I suggest Harry Potter fans stay away from the Rogue Artists‘ adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean‘s “The Comical Tragedy OR Tragical Comedy of MR. PUNCH.” It’s not for the faint of heart. It’s not for humans period. It’s for puppets. Only creatures made of wood can withstand this two-hour ride on the planet of the puppets where humans’ distorted features forever expose the latent predator in all of us. Think twice before you step in the theater, because, like The Professor (Tom Ashworth) says to The Boy (Sean Eaton/Connor Merkovich): “When you put Mr. Punch on, there’s no taking him off. ”

The Punch (Tom Ashworth) and Judy (Miles Taber) show.

MR. PUNCH is the story of a young man (Miles Taber) reminiscing about a life-changing summer when as a Boy (Connor Merkovich/Sean Eaton,) despite grumbling and protesting, his parents sent him away to spend the summer at His Grandpa’s (Dana Kelly, Jr.) Grandpa runs a fair by the sea with The Boy’s hunchback Uncle (Kerr Seth Lordygan.) The young parents laugh at The Boy’s desire to stay with them and cut even deeper by adding that Grandpa might eat him for supper.

Settled by the English seaside, the Boy spends most of his time with the fair’s main attraction: Mr. Punch. “Families are supposed to love each other,” he whines while watching Mr. Punch torturing his newborn. The star miniature obeys the little master. Suddenly, flowers bloom on the tiny stage. The sun rises. But the Creature takes a 360 degree turn to spew a “IT’S MYYY WOOORRRLLLD TOO!” so convincing it blew the house down. Think before you enter. Disneyland’ small world might never ever feel the same. It is a Mr. Punch’s world and Mr. Punch does whatever the hell he wants.

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My second recommendation for August, EL VERDE will be playing TWO WEEKENDS ONLY!!!! at CASA 0101, 2009 E. 1st Street, LA, CA 90033. Click here to read what I wrote about the episodes I saw at Casa 0101 last year. For more information go to www.casa0101.org.

ALL new sketch comedy from the 18 Mighty Mountain Warrriors that is “SAVAGELY FUNNY yet STRANGELY CIVILIZED!”

Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun @8pm at THE COMPLEX (Ruby Theater), 6476 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90038
(west of Highland Ave.)

$15 General, $12 Students/Seniors, $10 groups of SIX or more. $5 for Preview July 31st.
Buy out the house for $8 each!
2 for 1 every Sunday! (sorry, no doubling on discounts!)
Special: if you pay to see the show once, you can see it again for FREE if you bring a paying friend!

OPTIONAL Valet Parking $5 after 7pm (or just park on the street!)

Info/Reservations: 818-754-4500 or email 18mightymountainwarriors@gmail.com
or buy ONLINE at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/38603
Cast: Junko Goda, Michael Chih Ming Hornbuckle, Kennedy Kabasares, Jully Lee, Greg Watanabe, Peter J. Wong

 

Starring: Letitia Chang, Feodor Chin, Becky Heneise, Elaine Kao, Saachiko, Kim Miyori, Kipp Shiotani, Leonard Wu, Elpidio Ebuen, Kelly Portier & Jennifer Betit Yen

Tennessee Williams’ classic “Suddenly, Last Summer” revolves around the death of a beloved son and cousin (Sebastian Venable) which leads to a family conflict as Mrs. Venable and Catherine Holly fight over their memories of the dead man and push the boundaries of truth. How will Sebastian be remembered? How would you like to be remembered?

August 2-24, 2008
Friday & Saturday 8pm, Sunday 2pm
Low-Priced $8 previews, July 31 and August 1, 8pm

$16 general admission
$14 students and seniors (w/valid ID)
$12 (groups of 10+)
All Sunday matinees (except August 24) are pay-what-you-can ($1 minimum)
$20 Aug. 2 opening night gala performance (w/post-show dessert reception)

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.

To RSVP: (323) 993-7245
For more more information, go to:
Myspace: www.myspace.com/suddenly_lodestone

Kanzo. BH Life Film Festival fundraiser. Photo by Sam Hernandez.

frankiely: Tell us about your first encounter with Burlesque.

KANZO: My first time was at the Fourty Deuce on Melrose where they do a mainstream kind of burlesque. I felt so empowered by it. I didn’t feel ashamed to watch. It was such a relief to feel good about something that can be considered bad. This was not degrading to women, men were not throwing money at them saying come over here and do this sexual act for me. It was accepted in the room that this was a performance and I was so taken by the connection the girls had with the audience since I’m a performer as well. I was blown away by what they did and how they did it with such confidence. They didn’t take everything off and they were able to captivate and suspend the audience’s attention by teasing them… which is what it’s about.

Laurel & Hardy, picture found on http://www.dvdbeaver.com.

frankiely: Can you expand on that? Being a French woman by trade, burlesque to me evokes Laurel & Hardy usually with their clothes on.

