Wednesday, January 3, 2018


No complaints about being on the road checking out theatre and artists for my theatre.    I’ve gone to more than a few festivals this year and there were some pretty evocative pieces being presented out in the world.  They deserve a shout out for their craft, their soul and, their heart. 

The theatre experience is a very personal one, and a work can hit me in a very different way than the stranger next to me.  These pieces were unexpectedly cathartic and I will be forever grateful for them affecting me in such a wonderfully profound way.   They brought me joy, delight, sadness, fear and always hope. 

I’ll start with number five.


TIJUANA by Largatijas Tiradas Al Sol performed at the Noorderzon Festival in Groningen, Holland. 

The piece was positioned as a documentary that followed an actor posing as working class stiff moving to Tijuana and working for minimum wage.   Could he do it?  Was he scared of being recognized or discovered? How much sacrifice did he have to make?   The story is harrowing.  And, in the end, you never really find out if this was true or if it was a fiction.  Was this a company member playing an actor doing a documentary, or was this a true story?  It’s ingenious and Los Angeles audiences will be able to see it in January at the Skirball Center presented by REDCAT.


THE SECRET LIFE OF THE FREIDMAN’S produced by Ludowy Theatre/  presented at The Divine Comedy Festival in Krakow, Poland.

The play is based on the documentary film by the same name that explores the accusation and eventual conviction of Arnold Freidman and his son, Jesse,  who were accused of molesting nearly 17 young school children, mostly boys during a computer class over the course of time in their home in an affluent neighborhood in Great Neck,  New York.  Again, at the end of the piece, you have no idea if this father and son were actually innocent or guilty.  The audience travels to nearly 10 different locations within a three story building as the story unfolds.  Each location is carefully designed to set it in a bedroom, a living area, a courtroom, a classroom, a jail cell, a police station, etc.   You are never more than six feet away from the actors.  It is riveting and the art direction is quite effective.


10 MILLIONES performed by Cuba’s Argos Teatro, and presented at El Encuentro, a Festival of Latin American work at The Los Angeles Theatre Center. 

This autobiographical story, is told through the point of view of a boy who is stuck in the middle of his warring parents who separate right after the Cuban revolution.  The mother sides with Fidel, the father does not.   The piece is about disillusionment, abandonment, the loss of love and country.  I sobbed after it was over.  It’s about all of us who have believed in a social movement, dedicated our lives to it only to feel betrayed and abandoned by its very ideals,  and in the end maybe we betray ourselves.  I cried in the arms of a stranger, a Cuban exile. We found at that moment much common ground.

THE WAKING OF LA LLORONA by Optika Moderna/David Israel Reynosa presented by La Jolla Playhouse for THE WOW FESTIVAL.

Clocking in at only 30 minutes, this “individual multi-sensory experience” takes you through five plus locations within an old factory.  Each location has us meet up with characters who have lost a child.  Art directed within an inch of its life, there were moments I was not sure what to expect. It was like walking through a horror move.  But I trusted curator Meiyin Wang to keep me safe.  Kudos go to her on her first venture as curator of this festival.  It was a smashing success.


COLD BLOOD by Jaco Van Dormael and Michele Anne De Mey at Noorderzon Festival, Groningen, Holland

This was a series of vignettes on love.  It was in Flemish so I didn’t understand a word and yet it delighted me to no end.  I laughed and was surprised at the loveliness and delicacy of the piece.  I sat there wishing every audience member at my theatre could see this work and be re-inspired about the wonders of the theatre.   The manipulation of hands to look like human beings as they romped around miniature sets that were filmed and then projected on a big screen left me awestruck.  The cast was huge which made it nearly impossible to bring to the US but in my dreams I’ll one day have the budget to bring something like this to the USA for all to be entertained with light and joy.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

In the spring of this year I did a keynote at the Bay Area Theatre Conference and I've attached a link. It was published by Howl Round recently.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Deeper Dive into Cinema in Theater: Field Trend

Patricia Garza my very sharp associate here at Center Theatre Group compiled the following information that supports the work that we both saw in New York City with Under the Radar 2016 and then subsequently the work that I saw in Santiago at the Teatro a Mil Festival and heard about earlier at the Nooderzone Festival in Groningen, Holland. 

