Community Theater for the Community

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I don’t get out to the theater much; but, when I do, of course I hope it will be a treat. I’ll tell you what; you really couldn’t do better than to grab your last chance this weekend to take in the wistful-sweet “Sábado Mornings” at the Studio/Stage theater on Western Avenue in Hollywood. I heard about the play from a special invitation from director Melvin Ishmael Johnson and House Manager Earlean Anthony back in April when the show was in previews.

Melvin is a tireless creative powerhouse. He hosts the Quamran Report, which aired for over two hundred segments at Skid Row Studios in downtown Los Angeles. Skid Row is a community radio station that features stories affecting our diverse communities and especially in downtown. It encourages community participation in producing news, politics and culture. Their motto is “Where Anyone Can Do Radio.” Tune in now to check out a discussion on the state of community theater on the last segment of the Quamran Report at Skid Row. It features one of the actors from “Sábado Mornings.” Meanwhile, I’ll keep everyone posted on what’s happening at Skid Row as well as where the Quamran Report is headed next.

Melvin is also a playwright, a community activist and the founder of Veterans Community Theater Workshop. I’d been wanting to see Melvin’s work for a few years now. On Sunday, about an hour prior to curtain, I was working on my one woman show when I got a call from a writer/director friend reminding me about the performance. It was a lickity split decision. I said to myself, “Damn! The time is now!” Out the door I went.

The theater is a small, intimate affair – perfect for the poignant story of Eddie and Rosa played beautifully by Jonaton Wyne and Judith E. Ex LAPD cop Eddie is dealing with his demons when he meets Mexican-American immigrant Rosa, the shy but strong waitress who has some secrets of her own. I really don’t want to say too much about the show because it unfolds so beautifully and anyway I’m not a theater critic. Let’s just say, SEE IT!

There’s plenty of fun to be had both before and after the play with the friendly folks running the show. Prior to the taking our seats, we had a nice glass of red wine…

ORGANIC AND FROM FRANCE, I MIGHT ADD…

… a nice touch, not to mention the delicious tamales on offer at the end of the show.

DIRECT FROM MAMA’S HOT TAMALES!

Mama’s is a not for profit collective where you can sample tamales of various styles from several different countries. Until you know the difference between a Mexican tamale and a Salvadorean tamale, well, you really haven’t lived!

ONE TAMALE, TWO TAMALE…

There were one tamale and two tamale plates, with rice and beans. The one tamale plate was just six bucks and plenty for me – mighty tasty too, as was the stream of jokes from an actor named Isaac who was in attendance.

If you’re lucky, Isaac will be there again, passing out jokes in abundance. But you won’t need any luck to catch the memorable performances of Judith and Jonaton in “Sábado Mornings” and to chat with the creative duo Melvin Johnson and Earlean Anthony. Enjoy!

NEED TO KNOW:

Studio/Stage Theater

520 N. Western Ave.

between Clinton St. and Maplewood Ave.

For more information: 213-908-5032

Tickets are $24 General Admission; $15 for Seniors/Students/Military

Friday, May 13 – 8 pm

Saturday, May 14, 8 pm

Sunday , May 15, 5 pm

 

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A WORLD OF IMAGINATION: FREE OF CHARGE

One of my favorite places in the whole city is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A few days ago, I decided it was high time to spell out all the awesome deals on offer there. I’m not gonna lie, I was thinking I knew most everything there was to know about all that‘s available; but, I wanted to make sure. So, I met with Tim Digan, Director of Guest Services at LACMA.  Turns out I didn’t know the half of it.

I covered the Latin Sounds Music Series right here on Deals and Discounts. Many of you already know about the smokin’ jazz on Fridays and chamber music on Sundays — all with no dollars required.

They’ve also got a film series running year round in conjunction with Film Independent and the New York Times. Tickets for the general public range from free to $10 and free to $5 for LACMA members. The series includes new releases, classics, documentaries, and discussions with filmmakers. Sweet! You can purchase the entire film series as an add-on to membership for $50 for the whole year.

A Basic LACMA membership runs $90 for two, with an Indie Membership for singles at $50. Students pay only $25 annually. The museum offers several opportunities to take in the exhibits at no cost. Los Angeles residents can enter free from 3 to 5 pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and from 3 to 8 pm on Fridays. Anyone can get in free on the second Tuesday of the month and that deal goes all the live long day. Target Free Holiday Mondays, sponsored the program’s namesake, gets you in free on any Monday that is also a federal holiday.

Guest artists and lecturers visit the campus often, presenting talks on all manner of interesting subjects, often for free. Go to (link- LACMA Calendar) – http://www.lacma.org/visit/calendar where you can click on any day and scroll through all the good stuff happening on that day.

The campus itself is truly a gem. Aside from the exhibits inside the museum itself, there is so much more to see. The grounds are absolutely beautiful. There’s plenty of lawn and trees, as well as ongoing outdoor art. Folks can go and have a picnic or just sit and read. There are several eateries, ranging in  price and free wi-fi is campus-wide.

LACMA is a great place for kids. In fact, there are over twice as many kid members as adults. The Arts for NextGen Program caters to these young members like nobody’s business. The program offers free entrance for anyone 18 or under as well as one accompanying adult.

On any given day, the Boone Children’s Gallery is abuzz with kids trying their hand at creating art. Upon arrival, kids receive a basic instruction on art making and then dive in. They are welcome to use as many materials as they wish and it is all free. Budding artists can take their creations home or leave them for display in the gallery. The walls are lined with the colorful creations of those who’ve come to enjoy this experience.

