WHY: As much as this one woman show was filled with humor, it was filled with heart and old truths. The topics explored elevated the humor in ways the heart did not expect. The issues of colorism, racial stereotypes, broken homes, verbal abuse, and the fighting that occurs within a race… Mélia refused to shy away from them and used Tupac and music as thread that connected the joy and the pain. Her smile reminded me throughout the piece that we can manifest our own realities; that the past does not have to hijack the future and the present is an opportunity to dig deep and make amends. The layers that live within this Hip Hopsical will require you to check what you’re laughing at, demand that you examine yourself, and also remind us that what we often seek is not what is best for us and may very well kill us. Catch this show – you’ll walk away with a smile and catch yourself thinking about the piece days later.
WHY: This show blew me away and filled my entire soul. I love a show about women. I love a show that features women of multi-colors, cultures, and ages. I love a show that honors and remembers history. This play uplifts and educates with love and will not let you down. It brings to life the memory of the women of color who joined the war effort while men were away from home during the war – we know them as “Rosie the Riveters.” The play also teaches us through riveting movement, powerful poetry, era-evoking music, and essential oral history how these women, the pachucas, refused to return to the old ways after experiencing the advantages of changing social roles, being the financial providers while the men were away, and upon their return, found it was too high a cost to lose that newfound freedom and independence. This play keeps alive women’s stories. In gentle but intentional ways, “Ode to La Pachuca” reveals to us the pain and joy that come with pursuing and living a life that is authentic to one’s spirit. May we never forget those who died nor those who survived unfair and violent treatment. May the resilience of all Zootsuits linger in our bones; may their actions continue to guide the present into the future.
A Note from the Playwright: “In June 1943, Mexican-American youth were racially targeted and brutally attacked by white U.S. servicemen and police officers during what is infamously known as the Zoot Suit Riots. 80 years later, in June 2023, the City of Los Angeles officially condemns and apologizes for the crimes committed against our community and declares June 3 – June 9 as Zoot Suit Heritage Week. We are incredibly grateful to witness THIS moment in history and humbled by the opportunity to present an excerpt of our latest work to honor the Mujeres of the 1940s movement: las pachucas”
WHY: New work by young artists! Always so thrilling and needed for the American Theatre canon. Ainsley and Hannah both have such a natural, grand way of existing on the stage. It felt so familiar, the way they engaged with one another, allowing for a tremendous amount of trust between them. I was sitting on the bench in the front of the stage, and I could see every gesture and move in their bodies. I could hear them breathing, and there was not a moment when the two were not living the play. An essential aspect of theatre – women coming together to support one another against male violence by any means necessary. This story was about two women, about friendship, and, ultimately, a love story that left you guessing until you walked out of the theatre. Who did it?! I found that it didn’t matter. The most important thing was that the characters were free from terror. Go support young talent telling new stories!
WHY: A majestic original new work. Olivia & Gefei, the design team, and their naturally excellent multi-cultural cast of character actors were beyond a delight. A story of a young woman able to visit her younger self is something we all have imagined. Witnessing adult Zhigeng engage with young Zhigeng spoke directly to the spirit. To see her experience life with her friends, grandmother, and her mother from a place of knowing—as this is a time travel play!—gave all of us in the audience a chance to go back in time and tell our younger selves that it will be/we are okay and that they are loved. I brought my nieces with me to see this show, and by the end of it, we all had tears in our eyes.This Theatre For Young Audiences (TYA) play broke age and cultural barriers and touched each one of us because we understood and remembered what it was like to be a kid—not knowing that what you see and believe will shift with time and that you will survive.Wow! What a truly generous gift from the playwrights to young and old audience members.
Oh! And I almost forgot how magical it was when the Ostrich came through the door; the use of puppetry and props in the show made me feel that I was not at a Fringe show but a fully produced play. BRAVO to all. Keep going! We need your voice in the theatre for young children and for those of us who may forget at times what it means to survive childhood.
For the Community: “We’re excited to announce our AAPI Kids Morning! On the morning of 18th, any Asian American and Pacific Islander children and teens can bring their parent(s)/guardian(s) to see the show for FREE!!”
There is also cool merch available for sale to support the show, payable via Zelle + Venmo @birdsandthecuriosity.
WHY: To watch Lorelei onstage is to witness a woman not afraid to reveal all the pieces of herself. A woman who allows her vulnerability to be on full display. It was an incredible experience to be in the audience. There is this Lucille Ball quality to her, the ability to be incredibly funny while using self-caricature to enter the truth of what it means to be human—the resonance of one’s experiences and seeing them in real time. This is a magical piece that will continue to expand. When Lorelei opened her mouth and began to sing, it was an immediate emotional transportation. My heart fluttered as I did not expect to hear her sing, and there she was, this glorious light onstage that brought the room to stillness. I could have sat in that theatre with no awareness of time until the sun went down.
