Theater Busters


under the artistic direction of Philip W. Chung & Chil Kong
proudly presents our final production

The World Premiere of


A new comedy for anyone who’s ever felt like they were born on the wrong planet…

Written by Philip W. Chung
Directed by Jeff Liu
Produced by Stephanie Chang, Michael Chih Ming Hornbuckle & Peter J. Wong

Starring: Feodor Chin, Elizabeth Ho, Elaine Kao, Jully Lee, Rachel Morihiro, Hanson Tse, Kelvin Han Yee, Junko Goda, Dan Jyung, Christopher Takemoto-Gentile and Tina Tong.

Inspired by classic screwball comedies, GRACE KIM & THE SPIDERS FROM MARS tells the story of Grace, a young Korean American woman, who has withdrawn from the world after the death of her mother ten years ago. But Grace’s life is thrown upside down when she meets her sister’s fiancé and falls in love with him. This play was written to be Lodestone’s last show of its tenth and final “Beginnings and Endings” season and will be permanently retired after this run.

November 14-December 20, 2009
Thursday-Saturday 8pm, Sunday 2pm (NO SHOW THANKSGIVING, NOV. 26)

ALL THURS. SHOWS: 2-for-1 general admission tickets if you say the codeword “Ziggy Stardust” at box office

$12 general admission (Special Low 1999 Ticket Price)
$10 (groups of 10+)
$25 Opening Night Gala (Nov. 14)–S
All Sunday matinees (except Dec. 20) are pay-what-you-can ($1 minimum)

GTC Burbank
1111-B W. Olive Ave.
Burbank, CA 91506

The theatre is in George Izay Park between S. Victory Bl. and N. Griffith Park Bl. Park near the jet plane at 1111 W. Olive and walk past the Olive Recreation Center. The theatre is behind the rec center; the entrance faces the softball fields.

RSVP: (323) 993-7245 or go to for more info.


Chil Kong and Philip W. Chung.

More than a few months ago I had the pleasure to sit with two of the co-founders of Lodestone Theatre Ensemble and breathe in the trademark passion that has fueled the company’s 10-year body of work. Researching their production history (I only discovered them in 2006) triggered a genuine sense of loss for the plays I had missed and the realization that 2009 is it! Their last play, GRACE KIM & THE SPIDERS FROM MARS opened November 14th (see separate post) and will be running through December 20th. Suffice to say this is your last chance to be touched by the courageous and fiery duo who lost their funding after their first play all because of a bare bottom.

SS: Let’s go back to the beginning. After the L.A. riots, veteran actor Soon-Tek Oh urges the new generation of Asian American playwrights to tell their own stories to counteract the media’s tendency to portray Asian Americans as immigrant store owners who fall victim to violence.

Chil Kong: Yes. Soon-Tek Oh mobilized us. But it was more about the energy between Phil, Tim Lounibos, Bokyun Chun and I. We were passionate about our vision of the future of Asian American theater and we each had our own ideas about how we wanted to see a theater function in Los Angeles and we talked and talked and talked about it for four months. A lot of it had to do with timing for us; we were at the right place at the right time. We started forming when East West Players was moving from their small black box to their big theater so there was a gap. We filled that vacuum. We’ve been very lucky. From that Lodestone was born.

SS: What is the meaning of the word Lodestone?

Chil Kong: We had so many names. Tim Lounibos did some research and he found out about those magnetic compasses which Chinese explorers used to guide them.

SS: What did you set up to explore?

Philip W. Chung: Up until that point and to a certain degree now a lot of Asian American theater revolves around certain themes, certain subjects; it has to address the Asian American experience. Are we doing plays by South Asians? Are we doing plays by Vietnamese? They have to be inclusive. Because those theaters already existed, we didn’t feel we needed to do that. It gave us a chance to not be confined by those kinds of criteria. If we wanted to do a new play by a White writer then we could do it and we have. If we wanted to do Tennessee Williams, we could. That was the only philosophy and it hasn’t really evolved.

Season 4: 2002-2003

SS: Lodestone, like many small theater companies in LA, has not-for-profit status. Does it influence the choices you make? Do you have to do plays that are community oriented to get grants?

