Ashton's Audio Interview: Carolyn Ratteray (Emmy-nominated Caitlin Priest' in 'Riley Parra')


Actress, Director, and Producer, Carolyn Ratteray, known for her film and television credits in "Riley Parra" (2017), "NCIS" (2003) and "The Hungover Games" (2014,) was staring as Isabella in Shakespeare's  “Measure for Measure" at the Antaeus Theatre Company at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center, which is now closed due to the coronavirus.

A Resident Artist at A Noise Within and a member at the Antaeus Theatre Company, she's also played in productions such as "Gem of the Ocean" at A Noise Within, "The Mountaintop" at the Garry Marshall Theatre, and "The Cake" at The Geffen Playhouse and Echo Theatre CompanyClassically trained in Shakespeare and theatre at The Old Globe at the University of San Diego, she's also appeared in off-broadway and regional theatrical such as "The Winters Tale" at Theatre 150, "Merry Wives of Windsor", "Alls Well That Ends Well," "Two Gentleman of Verona" at The Old Globe, "Hecuba" at The Pearl Theatre Company, and "The Cherry Orchard" at The Classical Theatre of Harlem. As a Director, Ratteray has helmed "By The Way Meet Vera Stark," "In Love and Warcraft," and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" at Pomona College, along with staged readings throughout the Los Angeles area. 

Ratteray's film and television credits also include “Snowfall,” “Castle," “All My Children," “Chemistry," “The Young and the Restless” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” just to name a few. With a master's in Arts education and training from The Old Globe at the University of San Diego and a bachelor's from New York University, she is currently a professor at Pomona College and has also studied theatrical clown with Philippe Gaulier, Christopher Bayes, David Bridel, and Angela De Castro and she is currently at work creating her solo clown show, “Both, And,” according to her website.

Enjoy this interview!


 


Ashton's Audio Interview: Paul Culos (Joe from 'Shameless')

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Paul Culos began acting at the age of nine. He started his formal training at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Theater Performance in 2007. During that time, he was able to travel abroad to London and study at the British American Drama Academy for four weeks under the instruction of numerous British talents including John Barton, Debra Warner, Fiona Shaw, Brian Cox, and Mark Wing Davey. He was staring in “Measure for Measure" at the Antaeus Theatre Company, which now closed due to the corona virus.

Enjoy this interview!

*taken from the website


Ear Candy: Podcasts on Better Lemons Highlighting Live Shakespeare in L.A.


Better Lemons' podcasts cover a variety of interviews of show creatives in Los Angeles, with many recorded live and direct at the venues, and published on SoundCloud. These interviews are from productions that have already closed.

Collected here are a series of interviews of show producers and artists who work toward providing live Shakespeare performances and experiences to Greater Los Angeles audiences. The following interviews cover a variety of topics - from traditional Shakespeare to what it takes to interpreting Shakespeare for contemporary audiences, from "bad" Shakespeare to honoring the Bard's original prose, and the enduring misunderstandings, history, and superstitions that surround the work by the most beloved playwright of the people of his greatest patron.


Audio Interview: the cast of "MacBeth" at the Grand Annex in San Pedro

"Fulfilling a desire to present educational and immersive theatre, House of Bards Theatre Company...launched their first production, Shakespeare’s powerful drama Macbeth."  This November 2029, Ashton Marcus interviewed several members of the cast. Most notable is his interview with actor Stephen L. Sears at the 11:15 minute mark, who played King Duncan in this production, spoke on the "layers" of Shakespeare" and superstitions associated with the Scottish Play.

Audio Interview: the cast of "MacBeth" at the Grand Annex in San Pedro


An Interview of Coin & Ghost's Zachary Reeve Davidson and Rob Adler: "Bad Hamlet"


An interview of Zachary Reeve Davidson and Rob Adler of Coin & Ghost by Monique A. LeBleu, for their play "Bad Hamlet: An Irreverent, Interactive, Inventive Bootleg," interviewed backstage at The New American Theatre in Hollywood, in July 2019.

