It was a stormy year of pain and sorrow that we will never forget. So many people gone, families in need, black and white fighting in the streets for justice, a beast eating us away, a dark cloud floating on our head.
But tonight at midnight, all together, we should make a wish for a better future. We should all together help each other with love. So black and white and brown become one color. And all together we will kill that beast eating us.
Life will be back to us soon and we will be wiser (we hope). Merci to all of you for your support. Because of you, our City Garage Classic Weekends has been a big success, and the same with our new show with Steven Leigh Morris. Please, if you can, help us with a little donation so we can continue to go on until we re-open the theatre. We wish you all a magic new year in 2021.
Happy holidays! In the spirit of that, City Garage brings you, by popular demand, a little seasonal cheer with a reprise of Moliere’s classic comedy“The Bourgeois Gentleman,” translated and adapted by Frederique Michel and Charles Duncombe. And this week on “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with performer, poet, and award-winning playwright Luis Alfaro. We’ll be running these for the next two weeks until we return with new programming for 2021.
Nominated for “Best Adaptation,” 2008 LA Weekly Theatre Awards
Nominated for “Best Adaptation” by the LA Weekly, and a “Critic’s Choice” in the Los Angeles Times, this sparkling new translation/adaptation of Moliere’s classic comedy le Bourgeois Gentilhomme was described by the LA Times as a “gracefully loopy soufflé” and an “unguarded hoot.” Wealthy and foolish Monsieur Jourdain is in love with the Countess Dorimène and aches to be what he is not—a member of the aristocracy. Determined to overcome his low birth with an education in high style, he unwittingly surrounds himself with charlatans and swindlers who gleefully take his money and prey on his innocence. Originally written by Moliere as a “comedy ballet” for Louis XIV, this new translation re-imagines the play for today’s audience, transporting us into an extravagant fantasy world of song, dance, and upper class nonsense with a French accent.
Here is what the critics had to say:
“With a generous soupcon of witty anarchy…this sleek City Garage take on Moliere’s deathless satire of nouveau riche pretensions and aristocratic machinations is nominally avante garde, but mainly an unguarded hoot….With many wicked analogies to modern mores, Michel and Duncombe slyly tailor our times into their tart adaptation, complete with anachronisms, nonstop postures, and purposely limp songs….everyone embraces the formalized mischief with élan.”
“Critic’s Choice,” Los Angeles Times
“Frederique Michel and Charles Duncombe’s fresh and bawdy translation-adaptation serves up a bouquet of comedic delights.”
“Go,” LA Weekly
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, December 25, through noon on Friday, January 1st.
This week we have a real City Garage classic for you, a production from 2000, “Top Dogs” by Urs Widmer. And on our online talk show,“Animal Farm: Conversations About Theatre and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests,” Steven talks with Angela Gaspar Milanovic and Bronwyn Mauldin from the LA County Department of Arts and Culture. It’s a very interesting and in-depth discussion of the impact of Covid on the arts in LA and what the Department is doing to help.
And here is information about the show streaming this week:
Top Dogs by Urs Widmer
City Garage continues its ongoing “City Garage Classics” series this weekend with a production from 2002, Top Dogs by Urs Widmer.
LA Weekly — Pick of the Week!
By Urs Widmer
Directed by Frédérique Michel
Production Design and Dramaturgy by Charles A. Duncombe Jr.
