Seven Spots on the Sun: video preview

Seven Spots on the Sun, by Martin Zimmerman from Boston Court on Vimeo.

Review Rundown: Seven Spots on the Sun

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wpid-x9.png.pagespeed.ic_.ijr6gp7skw.pngThe West Coast premiere of playwright Martín Zimmerman’s involving SEVEN SPOTS ON THE SUN receives a splendid, mesmerizing mounting with all the artistic elements artfully converging into one of the best and riveting theatrical experience I’ve seen in the Los Angeles theatre scene this year.

Click here to read the entire review.

wpid-cropped-header22.jpgNow at The Theatre at Boston Court in Pasadena, “Seven Spots” proves riveting and wrenching as it explores the motives and consequences of the terrifying conflicts, which have afflicted, in this case, an unnamed Latin American country. Here, as in the real El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru or Colombia, villages change hands multiple times, with each side punishing those who aided the other one, and brutal tests of fear which harm mostly those whose compassion drives them.

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paulmyrvoldMartín Zimmerman’s extraordinary play “Seven Spots on the Sun” draws upon some of the most ancient theatrical devices to tell a complex, profoundly emotional tale of honor and love, as well as cruelty and horror set in a small Central American village suffering through a brutal civil war. Three actors collectively called The Town (Daniel Penilla,Dianna Aguilar and Michael Uribes) call to mind a Greek chorus as they join with the rest of the cast in choral speech, dance and rhythmic drumming at critical points in the play, beating their fists on the high, curved corrugated steel wall that forms the scenic background of the production.

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wpid-latimes.gifMartín Zimmerman’s play “Seven Spots on the Sun,” now in its West Coast premiere at the Theatre @ Boston Court, dramatizes the effects of civil war on a village called San Isidro in an unidentified Latin American country. The setting is allegorical rather than naturalistic: We never learn who is fighting whom, or what either side hopes to accomplish. War is simply the environment that these characters occupy and, we learn, helplessly perpetuate.

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la_weekly_logo_265x70The atrocities of war are not confined to battlefields. It’s trite but true: War changes a man, and Seven Spots on the Sun, now playing at the Theatre@Boston Court, examines what that means, both for the men at war and those who witness the effects.

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stagescene_wowZimmerman’s script has a poetic quality too (see paragraph three) that makes it particularly apt for a stage production (with just enough español to give it sabor latino without confusing non-Spanish speakers). Bits of magical realism are scattered throughout as well, with Tom Ontiveros’s dramatically animated video design adding moments that are both magic and real. Performances could not be finer.

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SHIV: Review Rundown

wpid-latimes.gifCRITIC’S CHOICE Riffing on a modern-day incarnation of the goddess Shiva, this subtly crafted portrait of a Hindu immigrant girl’s coming-of-age in her new American homeland shapes seemingly unrelated narrative fragments into a poetic, often humorous and ultimately profound journey of self-discovery, metaphorically mapped to the wonders and terrors of space exploration.

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sangabrielvalleytribune“Shiv” is given a sensuous, mesmerizing and thoroughly thought-provoking production at The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena, playing through Aug. 9. Those daring to see it should be prepared to think, feel, and reflect on whatever part of life’s path one is currently treading.

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the stage struck reviewAt a time when the entire concept of white privilege is under a microscope, it becomes especially fascinating to explore the larger concepts of European/American imperialism and what that process has done to the world we now live in. Most particularly, what has been lost as several centuries of the practice interfered with the natural self-development of the peoples of the earth. Which proves foundational to Aditi Brennan Kapil’s “Shiv,” now receiving its west coast premiere run at The Theatre @ Boston Court. As the best introspective plays often are, this tale can be approached on a number of levels, but at its core it examines what is left behind when foundational cultures clash with dominant ones. It does so through the engaging story of one immigrant family from India.

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wpid-x9.png.pagespeed.ic_.ijr6gp7skw.pngThe west coast premiere of Aditi Brennan Kapil’sShiv receives a simply gorgeous mounting at the Theatre @ Boston Court. Amazing just how far, with the proper elements, your imagination will allow you to go. Shiv relays the story of a young south asian woman transplanted from her homeland to Skoie, Illinois. Monika Jolly embodies this title character, easily convincing us that she’s in her twenties (presently) or in her teens (in the many flashbacks) as she attempts to come to grips with her puzzling relationship with her recently departed father Bapu.

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paulmyrvoldShiv, by Aditi Brennan Kapali, is a complex, fascinating, time bending fantasy that weaves in and out of conventional time and space, taking place in the present, the past, and in physical and imagined realities of Shiv and Bapu drawing inspiration from Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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robstevensYou gradually come to realize that the scenes with her father, Bapu (Dileep Rao), take place when she was a child and the family had newly emigrated from India to Skokie, Illinois. Her father was a well- respected poet in his homeland but his attempts to translate his work into English and to write original poems in English only resulted in failure and disappointment. But Shiv adored her father and lovingly recalls their adventures together and his fantastical story-telling.

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awesometheatreblogAditi Brennan Kapil’s play Shiv, playing now at The Theatre @ Boston Court takes the idea of this self discovery, and places it in a surreal, post-colonial, post-modernist setting. It gently dances with the themes of loss, identity, and culture while maintaining the narrative of a beautifully nuanced relationship drama between a father and daughter.

