Editor’s Letter

I’ve shopped in pop-up stores and eaten in pop-up restaurants – but a pop-up newsroom? When my friends and colleagues Douglas McLennan of artsjournal.com and Sasha Anawalt at USC proposed that I help them plan and edit such a strange 21st-century … [Read more...]

Lost Moon Radio, Episode 10: Fluent in Fringe

Lost Moon Radio is three fringe shows in one: • A rock band doing comedy songs and parodies; • A crack five-person comedy troupe; • A touching yet comedic relationship drama between this live series’ recurring character Jupiter Jack and—huh?—rock … [Read more...]

Culture Clash’s Herbert Sigüenza: Theater, the Last Soapbox

The performances of the Latino comedy troupe Culture Clash range from sketches to full-length plays, charged with political and social satire. The company is known for its irreverent approach to topics ranging from social justice to Greek playwright … [Read more...]

Spilling Your Guts in the Spotlight: A Podcast

You know that dream where you’re standing naked in front of an audience? For author/actor Summer “Rain” Sinclair, it’s a reality that’s happened three times this week. Sinclair strips herself bare in her one-woman show, Born Again Bohemian, … [Read more...]

Action Plans: Three Women on Women in Theater

On every significant front — writers, directors, artistic directors, leading roles — the status of women in today's theater is in dire straits. What is to be done to redress the situation? I posed this question to three women this week at TCG's 50th … [Read more...]

‘Off Stage With Engine 28’: Pasadena Playhouse’s Sheldon Epps and Tate Donovan

Ever wish there were more (well, any) TV shows about theater? Engine 28 is here with that answer — except it's on the Web! In this premiere episode of Off Stage W ith Engine 28, Jesse North sits down with Pasadena Playhouse's artistic director (and … [Read more...]

RADAR L.A.: Experimental Mardi Gras

Remixing New York’s Under the Radar Festival for the West Coast, the RADAR L.A. Festival reflects a shift in contemporary theater, colliding international work with the Los Angeles theater scene. Under the leadership of Mark Murphy of Redcat, Diane … [Read more...]

‘Asleep at the Wheel’: Waking Up

About a dozen people learned more about sleep apnea, narcolepsy and cataplexy than they might have reasonably expected on a Friday night at a Hollywood Boulevard bar/improv comedy club. They also gleaned insights into the joys and sorrows of American … [Read more...]

‘Julius Caesar’ on Fast-Forward: Podcast

Orson Welles in 1937. Photo: Carl Van Vechten, courtesy Library of Congress   How do you make Shakespeare edgy enough for the Hollywood Fringe? You resurrect a 75-year-old script edited by a brash, young Orson Welles. Listen to the … [Read more...]

Fringe: In the Cards for Magician Jon Armstrong

Jon Armstrong, a fixture at Hollywood Fringe headquarters, was getting some lip from a fellow magician. “All he could do was prattle on about everything he was a master of. About how he could do this, he could read minds, he was a great stage … [Read more...]

Does an Apocalypse Have To Be All Bad?

A friend was recently at the playground with her children when a stranger began to explain in detail about how the end of the world was fast approaching. Talk about an uncomfortable conversation to have in front of your children: “Mommy, does the … [Read more...]

It’s Not Over Yet: Asian-American Festival Keeps the Drama Going in LA

Just when you thought Los Angeles’ June theater festivals were wrapping up, it turns out the fat lady has a lot more to see before she sings. As RADAR L.A. and the Theatre Communications Group begin to close their curtains, and Hollywood Fringe … [Read more...]

Family Dysfunction Fuels Hollywood Fringe

If you’ve never hated the family that you also love, stand up. Now sit down, preferably in some water, because your pants are probably on fire. Almost all of us have, well, complicated relationships with our families. And ever since Shakespeare … [Read more...]

Speaking Youth to Power: The Next Theater Generation

  Hallie Gordon, a Chicago theater professional who helped found and now oversees Steppenwolf Theatre Company's program promoting theater among youth, delivered what might become the most urgent message to emerge from Theatre … [Read more...]

