'The Laramie Project' High School Production Gets the Boot in Fullerton

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Tim Chesnut

Four years ago, Fred Phelps, the now banished (and the God-who-Hates-Fags-willing soon to be dead) founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, announced plans to boycott a Santa Ana staging of The Laramie Project, an oral history project turned play that documented the events surrounding the 1998 killing of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming and, most important, the repercussions in that university town two years later.

It's doubtful that Dr. George Giokaris, the superintendent of the Fullerton Union High School District, shares Phelps' views, but, apparently, he's got something against Troy High School producing the play, because he's put the kibosh on a production.

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Shen Yun - Segerstrom Center for the Arts - March 12, 2014

Categories: Culture

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Image taken from the promotional video of Shen Yun.
Most Americans don't know a thing about traditional Chinese music and dance, so when a performance group like Shen Yun comes along proclaiming that their show is a celebration of China's cultural traditions, we go along for the ride. However, there's a lot more than music and dancing going on in this show.

As far as tradition is concerned, the marketing for the show does not explicitly state that this is an authentic representation of the Chinese arts. In fact, they advertise that their show is a "Perfect Harmony of East & West," and given that most of the music is performed by a modern orchestra, complemented with Chinese instruments such as the erhu and the pipa, its sound is more reminiscent of John Williams's score for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom than of traditional Chinese music. Musical highlights include the incredible pipes of sopranos Tianling Song and Haolan Geng and, in perhaps the most traditional moment of the show, the erhu performance of Xiaochun Qi. All three solo artists are accompanied by the talented pianist Xin Lian.

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Culture Clash - Segerstrom Center - January 31, 2014

Categories: Culture, Theater

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courtesy Culture Clash
Culture Clash
Segerstrom Center
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For a trio of such talented, creative and politically outspoken agent provocateurs, Culture Clash has been suspiciously subdued recently, at least on its home turf, Southern California.Though no strangers to Orange County, San Diego or, of course, Los Angeles County audiences, the three members haven't stepped on a local stage together since 2010.

It's not that they've been hibernating, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza worked with Richard Montoya on his epic mashup of American History, American Nights: The Ballad of Juan Jose, which debuted at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival in 2010 and has been produced several times since. Montoya also adapted his 2006 Los Angeles-oriented play Power and Water, into a film, which opens in May. Siguenza has been teaching at UC Irvine and working with his one-man show about Pablo Picasso. And Salinas has been directing in San Francisco and Seattle, teaching directing at UCLA and is starring in the first play about Salvadorian gangs, which opens in April at the Los Angeles Theater Center. But while they're all busy, a bonafide Culture Clash show that embodies the heart and soul of a troupe that has spent much of the past 30 years on the road listening to people's stories and then spinning them into raucous, sobering theater, has been absent. Until last weekend.


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Chance Theater's Record Expansion Means Movin' On Up While Staying Put in Anaheim

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Chance Theater
More room for reptiles and thespians
In arguably the biggest step forward in OC theater in nearly 50 years, the Chance Theater announced last night that it is tripling its seating capacity by moving into a new space.

It's not a long move. The theater is taking over a unit in the same Anaheim Hills industrial park that it's called home since opening in 1999. But in terms of physical space and, just as important, further solidifying its legitimacy in Southern California theater, it's an enormous move. The Chance will double its square footage, from 3,000-square-feet to 6,000-square-feet and triple its capacity, from its current 49 seats to 150.

The Chance will finish its 2013 season its is current space, and will open its 2014 season in the new space, in early February, Managing Director Casey Long says.

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OC's Newest Theater Company Has a Play Starring a Good (and Really Bad) Dwarf

Categories: Culture, Theater

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In the annals of literary dwarflore, there have been plenty of notable ones: Sleepy and Co., Tolkien's world-weary warriors; Oz's Munchkins--if you stretch the definition a bit. But has there ever been a great dwarf?

Apparently so, since The Dwarf is the second production of Orange County's newest professional theater company, Counter-Balance Theater, which, according to its website, "is dedicated to the creation of physical theater based on great literature."


