by Chantal Rodriguez
I’ve been a big fan of Artists at Play since I saw their first production, Lauren Yee’s Ching Chong Chinaman in 2011. Walking out of that bold and subversive production I knew that the company had a distinct voice and I was excited to see what they would do next. Their subsequent productions didn’t disappoint and have run the gamut from hilarious to heartbreaking. I really love how Artists at Play takes creative risks and also how they engage with their audience at events and on social media. Over the past few years I’ve also come to know the producers personally as colleagues and friends, including reconnecting with my high school drama club buddy Marie-Reine! It didn’t take long for me to know that I wanted to collaborate with them on a production at the Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC).
As the Programming Director for the Latino Theater Company, operators of the LATC, I work with the company to craft culturally and aesthetically diverse seasons that reflect the city of Los Angeles. The Latino Theater Company has been together for almost 30 years. Working with an ensemble that respects and engages each other’s opinions the way they do, is very rewarding and I recognize this same collaborative spirit in the producing team of Artists at Play. While I knew right away that Artists at Play would be a good fit for a season at the LATC, it took some time for the timing to work out. Once the Latino Theater Company heard a table reading of In Love and Warcraft they were hooked; they loved Madhuri Shekar’s witty dialogue, the nod to Cyrano de Bergerac, and her insightful and comedic take on relationships, sex, and online role-playing games. We also unanimously agreed that the play is very ambitious in its theatricality and are all really excited to see what director Alejandra Cisneros conjures up for the West Coast premiere.
|Reading of ILAW for Latino Theater Company|
Both companies also share a core value of having the works on our stages reflect the diversity of the city, and world, we live in. After years of participating in conversations about diversity in public forums, conferences, and let’s be honest, at the bar, I truly feel that the best way for companies to model coalition building and support diversity, is to create work together. Our fall season is a great example of this as we’ve partnered with several local companies to present works that are personal, political, and cultural. One of my favorite aspects of this season is that we’ve added alternating, one-time, Monday night performance to several of the productions so that season artists will be able to view and discuss each other’s work. The LATC is at its best when the grand lobby is buzzing with conversations, chance meetings and even some reunions, this is an experience we want for our artists and audiences alike. We hope to see you there!