to See on the Big Screen This Summer
Catch stage favorites Daveed Diggs, Brian Tyree Henry, Carrie Coon, and more at the movies.
Whether you're a Hamilfan who's been waiting with bated breath for Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal's lauded film Blindspotting, or you've been looking for a romantic comedy starring your stage favorites, here are 14 stage stars taking their talents to the big screen from now until Labor Day. read more here
‘I'm determined to leave this landscape in better condition than when I found it,' writes theatre-maker Mish Grigor. Photograph: Caiaimage/Martin Barraud/Getty Images
Theatre shuts out the working class. I'm devastated to think of the voices silenced
Middle-class stories about middle-class problems continue to dominate the stage. That needs to change
In 2015, I made a theatre show, The Talk, about my working class family and their working class sex lives. I interviewed them about their sexual histories, and edited their stories into verbatim scenes that I get audiences to read. read more here
Dame Gillian Lynne obituary
Choreographer and dancer who breathed new life into musical theatre with the hit shows Cats and The Phantom of the Opera
Since the 1970s, British musical theatre has boasted a professionalism and audacity once thought exclusive to Broadway. Much of the credit, entrepreneurial and creative, has gone to Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber, but an equally vital force was the choreographer, director and dancer Gillian Lynne, who has died aged 92. She pioneered a striking fusion of ballet, jazz and vaudeville dance, most famously in Cats (1981). read more here
Theatre binge-watching: how long could you sit in a theatre?
Another two-part stage play has opened in the West End, just down the road from the Harry Potter double bill. But how long could you sit in a theatre - and is theatrical binge-watching here to stay?
Seven hours is a long time to sit anywhere, not least in a West End theatre with limited legroom. read more here
A theatre experience for babies, performed in a tent
You've heard the one about the bull in the china shop, but what about the crowd of babies in the theatre?
A trio of Christchurch women have launched a theatre company offering shows aimed at babies and toddlers.
Cubbin Theatre Company's first show Up and Away opens on July 3 in the Isaac Theatre Royal's Gloucester Room. read more here
Edgy theatre content sparks off-stage debate about trigger warnings
New audience advisories warn of specific plot points that could trigger emotional trauma
If you want to trigger a strong response from theatre folk, ask them how they feel about trigger warnings: The debate about if and when to use them has the theatre community deeply divided.
These new type of audience advisories warn of specific plot points that may provoke psychological trauma in some audience members. read more here
Playwright Charlotte Jones: ‘The middle-aged female voice is not heard enough in theatre
After a string of early hits, Charlotte Jones abandoned stage writing for TV, radio and film. Now returning to theatre with The Meeting, she tells Holly Williams how women writers are still marginalised in the industry
A pacifist, Quaker community during the Napoleonic wars may not be the obvious setting for a thriller or passionate love story. But Charlotte Jones is a playwright used to pulling off unusual juxtapositions and her first play in seven years, The Meeting, brings together all those elements. read more here
A view of the Globe Theatre, Bankside, London circa 1600, the first Globe Theatre was built in 1599 by Shakespeare's playing company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men but was destroyed by fire on 29 June 1613. A second Globe Theatre was built on the same site by June 1614. (Photo by Epics/Getty Images)
The Globe theatre fire of 1613: when Shakespeare's playhouse burned down
On 29 June 1613, the original Globe theatre in London, where most of William Shakespeare's plays debuted, was destroyed by fire during a performance of All is True (known to modern audiences asHenry VIII). But what caused the fire and when was the new Globe theatre rebuilt? read more here
A history of theatre in 30 quotations: ‘Acting's just waiting for the custard pie' by The Irish Times
‘Beckett is a confidence trick perpetuated on the 20th century by a theatre-hating God' read more here
Antaeus Academy is offering now 12 classes and this is the time to enroll for these summer sessions!
If you're interested in any of the classes below, visit http://antaeus.org/arts-education/academy/academy-3/ and click on the "Enroll Now" button to use the enrollment form on the website.
