Spotlight Series: Kristin Towers-Rowles - Award-Winning Director, Triple-Threat Actress, and Granddaughter of Screen Legend 'Kathryn Grayson'


Today I spotlight Kristin Towers-Rowles, an Award-Winning Director, Triple-Threat Actress, and Granddaughter of Screen Legend Kathryn Grayson.


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

Kristin Towers-Rowles (KTR): I am a born and raised LA Arts girl, and grew up in and around the Theatre and Film industry. Some families have Law Practices, Accounting Firms, Car Dealerships—my entire family is a Performing Arts family who has made their living for generations because of Film, TV, and Theatre.

My grandmother was MGM leading lady Kathryn Grayson, who starred in over 20 musicals in the Golden Age of Hollywood. (“Kiss Me, Kate,” “Showboat,” “Anchors Away.”) She also took over for Julie Andrews as Guinevere in "Camelot" on Broadway, and played the role on the 1st National Tour. My Grandfather, Johnny Johnston, starred in movies (“Rock Around The Clock,” “Unchained”), was a recording artist, and was on Broadway in “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.” My father, Robert Towers, starred in “The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button” and has played hundreds of character roles in Film, TV, and Theatre.

After attending Hollywood High Performing Arts, I went to AMDA in NYC and trained as an actress, singer, and dancer. Even after moving back to LA from NYC to focus on Film and TV. I never stopped doing theatre; in fact, it was truly all I cared about. Not only was it what I loved most but it was also where I found my chosen family. I was very active in L.A. theatre but also did 7 national tours, worked almost an entire year at Sierra Rep in Northern California, worked in Asia, Europe, on Cruise Ships. I was truly living the dream! I had an apartment I saw a few times a year that was little more than an expensive closet. I would come home, re-pack and be off again.

After sustaining a life-altering back injury on tour in 2002, I stopped performing for 7 years, got married and had 3 children, now all accomplished young artists in their own right. Since returning back to work as an actress, singer, and director in 2009, I have been very fortunate to be onstage playing incredible roles in musicals and straight plays. Since then, I've been splitting my time onstage with also being a director at the helm of many award-winning productions, both musicals, and straight plays.

As a woman in a field still dominated by men, it has been wonderful to have the many opportunities I have had to be on stage as an actress and to direct, and have often been employed doing both at the same time. For me, the two go hand-in-hand since I'm a better actress because of my 360-perspective as a director. My understanding of direction comes from being an actress and knowing, first hand, what actors need to hear. And, quite frankly, rarely having had a director that has known how to communicate what they want and how to get me there, I try to be that director to the actors with whom I work.

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

(KTR): We had just finished an insanely difficult tech week for Andrew Lippa's "The Wild Party" at The Morgan-Wixson Theatre (MWT) in Santa Monica, which I directed. The entire production team, including Choreographer and Assistant Director, Michael Marchak, Musical Director, Daniel Koh, Stage Manager, Ryan Rowles, Producers Spencer Johnson, and Kristie Mattsson, and cast had been working ourselves sick to have a phenomenal show for opening night and we were more than ready. The show one of the toughest in the Contemporary Musical Theater canon and we had pulled no stops: gorgeous set design by Yelena Babinskaya, phenomenal lighting by Derek Jones, Jazz Age spectacular costumes by Ovation Award-winning Michael Mullen, Scenic Design by Orlando de la Paz, Props by Maggie Randolph, Intimacy Coordinator, Mia Schachter, a stage combat director, Amanda Newman–all designers new to the MWT–and we were excited our show was to be the flagship production for the new direction that theatre is moving in with more daring, broad, and diverse artistic choices. I have only directed one other show at The MWT before, "Company" in 2017, and was so elated to be back and entrusted with this rarely produced theatrical gem: a sexy, slick 20s musical for the 2020s. And everyone was ecstatic we would soon be opening.

(SB): How did you communicate the shutdown with your cast and production team?

(KTR): The President of the MWT Board, the wonderful Michael Heimos, along with a small group of invited friends and family, were present at our final dress rehearsal (for which we received a full standing ovation). Before that rehearsal, he chatted with our cast and team in a truthful and frank with us that the board was meeting that night to discuss the possibility of postponing the opening. This was March 12, [2020], and at this point, there was news every hour about new guidelines for public gatherings. Everything was changing all the time and the board wanted to make the correct call for everyone: the audiences, the cast, and in light of everyone's safety.

At intermission, he told me the board had decided to halt the opening. I sat through the 2nd act with tears streaming down my face, watching the beautiful work we had all created, and then watching the audience jump to their feet at the curtain call. I wanted the audience to understand what they had just witnessed so I asked the President of the board to come up and tell the cast and the audience the news of our being postponed as I felt it would be better if we all heard this together to be able to support each other. Of course, everyone was in tears, the cast, the team, the audience, since we all were heartbroken that this incredible piece of theatre would have to wait. But mixed with that heartbreak was the feeling of joy for what we had all just experienced.

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

(KTR): At this time, The MWT still plans on opening our show when the bans are all lifted and it is safe to do so. However, they have an entire season that will most likely need to shift so we have no idea what any of that will look like. It is surreal to think that our sets, costumes, lights, props--everything is just sitting there, frozen in time... waiting. Just like a Ghostlight awaiting our return to the stage.

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

(KTR): I was supposed to be directing the North Carolina and National Tour productions of "The Lost Virginity Tour (TLVT)," a play by Cricket Daniel. I directed the L.A. Premiere last year at the McCadden Theatre and it was picked up by Jeanie Linders, creator of "Menopause The Musical," and I was brought on to direct. I've been told the show’s tour will have to wait until at least November. I had turned down other acting and directing work to do "TLVT," but now that we are in this crisis, none of it would have happened anyway since all theaters are dark.

