Coming next weekend, the opening of #Measure4Measure. We hope to see you for the preview, Friday, June 2nd, with free champagne, or the Saturday opening night with a Renaissance-themed buffet. Make your reservations now!
A new version of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure
for City Garage by Charles A. Duncombe
June 2 – July 9, 2023
Vienna is corrupt, brimming with sex and vice. The Duke, lax in enforcing the strict laws, leaves the city in the hands of a puritanical reformer eager to impose moral order. This substitute begins ordering executions but when a beautiful young novice, pleading for the life of her brother, provokes his own lust, he resorts to sexual blackmail. When she threatens to expose him, he mocks her. Who would believe her rather than him? In this version of Shakespeare’s play for City Garage, gender politics, power, and sexuality are examined through a contemporary lens. A cast of seven, playing multiple characters, takes a text from 1604 and creates an intense, darkly comic, biting commentary on our own times. Then, as now, power and sex are inextricably entwined and the question of how to obtain justice remains just as difficult to answer.
CAC Grant—We made it thanks to all of you!
Many thanks to Roger Marheine and Peggy Flood who put us over the top in our final effort to match the grant we got last fall from the California Arts Council. So many of you stepped up to help over the last months. We’re so grateful. Thank you again to all of you for helping to keep the work going at City Garage!
It’s the last weekend for “Cardenio.” If you haven’t yet seen it, come join the fun onstage for “Cardenio.” Just four performances left. Make your reservations today!
Top Ten – Recommended!
“In Michel’s propulsive and imaginative staging, the actors, including Jason Pereira, Angela Beyer, Kat Johnston, Loosema Hakverdian, and Andy Kallok, pitch their performances just shy of slapstick. Scene-stealer Dunn, in particular, chews the scenery with brio, but the entire cast is engaging and well-matched. It all makes for a delightful entertainment, to be sure. But dig a bit deeper and you might discover a heartfelt Valentine to the transformative power of the theater, a fitting message not only for this play, but for City Garage’s enduring mandate.”
— Stage Raw
“What’s magical about this moment isn’t simply the transformation of an actor [Tory Dunn] before our eyes (though that’s pretty great). It’s the self-awareness of the play and the production itself. It’s a bit like the play is winking at us and saying — ‘Yes, it’s all been a bit over the top up until now. We know. But it’s part of the magic of theater. And isn’t that really why we’re all here?’….More than a love letter simply to these prior plays, it’s a love letter to theater itself.”
“High paced wit and slapstick comedy….Enjoy this piece and have a great laugh or two in the process!
— Accessibly Live Off-Line
“Mischief and misunderstandings commence, splashed with copious amounts of self-deceit, questioning, art, and that most dangerous of all substances in this world, Truth….Dunn delivers a tour-de-force which nicely portrays how art can impact life for the better.”
— The World Through Night-Tinted Glasses
“Michel has choreographed…a pair of scene changes are absolute delights. There’s also some very good work being done on Charles Duncombe’s Italian countryside set, most notably by Beyer (who delivers some priceless “reaction shots”), real-life couple Duncan and Roberts as a couple of quintessential show people, Johnston’s embittered Doris, and Dunn’s molto spumante Rudi. Best of all is the tall, dark, and handsome Sannazzaro, displaying effortless comedic panache as Anselmo while radiating the kind of charisma that had audiences swooning over Rupert Everett in My Best Friend’s Wedding.”
— StageScene LA
Cardenio by Stephen Greenblatt and Charles L. Mee
February 24 – March 26, 2023
Come and join us in the sunny hills of Italy for a romantic adventure as three mis-matched couples struggle to sort themselves out—even a newly married bride and groom! Noted Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt and Obie Award-winning playwright Charles L. Mee have re-made a “lost” comedy of Shakespeare’s into a contemporary delight. Anselmo, uncertain of his young bride Camila’s love persuades his best man to put her to the test. Her furious reaction, when she finds out, manages to send all three couples into confusion as their own conflicts come out in the open—with results that at first seem disastrous, but of course, end happily. Working from such texts as exist for this “holy grail” of Shakespeare lovers, Greenblatt and Mee have crafted a joyful play with all the hallmarks of Shakespeare’s great comedies: playful, sensual, sexy, filled with exuberant language, an intoxicating affirmation of the power of love—even if it begins in confusion.