Cast: Tatiana Alvarez, Joel Drazner, Richard Grove, Dyan Kane, Dennis Ottobre, Mark Rebernik, Bo Roberts, Gene Williams
LA Weekly — Pick of the Week!review by Constance Monaghan
“Swiss playwright Urs Widmer’s brutally funny look at life after downsizing may be billed as surreal, but to anyone familiar with the corporate milieu, it can only seem painfully real. It opens with an endless series of huge, projected mouths announcing name, impressive corporate title and obscene salary. When next we find ourselves in a roomful of these same “top dogs,” now jobless clients of the New Challenge Corporation employment agency, our pity can’t help but be tinged with smug satisfaction. That duality of response continues as we empathize with this “white-collar trash” newly shorn of identity (literally clinging to their wingtips and pumps) and simultaneously scorn them for weaknesses we also identify with. Director Frederique Michel brilliantly balances the explosively comic and movingly melancholic in a precise, stylish staging that segues from drill-team choreography, to dead-on spotlit monologues (one man fantasizes becoming a zookeeper while a woman imagines impressing her hard-nosed mother with a top-floor office), to re-enactments of the characters firings. The ensemble is impressive: Tatiana Alvarez, Joel Drazner, Richard Grove, Dyan Kane, Dennis Ottobre, Mark Rebernik, Bo Roberts and Gene Williams. Charles Duncombe Jr. created the set, lighting, sound and video (along with Cristian YoungMiller and Arosh Ayrom).”
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, December 18th, through noon on Friday, December 25th.
We are excited to bring you the next episode of our weekly talk show, “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests.” This week Steven talks with Michael A. Shepperd, the Artistic Director of Celebration Theater, one of LA’s preeminent LQBQT theaters and a thoroughly delightful man. Please watch and share the link with your friends—and remember, we are always looking for suggested guests, themes, questions, and your videos of your favorite animal friends. Go to website and click on the “Animal Farm” link and fill out the form at the bottom of the page. Here is the link for this week’s episode:
A Collage from Garbage, The City, and Death by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
We’re also happy to continue our ongoing “City Garage Classics” series with a real vintage classic from the old space in 1997: Garbage, the City, and Death by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It was the last play written by Fassbinder and tells the story of Romi, a beautiful prostitute and the Jewish real estate speculator who falls in love with her. The play was banned in Germany in 1975 because it was accused of reproducing anti-semitic stereotypes. In fact, Fassbinder was using a victim’s revenge to, as fellow German playwright Heiner Muller put it, “describe the devastation of a city in huge, harsh images. The city is Frankfurt. The means of revenge is real estate speculation and its consequences.” Fassbinder portrayed the anti-semitism that he felt was still rife throughout German society, despite hypocritical posturing and pious condemnations of the country’s Nazi past. Consistently a defender and advocate for marginalized populations, the reactions the play evoked, particularly from the left, seemed to bear out Fassbinder’s judgment.
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, December 11th, through noon on Friday, December 18th.
We’re very excited to bring you the next episode of “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests.” This week Steven talks with two of our favorites playwrights, whose work we’ve done just recently: Kosovar playwright Jeton Neziraj, whose “Department of Dreams” we premiered at City Garage last fall, and Roland Schimmelpfenig, one of Germany (and Europe’s) most prominent playwrights, whose “Winter Solstice” we did in 2018. We hope you’ll enjoy Steven’s talk with them. Here is the link: (and if you missed earlier episodes, you can catch up on this page).
In honor of having Jeton with us again this week, as our City Garage classic we’re reprising “Department of Dreams.” In case you weren’t able to see it in the theatre with us (or missed its first streaming, a few months ago) this is your chance again! Here is a little bit about it from the original press release:
“In this nightmarish, Orwellian comedy an autocratic government 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. 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 except the authority that rules it.”
And here’s what the critics had to say:
“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….Michel’s staging, combined with Duncombe’s animated projections — a sort of Dadaesque Betty Boop — complete Neziraj’s Orwellian portrait of a mad world in which all individuality is suppressed….This is not an easy play. It’s difficult to understand, at times incomprehensible. But it is important work by a world-class playwright who challenges our complacency at every twist and turn.”
CRITIC’S CHOICE, Los Angeles Times
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, December 4th, through noon on Friday, December 11th.
We have a special guest this week on our new talk show, “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests:” playwright Neil LaBute. He is one of the most important and provocative playwrights in America today. We hope you enjoy Steven’s talk with him.