HOW:This production only had three viewings, but keep an eye out for extensions or arrivals at other Festivals, including Cannonball 23 in Philadelphia this September. Learn more at https://ascarisborn.wordpress.com/
WHY: Nothing is more vital to the arts than the rising need to support the voices of women artists worldwide. As soon as I entered the theatre, a chill of excitement filled my entire body, and I knew I was in for a new theatrical experience. To create new theatre work, one must not be afraid to go outside the box. To have no fear in creating a new path of storytelling is not easy, yet that is exactly what the ensemble and creative team of “The Guardians of Wonder” has done. To have them in Los Angeles sharing this play is a wonderful expansion to our local theatre scene.
The original choreography and sword fighting were exhilarating, surprising and thrilling. The actresses were magnificent and commanded the stage with grace as they fought with power and confidence. The original music and projections truly assisted in creating and setting the play’s tone as a live-action anime visual experience for the audience. My imagination was running wild; I thought of the classic anime shows “Sailor Moon” and “Dragon Ball Z.” The costumes designed by Rena were divine and immersed you into the story with care and clarity. My only regret is that the play ended before I was ready for it to! May we see more of this type of original work when it comes to telling and supporting stories in the theatre? BRAVO! to the entire ensemble and creative team. May you continue to imagine and manifest.
*Alice in Project was founded in 2010 in Japan and focuses on creating theatre shows by young actresses. They collaborate with the local community throughout Japan and provide a professional road for new actresses.Learn More at: instagram.com/aliceinpro/
WHY: Because you’ll see a young artist use her voice and body to heal a pain you can’t name at first. Because when Charlotte morphs into her mother, in voice and posture, the familiarity nearly broke my heart. Because I understood the anger, the grief and the empathy involved in accepting a once-healthy mother’s new physical reality. Because Charlotte reminded us that the loss of a loved one will touch us all and how we respond to that loss matters – community matters. Because when Charlotte begins to sing, a light shines from her whole being and we see her, we hear her, we are her.
In a time where all seems woeful, it felt good to bear witness to another human’s story of resilience – right here in your own neighborhood there is someone always finding ways to live a full life. May director Debra De Liso’s Theatre of Compassion continue to bring forth original projects from the voices of those who are not always heard.
WHY:Teruko! Teruko the Original! This solo show will have the hardest of humans laughing unexpectedly and then, with a whisper of a word, bring you to stillness. As I sat watching Teruko, I was struck by her authenticity, her powerful ability to honor her true self and to manifest her destiny despite the pains and tribulations she has experienced. There was a freedom exuding from Teruko that made me in awe: a freedom that only comes from finding ways to continue out of the dark into the light.
As I left the theatre I found myself still smiling and shouting: Teruko the Hero! As the show came to an end she brought us all to our feet and each person in that audience was not only rooting for her continued success in living her best life, we also came away with a better understanding of how vital it is for each of us to bet on ourselves – the necessity of having empathy for one another and a better understanding of who we are collectively. And perhaps greater care for what it means to be an American. I swear to you: DON’T miss this show!
WHY: This was an odd but lovely, heart-breaking, and thrilling out-of-the-box play. It took me on a myriad of emotions when thinking about women who often go unseen – or whose bodies are not being seen as worthy – as the endangered species that they are tasked with saving from extinction. I loved the subject, and while at first this seemed to be a weird play, I soon began to feel a sinking truth sitting in the pit of my stomach. The realism the actors brought to their work made me feel as though I was watching a play that was about to become a new tv show.
What a wonderful gift to the L.A theatre community: a new exciting play from a young non-binary playwright brought to us by a new electrifying theatre company that will no doubt change the landscape of possibility in our theatre community. Go see this play.
WHY: WHOA! I thank our ancestors I was able to be in the same space as Jairis and Mareshah. To see them on stage in the flesh was a true gift. “Abortion Weekend” was more than a piece, it was more than a show. I felt as though I was seeing a play that manifested from deep truths and touched on many issues in the Black community – and our society – including our own personal struggles that can go without words…until now – until the two of them. Jairis and Mareshah have a real way of connecting you to the story; their ability to use real language and address hard issues in a variety of honest ways was beyond refreshing.
As I sat in the audience I knew I was given a glimpse into the future. Future artists who are performing in a space off Santa Monica Blvd and Lillian Way in Hollywood, in a space you could almost mis, just as the Tony Awards were playing live in New York City. Watching this play in space with strangers who all came to see the work of Jairis and Mareshah, I know this is the heart of theatre. This is what it means to be an artist of one’s time. To do the work and then give it away left each and every one of us in the audience so full.