I'm still in shock. I wake up and it takes me hours sometimes to wrap my head around the devastation to my own work and the work of all my colleagues. All of us are out of work. All of our projects are shelved. Everyone I know is suffering a collective grief. And I know that everyone is out of work right now, no matter what field you are in. But the devastation to the Arts, a field that constantly has to beg for money to stay afloat as it normally is, is just absolutely unfathomable. I know that many theatres I've loved and called home are hanging on by a thread and some may not make it through this. It's just unbearable.

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

(KTR): I am not very savvy at Zoom or any of the online platforms but I have been happily supporting others. I'm part of an LA Arts Collective having virtual think tanks and meetings to figure out ways to get our work online. But in all honesty, I don't think theatre transfers well to being filmed and I don't enjoy the idea of taking something meant to be experienced live and reducing it to a flat-screen. Just my opinion.

That's where my grief really comes into play. My heart breaks because what we do, as performing artists and performing arts designers, is meant to be experienced in person, with others in attendance. It is a meeting of human beings all creating that moment together, either as the performer or as the audience member. It's symbiotic and that cannot happen watching something on a screen.

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

(KTR): As I said earlier, I was injured for seven years and was unable to work. It was hard, depressing, and felt like the end of the world. And then the seven years ended and I was back with my tribe; and for the last 11 years, I've been creating nonstop.

The LA Theatre Community has been through a lot and here we all are. We are the storytellers, the dreamers, the music makers, and the world is beige without the color we bring. We will get through this, and through our unique voices, we will be the ones to teach future generations about it. But in the meantime, stay safe, stay home, and wash your hands! Let's make this end so we can all be back doing what makes our hearts sing.



THE BETTER LEMONS CRITIC OF THE YEAR AWARD FOR 2019 GOES TO...

STEVEN STANLEY - Stage Scene LA

The CRITIC OF THE YEAR Award goes to the critic who has done the most to advance the fine art of theater criticism. This critic sets a standard for partnering with the artists who bring LA theatre to life and the audiences that LA theatre serves.

Congratulations to Steven from all of us!

Steven Stanley is the editor of StageSceneLA.com and he is also the author of Moroccan Roll, available at Amazon.com.

Steven has been an ESL instructor in the English Language Program (formerly the American Culture And Language Program) at California State University, Los Angeles since 1979.

In the early 1970s, Steven Stanley taught English at Lycée Ibn Sina in Beni-Mellal, Morocco—an experience which led him to write Moroccan Roll (2007, iUniverse) , a multiple-plot novel which has received favorable comparison to Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City and TV’s Sex In The City.

Steven Stanley’s love for theater began at an early age, as a young audience member at L.A. Civic Light Opera productions. In 1993, he returned to acting for the first time since a number of teenaged appearances with a featured role in The Pajama Game at the San Gabriel Civic. This was followed by numerous appearances on Los Angeles area stages including the Lillian Theatre, the Actor’s Group Theatre, the Stephanie Feurie Studio Theatre, the Gardner Stages, the Sierra Madre Playhouse, and the Whittier Center Theatre.

StageSceneLA.com debuted in August of 2007, just as Steven Stanley was concluding two years as an Ovation Awards voter, during which time he attended and voted on over 375 productions. Each September, StageSceneLA.com presents the Scenies to the finest Southern California theater talents.

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

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

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

And here are the previously announced 2019 Critic Award winners:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE BETTER LEMONS "ENLIGHTENMENT" CRITIC AWARD for 2019 went to Deborah Klugman from Stage Raw.


Winners at the 30th Annual LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards

The 30th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards were presented on Monday, January 13, 2020, at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

The fast-moving evening awarded in thirty-six categories—13 Southern California theatre companies won, with 33 individual artists receiving awards.

Of the total awards, the Geffen Playhouse received 17 total for their shows "Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol" with Dane Laffrey winning two (2)—Scenic Design and Costume Design - Large Theatre, and "Lights Out: Nat 'King' Cole." The Fountain Theatre received six (6) awards  for "Cost of Living" and "Hype Man: A Break Beat Play," the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts received four (4) total for their shows "Singin’ in the Rain" and "A Night with Janis Joplin, and Sophina Brown received three (3) for "August Wilson's Two Trains Running," as did the Pasadena Playhouse for "Ragtime."

The Skylight Theatre received two (2) awards for "Bronco Billy – The Musical," as did the Center Theatre Group for "Dana H." and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts for "Witness Uganda."

The Fountain Theatre received the Best Season Award for "Cost of Living," "Daniel’s Husband," and "Hype Man: A Break Beat Play."


Here are winners at the 30th Annual LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards in the order of their announcements:


PLAYWRITING FOR AN ORIGINAL PLAY

LUCAS HNATH
DANA H.
Center Theatre Group

FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

DANIEL J. WATTS
LIGHTS OUT: NAT “KING” COLE
Geffen Playhouse

FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL

AMBER IMAN
WITNESS UGANDA
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY

ADOLPHUS WARD
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY

XOCHITL ROMERO
COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre

SOUND DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

JEFF GARDNER
AUGUST WILSON’S TWO TRAINS RUNNING
Sophina Brown

VIDEO/PROJECTION DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

VIDEO/PROJECTION DESIGN – Large Theatre

LUCY MACKINNON
CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse

OVATIONS HONORS RECIPIENT

MUSIC COMPOSITION FOR A PLAY

ROMERO MOSLEY
HYPE MAN: A BREAK BEAT PLAY
Fountain Theatre

OVATIONS HONORS RECIPIENT

PUPPET DESIGN

DILLON NELSON & ERIN WALLEY
ARGONAUTIKA
A Noise Within

SCENIC DESIGN – Large Theatre

DANE LAFFREY
CHARLES DICKENS’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Geffen Playhouse

SCENIC DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

JOEL DAAVID
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
Dance On Productions, LLC

