When the Rain Stops Falling

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

This week we have another City Garage classic for you, this time from 2014, our US premiere of a beautiful piece from Australian playwright Andrew Bovell. And on our webcast “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with John Flynn from Rogue Machine. Here is a link to the talk show:

https://citygarage.org/animalfarm/

Remember, we would love to have your videos/photos of your pets, which we feature at the end of each show. So please send:

https://citygarage.org/animalfarm/#animalform

Here is a little about “When the Rain Stops Falling.”

“A fish drops from the sky and a lonely middle-aged man is launched on a magical and emotional journey across four generations of family wrestling with the awful legacy of a secret buried deep in the past.

In this award-winning drama from Australian playwright Andrew Bovell, each of the characters is trapped in a longing they cannot bear. They reach toward each other, tentatively, uncertainly, but time after time fail to connect.

The tragic love story of a young Englishman, Gabriel, whose father has disappeared, and a young Australian girl from the Coorong, Gabrielle, is at the center of this haunting drama that reaches back to London in 1960 and reaches forward to Alice Springs in 2039—from a time when the world began to change, to a future in which environmental catastrophe is the harvest of that change.”

“Compelling theatre with an engaging plot… I highly recommend “When The Rain Stops Falling…” – SANTA MONICA DAILY PRESS

“A thought-provoking meditation on coping with the tragedies of life…” – LA WEEKLY

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, April 16, through noon on Friday, April 23rd.
https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci to our wonderful donor of this week for his generous donation, Gustav Vintas (who also created many wonderful performances with us as an actor), and has been a great patron for years.

Merci, stay safe, wear a mask, and get your shots when you can.

Love,

Frederique

(Left to right) Scarlett Bermingham, Andrew Loviska, Karen Kalensky; photo: Paul Rubenstein

Atrocities

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

We’re taking a week off on “Animal Farm” this week but we do have another City Garage Classic for you, “Atrocities,” a production we did in 2000 about human rights crimes in Chechnya. It’s a difficult subject and about some terrible things so viewer discretion is advised. (It’s an old show and a little dark but what it says is important.)

Here is a little about it from the LA Weekly review:

“Towards the close of Charles Duncombe’s harrowing ensemble piece about human rights abuses by Russian soldiers in Chechnya, a young man asks incredulously, “It’s not really possible for people to act like that, is it?” The answer is self-evident but far from simple, and rooted in paradox. One by one [these] steely-eyed, parlous young men recount nightmarish acts of murder, rape, and torture, committed against men, women, and children. Some speak as if seeking absolution or to assuage tormented consciences, while others glibly justify these acts by war’s brutal logic or as necessary acts of vengeance for atrocities perpetrated by the enemy…That we never fully or satisfactorily fathom what makes these men (and others like them) tick is understandable; that we find judging them difficult is what makes the play thought-provoking.”

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, April 9, through noon on Friday, April 16th.

https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page or on the “Support Us” page of the website.

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci, stay safe, wear a mask, and get vaccinated when you can.

Love,

Frederique

(Left to right) Jonathan Cobb, David E. Frank, Paul Rubenstein; photo: Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right) Eric Talon, Jonathan Cobb, Freddy Nager, Bo Roberts, Lejla Hadzimuratovic, David E. Frank, Paul Rubenstein, Stephen Pocock; photo: Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right) Stephen Pocock, David E. Frank, Bo Roberts, Jonathan Cobb, Paul Rubenstein, Eric Talon, Freddy Nager, Bo Roberts; photo: Paul Rubenstein

Lear

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

For this weekend we have for you “Lear” by Young Jean Lee, which we did as a west coast premiere in 2016. And on our webcast “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with novelist, playwright, and screenwriter Gay Walley. Here is a link to the talk show:

https://citygarage.org/animalfarm/

And here is a little about “Lear” from David C. Nichols’s LA Times review:

“At the outset of “Lear,” now receiving an austerely lunatic West Coast premiere at City Garage, a projected PBS-style host drolly relates the narrative of William Shakespeare’s immortal tragedy, up to Lear’s banishment and Gloucester’s blinding.

“Our show begins roughly at this point in the story,” the host (Trace Taylor) continues. “Nothing else that happens in Shakespeare’s text is necessarily relevant to what you are about to see.” This, as it turns out, is a considerable understatement.