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stage and cinema logoIn her play Shiv, the third part of an immigrant-experience trilogy first workshopped in 2013, Aditi Brennan Kapil writes of a character (played by Monika Jolly) named after a Hindu god most widely known as an agent of destruction. The girl’s troubled relationship with her poet father, and her subsequent involvement with a family that contributed to his downfall, are presented as illustrations of the post-colonial Indian diaspora in the West.

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la-weekly-logoThe play freely collapses Shiv’s idolizing childhood memories of Bapu (Dileep Rao), her beloved immigrant Punjabi-poet dad (based on Kapil’s real-life father), with scenes charting the curiously charmless romance between the adult Shiv and the grandson (James Wagner) of the patrician publisher (Leonard Kelly-Young) she blames for Bapu’s dissolute fall from grace.

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SHIV: Production photography

Photo credit: Ed Krieger

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My Barking Dog: Review rundown

onstagelosangelesThis is a tough ‘two hander’ (plus one) that offers a challenge for the actors as well as for the audience. Leave your expectations at home and come to Pasadena to see something just a little bit different.  Truly, Fantastic.

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la_weekly_logo_265x70Like Taste, Benjamin Brand’s recent play about a man driven to devour his own flesh, My Barking Dog by Eric Coble shocks and surprises, and in a most brilliant and entertaining way. Commencing as a portrait of two alienated souls, it builds beyond that initial rendering into a grim but droll commentary on our culture’s chilly dystopian values. Along the way it examines the macabre extremes to which alienation can spur the humblest and most vulnerable people.

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wpid-latimes.gifDirector Michael Michetti’s clarity and focus leave no doubt about the extent of both characters’ comically antisocial repression, though the alternating monologue format of the script’s first third poses a pacing challenge. The piece finds surer footing when Melinda and Toby finally meet as a result of the play’s unseen but transformative third character — a coyote foraging for food on their porches.

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sangabrielvalleytribuneAnd my, oh my, do those natures come out in full force as director Michael Michetti shepherds visible mankind and invisible beasts into this vivid but unimaginable world. His work with his actors is psychologically deep, bringing out truths about human nature. Michetti’s stagecraft, too, is fabulously imaginative. In collaboration with scenic designer Tom Buderwitz, lighting and video designer Tom Ontiveros and sound designer John Zalewski, Michetti cracks open the stage, the characters’ psyches and the audience’s minds.

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wpid-x9.png.pagespeed.ic_.ijr6gp7skw.pngPlaywright Eric Coble receives an incredibly superlative mounting of his smart, witty, theatre of absurd-esque My Barking Dog at the Theatre @ Boston Court. The Theatre’s Co-Artistic Director, Michael Michetti skillfully directs his two brilliant actors (Ed F. Martin and Michelle Azar) in a streamlined, no-fat depiction of two lonely souls possibly finding their ultimate purpose in life. In lesser hands, Coble’s very tricky piece– mundane, but realistically interesting, then slipping over to totally preposterous sci-fi– would be much less effective as an entertainment vehicle.

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stagesceneladotcom2Spectacular indeed are the surprises that scenic designer Tom Buderwitz’s initially stark urban set has in store (and which production stills purposely avoid spoiling). Spectacular too is sound designer John Zalewski’s mix of city and desert sounds coupled with that distinctive, tension-building “Zalewski hum.” Tom Ontiveros’s lighting and video design is equally striking, with Garry Lennon’s just-right costumes revealing much about Tony and Melinda and they journey each embarks upon. And there are some fabulous “body makeup effects” as well.

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My Barking Dog

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Statement re: AEA’s proposal

photoBoston Court Performing Arts Center has been closely following the statements and discussions surrounding AEA’s recent proposal to its membership for a new promulgated agreement to replace the AEA Los Angeles 99 Seat Plan. Many of us have individually participated in various discussions online and in town halls. Some of these discussions have prompted us to make the following organizational statement to bring clarity to the way our organization is structured, as well as state our support for the community at large:

Boston Court Performing Arts Center, originally founded in 2003 as The Theatre @ Boston Court, is a 501c3 company that has a lease agreement with a privately owned facility in Pasadena. Each year we program two performance spaces with four The Theatre @ Boston Court main stage theatrical productions, 25+ Music @ Boston Court events and a rotating visual art gallery, as well as numerous readings, public service events, and community rentals. Our full-time staff is employed by the performing arts center, and their salaries and our budget reflect the performing arts center as a whole. The Theatre @ Boston Court is one of the programs under the umbrella of Boston Court Performing Arts Center.

We have always valued our artists, paying actors performance stipends well above what is required by the AEA 99 Seat Plan, as well as a rehearsal stipend. We have reached out to AEA over the years, trying to find a way to produce outside the 99 Seat Plan. Unfortunately our overtures have not yet resulted in negotiations.

The Theatre @ Boston Court stands with the vast majority of the Los Angeles intimate theatre community in opposition to AEA’s current proposal. We strongly believe that, if enacted, this agreement will not lead to a substantial increase in Equity contracts, which supply a living wage to actors. We are not certain what the result will ultimately be for our organization. What we know for certain is that we, along with many of our colleagues in the community, believe the new proposal will have a detrimental effect on the quality and quantity of the new, innovative or risk-taking works which currently make the Los Angeles intimate theatre community so vibrant.

We remain hopeful that actors, producers, and theater makers of all stripes, will come to an agreement that allows both the artists as well as the art in Los Angeles to flourish.

-Boston Court Performing Arts Center