Chil Kong: Yes and No. Yes for certain things we will definitely go after those grants. No because we never wanted to pick the material that we wanted to do based on financial consideration. We didn’t want our choices based on “now we have to get this grant so we have to do a play about this issue.” We always had to stay at a certain level but that’s fine because it gave us creative control.

SS: What do you mean by “a certain level”?

Philip W. Chung: The smaller you are the lower your budget, the more creative control you have. The idea is to work from that model, which represents a lot of theaters in LA, where you don’t have to be depending on those grants. We have picked materials where we thought no one was going to come and see this. But it was ok because artistically it was something we wanted to do and that was more important. If it’s artistically sound, that’s the first criteria.

Chil Kong: It is very dangerous for a company to let their choices be directed by grants, it’s a wag the dog contest. Now, instead of your artistic vision driving your company, it is a commitment to different funders. Now it’s propaganda, now you’re doing things for money. Ultimately the good artistic material will have an audience. After 10 years we’ve been accustomed to that.

Philip W. Chung: We lost most of our funders after our second play LAUGHTER, JOY & LONELINESS & SEX & SEX & SEX & SEX, which I wrote. The subject matter turned them off.

Chil Kong: At the end of the run, I spent a week on the phone with two of our biggest funders screaming at me about betraying them. They were upset because there was a man’s naked butt on stage. I remember being very frustrated and yet laughing. The worst times are also the best times. That experience told us we were doing the right thing.

Philip W. Chung: The play actually ended up doing very well with our audience.



The Smiling Spider will be taking a break for the rest of the summer but I wanted to leave you with a few shows worth seeing. First, the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors are taking over the city with their new sketch comedy “Bow Down to your Asian Masters”:

July 31th-August 23th. Thurs., Fri., Sat., & Sun. @ 8pm, 4 WEEK LIMITED ENGAGEMENT! (July 30th PREVIEW $5) @ THE COMPLEX (Dorie Theater) , 6476 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90038, (East of Highland Ave.) Reservations: 818-754-4500 (vm) or purchase tickets online at . Information: email or go to


At CASA 0101, you can enjoy the latest episode of EL VERDE, the super hero on an everlasting quest to discover what his super power is… August 7th-30th. For more information go to

closerthan ever

LODESTONE THEATRE ENSEMBLE, under the artistic direction of Philip W. Chung & Chil Kong, proudly presents CLOSER THAN EVER, a musical revue in two acts with words by Richard Maltby, Jr. and music by David Shire. Directed by Chil Kong. Music Direction by Akira Nakano. Starring: Sharline Liu, DT Matias, Blythe Matsui, Paul Na kauchi, Erin Quill, EJ Arriola, Jully Lee, Jiehae Park, & Miley Yamamoto.

An all Asian American revival of CLOSER THAN EVER, the classic 1989 musical revue which won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Musical and was nominated for multiple Drama Desk Awards. CLOSER THAN EVER features self-contained songs which deal with such diverse topics as aging, mid-life crisis, second marriages and unrequited love. This is the second mainstage production of Lodestone’s tenth and final “Beginnings and Endings” season.

Thursday-Saturday 8pm, Sunday 2pm. ALL THURS. SHOWS: 2-for-1 general admission tickets if you say the codeword “Doors” at box office. NOTE: Thurs., August 13 performance is SOLD-OUT. To RSVP: (323) 993-7245. For more more information, go to:


I would also like to acknowledge R. Ernie Silva whose solo show, Heavy Like the Weight of  A Flame, has been extended at  the Odyssey Theatre through September 5th. R. Ernie Silva prances about the stage with uncommon grace and power in this autobiographical journey written by Silva and novelist James Gabriel. The show is deftly choreographed and directed by Mary Joan Negro with special mention to Bosco Flanagan whose lighting design subtly evokes the dark places visited by Silva and reflected off of his unsually expressive face.

The following review was found on “Watching R. Ernie Silva in his autobiographical ‘Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame” is like listening to exquisite poetry, music both classical and jazz all wrapped in the true life experience of the urban jungles of New York. His movement, lovely guitar riffs and impersonations of the players in his life story add to a profoundly satisfying evening of performance art. This is special theater, well worth going to.” By mypetard.