Speaking with me, Davidson and Adler shared on Bad Quarto and bringing Shakespeare into an immersive experience, where Davidson at the 3:50 minute mark particularly elaborates on "misremembered" Shakespeare.

An Interview of Coin & Ghost's Zachary Reeve Davidson and Rob Adler: "Bad Hamlet"


Audio Interview: Armin Shimerman (Quark from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) the director of Measure for Measure


"Armin Shimerman, best known by his fans as Quark from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is also an accomplished Shakespearean scholar and teacher. He is one of two directors of Measure for Measure."

Earlier this month, Ashton Marcus interviewed Co-director Shimerman live at the Antaeus Theatre theatre after the show and gets his thoughts on the #MeToo movement and how this classic piece has stood the test of time as applies to some current contemporary political issues and women's issues with regard to equality.

 


Ashton's Audio Interview: Armin Shimerman (Quark from 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine') the director of 'Measure for Measure'

Armin Shimerman, best known by his fans as Quark from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is also an accomplished Shakespearean scholar and teacher. He is one of two directors of Measure for Measure.

Enjoy this interview with Armin Shimerman co-director of “Measure for Measure at the Antaeus Theatre Company, playing through Apr 6th. 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


Ashton's Audio Interview: the cast of "Eight Nights" at Antaeus

Set during eight different nights of Chanukah over the course of eight decades, Eight Nights tells the story of Holocaust survivor Rebecca Blum, who arrives in America at age 19 to forge a new life. As Rebecca moves through time, the play explores the lives that come and go in her New York apartment, where ghosts of the past both haunt and guide her. Maisel lyrically weaves together heart-aching moments with life-affirming humor to call out the trauma experienced not only by concentration camp survivors, but by African American descendants of slavery, by interned Japanese Americans, and by current victims of war in Africa and the Middle East.

Enjoy this interview with the cast of “Eight Nights” at Antaeus, running until Dec 16th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*taken from the website


Ashton's Audio Interview: Karen Malina White (Charmaine Brown: The Cosby Show/A Different World) stars in "Eight Nights" at Antaeus

Set during eight different nights of Chanukah over the course of eight decades, Eight Nights tells the story of Holocaust survivor Rebecca Blum, who arrives in America at age 19 to forge a new life. As Rebecca moves through time, the play explores the lives that come and go in her New York apartment, where ghosts of the past both haunt and guide her. Maisel lyrically weaves together heart-aching moments with life-affirming humor to call out the trauma experienced not only by concentration camp survivors, but by African American descendants of slavery, by interned Japanese Americans, and by current victims of war in Africa and the Middle East.

Enjoy this interview with Karen Malina White starring in “Eight Nights” at Antaeus, running until Dec 16th. You can listen to this interview while commuting, while waiting in line at the grocery store or at an audition, backstage and even front of the stage. For tickets and more info Click here.

*taken from the website


Ashton's Audio Interview: The cast of “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” at the Antaeus Theatre Company

Set deep in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia against a backdrop of violence and injustice, The Caucasian Chalk Circle is a play within a play. Amidst the rubble of a bombed out village in the aftermath of World War II, farmers debating the best use of their land enact a parable in which a humble kitchen maid risks her life to rescue an abandoned baby from civil war.*

Enjoy this interview with the cast of “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” at the Antaeus Theatre Company, playing through 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

 


Antaeus Academy Classes Open for Enrollment

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.


CARNAGE AND COMPASSION IN TRUMP'S AMERICA

HIPSTER TIPS OF THE WEEK

Faqir Hassan and Melissa Chalsma in Sharr White's THE SNOW GEESE

When Sharr White's play The Snow Geese opened in New York, Ben Brantley wrote in the New York Times that "it is unlikely to stir any emotion except bewilderment as to how this lifeless play wound up on Broadway."  Such reviews are the kiss of death for any new play, and The Snow Geese was no exception.  But Mr. White's friends David Melville and Melissa Charlsma considered this unjust, and since they are co-artistic directors of the Independent Shakespeare Co. of Los Angeles, they were in a position to do something about it.  Sharr White revised his play for their actors, and the resulting production is unconventional and unpredictable in its examination of the classic American subjects of money and family.  Only four performances left of this fascinating play that you may never get a chance to see again - this Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2 in Atwater Village.      (CLICK HERE for tickets and more info.)

