Take Me To The Poorhouse

This weekend you could go to a movie or spend less money and support the arts.  I’m pretty sure this is a no-brainer.  It’s time for the Hollywood Fringe Festival where for around $10 a ticket you get theater!  The Hollywood Fringe Festival is an annual celebration of the emerging arts, and this year I’m so proud of my very talented friend Sara Fenton, who is executive producer and assistant director of a one-woman show playing now during the Fringe.

fringe_2013

Performed by brilliant actress and writer Liz Femi and directed by Jane Morris, Take Me To The Poorhouse is a comedy about Lizzie, a middle-class Nigerian third grader who dreams of becoming poor to win the heart of her popular classmate.  I was lucky enough to see this funny yet emotive show in both its budding stages in Sara’s back yard last summer, and in full bloom at the press preview night held last week at the Lounge Theater.  The funny commentary and observations from this adorable little girl living in the rich Nigerian culture during the turbulent 80s reminded me of my own childhood, my own recollection of the 80s, and the often misled conclusions children draw about love, money, adults and life.  I love this show and highly recommend you check it out if you are able to make it out LA. The show is running this month from June 8 thru June 28.

mainart About the show from the website: Told through Lizzie’s perspective, we meet a charming 72 year old “African Matlock”, tackle Voltron (defender of the universe), experiment with Jerry curls, discover a local cook who serves “secret delights of a cow”, and reluctantly befriend a headstrong 7 year old suitor with an over-confident lisp.

Inspired by true events, this “upside-down Cinderella story” is a children’s story for adults – witty and wise, hilarious and heartfelt. Audiences are offered a fresh glimpse of African life as they are introduced to a girl eager to reject herself in to order to feel like she belongs.

Hollywood is home to dozens of Los Angeles’ premiere theaters and clubs, making it the perfect spot for the festival. The neighborhood has always been a source of unapologetic opinion, underground mentality, and a deep passion for the cutting-edge. The Hollywood Fringe is an immersive festival worthy of the neighborhood’s reputation.*

The Festival takes place June 13 – June 30, 2013, although this show premieres earlier on June 8th.

Take Me To The Poorhouse is playing at the Lounge Theater located at 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., 90038.  Click here for tickets or more information.  Call up your friends and experience one of the many reasons I love LA.  Now hurry up and go see this show!!

*From Yelper Katie B.’s Fringe event invite.

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Stroke Of Luck?

Last week I received this email:

Dear EV Applicant,

Thank you for applying for the 2012 Fellowship.  We regret we are unable to offer you a place in the 2012 Fellowship.

There were an overwhelming number of applicants and unfortunately, a very limited number of spots available for fellows.  We wish you the best of luck in the future.

Thank you,

Libby Flores, Program Manager

So that happened.
Rejection stings even when you expect it and even when you know you are better off in the long run.  Still, my ego goes into defensive mode over how they could pass over my genius!  And I can’t help but wonder, did Libs over there even read my material? I mean she couldn’t even be bothered with using my name in the generic mass email she sent out!  Excuse me while I go and rock myself in the corner for a few minutes.
Ok, I’m back.  It is actually easy for me to channel my homie the Dalai Lama and remember that sometimes, not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.  Life has taught me that lesson many times, believe me.  Right now this graduate program takes up most of my time. If I were to be completely honest, its a good thing I was not accepted because I would have probably been a flakey fellow and a flakey student, which is not doing myself or either program service.  In addition, schoolwork takes up about 90% of my free time, leaving 10% to be divided between me-time, family, friends, and fun.  Being accepted would have really squeezed me…
** I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to my loved ones for my absence.  I promise I’ll see you after Dec. 5th!
It sucks, but this is what I’m doing right now, and even though I feel like this:

I know that nothing worth doing is easy, good things happen in their own time and in the words of Nelson Mandela, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.”  When I finish grad school in two years, maybe I will apply for the fellowship again.  By then my writing should have significantly improved and I’ll be better prepared in more ways than one.  For now I’m still proud of myself for putting it out there.  Getting turned down wasn’t so bad! Plus it solidifies my place as a struggling artist, putting me in some really great company.  Yay.

Despite my current circumstances, I have managed to fit in a little fun this month.  The Hollywood Bowl is one of my favorite music venues and I heart Florence and the Machine, so when my friend and fellow artist sent me a text the day before the concert asking me if I wanted to go, I blew off my school work and said hell yes!  What can I say? Old habits die hard.  It was awesome.  Florence Welch is beyond beautiful…

The music of Florence and the Machine has an ethereal quality to it, a sort of bravery that pulses through to the audience. Her songs are like a shot of courage and I believe this is why I find her music so healing.  Her band rocked it.  Songs were performed from both albums, Lungs and Ceremonials.  There were no costume changes, just her gorgeous art deco style dress that looked stunning on her.  She dazzled the crowd with her sprinting and spinning, her bright red hair dancing right along with her.  She was like poetry and that night, the entire Hollywood Bowl was under her spell.  At the end of the show I was left clutching my heart feeling high and valiant.  My friend and I both had tears in our eyes.  She said it best when she turned to me and said,  “That was epic.”