Also, we’re excited to continue our ongoing “City Garage Classics” series this weekend with a production from 1999, “The White Wedding” by Taduez Rozewizc. It was a special project for us because we had with us for its opening the eminent Polish critic and writer Jan Kott.
Here is what the critics had to say:
“A surreal erotic fable chock full of Freudian themes and imagery, “Marriage Blanc” (White Wedding) is a good fit for the libido-drenched avant antics of Santa Monica’s City Garage. Nudity, emotional confrontation, socio-political satire and absurdism abound in this tale of a girl’s frightened resistance to an arranged marriage and her own emerging womanhood. But Tadeusz Rozewizc’s wry allegory also lets the ensemble demonstrate its facility with more traditional performance and stagecraft, thanks to linear narrative, continuity of character, and turn-of-the-century setting.”
In a striking departure from the company’s frequent forays into stark, existential modernism, production designer Charles A. Duncombe Jr’s ornate period scenery and warm-hued lighting prove well-suited to the 1968 play’s deliberate construction as a distant fairy tale — necessary to avoid censorship in the playwright’s native Poland.”
Los Angeles Times
“A playful and erotic journey through the turn-of-the-century Polish countryside by one of Poland’s foremost modern playwrights. In this surreal fairy tale for adults, a young girl who is about to be married struggles with her sexuality while contending with her nymphomaniac sister, lecherous father, and repressed mother. Despite the mother’s best efforts, the prim Victorian society of her orderly bourgeois household is constantly overwhelmed by eruptions of pagan sexuality. Yet, typical of great Polish theatre, beneath the sunny surface, serious themes brood, posing troubling questions about the persistent split in Western culture between the body and the soul, the heart and the mind, sexuality and spirituality. Tadeusz Rozewicz enjoys an international reputation as one of Poland’s leading playwrights and poets, and has been described by The Guardian as “One of the modern masters of the century’s dark realities.”
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Thursday, November 25, through noon on Friday, December 4th.
We are excited to bring you the latest episode of our new talk show on YouTube, “Animal Farm: Conversation on Theater and Politics its Steven Leigh Morris and Guests.” This week, the show again goes abroad (virtually), this time to Poland, where Steven talks to two prominent young Polish theater directors, Anna Smolar and Magda Szpeht, about the autocratic shift that began in Poland in 2015 and its impacts on the arts and social issues. Here is the link:
We’re also happy to continue our “City Garage Classics” series, this time with a more recent production from 2017, Charle L Mee’s “Adam and Evie.” Here is some information from the original press release:
“Much of our life is spent coupling, uncoupling, or recoupling. We’re obsessed by love and sex: how to get it, how to keep it, or how to get out of it and try again. In this new work, multiple-award-winning visionary playwright and poet Charles L. Mee looks at love from Adam and Eve to our own
rapidly changing times where the possibilities of thwarting yourself in love expand with every new boundary we cross. In Adam and Evie Mee joyously celebrates our unruly, childish, wise, heart-breaking, romantic, and lustful longings in gorgeous language, startling images, and the comic mishaps of dozens of lovers who bounce off each other in gradually more complex interactions resulting in a final, glorious paean to the thrill and ache of love.
Among other awards, Charles Mee is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award in drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, two Obie Awards, for Vienna: Lusthaus (1986) and Big Love (2002), PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award for Drama for a playwright in mid-career, and the Fisher Award given by the Brooklyn Academy of Music.”
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, November 20, through noon on Friday, November 27th.
We’re excited to share with you the next episode of our new online talk show, “Animal Farm: Conversations on Theater and Politics with Steve Leigh Morris and Guests.” This week the show goes to London (at least virtually) to speak with playwright Susan Blundell, actor Lloyd Morris, and musician Elliot Devivo about their online production of “Silence and Joy,” a piece about Ludwig Van Beethoven and the black violinist and virtuoso, George Bridgetower. Here is the link: (And if you missed past episodes you can find them on our website. Look for the “Animal Farm” tab in the upper right menu).