Harry Groener, Ross Phillips and Rebecca Mozo in "The Buttered Biscuits" cast of Antaeus Company's CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. Photo Credit: Sally Hughes

Money and Family are also the preoccupations of the characters in Tennessee Williams's classic American drama Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, along with that Williams staple, Sex.  Sex as a subject suitable for drama was the new variable that Williams brought to the American equation (courtesy of Sweden's great dramatist August Strindberg), and it simply changed everything.  He unlocked the Puritanical Pandora's Box of obsession, repression and sexual/gender identity that helped create the modern world as we know it.  But very few productions of this masterpiece - which was clearly Williams's attempt at an American King Lear - are sexy.  Important, yes; but sexy, no.  The Antaeus Company  production that I saw at their new theater space in Glendale - performed by "The Buttered Biscuits" cast, who alternate with "The Hoppin' Johns" cast - was sexy.  Director Cameron Watson anchors the play directly in the bedroom of Maggie the Cat and Brick the crippled ex-football player, who have reached an  impasse  in their  relations.  Maggie needs a baby; Brick hates Maggie and vows never to have sex with her again.  In the long first scene, Brick intermittently exposes his nakedness to his wife, taunting her with what he promises never to give her.  And when Brick's father Big Daddy speaks with him in Act II, they do so in that same bedroom, where Big Daddy's  frank expression of lust for every woman who isn't his wife leads to his demanding an answer to why Brick claims to be repulsed by Maggie.  It's a brilliant reading of this play, which clears away the academic cobwebs and brings us back to the conundrum of lust and love that lies at the heart of Williams's dramaturgy.   (CLICK HERE  for tickets and info about the alternating casts performing through May 7th.)

"It's the single, solitary individual that's finished. The time has come to say, is dehumanization such a bad word?"  -- Howard Beale in the film Network by Paddy Chayevsky

The Donald and his Godfather, Roy Cohn; or "Can you find the Devil in this Picture?"   Courtesy of the Bettman Archives and Getty Images

The Twisted Hipster has been around for awhile, folks.  In fact, this is the 11th presidency that I can remember.  And I'm here to tell you that nothing about what is happening right now is "normal."  Yes, things were weird during Watergate and when Bill Clinton's Monica Lewinsky/Paula Jones  scandals were being revealed by Ken Starr.  And yes, at the end of Reagan's tenure too, during the time of Ollie North, shadow government agencies and the Iran/Contra hearings.  But those all have one thing in common: they came in the second term of those respective leaders.  No presidency has ever started off like this.  None.  This is insanity.

Sometimes it feels as if the wave of conspiracy theories that has been building for the last 55 years, ever since the  spilling of JFK's blood, has now reached a crescendo and threatens to overwhelm all of us.  Facebook and Twitter are one kind of crazy. but now every friend of mine seems to have his or her own pet theory.  "Oh, Trump is gone, we've already moved on to Pence, what's going on now is all a charade," one friend tells me.  While another says: "At the  end of Obama's term, this one psychic predicted that Obama was going to be the last American president.  When Trump was sworn in, I figured that was just b.s.  But now I think that Trump's regime may itself be b.s., and that the democratic order of things is about to fall apart.  I don't know what comes next, and I'm afraid to find out."

One thing is for certain: our collective perception of reality has been changed, perhaps irrevocably, by Trump's cynical manipulations.  His crudeness infects everything.  His invocation of "American carnage" is a self-fulfilling prophecy. His Narcissism threatens to undermine our sense of empathy, the compassion that we are able to feel for others.