Voice From Ukraine 2
Many thanks to all those who came to the reading last week. We raised $900. If you weren’t able to be there, we will post a video soon. For more information on how you can contribute to charities working on the ground in Ukraine, or to buy the book supporting Ukrainian writers, follow this link: Voices from Ukraine 2 Vote For Us!
City Garage is a finalist as one of Santa Monica’s “Most Loved Businesses.”We’re listed under “Live Entertainment Venues” Please vote for us! Here is a link:
It’s the last weekend for “The Penelopiad.” Don’t miss it! We were sold out last weekend so if you haven’t made your reservations, do it now. Critics have been saying some wonderful things:
Top Ten! Recommended!
“To see a cast of 13 women onstage is a delight, and to see 11 of them metamorphose into a raft of ducks, a ship, a group of weavers, a pair of sacrificial animals, and more — feels like a modern yet anciently rooted chorus at its best and is a credit to Frédérique Michel’s choreography and direction.”
—Amanda L. Andrei, Stage Raw
“Yet another amazing and arousing production at City Garage Theatre retelling the story of the Trojan War. With choreography, singing and nudity… plenty of it!”
—Edward Goldman, Art Matters
“What really makes up the beating heart of this production are the twin beats of ritual and theme. In a true echo of Greece’s ancient theatre, much here is made of dance and masks….The way the cast members became ships, became waves, became ghosts, became slaughtered animals, etc. was part of how director Frederique Michel brought a frankly difficult play to life….A wonderful dive into the imagination.”
—David McDowell Blue, The World Through Night Tinted Glasses
“Approaches the “hallelujah” level!”
—Don Shirley, Angeles Stage
“Masterful… The Penelopiad stands out as one of City Garage’s most memorable productions.”
Please note that while masks and proof of COVID-19 vaccination are no longer required at City Garage, both are strongly recommended for the safety of our performers, staff, and other audience members.
Help us make our Match!
Thanks to all who have contributed so far toward our goal of $27,000 to match the new grant we received from the Caflifornia Arts Council. Merci to our new donors of this last week, Elizabeth Oakes, Samuel Goldstein, and Roger Director, So far, thanks to all of you, we’ve raised $11,750.
Ruth Flinkman and Ben Marandy
Kat Adibi (in memory of Bill Moynihan)
Holly and Harold Dunnigan
Michelle and Curt Wittig
Lisa and Bill Gray
Pamela St. Clair Johnson
Berta Finkelstein and Bill Claiborn
Sharon and Chester Graine
Geraldine Fuentes Elizabeth Oakes and Samuel Goldstein
Can you please, please help us get the rest of the way before the end of the month? Make your gift by following this link:
Only two performances left of “The Birthday Party.” If you haven’t seen it yet, this is your last chance!
“My friends, I urge you to see this challenging and inspiring performance of The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter. Superb acting and stage directing in an intimate space with only a few dozen seats. You can still buy tickets for this performance for the month of July. I hope you take the time to enjoy it.”
–Edward Goldman, Art Matters
“This production knocked it out of the park.”
–Night Tinted Glasses
“The Birthday Party is open for a lot of interpretations for its real meanings. Even if one doesn’t win in this guessing game, the stage presentation at City Garage makes great theater as viewed on its intimate stage.”
–Accessibility Live Onstage
Top Ten, Recommended!
The Birthday Party was not intended to be a realistic depiction of everyday life among working class Brits; instead, it was meant to relay awareness of the dark oppressive forces that lie beneath the surface of daily living….Much of the humor and pure entertainment in this production is reflected around Flood’s utterly engaging persona, a beacon amidst the baleful shadows and apocalyptic themes…an adept, well-paced production…a tale of authoritarianism run amuck.”
