Monthly Archives: November 2011

Current Reading: The Theater and Its Double by Antonin Artaud

After a half a year of critiquing local shows for LA Theatre Review, I decided that it was time to hit the books again for a refresher of sorts.  Upon perusing my favorite Barnes & Noble I landed on two choices:

1) Critical Theory & Performance and  2) The Theater and It’s Double

Needless to say, as the former was not in stock, I settled for the slightly more provocative of the two, The Theater and It’s Double by Antonin Artaud.  Accredited as one of France’s formost avant-garde theatrical thinkers, Mr. Artaud’s  book is a collection of manifestos, originally published in 1938.  According to Wikipedia, Artaud intended his work as an attack on theatrical convention and the importance of language of drama, opposing the vitality of the viewer’s sensual experience against theatre as a contrived literary form, and urgency of expression against complacency on the part of the audience.

 “We cannot go on prostituting the idea of the theater, the only value of which is its excruciating, magical relations to reality and danger.”

Right from the start Artaud (incredibly) relates theater with culture saying in the preface:  “Before speaking about culture, I must remark that the world is hungry and not concerned with culture … What is most important, it seems to me, is not so much to defend a culture whose existence has never kept a man from going hungry, as to extract, from what is called culture, ideas whose compelling force is identical with that of hunger.”

I supposed I am going to need an oxygen tank for this one.  But I am already finding Mr. Artaud’s point of view very intriguing, finding parallels with the kinds of 99 seat theater I’ve been reviewing.  The opening has already hit a nerve with me and my overall theater experience here in Los Angeles so far.  Contrived, audience complacency, convention, vitality and the urgency of expression – themes and actions that are ever more relevant in our age of reality television, short attention spans, and believe it or not, lack of literacy or desire for it, it seems.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to taking my time with this book and diving in to this man’s world and language.

Adrian Sanchez: An Artist in Transition

The End of September

by Tracey Paleo

When life maps us out, we struggle to find the meaning of ourselves.  There is no place where we can journey that holds satisfaction or content.  And like Prometheus chained to a rock, we find ourselves weighted down, clinging, in our confusion, to things put on us and attached to us, that hold us in place, far too earthbound to fly.

“Things will change for you Adrian.  Just wait.  At the end of September, everything will change.”  These were the words spoken by an aunt to the artist in a moment of (his) personal despair — when change is tough to take and results very far to grasp.
The End of September is a collage of images, apparent and hidden which self-reflect the artist’s struggle and deep emotional state – grasping to things – maps, places, persons: the familiarities and constancies we all perceive will ground us and tell  us who we are – but often, as we discover, do not provide the substance of our “selves”.  Things that merely move through us and around us until we find our own true meaning and purpose.
The art of Adrian Sanchez is in transition.  But although it is visually varied, it is most definitely narrative.  It is a story as vast as the human experience.  And there will be more.

A Soothing Moment in Black Friday Hell

This isn’t going to be what you expected.  Just stay with this past the first 25 seconds.  It’s truly amazing… Your life is about to change.  We no longer have to “imagine” – the future is here.  

“My Week With Marilyn” Monroe Fashion

When “My Week With Marilyn” hits theaters, Marilyn lovers will have the opportunity to watch actress Michelle Williams channel this fashionable global icon.  Monroe was a private woman off set and when not strutting her sex-kitten persona, she stuck to a monochromatic wardrobe. Hardly did she ever veer from white, cream, beige, camel, red and black. Aside from her signature white halter dress, Marilyn was also famous for being photographed in chunky caridgans, capri pants and pencil skirts. Check out how you can achieve Marilyn’s simple and luxurious look for less at
Double bonus for all you Southern Cali girls — the shop is located right in Burbank! I’m loving these looks.  Retro and modern at the same time.  In a word, timeless.  And best of all you don’t have to be Marilyn to wear them.
Did you know Marilyn’s measurements were recorded by her dressmaker as 36 (bust) -23 (waist) -37 (hips)  and sometimes fluctuated between that and 36-24-37. If you think about that it’s not a size 0!  So you know what?  If you are curvy these looks are also definitely for you.

Black Marilyn Sunglasses; $12

The “Norma Jean” Pinstriped Swing with Eyelet Detailing; $88

1950’s Style White Marilyn Satin Halter Dress; $78

Vintage Inspired Swimsuit 50’s Style Pin Up Solid White Bathing Suit; $75

Plant Based Holidays plus – There’s a contest.

As it turns out, my plant based holidays video was very popular.  So I am totally psyched to shared more fun suggestions and an opportunity to stock  your fridge with a contest for a Whole Foods gift card – like $1500 worth!  The lovely people over at Earth Balance shared this new information with me today and I am passing it on.  Because who can resist a little bit of sinfully healthy (does that really go together?) dessert suggestions along with those healthy meals?  Check these out.  And don’t forget Black Friday is only days away.  This would be the best time to get a head start on your food lists if you are cooking for the big days or throwing a mostly apps holiday soiree for friends.

Enjoy Plant-Based Holiday Cheer this Year!