THE SHERWOOD AWARD FOR

MAT DIAFOS SWEENEY

BOOK FOR AN ORIGINAL MUSICAL

DENNIS HACKIN
BRONCO BILLY – THE MUSICAL
Skylight Theatre Company

LYRICS/COMPOSITION FOR AN ORIGINAL MUSICAL

MUSIC DIRECTION

BEST PRESENTED PRODUCTION

COSTUME DESIGN – Intimate Theatre

LEAD ACTOR IN A MUSICAL

CHOREOGRAPHY

FIGHT DIRECTION

JEN ALBERT
SUCKERPUNCH
Coeurage Theatre Company

DIRECTION OF A PLAY

DIRECTION OF A MUSICAL

DAVID LEE
RAGTIME
Pasadena Playhouse

LEAD ACTOR IN A PLAY

LEAD ACTRESS IN A PLAY

ACTING ENSEMBLE OF A MUSICAL

ACTING ENSEMBLE OF A PLAY

COST OF LIVING
Fountain Theatre

BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY – Intimate Theatre

BEST PRODUCTION OF A PLAY – Large Theatre

BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL – Intimate Theatre

LIZZIE, THE MUSICAL
Chance Theater

BEST PRODUCTION OF A MUSICAL – Large Theatre

BEST SEASON

FOUNTAIN THEATRE
Cost of Living
Daniel’s Husband
Hype Man: a Break Beat Play

 


Sherwood Award-winning Kristina Wong Brings 'UndocuStories' Through LA Department of Cultural Affairs Grants

Actress, Comedian, and local Politician, Kristina Wong, will be presenting a “UndocuStories: Journeys of Justice and Freedom” workshop series at the Dream Resource Center in MacArthur Park, beginning September 3, 2019.

Sponsored by UCLA Dream Resource Center, Wong, and the UCLA Labor Center, the workshop is funded by an Artist-in-Residence grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

In the eighth year as recipient of this grant as Artist-in-Residence, Wong, who refers to her work as “mind-blowing social commentary with a little humor,” on a picture of her 2020 Census Form posted on her Facebook page, facilitated a similar workshop last year where DACA recipients, undocumented individuals, permanent residents, mixed-status families, and allies participated with a similar grant, which was increased this year from $8,000 to $12,000.

Participants in the "UndocuStories" workshops in 2018 in an exercise involving karaoke. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Wong/UCLA Dream Resource Center)

“Last year’s show was a combination of comedy sketches, poetry, movement work, first-person testimonials and a cover of Vanilla’s Ice Ice Baby called “ABOLISH Ice, Ice Baby,” she said. “This year's workshop will specifically center on experiences of undocumented immigrants.”

Wong, who is a newly elected Representative for Sub-District 5 Wilshire Center Koreatown Neighborhood Council, recently received the Center Theatre Group’s Dorothy and Richard E. Sherwood Award for her work as a “Boundary-Pushing Artist,” which was presented to her at the LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards ceremony at this year.

"UndocuStories: Journeys of Justice and Freedom" is a twelve-week theater workshop facilitated by Wong, that will feature guest artists Yosimar Reyes (2nd Verse: The Rebirth of Poetry) and Kat Evasco (Working in the Theater) who will teach skills in comedy writing, Theater of the Oppressed (TO), movement, and performance, where participants will engage on issues that “impact the undocumented immigrant community, transforming those stories into an original theater piece for the public,” said Wong on the LAFPI site.

According to the Mandala Center for Change, TO is a form of community-based education that “uses theater as a tool for social change" that was developed by Augusto Boal.  Theater of the Oppressed "is now used all over the world for social and political activism, conflict resolution, community building, therapy, and government legislation. It is also practiced on a grassroots level by community organizers, activists, teachers, social workers, cultural animators, and more."

Per Wong, as a public elected official in Koreatown in “a small, unpaid position, but very mighty,” a lot of her constituency and neighborhood is undocumented. In her first 100 days in office, and while still working as an actress, comedian, and writer, she wrote a community impact statement about supporting the abolishment of ICE (Integrations and Customs Enforcement), and that process may make it into a future show. Since then she has made it her goal to work and educate toward achieving social justice through her comedy, where she discusses social issues affecting people of color—especially women of color—, white privilege, and how to be an armchair social justice warrior (or a better one on foot). A great example of her approach is one of her earlier productions titled the “Wong Street Journal.”

“Last year, our allies were really great about stepping up to support the storytelling of our undocumented participants and de-centering themselves when necessary to keep the focus of storytelling on the experiences of undocumented participants,” said Wong in her blog.

Each week, for twelve weeks, with information provided by the Dream Resource Center, participants will explore a new topic that specifically affects the undocumented community, such as “Know your Rights” or healthcare options for undocumented communities and unaccompanied minors crossing the border, along with theater games, a mix of improv and sketch writing exercises, and performance work.

For some individuals who might be concerned about giving their identities with regard to the workshop and performances, they will establish community rules at the top of each meeting so that “everyone is on the same page about how to work together,” according to the LAFPI article, so participants may not be required to give full names if they are undocumented.

“Just let us know if you don’t want your name published on materials or if there are limits as to what you want to share with the group or publicly,” Wong wrote on the LAFPI site.

With regard to any fears about ICE roundups, Wong said, “they would have to have a warrant” [for an individual] and that there are staff members present who are “super trained on how to address ICE” if they were to show. But she feels confident that would not happen or be an issue.

“To those who are not undocumented, it seems scary, but the "Know Your Rights" training in the workshop prepares the undocumented as well as the allies so that we are all ready to put the knowledge to the task," Wong said. “But also they have to ring a doorbell to come in, so we'd at least be able to confront them at the door.”

The “UndocuStories: Journeys of Justice and Freedom” workshop is located at UCLA Downtown Labor Center at 675 S Park View St, Los Angeles, CA 90057, which will meet Tuesdays from September 3 - November 19, 2019, from 6 - 8 p.m., with the final performance on November 19th at 7 p.m. Participants do not need to be a UCLA student to attend, there are no age restrictions for the workshop, the workshop is free, and dinner will be provided at each session. For more information contact: [email protected].


The 29th Annual LA STAGE ALLIANCE OVATION AWARDS is Monday, January 28, 2019

The 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards is Monday, January 28, 2019. The black-tie ceremony will be held at DTLA at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on Broadway at 7:30 p.m.