Like El Verde, I hope Ernie Silva will treat us to more episodes of his identity quest. Click here for more information.


Jolted in the night, San Francisco’s East Bay residents attempted to shield themselves from shattering windows as the sky blazed.  320 people were killed, 400 more were injured, and everything within a one mile radius was destroyed in a flash.  50 survivors were imprisoned for mutiny.  If you have not heard about the worst home front military disaster in our history, you will now know why.  If you had already known about it, you will find out that there is still much more to the story. The worst home front military disaster in US history has been one of our best kept secrets, until now.

After 6 decades (July 17, 2009 marks the 65th anniversary of the tragedy), the story known as the MUTINY AT PORT CHICAGO is finally brought to the stage in this WORLD PREMIERE production at Ruskin Group Theatre July 10-August 15, 2009.

Ruskin Group Theatre has been making an impact on the Los Angeles theatrical scene with an eclectic mix of thought provoking plays and programs.  Their ‘Fostering Imagination’ program sponsors foster kids in theatre & film classes that produce several original shows each year.  The CAFÉ PLAYS, created by RGT are produced monthly and are the culmination of writers, actors, and directors who meet at 9am, where they are given a theme.  They then write, produce, and perform a show by 7pm the same day.  Recently celebrating their 5th anniversary, RGT supporters Ed Asner, Dylan McDermott, Chris Malkey, Olivia d’Abo, and other industry celebrities joined to produce the Best of Café Plays (both shows sold out within hours).  Anthony Hopkins and Anthony Franciosa were some of the Ruskin School of Theatre’s first teachers.

Written and directed by: Paul Leaf. Produced by: Mike Myers and Dana Lynn Bennett

Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Road, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Tickets (310) 397-3244.  Running: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm. Sundays at 2 pm. Closing performance: Saturday, August 15, 2009. All Seats are $20 ($15.00 for students, seniors, and guild members.)

With J. Teddy Garces, Maury Sterling, Josh Drennen, Cris DAnnunzio, Durant Fowler, Eric Bivens Bush.

For more information on the mutiny itself, go to


J. Teddy Garces as Ed.

Stop_Kiss PC front Small

The consequences of love can be horrifying, yet miraculously tender.  Callie meets Sara and an astonishing chain of events is set into motion.  This story pays homage to life’s abrupt and unexpected transformations…to romance, and to the search for personal identity.

STOP KISS will run Friday, July 10 and then every Thursday-Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 7pm through July 26th.  Afterwards, August 2nd & 3rd and continuing Fridays & Mondays at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm in rep with TREEFALL thru August 23, 2009.  Check dates on website or call (323) 930-0747.  ROGUE MACHINE in Theatre Theater is located at 5041 Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90019. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased by calling (323) 960-7774 or at

ROGUE MACHINE draws upon the diverse and extensive experience of its collective while creating high-quality productions by contemporary playwrights who specifically address our culture and time.  The ROGUE MACHINE mission includes building a theatre of ideas and nurturing the development of plays from contemporary writers while manifesting current culture, and consciousness.  ROGUE MACHINE projects will exhibit a strong emphasis on presenting new plays or plays new to Los Angeles.

Written by Diana Son. Directed by Elina de Santos. With Deborah Puette, Kristina Harrison, Inger Tudor, Joerge Watson and Christian Anderson.


Theatre Unleashed presents Metamorphose, the second installment in its Galleries series, July 1-2 at Studio/Stage in Hollywood. Transcendental theatre at its finest, Metamorphose is less of a show and more of a collective Hero’s Journey into the belly of the whale. With a loose structure and ever-changing performances developed from weeks of introspection, connection and exploration guided by the many cycles of change, this artistic event promises nothing but surprise and impact…for the audience and performers alike.

When: July 1st & 2nd, 2009 @ 8pm

Where: Studio/Stage
520 N. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 9004

Tickets: $10 General Admission
Call (818) 849-4039 or order tickets online at


Mary Guilliams as Ariel and Bobby Plasencia as Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Free Shakespeare in Barnsdall Park 2009. The Independent Shakespeare Company presents The Tempest & Henry V, June 26th -August 30th, Friday-Sunday at 7:30 pm.

