Thursday, January 30, 2020

2019 Del Shores Interview re This Side of Crazy

Actor/playwright Del Shores certainly needs no introduction. His plays Southern Baptist Sissies, Sordid Lives and The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife have been made into either films or TV series. Shores is about to open his latest play This Side of Crazy at the Zephyr Theatre on January 31. In our conversation he tells our readers about the play in detail. Those who like 'crazy' should not miss this one!

Tell our readers about the story behind This Side of Crazy.

DS: This play has been brewing for years. It all started with my obsession with gospel music, like the song  "Son of a Preacher Man". I sometimes go down a youtube rabbit hole and listen to the music I grew up with, mostly Southern gospel. I became obsessed with Dottie Rambo, who wrote over 2000 gospel songs. Then a crazy thing happened — Dottie Rambo contacted m (around 2005) on MySpace no less and told me she was a fan of Sordid Lives. She sent me a package of all her CDs and even a Dottie Rambo doll. A few months later, we were on tour with the play Sordid Lives and we landed in Nashville, where she lived. I invited her to come see the play where I got to meet her. Then tragically, just a few months later, Dottie was killed when her tour bus crashed. I became even more obsessed with her. And the more I watched her, the more I realized that as she gave God the glory, like many performers, she was also pretty narcissistic. Praising herself while praising Jesus! So, I thought ‘Oh, I could heighten that a little bit’, and I found my character “Ditty Blaylock”.
In another YouTube rabbit hole, I saw these three little girls called The Peasall Sisters singing perfect gospel three-part harmony. These little pastor’s daughters went on to win a Grammy award for doing the voices for George Clooney’s daughters in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?".

As I do so often when I write, I started playing the ‘What if’ game. What if DIttie Blaylock was the mother of three girls, little superstars for Jesus. What happened to them when they grew up?’ I then found Rachel, Bethany and Rachel, and as always, my characters started writing their story.

How is it similar to Sordid Lives?

DS: I guess my humor will always peak through. This was/ is darker, with much more drama, more the blend of tones of my last three (Southern Baptist Sissies, The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife and Yellow.) But the themes of family, forgiveness and secrets are certainly similar to Sordid Lives. It’s not as broad. Less camp, although some would think “Ditty" just may rival “Brother Boy."

These stories come from your past. How much is real and how much is fiction?

DS: This one really is all fiction. Oh sure, there are people I’ve met who inspired characters and characteristics, but I really did create the Blaylocks. I guess if anybody is a little bit me, it would be that wild child “Bethany".

You create wonderful female characters. Explain how females dominated your life growing up.

DS: Oh they were all around me. Starting with my mother, who was a force (some of “Ditty” is certainly my Mom.) I was fascinated by my aunts, the women in church and the backsliding relatives who wore lots of make up and had big hair and had very loud voices, with strong opinions. So, yes, I gravitate to tell the stories of woman of a certain age because frankly, I love them.

What is the theme or message in this play?

DS: Family. Forgiveness. And not just that we always need to forgive or are capable — but can we when the crime is so big; depression because of circumstances; sisters/siblings. Like I said, some dark themes in this, but I think many can relate to the stains that so many families have.

What would you like audiences to take away after seeing it?

DS: I want them to first and foremost enjoy an evening or a matinee of theatre. Laugh some, forget that outside world for a couple of hours, maybe think and shed a tear or two. A lot of people will also probably realize that their lives are not all that bad after visiting the Blaylocks.

Tell us about the cast and the chemistry between its members..

DS: It is a ridiculously talented cast. They all started as friends and now have become family. They truly love each other. The play is so intense that we always start by trading hugs. I adore each and every one of them and they are all repeats, having been in other plays, films or TV of mine.

Anything you wish to add?

DS: Just that it’s amazing to be back doing theatre in LA. LA is the city that embraced my work as a playwright and I am so very grateful. And, it certainly takes a village. I love my “Crazy” theatre family. The designers, the cast, crew — and my amazing producing partners Emerson Collins and Louise H. Beard.

to make reservations, visit:

Spotlight on Stewart J. Zully

The Road Theatre Co is proud to present the premiere of Nowhere on the Border by Carlos Lacámara and directed by Stewart J. Zully. The play concerns itself with the question Why do people cross borders? Two working class men, an Anglo on border watch and a Mexican, face off in the desert. What is discovered is that border crossings are both physical and emotional. The play opened January 17 at the Road on Magnolia and will play through March 8. Director Zully took time out of a busy schedule to discuss the play in detail.

What are your challenges directing Nowhere on the Border?

SZ: Many years ago I performed in an earlier draft of this play, and this was the first time I had directed a play that I had been in previously. It was interesting being reminded of my own acting choices from more than 10 years ago and then collaborating on new ones with the two actors performing this role (we have an alternate cast). Chet Grissom and Lance Guest are such experienced actors that it was rewarding to see them find their own character choices through our process.

What do you feel is the best feature(s) of the play? How does it speak to the audience?

SZ: Nowhere On The Border reminds us that we are more similar than different. When it comes to
natural disasters, such as floods, fires, hurricanes, etc., we as a species get together as one—"Are you alright?” "Look at mother nature’s devastation, etc." Then, when the dust has settled, we get back to manmade problems, such as war, poverty, religion. This play is a reminder that we are all human, as the desert, a natural phenomenon, awakens in us an animal instinct. The characters in this play bond through adversity, and the audience gets to witness that.

Talk about your cast.

SZ: I have been blessed with solid pros, in both casts, as the characters are inhabited by some well seasoned stage actors. I recommend people not only see the show, but actually see both casts, as the work is fascinating in the hands of different actors. The types that have been cast are vastly different in many ways, so the alternate cast puts its stamp on the roles thoroughly. And since we had to mix and match, having some of the actors in the alternate cast performing with the first cast, we have
created a true ensemble of 12 people. I have been blessed with some enormous talent to direct.

What have you been up to as of late? How is your book doing?