Teatro Cinema

Chile’s TEATROCINEMA is an inventive and original theatre company who create an ingenious fusion of cinema and theatre. Their highly stylized staging is a seamless blend of live action and film projection – technical and theatrical wizardry.

Their show Historia De Amor will be at REDCAT March 31-April 3, 2016:
Chile’s imaginative Teatrocinema ensemble uses 2D and 3D projection effects to create a theatrical environment rich with the grit and imagery of a dark graphic novel, to tell a violent story that destroys the boundaries between domination and submission. Based on the French novel by RĂ©gis Jauffret, Historia de Amor is the unflinching portrait of an English teacher who abducts a young woman and turns her into his victim, concubine and mother. Teatrocinema uses striking imagery to fuse virtual and physical worlds, painting a stark, black and white landscape where impulses of humanity are made visible. The visual language of Teatrocinema uses digital backgrounds and compositions, 2D and 3D video footage, and animation, merged with the traditional elements of staging, creating the sensation that the audience is able to instantaneously travel in space and time.

Manual Cinema

MANUAL CINEMA is a performance collective, design studio, and film/ video production company founded in 2010 by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller, and Kyle Vegter. Manual Cinema combines handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music to create immersive stories for stage and screen. Using vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, puppets, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and a live music ensemble, Manual Cinema transforms the experience of attending the cinema and imbues it with liveness, ingenuity, and theatricality.

Tanya Tagaq in Concert with Nanook of the North

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Teatro A Mil Festival-Santiago, Chile 2016

From January 19 through January 24, I spent time in Santiago, Chile, a surprising city that is more first world than we would ever imagine.   It has the most multi-national corporate head quarters in all of Latin America as well as the highest sky scraper.   They have an amazing street life with out door cafes and live theater throughout the city.  I attended the Teatro A Mil festival so named because when it started you could get a ticket to one of the shows for only a thousand pesos which was like a dollar hen.  Now,  of course with inflation the tix have increased in price but nevertheless they are still very affordable for the folks of this world class city.

I saw about thirteen shows while I was there and after having been at the Under the Radar festival the week-end before my two week trip included about 22 shows in total. It was a fair amount and I made sure I didn't over do it but rather treated it like a good piece of art, you want enough space around the work to fully view it's beauty or intention.

I was particularly taken with Teatro Cinema.  This is a company that is native to Chile and has been around for over twenty years.  What they do with film and live actors is so evocative and skillful.  The story was about a small town woman in the desert of Chile who is known for recounting the stories of films.  The title of the piece was La Contadora de Peliculas.   Since there was so little to do in her town, and only one movie theatre that was expensive for some of the townspeople, her father would send her or one of her brothers to the cinema and then their task was to come home and act it out for the other family members.   And so, having done this since she was a youth, she became very famous throughout her region and people would ask her to come to their homes or their gatherings and entertain them with her re-enactments. The piece was  beautifully sad.   And the visuals were a feast.  It only had four actors working with  props  juxtaposed against the projected film.  Loved it. Angelinos will be able to catch the company in the Spring at REDCAT  with their Historia de Amor.

So many people are working in this arena.   There is the group from Chicago Manuel Cinema that is working with shadow puppets and also film.  I've met a couple of their artistic directors one at Under the Radar this year and the other last year (2015) in Groningen at the Noorderzone Festival.    The company is  made up of designers, visual artists and directors.  I don't believe they've been to Los Angeles but considering the work they do, LA would be a good spot for them.

In Santiago, I also saw a show called Feos (Uglies) that was told through two very realistically rendered puppets that were manipulated by a team of four people.   This was a beautifully rendered story also with film about two people who have glass eyes and who fall in love.   Guillermo Calderon the Chilean playwright who now lives in New York City adapted a short story and thelanguage is so evocative and sensitive. It's a fine delicate work. .

I'd love to put these three works together and present them.  They're such a great example, and believe me there is more out there, of work that is pushing the boundaries of new ways of telling theatrical stories.   I find them extremely inspiring and I so wish we had more ways at our regional theatres to present this kind of work and share with our audiences these new forms that are invigorating our field.

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