Admission is free, donations gratefully received. Reservations are free to make and highly recommended.

Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90027.

To reserve your seat: or call (323) 836-0288.

The Tempest: In Shakespeare’s final play, spirits, first love, music, and the forces of revenge intersect on a mysterious island.

Prospero has waited twelve years to punish his duplicitous brother with the sorcery he has been perfecting in exile. When there paths collide, he discovers magic doesn’t make the man, the past is only history, and the world can make itself anew. (Perfect for family audiences.)

Henry V: In this high-octane portrait of England’s favorite king, 15 actors play 40 characters, span countries and years, and decimate a foreign power. A play about theater masquerading as a play about war, it’s full of thrilling speeches, big characters and unruly humor.

Click here for showtime and other info.


Echoes of Shakespeare, Hendrix and Kerouac charge solo artist/comedian/gifted guitarist R. Ernie Silva’s true-life tale about his odyssey across the great American outback. An 80’s break dance artist, Silva started performing at the age of 12 for NYC street music stations 107.5 WBLA and 98.7 KISS and at 17 was on the brutal stages of New York City’s standup comedy circuit. His fear of being yet another casualty of the street life of Brooklyn and the overdose of his older brother compelled him one night to run away in search of a more meaningful life.

Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame follows Silva’s haunting, touching and often humorous journey through the Appalachian mountains of N. Carolina, across the Midwest on trains with the hobos and little tramps, a stop in a jail in Kansas and finally finding his way to Los Angeles.

Written by James Gabriel and R. Ernie Silva. Performed by R. Ernie Silva.

Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame @ The Odyssey, Theater II, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd, LA, CA 90025. Thursdays through Saturdays @ 8pm. Click here for more information.


R. Ernie Silva.


Consider taking a book on your ride to the Eastside. Josefina Lopez, CASA 0101’s artistic director and author of “Real Women Have Curves”  (the feature film started as a play which premiered at CASA 0101,) just published a novel with the tantalizing name of “Hungry Woman in Paris.”


Click here for an interview with Josefina Lopez about the writing of her first novel or search the web for reviews by bloggers and critics alike.

Now, be aware that taking the train to the Eastside might not be an option yet. According to this article found on LA.Curbed.Com, “it’s unlikely that the line will open in June.” You can check the MTA’s own Gold Line website for everything except an opening date. My favorite item on the site’s menu: the Eastside Flavors Map and the Station Overview. Each station artwork and design reflect the surrounding community. For example, at the Little Tokyo station, “the canopies represent a Zen archery bow” while at the Mariachi Plaza station, “the shape of the main canopy recalls the fans used by Mexican folkloric dancers” and that’s only two out of the eight new stations of the Gold Line extension to East Los Angeles.  

As far as I know, CASA 0101’s new play will open as scheduled on June 19th.



Photo by Sarah Tehranian found on


Touch the Water

A River Play

Directed by

May 28 – June 21, 2009
Wednesdays – Sundays @ 8pm

2800 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles 90039

Rio de Los Angeles State Park – Bowtie Parcel

Touch the water. Come to the river this spring and let the magical waters of Los Angeles wash over you.

Part of Cornerstone’s ongoing Justice Cycle, a four-year series of plays exploring how laws shape and disrupt communities,
Touch the Water takes on environmental justice as seen through the lens of the LA River and the people who live, work and play there.

Under the City of Angels runs a fierce river flowing from the mountains to the ocean. But do you know it’s there? Once an unpredictable and mighty stream, a bountiful life source subject to raging floods, the Los Angeles River has lived under a shroud of concrete for the past fifty years. Today, having been tamed and transformed into an industrial flood channel, the river is at the center of much debate. What happens when we change Nature? Should we free the river from her concrete corset and let Angelenos finally touch the water?

This play was created in collaboration with local river residents, engineers, biologists, environmentalists, activists, advocates and patrons who walk, fish, bike and ride horses on the Los Angeles River.

Community partners for this project include:
Metabolic Studio/Farmlab
Friends of the Los Angeles River
South Asian Network

Click here for more information and to find out about Pre-Show River Walks and Talks. For more information on the LA River, go to the KCET website at

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