SZ: Last year I published my memoir, MY LIFE IN YANKEE STADIUM Forty Years as a Vendor and Other Tales of Growing Up Somewhat Sane in the Bronx. The book tells the story of my working at the ballpark in New York for 2500 events as I pursued my career in show business as an actor, director, writer and producer. For the past year I did promotion with interviews and book signings so it was nice to be able to stay in one place and focus on this play, which has been percolating at The Road for a number of years. And now, here it is…

Nowhere on the Border plays on Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 8 pm and Sunday matinees at 2 pm at the Road in The NoHo Senior Arts Colony that is located at 10747 Magnolia Blvd. in NoHo. There is plenty of street parking but arrive early. For tickets call 818-761-8838.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

2020 Interview with Tiffany Bailey2

Actress/singer Tiffany Bailey has many talents. She also happens to be a behavioral therapist for children with autism. I laud her for that. Last spring 2019 she released an album entitled Jazz with Pop and her cabaret show was very well received. In this interview she updates our readers as to the success of the CD and talks about her other projects for 2020.

How has your CD been selling since your concert last spring?

TB: The Jazz with POP CD has been selling ok. People seem to like the disco inspired groove of Twilight Tone and the soft haunting feel of True
Colors the best. More people are hearing about Jazz with POP, so that is great! I have it listed on all music platforms: Itunes, Spotify, Amazon, CD Baby! I also have it available on my website:

When is your next concert appearance and where?

TB: I’ve got a few private gigs coming up in January and February. Next public gig is set for Thursday: April 9th at Feinstein’s at Vitello’s. This is one of my favorite venues. I have some cool things planned.
Lots of exploration in 80s/90s pop, musical theater, epic songs that have theatrics, a little Jazz, and comedy! Another gig I’m excited about is:Thursday: June 26th at The Gardenia Lounge. with my friend,
Francesca Amari, who is a popular cabaret singer in Palm Springs. Two very different shows. Both incorporating: comedy, cabaret, and some musical
theater, mixed with pop.

Are you changing what you will sing for the next series of concerts?

TB: In some ways yes. I will always have my Jazz roots. But, I’ve really
been exploring the comedy of Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball. Also
finding some great musical theater I like; some pop influenced songs,
and a little Lawrence Welk, if you can believe it.

Tell our readers again about growing up with a musical father and
how it motivated you to want to sing professionally.

TB: Growing up with a father who plays music has been one of the greatest
blessings in my life. When it came to learning about cool artists. My
dad was steeped in the jazz world, so I learned about and listened to
Chet Baker, Diane Schuur, Charlie Parker. But he also introduced me to
the Bee Gees, Captain & Tenille, Ray Charles, Hall & Oates, The
Carpenters…the list goes on. Even now, dad is always sending me links
to music I should listen to. We have a lot of fun chatting about it.
And he really understands my musical tastes, so I listen to a huge
variety of music.

Are you embarking on essaying other styles of music, or do you feel
more comfortable staying with jazz and pop?

TB: I feel very safe with and love singing the jazz standards and pop
music, but I’m definitely exploring new music genres in the last few
years. I’m wanting to bring in a funk component to some of my
arrangements; I’m also exploring adding a theatrical element to my
shows, so I’m listening to a lot of show tunes, both from the Golden
era of Broadway and contemporary shows. I’m really attracted to songs
that tell a story, and I want to translate that to my shows:
storytelling with music, words and lights. I want my audiences to feel
“full” when they leave my shows. I want the music to speak out,
loudly. And I want them to really understand the stories behind the
songs and feel the passion I do about the music itself.

What other projects are on the horizon or more specifically in the
near future?

TB: I’m exploring more acting and voiceover work. I’ve gotten my headshots
done for commercial film and TV. I’m trying to put myself out there to
get a feature film. I love using my voice in fun ways and exploring
what I can do as an actor. Recently, I’ve started to figure out how to
perfect Carol Channing’s unique speaking style. It’s a tricky one; she
was such an incredible talent.

I’m also looking to get more involved in directing cabaret shows and
theatrical productions. I have a background in music and art therapy.
I truly enjoy working on shows and being involved in the writing and
development process. I think I bring something valuable to other
artists, including adding the component of fun, organization,
creativity and collaboration.

Tell us again who your favorite singers are, old and new.

TB: My idol, Karen Carpenter is number one. Others include Lea Michelle,
Sharon McNight, Esperanza Spalding, Casey Abrams and Melody Gardot.
Lately, I’ve been really intrigued and enamored with Billie Eilish –
both as a person and performer.

Do you wish to add anything?

TB: I decided this past year to really follow my passions, so I have been
taking piano lessons, which has added so much joy to my life. My goal
was to accompany myself at a show, and I’m happy to report that I will
be doing that! I just want to immerse myself in the entertainment
world, from music to directing to cabaret to voice work and acting.

Visit Tiffany bailey at:

Friday, January 24, 2020

2020 Interview with Doug Haverty & Bruce Kimmel for In My Mind's Eye

Playwright, actor, artistic director of Group Rep Doug Haverty is about to bring back one of his early award-winning plays In the Mind's Eye. The play will be directed by Bruce Kimmel, whose Kritzerland has produced a myriad of albums and a monthly show at Feinstein's Upstairs at Vitello's. Kimmel and Haverty co-penned  the Ovation nominated A Carol Christmas at Group Rep in 2018 to great acclaim and have a tight working chemistry. Busy in rehearsals, In the Mind's Eye will open at Group Rep Friday February 7. Both men took time out of thei busy schedules and sat down to discuss the play in detail.

(to Doug Haverty)

What inspired you to write this play?