The Ovation Awards, created to recognize excellence in theatrical performance, production, and design in the Greater Los Angeles area, is the only peer-judged theatre awards in Los Angeles where nominees, their peers, and all L.A. theatre-lovers will join in the much-anticipated annual celebration of a year of excellence in Los Angeles theatre, issuing a wide variety of awards in categories that recognize the plethora of theatrical talent in Los Angeles and their art.

The 33 categories, listed from Best Production of a Play (Large) to Lead Actor in a Play, to Lead Actress in a Play to Fight Direction, along with Ovations Honors Winners. The awards season is September through August and concludes with a tabulation to determine the nominees in each of the categories, with several award winners from last year returning this year as nominees.

Center Theatre Group, who won three Ovation Awards last year for their productions, has a total of 18 nominations this year–with “Soft Power” receiving 12 nominations–including a nomination for Best Production of a Musical (Large Theater) for both “Soft Power” and “Spamilton.” Center Theatre Group is also nominated for Best Presented Production for “The Red Shoes.”

The East West Players, who won Best Production of a Musical (Large Theatre) for “Next to Normal” last year, has a total 13 different nomination this year in various categories, including for Best Production of a Play (Intimate Theater) for “Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin” co-produced with Rogue Artists Ensemble, who also is nominated for 8 productions co-produced along with the East West Players.

The Actors Co-Op, who earned Best Production of a Play (Intimate Theatre) for “33 Variations” last year, is nominated this year for Best Season for “The 39 Steps,” “The Man Who Came To Dinner,” “A Walk in the Woods,” “A Man for All Seasons,” and “Violet.” Rubicon Theatre Company who won Best Production of a Play (Large Theatre) last year for “Gulf View Drive,” has two nominations this year both for Jane Anderson, who is nominated for Playwriting for an Original Play, and Krystle Simmons, who is nominated for Lead Actress in a Play, for “The Baby Dance: Mixed.”

Harry Groener who won last year for Lead Actor in a Play is nominated again this year for Featured Actor in a Play for his work in Antaeus Theatre Company's “Three Days in the Country.” Andrew Schmedake, who won last year for Lighting Design (Intimate Theatre) for “33 Variations,” Actors Co-op, is nominated this year for his work both on Antaeus Theatre Company's “Native Son” and After Hours Theatre Company's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.” Corwin Evans, who won Video/Projection Design (Intimate Theater) last year for SoulArt's “Plasticity,” is nominated again this year for Sacred Fools Theater Company's “The Art Couple” in the same category.

L-R: Bryan Bellomo, Clayton Farris & Brendan Hunt in “The Art Couple.” Photo by Darrett Sanders, courtesy of Sacred Fools Theater Company.

 

There are some very prolific individual nominees this year as well, including Multi-Ovation Award-winning Lighting Designer Jared Sayeg who is nominated once again, this year, for Lighting Design (Large Theater) for his work in “Our Town,” Pasadena Playhouse. Jeff Gardner, who won Sound Design (Large Theatre) last year for Center Theatre Group / The Echo Theatre Company's “Dry Land,” is nominated again this year for A Noise Within's “A Raisin in the Sun” and for Sound Design (Intimate Theater,) he is nominated this year both for Antaeus Theatre Company's “Native Son” and “The Hothouse.” Michael Mullen, who won Costume Design (Intimate Theatre) for Theatre Planners' “Siamese Sex Show” last year, is nominated once again this year for his work both in Celebration Theatre's “Cabaret” and Theatre of NOTE's “Year of the Rooster.”

The LA. Stage Alliance just recently moved into the new home on 514 Spring Street in the heart of DTLA, late last year, on the fourth floor of the historic building and theatre that is owned by the City of Los Angeles and operated by the Latino Theatre Company. The landmark Greek-Revival with its iconic columns was constructed in 1916 and designed by John Parkinson, along with and G. Edwin Bergstrom, the former who also designed many of the city's other landmark buildings in the area in the early 20th Century. The building later became the home to the Los Angeles Theatre Center in 1985, keeping the original 50-by-100-foot stained glass ceiling, ornamental bronze cornices, and marble walls featured in its lobby.

A stunning landmark itself, The Theatre at Ace Hotel is located at 929 South Broadway, in Downtown Los Angeles. Valet Parking is available 24/7 and there are pay lots in the surrounding area.

UPDATED 1/28/19

Ticket sales are now closed.

The Ovation Awards can be watched LIVE at 7:30 p.m. here:

YOUTUBE:

https://t.co/cdbKOWssVf

FACEBOOK:

https://t.co/akHCItb0g3

Red carpet arrivals will begin at 6:00 p.m. and the curtain will rise at 7:30 p.m.


CENTER THEATRE GROUP NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS FOR THE E. SHERWOOD AWARD

CENTER THEATRE GROUP NOW ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS
FOR THE 2018 RICHARD E. SHERWOOD AWARD

June 5 is the Deadline to Apply for $10,000 Award
for Emerging L.A. Theatre Artists 

