Through a theatrical coincidence, Kentwood Players and Cornerstone Theater Company are both working to positively influence an otherwise overlooked community on Skid Row through their support of the Los Angeles Mission this holiday season. Both companies believe art has the power to change the lives of people who need it the most and are using the power of live theater to bring the holiday spirit to LA’s Skid Row.
Now in their 27th year of producing community-engaged theater, nationally-renowned Cornerstone Theater Company presents the world premiere of “Love on San Pedro” which recounts an unlikely love story set in Skid Row, downtown Los Angeles. “Love on San Pedro” sheds light on a neighborhood that lies in stark contrast to the city’s glitzy image. It’s the “invisible” Los Angeles where homelessness is the norm and poverty, substance abuse and mental illness exist in startling numbers. Written by James McManus and directed by Shishir Kurup, “Love on San Pedro” is showing at Los Angeles Mission, where the gymnasium is being transformed into a fully functioning theater. It runs Wednesdays through Sundays, November 7 to November 24, 2013.
“Love on San Pedro” takes place in Skid Row’s one square mile community, where artists rub shoulders with lawyers, pastors, social workers and b-ball players. Playwright James McManus’ searing language takes audiences from the benches of San Julian Park to the walls of an intimate apartment and a raucous karaoke hall. Among the true-to-life characters is Marjorie, world-weary and cynical in the face of love. But when she’s wooed by Skyhook, a man whose hope and hoop-shots know no bounds, her world – and our expectations – open up in surprising ways.
The play is part of The Hunger Cycle, a nine-play series about hunger, justice and food equity issues and involving hundreds of residents from across the city and state. Of the 26 actors in “Love on San Pedro” there are four professional actors and 22 community members. The majority of the community actors reside in Skid Row and are experiencing being onstage for the first time.
Although the area of Skid Row doesn’t have any official boundary lines, it is roughly identified as a fifty-block sector bounded by Main St (west), Third St. (north), Alameda St. (east) and Seventh St. (south). According to the most recent census data, the population of Skid Row ranges from 8,000 to 11,000 people, about 2,500 of whom are homeless. There are over 100 social services within the neighborhood, with services ranging from housing, food and medical to job training.
Cornerstone spent over a year developing the play through personal interviews and story circles facilitated by Skid Row-based leaders and organizations including Downtown Women’s Center, Lamp Community, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Los Angeles Mission, and Skid Row Housing Trust.
“I’m thrilled to invite Angelenos to experience this unique act of storytelling and creation,” said Michael John Garcés, Cornerstone Theater Company Artistic Director, “Contrary to its public image, Skid Row is a vibrant, dynamic and politically active community, home to a deeply creative pool of poets, musicians, graphic artists and many others. The opportunity to contribute to this rich cultural landscape is an honor we’re thrilled to share with audiences.”
“Love on San Pedro” runs through November 24, 2013. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6:00 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm. Los Angeles Mission is located at 303 E 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Parking will be at Downtown Women’s Center (442 South San Pedro St.) with a shuttle and walking guides to escort patrons to the venue.
Tickets are Pay-What-You-Can and available online at www.CornerstoneTheater.org.
Kentwood Players is an all-volunteer, 64-year-old and going strong community theater group based at the Westchester Playhouse near LAX. They are presenting the beloved American holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” by Joe Landry from Friday, November 8 through Saturday, December 14, 2013 for a six-week run on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm with Sunday matinees at 2:00pm at the Westchester Playhouse, located at 8301 Hindry Avenue, Westchester, CA 90045. The production is directed by Gypsy Foster and produced by Vada Foster and Alison Mattiza by special arrangement with Playscripts Inc.
This beloved American holiday classic comes to life as a live 1940’s radio broadcast, set on the stage and auditorium of Studio A at WBFR in Manhattan, New York on Christmas Eve, 1946. With the help of an ensemble that brings a few dozen characters to the stage, the story of George Bailey unfolds as he considers ending his life one fateful Christmas Eve. Luckily the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Oddbody, shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community would be had he never been born. The production is appropriate for all age groups, so bring the entire family and enjoy this heart-warming holiday story together.
Featured in the cast are Samantha Barrios, Patricia Butler, Terry Delegeane, Vada Foster, Ben Lupejkis, Lori Marple-Pereslete, Colleen Okida, Roy Okida, Dave Parke, Darryl Maximilian Robinson and Jim Witoszynski.
And here’s the happy coincidence: A special Kentwood Kares holiday discount of $2.00 will also be available at the box office on regular price tickets when you bring in a new or gently used coat or jacket which Kentwood Players will donate to the Los Angeles Mission in Downtown Los Angeles, a group caring for those down on their luck and in need of a warm coat or jacket this winter. This is the same place where the Cornerstone Theater Company is presenting “Love on San Pedro.”
Kathy Dershimer, Kentwood Players Board of Directors Secretary, proposed the donation/discount offer to the Los Angeles Mission as a way for Kentwood Players to lend a hand to those in need in our city, just as George Bailey lends a hand to those down on their luck in Bedford Falls during “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.”
Tickets are $18.00 with a $2.00 discount for seniors, students, servicemen, Metro riders who present their tap card when purchasing full price tickets at the box office, and those bringing in a new or gently used coat or jacket to be donated to the Los Angeles Mission.
To purchase tickets for “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” by phone, please call (310) 645-5156 during box office hours, Wednesday through Saturday from 4:00-7:00pm. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express accepted. You may also purchase tickets online at www.kentwoodplayers.org. For group ticket sales, please call the box office or Lori Marple-Pereslete at (310) 216-9094.