If you take more than one class, you can get a "buy one, get one 50% off" discount. Friends and Colleagues: Harold Pinter & Simon Gray Moderated by Nike Doukas
Mondays 12-4pm, June 25-August 27 (10 weeks)
$450 (Early Bird Discount $400, due by June 11)
Class Size: 14-16
Harold Pinter and Simon Gray wrote very different kinds of plays: Pinter is terse and mysterious; Gray is verbose and more naturalistic - but they are both darkly comic and subversive. They were great friends and Pinter directed Gray's perhaps most popular play, Butley. In this class, the class will focus on the plays of Pinter (Betrayal, Lovers, The Birthday Party, The Homecoming, etc) but also take a look at some by Gray: Butley, Otherwise Engaged, Quartermaine's Terms, and others. Both men are dazzling masters of language who demonstrate those skills with vastly different approaches. Prepare to be thrilled by the experience of interpreting their work. Myth, Superstition & the Blues: The Poetry of August Wilson
Moderated by Gregg Daniel
Mondays 7-11pm, June 11-July 16 (6 weeks)
$310 (Early Bird Discount $280, due by May 28)
Class Size: 14-16
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson is arguably one of the great playwrights of the 20th century. His ambitious ten-part play series known as “The Century Cycle” chronicles the African American experience during each decade of the 20th century. His work has garnered a Tony Award as well as the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.
In this workshop, the class will examine the themes, sources and personal history that make the playwright's work so resonant. Through scene and monologue work, you will delve into the musicality, rhythm, prose and poetry which distinguishes Wilson's text. As Wilson stated, “the more my characters talk, the more I find out about them.”
This class is open to students of all ethnicities, races and backgrounds. An Amuse-Bouche of Masters: A Scene Study/Technique Class
Moderated by Daniel Blinkoff
Tuesdays 2-6pm, June 12-August 14 (10 weeks)
$450 (Early Bird Discount $400, due by May 29)
Class Size: 14-16
This 10-week Intensive will focus on Chekhov, Stanislavski, and Earle Gister's technique of acting developed at The Yale School of Drama. Whether you have a lot of experience with any of these innovators of the theatre, or none at all, it doesn't matter. Your curiosity and passion is all that is required. Just like the Master's Program at Yale, this class will start exactly where you are and work from there. With a main focus on Chekhov's plays and short stories, the class will focus on The Moscow Art Theatre's approach to Chekhov, examining Stanislavski's scene analysis while combining it with the exercises that The Moscow Art Theatre utilizes in interpreting Chekhov's plays so the actor is no longer thinking about the play but experiencing it in a kinesthetic physical manner. Once this is established, Earle Gister's technique of acting will be introduced as an aid in releasing the work. Through this scene study, focusing on Chekhov and then possibly bridging out towards more modern texts, the class will experience the common threads between all of these master teachers and how they resonate in all different kinds of texts. This class is an opportunity to strip away our own misconceptions with these three masters of the theatre and to experience their approaches in a positive and beneficial way that we can use today. Mind the (Gender) Gap
Moderated by John Sloan
Tuesdays 7-11, June 5-August 21 (12 weeks)
$550 (Early Bird Discount $500, due by May 24)
Class Size: 16-18 Every word a woman writes changes the story of the world, revises the official version.--Carolyn See
In the 21st century, female playwrights are taking center stage (and creating some of our favorite television shows too). But for so many years, the work of female playwrights hasn't been given the attention it deserves. In this class the company will focus their scene study work on plays written by women from all over the world, from the earliest days of the theater to the rich and varied works of contemporary times. Through the exploration of what dramaturg Susan Jonas called "the other canon," the class will challenge our assumptions, expand our horizons, enrich our craft, and add depth to our experience as actors and as people. The Dive In: Othello
Moderated by Elizabeth Swain
Tuesdays 1-5, July 3-31 (5 weeks)
Tuition: $280 (Early Bird Rate $250, due no later than June 19)
Class Size: 14-16
How well do you really know this play? Through deep textual analysis, set against knowledge of Shakespeare's times, the class will dig and dive and gain more understanding of Shakespeare's meanings. In the long held Antaean tradition the actors will read the play together, playing any parts they choose. Occasionally the class participants might stage a scene to clarify (he did intend the plays for performance!) but the intention is to gain a new understanding of Shakespeare's text through extended table work, readying them all for a production. The final class will include a reading of the play, all participants alternating roles. A Holistic Look at Dialects: UK Edition
Moderated by Lauren Lovett-Cohen
Wednesdays 1-4, July 11-August 29 (8 weeks)
Tuition: $310 (Early Bird Rate $280, due no later than June 27)
Class Size: 14-16
It's 2018, and thankfully there are more and more TV/Film/Web and theater projects that include roles from all over the world. The idea of a Standard American dialect or RP or the “correct” way to speak is giving way to the specificity of the who/what/where and the history of each character.