Center Theatre Group is now accepting submissions for the 2018 Richard E. Sherwood Award. The deadline to submit an application is June 5, 2017, at 11:59 p.m.
The Sherwood Award is an annual $10,000 prize that supports innovative and adventurous theatre artists and engages them in a professional relationship with Center Theatre Group. The award is presented each year at the Ovation Awards ceremony produced by LA Stage Alliance. Two additional finalists will receive a $2,000 honorarium.
Center Theatre Group invites individual emerging artists to submit an application if they have resided in Los Angeles for at least two years and have developed or collaborated in at least two fully produced projects in Los Angeles. Sherwood awardees demonstrate leadership qualities, push existing boundaries and are dedicated to improving the future of their respective artistic fields. Artists are not limited by title, role or genre, but they must have a relationship to contemporary performance rooted in theatre.
Center Theatre Group will also offer two information sessions to prospective applicants on Friday, May 12 at 6pm. (must RSVP by Wednesday, May 10) and Monday, May 22 at 7 p.m. (must RSVP by Thursday, May 18). To RSVP or to receive more information about the sessions, please email [email protected] Both sessions will be held at The Music Center Annex building, 601 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Created in memory of Richard E. Sherwood, the $10,000 award aims to cultivate emerging theatre artists working in Los Angeles who push formal and aesthetic boundaries and demonstrate dedication to improving their respective artistic fields.
Richard E. Sherwood was a patron of the arts with a special appreciation for emerging artists who are in the vanguard of theatre. He was president and then chairman of the Center Theatre Group Board of Directors from 1980 until his passing in 1993. The 2018 Sherwood Award Accepting Submissions Through June 5 – 2 award is established as an endowed fund at Center Theatre Group by his family, friends, colleagues and fellow board members to honor Sherwood's passionate commitment to theatre.
Past recipients of the Richard E. Sherwood Award include lighting designer Pablo Santiago, Miwa Matreyek of Cloud Eye Control, Sean Cawelti of Rogue Artists Ensemble, Miranda Wright of Los Angeles Performance Practice, Lars Jan of Early Morning Opera, lighting designer Christopher Kuhl and costume designer Ann Closs-Farley, among others.
Center Theatre Group, one of the nation's preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles' leading nonprofit theatre company, programming seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2000-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation's leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.
For more information about the Richard E. Sherwood Award, please visit CenterTheatreGroup.org/Sherwood. For questions or concerns about the application process or to RSVP to the information sessions, please contact [email protected]


Ovation Award Winners 2016!

Last night was the 27th Annual Ovation Awards hosted by Alexandra Billings and held at the Ahmanson Theatre.
Celebration Theatre had a strong night taking home 7 awards. Looks like taking a bus to the awards was a great idea as the company had a lot to celebrate.
Host Alexandra Billings was a delight and gave a passionate speech about how now is the time to march. She also brought down the house with her rendition of Creep by Radiohead. Executive Director Steven Leigh Morris gave a wonderful speech about empathy. Luis Alfaro had us all up on our feet shouting "I AM". The overall night had a political tone to it, but it wasn't one of hopelessness and desperation. It was a call to action highlighting the transformative power of live theatre.
The winners in each category have asterisks *** by them. Congratulations to all the winners!

Best Season

CELEBRATION THEATRE
Bootycandy
Dream Boy
The Boy From Oz
GEFFEN PLAYHOUSE
Barcelona
Big Sky
Guards at the Taj
In & Of Itself
Outside Mullingar
Sex with Strangers
Stage Kiss
These Paper Bullets! A Modish Ripoff of William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
Thom Pain (based on nothing)
***LOS ANGELES LGBT CENTER
Fool for Love
HAM: A Musical Memoir
Hit the Wall

Best Production of a Play (Intimate Theatre)

AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
SPACE
Crooked Arrow Productions
MY MAÑANA COMES
Fountain Theatre
HIT THE WALL
Los Angeles LGBT Center
HONKY
Rogue Machine
CHURCH & STATE
Skylight Theatre Company
***DRY LAND
The Echo Theater Company

Best Production of a Play (Large Theatre)

ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED)
Falcon Theatre
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
***GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES
The Getty Villa & The Theatre @ Boston Court

Best Production of a Musical (Intimate Theatre)

***THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
WE ARE THE TIGERS: A NEW MUSICAL
Heart and Flame Productions
THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE
Sierra Madre Playhouse

Best Production of a Musical (Large Theatre)

AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
***HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR
Los Angeles LGBT Center

Best Presented Production

A GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVE & MURDER
Center Theatre Group
***1984
The Broad Stage
JANE AUSTEN UNSCRIPTED
The Broad Stage

Acting Ensemble of a Play

ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
***THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED)
Falcon Theatre
MY MAÑANA COMES
Fountain Theatre
HIT THE WALL
Los Angeles LGBT Center
FLY
Pasadena Playhouse

Acting Ensemble of a Musical

***THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
DREAMGIRLS
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
EMPIRE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
The Al Dubin Musical/Corky Hale
RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD
Theatre Planners

Choreography

ANNIE YEE
THE GOLDEN DRAGON
The Theatre @ Boston Court
***JANET ROSTON
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
TASHEENA MEDINA
THE SPARROW
Coeurage Theatre Company
DANA SOLIMANDO
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
JOHN FARMANESH-BOCCA
TEMPEST REDUX
Odyssey Theatre Company & New American Theatre

Music Direction

BRYAN BLASKIE
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
PATRICK SULKEN
WE ARE THE TIGERS: A NEW MUSICAL
Heart and Flame Productions
DAVID O
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
***TODD SCHROEDER
HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR
Los Angeles LGBT Center
GERALD STERNBACH
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
The Al Dubin Musical/Corky Hale

Book for an Original Musical

ROBERT HULL & CAROLINE SHERMAN
EMPIRE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
MO WILLEMS
ELEPHANT & PIGGIE'S: “WE ARE IN A PLAY!”
MainStreet Theatre Company
***MICHAEL SHAW FISHER
SHAKESPEARE'S LAST NIGHT OUT
Orgasmico Theatre Company

Lyrics/Composition for an Original Musical

***REBEKAH ALLEN
WE ARE THE TIGERS: A NEW MUSICAL
Heart and Flame Productions
DEBORAH WICKS-LA PUMA & MO WILLEMS
ELEPHANT & PIGGIE'S: “WE ARE IN A PLAY!”
MainStreet Theatre Company
MICHAEL SHAW FISHER
SHAKESPEARE'S LAST NIGHT OUT
Orgasmico Theatre Company

Playwriting for an Original Play

NANCY KEYSTONE
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
STEFAN MARKS
SPACE
Crooked Arrow Productions
JULIE MYATT
JOHN IS A FATHER
The Road Theatre Company
JASON WILLIAMS
CHURCH & STATE
Skylight Theatre Company
ERIK PATTERSON
ONE OF THE NICE ONES
The Echo Theater Company
***LUIS ALFARO
MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES
The Getty Villa & The Theatre @ Boston Court
JASON WELLS
THE ENGINE OF OUR RUIN
The Victory Theatre Center

