Spotlight Series: Meet Jennifer Chang, a Director, Actor and Educator Who Helped Found Chalk Repertory Theatre


This Spotlight focuses on Jennifer Chang, a director, actor and educator who helped found Chalk Repertory Theatre, a production company which matches plays to site-specific locations around Los Angeles. I first worked with Jennifer on Chalk Rep’s production of Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan which featured a multicultural cast, performed outdoors throughout the lawns and courtyards at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles where the pre-eminent collection of Oscar Wilde materials in the world is housed.


Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?

Jennifer Chang (Jennifer): I am a director, actor and educator.  I helped found Chalk Repertory Theatre and am currently a Visiting Professor at Pomona College and will return to UCSD this fall and continue my role as Head of Undergraduate Acting. I staged Chalk Rep’s immersive productions at site-specific locations around Los Angeles because I believe architecture affects human psyche, and I’m curious as to how unconventional spaces can illuminate and unpack story, especially since storytelling provides opportunities for communion and conversation for promoting empathy in order to inspire action and change.

The cast of Chalk Rep's production of Oscar Wilde's "Lady Windermere's Fan" directed by Jennifer Chang included (from left): Feodor Chin, Scott Keiji Takeda, Allie Jennings, Teri Reeves, Owiso Odera, Amielynn Abellera, Brian Staten, Tess Lina, Peter Wylie, and George Wyhinny
Photo credit: Shari Barrett.

I also believe it is vital to tell stories that challenge mainstream ideas, hold the door to opportunity open to diverse groups of artists, and I hope to dismantle notions of elitism in theater while pursuing rigor and excellence through fun and artful theatricality. I love language – its syncopation, musicality and power. And as a child of immigrants, I am interested in investigating what it means to be an American.

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?

(Jennifer): We (the theatre company and I) were in the midst of casting The Time of Your Life by William Saroyan at Antaeus Theatre Company when the shelter-in-place orders and subsequent shutdowns were implemented.  While we held out hoping that we might be able to continue or postpone, since rehearsal was scheduled to begin at the end of April, it became evident that the show was not going to be able to proceed as planned and the cast and production team were informed via Zoom, phone calls and emails.

(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

Jennifer Chang in "director mode"

(Jennifer): Its future is currently under discussion by the artistic leadership at Antaeus. The artistic directors and executive director have been absolutely supportive of the show and the vision and want to make sure they are responding to the science and information our state and city leaders are providing and with the longevity of the theatre company in mind. In general, I think only the institutions can really respond to this question, not the individual artists, but even then, it's difficult to predict what will or won't be happening in the next year or so.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(Jennifer): I was in early talks for various projects but I have not had follow-up discussions as would be the norm. All institutions seem to be in a wait-and-see stage.

(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(Jennifer): I'm still teaching my classes via Zoom and the on-line academic portal Sakai. Zoom has been the tool used for play readings that I've been and will be a part of in the future. Personally, I've been using this time to do many domestic projects that I enjoy that my schedule usually doesn't allow for, including baking, knitting, crafting, and doing my part to help make masks as I think my current state of watchfulness is best soothed by doing with my hands rather than the usual art-making. I've been asked to be a part of others' projects that utilize smart phones but have not initiated projects myself. I think I'm in a grieving period right now and am taking a break from my own personal theatre projects. I'm happy to be contributing to others' work.

Vietnamese refugees hit the road to see America in "Vietgone", directed by Jennifer Chang for East/West Players at the David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center of the Arts

(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Jennifer): We will need to be patient and resilient, and whatever one needs to do to survive the wait is important and good. You can make art or not make anything and that is absolutely alright. If you feel like doing and making something that's awesome, and if you don't feel like doing anything at all, that's awesome too! Theatre has survived multiple pandemics so it will be back as soon as we are able, but the road back will require patience and adaptation and we are all coping in different ways and on different timelines. I think practicing patience for each other will be vital.

We are incredibly lucky to live in an age where content can reach us in our homes, and food and other necessities can be delivered to our doors. My family and I are incredibly privileged to be able to partake in these modern luxuries and to be citizens in a wonderful state and city where science and data are appreciated and heeded. While it is a real challenge to be separated from the various communities we are accustomed to being a part of, I am so very thankful that my family is safe and well and that our quarantine can help our larger community.

Being a theatre practitioner is an incredible training ground for understanding collaboration, care and empathy for others. While our theatre brethren are hard hit in the repercussions of separation and shutdown, we are also uniquely able to understand how our contributions fit in communion with others. A big thank you and virtual hug to everyone!


