Saturday, October 28, 2006

Histories His Stories Historicities History Cities

The America Play by Suzan-Lori Parks. The Theatre at Boston Court. Pasadena, CA. 10/26/06.

You don't very often see a play that spends its brief time ruminating on the nature of history. In Suzan-Lori Parks' play, history is life and lies, past and present, place and time. The America Play is a beautiful work of both literature and stagecraft. It's the kind of text I love as text, but that takes on a whole new life onstage, which the Theatre of Boston Court's production demonstrated admirably.

The strength of this play was its extremely skilled actors in the major roles. Harold Surratt as the digger who followed in the footsteps of The Great Man (Abraham Lincoln) and Darius Truly as his son, Brazil, gave nuanced and haunted performances that really made this play. Even when their lines were abstract and disconnected, each of these men demonstrated their proficiency with Parks' language, emotions, and ideas. J. Nicole Brooks as the wife did an admirable job in a strange and challenging role.

The great hole of history in this production directed by Nancy Keystone was a spare black space rather than the clutter of artifacts I imagined when reading the text. The stage full of what appeared to be black sand (but was actually black rubber from recycled tires) was the most impressive aspect of the design; it realy emphasized the importhance of digging and burial in the text.

P.S. The Theatre at Boston Court just announced its 2007 season. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wishing to be in San Francisco

The fabulous S. Bear Bergman will be doing readings of hir new book, Butch is a Noun (which Amazon still hasn't shipped me, darn it), in San Francisco. I was going to try and go up to see hir, but there are too many deadlines right now to get away, even for a few days. Sigh. Ze is a truly excellent writer with sparkling wit and a delightful personality, perfectly capable of making femmes of all genders swoon. Those of you who are in SF should definitely go check hir out.

26 October 06
Butch is a Noun reading (with Thea Hillman)
A Different Light Books
San Francisco, CA

27 October 06
Butch is a Noun reading
Dog Eared Books
San Francisco, CA

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cute Southern Boys

You heard it hear first, folks, The Southern Gents Tour is coming to Southern California!

Fabulous performance artist Turner Schofield (about whom I gush frequently) along with Katz of Athens Boys Choir fame will be performing at the GroundZero Coffee House at USC on Nov. 6 at 7pm. Even better, the show is free, though these hot boys are certainly worth paying for. They claim "Multimediatheater/drag/spoken word has never been smarter or funner, y'all," and I believe them. This is a show that is not to be missed.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rhodessa Jones Rocks the House

Rhodessa Jones. UCLA. 10/16/06.

The Center for Performance Studies and the Center for the Study of Women at UCLA, as part of a Series on African-American Performance, brought in Rhodessa Jones of Cultural Odyssey and the Medea Project for Incarcerated Women for a performance. Jones is an awe-inspiring performance artist and activist. I've seen her speak before, but watching her perform is a different and striking experience.

Jones talked about becoming a performance artist in the '80s, saying that she began solo performance work becuase there weren't roles for people like her. The parts for African-American women were mostly maids and she didn't want to be Hattie McDaniel even though she respected her a woman strong enough to say "I'd rather play a maid than be a maid". So many of the solo performances that I love are dedicated to telling the stories that still aren't being told in most theaters.

Jones performed excerpts from three pieces, and they were amazing. She did a piece called "Raining Down Stars" which was a riff on slavery and mixed blood organized around an experience Medea had while she was in South Africa. This piece was strong, loud, and disjointed in a good way. The second piece was "On the Last Day of His Life," a piece written in 1988 in response to the death of Arnie Zane, her brother's partner who died of AIDS. This was a beautiful and incredibly moving performance that had me crying uncontrollably. Jones' ability to evoke a feeling and to communicate with an audience was inspiring. She then finished with piece from Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues that was a hilarious relief after "On the Last Day of His Life." I learned today that Rhodessa Jones is a connsumate performer in her own right, as well as an inspired activist and organizer.

