We get notice of world premiere productions practically on a daily basis in this town, many of them sprung from the keyboards of up and coming playwrights, some from first-timers, new graduates, whatever. We have new play festivals and readings, and many of the larger regional houses devote themselves to producing never-before-seen work.
World premieres at the Kirk Douglas, the Mark Taper Forum, the Pasadena Playhouse, South Coast Repertory and the Colony. Yeah, that’s to be expected. Not exactly stop the presses, break the net kinda news.
It’s a skosh more eyebrow-raising, however, when a well established playwright premiers his or her latest work off the grid in one of our city’s 99 or fewer seat houses. It’s kind of prolific happening right now especially in the weeks upcoming.
This weekend, I’m off to the Odyssey Theatre to catch “Café Society,” the latest from Peter Lefcourt. In addition to being a novelist and a TV and screenwriter, Lefcourt wrote the plays “The Way You Look Tonight,” “La Ronde de Lunch,” “Mutually Assured Destruction,” “The Assassination of Leon Trotsky: A Comedy,” “The Audit,” “Only the Dead Know Burbank” and “Sweet Talk.”
“Café Society” will find a bunch of Angelenos holed up in a West L.A. Starbucks and so obsessed with their digital media that they can barely connect with a single live person. Nick Cobey, Susan Diol, Eric Myles Geller, Chandra Lee Schwartz, Donathan Walters, Eric Wentz and Ian Patrick Williams star for director – and longtime Lefcourt collaborator — Terri Hanauer.
Come September, we have a couple more playwrights who are taking the stage in smaller than usual venues.
Opening Sept. 11, we get Jon Jory’s adaptation of Voltaire’s “Candide” for the Sacred Fools Theatre CO. in Hollywood. Jory, the Founding Artistic Director of the Long Wharf Theatre and founding Director of The Humana Festival of New American Plays, has adapted a bunch of Jane Austen novels into plays as well as Dumas and Henry Fielding. Paul Plunkekt directs a six person cast of Scott Golden, Kalinda Gray, Cynthia Beckert, Christopher Salazar, David LM McIntyre, and Paul Turbiak.
One week later, visitors to the Road Theatre Co. can catch the world premiere of Lisa Loomer’s “Homefree.” Didn’t see this one coming down the pike in NoHo because Loomer’s works usually premiere at larger houses. She’s working on a Roe vs. Wade play, “Roe,” scheduled to open at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2016. Three of her plays, “The Waiting Room,” “Living Out” and “Distracted” all opened at the Mark Taper Forum, and a fourth, “Expecting Isabel,” had its world premiere at Washington’s Arena Stage and then came to the Taper.
Here’s the press release description of “Homefree”: a dark urban fairy tale about three cast-out teens and the flip side of the American dream. Franklin, Breezy, JJ. Kicked out for being gay, for being pretty, for being nuts. Their journey is crazy, funny and frightening, beginning in a conservative city in Oregon – where grandma’s house is a meth house, where bed’s an underpass, and the safest place you can wander is the mall. When tragedy hits, they travel to another America. An idyllic liberal town, right smack in the forest. But is there shelter here? Or is home each other? And, when push comes to shove, as it always does… is each other enough?
Michael Matthews directs Steve Apostolina, Chelsea Averill, Elizabeth Herron, Barret Lewis, Lockne O’Brien, Gabriela Ortega and Donald Russell.
“Café Society” plays 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 3 p.m. Sun.; through Oct. 11 at the Odyssey Theatre, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. L.A. (323) 960-1055, www.plays411.net/cafe
“Candide” plays 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and 7 p.m. Oct. 4 and 11; through Oct. 17 at 660 N. Heliotrope, Hollywood, ( 310) 281-8337, www.sacredfools.org.
“Homefree” opens Sept. 18 and plays 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.; through Nov. 8 at 10747 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 761-8838, www.RoadTheatre.org