Our ‘Spider-Man’ Entanglements

Given Julie Taymor's appearances at the Theatre Communications Group conference, Engine28 is going bicoastal, with impressions from some of us who've spent time with Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, both 1.0 and 2.0. From JENNY LAWTON: Spidey … [Read more...]

‘What If…?’

Theatre Communications Group celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. TCG is encouraging members to discuss the future of theater by exploring "what the field has achieved, the challenges we face in this moment, and where we hope theatre will be … [Read more...]

Is L.A. Theater Just for N.Y. Actors?

The tired question "Is L.A. a theater town?" was quickly dismissed at a panel discussion hosted by the L.A. Times' Culture Monster last week. (Of course it is.)  The harder question was about theater actors in Los Angeles. After all, the conventional … [Read more...]

‘Solitude’: Waxing Philosophical, Waning Into Tedium

A stiff but stylish drama inspired by the philosophical musings of Octavio Paz, the Latino Theater Company’s Solitude attempts to imagine a Mexican-American existentialism but achieves only everyday, generalized angst. The action, such as it is, … [Read more...]

Not Lost in Translation

Supertitles are introducing American audiences new worlds of theater but remain far from perfect. The future of American theater may be as much read as watched. Presenting organizations, following the lead of their counterparts in the dance world, … [Read more...]

Hall Passes: ‘I Never Sang for My Father’

The memories in the Robert Anderson’s 1968 memory play I Never Sang for My Father belong to Gene Garrison, a widower with both parents in declining health. Mother Margaret, survivor of cancer and a series of heart attacks, increasingly turns to him … [Read more...]

Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night: Three Music-Fueled Shows at the Fringe

Tight combos rocking hour-long sets late at night in small spaces, on a street where you can quickly dash from one venue to the next, with booze always near at hand. For years, that was my accustomed Friday night — but as a local band columnist, not … [Read more...]

Press Is No-Show at Julie Taymor Q&A

It’s 8 p.m. on Thursday, the opening night of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG) National Conference, and downtown Los Angeles’ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is packed with stage professionals celebrating TCG’s 50th anniversary. But the conference’s … [Read more...]

‘Krunk Fu Battle Battle’: B-Boys, B-Girls, Be Charmed

It’s West Side Story meets The Karate Kid in the East West Players crowd-pleasing original musical, Krunk Fu Battle Battle. The Asian American theater company closes out its 45th season with this playfully derivative piece, its deft blend of rap, … [Read more...]

Waiting for ‘Jessie,’ the Toughest Ticket in Town

Ninety minutes until curtain. The queue of ticketholders extends halfway down the block, three-deep. Most shows at the Hollywood Fringe performance festival just up the street would kill for a line like this.  They're here for a premiere that's had … [Read more...]

‘Hot Pepper’: Downsized Dance by Chelfitsch

Anyone who’s ever worked in a cubicle will recognize the fluorescent-cool pecking order of corporate culture in Chelfitsch's Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and The Fairwell Speech.  The Japanese company opened its dance theater piece which runs through … [Read more...]

‘State of Incarceration’: Locked Up, and a Little Locked Out

You walk down a hallway at Los Angeles Theatre Center and into a large, brightly lit room. But where do you sit? Painted black wooden boxes line a wall and row on row of metal bunk beds with thin, tightly tucked blankets confront you.  You file in … [Read more...]

‘Feeling Feeling’

A recent study found that women whose first relationship was marked by constant approval-seeking – asking, for example, "Do you love me?" again and again – are more likely to be depressed and have relationship problems for the rest of their lives. … [Read more...]

‘Titus Redux’ Review and Impressions

  My podcast review and impressions of 'Titus Redux' - an update of William Shakespeare's 'Titus Andronicus' by the Not Man Apart and New American Theatre companies. … [Read more...]

You Can’t Always Get What You Want: ‘Another Effing Family Drama’

June’s coming home for closure. She finds it, but not in the package she expects in Another Effing Family Drama, Catherine Pelonero’s Hollywood Fringe Festival production playing at ArtWorks Theatre. June, a pharmacologist, wants to confront her … [Read more...]