Playwright Young Jean Lee’s 2009 dissection of the motives and psychosexual dilemmas of the progeny who drive the Bard’s towering masterwork isn’t so much a deconstruction; neither Lear nor Gloucester appear, for starters. Instead it’s a wildly prismatic riff on existential identity, the patriarchy, internecine attraction/repulsion and more. Not for nothing did New Yorker critic Hinton Als call it “a hot mess.”

Director Frédérique Michel treats the intermissionless proceedings as a hybrid of Renaissance masque, absurdist romp and college counseling session, and her fine-tuned cast follows suit. Kristina Drager makes an angular, dryly understated Goneril, whose deliberately contemporary interaction with Kat Johnston’s curt, oddly sympathetic Regan and Nili Rain Segal’s insanely grinning, perversely funny Cordelia typifies the whole. They neatly respond to the fey/savage interplay of Andrew Loviska’s vivid Edgar, who recalls the young James Woods, and Anthony M. Sanazzaro’s hilariously petulant Edmund, his late-inning reappearance as a beloved “Sesame Street” character perhaps Lee’s riskiest twist. Posing and pouncing around producer Charles A. Duncombe’s elemental sets and lighting in Josephine Poinsot’s winking costumes, the group sustains itself through to the post-Pirandello climax, which breaks both tone and third wall…Devotees of its author and this cutting-edge company should flock.”

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, April 2, through noon on Friday, April 9th.
https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage
Merci to our donors of this last week, Irene Palma—who has been such a friend to all of us at City Garage for so long. And to Ian Jones!

Stay safe, wear a mask, and get a vaccine when you can!

Love,

Frederique

(Left to right) Kat Johnston, Kristina Drager; photo: Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right) Andrew Loviska, Anthony Sannazzaro; photo: Paul Rubenstein

Wake

Bonjour Citygaragstes,

Again, our thanks to everyone who wrote to City Council earlier this week. You made all the difference. Council heard you and is doing their best to come up with a good solution. We don’t know the final result yet but we’re looking forward to June when we should have a more clear picture about the future. In the meantime, here are more things for you to watch and to share with your friends on our City Garage YouTube channel. If you’re not already a subscriber to the channel please join our growing list the next time you watch! We would so much appreciate it.

Streaming this weekend is “Wake” by Gordon Dahlquist, which we did as a world premier in 2017. And on our webcast “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with Philanthropist, arts advocate, and former Director of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Olga Garay-English about the many ways she has impacted the arts both nationally and internationally.

Here is a link to the talk show:

https://citygarage.org/animalfarm/

Remember to send us your pet videos and pix!
Animal Farm Submissions

And here is a little about “Wake:”

The LA Weekly

Reality Bites — If You Can Even Call It Reality — In This Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Satire
Bill Raden | November 20, 2017

Accorrding to the dictionary, “wake” can mean different things: It can be the vigil held over a corpse on the eve of burial; it can describe the waves trailing a passing ship or left by an extinct civilization; or it can signify the state of being aroused or made aware. According to Wake, Gordon Dahlquist’s rousing sci-fi satire about the ultimate fate of humankind, currently getting a sleek world premiere at City Garage, it also can mordantly embrace all of the above.

The time-leaping tale begins with a venerable science fiction premise: Heroine Irene Suarez (Natasha St. Clair-Johnson), a New York immunologist racked with metastasized pancreatic cancer in 2017, is placed in a cryogenic capsule in Mamaroneck, New York, to be thawed and resuscitated in a hermetic and inconceivably remote future.

In production designer Charles Duncombe’s minimalist arrangement of tiers and ramps, that future is represented as a blandly featureless room without windows or doors. It’s where Irene is greeted by May (Alicia Rose Ivanhoe), a friendly and curious if somewhat linguistically maladroit denizen whose silvery Lycra bodysuit (courtesy of costumer Josephine Poinsot), together with the ever-present visage of an identically coiffed and clothed figure (Megan Kim) projected on the upstage wall, are the first hints that something Orwellian and technologically dystopian might have transpired during Irene’s eons of sleep.