DH: My very first play, Hello, This is the Bottom Drawer, was a pretty big hit (came out of nowhere for most people). It opened at the Evergreen Stage (now The Fountain) and then transferred to John Allison’s Callboard Theatre on Melrose Place. It was very funny and got a little serious towards the end. It garnered a lot of attention and I was signed to ICM by Miss Audrey Wood. My next play, Tenants Anyone?, at the Cast-at-the-Circle was not so successful. It was an out-and-out farce, with a great cast … and some nights it was funny and some nights it wasn’t. It’s very difficult to sit in a three-sided arena theater, staring across at the other 1/3 of the audience when no one is laughing and it’s supposed to be a farce.

So, I swore that the next play I wrote would be a drama, so I wouldn’t have to worry about whether or not people were laughing. I wanted to write something serious about someone I admired, a woman because I wanted to create more great roles for women. Whatever group I was working with, there were always more wonderful actresses and few great parts for women.

I decided to write about my 7th Grade World Geography teacher. My first day of 7th grade (then Junior High) was also her first day of teaching. My first class, the first day, her first day … and she was blind. Legally blind. Even then, at eleven, I was amazed at her courage. She had her role sheets prepared in Braille. Her lecture notes were prepared in Braille. She couldn’t make eye contact with us, so she delivered her lectures while walking up and down the aisles. She inspired me and I wanted to share her story.

I wrote this in the early 80s, and submitted it to Lonny Chapman at the Group Rep and he took me in as a new member and helped me develop it. It was the first full-length play to be mounted at 10900 Burbank Blvd. It won a lot of Drama-logue awards and other year-end awards, got produced around the state and then was published by Samuel French.

In the late 1990s, I started teaching (Graphic Design at FIDM) and now that I’ve been a teacher, I have even more admiration for this inspirational teacher. It’s hard enough to teach. It’s hard to teach 7th grade. I can’t imagine what it was like to stand in front of a class and be blind.

Why did you decide to make two different tracks one for Patty and the other for Trish?

DH: I wanted to show this character at two major turning points in her life: 1) the day she decided to transfer to a regular public school and: 2) the day she became a teacher. Structurally, I didn’t want one person to play both parts (14 and 26) and I didn’t want to start the play with the younger one and end it with the older one. So, we follow both tracks simultaneously and cut back and forth. It’s a memory play. So, the lead character’s name is Patricia. When she’s young she goes by “Patty,” and when she’s older she’s known as “Trish.” Trish is listening to her diary-on-tape and re-lives her life and gradually begins to accept herself after so many years of being hard on herself. There are even a couple of places where the two actresses switch places. Sometimes, as an adult, we’ll do something stupid or feel inferior and feel like that kid that lives inside us. Or, sometimes, as a kid, we will make a huge stride in our development and feel like a grown-up for a second. So, that’s what I have happening and Bruce Kimmel has staged those portions eloquently.

Tell our readers about the kind of relationship Patty had with her mother.

DH: I don’t know what kind of relationship the real teacher had with her mother. The one I’ve painted closely resembles other similar situations I’ve observed where there is a single, sole-support parent and their self-sacrifice to clear a path for their special needs child is their mission in life. Many times that parent becomes dependent on the needs of their special needs child. And, eventually, when that child grows up and starts to pull away, that dedicated parent feels threatened and their dependency rears its ugly head. So, the relationship is fun, good and strong and healthy, but becomes challenging as the young daughter starts to yearn for her independence.

How does the old man play into the story? Is he based on a real person as well?

DH: At key points in Patricia’s life, she encounters men and chocolate. The old man is based on someone I knew, but he did not know this teacher. I just borrowed his personality from another part of my life. He is a lonely widower and falls down in Patty’s front yard while out strolling. While supposedly working on her homework, she cleans the old man up and invites him in. They’re both lonely people, each for different reasons, but they find a familial accord and help each other. Up to this point, Patty has had many imaginary friends, and the old man is her first real friend. This doesn’t sit well with her mother. How could a 78 year-old widower befriend a 14-year-old loner?

And then in the play, Trish encounters a man who is the English teacher in the very next classroom. They are both two lost souls who find one another and start to develop a friendship. This doesn’t sit well with the mother either and therein the conflict starts to emerge.

Tell us about your awards for this play when it was first mounted.

DH: The first production won many Drama-Logue Awards; including Best Playwriting. The critic from Drama-Logue was Jack Holland and he really liked the writing and said wonderful things in his review. I know the actress who played the mother (the wonderful, dearly departed Melinda Cordell) won a Drama-Logue Award too. And I think there were others for Direction (Lilyan Chauvin) and Set and Sound. The play really requires a lot of sound cues and soundscape. I remember that this particular year the Drama-Logue Awards were at the Pasadena Playhouse. I gave a heartfelt speech, praising everyone involved with the production and the theater for taking a chance on such an unusual play. Later that night Gordon Davidson came up to me and said, “I really liked what you said, kid.” That, in essence, was another kind of award.

Have you ever thought about making any changes to the play or are you happy with it as is?

DH: It’s tempting to “improve” it; but who’s to say that whatever I do would actually be an improvement. It’s interesting to look at it 35 years later with older/wiser eyes and wonder if things should be changed. But I kind of like testing the play to see if it still holds up “as is.” In 2015, we did a revival of another play developed at Group Rep (under Lonny’s guidance), which is called Inside Out. Bruce Kimmel also directed that production beautifully. People suggested we “update it,” but we chose to just launch it as a period piece and see how it stood up and people really liked it and felt it still held up.

Anything unique or unusual about this new 2020 production?

DH: Yes. This is the first time I’ve ever seen the play with a real 14 year-old actress playing Patty. Usually we’d have a young twentysomething play the part with pigtails. We have Peyton Kirkner playing Patty. Peyton was in last year’s A Carol Christmas and everyone loved her, so we thought it would be fun to see how she does in a dramatic role.

We will also have new incidental music composed by our director, Bruce Kimmel. This main character listens to a lot of music, so music keeps everything flowing. Bruce was looking for just the right music and did not find it. But he heard it in his mind and so, he composed several beautiful themes that play throughout the evening.