Direction of a Musical

***MICHAEL SHEPPERD
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
OANH NGUYEN
A CHORUS LINE
Chance Theater
BRIAN KITE
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
NICK DEGRUCCIO
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
BILLY PORTER & KEN SAWYER
HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR
Los Angeles LGBT Center

Direction of a Play

ALAN MANDELL
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
JOSEPH CALARCO
THE SPARROW
Coeurage Theatre Company
JERRY KERNION
THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF AMERICA (ABRIDGED)
Falcon Theatre
TRIP CULLMAN
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
GIOVANNA SARDELLI
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
***KEN SAWYER
HIT THE WALL
Los Angeles LGBT Center
KATHARINE FARMER
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company

Lead Actor in a Musical

ANDREW BONGIORNO as Peter Allen
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
JON JON BRIONES as Georges
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES
East West Players
DAVID LAMARR as James Thunder Early
DREAMGIRLS
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
MARC GINSBURG as Aaron
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
***SAM HARRIS as Multiple Characters
HAM: A MUSICAL MEMOIR
Los Angeles LGBT Center

Lead Actress in a Musical

RACHEL YORK as “Little” Edie Beale/Edith
GREY GARDENS
Center Theatre Group
***MOYA ANGELA as Effie
DREAMGIRLS
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
BRITTNEY JOHNSON as Lorell Robinson
DREAMGIRLS
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
ERICA LUSTIG as Casey
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
ALISON LUFF as Charlie Jane
BREAKING THROUGH
Pasadena Playhouse

Lead Actor in a Play

BARRY MCGOVERN as Clov
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
STERLING K. BROWN as Hero/Ulysses
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
STEFAN MARKS as Kurt Finge
SPACE
Crooked Arrow Productions
RAMIZ MONSEF as Babur
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
***SAM ANDERSON as John
JOHN IS A FATHER
The Road Theatre Company
ERIK ODOM as Raleigh
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company
ROB NAGLE as Charlie Whitmore
CHURCH & STATE
Skylight Theatre Company

Lead Actress in a Play

BETTY GILPIN as Irene
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
***LILY NICKSAY as May
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company
ANGELLE BROOKS as Ruth Younger
A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Ruskin Group Theatre Co
STARLETTA DUPOIS as Mama Lena Younger
A RAISIN IN THE SUN
Ruskin Group Theatre Co
KATE MORGAN CHADWICK as Holly
BED
The Echo Theater Company
CONNOR KELLY-EIDING as Ester
DRY LAND
The Echo Theater Company
DANIELLE TRUITT as Camae
THE MOUNTAINTOP
The Matrix Theatre Company

Featured Actor in a Musical

RYAN DRISCOLL as Cain/Japheth
CHILDREN OF EDEN
Cabrillo Music Theatre
LEIGH WAKEFORD as Man #2
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
JUSTIN MICHAEL WILCOX as Man #1
FIRST DATE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Art
***STANTON MORALES as Barfee
THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE
Sierra Madre Playhouse
ELIJAH ROCK as Cab Calloway
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
The Al Dubin Musical/Corky Hale
WILKIE FERGUSON III as Jesse Belvin
RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD
Theatre Planners
MATT MAGNUSSON as Huggy Boy
RECORDED IN HOLLYWOOD
Theatre Planners

Featured Actress in a Musical

NATALIA VIVINO as Yonah
CHILDREN OF EDEN
Cabrillo Music Theatre
KELLY LESTER as Marion Woolnough
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
***BESS MOTTA as Judy Garland
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatrere
JESSICA PENNINGTON as Liza Minnelli
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
BETTY BUCKLEY as Edith Bouvior Beale
GREY GARDENS
Center Theatre Group
MICHELE SPEARS as Ensemble
SONDHEIM UNSCRIPTED
Impro Theatre
CRISTINA GERLA as Olive
THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE
Sierra Madre Playhouse

Featured Actor in a Play

***MICHAEL SHEPPERD as Actor 4
BOOTYCANDY
Celebration Theatre
JAMES GREENE as Nagg
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
MICHAEL MCKEAN as Colonel
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
LARRY POWELL as Homer
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
RAY FORD as Gene Jefferson
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
ROBERT GOSSETT as Oz
WATCHING O.J.
Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA
MATTHEW HANCOCK as Carson
HIT THE WALL
Los Angeles LGBT Center

Featured Actress in a Play

***PAULA CHRISTENSEN as Nicky
COLONY COLLAPSE
The Theatre @ Boston Court
CHARLOTTE RAE as Nell
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
SAMEERAH LUQMAAN-HARRIS as Penny
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
PATRENA MURRAY as Fourth/Odyssey Dog
FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS (PARTS 1, 2 & 3)
Center Theatre Group
ROBIN PEARSON ROSE as Aoife
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR
Geffen Playhouse
SHARON SHARTH as Mrs. Gill
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company
VIVIS as Tita
MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES
The Getty Villa & The Theatre @ Boston Court

Lighting Design (Intimate Theatre)

KARYN LAWRENCE
COLONY COLLAPSE
The Theatre @ Boston Court
***ELIZABETH HARPER
THE GOLDEN DRAGON
The Theatre @ Boston Court
MATTHEW DENMAN
BOOTYCANDY
Celebration Theatre
TIM SWISS
DREAM BOY
Celebration Theatre
ELIZBETH HARPER
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
MATT RICHTER
HIT THE WALL
Los Angeles LGBT Center
KATELAN BRAYMER
THE HAIRY APE
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

Lighting Design (Large Theatre)

JARED SAYEG
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
JAPHY WEIDEMAN
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
LAP CHI CHU
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
DANIEL IONAZZI
OUTSIDE MULLINGAR
Geffen Playhouse
STEVEN YOUNG
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
MIKE BILLINGS
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company
***KC WILKERSON
WICKED LIT 2015
Unbound Productions