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



The Winners at the 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards


The 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards were presented on Monday, January 28, 2019, at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles where 36 awards were bestowed on theater productions, producers, directors, artists, and technicians.

Sixteen different Southern California theatre companies won thirty-six awards, including the Center Theatre Group for "Soft Power", Rogue Artists Ensemble and East West Players for "Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin," the Bootleg Theatre for "Theater Movement Bazaar's Grail Project," the Geffen Playhouse for "Ironbound," "Sell/Buy/Date," and "Skeleton Crew," the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts for "South Pacific" and "Ain't Misbehavin'," the Celebration Theatre  for "Priscilla Queen of the Desert,"  and  The Echo Theater Company  for "Cry it Out." A Noise Within received the Best Season Award  for "A Raisin in the Sun," "A Tale of Two Cities," "Henry V," "Mrs. Warren's Profession," "Noises Off," "The Madwoman of Chaillot."

Members of The Kilroys, hosts of the 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Monday, January 28, 2019. Photo by Monique A. LeBleu.

The Ovation Honors, which recognizes outstanding achievement in areas that are not among the standard list of nomination categories, were awarded to Adrien Prevost (Music Composition for a Play, Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin, Rogue Artists Ensemble co-produced with East West Players) and Brian White, Sean Cawelti, Greg Ballora, Morgan Reban, Jack Pullman, and Christine Papalexis (Puppet Design, Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin, Rogue Artists Ensemble co-produced with East West Players).

The Center Theatre Group presented the 2018 Richard E. Sherwood Award to writer, comedian, and performance artist Kristina Wong, which also includes $10,000 endowed by the Sherwood family for innovative and adventurous artists.

Wong, who took the unique opportunity of this night to announce her candidacy for Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council Subdistrict 5 Resident Representative, said in acceptance, “In this line of work there's a very fine line between being a madwoman and a visionary. It is so validating to be recognized as the latter by this vibrant LA Theatre community that has made me the performance artist slash political candidate that I am today."

The Kilroys came with their message to the theater community at large to encourage the hiring and support of more women, trans, and non-binary artists in theater in order to achieve gender balance. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, Paula Vogel, offered words of encouragement to the theater community as well, aligning with The Kilroys message of the evening with "The sooner produced, the sooner prolific."

This year's show, held at the glorious landmark United Artists 1927 movie palace that is now the Theatre at Ace Hotel, was directed by Artistic Director of Coeurage Theatre Company Jer Adrianne Lelliott, also featured live performances including by women's choral group Vox Femina.

The Ovation Awards is annually produced by LA STAGE Alliance, "a non-profit organization dedicated to building awareness, appreciation, and support for the performing arts in Los Angeles" and companies DOMA Theatre CompanyUCLA School of Theater, Film & Television, F&D Scene Changes Ltd., USC School of Dramatic Arts, Bakers Man Productions, Venture Hill Entertainment LLC, Seven Waves Entertainment LLC, Requiem Media Productions LLC, Variety, and Ken Werther Publicity sponsored the event.

Here's the complete list of winners. For more information visit LAStageAlliance.com

The awards show was broadcast live on YouTube and Facebook, in case you missed the show or would like to relive it.


Featured top photo: Rachel Myers accepts her Ovation Award for Scenic Design (Large Theatre) for "Skeleton Crew" (Geffen Playhouse) at 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards, Theatre at Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles, Monday, January 28, 2019. Photo by Monique A. LeBleu.


Better Lemons At The Ovation Awards on Twitter

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Friday Features – Sweet Shows This Coming Week

Better Lemons has lots of registered shows and events and lot of them have Critics and Audience reviews posted. Here you can see their favorites and when you click on a title, you will see all the critics' and audience reviews and ratings. From there you can choose what your adventures this weekend will be. We wish you a fantastic weekend!

The Little Foxes

The Bench, A Homeless Love Story

The Value of Moscow

Blue Surge

A Mile In My Shoes

VALLEY OF THE HEART

Jane Austen’s EMMA

COME FROM AWAY

Cost of Living

OPPENHEIMER

Delusion: The Blue Blade

The Big Event: Sunny Afternoon

THE COLOR PURPLE

BUS STOP

Finks

SHE LOVES ME

A CAROL CHRISTMAS

HANSEL AND GRETEL

Aleichem Sholom! The wit and wisdom of Sholom Aleichem

The Big Event: King Dick

Blacktop Highway


Friday Features – Sweet Shows This Coming Week

Better Lemons has lots of registered shows and events and lot of them have Critics and Audience reviews posted. Here you can see their favorites and when you click on a title, you will see all the critics' and audience reviews and ratings. From there you can choose what your adventures this weekend will be. We wish you a fantastic weekend!