Another unusual aspect of this production just occured. I am also a graphic designer and I was meeting with a potential new client and talking about designing a CD for her. As we were chatting, I happened to mention that we were getting ready to open In My Mind's Eye and told her what it was about. This actress, Rena Strober, stared at me in disbelief and her jaw dropped. It turns out that she has been coaching young visually impaired actors and thought they would love this play. I then mentioned that there are some flashback scenes (audio only) where we’d need kids. She contacted her students and they all wanted to do it. So, we’ll have VO of blind students for our flashbacks.

One of the reasons I wanted to write this play was to shed some light on people who overcome challenges to show others that it can be done. And I’m proud that we could also work with these young performers who are living/breathing proof that people can overcome physical challenges.

(to Bruce Kimmel)

What are the challenges you face as the director?

BK: The challenge for any director of any play is simple: How do you take what's on the page, bring it to life, give it clarity, make magic, and illuminate what the play is saying. Now, much of that happens easily if you cast it well, which we, thankfully have. These are the perfect actors for this play and when that's the case, everything becomes effortless because everyone is on the same page and playing the same show.

I know you like musicals and big broad exchanges in the communication between characters. This play is somewhat different. Explain!

BK: I actually like anything that interests me. Up until Dial "M" for Murder, I'd only directed musicals. But in the end it's all the same - how do you find the truth in the material. Musicals have certain needs that plays don't, raucous comedies like The Man Who Came to Dinner have certain needs that have to be fulfilled in order for them to work. And memory plays like Doug's have their own set of needs. One of the reasons I said yes to this is because it's a memory play and gives one a certain freedom in the interpretation and staging and look of the production. I went into rehearsal knowing only that I wanted it to be very cinematic and fluid in the staging and transitions, and I had two images in mind from the minute I finished the play and thankfully they both worked out well. But, to put a period on it, whether it's a musical, a comedy, or a dramedy like In My Mind's Eye, it's all about bringing truth to the characters and the play. And the fun for me is that it was completely different than anything I've done and that's always creatively satisfying.

Relate sensitivity and strength. How strong must a character like Trish be to attempt to live a more normal life?

BK: Trish is very strong because she had to be from the time she was born. No father, overprotective mother, no real friends, and legally blind. She's also very sensitive about the way her eyes look, about people making fun of her, is wary about love but craving it - she's a very rich creation, written beautifully by Doug, and Kait Haire, who's playing her is kind of a miracle and my favorite kind of actor - someone who has great instincts and does her job so that my job becomes very simple - I just block and then sit and watch her work, her magic and occasionally edit or give a note about something. Both she and the character are very moving, sometimes funny, and extremely charming.

Tell us about your cast and their chemistry.

BK: As I said, sometimes you luck out and boy did we. I love this cast, I can't wait to be with them at rehearsal, and I think they'd tell you the same about each other and how drama-free this rehearsal process has been. The chemistry between all of them is amazing to watch, actually. Peyton Kirkner and Kait Haire are magical, Bobby Slaski and Kait have incredible chemistry, Lloyd Pederson and Peyton have a different kind of chemistry that's completely endearing, and Maria Kress is just a great actor and really makes you understand a mother's anguish, her need to hold onto a child she has to let go of, all of it. Finally, Clara Rodriguez is perfect as the down-to-earth principal of the school where Peyton's Patty goes.

Is there anything you care to add?

BK: Doug has been great about letting us do our work and find the play in our own way. I directed his and Adryan Russ' musical Inside Out and I know both of them were a little irritated that I wouldn't let them attend any rehearsals until we were in run-throughs and solid. I had to be allowed to do the show in the way I wanted to, and the actors had to have the freedom to try things and fail without any eyes on them but mine. But when they saw it, they knew that was right. They had some notes here and there, but they knew it was a great cast and a really good presentation of their show. But I'm happy to say that Doug saw a run-through last night for the first time - I really had no idea if he liked or hated it until he called me an hour later and told me the best thing that any director or cast could ever hope to hear - he said that in all his years as a playwright this was the first time he had no notes whatsoever. It's a very special play and we're all hoping that people will come out to see it. We have a wonderful cast, terrific creatives on lights, sound, costumes, props, and an ace stage manager, and we can't wait to open.

In My Mind's Eye plays February 7 — March 15, 2020 ; Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm. Sunday Matinees at 2:00 pm  Talkbacks with cast and staff are 2/16 & 3/1.   
General Admission: $30.00. Seniors & Students with ID: $25.00. Parties 10+: $20.00  Tickets:,    Reservations & Information: (818) 763-5990  Lonny Chapman Theatre is located at 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood 91601

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

2019 Interview - Alfred Molina Comments on The Father

Florian Zeller's play The Father is so topical, for it deals with a father who is suffering from dimentia. It opens for previews on February 5 at the Pasadena Playhouse with the official opening night set for Tuesday February 11. Alfred Molina whose stage and film appearances are laudatory stars as the father Andre, a former tap dancer. He talks succinctly about the role as he settles in to a comfortable rehearsal period.

What is your perspective on what the play is about? "The Father is a play about love, loss, and the fragility of being human". As tragic as the topic is, are there any comedic moments to be found in the play? "There is a strong comedic edge in the play. The writer has described it as a tragic farce".

Actors of Molina's calibre are always trying to make the work of prime importance. They strive to make it better, so when I asked if he has any challenges in playing this role, he was forthright. "The biggest challenge is always to bring the play to an audience in a relevant and immediate way." He added with humor, "The next challenge for the actor is always the same...the next job!"

What does the play convey to the audience? "The message is whatever the audience take away with them. Theatre is not a messaging service, but it can shine a light not seen before."

Stellar director Jessica Kubzansky is on board to Molina's delight. " Jessica is a brilliant and experienced director with a keen ear for the subtle nuances in Florian Zeller's dialogue. She is truly collaborative, and encourages actors to bring ideas and suggestions to the process."

The play, which is translated by Christopher Hampton, won the 2014 Molière Award, and was nominated for the Evening Standard Theatre Award, Olivier Award for Best New Play, and Tony Award for Best Play.