Those of you in or near San Francisco have the opportunity to see My Life in the Concrete Jungle, the latest Medea Project show Oct. 24-Nov. 5. I highly recommend that you go if you have the chance.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Real People": Manufacturing Word of Mouth

Today's Theater Blogosphere issue is:'s Word of Mouth Panel. Apparently,, which until a few months ago had regular professional reviewers writing reviews, has hired (I hope they're paying them!) a panel of 12 "regular people" who it will send to see shows and write reviews. The selection criteria for these people was apparently "interesting jobs, funny comments and genuine passion for live theater."

Rob Kendt, who used to write excellent reviews for, was the first to post, I believe. Theatre Conversation open things up for discussion. Theatre Ideas says maybe it's not such a bad idea, really. Theaterboy rightly points out that the diversity of their panel is laughable.

Personally, I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to have "everyday people" reviewing plays. I'm not exactly a professional reviewer myself (although being well on my way to a PhD in theater history probably indicates that I wouldn't qualify as a reviewer, either) and yet I write and post my own reviews of plays. And I like reading other people's honest reactions to plays. The LA Times Reader Reviews can be a tool for getting a sense of a play before you go, or measuring your opinions against other people's. Forums for all theatergoers to write reviews can help to make theater a more vibrant opportunity for public discussion. More opinions out there can be a good thing, and selecting a few nonprofessional reviewers and giving them theater tickets and/or paying them to write reviews can be an interesting experiment in fostering discussion or offering diverse opinions.

I do, however, think it's a horrible idea to fire experienced, skilled reviewers with strong background in theater in favor of these ordinary people. It's fetishizing the uneducated opinion over informed analysis, and that is not a good thing. Silencing knowledgable professional opinion at the same time as promoting other reviewers is the disturbing aspect of this whole development. Why are the two mutually exclusive? Why not publish their opinions side-by-side?

And these particular reviewers are also a pretty laughable selection. While it's nice that there are two young people (although six seems a little too young to me), this seems to be a group of almost entirely straight, white, middle-class people. If this is Broadway's (or even's) audience, it's in big trouble. These aren't "real" people, they're mainstream people. Note the emphasis on the fact that they all paid full price for their tickets. So those of us who have to scrounge to afford half price and student rush tickets don't qualify to be reviewers?

We'll have to wait and see what kind of reviews these people produce before we can really judge the success or failure of this move, but it seems like a dangerous move away from informed criticism. Will these new reviewers be able to do thorough readings of complex plays? Will they be aware of race, class, and gender issues? Will they offer diverse opinions or will they agree on everything? Will their reviews allow readers to decide whether or not they want to see these shows? Will they be slavish fans or intelligent critics? I don't know yet, but I'm skeptical.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Happy National Coming Out Week. Today, Oct. 11, is National Coming Out Day. I just learned that this is a the commemoration of a 1987 march on Washington for gay and lesbian rights, in which the AIDS quilt was also displayed for the first time.

Personally, I feel like most of my coming-out has been accomplished. I study queer performance artists, teach classes in LGBT studies, give papers at LGBT conferences, and blog from a queer feminist perspective. And yes, my parents know. Life, as it involves constantly meeting new people, is a constant process of coming out. I may or may not be read as 'queer' when people first meet me, and thus I often play up references to my queerness or my investment in queer studies when getting to know new people. It is an effort and an investment to continue to come out on a regular basis, to not allow people to read you as straight or make any assumptions about gender and sexuality.

As I've said before here, I identify as queer and femme. I choose 'queer' over 'lesbian' because I have dated men in the past and I don't rule out the possibility of doing so again. I don't identify as 'bisexual' because I do have a distinct preference for women (generally butch or masculine women) and identify much more with queer and lesbian communities than with heterosexuality, but 'bisexual' is a word that could accurately describe me.

So, here's to coming out. I encourage everyone to do it, whenever and however it feels right to them. Even if it's not about gender or sexuality, be honest and open about who you are and what you believe. Make conscious choices about identity and identification. Own your class, race, gender, sexuality, passions or whatever else makes you special. Don't be afraid to be in-your-face about it.