The People VS Hell Kross

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Death and Cockroaches

My Date With Death – A Musical Romance

Anatomy of a Hug

THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF STRANGER THINGS

COME FROM AWAY

Cost of Living

The Little Foxes

The Bench, A Homeless Love Story

OPPENHEIMER

Finks

Delusion: The Blue Blade

The Value of Moscow

THE COLOR PURPLE

BUS STOP

Blue Surge

HANSEL AND GRETEL

A CAROL CHRISTMAS

SHE LOVES ME

A Mile In My Shoes

Blacktop Highway

VALLEY OF THE HEART


Friday Features – Sweet Shows This Coming Week

Better Lemons has lots of registered shows and events and lot of them have Critics and Audience reviews posted. Here you can see their favorites and when you click on a title, you will see all the critics' and audience reviews and ratings. From there you can choose what your adventures this weekend will be. We wish you a fantastic weekend!

The Color Collective

DEAR EVAN HANSEN

A BRONX TALE

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Cost of Living

The Little Foxes

The Bench, A Homeless Love Story

OPPENHEIMER

My Date With Death – A Musical Romance

Finks

Delusion: The Blue Blade

Anatomy of a Hug

THE COLOR PURPLE

BUS STOP

THE UNAUTHORIZED MUSICAL PARODY OF STRANGER THINGS

A CAROL CHRISTMAS

HANSEL AND GRETEL

SHE LOVES ME

A Mile In My Shoes

Blacktop Highway

VALLEY OF THE HEART


Ashton's Audio Interview: The cast of “The Little Foxes” at the Antaeus Theatre Company

Lillian Hellman's dark tale of greed, deceit and betrayal is the story of a family in crisis. Set in the Deep South of 1900 where women have scant options and men seem to hold all the power, Regina Giddens will stop at nothing — even blackmail — to wrest the family business away from her scheming brothers.
Enjoy this interview with the cast of “The Little Foxes” at the Antaeus Theatre Company, running until Dec 10th. 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


EVENTS OPENING THIS WEEK

CIRQUE MECHANICS: 42FT – A MENAGERIE OF MECHANICAL [email protected] Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University

October 16, 2018 7:30 pm

Thrills, laughs and excitement are on full display as Cirque Mechanics' 42FT – A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels transports audiences back to the timeless thrills of the big top circus ring. Deriving its name ...read more


CHEMO BARBIE – MY LADY BITS JOURNEY THROUGH BREAST CANCER @ Santa Monica Playhouse, The Other Space

October 16, 2018 8:00 pm

“Uniquely funny” exclaims LA Beat. In 2016, Heather Keller, a healthy young vegan runner, was diagnosed with breast cancer and her life changed forever. This is her heartbreaking, inspiring and ultimately uplifting story. Winner ...read more


THE BINGE FRINGE FESTIVAL OF FREE THEATRE (BFF) @ Santa Monica Playhouse The Main Stage

October 16, 2018 8:00 pm

Welcome to the Binge! Your new BFF! Two weeks of free theatre October 15 to 28, 2018 with encore performances through November 11! Santa Monica Group Theatre presents The BFF aka The BINGE Fringe Festival of Free ...read more


A SPLINTERED SOUL @ International City Theatre

October 17, 2018 8:00 pm

A gripping drama about war refugees haunted by the death of their loved ones — and by memories of the things they had to do to survive. It's 1947 in San Francisco, home to ...read more


COST OF LIVING @ The Fountain Theatre

October 17, 2018 8:00 pm

In this gripping, unexpectedly funny Pulitzer Prize-winning play, John is a rich, quick-witted grad student who has cerebral palsy. Ani is an hilariously foul-mouthed quadriplegic. The people who help them, Jess and Eddie, have ...read more


DEAR EVAN HANSEN @ Ahmanson Theatre

October 18, 2018 2:00 pm

A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one ...read more


DOWNTOWN LA FILM FESTIVAL @ Regal L.A. LIVE Cinemas

October 18, 2018 7:00 pm

Established in 2008, the festival has screened more 1,000 films, held more 200 events and partnered with more than 75 other profit and nonprofit business in DTLA. Our programming reflects downtown L.A.'s vibrant new ...read more