–Deborah Klugman, Stage Raw
“City Garage has revisited The Birthday Party in a splendid production that captures Pinter’s specialty as a playwright: grotesque naturalism wrapped around a core of menace and depravity…. superb acting and directing.”
And merci to our many donors who have added more candles to our cake.
Please join them with your donation of $100 to add another candle. Can we get one for each of our last 35 years? Only twelve more to go. Here’s a link you can follow to add yours to the cake:
Coming August 5th “Beach People” by Charles A. Duncombe.
Tickets now on sale!
Close your eyes and listen to the sound of the waves, feel the sun on your skin, have a pina colada, smell the coconut oil. A couple baking happily on the sand seem to have found paradise until their life is turned upside down by a beautiful girl in bikini who has a thing for fruit salad and eastern philosophy. And what about the handsome waiter in a speedo? This is how a day at the beach turns into existential panic. Two floundering people struggle to figure it all out—literally—in this new comedy about love, sex, and the meaning of life by award-winning playwright Charles A. Duncombe.
This week on “Animal Farm” Steven talks with Roger Q. Mason, playwright of Lavendar Men, opening next week at Skylight Theatre/Playwrights’ Arena.
It is with great sadness that we share with you that this last week we lost one of our dear friends and long-time company members, the very talented, bright young woman and mother of twins, Liz Hight. Here is one of her great performances, in Eugene Ionesco’s The Lesson. She will be missed by her family and friends.
As part of the Worldwide Ukrainian Play Readings Project, a global effort to raise humanitarian aide for the people of Ukraine, more than a hundred theatre companies around the world have presented over 170 readings of 22 plays by Ukrainian playwrights, all of them written since the war began. Here is the reading City Garage presented on May 15th. If you want to support this cause, here are links to some charities on the ground in Ukraine.
Thanks again to the donors who supported the reading:
Chopper Bernet, Nathan Birnbaum, Holly and Harold Dunnigan, Anne Guillen, Lisa and Bill Gray, Jana Hatch, Garv Manocha, Roger Marheine, Graciela Markarian, Myron Meisel, Bottara Kahn Nabaie, Veronique Pascal, Sirpa Raitanen, Laurel Schmidt, Pamela St. Clair-Johnson, Michael Toman, Gustav Vintas.
“Nothing is funnier than unhappiness.” This line from Samuel Beckett’s grim yet witty one-act, a classic of the existentialist “Theatre of the Absurd” canon, may best sum up the playwright’s bleak philosophy. Laughter at those less happy than us – at least for now – may be our only solace in the face of the inevitable. What with the pandemic and Putin, what better way to spend an evening?….Director Frédérique Michel has a knack for comic timing, exemplified with Clov’s business with sundry props and the characters’ flippant comments, some of which Beckett uses to teasingly suggest that his characters are in on the bizarre gag. And the ensemble is well matched for its depiction of a dysfunctional family – and world – on its last – whether missing, useless, or damaged – legs.”
“How We Buried Stalin” – Russian dissident playwright Artur Solomonov on “Animal Farm”
Also, this week on a special episode of “Animal Farm,” Steven talks with Russian playwright Artur Solomonov who’s controversial play “How We Buried Josef Stalin” was dropped by the Moscow theater that commissioned it under the pressure of Putin’s regime. Steven has an extended conversation with the playwright about the nightmares taking place in both Ukraine and Russia and how Solomonov’s play explores the recent revival of Stalin worship in Russia and what that might portend. Please watch. Animal Farm
Refugee Support for Ukraine
In 2000 we did a production about human rights abuses in Chechnya called “Atrocities.” Tragically, the same thing is now playing out all over again before the world’s horrified eyes. We thought we would offer the production online for the next few weeks, as well as the text. Please show your support of the millions of displaced citizens of Ukraine by giving directly to UNICEF, Amnesty International, or the charity of your choice. Here are links:
It’s opening weekend at last at City Garage! Eugene O’Neill’s late masterpiece, “Hughie” It’s been long time coming and we’re so grateful that so many of you have shown us so much support during this extended shutdown. But we finally resume live, in-person performance this weekend and we hope to have many of you with us for these three special, limited-seating performances: Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm, and Sunday at 4:00pm–October 8th, 9th and 10th. Proof of vaccination and masks will be required. There are still some seats available, so if you’d like to attend in person please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know which night you’d like to come, and how many seats. We will send you a confirmation along with a link to Paypal for payment in advance. Tickets are $30.