This year, leave traditional desserts and heavy holiday meals behind, and enjoy a more nutritious, plant-based menu. From dinner dishes, to appetizers, to delicious desserts, there are a multitude of plant-based options out there to celebrate this special time of year.

When it comes to cooking and baked goods, Earth Balance Buttery Spreads andSticksShortening and Coconut Spread are plant-based options that can replace traditional ingredients used in Holiday recipes.

Making appetizers, dips or creamy sauces? Try our MindfulMayo(TM) Dressing & Sandwich Spread for a tangy touch. Peanut and Almond Butter work great in desserts, and Soymilk is a wonderful dairy replacement.

What would the Holidays be without some Nog? Enjoy our organic, Non-GMO Project Verified version, made with USA grown soybeans.  For recipe ideas using Earth Balance products (including Nog!) check out our plant-based online community,

For those of you creating your own plant-based recipes this year, sign-up for our Holiday Bake-Off on, a four-week competition that evaluates original, plant-based dessert recipes using at least one Earth Balance product. Each week will feature a different dessert theme, including pies, cakes, cupcakes and cookies, with two winners chosen for each category, receiving Whole Foods gift cards and a year’s supply of Earth Balance. One lucky winner will take home a $1,000 Whole Foods gift card grand prize! For more information about the contest, click here.    

About Earth Balance:

Based just outside Boulder, Colo., Earth Balance produces a line of delicious buttery spreads, shortenings, nut butters, soymilk, coconut spread and alternative mayos. All Earth Balance® products are plant-based, vegan, made without artificial ingredients or hydrogenated oils, free of gluten, lactose and eggs, offering a delicious alternative for those with food sensitivities and individuals looking for healthier alternatives to everyday foods. Earth Balance strongly supports the Non-GMO Project and sustainable agriculture practices, and all Earth Balance products are made without genetically modified ingredients. Earth Balance promotes a plant-based diet and earth-friendly lifestyle through the online social community Made Just Right™. Earth Balance is a division of GFA Brands, Inc., a subsidiary of Smart Balance Inc. (NasdaqGM: SMBL). For more information, visit and

“I’m Dreaming of a…”

Plant based holiday?  Something to think about while preparing your next meal.  Taking responsibility for one’s health.  Now that’s a serious thought.  How will you choose to do it?  Here is one choice:

Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake! at Sacred Fools

Justin Timberlake your my hero!

“Awesomeness” wins the day in the current production of Crumble (Lay Me Down Justin Timberlake) written by Sheila Callaghan and directed by Jeremy Aluma (and I still have no idea why he makes an appearance in this show…But who cares!  Cool and chemicals Set The MoodDude you rule! )

Managing to elude the creep factor of a vengeful, languishing apartment with its own personal opinion of cleanliness and living, a spiteful and troubled little girl with a death wish and a mom who can’t see past her own panic attack induced hysteria or the kitchen, Sacred Fools Theater turns in an amusing, South Park style rendition of a family in turmoil and falling apart in every possible way.  Read the review.

Reviewed by Tracey Palwo

Poetry, Music and Story Telling in LA on Saturday, Nov 19

Tounge and Groove Presents:

This Saturday         November 19, 2011

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artez                                                                                                           501 North Main Street                                                                                                                     Los Angeles, CA 90012                                                                                                             3:00pm – 4:30pm                                                                                                                                 (across the street from Olivera Street and the Pico House)                                          For more information about LA Plaza, visit: 

Enjoy a FREE! reading at a new LA Cultural Center, the La Plaza.

Cuentos Del Pueblo a series of short fiction, story telling, poetry and music produced by the always ambitious Conrad Romo.

This month features Dagoberto Gilb, Before the End, After the Beginning, Susana Chavez-Silverman Killer Cronicas: Bilingual Memories,                               Sam Quinones Antonio’s Gun and Delfino’s Dream:                                                         True Tales of Mexican Migration,                                                                                                                                           Poet Karla Diaz,                                                                                                                                   and musical guest Charles De Castro.

Dagoberto Gilb was born in Los Angeles. He attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Gilb embarked on a career in construction, became a journeyman carpenter, and joined the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in Los Angeles. Influenced by Raymond Carve he turned to short stories. He now has written six books and has been published widely including the New Yorker magazine and Harpers. He won the 1994 PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award.

Sam Quinones is a journalist and author of two acclaimed books of nonfiction growing out of 10 years he spent in Mexico as a freelance writer. He teaches Tell Your True Tale writing workshops, and a storytelling experiment of the same name.

Susana Chávez-Silverman teaches courses on U.S. Latin@ and Latin American literature and culture at Pomona College in Claremont. The genesis of her book, Killer Crónicas: Bilingual Memories, was in bilingual, code-switching e-mails she wrote while living in Buenos Aires. She called these collective e-mail missives “crónicas” [chronicles], inspired by the rough-hewn, journalistic, often fantastic first-hand accounts of the so-called New World sent “home” by the early conquistadores. Her second book of crónicas, Scenes from la Cuenca de Los Angeles y otros Natural Disasters was published last year.