Join Antaeus for this class where they open up a new way of looking at dialects -- with a concentration on the UK for this round -- to give you the tools for getting more work in today's projects. There will be monologues and scene work from various plays penned by British authors from the turn of the 20th century through today. Shakespeare: Making the Bard's Words Your Words
Moderated by Rob Nagle
Wednesdays 7-11, June 6-August 29* (12 weeks)
$550 (Early Bird Discount $500, due by May 25)
Class Size: 16-18
*no class the week of July 4
Why is Shakespeare such a challenge to so many, not only to perform, but also to comprehend? Could it be that we get caught up in the academic, an analytic study of the text through reading it, and then find ourselves neglecting the characters, the people we are attempting to bring to life. In this class, through action and scene study, participants will find a way to use the scansion and the poetry to make them bolder actors — and in so doing, participants will find his words coming out of their mouths as conversational and current, but not casual or contemporary. Fitzmaurice Voicework
Moderated by Scott Ferrara
Thursdays 1-5pm, July 19-September 6 (8 weeks)
$350 (Early Bird Discount $300, due by June 7)
Class Size: 14-16
Whether you work in theatre, film or television, all mediums of our craft call for vocal strength, flexibility, and specificity. This class uses a holistic approach to body/mind/ voice work, to help the participant explore the dynamics between body, breath, voice, imagination, language, and presence.This approach liberates the mind, body and voice by strengthening the connection between what the participants are feeling and what they're expressing. By integrating physical exercises with mental focus, the class will bring the full richness of the actors' experiences to their work. By strengthening the “support” for the participants voice, the class will also add more variety to the expression of the performers use of it, be that in pitch, volume, singing – all without straining the voice or vocal chords. And then the class will combine Classical Text with the voice work, further developing the awareness, trust and freedom with the actors' breathing, body, feelings, imagination, and voice and add more vibrancy and presence in performance. Shaw, Wilde & Coward
Moderated by Kitty Swink
Thursdays 7-11, June 7-August 30* (12 weeks)
$550 (Early Bird Discount $500, due by May 19)
Class Size: 14-16
*no class on July 12 "This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last." Oscar Wilde
This class will engage participants in the wit, craft and social commentary of three of the English language's most celebrated playwrights, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and Noel Coward. Participants will learn to contextualize their times, manners and behaviors, and using scene work they will embrace truthfulness, imagination, concentration and living in the actor's body while performing biting satire and high comedy. The powerful combination of technical expertise and emotional truth brings each of the playwrights to life and makes the participants understand why these three have been performed for more than a century. Open to actors of all ages. Shakespeare 2.0
Moderated by Armin Shimerman
Saturdays 10am-2pm, June 9-July 28 (8 weeks)
$400 (Early Bird Discount $350, due by May 24)
Class Size: 14-16
This class is a further exploration of Shakespearean acting skills for people who have already studied with Armin at Antaeus. This class will further intensify the actor's awareness of the text and how to clearly communicate that to an audience. To enroll, participants must apply and be approved. Real, Safe, and Kicka**: Stage Violence for Actors
Moderated by Ned Mochel
Saturdays 10am-2pm, July 7-August 25 (8 weeks)
Tuition: $350 (Early Bird Rate $300, due no later than June 22)
Class Size: 14-16
This class focuses on an exciting, new approach toward stage violence in the American theater that's rougher, tougher, and more realistic. This is not your traditional stage combat class; this class prepares the modern actor to engage in a more realistic, intense style of stage action.
Ned Mochel has been building stage violence for over 25 years. His violence design has been showcased in plays at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, on and off Broadway in NYC, Geffen Playhouse, as well as at Antaeus Theatre Company. He's been changing the way audiences perceive stage violence one production at a time. If you've been immersed in stage action in the past or if you're interested in diving in for the first time, this is the class for you. It's a rough, tough, fun approach--an experience you'll never forget. Learn how to make it real, stay safe, and kick ass. From hand to hand fighting and gun work to detailed sword training, you'll find yourself building new skills to set you apart from the others. This is new cutting edge stage action and it's happening at Antaeus. Shakespeare: Getting Started - WAIT LIST ONLY
Moderated by Armin Shimerman
Wednesdays 1-5pm, June 13-August 8* (8 weeks)
$400 (Early Bird Discount $350, due by May 30)
Class Size: 14-16
*no class the week of July 4
This class is designed for those who have never studied Shakespeare with Armin before. It will include monologue/scene study and a thorough approach to acting, understanding, and communicating through language, history, religion, social mores, and - the Rosetta stone to performing Shakespeare - Elizabethan rhetoric. Any fear of performing/reading Shakespeare will be cured. You may laugh as well.