For you culture vultures, I have a VERY worthy recommendation.  Seminar is a hilarious and inspiring play showing now at the Ahmanson.  I have two friends (not related) who went to New York just to see this play earlier this year.  Luckily, it’s on tour now and is visiting LA until November 18th.  The play is about four young writers taking a seminar with a master writer who is actually a douche bag professor type, brilliantly played by Jeff Goldblum.  I can’t say enough good things about this show.  I love love loved it!  But then again, I’m a writer, and every writer will love this play.  But don’t get me wrong, it’s not just for writers! Everyone can appreciate the funny twists the story takes and relate to the struggles of finding affordable housing in New York, dealing with unemployment, facing fears, vulnerability, love, loneliness, mentorship, finding your self and following your dreams.  If you are in LA, go see this play.  Find discount tickets at Goldstar. You will love it.  Trust.

Ok, back to my mid-terms…  xo Dre

Art in the city…

Some of the reasons to love LA are the endless options for art in the city. As an L.A. culture vulture, I’m often found in the audience of a concert, show, private screening, performance or whatever piques my interests. Lately, I’ve seen some really great stuff…

My friend T. is from Boston. She is a television writer by trade and wine snob by hobby. I love her company and the clever things she says that give me plenty to giggle about long after I’ve gone home or hung up the phone. Last month, she invited me to see a play called Good People, written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, David-Lindsay Abaire. The play was about a woman from South Boston (played by Jane Kaczmarek, the mom from Malcolm in the Middle) who can’t catch a break. Good People was playing at Santa Monica’s Geffen Theater. We caught one the last shows. It was phenomenal. The acting and the writing were genius in this play about whether opportunity is granted or earned. It was funny and totally brill. I loved it, and even noticed T’s Boston accent made an appearance on the drive home.

I spent a really lovely Mother’s Day afternoon at The Pasadena Playhouse. My mom, sister, brother-in-law, and I went to see a play called The Heiress, starring Richard Chamberlin (the priest from The Thorn Birds), and Young and the Restless star, Heather Tom. Set in the 1850s, The Heiress is a story that proves even back then, revenge is a dish best served cold. In my opinion, the hopeless romantic and matchmaking aunt stole the show from the head-lining stars, but everyone executed their part well. I loved this play, even with its predictable but still delicious ending.

Next, my friend R. invited me to a play put on by Corner Stone Theater Company called Café Vida. We met up in downtown LA for this play about a chola / addict / x-con trying to restart her newly sober life after prison and addiction. It was honest and horrifying, yet really funny in the way humor offers comfort and softens the face of abuse, scarcity and the pain of rebirth. The best part of the play for me was the amazing singer who accompanied the heroine on her journey, narrating her thoughts and feelings by belting out songs like 18 with a bullet and Daddy’s Home. Orale homes, this was a great show

In LA, seeing art by accident is easy and always a pleasant surprise. The other day in Silverlake, attached to a little gift shop called Dust Muffin, my friend S. and I found The Gallery at 3517 W. Sunset Blvd, a cute hidden little art gallery tucked in a nook at the back of the shop. On display was the morbid yet enchanting tiny replica world of Catherine Coan’s Canary Suicides. Her website explains, “Catherine Coan’s Canary Suicides are meditations on captivity, miniature embodiment, the pet as fetish, and the relationship between death and delight.” Each little cage is a miniature replica of a suicide scene complete with a real dead canary, some tiny money, a tiny suicide note, a pet owned by the canary, and other unique surprises. It was magical and gross, beautiful and horrifying, and definitely delightful all at once. For the record, all canaries used died of natural causes. This exhibit is highly recommended for anyone with a dark sense of humor and appreciation for the amazing skill, vision, and talent it took to create this teensy and creative exhibition.


Finally, I attended the LA Opera to see La Boheme. I have to say that I’ve wanted to see La Boheme since the mid 90s when I saw RENT for the first time and learned that Giacomo Puccini’s romantic masterpiece set in Paris around 1830, was the original inspiration for the show . I loved Rent and put La Boheme on my ‘to see’ list way back then, however it was better than I could have dreamed. Poetic, timeless and romantic, it literally made my heart flutter. It was dazzling. By the end I was balling. While I didn’t exactly do the ugly cry, I had to muffle my sobs for sure. Cheers to the Music Center and LA Opera for bringing such a jewel to our city. Now La Boheme is on my ‘to see again’ list.

While I’m happy to share my experiences with you, the real reason for this post is to inspire you to experience all of the art that is within your reach. This includes those of you not in LA. Where ever you are, keep your eye out for summer concerts, community theater, large-scale productions, art exhibits, and various performances going on in your city. Support the arts in your community and don’t let finances be an excuse to limit your culture seeking. Many exhibits and shows are free or by donation. This summer venture out and celebrate the Muse. She is alive all around you…

For the culture seekers in LA, I leave you with a small list to inspire your quest… Enjoy! xo

DTLA Art Walk

First Fridays on Abbot Kinney

LACMA

The Getty

The Hollywood Bowl

Sawdust Festival

The Greek Theater

The Pasadena Play House

The Art Crawl

Los Angeles Summer Festivals

Los Angeles Art Gallery Guide