Molina is joined by Sue Cremin as “Anne;” Michael Manuel as “Pierre;” Pia Shah as “Laura;” Hugo Armstrong as “Man;” and Lisa Renee Pitts as “Woman.”

When askd to talk about the cast, Molina had this to say, "The whole cast is amazing. Talented and bright, it's a pleasure to be part of this wonderful ensemble."

(photo credit: Paisley Smith)

The Father plays February 5 - March 1, 2020 at the Pasadena Playhouse
to purchase tix, call 626-356-7529 or go to: org

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Interview with Carlos Lacamara

The Road Theatre Co is proud to present the premiere of Nowhere on the Border by Carlos Lacámara and directed by Stewart J. Zully. The play concerns itself with the question Why do people cross borders? Two working class men, an Anglo on border watch and a Mexican, face off in the desert. What is discovered is that border crossings are both physical and emotional. The play opened January 17 at the Road on Magnolia and will play through March 8. Playwright Carlos Lacámara, who also plays a role in the alternate cast, took time out of a busy schedule to discuss the play in detail.

Is the play Nowhere on the Border autobiographical?

CL: The play is not autobiographical, but as a refugee to this country, I have great empathy for those who tear themselves away from their homes and families to search for a better life.

What actual event(s) inspired you to write it?

CL: Two different ideas inspired Nowhere on the Border. First, both my wife and I come from working class families. I find that working men (and I am specifically referring to men) often blame their difficulties on other working men of different races or ethnicities rather than on the upper classes that have more control over their fate. A working man from Pennsylvania and one from Mexico have much more in common with each other than they do with Bill Gates or David Koch, so I decided to let two working men from different nations battle out their differences along the southern U.S. border. My other inspiration came from a Los Angeles Times article that followed a father who spent weeks looking for his missing daughter in the desert. Along the way, he found many other dead bodies, and each time he did, he called the Border Patrol and waited for them to take the corpse away. I combined these two ideas to create Nowhere on the Border.

What is the play's intent?

CL: I want this play to remind us that we are all one.

What is it like also playing a character in your own play?

CL: It’s wonderful to get to portray a character in my own story. Theatre is story telling. Playing a character gives me the wonderful opportunity to live the story I created, and it’s easier to memorize lines that I wrote myself.

What would you like audiences to take away from seeing the play?

CL: I would love for audiences to see themselves in the characters, and to understand that any of us could easily have found ourselves walking across a burning desert, fleeing danger and poverty, were it not for an accident of birth. Immigrants and refugees are as good and smart and deserving as any of us, maybe more so when you consider the courage it takes to do what they do.

Nowhere on the Border plays on Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 8 pm and Sunday matinees at 2 pm at the Road in The NoHo Senior Arts Colony that is located at 10747 Magnolia Blvd. in NoHo. There is plenty of street parking but arrive early. For tickets call 818-761-8838.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

2020 Interview with Miwa Matreyek

REDCAT presents the Los Angeles premiere of Infinitely Yours by animator, designer and performer Miwa Matreyek for the debut of her latest work. Running for three performances from Thursday, January 16 through Saturday, January 18, 2020, the award-winning interdisciplinary creator brings her nightmarish vision of climate grief to Los Angeles audiences before heading to Park City, Utah for the works’ world premiere during Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier program. Infinitely Yours will then embark on a North American tour throughout June. 
In our conversation Matreyek discusses the project in detail.

This brilliant new work, Infinitely Yours, sounds like a film but is, at the same time, a live theatrical experience. I see it’s also headed to Sundance’s New Frontier program, which is where Festivalgoers get "a peek into the next dimension of storytelling,” as they explain on their site. Describe for our readers your new piece's exact nature and composition.

MM: I am an animator, designer, and performer. I create live performances where I step behind the screen and into my kaleidoscopic moving images that are projected onto a screen, and interact with them as a shadow silhouette. My work is at once fantastical and visual like cinema, but is also physically present, intimate, and about creating an emotional connection with the audience, like theater. My work often weaves in narratives of nature and humanity with my shadow taking on various scales of consciousness and perspectives.

Describe what you mean by dreamlike.

MM: My work tends to not have any text, and doesn’t follow a specific character or a clear narrative. Rather, the images the audience sees are surreal and poetic, while also being a physical experience for the shadow silhouette they see on screen. Shadow is interesting because it is physical (cast by a real body) but also abstracted. As a shadow, my body can get larger than life, to show close-ups of my face, my hands, my feet, etc, as well as play with cinematic tropes and conventions, like POV shots. By combining a real body with the video, I want the dreamlike or nigtmare-ish visual moments to seem like real experiences happening to the physical body. 

The work also very much plays with illusion, and transformation, and can feel like a magic show.

From whence does your inspiration come for this issue of climate change?

MM: Much of the inspiration came from news article headlines about climate change that I’d been seeing in the last few years. I began notetaking and cataloguing these articles, as they became inspirations for the images and embodied experiences, as I was imagining up ways to create a metaphorical version of the headlines. A giant body emitting trash in a landfill. A figure reaching in to the ground and pulling out oil.

Apart from making audiences aware of climate change and what it is doing to destroy our world as we know it, what are your other goals with this project? What would you like to see people do to help?

MM: I would say creating a discussion about climate change is my main goal. I often incorporate artist talks when I tour (especially with university presenters). With Infinitely Yours, part of the talk will be not just about the inspiration (articles, books) but also my personal struggles as I wrestle with personal choices in my everyday life. Much of the imagery in the piece came from my daily life –  the plastics floating in the polluted ocean scene is plastic trash I generated. I began doing what I call a plastic audit, where I collected all the plastic trash I generate in a month (rather than putting it out in the blue bin to be taken away every week). It was eye-opening to see the month’s worth of trash in one place, to think through the choices I made in the grocery store, and how I might make those choices differently. Some items, like grains, I can fairly easily avoid plastics by going to a store that has bulk bins. However, some other items, such as tofu, seems impossible to acquire without generating plastic trash – unless I figured out how to make it myself, or completely stopped eating it. I think there is something to be said about stopping and reassessing all the choices we make everyday - driving or taking public transportation, eating plant-based foods or not, buying new or getting used, etc etc. 
I feel like in our world, we need a wider imagination of the before and after of the choices that we make – we tend to see only the moment. I am interested in the work rattling the audiences a bit to reconsider the befores and afters of the choices that they make.