Many will recognize Jim Beaver as Whitney Ellsworth in the 2004-2006 hit TV series Deadwood, and now currently on your television screens as Bobby Singer in Supernatural. Jim will be appearing sans TV screen and on stage at his theatre home base Theatre West in THE NIGHT FORLORN opening March 16, 2018. An consistently busy actor/writer/film historian, Jim made some time to answer a few of my inquisitive inquiries on his long and rewarding history with Theatre West. Thank you Jim for agreeing to this interview. You have a 30-years-plus working relationship with Theatre West. How did that initially come about? In 1984, actress Karen Kondazian brought my play VERDIGRIS to Theatre West's artistic director Clyde Ventura, and together they produced its world premiere in 1985. I've been a part of Theatre West ever since. So, did Steve Nevil and THE NIGHT FORLORN come to Theatre West? Or did Theatre West seek this project out? Steve is, like me, a longtime member of the company, and THE NIGHT FORLORN was developed in our writers workshop. In recent years, there's been a competition among members for scripts to put up in full productions, and THE NIGHT FORLORN is the most recent selection in that competition. So although there are elements of truth in both questions, the real truth is that the play grew directly from Steve in his already-existing membership in the company. Have you worked with any of THE NIGHT FORLORN talents before? Are some members of Theatre West? Everyone associated with the production is a member of Theatre West. J. Downing is friend of many years, a magnificent actor whom, although we've been in some of the same movies, I've never worked with directly. I appeared briefly in actress Leslie Caveny's play IMPACT THIS! a few years ago, and got to rough her up as my sister in Fionnula Flanagan's production of Brian Friel's THE FREEDOM OF THE CITY a few years before that. My director, Arden Teresa Lewis, and I appeared together in GOOD in the ‘90s, and she produced the 30th anniversary revival of my play VERDIGRIS in 2015. But my longest association in this play is with Tom Allard, who plays Chris. We go back to a production of KING LEAR in college together in 1972. He's my closest friend, and we've worked together on many projects. He directed me at Theatre West in Ken Jenkins's CHUG and in my own plays SIDEKICK and SEMPER FI. He also shot me with a gun the size of his leg on an episode of Reasonable Doubts. How would you compare the character that you play in THE NIGHT FORLORN with VERDIGRIS' Jockey Fielding, Shelby Parlow on Justified, or Bobby Singer on Supernatural? Do you think any of these four would get together for a drink at a neighborhood saloon? Perce, my character in THE NIGHT FORLORN, is of a type with those other characters, in that he's rural, folksy, prickly, gruff but lovable, and doesn't mind a drink. And yeah, he'd get together with those other guys at a bar. But five'll get you ten, he'd end up stuck with the tab. How does a son of a Texan preacher get interested film history? Same way the son of anybody does, I guess — watching a ton of movies growing up. I got hooked in my teens on John Wayne movies, and then on the movies of some of the people who were in John Wayne movies, and then on the movies of some of the people who were in THEIR movies, and pretty soon, I realized that I loved everything about movies. I began collecting information on movies and the people who made them, and eventually came to feel I was particularly good at researching this kind of history. I loved it, and while I got sort of sidetracked MAKING movies, I still love digging into the history of the art form and writing about the people who left their marks on that history. What sparked your interest in researching John Garfield and television's original Superman George Reeves, amongst your many other subjects? I've collected books on actors since my teens, and in college, under the false impression that there was a lot of money lying around for people who wrote books about movies, I thought I'd give one a shot. I made a list of actors I admired on whom there weren't any books, and Garfield stood out for a lot of reasons, not least of which was that he didn't make that many movies and I thought (again erroneously) that it would be a quick job and a quick buck. Neither turned out to be true. Later, as a film critic and feature writer for Films in Review magazine, I was assigned an article on George Reeves, which piqued my interest and led to a decades-long job of researching a book on his life and untimely death. In his case, I was particularly interested in writing about someone who became very famous without the concomitant power that often comes with stardom, someone who got what he wanted without it being particularly satisfying at all. Any fond memories of times you spent with Theatre West founder, the late Betty Garrett? Betty Garrett, who was among the first people involved in what became Theatre West, was simply one of the finest people I have ever known. Her professionalism, unmatched, was combined with a glowing, generous, perpetually optimistic personality. I loved her dearly. She was the first person to play the lead in my play VERDIGRIS, in a staged reading prior to its original production (when the part was taken over by the amazing Anne Haney), and she was a wise and giving mentor not just to me, but to everyone she encountered in our company and, I'm sure, elsewhere. Her son Andrew Parks originated the other leading role in VERDIGRIS and remains one of my inner circle of deepest friendships. Betty was also very helpful to me in researching my book on George Reeves, as she knew many of the people who were part of his story. I