Scenic Design (Intimate Theatre)

SARA RYUNG CLEMENT
SEVEN SPOTS ON THE SUN
The Theatre @ Boston Court
STEPHEN GIFFORD
DREAM BOY
Celebration Theatre
JOHN IACOVELLI
KINGDOM OF EARTH
Dance On Productions in assoc. w/Linda Toliver & Gary Guidinger
JOHN IACOVELLI
THE MONEY FI$H
Cox Productions
PETE HICKOK
RIO HONDO
Theatre of NOTE
MICHAEL NAVARRO
MY MAÑANA COMES
Fountain Theatre
***JOHN VERTREES & ERIN WALLEY
DEATHTRAP
Sierra Madre Playhouse

Scenic Design (Large Theatre)

JOHN IACOVELLI
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
MARK WENDLAND
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
DEREK MCLANE
BIG SKY
Geffen Playhouse
TOM BUDERWITZ
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
***TOM BUDERWITZ
CASA VALENTINA
Pasadena Playhouse
MIKE BILLINGS
SEE ROCK CITY
Rubicon Theatre Company
JEFF COWIE
THE CITY OF CONVERSATION
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Sound Design (Intimate Theatre)

JOHN NOBORI
COLONY COLLAPSE
The Theatre @ Boston Court
***JOHN NOBORI
THE GOLDEN DRAGON
The Theatre @ Boston Court
JOSEPH CALARCO
THE SPARROW
Coeurage Theatre Company
RANDY TICO
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
CHRISTOPHER MOSCATIELLO
THE HAIRY APE
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
DAVID B. MARLING
BIRDER
The Road Theatre Company
MATT RICHTER
A GULAG MOUSE
Sacred Fools Theater Company

Sound Design (Large Theatre)

CRICKET MYERS
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
VINCENT OLIVIERI
BARCELONA
Geffen Playhouse
VINCENT OLIVIERI
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
PHILIP ALLEN
EMPIRE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
CRICKET MYERS
I ONLY HAVE EYES FOR YOU
The Al Dubin Musical/Corky Hale
BRUNO LOUCHOUARN
MOJADA: A MEDEA IN LOS ANGELES
The Getty Villa & The Theatre @ Boston Court
***DREW DALZELL & NOELLE HOFFMAN
WICKED LIT 2015
Unbound Productions

Costume Design (Intimate Theatre)

KERRY HENNESSY & LORI MEEKER
WOOD BOY DOG FISH
Bootleg Theater & Rogue Artists Ensemble
ALLISON DILLARD
BOOTYCANDY
Celebration Theatre
***MICHAEL MULLEN
THE BOY FROM OZ
Celebration Theatre
LENA SANDS & SARAH BROWN
AMERYKA
Critical Mass Performance Group
HALEI PARKER
THE HAIRY APE
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
CANDICE CAIN
THE GLASS MENAGERIE
Sierra Madre Playhouse
A. JEFFREY SCHOENBERG
CLOUD 9
The Antaeus Company

Costume Design (Large Theatre)

MAGGIE MORGAN
ENDGAME
Center Theatre Group
ANN CLOSS-FARLEY
WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD
Center Theatre Group
DENITSA BLIZNAKOVA
GUARDS AT THE TAJ
Geffen Playhouse
JESSICA FORD
THESE PAPER BULLETS! A MODISH RIPOFF OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
Geffen Playhouse
KATE BERGH
CASA VALENTINA
Pasadena Playhouse
***CHRISTINE COVER FERRO
WICKED LIT 2015
Unbound Productions
VICKI CONRAD
THE IMAGINARY INVALID
Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum

Video/Projection Design

***MATTHEW HILL
MAN COVETS BIRD
24th Street Theatre
DALLAS NICHOLAS
WOOD BOY DOG FISH
Bootleg Theater & Rogue Artists Ensemble
STEPHEN EPSTEIN & RON WOOD
SPACE
Crooked Arrow Productions
JONATHAN INFANTE
AMERICAN IDIOT
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
DAVID GALLO & BRAD PETERSON
EMPIRE
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
ADAM FLEMMING
WICKED LIT 2015
Unbound Productions
HANA KIM
THE CITY OF CONVERSATION
Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Ovation Honors Recipients

Composition for a Play:

GREGORY NABOURS
THE SPARROW
Coeurage Theatre Company

Fight Choreography:

EDGAR LANDA
THAT PRETTY PRETTY; OR, THE RAPE PLAY
Son of Semele Ensemble

Puppet Design:

GREG BALLORA, SEAN CAWELTI, CHRISTINE PAPALEXIS, JACK PULLMAN, BRIAN WHITE
WOOD BOY DOG FISH
Bootleg Theater & Rogue Artists Ensemble
Recipient of the 2017 Richard E. Sherwood Award
PABLO SANTIAGO


"Take Your Broken Heart, Make It Into Art."

My heart is broken and I need some healing!

As January 20th approaches, I'm afraid that the world is coming to an end. It feels like I'm waiting for doomsday to happen, while trying to pretend in front of my boys that life is the best thing ever and every day is the “bestest day ever” as my son, Sydney (5 years), likes to say.

November 7th seems to have put me in a black hole. I have been avoiding friends and people in general. Even at my son's school I have not been able to talk to people much and I've avoided running into people. If I see someone I know, I say a quick “hi” and usually I quickly turn my attention back to my boys. They are a great distraction!

If I talk to anyone, I have to make a concentrated effort to say something positive and if I can't, I talk about the weather. Thankfully we have that now to talk about which also is a great distraction. If I don't focus on the positive, I'm afraid that I will crack and start to cry and fall apart.

I've been searching for inspiration online. Articles about why the wig-man might be a good president fail to inspire me or lift me up. The petitions I'm signing daily seem pointless (though I keep on signing). Calling the White House or my representatives is depressing because people either hang up on me, or the tell me to call someone else, or they connect me to a black hole.