Much of the fun comes from Irene’s attempt to reconstruct the lost years. While May proves maddeningly vague at filling in the whens, wheres and hows, the fragmented hints at the planet’s fate that begin to emerge only increase Irene’s disquiet over her dire predicament. It seems that the Holocene is part of a distant and dimly understood past, whose end came via some sort of climate change–triggered environmental cataclysm. In the desperate hope that one day the species could be reconstituted from its archived DNA, a survivor population designed a global computerized omniscience called the Platform. Embodied by City Garage regular Kim as an affable and accommodating “construct” of the same name, the Platform now regulates the “sentient environment” as well as the society by which Irene finds herself welcomed as a sort of living natural history museum exhibit.

By eliminating the human middleman, society is finally one with the spectacle.

If that all sounds vaguely Matrix-like, the similarity is strictly ironic. Wake trades in — and frustrates — a raft of familiar sci-fi clichés and genre expectations in a wry pastiche that sets the stage for what Polish sci-fi master Stanislaw Lem once called “the drama of cognizance.” By dropping Irene into the Platform, where she is stripped of the taken-for-granted assumptions that ground identity and differentiate the real from the merely represented, Dahlquist lampoons the collective solipsism of all institutionalized systems of belief while underscoring the philosophical problem of agreement on any kind of shared reality.

Irene does not connect with other remnants of humanity in order, say, to organize a revolt and take back the planet from authoritarian oppressors, a trope dating back to H.G. Wells’ The Sleeper Awakes (1910), the grandaddy of Matrix-like political fantasies. Instead Dahlquist closes off that possibility by eliminating not only the distinction between the real and the virtual but also the urgent need to distinguish it. The Platform proves the most hospitable and accommodating of hosts. Far from a prison, its environment is a constantly morphing place of endless choice and instantaneous gratification — a kind of otherworldly shopping mall from which everything unpleasant has been expelled except for loneliness. Its virtually generated inhabitants, like May and her daft friend Sen (Jeffrey Gardner), are left to contentedly while away their existence with trivial preoccupations around satisfying their every whim and appetite. By eliminating the human middleman, society is finally one with the spectacle.

The only exception proves to be Sarah (Sandy Mansson), another cryogenic survivor from Earth’s 21st-century past — or, more accurately, the Platform-generated memory of what 40 years ago had been Sarah. A middle-aged horse breeder from Pennsylvania, Sarah tells Irene about the 60 additional years she lived among the Platform before boredom finally drove her from its protected, Platonic environs and into the nonexistence of the outside world. What happened then, or what kind of creatures might live there, the Platform cannot say, although Duncombe’s evocative projections of pristine, primordial landscapes slyly suggest an Earth that has returned to the fecund grandeur of a pre-human natural state.

Director Frédérique Michel’s tightly composed staging cannily extends the script’s mechanistic absurdities, both through wittily synchronized movement between Kim and the constructs and with touches like returning “offstage” characters to visible seats in the wings, where they await their next scenes like powered-down cyborgs set to sleep mode. Ivanhoe and Gardner are delightfully deranged as bubbly, wide-eyed human simulacra, but Ivanhoe is especially funny massacring Dahlquist’s fractured, almost aphasic diction. For her part, St. Clair-Johnson nimbly anchors the comedy as an exasperated, disoriented and finally resigned “straight man,” while Mansson contributes poignant notes of human warmth.

The evening’s momentum rarely flags. More importantly, at a moment when headlines seem to trumpet the potential calamities of debasing public policy with alternative facts, the play comes as a timely reminder that the confrontation with the other is ultimately always a confrontation with the self.”

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, March 26th, through noon on Friday, April 2nd.
https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci to our generous donors of this last week:
Michele and Curt Wittig
Nina Kamberos

Stay safe, wear a mask, and get vaccinated when you can,

Love,

Frederique

(Left to right) Natasha St. Clair Johnson, Alicia Rose Ivanhoe, Sandy Mansson photo: Paul Rubenstein

Almost Equal To

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

This weekend we bring you a production from 2017, “Almost Equal To,” by Swedish playwright Jonas Hassen Khemiri. And on our webcast “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with Jessica Kubzanksy, Artistic Director of the Boston Court Theater about how their organization is responding to the pandemic and the latest news from the state about re-opening guidelines.

Here is a link to the talk show:
https://citygarage.org/animalfarm/

And here is a little about our US premiere of “Almost Equal To” by Jonas Hassen Khemiri:

≈ [Almost Equal To]

Reviewed by Paul Birchall

RECOMMENDED – ‘OUR TOP TEN!”