miss her intensely. You have used Kickstarter for your 2015 production of VERDIGRIS and GoFundME is linked on the Theatre West website. Any helpful tips for using either one of these money-raising websites? The biggest lesson I learned from my crowdfunding experiences was to get the assistance of someone who is well-versed in the process. Anyone can start a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign. It takes knowledge and insight and wisdom, as well as IMMENSE energy and determination, to actually succeed in one. We used the services of one of my former Deadwood colleagues, actress Leah Cevoli, who has made a companion career for herself as a consultant on crowdfunding. Without her guidance, I absolutely doubt our campaigns would have been successful. You published your memoir Life's That Way in April 2009. Are you working on a Part 2? Life's That Waywas a memoir of a particular and difficult year of my life, and it came into being as a real-time outlet for the feelings I had at the time the events were happening. Thus it had a particular urgency and impetus. I'm frequently asked about another volume of autobiography, and I very much like the idea, as one thing I discovered while writing Life's That Way is that I'm not too bad at telling stories from life and making some sense of them. But I don't have the same urgency pushing me toward such a project. I'd love to write another volume, but with career, a teen-aged daughter, and the Reeves book and a novel currently in progress, I'm having trouble setting aside the time for such a book. I want to. If I can stick around long enough, I think it will happen. What would you say was your oddest odd job before making your living writing and acting - being a Frito-Lay corn chip dough mixer, a film cleaner at a 16mm film rental firm, or a amusement park stuntman at Oklahoma City's Frontier City? The jobs you mention were perhaps a little unusual, but not terribly odd, at least in my estimation. Probably the wackiest was a job I had working for a paraplegic woman while I was in college. She was completely physically helpless, yet she ran her house and the lives of everyone who set foot in it like a field marshal. It was an absolutely crazy, remarkable experience for me, and it became the basis of my play VERDIGRIS. Which do you prefer - seeing your written work performed onstage? Or you yourself performing on stage? That's a tough question. I very much treasure (most of) the times I've seen my own work performed. There is no feeling on earth like seeing one's own words enlivened and invigorated in performance. At the same time, nothing gives me greater public pleasure than acting. Writing has often been an excuse to get myself into situations where people might decide to let me act. Fortunately, a lot of what I've written has been material I could play myself. VERDIGRIS has a role I long wanted to do, but I grew too old to play it. But in the recent revival, I was able to play an older role I'd never given much thought to, and it was a joy. I don't always write for myself, but sometimes I've been able to play writer AND actor on the same production, and that really can't be beat. What playwrights did you grow up admiring and want to emulate? My playwriting gods are William Shakespeare, Eugene O'Neill, and Tennessee Williams. If my work resembles any of theirs in any fashion, it's probably Williams. VERDIGRIS was very much influenced by THE GLASS MENAGERIE. But I don't think I really write much like any of them. Who does? But they are the ones who shaped my ideas of the theatre, of what a play could do, of the power and insight possible on the stage. As a playwright, they are with me every day when I write. My one regret as an actor is that I've never had a chance to do O'Neill. I want a Larry Slade or a James Tyrone Sr. before I shuffle off this mortal coil! Any immediate projects coming up for Jim Beaver you can share? THE NIGHT FORLORN, of course, takes up much of my time through April 22. I'm busy in film and television, with my ongoing parts on Netflix's The Ranch and the CW's loooooooong-running hit Supernatural. I'm hoping for a play in New York before long. That's about it. Ask me again tomorrow. The phone keeps ringing. I'm a lucky boy. Thank you again, Jim. I look forward to seeing you in THE NIGHT FORLORN.
For ticket availability and show schedule through April 22, 2018; log onto www.theatrewest.org
As 2017 winds down, I think it's inevitable that we ask ourselves: what was that all about?
There were expectations we had - some were met, most weren't. There was money made - or not. Or maybe a windfall, who knows?
There were a series of events... things that happened with parents, children, friends, lovers, business associates, strangers... mostly they were the same things that happened in 2016 and 2015, but with some slight variations. Or maybe this year was uemarkably different. Who knows?
For the Twisted Hipster, the end of this year marks the end of my year-long return to journalism - something I pursued for 10 years in the last century (or last millenium) for The New York Times, Village Voice, New Republic, New York Newsday, American Theatre, In These Times, and many others. I returned to journalism only once this century, 16 years ago, when I wrote a piece for the New York Times "Arts and Liesure" section about the effect of 9/11 on Downtown New York theater. But I really appreciate the opportunity that Enci and Steven Box of Better-Lemons gave me to take up the journalist's pen again, and the freedom to write what I wanted to. I've learned a lot about my adopted city, and the dreamers who are drawn to the Dream Factory, as well as the Dreamers being threatened with exile.