And this weekend we start our new partnership with the nationwide streaming service, Broadway on Demand. “Hughie” opens nationally on the same night as it does here in Santa Monica, Friday, October 8th and it will run through November 14th. Once it opens you can stream it any time you like during those dates. Tickets are $15 and they’re available now. Here is the link:
And of course there is a new episode of our weekly talk show about theater and politics with Steven Leigh Morris, “Animal Farm.” This week Steven talks to Marc Antonio Pritchett, Co-Artistic Director of Sacred Fools, one of LA’s most dynamic theater companies.
“An eerie, atmospheric staging at City Garage in Santa Monica revisits Havel’s absurdist 1986 portrait of Iron Curtain paranoia…The material is well suited to the stylish City Garage aesthetic, as director Frédérique Michel and designer Charles A. Duncombe lean into Havel’s extensive use of repetition to evoke a visceral sense of Leopold’s paralysis…. in an authoritarian state, the only thing worse than being a perceived threat is to become irrelevant.” — By Philip Brandes, LA Times
“As ever, City Garage surprises and haunts. Every cast member of Largo Desolato is a veteran of the company now, and deliver performances with power as well as precision. The direction continues to use the (seemingly) simple presence of being in the same room with another human being to vast effect. The result feels raw, and terribly honest.” — Zahir Blue, Night Tinted Glasses
City Garage stages a timely revival of Havel’s classic piece about totalitarian regimes, censorship, and the price of integrity. In this semi-autobiographical play, translated by Czech-born playwright Tom Stoppard, a dissident intellectual, Leopold Nettles, is dogged by the secret police, pressured by his friends, and nagged by his housemate to just shut up and go along. Shadowy figures arrive to offer him a deal to stay out of prison but Nettles can’t get himself to accept. His world starts to dissolve in a hallucinatory battle of conscience but will he ultimately have the courage of his convictions?
Havel wrote the play when he had just emerged from prison in 1984. He went on to play a major role in the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism in Eastern Europe, as well as serving as the first President of the Czech Republic. What would he make of the frightening resurgence of so many of the ideas he sacrificed so much to eradicate?
Fourth Sunday Q&A
After the Sunday, February 16 matinee, please join us for an informal discussion with the director, producer, and cast of Largo Desolato.
The world premiere of Kosovar playwright Jeton Neziraj’s nightmarish, Orwellian comedy of an autocratic government that demands its citizens deposit their dreams in a central, bureaucratic depository so that it can exert the fullest possible control of their imaginations. In this vast, underground complex, civil servants like Dan, a new hire for the prized job of Interpreter, sift patiently through the nation’s dreams looking for threats to the government’s authority and its version of “truth.” If order is to be maintained, deviance must be extinguished and imagination co-opted. Dan works hard and tries stubbornly to survive in this strange dream world but finds nothing is as it seems to be except the authority that rules it. Don’t miss the world premiere of this new play from one of Europe’s most remarkable playwrights.
“The premiere represents a coup for City Garage’s founders, artistic director Frédérique Michel and producing director Charles A. Duncombe, whose company has been presenting edgy theater for more than 30 years. Michel, who also directs, and Duncombe, whose typically stunning production design is a highlight, do full service to Neziraj’s savagely topical, darkly funny piece.” — F. Kathleen Foley, Los Angeles Times
Special Events: Weekend of November 8 – 10th, 2019
City Garage is thrilled to announce that playwright Jeton Neziraj will be traveling from Kosovo to join us for a weekend of special events around this world premiere. Support City Garage and help us meet our goal of $25,000 for this fall by being part of this exciting weekend. Tickets for all events are $50 each. Or pick a performance of your choice, then attend as many of the after-show events as you like—up to all three—for $100. Book your tickets through this link:
Friday, 11/8: Champagne Reception and Book Signing: Meet the author, mingle with cast and crew, and have your script signed (copies of “Department of Dreams” available at $25).