In addition to challenging the Stage Raw copy editing department with a title that uses one of those squiggly math signals, playwright Jonas Hassen Khemeri’s powerful drama embraces such a multitude of themes that it’s hard to adequately sum them up. One thing’s for sure, though: Donald Trump would hate the work’s incredibly scathing invective against capitalism.

In fact, money may not be the most evil thing in the world, according to Khemeri. Rather, money is but a catalyst that greases the diabolical mechanisms of greed, corruption and desperation. It isn’t that the characters in his play want money in particular; it’s that they’re driven by desire for the power and freedom that can only be obtained with buckets of filthy cash.

Mani (Andrew Loviska) is a young college adjunct who teaches economics,while secretly hoping to develop a new economic theory that will replace capitalism with some kind of mutually altruistic trade system. Still, he’s as ambitious as any other academic to get a tenure track job — and living beyond his means in expectation of one. At the same time, Mani’s wife Martina (Lindsay Plake) slaves for a living at a nearby mini-mart, becoming more and more resentful of her dead end job until she starts stealing from the cash register to fund a better life for herself.

Loviska also plays the part of Andrej, a Russian immigrant who is desperate to find a middle class job so as to haul his mother (Sandy Mansson) and his younger brother (Jeffrey Gardner) out of a life of grinding poverty. He develops a psychotic hatred for the homeless man (Johanny Paulino), who, it seems to Andrej, rakes in a fortune from panhandling.

Director Frederique Michel’s staging strikes a perfect balance between irony and sympathy for characters whose actions grow increasingly dark and grim. The work is more accessible and emotionally involving than many of Michel’s productions: It’s a play about people prevented by circumstance from living the lives they think they deserve — and the darkness that grows in the soul as a result of that.

The writing and the performances crackle with a bitter and incendiary tone, but Michel leavens the Ayn Rand-esque cruelty with touches of her trademark whimsy — frequent interruptions by a cartoonish 19th century economist (Bo Roberts) or hilariously sour-faced digressions from a mean employment counsellor (Ann Bronston). As a Swedish writer and critic, Khemiri frequently approaches American-style capitalism with a distaste that almost borders on the shrill, but his points are made with admirable precision and tenderness.
Performances are subtle and sensitive, particularly Loviska’s compassionate turns as both the adjunct and the Russian immigrant. As a member of City Garage’s stalwart ensemble, Loviska is emerging as a performer of remarkable depth; his acting possesses such an undercurrent of emotional danger that you can’t easily predict how a scene in which he appears is likely to go. Plake’s performance as the store clerk is surprisingly complex as well — she’s likable, even as she evolves into a creature of harrowing selfishness.”

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, March 19th, through noon on Friday, March 26th.
https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci to all of you for your continued support of City Garage. Please share the links, donate if you can, wear a mask and stay safe!

Love,

Frederique


(Left to right) Bo Roberts, Johanny Paulino; photo: Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right) Andrew Loviska, Johanny Paulino; photo: Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right) Andrew Loviska, Lindsay Plake; photo: Paul Rubenstein

Titus Tartar

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

This week we bring you another show from the old space in the alley, “Titus Tartar,” by German playwright Albert Ostermeir. And this week on our webcast “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with Broadway, film, and television actor Nicholas Hormann about growing up in Hawaii and how he made the journey from Surfer Boy in 1960s to The Yale School of Drama in the 1970s and from there to Broadway and more. Here is a link to the talk show:

https://citygarage.org/animalfarm/

And rememer, we’d love to receive your photos and videos of your favorite animal friends at home!

Animal Farm Submissions

And here is a little about our US premiere of “Titus Tartar” by Albert Ostermaier from 2002.

BACKSTAGE WEST

June 19, 2002

by Wenzel Jones

I love the whole notion of Frederique Michel directing these shows that manage to be both challenging and baffling. I won’t even pretend I can make head or tails of this production, but this is not a theatre that is making its reputation on accessibility. The physical structure, with its between-numbers address and its alley entrance, serves as an apt venue for the equally abstruse play within. The artistry involved cannot be denied. Not getting the piece makes us want to rise to the occasion next time–as opposed to running screaming into the night, the response to recondite theatre with nothing behind it.