Of course, the theme of the moment is it's good to be rich. Those with money keep making more and will get that windfall I mentioned with this disgusting new Tax Bill. Those of us without wealth hang on more perilously than ever. But we do hang in there, yes we do.
No art form is more perilous these days than the theater - as analog as it gets, with no rewind or fast-forward buttons, no collectible value, and completely dependent on the kindness of many strangers (the audience) - especially hard in a TV/Film town like Hollywood. I attended as many plays as I could last year, which isn't easy with the bad traffic and the worse parking - I'm still fighting a few parking tickets I got at the Fringe. I'm not sure that most people understand how difficult it is to make good theater, which budgetary restrictions keep making harder. After a year of watching other people do it, I'm more impressed by this than ever.
Here then are the 25 best shows I saw here last year - the TOP 12, and then 13 others that were excellent too. It wasn't a spectacular year in Los Angeles theater - or maybe it was, and it just didn't seem that way at the time. Certainly there is a great deal more stage brilliance here than the world (or the non-theatergoing population of Los Angeles) gives us credit for.
So, going backwards (as I so often do), 3-12, in no particular order:
33 VARIATIONS - Here a remarkable play by Moises Kaufman received the remarkable production it deserved by director Thomas James O'Leary and the production team at the Actors Co-op. Nan McNamara, playing a musicologist and Beethoven expert stricken with ALS, was simply phenomenal. As good as Jane Fonda was in the role at the Ahmanson (in a production directed by the playwright), I was far more deeply affected this time, and the many levels of the play were much clearer to me. Kudos to designer Nicholas Acciani for his evocative and wonderfully functional multi-level set.
BOB'S HOLIDAY OFFICE PARTY - The fun has been going on for 22 years, but this is the first time I caught it, and I was laughing so hard that it was difficult to write down any notes. Joe Keyes and Rob Elk have developed a certain formula that features the talents of some wonderful comic actors working off each other with perfect timing. I'm not sure I would have been as swept away as I was in other years, but this felt like the perfect entertainment for the first (and hopefully last) year of Trump. The comedic masterminds seemed to sense this too, and their romp was filled with explicit references to Trump and his denigrating way of referring to "outsiders," meaning all those people who aren't on his side. It was a perfect blending of the past and present for this show, and as far as I'm concerned, they should keep distracting us as much as possible from the heinousness of our political nightmare.
ROTTERDAM - This is one of the only shows on the list still running, so I urge anyone who hasn't been to the Skylight Theatre yet and caught this excellent play to stop right now and make your reservation. This is another example of a wonderful play (by John Brittain) receiving an equally wonderful production, care of director Michael Shepperd and his deeply relatable cast. What makes this play about a transgender woman of color and her gay girlfriend so memorable is how human-size all the problems are, how they are trying to figure out the riddle of their lives in just the same way the rest of us are - without knowing any real answers or how it may or may not work out.
RULES OF SECONDS - This play by John Pollono was seen by far too few when it debuted at LATC downtown. Featuring Amy Brenneman and one of the best casts I've seen on any LA stage, the play delves deeply into the all-too-relevant subject of toxic masculinity as memorably exemplified by Jamie Harris in this 1855 Boston setting. "A 21st century comic melodrama set in the 19th century," Charles McNulty wrote in the LA Times, and we agree that Jo Bonney staged it with great panache and technical mastery. What impressed me most was the play's constant inventiveness and refusal to settle for easy answers. It was produced by the Latino Theater Company. As their first offering, it bodes well both for their future and for ours.
SOMETHING ROTTEN - This is another show that's still running, though for only a few more performances. If you love musicals and you like to laugh, then this is a show for you. To quote my own review: "Yes, it owes a large debt to Mel Brooks - not just The Producers, but also the musical number at the end of Blazing Saddles - butthis show has its own brand of historical and parodic zaniness, and it does a masterful job of keeping a sense of real stakes while continuing to move the story and characters forward. To my mind, every element of this production is brilliant, top-tier, and yet they all come together to form something that is greater than the sum of its wonderful parts. This is so rarely achieved, and I am in awe of the many talents at work at such a high level here."