Saturday, 11/9: Catered Reception: Join us for dinner after the show, along with the playwright and other special guests of honor.
Sunday, 11/10: Panel* Discussion: Steven Leigh Morris, editor of Stage Raw, will moderate a discussion on “Theatre and Politics.” How can—or should—theatre address the urgent political realities of its moment? The particular focus is on the rise of autocracies in Europe, the Balkans, and the west in general, and the role of the arts in contemporary politics. Q&A with the playwright and panelists to follow.
*Panelists: Steven Leigh Morris, Moderator, Editor Stage Raw; Dr. Mietek Boduszynski, Assistant Professor of Politics at Pomona College; Viktorija Lejko-Lacan, Department of Slavic East-European and Eurasian Languages and Cultures UCLA; Lauren Murphy Yeoman, Assistant Professor of Theatre, USC School of Dramatic Arts.
There will be a reading of “Macbett” by Ionesco on Sunday, August 25 at 6:00pm.
Directed by Ann Bronston. Free.
“Eurydice” by Sarah Ruhl
Champagne Preview August 9
Opening Saturday August 10
Pulitzer-prize nominee Sarah Ruhl stands the Orpheus myth on its head and retells it from Eurydice’s point of view. Comic, tragic, silly and poetic in turns, this inventive play follows Eurydice as she does her best to adapt to life in the underworld.
Abandoned by her self-absorbed poet-lover, she rides elevators, has long conversations with stones, defends herself against suspicious men, and finds comfort in the companionship of the ghost of her dead father, though, to his sorrow, she cannot remember who he is. She struggles to recall what it was to be alive and who she was. At last, her easily distracted lover arrives to deliver her. Or will he?
“There’s a sort of beautiful simplicity to the production which makes it feel like a story of a couple who just happen to be dealing with the underworld. Rather than epic, it feels oddly, awkwardly human. It’s a Greek myth scaled down to human proportions. Instead of an all too perfect tragic love story between an untouchable young couple, it becomes the story of a woman who has a creepy guy hit on her on her wedding day. It’s simple, it’s quiet, it’s deeply personal. While this “Eurydice” sidesteps the grand gestures what it gains is simpler story of a woman who’s facing a hostile world with a husband who’s distracted, a man who keeps harassing her, and a world filled with rules to keep her life small. City Garage’s take…lets you hear the play and taps into a vein that feels honest and a bit raw.” — Anthony Byrnes, “Opening The Curtain” KCRW
“What Ruhl does, and this wonderful cast does under the direction of Frederique Michel, is focus not upon Orpheus but what this story means from Eurydice’s point of view….Words alone by a playwright rarely haunt or move. They are meant to be acted out, and this cast captures the eerie and quietly human voyage of these characters. City Garage can and often does perform outrageously stylized works. They do these so very well. But my favorites have always been when the simple life of the characters shine through, the decisions and consequences and experience of what is happening. Eurydice counts as one of my favorites from this company, because even a Stone, even a God, still seem somehow human. The humans meanwhile make me ache for them. Especially the title character, due in larger part to the actor who portrays her.” — David MacDowell Blue, Night Tinted Glasses
“Director Frederique Michel, designer Charles A. Duncombe, and videographer Anthony Sannazzaro—and of course the gifted cast—work considerable stage magic with Ruhl’s slight, whimsical, but (at times) charming play. I came away feeling glad I had seen it.” Will Manus, Total Theatre
“Eurydice is a whimsical, often thoughtful exploration of memory as life and loss of memory as death. There’s much more than a tragic love story here. Ruhl’s combination of Becket and Alice in Wonderland leaves a stream of thoughts trickling through your brain long after the flood of images has subsided.”
Fourth Weekend Q&A: Informal discussion with the cast, crew and director Sunday, September 1st, after the 3:00pm performance.
This project is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the California Arts Council, and by the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica Arts Commission.