Tag Archives: theatre unleashed

Relevance & Empathy: Ligature Marks at Theatre Unleashed

I always consider my experience with art in terms of Relevance & Empathy, two words that are thrown around culture but rarely examined in detail.

“I feel like you had to be there.”

That is how my husband describes his non-emotional reaction to Andy Warhol. He understands Warhol’s place in art history and why he was revolutionary at the time, but he doesn’t feel anything when faced with Campbell’s Soup paintings.

That’s my reaction to a lot of classical plays, and even recent writers like Stoppard and Sam Shepard. I appreciate and enjoy them; often my brain is stimulated. I just rarely feel much that applies to my life at that very moment, or my future. (There are a handful of exceptions, as always, but I can only think of one, and it’s a film.)

New plays, especially ones that are set in an apartment, often miss the mark with me as well.

I want to be rattled by a play. I want to leave thinking about my life, my neighbor’s life, my cousin in Boston’s life, my son’s life, my boss’s life…..in a new play or adaptation, I want to leave with a perspective I did not have before entering the theater. I want to think more deeply about people and the world and how we all affect each other. I want to spend an evening in a way that directly affects my decision making in the future. Not that there’s anything wrong with a good old escapist comedy or anything; I like those too. I personally don’t see them as often.

With the very recent exception of E.M. Lewis’s The Gun Show, I haven’t felt simultaneously thrilled, revolted, and moved in…..years?

Mac Rogers did that to me. Twice already in 2015.

First with Viral at the Bootleg Theater/Moving Arts and then Ligature Marks, his 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival piece now playing (with new cast and director) at Theatre Unleashed.

It’s hard to discuss it without giving away the very parts of his storytelling which made me go “Oh holy shit, this is NOT what I expected.”Ligature Marks

It left me as fucked up and oddly resolved as the characters in the play felt (otherwise known as empathy).

It gave me insight into a trope I typically despise: dependent relationships, especially when the female looks to be the more dependent one.

Since VIRAL last month, it made me want a different local theater to produce a different Mac Rogers play every single month so I can get my relevance and empathy fix. I would even buy a subscription to it.

I’d say that’s a win.

http://www.theatreunleashed.org for tickets and more information.


Indie Arts Listings


WHO: Good People Theater Company

BARRYMORE by William Luce

, with Gordon Goodman in the starring role as John Barrymore

Preview on Friday, November 8 @ 8pm
Opening on Saturday, November 9 @ 8pm
Then running 3 weekends November 15 through December 1

Fridays @ 8pm

Saturdays @ 2pm and 8pm

Sundays @ 7pm

WHERE: Greenway Court Theater
544 N. Fairfax Ave between Melrose and Beverly
WHY CARE? Practically speaking, Gordon is of those classic hard working Los Angeles Equity actors of a certain age–a guy who’s built up more than 100 acting credits over the years.  But he’s not often carrying a whole show.  Many who know him feel he’s under-rated or under-appreciated.  And we think that is about to change.  John Barrymore is someone Gordon has long wanted to explore–as an actor and a psychologist–and we’re confident Gordon is going to give us one those “performance of a lifetime” moments.

WKOG small profile pic

The World Premiere of
What Kind of God? 

by Steve Julian

A gifted boy pleads for love. His only family member cries out for safe passage. One priest turns a deaf ear while another wages war against his own demon. How can any victim fight the world’s largest religion and come out whole? How many shepherds does it take to keep one lamb safe?

Directed by Aaron Lyons
Thursday, Oct. 10 & 17 @ 8pm

Friday, Oct. 11 & 18 @ 8pm

Saturday, Oct. 12 & 19 @ 8pm

Sunday, Oct. 13 & 20 @ 3pm

Starring (in alphabetical order): Brett Donaldson, Emily M. Faris, Steve Julian, Robert Keasler & Katherine McGehee *
* Appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association


The Corey Blake Experience – Improv Comedy

When? Saturday, October 12, 2013

No but when? 10:15-11:30 PM

Where? Neon Venus

No but where? 7023 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038

How much? $5

Facebook invite? Facebook!

Santa Monica Rep’s WaveFest

WaveFest is a series of short plays presented in 3 waves. Every wave runs for two weekends and consists of five new plays (plus some surprises) from some of the most exciting and talented local playwrights around.

The Interview

Not everyone is qualified to be a parent. A play by Susan Josephs, directed by Diana Wyenn.

Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Sundays at 5:00 pm
@ STUDIO/STAGE // 520 N Western Ave, Los Angeles [map]



invisiblecitiesCome to Invisible Cities in your best costume on 10/31 for a chance to win a pair of Sennheiser headphones!The Industry creates ambitious world premiere productions that expand the traditional definition of opera, merging artistic disciplines and building new paradigms for collaboration. The Industry aims to engage a wide demographic and cultivate curiosity through the unexpected audience experience.

Tickets: http://invisiblecitiesopera.com/tickets/


odysseyartboundArtbound tweeted this link to me – using The Odyssey to allow prisoners to re-imagine their own returns home. #ArtHealsTheater has the power to change lives. Also, great targeted tweeting, @KCETArtbound !
Using Homer’s “Odyssey” to think about modern life is not a new idea. But using Homer’s “Odyssey” to get incarcerated young men to re-imagine their returns home from correctional facilities is new, and it’s what The Odyssey Project has been doing for three years now. Learn all about this initiative here:http://bit.ly/17BL2or


by Steven Dietz, directed by Scott Marden at Theatre Unleashed’s new home.

October 3rd-November 9th, 2013
Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm*
No performance on 10/31. Special performance Sunday, 11/3 at 7pm

The Belfry Stage, Upstairs @ The Crown
This venue is located upstairs and is not handicapped-accessible

Proudly Supporting

proudly supporting write girl

WriteGirl – Helping girls write their way to more positive futures.
Bring a new journal or ream of printer paper to the box office for Trustand Name Your Ticket Price to see the show! Click here to RSVP.


redcatREDCAT’s Studio: Fall 2013

REDCAT is seeking original performance works for the next edition of Studio, REDCAT’s quarterly series of new works in progress in dance, theater, multimedia and music. If you have a project 15 minutes or under and would like to be considered – apply now.

Applications are due by 5:00PM: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2013
Showings are scheduled for: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2013
Performance dates: SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7 at 8:30 PM & SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2013 at 7:00PM

Visit our website: http://www.redcat.org/about/artist-opportunities and complete the online application.


Releasing Heart – A Short Film in it’s entirety for a limited time on the interweb! This little short premiered at the 2013 No Budget Film Festival where it screened at the beautiful Vista Theatre! Even though this movie was made for ZERO dollars, we will be sending out to more festivals to see how far it can go.

If you enjoy, spread the word and like our page!


crazy maryCrazy Mary

by Michael Colbert (Author) , J. K. Woodward (Illustrator) , Ryan Sergeant (Illustrator) & 2 more
Don’t call her crazy to her face. Several years ago Mary was a professional soldier who volunteered for an upgrade program dubbed “Project Dragonfly”. The project upgraded the subjects with enhanced strength, speed and combat ability.
It didn’t go well for Mary.
Shortly after the upgrades Mary started seeing things… insane things. A world of melting walls and living fire, vortexes of thought and colored radio waves, sentient metaphors and beings that existed in an invisible layer of reality. She could communicate with these beings. She made deals with some of them.
Or she had simply gone insane.
Either way she was useless to the project and the military so she was cut loose and vanished shortly thereafter.
A few years later she re-emerged in the New York area of Megalopolis as a “freelancer” specializing in bounty hunting and search and rescue. Her upgrades give her an advantage in competing against other freelancers, Lawcom and her targets… most of the time. She can still see the weird layer of reality and her trinity of supernatural advisors helps … most of the time.
Or she could just be crazy and very lucky.
Or a bit of both.



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Gaiman, Poorhouse & Round Rock

Recently I’ve been at a string of sneak peeks and opening nights. Here are my reactions to three. I am not reviewing these works, and it’s really not appropriate to do so at the times when I only see a rehearsal. My reactions will center around the experience and whatever kept bouncing around my head after seeing each show.

I will be transparent as to when I got comps, but all opinions are truthful and my own, not associated with any employer or colleagues or even my dog (though she’s quite opinionated).

Poster outside Sacred Fools LA

Poster outside Sacred Fools LA


by Robert Kauzlaric
adapted from the novel by Neil Gaiman © 1996
directed by Scott Leggett

Disclosure: Saw a dress rehearsal, no cost. Except what I spent at The Faculty pub after the show. Get the spicy mac-n-cheese.

I was invited to the dress rehearsal of this epic onstage, and tried to manage expectations. Not of Sacred Fools specifically – they have an excellent reputation and I doubted they would produce this piece without knowing what it would take. What concerned me were my expectations to see how envision the novel onstage versus Scott Leggett and his creative team’s vision.*

Jonathan Kells Phillips as Marquis de Carabas checks his crossbow prop.