KANZO: Burlesque in major cities has changed over time, it died and was revived and died again and was revived again. What is interesting here in Los Angeles is that the girls make a comment, maybe political, social or cultural like La Cholita

KANZO: She’s a great performer and dancer, her persona comments on how we see Chicanos or Latin people in our culture today, maybe not immigrants from Mexico or Central America but the pocha, if you want to say the term… the Chicana of Los Angeles. She dresses up in very traditional forms of folkloric dresses but she has her twist for the new generation. She represents neo-burlesque, the new wave, the new Chicana, what it is to be a Latina in today’s L.A.

Each performer has their own personality, their own act. Ruby Champagne calls herself the Mexican Spitfire of Burlesque; her inspiration comes from the 1930’s Golden era of Mexican cinema. She’s got the glamorous look. Her routines are very classic, it’s not just about the body and about stripping, it’s about her as this persona and you follow her dialogue, her dance, and yes it involves taking off clothes but it’s really about the revealing of the personality.

Ruby Champagne. Photo by Laura Creecy.

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Craby Joe’s by Carl Ramsey.

I recently reported on Carl Ramsey’s downtown inspired paintings exhibited at the launch party for the “LA Bitch IV DVD.” You can see Carl Ramsey’s paintings for yourself at 410 Boyd Street through July 31st. For more information on Carl Ramsey go to http://www.bgfa.us and http://www.askart.com.

Toraichi Kono and Charlie Chaplin.

I attended two out of the three plays presented at EdgeFest’s LA History Project at the Autry National Center last Sunday. Circle X’s 1pm production of Tom Jacobson’s “The Chinese Massacre” which “chronicles the first race riot in Los Angeles history, when 19 Chinese men and boys were lynched by a mob of 500 people from all nations” was a truly impressive debut even if still in the workshopping stage. The play generated many laughs while staying true to the hard facts. Or attempting to. Indeed, some of the funniest moments were born out of the playwright’s desire to confess to us that all the research he did came from press clippings and studies that might or might not tell the absolute truth. Sometimes the playwright gave us two points of view on the same person or incident from two different sources with two very different agendas, which made the play very timely as we’re dealing with two presidential candidates with two very different versions of our future, our past and our present. I highly recommend that you add your name to Circle X‘s e-mail list to stay informed about the future of this disturbing yet necessary play.

I stayed for the next presentation: the first act of Lodestone Theatre Ensemble’s “My Man Kono” written by Philip W. Chung and directed by Jeff Liu about Toraichi Kono who was Charles Chaplin’s valet for 17 years “before being arrested as a Japanese enemy spy on the eve of World War II.” This first act was extremely moving and also enlightening – does anybody know that Charlies Chaplin was the subject of an attack on his life while visiting Japan? – thanks to a terrific cast all around and an outstanding Garrett Wang as Toraichi Kono, all impassive face and bottled up emotions against Donovan Oakleaf’s Charlie Chaplin pirouetting around the stage with open arms and an overflowing heart. I must say when the play began I was embarrassed for whoever had the formidable task of bringing Charlie Chaplin to life but that’s exactly what Donovan Oakleaf did and I’m still recovering from the shock of having been in the genius’ presence. I also recommend that you go to Lodestone’s website to get a chance one day in the near…distant… future, as Philip W. Chung promised us, to witness this intriguing pair who, ironically, ended up having more in common when they grew apart.

Here is Sunday’s line-up for Part II of the festival:

11 AM
Watts Village Theater Company
At Risk
By Judy Soo Hoo
Directed by David Catanzarite
In a fictional middle school in South Los Angeles, every student is at risk, and so is every teacher. Watts Village Theater Company’s offering to the festival explores the history of United Teachers of Los Angeles through the eyes of a rookie and the motley band of veterans who get him through his first year.

1PM
About Productions
Bleeding Through
Written by Teresa Chavez and Rose Portillo
Directed by Teresa Chavez
A multi-media work inspired by Norman Klein’s novella Bleeding Through Layers of Los Angeles, which uncovers the narrative ghosts, both fictional and non-fictional of Angelino Heights, and addresses historical forgetting and the erasure of memory.

3:30PM
Native Voices at the Autry
Serra Springs
By Larissa FastHorse
Music by Brian Joseph
Lyrics by Brian Joseph and Larissa FastHorse
Directed by Robert Vestal
Two teens, two adults and one strange dude deal with some major surprises during one magical night at a protest to save the last sacred site of the Tongva people in West Los Angeles.

What: EdgeFest Los Angeles History Project
When: Sunday, July 13, and Sunday, July 20, 11AM, 1PM, 3:30 PM
Where: Autry National Center of the American West, Griffith Park Campus, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA, 90027-1462
How Much: Free
Reservations: Not required.
More Info: lahp@edgeoftheworld.org

Greg Watanabe, Peter Wong and Michael Hornbuckle.

I’ve seen the Warriors perform twice and plan on never missing one of their shows in the future. They’re smart, naughty, edgy, scrumptiously silly and I am eternally grateful to them for teaching me all the things I always wanted to know but were afraid to ask about the Asian male body. Ignorance is not bliss. To sample their mighty comedy, take a look at some of the videos clips available on their MySpace page like Video Dating, A John Woo Family Dinner and my absolute favorite: The Slow Asian American Film Festival. Or go to Little Tokyo tomorrow to see a screening of the Emmy Award winning documentary “Mighty Warriors of Comedy.” The Warriors will be there!

