This Week in LA Theatre

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By Julio Martinez

IN THE NEWS


  • The Ford Theatres has announced its schedule for 2018, its first full season since the venue closed in 2014 for renovations, now under the guidance of Interim Executive Director Olga Garay-English. Theatre and opera highlights include: Considering Matthew Shepard, conductor Craig Hella Johnson’s theatrical choral response to Shepard’s death, featuring the Grammy-winning Conspirare choir, a small instrumental ensemble, and projected imagery (Jun 15-16); the premiere of The Collective Memory Project, inspired by memories of U.S. military veterans, created by choreographer/ director Arianne MacBean and The Big Show Co. (Jun 28-29); Pacific Opera Project’s Carmen, sung in French with English supertitles (Sep 1); and David T. Little’s Soldier Songs, a multimedia piece with filmmaker Bill Morrison, presented with LA Opera Off Grand, starring David Adam Moore (Oct 13).
  • The Center Theatre Group has announced the 2018-2019 seasons at Downtown LA’s Mark Taper Forum and The Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. The Taper’s schedule: Sweat, Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, directed by Lisa Peterson (Sep 5); Valley of the Heart, written and directed by Luis Valdez, presented in association with El Teatro Campesino (Nov 7); Linda Vista by Tracy Letts, Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production directed by Dexter Bullard (Jan 16, 2019); Lackawanna Blues, written, performed, and directed by Tony Award-winning Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Mar 13, 2019); and Happy Days by Samuel Beckett, directed by James Bundy, starring Dianne Wiest (May 22, 2019). The Kirk Douglas will present the MCC Theatre production of School Girls Or, the African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh, directed by Rebecca Taichman (Sep 8); the world premiere of Quack by Eliza Clark, directed by Neel Keller (Oct 28); Block Party: Celebrating Los Angeles Theatre, featuring three productions from local 99-seat or smaller theatres (Mar 7-Apr 28, 2019); the world premiere of From the Words and Writings of Dana H. by Lucas Hnath, adapted from interviews with Dana Higginbotham; conducted by Steve Cosson, directed by Les Waters. A co-production with Goodman Theatre. (Jun 2, 2019). Two Off Center Subscriber Bonus Options include the U.S. premiere of Gob Squad’s Creation (Pictures for Dorian) at Redcat (Oct 18-21, 2019) and The White Album by Joan Didion, presented by Obie-winning actress Mia Barron at UCLA’s Freud Playhouse (Apr 5-7, 2019).

PREMIERES


  • Bootleg Theater is offering the premiere of The Willows, a play about “family, loss and love,” written by Kerri-Ann McCalla and directed by Jessica Hanna. Opens Apr 12.
  • Theatre of NOTE in Hollywood presents the West Coast premiere of For The Love Of (or, the roller derby play), asking, “how much you’re willing to sacrifice—or lose—to follow your heart,” by Gina Femia, directed and choreographed by Rhonda Kohl. Opens Apr 26.
  • Chance Theater in Anaheim presents the Orange County premiere of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Tony-nominated Good People, exploring “the struggles, shifting loyalties, and unshakeable hope that comes with having next to nothing in America,” directed by Jocelyn A. Brown. Opens Apr 28 at Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken theater arts Center on the Cripe Stage.
  • Fugitive Kind Theater presents the premiere of Antigone, Or We Are Rebels Asking For The Storm, a modern adaptation of the Sophocles classic, translated by Kenneth Cavander and adapted by Matt Minnicino. Amanda McRaven directs. Opens May 12 at Bootleg Theater, adjacent to downtown LA.

AROUND TOWN


  • Opening Apr 20, Sierra Madre Playhouse’s production of Mark Harelik’s The Immigrant, the true story of a Jewish refugee from Russia settling in Texas in 1909, directed by Simon Levy, will be amplified on Apr 29 by a 1 p.m., pre-matinee panel discussion, Immigration Today. Focusing on the challenges facing immigrants coming to the U.S. in 2018, the panel will include Ahilan Arulanantham, Director of Advocacy/ Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California; Luis Nolasco, Community Engagement and Policy Advocate; and Andres Kwon, Equal Justice Works Emerson Fellow.
  • The Loft Ensemble in Sherman Oaks has brought back its 2014 staging of Paul Storiale’s award-winning drama, The Columbine Project, a retelling of the events leading up to, during, and following the April 20, 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. Directed by Bree Pavey; featuring a 21-member ensemble. Plays through May 20.
  • Theatre 40 is presenting the comedy, Mr. Pim Passes By, written by A.A. Milne in 1919. Directed by Jules Aaron. Opens May 17 in the Reuben Cordova Theatre on the campus of Beverly Hills High School.

IN MEMORIAM


Tom Kerrigan, who passed away on April 7, was a true Renaissance man—a poet, critic (member of the LA Drama Critics Circle), playwright (former President of Ensemble Studio Theatre), a respected lawyer (President of the Irish American Bar Association, who presented at the U.S. Supreme Court)—and a comforting bar mate, who offered the most eloquent advice on how to drink at an Irish pub. I loved his poetry, which has been extensively published. Here is one my favorites: Elegy to a Shakespearean Actor: “Your overdone Venetian Moor/the critics called a noisy boor./They said your mannered Prospero/ was better twenty years ago./That last attempt of yours at Lear/most likely killed your stage career./Your famous broad and massive brow/seems calm and understated now./Those flailing arms, for once at rest/impart the sombre subtext best./Too bad you lack the wherewithal/to take a final curtain call.”

Tom Kerrigan

Julio Martinez hosts Arts in Review, celebrating the best in theater and cabaret in the greater Los Angeles area, Fridays (2-2:30 pm) on KPFK (90.7FM). On Friday, Apr 12, director Simon Levy discusses Mark Harelik’s The Immigrant.

An Interview with CTG’s Sherwood Award Winner, Mat Diafos Sweeney

“I think LA theatre is at its best when it’s reaching across forms and reinventing its relationship to a live audience, and at its worst when it’s trying to fit an existing mold or production model that made sense in New York a century ago. LA is the future- our garden is wilder, vaster, and more diverse so it should be tended differently.”

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Julio Martinez

Julio Martinez

Julio pens the weekly LA STAGE Insider column for @ This Stage Magazine, as well as the monthly LA STAGE History column. He is a recurring contributor to Written By (the monthly publication of the Writer’s Guild of America) and is the TeleVision columnist for Latin Heat Entertainment. On air, he hosts the weekly Arts in Review program for KPFK 90.7 FM. An active journalist for over 30 years, Julio’s articles and reviews have appeared in Los Angeles Times Magazine, Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, L.A. Weekly, Stage Raw, Backstage West, Westways Magazine, and Drama-Logue Magazine, among others.