Monthly Archives: December 2010

Love

Mostly reading and writing tonight.  Just needed to shut myself in and catch up on all the reading I’ve missed all year.  Do you know what I mean?  Too busy to just sit back and really find joy in doing nothing but being good to yourself in the simplest of ways.

 “Love is the great equalizer” ~ a quote from the December newsletter of Eldon Taylor. 

I have to agree.  Feeling loved and loving others makes me less stressed, feel richer even when I’m broke, it even makes my hunger go away enough to say who cares about dieting.  lol  Maybe it should be called the great equilibriumizer. 

It’s the thought for tonight and for the rest of the week until the new year.  Just love.

Giving Is No Small Challenge for the Little Theater LA

It’s December 2010 and Mr. Ross Canton, owner of The Little Theater LA, coincidentally just renamed from The Black Box Theater, has holiday giving on the brain.   How do we give great performances?  How do we give affordable deals to the parents?  How do we give fun to our West Los Angeles children’s audiences?  How do we get them to know we are here?  How do we pay our actors?  How do we make this all work on no budget?

You see, it’s hard.  Mr. Canton has been a one man show for just about a year having re-opened a defunct theater with a former not so good reputation.  So far he has worn too many hats as season producer, director, production rental agent, light board operator, casting director, costume designer, prop master, set builder, box office handler, community liaison, and the list goes on.

“It’s challenging.  Every day I wake up to a small disaster that I have to get under control and then move on to the next task.” And yet, he seems to make it work.

And there is definitely a lot of giving from the actors.  Time mostly.  Especially during the holidays when everyone is juggling travel, side jobs, school, family and general Los Angeles traffic conditions enhanced by the shopping season.

Even still, for a brand new theater owner taking on a season full time, putting up shows year round in a house that has been constantly under construction, the challenges are apparent – decision after decision, organizing, finances, ticket sales, casting, good will, advertising, overhead, in other words, money, money, money.

This December the landlord of the property agreed to re-wire the entire facility which was not up to code.   Normally this would be cause for celebration.  However, The Little Theater was also rehearsing two separate shows that were opening in less than two weeks from the start of construction, making the scheduling even more hectic.  With a costume designer out sick, casting difficulties, erratic cast schedules, and lights not properly working, it all seemed like one complete disaster.

The Velveteen Rabbit was a hit last year and as part of the holiday tradition, Mr. Canton decided to re-mount the warm and fuzzy bunny tale, for children’s audiences who gushed over it last year.  But the real stroke of accidental genius was to offer an adaptation of Shel Silverstein’s, The Giving Tree.  What happened from there was magic.

An advertising inquiry to Los Angeles Family Magazine marketing director Traci Bradbury, produced an offer to help co-sponsor the magazine’s 15th anniversary issue.  Its December theme was “giving back” to the community.  The publisher loved the idea of Shel Silverstein’s, The Giving Tree, also running to sold out houses so far this season, as a perfect match.  Angel tickets were specifically created for the magazine’s sweepstakes offered in the December issue online and in print.

So far Mr. Canton’s duties have not been alleviated and he is hoping that will change soon.  “I would like to finally get back to doing what I set out to do when I took over the theater – spend my time, writing and producing quality children’s shows; running the theater and not having to do everything all the time.”

Ticket sales for The Giving Tree and its opening act, The Missing Piece, a mostly unknown short play, also by Silverstein, are nearly sold out completely.  The Velveteen Rabbit, with a longer run and larger cast is still selling and hoping to entertain kids and parents alike well into the new year.  And in January The Little Theater has more to offer adults.   Shel’s (Silverstein) Shorts will be opening on January 14th, 2011.

Adding to this little gem of a West LA venue, the theater is a beautifully intact house with 49 seats and aisles on each side to make it easy for patrons to walk up and down graduated levels to raked seating and a well lit street front window. It has onsite parking in the back and is handicapped friendly.   One draw-back – an old working marquis with the former theater name which needs to be replaced.  2011 will be partially spent raising funds to upgrade the street front signage of promising little venue.

The Little Theater LA is a 49 seat theater located in West Los Angeles at 12420 Santa Monica Blvd @ Centinela, Los Angeles, CA 90025. It is home to the Los Angeles Children’s Theater as well as the Performing Arts Collective. The venue produces children’s and adult shows year round and is also rentable for visiting companies and other local performances. Suitable for theater, castings and rehearsals, standup comedy, play readings, poetry slams, music, classes, art showings, and more.

For more information about the theater please visit:  www.TheLittleTheaterLA.com
or call:  (310) 622-4482.

Wiki Leaks, Videos and TARP Rock and Roll

Wiki Leaks, Videos and TARP Rock and Roll

With Wiki leaks threatening to go public last week on a “nuclear level” involving The Bank of America, and the Country-Wide scandal, (according to AOL and other news reports on Monday December 6th), here at home, under the very noses of local Angelenos, there has been another story slowly gaining awareness of a little “bailout” music video called, Live My Life, released in 2009 by an unknown Los Angeles production team, Semplice Pictures /Brink Tank Productions.  Live My Life, originally created to launch a local Los Angeles band called the Sonic Project, started off as “just a music video.”  It is now being championed by journalist and Wall Street insider, Nomi Prins, winning multiple accolades on the Film Festival scene and beginning to resonate with audiences as a “breath of fresh air” to headlines, articles and pundits.