Stehlin on ‘Titus’: Finding Narrative in Abstraction

If you indulge in the HBO series Weeds, you know Jack Stehlin. And if you don't know his role as Drug Enforcement Agency Captain Roy Till, you probably know him from any number of "angry cop" roles he's played throughout the years. So perhaps his … [Read more...]

Backseat Drivers: How Moving Arts Ignites ‘The Car Plays’

It turns out that it's not that hard to get car-dependent Angelenos to sacrifice their vehicles for a few evenings. "There's a lot of enticement, because if we use your car, you're going to get the best parking spot," said Steve Lozier, producer … [Read more...]

‘Amarillo’ Climbs the Wall in Search of the Disenfranchised

A man goes into the desert and dies … or dreams. Storywise, that's it. But this spare scenario allows for kinetic visual imagery and a series of bilingual monologues to anchor Teatro Linea de Sombra's Amarillo. The setup merely explains that people … [Read more...]

Los Angeles Art Lovers Blown Away: ‘A Suicide Bombing by Invitation Only’

In early 2010, Lars Jan, a Los Angeles-based playwright and director, was commissioned by the Whitney Museum in New York to create a performance in one of its galleries. What he delivered was as much prank as play, a theater happening in the … [Read more...]

Pretty Ronnie’s ‘State of Incarceration’

  Ronnie Walker barely moves. He faces a corner of the prison yard, relaxed, swaying gently. When a fight breaks out, the correctional officers bark, “Yard down!” and then begin screaming at him. Why hasn’t he dropped to the ground as … [Read more...]

Four Women in One Night: How I Dived Into the Hollywood Fringe

Among the many benefits of a consolidated festival like Hollywood Fringe is the ability to cram attendance at several shows into one night. Even if you have a specific subgenre you are interested in — say, one-woman shows — the scheduling gods often … [Read more...]

First Take: The Method Gun

In The Method Gun, Austin-based collective Rude Mechs explores the "cult of acting" as an ensemble, abandoned by their guru, rehearses for performances of a reimagined Streetcar Named Desire.  Minutes after attending the opening night performance … [Read more...]

Relentless: ‘Titus Redux’

Here's a parlor game for all your dramaturg friends: Prod them for their opinions of William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. The aesthetes among them will point out that no less than T.S. Eliot called it "one of the stupidest and most uninspired … [Read more...]

Rectangular Anger: ‘2 Dimensional Life of Her’

  Puppets — and menace — in the ballroom 2 Dimensional Life of Her, the first production of the RADAR L.A. International Festival of Contemporary Theater, might better qualify as experimental film than any conventional idea of theater. … [Read more...]

Hers and His? Charting Theater’s Gender Gap

One of the most anticipated sessions taking place at the TCG conference was today's playwriting workshop led by Marsha Norman. Last week in New York Norman helped celebrate the second-annual Lilly Awards, which she co-founded in 2010 with a group of … [Read more...]

‘Can We Cause a Revolution?’ Theater Pros React to ‘Neva’ Opening Night at REDCAT [VIDEO]

Playwrights, artistic directors and other stage pros were not only moved by the opening-night performance of Neva at Radar LA, Guillermo Calderón's latest work being produced by Teatro en el Blanco at the Radar LA theater festival, they walked into … [Read more...]

‘2 Dimensional Life of Her,’ Revisited

  Since its Tuesday premiere as part of the RADAR L.A. festival, Fleur Elise Noble’s enigmatic and captivating hybrid experience 2 Dimensional Life of Her -- part film, part theater, and all art installation -- has generated a lot of "you've … [Read more...]

‘The Method Gun’: Rude Mechs Leap, Moving Us

Five actors stand, facing downstage and smiling at the audience.  One is in a brilliant orange jumpsuit.  She holds an old, faded kitchen timer.  On a whiteboard upstage, an overhead projector beams “Training Technique: CRYING PRACTICE.” She sets … [Read more...]