This particular outing is a deconstruction of that bit of second- tier Shakespeare, the mayhem and revenge-fest Titus Andronicus. Playwright Albert Ostermaier–rather a Big Thing in Germany; if you don’t read Titus at least read the program notes–has reconfigured the piece so that Titus (played variously by Stephan Pocock, Bo Roberts, and a mannequin torso) is a writer whose art has been put at the service of a morally dubious state. Daughter Lavinia (played by Maia Brewton and a mannequin torso, but not the same one) functions more as a muse this time around, making her eventual appearance in hacked-up form all the more poignant. Leni Riefenstahl (Katharina Lejona) and Elia Kazan and Ezra Pound (Paul M. Rubenstein) also appear, musing on using their art in the service of something bigger. Only the Riefenstahl moment made the fog in my head clear; trenchant points were being made about the culture of the image and entertainment as control, but too soon the character was gone. The image thing carries through in Charles Duncombe Jr.’s set, a shrine to physical culturism. The work has been translated by Anthony Vivis, but I kept thinking that a production in German might be more effective, as the audience could then concentrate on the meta-theatrical and not get bogged down in the words.

Lejona and Rubenstein spend most of the evening functioning as the Angel of Death and the Dark Angel, respectively, and in these capacities they set the tone of the piece. They’re spooky and lascivious and just about everything but safe. Michele Gingembre has put the Tituses (Titi? Titae?) in boxy red suits, indeed sticking to an effective red-and-black palette throughout–even Lavinia’s white dress is spattered with blood. Michel doesn’t so much block her actors as choreograph them; at the same time they’re not so much speaking as singing without benefit of melody–if that makes any sense. Sometimes the challenge for the audience is in keeping a straight face, but it’s definitely theatre by and for the artistically ambitious.”

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, March 12th, through noon on Friday, March 19th.

https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage
Merci for watching, please share the links, give if you can, stay safe, and wear a mask!

Love,

Frederique

(Left to right) Bo Roberts, Stephen Pocock; photo: Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right) Maia Brewton, Stephen Pocock; photo: Paul Rubenstein

Carmen Disruption

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

We’re happy to bring you this week’s City Garage Classic, a production from 2017, “Carmen Disruption,” by British playwright Simon Stephens. And on our webcast “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with Margaret Gray, Theater critic from the LA Times, and President of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle about the alternative theater scene in Los Angeles.

Here is a link to the talk show:

https://citygarage.org/animalfarm/

And please send us your videos or photos of your animal companion(s). We love to feature them at the end of each “Animal Farm” episode! To submit, here is the link:

Animal Farm Submissions.

And here is a little about “Carmen Disruption” from Stage Raw

Reviewed by Neal Weaver / September 12, 2017

RECOMMENDED “Our Top Ten”
Playwright Simon Stephens (Heisenberg, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) deconstructs Bizet’s opera Carmen in an attempt to illuminate contemporary issues of loneliness, isolation and all-around anomie. He includes a couple of Bizet’s arias, the “Habanera” and the “Seguidilla,” as well as a snippet of the Toreador Song, but otherwise the connection to Carmen seems tenuous.
Stephens sets his play in an unnamed European city dominated by its cathedral and opera house. The Singer (Kimshelley Lessard), famous for her rendition of Carmen, is now performing it at the local opera. But she seems to be going to pieces, mentally and emotionally. Her memory is failing her, and she has been confusing her own identity with her character’s. She can’t always distinguish between herself and the fiery gypsy she plays onstage.
Stephens keeps the characters’ names, but not their identities. Here, Carmen (Anthony Sannazzaro) is a man, a narcissistic gay hustler who starts to unravel when he’s betrayed and humiliated by a john. Don Jose (Sandy Mansson) is transformed into a tough woman taxi driver, the widowed mother of a son. Micaela (Lindsay Plake) is a university student whose boyfriend dumps her after she tells him that she loves him. And the toreador Escamillo (David E. Frank) has become a corrupt and amoral futures trader, whose deals have gone south, leaving him with a debt of two million which he is unable to pay. The characters tell us their woes and back stories, and each of them seems lost and searching for something. They have no real connection with each other, but certain events touch or involve them all: an aborted performance of Carmen, and the death of a young motorcyclist when he accidentally smashes into a bridge…
The piece is fascinating to watch. Director Frederique Michel and designer Charles Duncombe have given it a handsome and visually stunning production, stylized and ritualized. The cast is uniformly strong, with no weak links.”