Monday, October 09, 2006

2Cities: barrios, projects, and ballparks

Heather Woodbury. Tale of 2Cities (An American Joyride on Multiple Tracks). Part One: Grifters, Drifters, and Dodgers. UCLA Live. Freud Playhouse. 10/8/06.

I feel like I left at Intermission. The performance consisted of 2 two-and-a-half-hour pieces, and I only saw the first. But I blame UCLA Live (and my own procrastination). The full story is at the bottom of the post, so I don't annoy those who just want to hear about the show. But I will say that after seeing the first part, I would definitely have been glad to see the second part, and it is a piece worth the investment of 5 hours. My partial review is here, but I encourage you to read Charles McNulty's LA Times review or this review in Variety for a take that includes a perspective on the piece as a whole.

I really enjoyed the show. It started off slowly, but it drew me in to the interweaving tales of many interesting characters whose lives intersect in unpredictable ways. Each of the seven actors played multiple roles, frequently peforming across race and gender and each did so with spectacular skill. They managed to craft compelling and complex characters without any change in physical appearance. Despite frequent jumps in location and time period, the production was fascinating and not too obscure. Ostensibly, this was the story of the Dodgers leaving New York in the 1950s and moving to Los Angeles. It's about the distruction of two low-income communities, a Brooklyn united around their baseball team and Chavez Ravine razed and displaced so Dodger Stadium could be built in its place. This a terrible, poigniant story that should be told over and over, and Tale of 2Cities makes some wonderful gestures at telling it, but I would argue that it doesn't exactly succeed, because that isn't really the story this piece wants to be telling any more. As director and dramaturg Dudley Saunders states in his "Dramaturg's Note," "Septemer 11 occured during Ms. Woodbury's original, generating performances" and thus "this play was maimed by history." While Saunders argues that this is appropriate for the piece, in a way I think it was also unfortunate. I would have liked to see what this performance would have been if it weren't a performance about September 11. My reservations aside, it was an excellent demonstration of theatrical craftmanship and I would encourage anyone to see it. It raises and interweaves many fascinating stories and political issues around identity, community, and history. It asks great questions about which ways are appropriate to help those who need help and even how we mourn. A strikingly talented ensemble cast endures two pieces of epic length and scope to tell many great stories.

Tracey A. Leigh was a stand out member of the cast, transforming fluidly from a young puertoriqueña girl in New York to a crazy old hermit in LA as well as several other chorsu roles. She gave each character a distinct voice and a unique personality and really showcased her talent. Michael Ray Escamilla smouldered as a young LA DJ, drawing attention with his burning intensity. Escamilla as Manuel Vasquez was the only character in the play with any sexuality, which I would argue is a problem, but he sold sex and passion and rage in a way that made him a pleasure to watch. When he played NY police officer Chuck, his character was distinct and equally interesting. Winsome Brown, who mainly in this half played Hannah Klug, didn't have much of an opportunity to interact with other characters (she mainly monologued emails to a brother in Korea) and provided more exegesis than action, but she showed signs of being a highly versatile actress. When she played Lavinia Esmeralda, her Spanish accent clearly communicated the character she was playing, even if it was stange to see her do it. Leo Marks and Ed Vassallo had smaller parts in the first half of the show, but both created interesting characters nonetheless. Diane Rodriguez didn't play multiple characters as much as she played the same character at two different points in her life; she played the ghost of Gabriela Hauptmann waiting for her grandson to discover her body and the same Gabriela back in the 1950s growing up in Chavez Ravine. Though Rodriguez is a talented actress, this role felt somehow less genuine than many of the others, making it seem more difficult to play across age than race or gender. This could be attributed to Rodriguez's acting technique not quite meshing with the others' in the piece or it could be a problem with the writing of the role, which is quite possibly the most distant from Woodbury's experience.