Ann Talman in her one-woman show Woody's Order! at Ensemble Studio Theatre LA, the Atwater Village Theatre, through April 22nd. Photo: John Altdorfer

Ann Talman's one woman show Woody's Order! is completely apolitical.  Talman tells the heartrending story of her life as a caretaker, first for her older brother Woody, stricken from birth with cerebral palsy, and later for her dad too, afflicted with Alzheimer's.  Talman's beloved mom had died in a car accident when she was still in college, and there was no one else to turn to, no one else who could provide the love and attention needed to keep her family members alive.  The fact that Talman was a successful young actress who had starred on Broadway as Elizabeth Taylor's daughter in Lillian Hellman's Little Foxes - as well as in several other Broadway plays, movies, TV series and soap operas - well, her career was simply collateral damage for the dedication that her caretaking required.  As was her marriage to the actor Bruce MacVittie.  He wanted children, but how could she do this when she was already shuttling between her brother's care center and her dad's hospital bed while still trying to maintain a career?

Ann Talman blames no one for any of this.  She has no personal axe to grind, no religious point to make, no political legislation to champion.  In fact, her love for her brother is so deep and all-encompassing that she is simply grateful.  She completely loves and understands him, and he completely loves and understands her.  How many people can  make such a claim?  No words are needed between them - their spirits have merged.  The doctors gave Woody a life expectancy of 12 years when he was born; he is now almost 70.   Talman expresses nothing but gratitude for this.

Yet it was impossible for me to experience Talman's story and not think about Donald Trump's public mocking of the disabled reporter Serge Kovalevski of the New York Times during the primaries.  How could such a person be voted for by anyone for anything - much less for president of this great country?  How did this vile act not disqualify him  then and there as an emissary of the public trust?  And how could Meryl Streep's denunciation of such behavior yield anything but collective agreement and expressions of solidarity?

The fact is, actions have consequences, even if we don't want them to, even if we choose to deny them.  And the lack of moral action IS a choice that has consequences too.  Once we endorse an act like Trump's by there being no punishment for it - no consequences - then what does that lead do?  Once we give in to pragmatism and moral cowardice and decree that such behavior is acceptable, then how low can we go?  What else will we accept?

We have only to look at Nazi Germany to find an answer.  Adolf Hitler and his cohorts were not handed the keys to the kingdom in 1933, when Hitler was elected co-chancellor.  There was a gradual wearing down of outrage, a gradual compromise of moral values in favor of financial advancement and nationalistic empowerment.  Sound familiar?

Someone like Woody Talman would have been gassed at birth by the Nazis without a second thought, without even a tinge of regret.  In fact, they would have called it an act of compassion to put an imperfect specimen like Woody out of his "misery." But Ann Talman begs to differ.  And her voice must be heard before we grow so "dehumanized" (to quote Howard Beale) that we can no longer hear it.  (For tickets CLICK HERE or 818-839-1197.)

Judith Moreland and Bo Foxworth in Robert Schenkkan's "Building the Wall" at the Fountain Theatre, directed by Michael Michetti.

In his shockingly timely new play Building The Wall, Pulitzer-prize winner Robert Schenkkan has taken this analogy between Trump's America and Nazi Germany - based on the compromise of moral outrage in deference to financial and nationalistic self-interest (that is, money and family) - and he has woven a dystopian prophecy from it, of what could happen if we continue down this dark path.

The play takes place in a Federal prison in the near future of 2019.  Judith Moreland plays Gloria, a historian, who has come to see Rick (Bo Foxworth), a convict on death row.  Rick was the warden of a mass-detention center for immigrants deemed illegal by the Trump administration, and he has been convicted for the crimes committed under his watch.  Rick didn't testify at his recent trial and is now awaiting sentencing.  Gloria is here to give him the chance to tell what happened from his point of view.

Schenkkan was recently quoted in American Theatre Magazine as saying, "I think that the Republic is in serious jeopardy, and I think that artists need to respond to it now, immediately."  When I met with Schenkkan last month, he stressed this, adding: "The urgency that I feel right now as an American citizen and a theater artist cannot be overstated.  We no longer have a business as usual world.  We all have an individual responsibility to oppose what is happening.  My job is to get people interested in taking meaningful action, in asking themselves "What can I do?" and then doing it."