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Stephen Ludwig, Key Member of OC Storefront Theater Scene, Dies in France

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Dave Barton
Stephen Ludwig, in Montparnasse Cemetery, on his way to Samuel Beckett's grave
Irony is a staple of theater, so consider the irony of an indispensable member of Orange County's playrighting community, Stephen Ludwig, traveling to France for a writing vacation,only to die in the place that inspired him so much.
Yet, there is also something romantic about both dying in the place you love, and to do so while doing what you loved. Ludwig, who passed away at the age of 65 of apparently normal causes in Arles, France, May 10, was found near his laptop. He was working on a novel.


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Melanie Visits OC and Talks On Woodstock, Love, and Finding Peace

Beautiful, young Melanie
Melanie's voice is soft and raspy at the same time. If you didn't know who you were talking to, you'd have no idea that she played alongside legends at Woodstock and toured around the world. She's immediately kind and humble in her expressions. "I sense that something has got to give, I sense that people are becoming more aware...I'm just very hopeful for humanity," she says. It carries through her stories no matter if she's talking about the music industry, touring, songwriting, or about her beloved, late husband, Peter.

The New York singer--born Melanie Anne Safka--became famous for her songs "Brand New Key," and "Look What They've Done to My Song, Ma." She performed for over 500,000 concertgoers at Woodstock in her early 20s. But well after the 60s faded, she continued to write and tour, and would you believe, with the rising of hipsters, she's gained a whole new following.

Melanie will wrap up her tour with Romancing the West, an on-stage documentary about Western music, very shortly, and while the show is running in Orange County she was lovely enough to speak with the Weekly. We're not worthy!

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What The Heck Is Up With Hecklers at Comedy Shows?

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Statler and Waldorf...the O.G. hecklers.

When it comes to the world of stand-up comics there is something almost all of them have in common. Hecklers. At one point or another, a comedian has shut a heckler down from the stage and now, we are calling them out. Hecklers are completely annoying but not just that, they're disruptive to the comic that's in the zone doing their job and they ruin it for the rest of the crowd that paid to see a show. Not cool. Census says that most heckling happens when someone is drunk but even if you aren't saucy and you are thinking about "getting your heckle on," you should pretty much think about shutting the fuck up. But you don't have to just take our word for it so we asked the pros what they think of hecklers and if they've ever heard of this breed of a-hole "fan boys/gals" that shout out for attention simply so they can brag about it later. Can you imagine? Maybe when you hear their side, you'll think first about adding your "two cents" in the next time you are out at a comedy show.

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Chris Hardwick Gives Us Plenty Of Reason's To Get Geeked That Nerdist Is Coming To Anaheim

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Frazer Harris/Getty Images
Hardwick makes "nerd" culture BEYOND cool.

For those of you who think that "geek culture" isn't hip or cool, Chris Hardwick over at Nerdist.com is making his mark by taking what some label as "nerdy" and parlaying it into super stardom. In-between bringing in some of the most notable guests in podcasting history on the Nerdist Podcast along with his boys Jonah Ray and Matt Mira, Hardwick splits his time holding down a successful career doing stand-up, writing, acting, hosting "Talking Dead" on AMC, and traveling around to conventions to immerse himself in the culture that he truly loves whether you think it is "cool" or not. This Friday March 29th the boys from Nerdist are heading to the City National Grove of Anaheim to record a live podcast and before it all goes down, we talked to Chris about the ins and outs of convention life, why Bill Murray is so awesome, and why his podcast stands apart from the rest.

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Life X3 - Stages Theatre - March 18, 2013

Categories: Culture, Theater

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Kirk Schenck Huff

Life X3
Stages Theatre
March 18, 2013

Yasmina Reza is the kind of playwright that makes other playwrights green with envy. Her 1995 play, Art, has been produced in more than 30 languages, and her 2007 play, God of Carnage, was turned into a film in 2012 by Roman Polanski. So, I asked a Facebook friend of mine, a stellar playwright in his own right, what he thought of her.

"It's easy theatre designed to make middle-class white people feel good about themselves," came the response from said FB friend, whose name will not be revealed in case Reza ever sneezes in his general direction and offers him her handkerchief laced with gold dust.

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