Heather Woodbury as Miriam Flieschman played an outsider, a New Yorker who came to LA in the 1950s but eventually moved back to Brooklyn. Her story was the most vibrant and unifying in the production, and was also for me the biggest problem of the piece. The trouble was that A Tale of 2Cities was really only about one city. It was a piece about New York, with Los Angeles as a side-note and a gimmick. Los Angeles was painted as a city of strangers and immigrants, a city without culture and politics. And while the displacement of the inhabitants of Chavez Ravine was an event that happened here, the piece never really captured the locals of La Loma or angelinos in general. It's hard for me to explain how exactly this piece failed to capture the spirit or culture of Los Angeles, but it felt written by an outsider, which I suppose it was, though Woodbury has apparently lived here since 1998. This concern doesn't make Tale of 2Cities any less of a piece of wonderful theater, which it was, but it does make it a piece of New York theater rather than LA theater. Not that that's a bad thing.

I hope those of you in New York go to this show and tell me what you think. I'd be curious to hear if and how it felt more or less NY to you than it felt LA to me.

So here's my rant about UCLA Live. I bought a ticket for the first half because Ticketmaster was practically giving them away (thanks for the tip, Frank's Wild Lunch) for $7.50 in handling fees. I then made every attempt to purchase a ticket for the second half through UCLA Live, where I can usually get student tickets for $15-20. If that had worked out, it would have been an excellent value and a delightful day of marathon theater. But no, UCLA Live wouldn't sell me a student ticket. I don't know if it was a problem with the website or if they were sold out (they only offer a very small number of student tickets in the worst seats in the back of the theater) or what, but I couldn't get a ticket for less than $30 and that made me angry, so I didn't buy it, even though 2 full performances for under $40 would have been perfectly reasonable. They made the user experience unpleasant, and that made me decide they wouldn't get my money. I get angry because they do everything possible to demonstrate that they don't actually *want* students in their audiences.

Three Latinas Take the Stage

Rocks in My Salsa. Highways Performance Space. 10/6/06.

While this show was titled "Rocks in My Salsa" by Cristina Nava, what it turned out to be was three shows in one. It featured "The Tales of Calzones Cagados...aka Pretty Pretty Princess" by Sara Guerrero and "When Songleaders Go Bad!!!" by Elizabeth Szekeresh in addition to Nava's piece. This was much more of a Latina New Works Festival curated by Monica Palacios than the show I saw a few weeks ago was a Latino New Works Festival curated by Guillermo Gomez-Peña. All three ladies were energetic and entertaining in this evening of pieces dealing with identity, sexuality, and coming of age as Latina women in Southern California.

The evening began with a lovely introduction by Palacios, who seemed quite committed to this show. I hope I get to see her perform sometime soon, though I understand she's doing more writing and teaching than performing these days.

Sara Guerrero began the first piece aboard her bright red bike. It was a tale of childhood told with wide-eyed innocence and a lot of enthusiasm. There were points when this piece didn't quite hold together, when the stories she was telling were too erratic or the transitions were too rough, but Guerrero's grace and her mobile, expressive face and dramatic gestures carried her through so that the piece ended up being funny and charming.

Elizabeth Szekeresh's "When Songleaders Go Bad!!!" was darker than the first piece, almost painful to watch at points, but darkly funny as well. Szekeresh related her experiences as a young "brown" woman in Huntington Beach (in Orange County) with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. She illustrated both mania and depression in a disturbingly honest portrait in which the rough ride helped to make her point.

Cristina Nava's "Rocks in My Salsa," the final piece in the evening, and the longest and the strongest (it was the one we were there to see, after all), told the story of some of the bumps on the road to becoming the confident, self-accepting actress Crisina is today. It was a piece about learning to assert control over her own sexuality as it intersects with her Latina identity. There are both hilarious and profoundly disturbing moments along the way. The most powerful moment for me was an interlude in which Nava donned some beautiful teal heels and danced. Whether I was right or not, I interpreted this as a salsa dance, giving the play a beautiful double meaning in which the dance becomes a metaphor for the acceptance of herself and her sexuality in this moment of dancing alone (with Guerrero and Szekeresh keeping rythm in the background).