Bo Foxworth plays the warden of a mass-detention center under Trump's regime in Schenkkan's play

Judging from the audience I saw the play with last Saturday, Schenkkan's play is getting mixed results on that score.  The events related by warden Rick in the play are so horrific - so reminiscent of Nazi death camps - that the audience seemed reflexively to reject the possibility that such things could actually happen in their lifetimes in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  That is, they accepted the story on the level of a dystopian parable, a warning, but not literally as something predictive, even as a worst-case scenario.  Yet it's important to remember that Kristallnacht - the Nazi pogrom in which the windows of Jewish storefronts were shattered even as Jewish citizens of Germany were being herded into ghettos - took place only four years after Hitler's ascendancy to sole leadership.  Such an eventuality was not even conceivable in 1935, but by 1938 it was reality, and not just in isolated regions.  It was the law of the land, and there was nothing anyone could do to deter it.

The post-show discussion at the Fountain featured a Latina professor and the Latino representative of a group of immigrant day-workers, and it was fascinating - not so much for what was said, but for what wasn't said.  There was not a single question about or reference to Schenkkan's play.  Not one.  Instead, the many audience members who remained were asking questions about detention centers in Los Angeles, and what they could do to help - who could they give money to, what could they do to register their objections to how immigrants are being demonized, to how fellow human beings are being treated.  It was clear that their omission of any reference to Schenkkan's play had less to do with an aesthetic value judgment than an urgency regarding the play's message.

I have to admit that it did give me some hope that maybe "the single, solitary individual" wasn't "finished" after all, and maybe "dehumanization" is still a bad word.  But this is no time for patting oneself on the back.  "Complacency is a very serious problem," Robert Schenkkan told me.

Yes, and we are still going down that dark path.  Who can tell where it will lead?

(The show has been extended for more info and tickets CLICK HERE)


Puppets, Nixon in China and Alec Baldwin - Reasons to Get Off the Couch

Looking for reasons to get off your couch? Then look no further - here are some great shows and events happening this week for you to go check out.

  • Led by Jones (Welsh) Talmadge and Laura Covelli, Not Man Apart Physical Theater premiere Paradise Lost: Reclaiming Destiny this week. NMA adapts John Milton's epic poem about the battle of angels versus demons and the fall from grace of Adam and Eve. Blending an original score, live digital animation, and video seamlessly with dance, acrobatics and onstage theatrics - this is surely to be a must see. Greenway Court Theatre, 544 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax; Fri., March 3, 8 p.m. (runs Fri.-Sun.; through April 2); $20-$30, $15-20 students & military. greenwaycourttheatre.org/paradiselost
  • The opera Nixon in China is playing this weekend at the LA Phil. Backed by a large cast of singers and dancers, composer John Adams conducts L.A. Phil as part of his ongoing 70th-birthday celebrations. Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown; Fri., March 3, 8 p.m. (also Sun., March 5, 2 p.m.); $20-$183. laphil.com
  • The Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry is hosting Puppetzilla Puppet Slam, an evening of music, comedy and a variety of human-operated, felt surrogates. Performers include puppeteer Pam Severns, ventriloquist Karl Herlinger, silent comedian Ithamar Enriquez, and singer-comedian Kara Morgan, who's premiering an episode of her new stop-motion web series The Kara Morgan Show. BYOB. Trepany House at Steve Allen Theatre, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Feliz; Sun., March 5, 7:30 p.m.; $15, $10 in advance. comedycake.com/archives/42019
  • Antaeus Theatre Company's new Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center is opening the weekend of March 3 in downtown Glendale. There will be tours of the space, workshops, improv shows, story time for kids, and a chance to get to know the space and the company. Located at 110 Broadway, the opening ceremonies celebration runs through March 5. Antaeus.org
  • Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Boops at Boston Court depicts five different Bettys colliding at the intersection of anger, sex, and “thea-tah.” Billed: "In essence, a queer and occasionally hazardous exploration; do you remember when you were in middle school and you read about Shackleton and how he explored the Antarctic?; imagine the Antarctic as a pussy and it's sort of like that." Boston Court Theatre, 70 North Mentor Avenue, Pasadena, February 09 - March 19, 2017  bostoncourt.com

What MUST SEE events are you going to this week? Let us know in the comments!