The music we’ll hear in Infinitely Yours is by Morgan Sorne aka SORNE but he did not create it with you or for the piece, correct? How did the two of you approach this collaboration and will he perform the score live at other shows beyond REDCAT and Sundance?

MM: I met Morgan a few years ago when a friend invited him to one of my shows in Los Angeles. Since then I got to know his music and as I started working on Infinitely Yours, I began to feel his music really resonated with the energy and feeling of the scenes. I asked Morgan if he’d consider me using his music, and he said yes, so I went through his whole discography (he has many albums!) to start to pin down which songs work for the project. He gave me the song files, which I was able to start adding animation to, and use the music to help define the structure of how the images and scenes unfold from one to the next. As an animator with some music background, letting the music really drive the energy of the visuals is key for me, using the  rhythms and beats to drive the visual beats. 

So the idea is that I have one version of the full show with all pre-recorded music, including his vocals, and another version of the full show with a lot of the layers in the music removed, so that Morgan can perform live with his vocal and instruments. How often we get to do this will be up to the presenters and our availability....

If you are live on tour with the project, will you answer questions from each audience after the presentation?

MM: Yes, normally there is a Q and A after the shows, where I answer questions from the audience. A lot of my touring takes place through university presenters, and I plan to incorporate artist talks, discussions, and workshops as well. With my past work, the focal point of my talk had been mainly about making interdisciplinary work, and my process. With Infinitely Yours as part of the tour, I’d love for the artist talks to also focus on climate change, sustainability, and personal choices. 

With a run-time of 25 minutes, the L.A. presentation of Infinitely Yours will be paired with some of Matreyek’s older work, creating an 80-minute program, which will include a 15-minute intermission. Each performance will begin at 8:30 pm. Tickets for Infinitely Yours are $22 or $18 for REDCAT members, and all ages are welcome. The Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) is located at 631 W 2nd St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. For tickets, please call the box office at 213 237-2800 or visit

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

the attic collective

The Attic Collective has devised a new intriguing play entitled I Decided I'm Fine: A Roach Play written by Rosie Glen-Lambert and Veronica Tjioe and directed by Rosie Glen-Lambert. Glen-Lambert (pictured left) talks to us in great detail about the Attic Collective and this fascinating new work.

Tell first and foremost about the mission of The Attic Collective.

R G-L: The Attic Collective is a community of diverse young artists whose unique approach to live performance strives to redefine theatre, both in who it is for and what it can be. Our work investigates the human experience with equal parts joy and profundity; by utilizing magical realism, clowning, movement, music, and an emphasis on design, our work tackles universal questions through a lens of wonder and discovery. We offer our audiences universes unbound by the rules of reality as a sanctuary of escape to, and not from, their own emotions. We create theatre for theatre-lovers, theatre-haters, theatre-skeptics, theatre-believers, theatre professionals, theatre novices, or, put more simply: we create theatre for everyone.

How does this revamped play fit into the mission?

R G-L: This is a play which tackles very difficult subject matter, so it would be easy for it to be two hours of difficult-to-watch drama. But our company believes in exploring the complexity of human emotion from seemingly unlikely vantage points. There is clowning in this show. There is comedy in this show. There is a fifteen minute cockroach musical in this show. It is our belief that, rather than minimizing the weightiness of this play, these moments of levity bring our audience closer to the emotional stakes present. Laughing one minute and crying the next is our brand. It is how we take care of our audience, assuring them that emotional release and enjoyment are not mutually exclusive. This is a very “Attic Collective” show.

It's about hoarding. I am a hoarder, so can definitely relate to how serious a problem this is. What inspired you to write a play about this issue?

R G-L: It’s fascinating to me who self-identifies as a “hoarder” and who doesn’t. As a person who has held on to every note I’ve received since childhood and who cannot bring myself to throw out a single VHS tape in my storage unit, I used to sort of casually self-identify, finding it to be a kind of humorous self-deprecation. But the question of who and what a hoarder is is unbelievably complex. As we have been developing and discussing this show over the past two years I’ve gotten to hear varying responses to this classification. I Decided I’m Fine: A Roach Play was created after our company was commissioned by another theatre company to create a new, devised work as part of their season. The space we would be creating it for was wonderful but intimate-just 35 seats and two entrances. As we were pondering the best way to make the intimate setting for this new piece purposeful, I was simultaneously in the process of making multiple trips to Detroit to help my family sort through my grandmother’s home in preparation for helping her move into a nursing facility. My grandmother, a tough, wonderful woman, had a home teeming with belongings: antiques, documents, receipts, unopened purchases, etc. We always knew she was a collector, but the scale to which she had accumulated only really became evident as we were helping to facilitate this move.

I started to wonder about where this tendency stemmed from. Was it her impoverished upbringing, being raised by Jewish immigrants during the Great Depression? Was it a symptom of her abusive marriage? Had she collected to this extent as a response to her failing memory? I thought about the reality shows we have all become so familiar with, the ones which encourage us to shudder and retch at people who’ve “let things get out of control.” I thought about the way these shows focus on the symptoms of each “hoarder’s” lifestyle, giving little or no attention to the source of the compulsion. I thought about the way these shows are meant for entertainment. I did research about Compulsive Hoarding Disorder, and the ways in which hoarding is most often a response to a trauma. I thought about the way wealthier people are often considered “collectors” rather than hoarders because of the space they have to store their objects. I thought about my own overflowing storage unit (filled with things I inherited from my grandmother) and wondered what my own children will say about me as they facilitate my move one day. The topic felt too rich not to investigate further, so I brought it to the Company and we began devising this play.

