Archive | los angeles

LA Is A Theater Town

25 Jul

In the past week and a half I’ve been ingesting a whole lot of theater. It wasn’t on purpose, it just so happened to be the thing to do every other day. And what a wonderful thing it is to do! There’s been a lot of debate recently about whether or not LA is a theater town. It’s actually not a new debate; I’ve heard over and over all my life how LA is not a theater town at all and that only Chicago and NY really count. But, I would like to argue that it is. LA Theater is by no means a perfect community, and there is a lot we can work on and places we can grow, but it is here! And I’m talkin’ Good, Original, Creative, Theater.

Here’s a rundown of what I saw and why it was great:

Superior Donuts @ Geffen Playhouse

Well, I talked about this last week when I used Superior Donuts as an example for Something to Strive For, but I will repeat the gist of why this production was awesome: all-around strong acting, writing and directing. Yes, it is the Geffen, and they have big budgets and equally big price tags on their tickets. But I think the Geffen is still relevant. They are doing new work, like Superior Donuts, slowly acclimating the typical theater going audience to stuff other than outdated and always produced shows or classics or musicals… ya know, the mainstream stuff as far as theater goes.

The Pity of Things @ Theatre of NOTE

NOTE is always pushing the envelope with new work. (That’s what the “N” in NOTE stands for, by the way.) What I love about Theatre of NOTE is that it will tackle material other theaters wont touch. There is something to be said for that. I also love how it fosters its own- two of the five pieces are written by NOTE members and a third is written by the wife of a NOTE member. And as always, stars NOTE actors who, without fail, deliver solid performances.

Further more, this show celebrates the company’s 30th anniversary season. As NOTE was founded on producing new one act plays, it’s fitting that they included an evening of one-acts as part of the mainstage season. In a town where everything is constantly changing- a nightclub undergoes a facelift and a name change every year, a freeway gets expanded, stores and restaurants close and open- sticking around for 30 years is an impressive feat. What it says is, not only are there passionate actors out there hungry to make this kind of new and interesting theater, but that there are audiences who want it, too.

Broadsword @ The Black Dahlia

I’ve been itching to see a show here ever since my boyfriend told me about it and the 2006 (I believe) feature it got in American Theatre Magazine on “Hot, Hip and On the Verge” theater companies. The reason I was so intrigued is because its roots sound similar to my own beloved PianoFight- a tiny 30-seat space in a funky non-distinct store-front on a nothing stretch of Pico Blvd., led by a young and eager twenty-something, a mere 4 years old (at the time of publication), focused on West Coast and World Premieres, its budget made soley of ticket sales, rentals and donations, and no paid staff. In other words, this theater is run by pure passion. Much like PianoFight. And that gets me really excited!!

I’ll be honest, I was shocked at how small this theater was. Never again will I complain about doing “99-seat” theater (which is code for 40-50 seats crammed in a tiny black box with poor circulation and shitty backstage). This space was legitimately tiny. You couldn’t squeeze more people in here even if you wanted to. I was also surprised at the very round about way you get to the theater. First, you walk in through the store front on Pico, which is a large open lobby-like space with walls proudly displaying nicely framed posters of past productions, pretty much empty except for a bench, two chairs and a little counter where a nice young man (perhaps that Eager 20-Something?) checks you in. Then, when it is time to “open house”, he actually leaves his little ticket station, locks the door you just came through and leads you out around and back through a small parking lot behind the building, down a couple of steps and through a back door until you are inside their little theater. That’s when I realized that the lobby space probably turns into their “back stage” once the audience is seated.

Real Housewives of Shakespeare @ The Second City

Yes, it is exactly what it sounds- Real Housewives of New Jersey meets the leading ladies of Shakespeare. An original story interweaving the ones we know from Midsummer, Twelfth Night, R&J just to name a few. Obviously a comedy, and a very clever one at that, clocking in at just about an hour, this was an awesome way to spend a night out. I’ve actually never been to Second City (a lot of firsts for me in the theater going world) and was excited to see a show there even though this wasn’t actually a Second City production (and, full disclosure, my friend and fellow LA PianoFighter wrote it– awesome).  Aside from the clever writing and cool multi-media (the actors taped TMZ-like segments before hand so it felt like we really were watching a hit reality show) what I loved about this show is the people involved. It goes to show how LA can be and is a theater community- I knew the playwright, producer and four of the leading ladies. This kind of thing is exciting to me. Talented people who know other talented people doing creative things together.

Hurricane Season @ Eclectic Theatre Company

This was an interesting evening of one-acts that we the audience got to vote on (much like PianoFight’s annual ShortLived playwriting competition). The night I went were three pieces, all very different from each other. The first two were about 20 minutes and the last one was an hour. What I enjoyed about this evening, was how different all three were, not just in plot but in style. The sold-out crowd and quality acting again goes to show that there is a place in LA for original theater. Also, once again, it proved to be a small world- one of the actors in a piece is someone who was in a show I produced last year.

How LA becomes a small world as I continue to see more and more people I know or have worked with, the quality productions and the overall enthusiasm from both actors and producers goes to show that there is a theater community. Also, I realized, all five of these shows were of new work, which means each one of these theaters took a leap of faith in their own way. And I’m sure there are dozens more doing the same…

Actors Need Vacations, Too

18 Jul

So, I’m taking this trip next week. I’ll be gone for two weeks, sans phone and internet and computer. No casting submissions, no emails about readings and plays and workshops, no auditioning, no phone calls…. It’s like everything is on hold. I’m in this limbo. I’m already feeling anxious to coming back and I haven’t even left yet.