The show overall wasn't perfect. There were moments in each of the pieces in which the rythm or the emphasis weren't quite right. I'd say that each of the performers tried to cover too much ground and occasionally wandered farther from their central theme than I would have liked. I would have liked Nava, whose piece was the most polished, to have told her salsa story (which was in the publicity, so it wasn't a secret) earlier, to expose the organizing framework at the beginning. But these are tiny quibbles in the face of three promising performers. Each of these women is beautiful and talented and I look forward to hearing from them again in the future. I hope they have many more stories to tell.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Things to live for

Bornstein, Kate. Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks & Other Outlaws. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006.

There are many things I care about besides theater. For all of you who are new to this blog, you can expect occasional posts about books and gender and sexuality issues, of which this is both. I also talk about sci-fi, comics, or whatever strikes my fancy.

I didn't immediately recognize this as a book I would be interested in reading. But when I read Susie Bright's interview with Kate Bornstein, I changed my mind. Kate's voice and her approach convinced me that this is a book that I needed to read, even though I've never considered suicide myself. I'm glad I picked this one up.

First of all, I have a particular affinity for Kate Bornstein. I saw her speak at my college a year before I came out, and her talk moved me to tears and inspired some great conversations. I remember sitting on a knowl and processing the talk with two people who are still my friends many years later. So I will always appreciate her for that. I also saw parts of a video of her performance, Hidden: A Gender in a class that year, and it turned me on and excited me in ways I couldn't really explain at the time. It's a fascinating show, and I really wish I could see the whole thing. I read and teach her work whenever possible.

Hello Cruel World is in many ways a self-help book for young people who don't fit in. But it is so many other things as well. It's a simple, abstract approach to self-realization and identity issues, allowing even the most avid queer studies nerds (myself included) to rethink issues of gender, sexuality and many other choices that may not always seem like choices from a fresh perspective.

For a book about suicide, Hello Cruel World is pretty darn fun. It's actually quite whimsical and inspiring. It could easily be called '101 things to do before you die' whether that involves suicide or not. The first half of the book, while important and helpful, were slow going for me. But as soon as I got to the list, the crux of the book, I was delighted. Bornstein offers a brilliant, breezy list of things to do to make your life more tolerable. Many of them are playful ways to experiment with sex, gender, and sexuality and also religion, ideology, and sense of self. It encourages you to rethink and reinvent yourself in fun and managable ways. I love that she included such simple tasks as "Moisturize" and "Bake a Cake" as well as many complex ways of rethinking your entire life philosophy such as "Find a God Who Believes in You." She recommends books, movies, and video games to help in persuing each task. Bornstein seems to understand and speak from the mindset of anyone who conceives of themselves as an outsider, and really, it's not such a bad idea for anyone to approach life from the perspective of an outsider. Some of these options are final resorts, only for those who really need them, but many of them are great ways to improve your life for everyone.

Personally, this book made me want to make a list of things that make me happy, cheer me up when I'm depressed, and keep me alive. My list would put more emphasis on simple pleasures like take a bath, return to an old favorite (book or movie), cry, and laugh. Hello Cruel World's list is a little more sophisticated and a little more diverse, but I don't think making your own list of strategies for survival could ever be a bad idea. The best thing about this book is that it encourages its readers to make art in response to many of the steps in the struggle to survive in a cruel world.

This book is a fun and inspiring read for anyone who ever has been or wanted to be an outsider. Bornstein's only rule is not to hurt other people, and other than that, anything you need to do to survive is fair game, which is in itself a brilliant and very subversive approach to life. They are simple steps for changing the world and the way you look at it, and if we're lucky it will inspire not only survival, but artwork from those with an outsider's perspective on society.