The producers got a chance meeting in 2009 at Book Soup in West Hollywood, CA with journalist and former Goldman Sachs insider Nomi Prins, who had been scheduled for a book signing and discussion about her new publication, “It Takes A Pillage – Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street.”  (Ms. Prins is currently donating all December 2010 sales of her book to The National Coalition for the Homeless)

With Ms. Prins delightful reaction to a DVD of the video with a token dollar bill included, personally handed to her by executive producer Tracey Paleo, the Live My Life Video has now taken on a whole new meaning as a light-handed, political, “non-denial denial” sound bite and backdrop to the inside story of America being “jacked” by its own government – coincidentally, the title of an earlier book by Ms. Prins.

Playing with other people's money - Live My Life

Playing with other people’s money in Live My Life

Most recently, the Live My Life music video was showcased at, In Conversation, a special event at Largo in West Hollywood, the gathering place of Hollywood’s elite “intelligentsia” such as Sean Pean who also attended.  The evening, featuring singer, songwriter and composer, Michael Penn, was hosted by Ms. Prins joined by Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibi to discuss his own, newly published and very detailed American Mortgage Crisis “map” called, “Griftopia.”

Adding support, Ms. Prins has recently blogged about the video on her personal site and to her Facebook fans, in connection to the TARP issue.  Earlier this year, she offered her take on the video for the official Live My Life website, “In today’s world where, more than ever, the ongoing concentration of money and power in the hands of a self-selected few, relies on political and public apathy, Live My Life provides a much needed shot of timely, thought-provoking, musically forward, irreverence to the status quo.”

Live My Life is a musical parody, loosely based around TARP, the inspiration and angle that director Michael Cornell was looking for in order to brand Kameron White, the band’s lead guitarist and songwriter.   The device:  Mr. White, as Henry Paulsen, former head of Goldman Sachs and U.S. Treasury Secretary, giving White the ultimate rock and roll status mimicking the very entity he was rocking out against. The hook:  no one in the black and white, security camera parody, takes responsibility for anything –right down to the ticker tapes giving out Maria Bartiromo’s personal phone number, the Monopoly references (Do Not Pass Go. Go Directly to Jail), and the final “live” interview by Mr. White, as the CEO of a company that no longer exists.  What’s more, the fingers of the heads of a bank where strange yet fashionable people wearing sunglasses, walking down halls with locked brief cases and playing with other people’s money, point at you, the public.  The lyrics “I can’t control what you’re gonna be,” chime as the characters revel in their play.

The Live My Life music video wins its fourth accolade this year, The Gold Level Award, for best music video at the 2010 California Film Awards.  Live My Life, at first considered a long shot on the festival scene as a mere music video, has so far, since June 2010, received four awards and five selections, which continue to gain in level of prestige, including, Finalist in The Flip Side Film Festival (formerly the SoCal Film Festival), Honorable Mention at The (inaugural) Los Angeles International Film Festival, Selection and double screening at the LA Femme Film Festival with the support and enthusiasm of festival director Leslie La Page, and the prestigious Accolade Award of Merit, for its simple originality and unusual portrayal of the bailout in a rebel rock and roll genre.

“I always felt that this piece would become more relevant as time went on,” expressed the video’s director Michael Cornell.  “Live My Life is now being viewed by more people all the time and resonating with audiences.”

The Model Critic reviews: The Language Archive

The Language Archive                                                                                                             Laura Pels Theatre                                                                                                              Reviewed by Carlos Stafford, the Model Critic 

    The Language Archive by Julia Cho has an auspicious beginning–a clever theme, full of promise. But sadly, as the play progresses, instead of adventure and insight, we get a routine Carnival Cruise Line five-day vacation to one island and back.  What follows is a one-dimensional, black and white juxtaposition of airy concepts.

     George, (Matt Letscher), a passionate expert on languages, can’t communicate his feelings to his wife.  His wife, Mary (Heidi Schreck), on the other hand, has an abundance of emotions as she strangely weeps, and leaves arcane, poetic messages for George to find.  When they do speak, Mary says she has no idea what George is saying.

     George, in the meantime, has invited an aging foreign couple to his lab, to tape their soon to be extinct language.  They hail from a far eastern European “Borat-like” land, and speak Elloway  Alta (Jayne Houdyshell) and Reston (John Horton) are ersatz noble savages.  They bicker in English because “its the language of anger,” buy otherwise, they speak Elloway because its the language of love. In Elloway,they don’t say “I love you,” they say, “I could never live without you.”

     Mary walks out on George, and meets a man at the train station. He is carrying a parcel, and is on his way to commit suicide. He has been a baker all his life, and is taking his most important possession–his “starter.”  He gives it to Mary, and she decides to embark on a new life as a baker herself.

     Emma (Betty Gilpin), George’s attractive assistant, is hopelessly in love with George, and to impress him, decides to learn Esperanto.  Literally throwing herself at him, poor George doesn’t see.  When they hug, George weeps remembering his wife, and Emma smiles now that she finally ends in his arms.

     All this literal construction, gives the play an artificial feeling–Theatre of the Absurd-Light, and gets in the way of a theatrical piece that is very well crafted, clean, learned.  It is well directed by Mark Brokaw with quick pacing and fluid transitions, and the set design by Neil Patel was astonishingly handsome. 

    As for the acting, Jayne Houdyshell and John Horton make the evening enjoyable in their multiple roles. As for the principles, all were finely skilled actors without a script to work with.  The old saying that they’re are no bad scripts, only bad actors is not true here.  There was little character development, and the actors struggled to breathe life into a play more concerned with literal concepts and structure than real people.