“18 Mighty Mountain Warriors and the ImaginAsian Center present the Los Angeles premiere of the Emmy winning documentary “The Mighty Warriors of Comedy!” produced by Kibi Anderson and Sung H. Kim.
Using a combination of personal interviews and live concert footage, “The Mighty Warriors of Comedy” takes a look at the members of this innovative all Asian American comedy troupe from the Bay Area as they struggle for success and deal with the ups and downs of life. They’ve been “Up and Coming” since 1994, but will that change as some of them make the move to Los Angeles? They’re trying to sell out but will anyone buy?

Thursday, July 17 @ 8pm at the ImaginAsian Center, 251 S. Main Street, LA, CA 90012 in Little Tokyo.

$12 General Admission
$10 groups of 10 or more

Info/Reservations:
818-754-4500 or email 18mightymountainwarriors@gmail.com or
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/38124

Including:
* MC Tamlyn Tomita!
* Live performance by 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors
* a special collaboration with the Tuesday Night Cafe Project, featuring Keiko Agena, Alison De La Cruz, Shin Kawasaki, and traci kato-kiriyama.

If this is not one incredible theater event!!! I just hope L.A. will come and support it.

“Edge of the World Theatre Festival, with generous support from the James Irvine Foundation, the Autry National Center and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, has commissioned six new plays about our city and its rich history. These plays will be presented as workshops by six of Los Angeles’ most exciting and innovative theater companies as part of EdgeFest’s ongoing Los Angeles History Project.

The event will be held at the Autry National Center on Sunday, July 13 & Sunday, July 20, 2008. All presentations are free of charge.

The schedule of works to be presented is listed below.

Sunday, July 13

11AM
Son of Semele Ensemble
Record Storm Spreads Ruin!
By Aaron Henne
Devised by Son of Semele Ensemble
Directed by Edgar Landa
A corrupt administration. A leader clinging desperately to his power. A devastating flood.
In 1938, Los Angeles Mayor Frank Shaw, on the verge of being ousted from power, broadcasts over the radio airwaves to a drowning city. His citizens, some living and some dead, converge on City Hall to offer him one last chance at salvation from his past deeds, before he is overtaken by a record storm.

1PM
Circle X Theatre Company
The Chinese Massacre (Annotated)
By Tom Jacobson
Directed by Marya Mazor
Based on historical incident, the The Chinese Massacre (Annotated) chronicles the first race riot in Los Angeles history, when 19 Chinese men and boys were lynched by a mob of 500 of “people from all nations.” Resonant with more recent racially motivated Los Angeles civil disturbances (the Zoot Suit Riots, the Watts Riots, the Rodney King insurrection), The Chinese Massacre (Annotated) brings to light the remarkable, culturally diverse 19th-century Wild West town that exploded into today’s metropolis.
Note: If you’d like to make a reservation for The Chinese Massacre please call 323-667-2000 x354 and leave a message

3:30
Lodestone Theatre Ensemble
My Man Kono
(Act One: The Chaplin Years)
Written by Philip W. Chung
Directed by Jeff Liu
The story of Toraichi Kono, who worked as movie star Charlie Chaplin’s personal valet for 17 years before being arrested as a Japanese enemy spy on the eve of World War II. This is a presentation of Act One of the play which covers Kono’s years with Chaplin.

What: EdgeFest Los Angeles History Project
When: Sunday, July 13, and Sunday, July 20, 11AM, 1PM, 3:30 PM
Where: Autry National Center of the American West, Griffith Park Campus, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA, 90027-1462
How Much: Free
Reservations: Not required.
More Info and July 20th schedule: www.edgeoftheworld.org.

“This exhibition will explore the history of Los Angles’ Skid Row through the stories of those who live, work and inspire others there. It will also celebrate those who have created positive change in this community. The Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) is a non-profit arts organization that connects lived experience to the social forces that shape the lives and communities of people living in poverty.

A map of Skid Row will be on the floor of the front gallery, marking significant sites where these stories have unfolded. This exhibition will also include images and videos highlighting the community’s efforts and strides. These videos feature speakers at public meetings and performances by LAPD. In the back gallery visitors will be invited to contribute their ideas for Skid Row’s own “Walk of Fame,” which seeks to honor those people and organizations that have bettered the community. In this area there will be inspiration booklets for visitors to draw out their ideas of whom they believe should be honored. The ultimate vision behind the Skid Row History Museum is to create a series of permanent public artworks, (plaques, signs, and the like) actually installed in the streets of downtown for this eventual “museum without walls”.

This exhibition has many goals; one is that it will enable the public to better understand the Skid Row community and the challenges that they have endured. The second is to empower the Skid Row population with work that confers the often-denied respect that this community and its members deserve.

As a major part of this exhibition there will be multiple events, including public discussions with key figures of the Skid Row community, musical and dramatic performances and workshops for members of Lamp Community and Downtown Women’s Center. See above for list of events.

Funding assistance for this project has been provided by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA).”

Fore more information go to http://www.theboxla.com and http://www.lapovertydept.org.