We’re also continues out ongoing “City Garage Classics” series this weekend with a production from 2003, our adaptation of the Oedipus story, “OedipusText/LA” by Charles Duncombe. Here is what the critics had to say:
“Symbolist tactics and City of Angels targets mutate throughout “OedipusText: Los Angeles” in Santa Monica. This adroit City Garage deconstruction imbues Sophocles’ ageless saga of the incestuous king of Thebes with modern elements ranging from self-help to trip-hop. It transpires, as usual with this company, in a self-contained abstract ethos. Author-designer Charles A. Duncombe draws Jocasta’s lines from Helene Cixous’ opera “The Name of Oedipus: Song of the Forbidden Body,” but his esoteric text is otherwise original and impressive. Fredereque Michel’s staging of this melange of neoclassical restraint, shock-radio sass and Freudian polemic attains droll kinetic cohesion, moving a unified ensemble around Duncombe’s screen-dominated minimalist set with invisible ease. Duncombe’s concentrated lighting, Paul M. Rubenstein’s wry videography and Teckla de Bistrovlnovska’s color-coded costumes are invaluable in locating the reference points. Simon Burzynksi’s intense hero is a leather-jacketed Tom Cruise Jr., while Maureen Byrnes’ Jocasta is a riveting column of white who recalls the late Irene Worth. Rubenstein’s sidesplitting DJ is scandalously effective, and David E. Frank is brilliant, whether playing a Nehru-dressed, rocker-voiced Tiresias or a shrieking Dr. Laura-esque harpy. Three red-capped gangbangers (Eric Jung, Jason Piazza and Thomas Ramirez) share chorus duties, alternating as isolated urbanites whose interactions with Tina Fallon’s brittle chat-room fraud and Jennifer Piehl’s unfettered online exhibitionist punctuate Oedipus’ downward spiral.”
LA TIMES — RECOMMENDED
“Freud’s Oedipus complex is borrowed from Sophocles’ mystery; adaptor Charles A. Duncombe lobs the ball back into Sophocles’ court with an absorbing 90-minute shot propelled by modern psychology’s Papa. The plague upon Thebes is here sexual dysfunction in an L.A. of tomorrow: Internet and telephone romances that skirt the terrors of flesh-to-flesh contact; porno and erotic power games all perverted from a primal, forbidden love of mama. Unlike in Sophocles’ play, Oedipus’ mom, Jocasta (the fine Maureen Byrnes), knows what’s going on, and merely waits for Oedipus (Simon Burzynski) to figure it out. Blind prophet Tiresias (the excellent David E. Frank) morphs into a drag queen who imposes glib S&M fetishes on Oedipus….Rubenstein’s video collages (the hull of a ‘50s convertible stranded in South-Central, a woman’s breast, an upper thigh) play in stark counterpoint to the argument on the boards that modern alienation — exacerbated by consumerism and high tech — has roots in antiquity. Frederíque Michel’s arch staging elegantly complements Duncombe’s rhetorical text (with segments by Helene Cixous).”
LA WEEKLY — RECOMMENDED
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, November 13, through noon on Friday, November 20th.
We are excited to share with you the next episode in our new talk show, “Anima Farm: Conversations About Theatre and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests.” This week even talks with Doctor Susana Smith Bautista and Chandra Indigo Jackson about “Teen Tix LA”: a program to help create new young audiences for theatre. If you missed the first two shows they’re available here on our website. New episodes every Wednesday at 6:00pm.
If you have questions you’d like Steven to explore or suggest a topic or guest, please let us know.
And, if you have a short video of your favorite animal friend, send it to us here. Each week we feature a new one.