Postmodern Shakespeare, Four Plays, Four Ways

We just can’t get over the Bard. Even at RADAR L.A. and the Hollywood Fringe, dueling festivals devoted to the theatrical cutting edge, the ultimate warhorses are still running strong – though they are, of course, all dressed up in postmodern … [Read more...]

Fear and Brooding: Twain’s ‘Ghost Story’

Read Mark Twain's A Ghost Story and you'll get a hybrid tale that teases readers with all the clichéd elements of suspense but ends with one of the author's signature lessons on human folly. See the story adapted from page to stage in a 20-minute … [Read more...]

RADAR L.A. Symposium on Theater’s Future: An Idea Plus Terror

Right in the middle of a presentation of manifestos at RADAR L.A. on the Future of Theater, Shawn Sides from Austin's Rude Mechs subverted the whole idea of the panel discussion. In the future, she said, there would be no manifestos. She then went on … [Read more...]

Waiting for Furlough: The Existential Drama of ‘Brewsie and Willie’

The fighting has ended for the title characters in Brewsie and Willie, an adaptation of Gertrude Stein’s rumination on American World War II veterans that opened last night as part of the RADAR L.A. theater festival. But as they wait for their … [Read more...]

Sometimes It Rains Apples: ‘Ground to Cloud,’ ‘Myth and Infrastructure’

Despite its age, the term performance art remains a useful one, if only because no other phrase encompasses so many types of alternative theatrical expression in which you hear so much about "environments." Whatever you choose to call it, a double … [Read more...]

day 1- two beccas

Drinks, theater. Theater, drinks. And a really good piece of red velvet cake. Take it from two people who love her, LA ain't easy. You have to put a little work into the relationship, but we've been around the block and we're ready to show you … [Read more...]

What’s an Engine28?

Arts journalism, reinvented for the 21st century What’s an Engine28? Take 21 theater-savvy journalists from around the country, and add editors and web producers. Put them in an online newsroom in downtown Los Angeles, close to two major … [Read more...]

Steinspeak: ‘Brewsie and Willie’

  As Willie, the amiably angst-ridden protagonist and agonist of Brewsie and Willie might say, “How is it, fellows, that you could make yourself a theater show out of a book by that Gertrude Stein. How is it? How is it, I say?” In the … [Read more...]

Cube Farm: ‘as you are now so once were we’

Any parent of small children knows you can have more fun with a cardboard box than the most expensive toys, but The Company takes the concept beyond any three-year-old's wildest imaginings. In As you are now so once were we, the Dublin theater … [Read more...]

Gallery Piece?: ‘2 Dimensional Life of Her’

Presenting your art to an audience doesn't make it theater. Only when Fleur Elise Noble's puppets have stripped down their setting -- the artist's messy studio -- to the blank white walls of a gallery, do they begin to burn the place down. The … [Read more...]

Intro to RADAR L.A. with Laura Spencer

What is RADAR L.A.?. June 14 - June 19, 2011 When Theatre Communications Group announced its 50th anniversary conference would take place in 2011 in Los Angeles, Ca., a festival in the works for nearly five years set a date. RADAR L.A., an … [Read more...]

The Defiant Ones: ‘The Word Begins’

Words fly, and the audience laughs  -- then ducks A monochromatic white screen acts as a canvas, and stools, plugged-in microphones and not much more are the tools for Steve Connell’s and Sekou Andrews' two-man assault on racism, politics, fear, … [Read more...]

Chekhov’s Widow Faces Love, Death: ‘Neva’

  A Chilean company finds the bitter side of humor The psychic whiplash inflicted by Teatro en el Blanco’s Neva, one of four plays to inaugurate the RADAR L.A. festival on Tuesday night, goes far beyond the race your eyes must make (if you … [Read more...]

L.A. Times Forum Tackles Question of ‘Theater Town’

Is Los Angeles a Theater Town? A resounding “maybe.” The Los Angeles Times roundtable began with a contentious question portending more than its share of blood in the water: "Is Los Angeles a Theater Town?" But the sharks of LA’s theater … [Read more...]