Monday, April 20, 2009

Courtside theatre

Twice in the last week I've come this close to getting a black eye from a stranger. Whether it's Lamar Odom, Kobe Bryant or David Heckel, I keep getting seats right in the middle of the action.

My voyeuristic wish to see inside other peoples' lives came true on Caroline's birthday last night. Not only being extremely close to an intimate portrayal of a couple unraveling in front of family and friends, but literally to sit and judge a stranger's living room and kitchen.


(Where all the action took place, except for 3 mad dashes stage left for kitchen scenes.)

According the the producer's note in the program, the Chalk Repertory Theatre was founded with the "mission of producing classical and contemporary plays in unconventional spaces." (Their first was "Three Sisters" at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, my favorite venue for outdoor summer movies.) They felt that the play "Family Planning" was perfect for the intimate setting of a real living room. From the moment the boisterous and LOUD character Rosen burst in the front door (immediately to my left) to 70 minutes later when he appeared ready to brawl with best friend Hamish (even more immediately to my left -- I crossed my legs and withheld the impulse to mediate), to a few trips to the couples' kitchen, we were closed in, suffocating alongside the intense drama.


(Caroline waiting for the play to begin.)

The company travels to different homes each weekend, changing the play and some of the tone based on the set they are in. Last night we were in a home in Melrose Hill, a hidden neighborhood southwest of Santa Monica and Western, that is filled with California bungalows and Craftsman homes, most built between 1911 and 1926. The interior of the house we were in had been totally remodeled, and I wished we could put on a play in some of the neighboring homes. There were old growth grapefruit trees in yards, people walking their dogs and the smell of spring plants in bloom.


One of the other homes in the Melrose Hill neighborhood -- preservation.lacity.org

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