Have a good reason to get off the couch? Send it to Editor@Better-Lemons.com


Bill Brochtrup Reflects on Antaeus' Contributions to LA Theatre & Revitalized Objectives in New Glendale Digs

The Antaeus Theatre Company has been a vital artistic component of the NoHo Theatre District for quite a few years now. Not only does Antaeus put on solidly-produced shows, they also provide theatre training for budding actors with community outreach to high schoolers and seniors. Now on the eve of staging an open house of their new facilities in Glendale the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center, Better-Lemons grabbed the chance to talk to Antaeus Co-Artistic Director Bill Brochtrup.
Thank you for taking time out for this interview, Bill.
Antaeus has been at its various North Hollywood addresses for over 20 years. How did your new space in Glendale come about?
Honestly, there were so many programs going on at Antaeus that our old space in NoHo simply wasn't big enough to contain them all.  There were classes, readings, rehearsals in every nook and cranny.  So we began looking for a place that would be big enough to fit them all in.  We couldn't just rent a theatre because we needed space for the Academy, offices, library, etc.  There are a lot of zoning restrictions, parking restrictions, all kinds of things I had no idea about.  But the City of Glendale has been amazing — they helped us identify a building right in the downtown Art and Entertainment District that could be built out to fit all of our needs.  And throughout this time we had been raising money, first internally from our members and Board, and then externally in our Play On! Capital Campaign.  We worked with a wonderful architect who found a way to fit all of our wishes into what will be the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center.  This has been a multi-year journey!
Space-wise, do you have specific plan to take advantage of your increased square footage?
Our new home has been very carefully designed to include everything we needed to allow Antaeus to grow.  But the space is still tight, not an inch has been wasted.  We'll have two performance spaces, a lobby with an art gallery, library, comfortable green room and dressing room for our actors — and lots of bathrooms!
You are currently one of three rotating co-artistic directors (w/Rob Nagle and John Sloan). How did this leadership model evolve and how does it work exactly? Do you divvy up responsibilities?
We work as a triumvirate, making decisions together.  It's an unusual model, but it works surprisingly well.  We've built up a great deal of trust in one another, and we share a vision for Antaeus' future.  We like to have our hands in every aspect of the company. So while we each have varying areas that are of particular interest to us, it really is a group effort.  Which is emblematic of the way the company works.  We've been elected to represent the members' wishes.  It can be a little unwieldy trying to get all three of us to sign off on something, especially if one or two of us are out working as actors — which all three of us are — but as I said, there is a great deal of trust there, and a shared taste and outlook.  Rob is on his way to New York to open CHURCH & STATE Off-Broadway for an open-ended run.  Luckily, we have his email address and phone number.  He can't get away that easily!
Your inaugural season in your new digs opens with CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, followed by AS YOU LIKE IT and NATIVE SON. Does the recent Equity ruling requiring minimum wage to all small LA-based theatre companies affect your season in any way?
We are living in a challenging time for theatre everywhere, and for theaters in LA in particular.  Things are changing and we must to learn to adapt.  Antaeus will be operating under the AEA Membership Rule which currently allows membership companies to work with Equity actors without the benefit of contract.  Our membership is virtually one hundred percent Equity members, so naturally we will continue to follow all union rules regarding hours, breaks, working conditions, etc. — just as we always have.  We are an ensemble of Equity actors volunteering together to create the kind of work we want to create.  That hasn't changed.
I have seen many of your fellow Antaeus company members in Equity-waiver shows in various Los Angeles theatres, They and you, as Equity members, now can't do another small theatre show without getting paid, like you, yourself so wondrously did at the Fountain Theatre in THE NORMAL HEART in 2013, right?