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, March 5th, through noon on Friday, March 12th.

https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre
It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage
Merci to our donor from last week, Fred Page.

Stay safe, wear a mask, and we hope to see you all again later this year once we can re-open!

Love,

Frederique

(Left to right) Lindsay Plake, KimShelley Lessard, Anthony Sannazzaro, David E. Frank; photo: Paul Rubenstein
Anthony Sannazzaro ; photo: Paul Rubenstein

Arturo Ui

Bonjour City Garagistes,

Streaming this weekend on City Garage’s YouTube channel is a production from 2018, Bertolt Brecht’s “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui,” translated by Jennifer Wise. And this week on our webcast “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with Stephen Sachs, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the Fountain Theater about the different strategies that company has adopted during the pandemic and what the future may hold for LA’s intimate theater scene. Here is a link to the talk show:

https://citygarage.org/animalfarm/

We’re also happy to begin a new series of readings. The first is a new work from the City Garage Playwright’s Workshop, Kurt Thum’s “Circus Dreams,” direct by company member Ann Bronston. Here is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre

And here is a little about “Arturo Ui”

1930s Chicago. The Depression in full swing. Unemployment. Fear. Graft and corruption at City Hall. What do you need when society starts to fall apart? A strong man who steps in to take control. Arturo Ui, a small time gangster with an insatiable appetite for power, convinces a panicked population that no one has the answers but him. He and his cronies will provide the protection you’re looking for: even if you don’t know you’re looking for it. Brecht’s 1941 satirical masterpiece classic about Hitler’s rise to power in 1930s Germany demonstrates, with a savage blend of comedy and pastiche, how demagogues take power and how easily—and willingly—democracies become autocracies.

“City Garage, known for daring, highly stylized sociopolitical theater, is the ideal local company to revive this infrequently done, disturbingly timely play.” — Los Angeles Times

“The demagoguery so prevalent in today’s world politics makes this production of Arturo Ui particularly timely and relevant.” — Edward Goldman, Art Talk

“There are plays that are both timeless and timely and The Resistible Rise Of Arturo Ui is the best possible choice The City Garage could have made of the lot of them….City Garage makes good use of Wise’s rapid-fire and engaging translation with a cast that embodies all things 1930-40s Gangster with strong physical choices and a bevy of accents that are impressive and delightful.” — The Theater Times

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, February 26th, through noon on Friday, March 5th.

https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage

Merci to our donors of this last week, Elizabeth Oakes and Samuel Goldstein.

Merci, stay safe, and wear a mask!

Love,

Frederique

(Left to right) Nathaniel Lynch, Andrew Loviska; photo: Paul Rubenstein

(Left to right) Nathaniel Lynch, Andrew Loviska, Michael Cortez, Gifford Irvine; photo: Paul Rubenstein

Bad Penny

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

This week we bring you another show from the the old space, Mac Wellmam’s “Bad Penny,” which we did in 2008. And this week on our webcast “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with LA Times theater critic Philip Brandes about the LA theater scene, how it has changed over the last twenty years, and what the shape of theater might be after the pandemic.

Here is a link to the talk show:

https://citygarage.org/animalfarm/

And here is a little about “Bad Penny” from the LA Times (which actually came from Philip!)

“A bad penny always turns up” is a platitude that packs an unexpected existential punch, at least in the sardonic world of New York playwright Mac Wellman. In Wellman’s Obie Award-winning short play, the titular “Bad Penny” opens a portal to the metaphysical abyss that yawns beneath the banality of a summer’s day in Central Park — and, by extension, beneath a society shaped by clichéd thought.

Staged with an austere pitch to the intellect by Frederíque Michel at Santa Monica’s City Garage, the play’s obsession with poetically fractured logic is sounded in the opening meditations of a recovering mental patient named Kat (Cynthia Mance), who wonders whether even the sky above is simply “a fake image of the true image of the sky.”

Having just found a penny by a nearby fountain, Kat is plagued with superstitious misgivings about bad luck coming to those who touch it: They could suffer the pharaoh’s curse, be eaten by trolls or be taken by the Boatman of Bow Bridge — a latter-day Charon ferrying lost souls across the Central Park pond, in one of Wellman’s sly juxtapositions of classical mythology.