I have avoided social media because it's full of bad news. Some people are outraged, some post articles that are not legitimate, and a lot of people share more and more petitions.

My email inbox has been getting little attention as well. I get emails about great deals on something that I don't need. Emails to sign more petitions. Harassing emails from the Democratic Party to fill out survey after survey and “Why don't I respond. Do I not care about the election?”

And as I'm trying to avoid everything, this past week finally inspiration found me when a friend of mine, Leonora Gershman Pitts, posted in her timeline in response to Meryl Streep's Golden Globe speech. Leonora is is a graduate of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She works as an actress and filmmaker, serves as a City Commissioner for the City of LA, and is the co-founder of the Los Angeles Women's Film Collective. She is married, has two kids and two dogs and she lives in LA. Her post is very well articulated and call to action to artists. I needed this! I needed her post to finally be inspired to do something! To not sit at home and dwell on what is happening but to get up and inspire others around me with my art.

I want to talk about Meryl, about bubbles, about cities, and about makers.

The reaction from Conservative Twitter and our own President-Elect after Meryl Streep's speech at the Golden Globes was swift and predictable. After she called on us to access and nurture our collective empathy, to protect and challenge our free press, and to continue to create create create, the Right called the rest of us “elitists”, said that actors should stick to acting, that we West and East Coasters live in a bubble.

First, let's quickly recognize and then release the irony of this relatively small group of Americans decrying the idea that actors/performers/entertainers should hold political opinions and say them out loud; this is the same group of people who worship Reagan, wanted to change the Constitution to allow Schwarzenegger to run for president, and just put a reality show blowhard idiot in the White House.

Secondly, don't come at me with this idea that Trump wasn't mocking the disabled reporter, which seems to be a common right-wing response on Twitter. Own that you voted for the guy who made fun of someone's disability. Own it. You know full and well he was, there is no other excuse. Also, if you think asking people to choose empathy over bullying is political, examine your life and make some changes, I beg you, for the betterment of our fragile world.

On to the generalization that Hollywood, or the coasts, or cities, or any diverse area is stuck in a liberal “bubble”. I live in the second largest city in the United States. Before I lived here, I lived in the largest city in the United States. Before that, I lived in a small city in a vast but tiny-populated state. So, I have a little experience with white, rural America, and a little experience with diverse, urban America.

Here in Los Angeles, my family and I are surrounded by immigrants, transplants, and homegrown Angelinos of every imaginable ethnicity, class, race, and religion. My kid goes to public school, so we have seen first hand how a group of racially, ethnically, socio-economically, academically, and behaviorally diverse little people can come together and immediately form a little society. My white kid is a minority at her school. This isn't a bubble. It couldn't possibly be - we are all so very very different from one another.

Just because our experiences are diverse and co-existing humans has led us to be more collectively progressive in our views doesn't mean we live in a bubble. It means, as they say, that the arc of human thought and action bends toward progress. Always has. The more we work to get through each day together in a large city, the more we realize that we are all in this together, that we need to exist and protect and align with one another: that's progressivism in a nutshell. We co-exist in this city, sharing our experiences, our ideas, our troubles, our triumphs. We come together when we know someone is in need, we create micro-communities within our communities, we know each other's names. That's not a bubble.

A bubble is being surrounded by people who look and think exactly like you. That's a bubble. If you lack the intellectual curiosity to suss out the difference between fake news and real news - and then just automatically doubt the reporting of the real news, you're in a bubble. If you have convinced yourself that a man who uses the kind of bullying, hurtful language that our president-elect uses, is worthy of our higher office: bubble. Bubble. Bubble. If you think his cowardly and cruel heart is somehow honorable, bubble. Awful bubble.

To Hollywood, specifically, being an “elitist” bubble, I invite any of you to please come visit a set. Nearly every single person on that set belongs to a union. Nearly every single person, save maybe the very biggest stars (who have earned their money and acclaim are shouldn't be excluded from the conversation just because they happened to succeed) are working- and middle-class. Electricians, grips, sound designers, hair and makeup artists, PAs, most actors, costume designers, editors, line producers, location managers, camera ops, DPs, casting directors, set dressers and designers -- most of us are just independent contractors working from job to job. Union workers, just like a mason or a police officer or a plumber.

Lastly, to the point that Meryl should shut up, that actors / entertainers / performers / makers / creators / artists shouldn't speak about politics or current affairs - this might be the point that pisses me off the most. The entire reason art exists, in every single form, is to illuminate, explore, dissect, and attempt to explain the human experience. Since the dawn of man, since people could speak, artists - STORYTELLERS - have helped us understand ourselves. When a movie makes you cry or a TV show makes you laugh or a painting has taken your breath away or a piece of writing has made you blink in disbelief at its beauty or a song has given you goosies from head to toe - even if it is escapist art - it is because some part of you recognizes yourself within the art. Maybe not even you, personally, but yourself as a member of the human race.

Actors, creators, artists, we are all just storytellers. It's our one job. Art is inherently political, and it always, always, always has been. So to the people on the right who want us to shut up, nice try. We've never been able to shut up - it's precisely why we, even the shyest among us, became artists in the first place. So, as we say in California: yeah, no. We aren't shutting up. We're turning up, now more than ever. Make your own shit if you don't like it. Dare ya.

Artists: let's get to work. It's annoying them. That means it's working.

If you feel like I felt the past few months, I hope you will find inspiration to create art. Don't wait for others to invite you to create. Start on your own. And if you are inspired to create something, let us know what it is. We would love to hear it.

As for me, neighbors, inspired by my edible forest front yard, came over today. I gave them a tour of our garden and told them how we are harvesting and storing water with Hügels and ditches, with drought tolerant plants and native flowers. I showed them what vegetables and herbs we have planted and how we are protecting our plants from the scorching sun with arches and plants that will grow in during spring. They are inspired to have a garden like ours and I offered to help.

This will be the year for me where I can put my knowledge and pass it on and who knows, maybe these next four years I will work toward transforming our neighborhood into a sustainable community.