Timing is Everything

Of course, just after I fisnish posting an upcoming season recap, Rude Guerilla actually announces their upcoming season. I'm not going to post it in full here, and it's not on their website yet, though I'm sure it will be soon. But the things that I find interesting are that they're hosting Tim Miller's 1001 Beds; they're doing, among other things, Durrenmatt's The Visit, Chay Yew's A Language of Their Own, The Cradle Will Rock by Marc Blitzstein, and two plays by Edward Bond. As I said before, their play selection always shows a great deal of promise to me, and I would gladly see any of those plays. Of course, I'm not so enthusiastic about San Diego by David Greig, but that's a bit of a one-bitten-twice-shy scenario due to the unbelievably dull production of Pyranees at the Kirk Douglas last season. And The Crucible, which, while politically appropriate, seems like the province of every high school and college theater ever. I've just seen and read it too many times already to be excited about a new production. But has anyone else noticed an awful lot of Arthur Miller this year?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fall Preview: Part 2

I recently posted a preview of the major LA-area theaters and their upcoming seasons. What I left out was the fact that LA has a lot more theater than these major houses. To do effective LA theater coverage, you have to pay attention not only to the major companies, but to bushels of smaller ensembles. Many of these are actor and/or director focused groups that grew up around a group of people getting together and putting on a show. They are often idiosyncratic both in their play selection and their style, although some have more concrete missions than others. They usually occupy 99-seat houses (or smaller) that they rent out when they don't have a show in production. At the best, these ensembles can be groups of hard-working, dedicated theater professionals with a clear purpose and goal, creating and perfecting a vision of theater. At their worst, they can be vanity-driven cliques with no real purpose. Often they are a combination of the two, but there's always good work out there being done by talented, creative, committed people, and it is worth the effort to find it.

I will try to limit myself to only those that are established companies with their own home theaters and a consistent reputation. I haven't seen shows from all of these people, but I will try to explain what I know about them, though that may be hearsay and general impressions. This is a personal list of what's on my radar, and I make no claims to its accuracy or comprehensiveness. Anyone who knows things I've forgotten is welcome to add them in the comments. This has taken a while, but it's also a pretty big endeavor. Bear with me. I'll start with what I know.

East West Players. They should really have gone into my last posting, as they are fairly large and well established. They have a lovely new theater and they do an excellent combination of plays that address Asian and Asian-American issues and well-known mainstream plays. I saw a quite solid Sweeney Todd there last year. Their upcoming season looks reasonably strong. I'm most likely to see Surfing DNA, of which I saw a great reading a few years ago at CTG's now-defunct New Works Festival. I am skeptical about Yellow Face and exactly what kind of deal EWP and its subscribers get for this show "co-produced" with the Taper. Is this one less show in the normal EWP season, and if so, isn't that a loss rather than a gain for the Asian-American theater community?

I had a friend involved with Son of Semele Ensemble for a while, so I'm more familiar with their work than I am with a lot of other companies. They do a lot of bold, often "experimental" work with a postmodern approach to narrative. Their pieces are often visually stunning and creative, though I often feel that their play selection and aesthetic are a bit overly masculine-driven. They haven't announced their 2007 season yet, but I'm excited to see the last show of their 2006 season, Iphigenia Crash Land Falls on the Neon Shell That Was Once Her Heart: A Rave Fable by Caridad Svich. They did a reading of this that disturbed me for its seeming-ignorance of the politics and gender issues of the play, but if they're doing some decent research to back up the full production, it could be a fascinating show.

Company of Angels doesn't have anything announced past Arlington by Garry Michael White, which just finished its run, but they reliably do interesting work and have a tendency toward political issues, so they're a good company to watch.

The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble has a solid season announced, though it has a few empty slots still. They've oddly programmed two backstage dramas, but they both sound interesting. I'm most excited about Paula Vogel's The Oldest Profession, which sounds like fun. Their Threepenny Opera last year was apparently excellent.