Well, that’s not a good start to a vacation now is it?

It’s odd to think of taking a vacation from a job that’s as ambiguous as acting is in LA. I’m not clocking in anywhere, or have long hours at the office daily or anything like that to warrant a break. But I do work a lot (though most unpaid) and deserve a break just like the rest of us (I’m convincing myself here… I got less than a week to put my anxiety in check so I can actually enjoy this vacation!) Hourly casting submissions, daily auditions driving all over town, pick up shots for a webseries, weekly follow ups to get that hard-earned footage, updating your website, tweaking your reel, production meetings, dance classes, writing sessions, actor check-in meetings, seeing new work, casting director mailings, researching your type and current shows and realistic agencies…. it all adds up. That’s work. And, not to mention, the work that actually pays the bills.

I know that acting takes work, I just need to remind myself that it is work that counts. It’s work that is building towards something and it’s work I need to sometimes take a healthy break from. Also, it is work that isn’t going anywhere–it’ll still be here when I get back. As I let my thoughts snowball, I have to realize that there will always be breakdowns to submit to. So what, I don’t submit for two weeks. They’ll be there for weeks after that. I have to realize that I’m probably not missing out on anything; that opportunities will still come up when I return. In fact, I’ll probably be more pumped to hit the ground running when I get back than I have been these past couple of weeks. I need a recharge. As positive as I became towards the end of my post two weeks ago, I still feel kinda in this Dry Spell. A complete change of pace, change of environment, change of people, change of time zone– it actually might be just what I need.

So, there are two things I need to remember as I embark on my mini journey next week:

1. I deserve it. I’ve earned it. I could use the break.

2. LA and my acting career is still gonna be here when I get back.

“LA” is not LA

21 Mar

Time and time again I have conversations with newbie LA transplants, or with people not from here and have no intention of moving here, who are all pretty confident in what Los Angeles and what a Los Angeles person is like:

LA is full of plastic, fake and superficial people. Airheads. People who only care about how they look, the car they drive and the people they know.

There is no nature. No culture. No worthwhile restaurants.

It’s a cold and sprawling place where the only good thing (this everyone agrees on) is the weather.

Well, I was born and raised here and I must say, none of this has been my experience… until I meet someone who’s never been to LA until now, fresh out of college, with stars in their eyes (to be the next Spielberg or DiCaprio or Streep). It’s like they become the very thing they say they despise. It’s weird.

Sure there are some fake or superficial people here and there, but fake people exist everywhere! Perhaps I live in a bubble, but none of my friends care that much about how they look. Sure I’ve got some friends who are more into fashion than others, they like their good shopping trip as much as the next gal, but it is not something that consumes or defines them. And a lot of my friends are writers, directors, producers, actors, musicians, aspiring or otherwise.

Once in a while I will meet someone who’s fresh off the plane, their first time ever in Los Angeles, and they are dressed in the designer jeans, faux aviators and fancy briefcase. But why? Who said you had to wear that? I mean, if it’s legitimately your style than ok totally cool. But if it’s not and you think that’s going to get you further or enable you to fit in, I think you’re wrong. I mean, maybe there is something to be said for “dressing the part”. But, call me naive, I like to think that you being you will get you where you need to go. Believe it or not, this town is full of REAL people.  People who are passionate and artistic and going after their dreams. Who want to see others achieve their dreams too. I meet them everyday on film sets, in theaters, at screenings…

And this nonsense of LA being cold, unforgiving with no culture or nature or history- wrong, wrong, WRONG! First off, I live in Silverlake/Echo Park, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Down the street from me is one of the oldest restaurants, established in 1927 still with that old-school charm. Left and right of me are old public staircases that people used to use to get down to Sunset Blvd or up to where the train once ran through town. Including the old “Music Box” steps from Laurel and Hardy’s famous piano moving scene from their 1932 comedy of the same name. And just a couple miles from there is Chinatown, filled with authentic restaurants including my all time favorite dim sum place that I have been going to ever since I can remember.

And you want nature? Well try the many hidden coves along gorgeous Malibu Beach, or the miles upon miles of hiking trails through Topanga Canyon, Temescal Canyon, Malibu Canyon, Griffith Park, and on and on. The breathtaking Huntington Gardens with acres upon acres of gardens from all over the world.

Culture too? Well, yes, believe it or not we’ve got that too. How about the hundreds of art galleries and art walks: The Brewery Complex, Downtown Art Walk, Chung King Rd Galleries, Venice Art Walk, Culver City, Frog Town, Bergamont Station just to name a few. And museums: LACMA, The Getty, Getty Villa, MOCA, Norton Simon Museum just to start you off… Theater: Mark Taper, Ahmanson, Actors Gang, Kirk Douglas and the millions of black box theaters that I mention on this very blog!

In fact, one of the many things that I absolutely love about this town is that there is endless exploring to be done. There is always a new trail to climb, a new restaurant to try, a new play to see and new interesting people to meet, but then there are also the staple places that you keep going back to like my fave dim sum or stretch of sand. To me, that’s “LA”.

Happy Valentines Day

14 Feb


is the romantic comedy I produced for PianoFight and it’s running right now. Self-promotion time: it’s perfect for Valentine’s Day, it’s an original play, and it’ll make you laugh and tug at your heart strings. SLUMPBUSTER plays Thursdays & Sundays at 8PM at Asylum Lab (1078 Lilian Way). Tickets are $20 online or at the door BUT just $15 with code “WRIGLEY”

My producing partner, the director and I all worked out asses off getting this play up and running and after this opening weekend I am even more proud of it. It’s a fine bunch of actors we assembled.