Ducking fate, Kat gives the cursed penny to Ray (Troy Dunn), a toxic waste dump worker from Montana in search of a fix for the flat tire he’s hauling, Sisyphus-like, through the park. Skeptic to the end, Ray ignores Kat’s warning, oblivious to the ominous Boatman gliding up behind them.

Juggling illusions of normality, acquiescence to authority, paranoid conspiracy theories and toxic cheese, Wellman’s witty, abstract use of language is consistently challenging. The presence of other characters does little to bridge the sense of isolation that permeates this monologue-heavy piece. The ensemble delivery is clear and capable, though some of the outlandishly petty bickering cries out for the humorous inflections of New York accents. When the entire ensemble comes together to sing a few verses of “You’re Out of the Woods” from “The Wizard of Oz,” the effect is pure irony — no one gets off the hook here.”
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, February 19th, through noon on Friday, February 26th.

https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre
It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage
Merci, stay safe, and wear a mask!

Love,

Frederique

(Left to right) Mariko Oka, Alisha Nichols ; photo Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right) Cynthia Mance, Mariko Oka, Alisha Nichols, Kenneth Rudnicki; photo Paul Rubenstein

Grimly Handsome

Bonjour Citygaragistes,

For our City Garage classic this week we bring you a production from 2017, Julia Jarcho’s “Grimly Handsome.” And on our webcast “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with theater artist and activist Joanna Klass about authoritarianism and repression in Poland. Here is a link to the talk show:

https://citygarage.org/animalfarm/

And here is a little about “Grimly Handsome” from the LA Weekly

“In an unnamed East Coast city, it’s the Yuletide season, a time when vacant lots are transformed into festive mini-forests of freshly cut fir trees and piped-in carols — and when vaguely sinister, Slavic-accented Christmas tree salesmen enact a grim ritual unspeakably darker than the peddling of holiday decor.

Or at least that’s the setup of Grimly Handsome, Julia Jarcho’s philosophical and blackly funny, 2013 burlesque, which is receiving its West Coast premiere at Santa Monica’s City Garage Theatre. The script, which riffs on the venerable serial-killer suspense thriller, deftly uses the ultra-familiar conventions of the police procedural to lure audiences into the deeper mystery of identity, and how human intimacy is ineluctably intertwined with a predatory savagery that defines us as a species.

Act 1 follows the antics of Gregor (Andrew Loviska) and Alesh (Anthony Sannazzaro), a duo of émigré Slavs who may be linked to Balkan war crimes, as they role-play in preparation for their next victim. That turns out to be Natalia (Lindsay Plake), an emotionally broken and lonely reader of hardboiled serial-killer pulp fiction. Act 2 pivots to the murderers’ police counterparts, as homicide detectives Greggins (Loviska) and Alpert (Sannazzaro) probe the latest predation by the holiday psychopath whom the press has dubbed the “Christmas Ripper.”

It is with the entrance of Alpert’s wife, Nelly (Plake), and the introduction of her extramarital affair with Greggins that the play makes a loopy left turn and the investigation begins its delirious inward spiral. Jarcho’s close parallel of relationship triangles — one of killers and victim, the other of lovers and cuckold — collides in a tangle of plot lines and characters that swap identities like quick-change costumes.

“I think we might be wrong when we call each other by names,” Nelly tells Greggins at one point. “And so you and Al, for instance, you’re the same event, just laid out at different points in time and space.” That “event,” an Act 3 homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey suggests, is the process of subjectification through which we construct the identities and root the relationships that stave off dislocation and keep our bestial natures safely stowed in the evolutionary closet.

Director Frédérique Michel’s fluid staging ably animates Jarcho’s trove of ideas and poetic images (abetted by Charles Duncombe’s sleek production design and Josephine Poinsot’s witty costumes), and Loviska, Plake and Sannazzaro act with versatility and conviction.”

It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, February 12th, through noon on Friday, February 19th.

https://www.youtube.com/c/citygaragetheatre

It’s free to view but we ask people to make a donation if they can through our Chuffed page:

https://chuffed.org/project/citygarage
Merci to our donors of this last week, Jill Cohen & Stephen Pocock!

Merci, stay safe, and wear a mask!

Love,

Frederique

(Left to right) Anthony Sannazzaro, Andrew Loviska; photo Paul Rubenstein
(Left to right) Andrew Loviska, Anthony Sannazzaro; photo Paul Rubenstein