The play concerns a serious problem with a couple who are experiencing a serious loss. How does the magic and clowning play into this scenario? How, as director, do you meet the challenges of the switch in tone?

R G-L: Hoarding is an incredibly delicate issue that is frequently handled indelicately. For many people, their only familiarity with the topic comes from reality television which has stigmatized and sensationalized the behavior. In creating a new piece of theatre which aimed to address hoarding empathetically, it felt impossible not to grapple with this cultural touchstone directly. We watched several episodes of both A&E’s “Hoarders” And TLC’s “Hoarding: Buried Alive” as research and were struck by the presentational quality of these shows. Each “Hoarder’s” life was compressed into an hour-long episode where the most shocking and disturbing details were highlighted for the viewers benefit. This steered us towards a framing device for our show which addresses the sensationalism of these reality shows somewhat directly: celebrity doctors/lifestyle coach type characters who “present” the core story of Ellen, a woman who is hoarding as a response to loss. These characters are inherently clowns, representing a removal from the sympathy the audience may feel for Ellen. Separately, there is another frame through which the audience can watch the performance which highlights through magic and abstraction the comfort (as well as the distress) that Ellen gains from her accumulation. How do these different framing devices work together? I think quite similarly to the way we approach this topic in real life. Hoarding is something you are asked to gawk and laugh at when you’re watching strangers on television. It is something you feel sad about when you watch it have a stronghold over someone you love. It is something that can at times feel magical, like an incredible archive of a person’s life. The tonal shifts ask the audience to grapple with the complexity of the behavior itself.

Why did you revamp the original version of the play? Did audience reaction suggest this?

R G-L: As a company, we have created a number of new plays through our distinctive devising process which have all been well-attended and well-received. But I Decided I’m Fine: A Roach Play, which was originally performed in August of 2018, had a unique effect on our audience. It elicited the most vulnerable post-show conversations, resulted in the most thoughtful next-day email messages, and we continued to hear about the way it stuck with our audiences long past its final performance. People who thought coming in to the performance they had no personal connection to the subject matter left empathizing with friends and family, and people for whom the topic was deeply personal entered the performance with trepidation and left feeling validated and hungry for deeper conversation. And, thrillingly, a number of patrons who do not typically go to the theatre (some for whom this was their first live theatrical performance!) left excited about seeing more. One patron approached me afterwards to tell me that he “didn’t realize this is what theatre could be.” It felt like it was too special to put back in the vault, so we’ve continued to work on it in the hopes of bringing it to a wider audience.

Attic Collective has received awards and has a fantastic reputation in the theatre community. Talk about this.

R G-L: We are very proud of the work we have created for the Los Angeles community. This past summer, our sold-out run of The Last Croissant, which we produced for the Hollywood Fringe Festival, won Best Ensemble Theatre, Best of the Broadwater, as well as Top of the Fringe, the top honor awarded. We were also nominated for the Larry Cornwall Award for Musical Excellence as well as the Steve Kent Award for Social and Political Change. Our previous Fringe project, Dead Dog’s Bone: A Birthday Play was awarded the 2015 Encore Producer’s Award and earned nominations for Best Direction of the festival as well as Best Performance. Our devised play, What Happened to Where I’ve Been, was chosen to be a part of Son of Semele’s Company Creation Festival in 2017 and enjoyed an extension after the close of the Festival. In addition to the award-winning work we do, we are also extremely proud to offer free theatre workshops that are open to the community. Every three months we gather to hone our skills, create and play. It is a wonderful opportunity for artists to practice their craft and deepen their sense of community. In this way we hope that in addition to making a name for ourselves by creating thoughtful and evocative theatre we are also adding to the Los Angeles theatrical landscape by providing a place for artists to connect with one another.

Is there anything you wish to add?

R G-L: I think this is a special, very difficult play. I hope it can be the beginning of a continued conversation about grief, mental health, stigma and compassion.

Content Warning: Please be advised that the following themes which may be triggering for some audience members are present in this performance: Alcoholism, Anxiety, Compulsive Hoarding Disorder, Death, Death of an infant, Hoarding, Mental Illness.

 I Decided I'm Fine: A Roach Play runs Feb. 7 – Mar. 1. It plays Fridays, Saturdays @ 8pm, Sundays 6pm) at Studio/Stage 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004

for tickets, visit:

(photo credit: rachel rambaldi)

Friday, January 10, 2020

Interview with Dr. Venus Opal Reese

Best-selling author, acclaimed international speaker and business mentor Dr. Venus Opal Reese will kick-off her latest tour, The Raw Truth Book+ Tour, during MLK weekend at Highways in Santa Monica. Highways is stretching the limits once again to add enrichment to the Los Angeles theatre scene. Dr. Venus is one very theatrical lady who tells our readers in detail where she came from and how she has risen to the heights of fame and success.

Tell our readers about your background and how it affected your current career. As a writer, I am always pleased to see someone rise up out of poverty, take charge and shape their destiny.

Dr. Venus: By the time I was 16, I was living on the streets of Baltimore, MD, eating out of trashcans and sleeping in urine and beer. On the streets, everyone lies. Streetlife is rooted in survival. I had to discern quickly what a person wanted and what to say in order to stay alive.  I became masterful at hearing what people are NOT saying.

This specific capacity is my “million-dollar moneymaker.” Everyone has one.
It’s formed in a moment of crisis when life knocks you to your knees. I can “hear” what people will buy from only you that is rooted in your lived experience. I then position, package, and price it so my clients become the highest-paid leader in their industries, live fulfilled lives and leave a legacy that transforms the world. Simply put, I turned myself into a category of one and I do the same for high net-worth, top-performing, high achievers, business owners, and experts. If I hadn’t lived on the streets, I would never have grossed $5 million in less than 6 years, without loans, investors, a sales team, or government funding.
It’s not in spite of the streets but BECAUSE of what I learned on the streets I am now able to empower and model for others how to “pimp”  their pain instead of their pain pimping them. My clients have grossed millions by implementing my strategies, systems, and programs.