SHORT+SWEET HOLLYWOOD @ Marilyn Monroe Theatre

October 18, 2018 7:00 pm

Thursday, October 18, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. People's Choice Semifinalist short plays (audience favorites): Surprise.  Written by Mark Harvey Levine.  Directed by Luis Goyanes. Cast. Loren Lillian, Nathan Ondracek & Ryan Walsh. Peter is a psychic, but ...read more


RADIANT [email protected] Odyssey Theatre

October 18, 2018 8:00 pm

The Los Angeles premiere of an outrageous comedy with a killer heart by acclaimed British playwright and provocateur Philip Ridley. In this viciously funny satire flecked with horror, Ollie and Jill want to tell ...read more


WAITING FOR LEFTY BY CLIFFORD [email protected] The Complex

October 18, 2018 8:00 pm

Expertly written in 1935 by Clifford Odets, Waiting for Lefty exposes a downtrodden group of Laborers fighting back against the backdrop of The Great Depression. Drama of tough times and tougher people desperate for ...read more


THE LITTLE [email protected] Antaeus Theatre at Kiki David Gindler Performing Arts Center

October 18, 2018 8:00 pm

Lillian Hellman's provocative masterpiece continues to exert a captivating hold on American culture. Set in the Deep South of 1900, where women have scant options and men seem to hold all the power, Regina ...read more


WE BANJO 3 @ Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University

October 19, 2018 8:00 pm

Pioneers of the innovative musical fusion style dubbed “Celtgrass,” We Banjo 3's unique blend of the traditional Irish and authentic Americana genres has made them one of the music world's most celebrated ensembles. With ...read more


THE TRIAL OF LIZZIE BORDEN @ Woodbury University Library

October 19, 2018 8:00 pm

"Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks...." It was the crime and trial and of the century! Two people savagely hatched to death in their own home in a quiet town ...read more


FIGHTING SHADOWS @ The Rosenthal Theater at Inner-City Arts

October 19, 2018 8:00 pm

FIGHTING SHADOWS is the true story of one man's search for love in a world meant for breaking, not bending. A brutal, truthful account of Emmy-nominated actor and star of FX's Mayans M.C. Richard ...read more


THE LITTLE [email protected] UCLA James Bridges Theatre

October 19, 2018 8:00 pm

Lillian Hellman's modern classic about a wealthy Southern family and the greed that tears them apart. Mamie Gummer (HBO's True Detective, CW's Emily Owens, M.D) stars as Regina Giddens, whose dying husband (Jared Harris, ...read more


EDGAR ALLAN [email protected] Generation DCD Studio

October 19, 2018 8:30 pm

Come celebrate All Hallows' Eve at Force of Nature Productions with a dark evening of tales and mystery from the Master of the Macabre himself, Edgar Allan Poe. Poe returns to us from the ...read more


SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS @ Theatre West

October 20, 2018 1:00 pm

Storybook Theatre's fun filled version of this famous story has lots of singing, dancing, audience participation, and a funny witch with a handsome prince. The children in the audience become the seven dwarfs who ...read more


FROM WHARF RATS TO LORDS OF THE DOCKS @ Theatre West

October 20, 2018 8:00 pm

Actor-playwright Ian Ruskin portrays the legendary union organizer Harry Bridges, capturing his passion, struggles and wicked sense of humor in this one-man play. This vivid dramatization brings to life the San Francisco labor leader ...read more


STEAMBATH @ Odyssey Theatre

October 20, 2018 8:00 pm

What if God turned out to be a Puerto Rican steam bath attendant, assisted by a butler named Gottlieb? Renowned stand up comedian and actor Paul Rodriguez stars in a revival of Steambath, the ...read more


QUACK @ Kirk Douglas Theatre

October 23, 2018 8:00 pm

Millions of women across America rely on Dr. Irving Baer and his daytime talk show to help them lose weight, manifest their destinies, and take their health into their own hands. Then, a take-down ...read more


Ashton's Audio Interview: Armin Shimerman (Quark of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") in the Antaeus Theatre Company's production of "Three Days In The Country"

A fresh, breezy update by Patrick Marber of Turgenev's classic comedy A Month in the Country, this is a tale of unrequited passion, unfolding over the course of three days in the sunny Russian countryside. Full of wit, folly and heart, men and women, both young and old, learn the tender and ridiculous lessons of love.*
Enjoy this interview with Armin Shimerman (Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and the cast of “Three Days In The Country” playing at the Antaeus Theatre Company, running until Aug 26th. 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