A Noise Within is devoted to producing works of "classical dramatic literature" including two Shakespeare plays every year. Their upcoming season doesn't excite me too much, but I will definitely see Joe Orton's Loot, which I love.

The Blank Theatre Company only has two plays in its 2006 season, and is currently mounting the second of those, Hotel C'est l'Amour, which is a world-premiere musical. The company may be most notable for having Noah Wyle as its artistic producer (he seems to be actually heavily involved in the company and not just a name). But famous actors notwithstanding, I was sad to have missed their last show, Lobster Alice, which sounded like good, intelligent fun.

The Celebration Theatre is Los Angeles' Gay and Lesbian Theater, though their 2006/07 season seems to be all gay male at the moment. They just had a turnover in their artistic directors, so it's hard to say what their work will be like, but I'm interested in seeing.

Cornerstone Theater Company is pretty unique in Los Angeles, and quite possibly in the US. They are committed to ensemble work with a multi-ethnic company who does community-based work. They tell the stories of the many communities in Los Angeles in fascinating and creative ways. Their upcoming shows include The Falls at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. Personally, I'm curious about Beyond the Beyond: Gay Futureworld, which is a collaboration with gay youth and seniors. Cornerstone's co-founding artistic director, Bill Rauch, was recently appointed artistic director at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which may be a loss to the LA theater scene, but should be exciting for the theater community in general.

Speaking of loss to the LA theater scene, I feel like I should mention the evidence room, which lost its space and closed its doors this summer. The evidence room did a lot of great work, and I'm hoping that something great manages to rise from the ashes of its closing, but in the meantime, we are suffering from the loss.

I hear good things about Circle X Theater Co., though I've never seen a play there. They generally do solid productions of new plays with the occasional obscure but not new play. They don't seem to want to list upcoming productions on their website, but their next play appears to be Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice, which I will definitely go see. Their myspace page has more information.

Rogue Artists is a company devoted to work with masks, puppets, projections and other creative visual elements. They are currently working on The Victorian Hotel created and written by cartoonist Angus Oblong. It sounds like a fascinating and fun piece, and I'm curious about what they'll do with it. What I'm really excited about, however, is their upcoming production of The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch, based on the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. As a serious Gaiman fan, I can't wait for this.

Theatre of Note doesn't seem to have much information on its upcoming season on its website, but their next play is The Bomba Trilogy: Illumination, F*ckjoy, Darkness by Christopher Kelley. Unfortunately, useful information is tragically lacking on their website, but here's what the LA Times has to say. I haven't been to note in over a year, but one of the plays I saw there was mind-blowingly excellent and another was intelligent, if not perfect. They do a lot of new work that is solid and well-written. Here they are on myspace.

Rude Guerilla Theater Company is a company down in Orange County. I usually like their play selections, though the quality of their productions is hit-or-miss. They tend to do an interesting selection of gay plays each year. Their 2006 season has two more plays in it: Hamletmachine by Heiner Muller and Pale Horse by Joe Penhall. I don't know anything about Pale Horse, but Hamletmachine is a bold and ambitious choice and it will be interesting to see what they do with it.

Sacred Fools Theater Company is making it difficult for me to link to their 10th season, but its most exciting element is Bukowsical, a musical based (loosely) on the life and works of Charles Bukowski. They did this as a late-night production last year, and it got great reviews. I should totally go see it.

Third Stage Theatre seems to exist mostly to be home to work by writer/director Justin Tanner, most notable for the productions Pot Mom (in which Laurie Metcalf performed) and Zombie Attack. His work is wacky, campy, and just plain fun. They're not doing anything right now, but when they do it's worth seeing.

The Attic Theatre and Film Center occasionally does some interesting shows. They are doing Closer right now. Their website is infuriating, so I'm not going to spend much time and effort on them.

I don't know anything about The Road Theatre Company, but right now they're doing Dirk, an adaptation of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, which is awesome.

OK, these are the companies that have come to mind at the moment. I'm sure I left out many deserving recognition, but there are some exciting things going on here in LA theater.