LACMA hosts dozens of special events. Guests of all ages will no doubt enjoy the KCRW Good Food Pie Contest coming up this Saturday. Last year, some 2,000 people attended this free event where celebrity judges pick the best pies. You can sample the pies and judge for yourself and you can even enter the contest for a $15 entry fee. If you wear your apron, you’ll not only look cute, you’ll also get free general admission. Delicious!

As if all this wasn’t enough, Tim let me in on a couple of little-known happenings going on at the museum. Seems there’s a real nifty gathering that takes place at Dagny Corcoran’s Art Catalogues Bookstore. When scheduled, it takes place on a Sunday at 4 pm in the Ahmanson building on Level 1. This salon-like artists’ dialog and reception is on the cutting edge in the city, with guests such as  John Baldessari and Jarrett Gregory. For now, it is absolutely free.

Another little known gem is the opening receptions that take place in the Art Rental and Sales Gallery. Here, the work of a juried selection of emerging Southern California artists is featured on a Saturday evening from 5 to 7 pm. You can rub elbows with the artists themselves and ask them about the source of their inspiration. All pieces are available for purchase or rent. Apparently this event has been going on since the 1950’s and has remained a primary source of fundraising for the museum. Keep an eye on the Calendar at the website to catch these groovy events.

For my money, I say LACMA is really something special. In these hard times, it’s good to find a place where a person can enjoy the gift of human expression in all its many forms — without paying an arm and a leg.

NEED TO KNOW:

Los Angeles County Museum of Art  5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90036 (map) http://goo.gl/maps/YgHvA

LACMA is open every day except Wednesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas

Hours:  Monday 11 am–5 pm Tuesday 11 am–5 pm Wednesday Closed Thursday 11 am–5 pm Friday 11 am–8 pm Saturday 10 am–7 pm Sunday 10 am–7 pm

General Admission Tickets

A one-day pass to LACMA’s galleries and exhibitions, excluding specially ticketed shows

Members Free

Under 18 Free

Seniors & Students $10

Groups of 10+ $12

All other guests $15

Parking: LACMA’s lot is accessible from 6th Street and is not a deal at $10. Parking is free after 7 pm. There is plenty of metered street parking in the area as well as a lot of free street parking. Do observe “Permit Only” signage, as it is in abundance, but not everywhere.

(web) www.lacma.org

GEM OF THE CITY: THE LOS ANGELES PUBLIC LIBRARY

Photo credit: Taken from the Mexican Revolution Exhibit running now through February 2013 at the Los Angeles Central Library

Our public library is really such a darn good deal, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So, I decided to make a series of videos called Gem of the City: The Los Angeles Public Library. Because of its beauty and its vast collection of activities and material, I wanted to feature the Central Library especially. I made up my mind I was going to find out everything there was to know about the library from an expert. So, I arranged an appointment with a librarian with the help of the LAPL’s public relations specialist, Brenda Breaux.

Boy, it was hotter than Hades yesterday when my cameraman and I ventured on downtown to our destination. My air conditioning is out in my car and I have to tell you, when I stepped across that threshold into the library, I was relieved! I’d say another perk for hanging out at the library during these sweltering days is the air conditioning!

When we got there, we were delighted to find that we actually had an appointment with the acting director of the Central Library, Ms. Giovanna Mannino. She knows just about everything there is to know about the library; and, she filled us in on all of it during our stay.

While we were there, we saw three exhibits the library has on display right now. The first was “Treasures of Los Angeles,” which is ongoing in the Annenberg Gallery and contains part of a larger Hollywood exhibit that is on display at the Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Branch. Next we took a peek at “A Nation Emerges: The Mexican Revolution Revealed,” and “As the City Grew: Historical Maps of Los Angeles.”

All in all, it was a fun and educational afternoon. You’ll find out all about it by watching the videos! It was also free. We did have to pay for the parking: $9 for a little over two hours. If you really want to spend some time at the Central Library, I would recommend taking the train. The Metro Blue Line and Metro Red Line both have stops near the library. You can walk just a few blocks. It’s fun, especially if you ever lived in New York City. You can pretend you are back there for a minute.

I hope readers enjoy this series on our public library and continue to support the library and all of the wonderful and vitally needed resources it provides in these hard times.

NEED TO KNOW:

Central Library  630 W. 5th Street, 90071 (map) http://goo.gl/maps/8RmnZ

Phone: 213-228-7000Hours: Mon. 10-5:30, Tue. 10-8, Wed. 10-5:30, Thu. 10-8, Fri. 10-5:30, Sat. 10-5:30, Sun. Closed

Validated Parking Rates

$1.00 for 1st hour (or portion thereof) $1.00
$4.00 for 2nd hour (or portion thereof) $5.00
$4.00 for 3rd hour (or portion thereof) $9.00
$4.15 including tax per 10 minutes thereafter $37.60 Maximum including tax
Cars entering after 3:00 p.m. (until Library Closing) $1.00 Flat rate
Saturday (10 a.m. – 6 p.m.) $1.00 Flat rate

Link

Duane Paul Showing at Wallspace.

Click on this link to my column, Deals and Discounts at City Watch LA to find a video interview I did with Valda Lake of Wallspace. The gallery, located at 607 N. La Brea in Los Angeles will be hosting an artists’ opening reception in conjunction with the LACMA Artwalk this Saturday. Hours run from noon til closing and the reception will take place from 7 to 10 p.m.

The summer show will feature new works by Duane Paul and Somsara Reilly, as well as some 300 pieces by 50 artists working with various mediums including photography.

Food for the soul at Wallspace on La Brea.