And of course our City Garage Classics program is still going strong. This week we have a production from 2003 “Katzelmacher” by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Here is what the LA Weekly had to say:
LA WEEKLY — PICK OF THE WEEK
KATZELMACHER is the German slang for “cat screwer,” which actually refers to somebody with an unbridled sex drive. In the case of Jorgos (Steve Najarro, bearing an expression of sweet bewilderment), in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s very first (1968) play, the label is a misnomer, an ethnic slur applied to this Greek (“foreign”) laborer in a provincial German town. Katzelmacher is something of an etude in which Fassbinder shows the stock jealousy and xenophobia that ensues after the migrant worker, who barely speaks the language, beds his employer (Maureen Byrnes) and draws the romantic attentions of the local women (Kathryn Sheer, Katharina Lejona and Szilvi Naray-Davey). Mean while, the guys (Mathew Gifford, Bo Roberts, Laurence Coven and David E. Frank) are barely employed yet too proud to work for the low wages that Jorgos plans on sending home to his wife and kids. Fassbinder is really looking at the psychological effects of money, at how the town’s orgasmic violence stems from its economic malaise — which, though a truthful idea, does little to explain the sadism of the rich. Frederique Michel smartly evokes the play’s 1966 setting (with Brigitte Bardot flip ‘dos and costume designer Erin Vincent’s one-piece leather minis) with an ensemble bereft of Hollywood lip enhancements and repaired teeth. Rather, they look plucked from the regions — perfect for this play’s ambiance. Michel stages the episodic scenes in the style of a cabaret, propelled by sound designer Jason Piazza’s percussion….The production is a mostly disciplined and cogent examination of “otherness” that’s, distressingly, more apt than ever.”
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 3:00pm this Friday, November 6, through noon on Friday, November 13th.
We’re excited to share with you the second episode of our new talk show “Animal Farm: Conversations About Theater and Politics with Steven Leigh Morris and Guests.” His guest this week is Rob Weinert-Kendt, the Editor of American Theatre Magazine and he and Steven speculate about what’s next for theatre in age of covid. Please check it out. (Also, if you missed last week’s show, all shows will be archived here on our website. Look for “Animal Farm” in the menu above. Here is the link to this week’s show:
We’re also continuing our City Garage Classics series with this week’s production from 2013, “Caged,” by Charles Duncombe, directed by Frederique Michel. It was a “Pick of the Week” in the LA Weekly. Here is some information from the original press release:
“City Garage is proud to announce the world premiere of Caged, by Charles A. Duncombe. Two naked human specimens in a cage, Visitors come and go, fascinated by them, arguing, and wondering about these creatures. Do they feel pain, love, joy, sadness, envy? What do they think when they see us staring at them? What do we really see? A reflection of our own hope or despair? What reality do we inhabit and how did we get there? This new play for City Garage by award-winning playwright Charles A. Duncombe, is a tender and absorbing drama about entrapment, a reflection on life, how we seem each other and ourselves.”
Here is what the critics had to say:
“Duncombe’s smartly written script is delightfully provocative and insightful. Performances are sharply calibrated under Frederique Michel’s direction.”
LA WEEKLY – Pick of the Week
“Duncombe nails his targets, whether zeroing in on male versus female bonding activities, the difference between the sexes when presented with mirrors and their own reflections, or the inexplicable attraction to religion. Director Frédérique Michel handles the material beautifully… All seven actors playing the visitors inhabit multiple roles with ease.”
“This new play by City Garage co-founder Charles A. Duncombe in a delicately intricate production explores the kaleidoscopic variations of the push-pull of relationships, remarkably similar whether “primitive” or “civilized.”… Director Frederique Michel luxuriantly masters this congenial new space, wrangling the different levels of action subtly with an insinuating tactile sense… Duncombe and Michel spin so many layers with all those wisps of insight that the textured whole becomes piquantly allusive, even haunting. It is one of the continuing pleasures of City Garage, as with many established local companies, to see the progressive development of individual actors over many roles over time…”
“Poignantly symbolic, Duncombe’s text so deft and tongue-in-cheek and the direction, by Frédérique Michel, so finely tuned…”
It will be showing on our City Garage YouTube channel from 8:00pm this Friday, October 30, through midnight on Wednesday, November 4th.