Jonathan Kells Phillips as Marquis de Carabas checks his crossbow prop.

Even in rehearsal, it didn’t take long to let that concern fall to the side. This massive story translates very well to the stage. In fact, their abstract unit set and use of the space sparked a very personal, necessarily theatrical reaction in my brain, so in a way I got both my Neverwhere and Director Leggett’s Neverwhere without the two ever feeling at odds. They chose the right things to specify and the right moments to blow their wad, theatrically speaking. The audience fills in the rest with their own interpretations. Sort of like reading a good book, coincidentally enough.

The video projections feel most effective in London Above (the ‘real’ world we know), whereas London Below relies on words, the ensemble’s honest acting and the audience’s imaginations.

And boy, do they do it well.

*(I love the book, have hardly watched the series, and I am grateful they welcomed me into a rehearsal. I thank everyone for trusting me to see the sausage being made.) WATCH my broadcast with Paula Rhodes (actress who plays Door) a week after I saw rehearsal. Total coincidence: The Geekie Awards arranged it.

April 5 – May 11, 2013

Fridays & Saturdays @ 8pm
Sundays @ 7pm

Tickets: $25
(310) 281-8337 or Buy Tickets Online



Take Me to The Poorhouse

A middle class African girl dreams of becoming poor to have “soul” and win the heart of her classmate ♥.

Disclosure: Invited to staged reading in private home. No cost to attend.

I’ve been hearing about this show because the Assistant Director/Producer attends my workshops. The story is fascinating and has all the ingredients for success: a POV I’ve never heard, the right balance of humor and gravity, a dynamic performer, plus partnership with a like-minded organization:

We pledge to donate 10% of all ticket proceeds to MAMA HOPE, a non-profit with a mission to “Stop The Pity and Unlock The Potential” in several African communities. We dig that :-)

I dig that too.

With two more months until it’s premiere in the Hollywood Fringe Festival, it will be exciting to see how it all shapes up. Femi does a beautiful job of letting the words create the world instead of describing it. Poorhouse really got me thinking about how much better other solo shows could be if they simply tell the story, if even biographical events are experienced by a character rather than narrated by themselves. The basic Show, Don’t Tell mantra. I’m very interested to see in performance.

Also an integral point to this invited reading: we were asked to give any questions and feedback on cards while watching; more importantly, the producer gave the description of the show and asked if what they were saying matched what we just saw. What a great way to test run your marketing blurb!

June 8-28, 2013. Dates/times differ.


Round Rock

presented by Theatre Unleashed

Written & Directed by Aaron Kozak

Disclosure: I was offered opening weekend comps. I wrote a play in their 24-hour festival based on Pink Floyd songs. But most importantly:

I do love a Texas Sunrise.

Beyond those theater doors, I would never touch a Texas Sunrise. I am usually not a fan of sweet covering up the taste of my alcohol. Truly, it’s the novelty of the drink themed for a play that I love. And so my evening began.

I included Round Rock with these other pieces I saw in process because I also saw their workshop at last summer’s Hollywood Fringe Festival. Audiences can leave responses on the Fringe site, and since I’ve worked with Aaron, decided to essentially give it a dramaturgical  once-over. Last summer he simply had too much plot, not enough story. It was very fun to see how the show progressed. If I can, I’d like to see it again before the run ends, as I’m sure the actors settled deeper into their roles.

This full production offered the same story, with much more of the meaty stuff; characters have room to breath without losing the pacing needed for a good ‘ol western with a heart of gold. I left with a deep sense of family, including: the artists involved, the audience at opening, and the special definition of family that Kozak explores though typically outcast characters.

Theatre Unleashed always offers good fare at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and Kozak’s directing their 25 Plays Per Hour tradition. Last year that evening tossed my emotions around like a gourmet salad, and his keen eye should serve it well.

Another important part about the experience to note: Kozak and the team remembered my first response, and were all very exited to hear what I thought of the new production. Their attention to one audience member’s honest opinion goes a long way, and if more organizations opened their workshops and process to their audience, really taking and using the feedback, they might find it easier  to retain loyalty in the long run.

UPCOMING SNEAK PEEKS: Gracie N Rose by Anastasia Coon (reading at Celebration Theatre) & live-tweet of Long Way Go Down by Zayd Dorhn.


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