Karla Diaz is a writer, artist and educator born and raised in Los Angeles. She received her MFA from California Institute of the Arts. She has read her poetry, and exhibited art projects and put together shows in many local, national and international venues including MOCA, LACMA, Dab 717 Gallery in Cairo, Instituto Cervantez in Madrid to name a few. She is a former co-director of exhibitions at the New Chinatown Barbershop gallery in Los Angeles and a founding member of Slanguage Studio, an artist-run space in Wilmington where she currently runs exhibitions and programming.


LA Tango Lovers – Maria Blanco and Sebastian Acosta Have Arrived!

LAXART Presents A Survey of Soap Operas Installation by Bruce and Norman Yonemoto

Made in Hollywood by Bruce Yonemoto
On the occasion of Pacific Standard Time Art in LA 1945-1980: LAXART presents a selection of seven soap operas written, directed and produced by Bruce and Norman Yonemoto, collaborators since 1976.  In them they unveil the mechanics that construct the genre and subsequently the audience relationship to reality and fantasy.
Working in hyperbolic visual and narrative style, the Yonemotos juxatpose advertising and Pop imagery with narrative scenes, to create their distinctie approach.  The quickly paced sequencing of soap opera videos evoke flipping through television channels: modern Japanese cartoons are intercut with a static shot of an acidic 1980s color spectrum, then interspersed with a character’s black and white nightmarish flashback.  There are frequent, puposeful slippages between the constructed fantasy world of television and cinema with bits and pieces that reflect the Yonemoto’s own personal history.
The exhibition can be viewed along with the Yonemotos’ other installation:  The Time Machine and the History of Asexual Mutation, from November 5 until December 3, 2011.
Find out more about Bruce on his personal blog (click here). This exhibition is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday at LA><Art.   You can get more information by visiting the link below:

House of Gold at Ensemble Studio Theatre

First impressions count.  But all that glitters is not gold for baby beauty queens in our Reality TV obsessed culture.  And yes, we CAN blame our parents for this one.

House of Gold is a dark comedy inspired by the JonBenet Ramsey murder touching upon the actual murder and the current exploitation of children  in our fame obsessed culture, where children are publicly overly sexualized, humiliated, paraded, derided as objects of humor and made to feel like it is all just normal. A scathing behind closed doors, kaleidoscope of Toddlers & Tiaras mega drama proportions on stage that completely illuminates our society, our values and the review (click here)

The Model Critic Reviews: SONS OF THE PROPHET

Laura Pels Theatre, New York, NY
Reviewed by Carlos Stafford, The Model Critic
    Fate has been unkind to both Joseph and Charles Douaihy, gay brothers of Lebanese descent living in eastern Pennsylvania.   A thunderbolt of trouble has staggered their seemingly ordinary lives in suburbia, and they need answers.
    In a bright new play by Stephen Karam, Santino Fontana capably leads the way as Joseph, the elder brother, talented runner and potential qualifier for the Olympic Trials. Joseph works at a book packing company alongside his eccentric and emotionally unglued boss, Gloria, played with hilarious quirkiness by Joanna Gleeson.  Gloria’s husband has recently taken a fatal flying leap off their balcony, and she’s barely coping;  obsessed with pain and suffering, and a faltering book business, she wants to write a book on the Middle East, and Joseph’s family history–they being direct descendents of the famous spiritual poet, Khalil Gibran, who wrote “The Prophet.”
    Fontana lives Joseph’s snakebitten character with clear intelligence and understanding, while his younger  more flamboyant brother, Charles, played by Chris Perfetti, adds great energy, color, and fluid talent as a Broadway newbie. Now, both are suffused with grief and confusion at the loss of their mother earlier in the year, and the untimely death of their father in a freak car crash. To add to their misery, Joseph has been stricken with knee ailments that mysteriously points to a more serious underlying illness, and  perhaps a tragic end to his running career.
    With an intimate, off-Broadway feel, scant sets, often consisting of mere sliding panels for various scenes, and a general pared down look, the play succeeds perfectly in conveying the mundane outer surfaces vis-a-vis the complex underlying psychological issues.  Director Peter DuBois gets to the heart of the proceedings with openness and honesty and creates a worthy drama as he leads the characters through a minefield of circumstances beyond their control.
    Added to the menu, the brothers have an ailing uncle move in.  As adamant touchstone to the past, portrayed as an old -fashioned bigot, he nonetheless tries to keep the family upright while being barely ambulatory himself.  He especially tries to keep the boys focused on their spiritual past, and St Rafka, the blind patron saint of pain and suffering.  As a family heirloom, her portrait hangs darkly in Charles’ room,  somewhat more sinister than uplifting.
    With all the lugubriousness and small town gloom, the play is brilliantly saved from the abyss of sentimentality by its constant sweet, dog-earned humor giving the proceedings breathing room, hope and backbone. Presented with commitment, energy, and love this well written play is a must see, and ends with a positive message from Gibran:  The most massive characters are seared with scars. All is well.