It's a confusing time and every intimate theater in LA is facing tough choices about how they will move forward.  Our members can generally be seen on stages all over Southern California and beyond, from Broadway to South Coast Rep to the Taper to every 99-seat theater in town.  Some of my very proudest moments onstage have occurred in intimate theatre, like the Fountain's THE NORMAL HEART.  It will be a sad day indeed if we're shut out of those places — and it certainly will happen at some venues.
What would be the alternative to doing small theatre work be other than within Antaeus?
You mean like hiking or yoga?  I guess if I couldn't work in the theatre, I'd have more time for those.
Antaeus is well-known for its partner-casting in all its productions. Who would you credit this Antaeus practice to?
Partner casting has been with Antaeus from the very beginning.  It began as a way to answer the logistical problem of actors in LA wanting to work onstage but needing to make money in film and television — where they can be called away to Vancouver at a moment's notice.  This practice allowed actors to leave a production for a day or a week or even more without scuttling the show, since there was another actor just as rehearsed as you, sharing the role.  But we found that there are additional artistic benefits to working this way — if you can operate without ego, you find that partnering on a role allows you to find and explore many choices that likely wouldn't have occurred to you on your own.  It can forge deep bonds between partners who've created the work together.  I could go on and on about it, but that's for a different interview!
How does a new-to-Los Angeles actor or writer get involved with Antaeus?
It can be a little tricky getting involved at Antaeus quite honestly, as we try to cast our shows from within the ensemble.  Nevertheless, we often need to use guest artists when company members aren't available.  We find these guests from a variety of sources — from our Academy classes, from recommendations, from actors we've seen in other venues (between the three of us, we see a lot of shows).  We're pretty approachable — come to one of the shows and say, "Hello."
When did you, Bill Brochtrup, initially become involved with Antaeus? Was it after I saw you in Black Dahlia's SECRETS OF THE TRADE in 2008?
I met former Antaeus Artistic Director Jeanie Hackett when I was working on NYPD Blue.  She suggested I get involved with Antaeus and invited me to some workshops and then I was cast in PERA PALAS, a co-production with the Theatre @Boston Court in 2005. I joined the company right after that.
What are your acting plans regarding Antaeus' inaugural season?
Ha!  I begged director Cameron Watson to let me be one of the no-neck monsters in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, but to no avail.  But not to worry, there's plenty for me to do at Antaeus behind the scenes as we move in and get situated this year.
What are your goals you'd like to accomplish with Antaeus?
I would love to see Antaeus continue to grow and thrive in every sense.  I want to grow our audiences and donor base, nurture our ensemble, establish deep roots in the Glendale community, strengthen our commitment to inclusivity and Arts Education. Make great theatre.  And I'd like to do it without the fret and worry that is my normal demeanor!
What are you personal goals?
I'm very lucky to have a career as an actor which has allowed me to work in films, television, and on stage.  I'd like to keep that going.  Working as Co-Artistic Director at Antaeus has been an impactful personal journey for me.  Taking on leadership responsibilities has been eye-opening.  Making decisions that affect people's artistic lives is both daunting and highly rewarding.
Any roles you'd love to tackle?
I'm not one of those actors who has a long wish list starting with “Hamlet” and “Lear.”  I'm always surprised by the parts I end up getting and then by how much I end up falling in love with them.  When we did CLOUD 9 last season I didn't plan on playing “Betty/Edward,” but now it's one of my favorite roles ever.  And I have a recurring role on TNT's Major Crimes as savvy police psychologist, “Dr. Joe,” which I just adore.  He's awesome.
Anything you'd like to add regarding Antaeus?
I'd like to invite everyone to come to Glendale to join us for Open Stages, a 4-day celebration of the opening of Antaeus' new home at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center (March 2 thru 5).  There'll be tours, open houses, classes, a high school monologue competition, improv, music.  It's for the community, it's all free and everyone is welcome.  Come get to know us.
Thank you again for doing this, Bill.
For further info on Antaeus Theatre Company's Open Stages, as well as, and tickets and scheduling for their inaugural season in their new Glendale space, log onto www.Antaeus.org