WET: A DACAmented Journey - This is one of the pieces I saw this past year that affected me most profoundly and stayed with me the longest. As I wrote at the time: "It is simply a great piece of theater - deeply wrenching and compulsively interesting - that also has more to say than anything else I've seen about the situation in this country with regard to people who come here from other countries "yearning to breathe free." We often toss around words like "the immigrant crisis" and "illegals," which just become ways to distance us from the human tragedy that these words purport to describe. Alex Alpharoah is the human face of that tragedy, while also being the best example I know of someone who has managed to triumph over seemingly insurmountable obstacles by making art out of it, by converting his anxiety and suffering into beautiful word-music." Kudos to EST-Los Angeles for helping Mr Alpharoah to develop his work and then supporting it with an ample production run. Mr Alpharoah's monologue is nominated for an Ovation Award for Best Play, and he would be a deserving winner. Again, a good example of what a difference small theaters can make in the cultural landscape of our large and sprawling city.
MASTER CLASS - As I wrote: This is the first production of the Garry Marshall Theatre (formerly the Falcon), but I have to admit that I didn't have high expectations. The play Masterclass was first produced in 1995 - right here at the Ahmanson, then on Broadway - and it has been revived several times. Was this really how you want to kick off a new theater? Well, the answer is Yes. This is a stellar revival. In fact, it's so alive, so strong moment-to-moment, that it doesn't feel like a revival, it feels like an Event. This is thanks largely to Carolyn Hennessy, who simply seems to BE Maria Callas. She inhabits the play, she comes to life as a creature of the stage, full of joy, sorrow and many contradictions. Credit must go to director Dimitri Toscas, who is also co-director of the Garry Marshall Theatre (GMT). He clearly has a passionate connection to this play and to the character of Callas. He deeply feels her pain - the pain of dislocation and loneliness. "You know the only place where Callas truly fit in? On stage. In the opera house," Toscas writes in the program notes, and he wonderfully dramatizes this on the GMT's stage.
George Wyner and Sharron Shayne in "Daytona"
DAYTONA - This fascinating play had a brief run at Rogue Machine and was forced to close down just as word of its excellence was starting to get around. There is word that it may be coming back soon - here's hoping that's true. As I wrote: There are so many great older actors in Los Angeles, and far too few plays that really give them anything to perform. But Daytona by Oliver Cotton has three terrific roles, which are inhabited to the hilt by George Wyner and Sharron Shayne as a long-married couple and Richard Fancy as Mr Wyner's long-absent brother, under the pitch-perfect direction of Elina de Santos. The play takes place in Brooklyn in 1986, where Joe and Elli are preparing for their dance competition the next evening, a hobby they've cultivated for the past 15 years. Then Elli goes out to pick up her dress from her sister. Suddenly the downstairs buzzer sounds. Joe is shocked to hear the voice of his brother Billy, whom he hasn't heard from for the past 30 years, and whose entrance will shake up the easy-going world of Joe and Elli.
THE GARY PLAYS - These 6 plays (there are 8 in the entire series) are a real anomaly in the American cannon – epic in length and scope, yet intimate in feeling. Directed with great imagination and a spirit of generosity and compassion by Guy Zimmerman and presented by Martha Demson and her tireless team at Open Fist. Director Zimmerman describes Mednick's plays this way: “The series is uniquely the product of the LA theatre community – it could not have been created anywhere else. And Gary, an unemployed actor struggling with grief and self-recrimination after his only son's murder, is an iconic LA character.” There's so much more to it – and Jeff Lebeau's depiction of Gary in the first 3 plays is so remarkable, so memorable, he simply crawls into the character's skin. For my money, Part II is the best evening of theater I can remember seeing in Los Angeles, it just buzzes with emotional intensity. These are plays about LA Theater that achieve the kind of universality that all playwrights crave. These plays should be celebrated, as should those who have lovingly brought them back to such vivid life.
UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL: An Impressive Presentation of Lovely Evidences - I had seen this monodrama by Glen Berger several times before, but this production at the Geffen Playhouse made it all new for me. This strange but compelling play introduces us to The Librarian, who has rented this hall in order to present his "Lovely Evidences" about a book that was turned in several decades late, and the offender whom he has become obsessed with tracking down. Arye Gross played The Librarian here, and he may well be as close to perfection as anyone can be in the role. Sporting a huge beard, he reminded me of aother lonely castaway, the main character in Dostoievski's Notes from Underground. But unlike that man, filled as he is with self-loathing, the Librarian finds a sense of purpose and triumph in his discoveries, even if they lead him further away from human affection than ever. Under Steven Robman's inventive direction - much more theatrical and detail-oriented than the one I saw in NYC in 2002 - Arye Gross attained a level of joy and excitement - even exuberance - which was infectious.