What does your book detail? Is there a specific plan to follow?

Dr. Venus: From the means streets of Baltimore to Stanford Ph.D., to Black Woman Millionaire, The Raw Truth: A Pimp’s Daughter’s Diary is a relentlessly honest and emotionally intimate account of my spiritual healing from a traumatic childhood to salvation and personal power. Inspiring, disturbing, and as “real” as it gets, enter a world very few survive. Ruthlessly authentic, sensually erotic, and viscerally explicit, this story is a road map to guide you, if you’re ready, from socially acceptable acts of self-hate to self-making, self-love, to ultimately self-respect.

Explain the different parts to your evening, so our readers know exactly what to expect.

Dr. Venus: The Raw Truth Book+ Tour: Pimp Slap The Past Into Peace, Purpose, Passion & Profits is a 3-part experience. Unlike conventional book tours, this is a full-day experience for book lovers, lifetime learners, and theatergoers.

1.     The Book Signing: Bring your copy of my bestselling book, The Raw Truth: A Pimp Daughter’s Diary, or purchase one on-site (come early to get yours before they are sold out!), and let’s grab a photo together.
2.     The Wealth Workshop: During this three-hour session, I will share how I turned my painful and traumatic childhood into millions. And meaning. If you have ever felt trapped by the past, knowing there’s SO much more for you, don’t miss this session!
    1. I am also including “love seats,” where a few select audience members get to come on stage where I use my multi-million-dollar brain to show you how to monetize your pain or turn your pain into purpose!
    2. We will finish the session by passing the mic to members in the audience (you?) for “Share YOUR Truth” moments to be witnessed, heard, seen, and confirmed by a loving tribe of fellow “Truth-Tellers” who understand.
3.     The Solo Performance: This is where the book comes to LIFE! It’s one thing to read my powerful and raw words on the page, and it’s great to learn how YOU can pimp your own pain into peace or profits. But to SEE, FEEL, and WITNESS me bringing my words to life? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you can’t get ANYWHERE else on the planet!

How much spirituality is involved in the program?

Dr. Venus: This program is rooted in my personal relationship with God—as a street urchin. I talk to God like he is a Black Man who just got out of prison. #realtalk  So, my relationship with God is VERY “Street.” In my imaginings, God is a gangsta not an angelic white man in the sky. Because I grew-up on the streets, I needed a God who bleeds; someone I could relate to. So, the entire program is rooted in my personal, street-life centered relationship with God. It’s important to know I didn’t meet God in the church. I met God on the streets. I met Jesus in the club. (Kirk Franklin’s “Stomp)  So, if a person is “religious” they will clutch their pearls when they hear how real and raw God and I roll. I curse, cry and pray—sometimes in the same breath.
My work—written, taught, or performed—doesn’t fit into a box of respectability. 

As a girl from the streets, I don’t traffic in respectability. I traffic in truth. I wasn’t built for the church. I was built for the marketplace. I am foul-mouth, sexually explicit, queer-identified and into kink. AND I love the Lord. Just like the imperfect vessels from the Bible—from David, to Moses, to Saul turned Paul—I’m a hot mess on a good day! That doesn’t mean I can’t love you. And it doesn’t mean God can’t use me for those of us who would NEVER make it with a “traditional” relationship with spirituality.

How do audiences generally react?

Dr. Venus: My audiences are hungry for the truth. Some have to set aside their judgments of what a Godly woman would say or talk about, which I regard as admirable. But those who are open-minded and open-hearted walk away inspired, with new fresh perspectives and wisdom. I always recommend audiences check out some of my Facebook or Instagram live streams, YouTube videos, and blog articles to get a sense of my flow before they come. That way the aren't surprised by how I remix the sacred with the streets. I got an edge on me. I do prepare new audience members, fans and followers for what to expect before I start my programs. I make it my business that everyone who comes to my tour stops and performances are taken care of.

Money is mentioned in the pr. Do you specifically encourage making money as one of the goals or does it come as an aftermath of success?

Dr. Venus: Money is not "effort." It’s energy. “Making” money is hard work, so I don’t advise it. The millions I have manifested come from healing my own historical, cultural and familial traumas—not my effort. Working hard will not make you rich. It will only make you tired. Most people have been taught to bring in money from what they “do.” Rich people bring in money from what they “know.”
When I say "know," I don’t mean skills, talents or credentials. There are tons of people who have the same skills, talents, and credentials that you have. So, you end up in a rat race where the cheapest price wins. The key isn’t “doing.” The keys that have made the biggest difference in my life, allowing me to fulfill my destiny, have NOTHING  to do with "doing." Truthtelling. Healing. Surrender. Allow. Trust. Receive. These energetic states are magic. The more you heal the more you can receive, without earning it, proving it, overcoming it, hustling, grinding, or slavin’.
I can show you how to break your first million in minutes (and I will at the wealth workshop) but money is the easy part. Healing—that’s the rub. When you identify your million-dollar moneymaker that is rooted in your pain—not your brain—and you price, package, and position it properly in the marketplace, financial AND emotional freedom, success, and fulfillment are natural fallouts.

Sum up your life in one sentence. Use past, present, and future in your statement.

Dr. Venus: From the Streets to Stanford, Ph.D., To Hot Mess Millionaire. My life is a miracle.

Dr. Venus Opal Reese presents The Raw Truth Book Tour at Highways Performances Space & Gallery, located at 1651 18th Street, Santa Monica, on Friday January 17 at 8:30 pm, Saturday January 18 at 8:30 pm and Sunday January 19 at 3: 30 pm. Plus you may attend a free open rehearsal on Monday January 13 at 8: 00 pm.

Contact the following link for tix: :