My two favorite shows from 2017 (drum roll, please):
2. LES BLANCS - If you missed this production at Rogue Machine, you may never get another chance to see this fascinating play from one of our great playwrights, Lorraine Hansberry, who died of cancer at age 34. Hansberry's first play, Raisin in the Sun, is an American classic, deservedly beloved and frequently performed. Her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, is very much an examination of social conditions in the late 1960s and has more value now as a social document than as a work of theater. Neither of her earlier plays give any indication of the ambition, scope and sheer theatricality that Les Blancs contains, as she depicts on a huge canvas - with 24 characters! - the unresolvable problems created by American and European colonialism in Africa. Huge kudos to Artistic Director John Perrin Flynn for having the determination and resourcefulness to give this truly important play its Los Angeles premiere. Director Gregg T. Daniels does an admirable job in bringing this world of a white-run mission in the heart of Africa to mosquito-swatting theatrical life. The set design by Stephanie Kerley Schwartz is one of the best of the year - roughhewn slats of dark wood primitively lashed together - truly capturing the essence of this place, so far removed from European civilization and regarded with such condescension by the white American liberal journalist, whose arrival in this village signals the beginning of the drama. Jeff Gardner's sound design is also one of the year's best, bringing the surrounding jungle to auditory life. A percussionist, Jalani Blunt, brilliantly plays Gardner's African compositions on a variety of instruments, and Shari Gardner's African dancing is haunting and inescapably vivid. Yes, the play has scenes that go on too long and monologues that ramble; these are things that I'm sure Hansberry would have given better shape to had her life not been cruelly interrupted. But the fire that burns at the heart of this play - that burns a path of destruction through the lives of all these characters - is still very much with us today. And I know of no other play that brings it to life s0 compellingly.
1. MR BURNS - One of the great things about the Sacred Fools production of Anne Washburn's dystopian fantasy was that their theater has 3 separate spaces, and they were able to make use of a different one for each Act. This was absolutely ideal for Washburn's play, and I can honestly say that the Sacred Fools production was superior in every way to the one I saw in New York. More than that, I understood the play this time in a way that I hadn't before. That is, I saw how Ms. Washburn assembles the pieces of a broken civilization in Act I and gradually starts putting them back together again in what amounts to an heroic effort of mankind to recover our soul. It documents a great triumph of the imagination. Which was, quite simply, what this production was as well. A triumph for Sacred Fools, for director Jaime Robledo, and for the pitch-perfect company of actors, as well as for the production team under the leadership of Brian W. Wallis, with assistance from Alison Sulock and many others. It's unfair for me to single out any performances in what is truly a group effort, but I'm going to anyway. Tracey A. Leigh as "Bart" and Eric Curtis Johnson as "Mr Burns" just kept topping themselves in the final section in ways that I didn't think possible. All that I can say in return is "brava!" and "bravo!" You completely blew my mind. And tickets were only $15!!! Amazing.
Other Extraordinary Productions from this past year in Los Angeles - thanks for the memories:
The cast of ZOOT SUIT in the revival at the Mark Taper Forum
WOODY'S ORDER by Ann Talman, directed by John Shepard, at EST-Los Angeles, Atwater Village Theater
CAUGHT by Christopher Chen, directed by Ed Sylvanus Iskander at the Think Tank Gallery
ZOOT SUIT, written and directed by Luis Valdez, at the Mark Taper Forum
KING HEDLEY II by August Wilson, directed by Michele Shay at the Matrix Theatre
PLASTICITY by Alex Lyras, directed by Robert McCaskill at the Hudson Guild
THE SECRET IN THE WINGS by Mary Zimmerman, directed by Joseph V. Calarco, presented by the Coeurage Theatre Company
SO LONG BOULDER CITY by Jimmy Fowlie and Jordan Black, directed by Jordan Black, at the Celebration Theatre
Katy Owens in "Adolphus Tips"
REDLINE by Christian Durso, directed by Eli Gonda, presented by the IAMA Theatre Company
946: THE AMAZING STORY OF ADOLPHUS TIPS - adapted from the book by Michael Murpurgo by Britain's Kneehigh Theatre, directed by Emma Rice, at the Wallis Annenberg Theatre
WHITE GUY ON THE BUS by Bruce Graham, directed by Stewart J. Zully at the Road Theatre
And from the Fringe:
MOTHERFUCKER WITH THE HAT by Stephen Adley Gurgius, directed by Tony Gatto
THE GIRL WHO JUMPED OFF THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN by Joanne Hartstone, directed by Vince Fusco
EASY TARGETS by the Burglars of Hamm, presented at Sacred Fools