Mama doesn’t get to go to nearly enough theater. Seriously. I just don’t. (insert every excuse under the sun) But when I was a young girl, I daydreamed about standing on the stage at the Ahmanson and being so blinded by stage lights that I couldn’t see a darn thing. And when I was cast as the tailor in Taming of the Shrew as a high school freshman and then passed over for a key role in East of Eden well, I realized my talents truly weren’t as the leading lady or the quirky best friend, but as the crafty wordsmith…and well you all kinda know the rest.
Recently, a fabulous new friend, Cindy Marie Jenkins invited me and the Monkey to view a play at the 24th Street Theater in Historic University Park in Los Angeles and just a stones throw away from USC, and well of course I couldn’t say no. How the heck could, I? As the date approached, I was giddy like a twelve year old girl about this little play house, just moments from my old Dino Museum stomping grounds, and of course the play in question. I hopped on the interwebs and did my sneaky over-informed American duty by clicking of every page on their entire website and Googling the names of every darn person involved. Yay Me! I was mesmerized by the passion for the community and exhilarated by their mission.
But still there was the play to see…and I couldn’t wait…rave review after rave review and then there was the aspect of being child-friendly…it was like the week before a first date. What would I wear? How early should I be? What’s the parking like? Oh the insanity that has hit since I became one of the spoken for community. I digress…the play…
A play with youth in mind. A play with such a soul that I found myself whisked through time. A play that held the Monkey for the hour it took tell the story of a superbly played five year girl named Esme, by Paige Lindsay White and then there’s her tried-and-true Granddad Stan, played by Mark Bramhall who just nailed the whole thing with every expressive word. As those of us with children know, routine is everything and with change often comes discord and disruptions to the harmony we so desperately attempt to maintain. The young Esme arrives for her routine holiday visit to the seaside with her Nana and Granddad but something has changed and she’s just not having it. Nana is nowhere to be found. The routine is disrupted. And poor Granddad stumbles through it all and in an attempt to spare Esme grief he concocts a fairy tale that her lovely Nana had run off to join the Circus and become a tightrope walker in a ‘sparkly dress with pink umbrella’. My heart simply dipped deep into the experience.
No one likes talking about death. Especially when engulfed in the process of grief and buried under the loss, this conversation is even harder to muddle through with a child. Monkey took in every word and every movement. Appropriately timed for our recent conversations about death and life and what happens when world changes, Walking the Tightrope aided this continuing chatter with my spunky Monkey. As we walked the halls of the Museum of Natural History after the show, he asked me very dialed in questions about the motives of Granddad and how sometimes adults don’t know how to communicate serious topics like loss to littles. The oddity here is that adults spend countless hours encouraging children to be honest and open and to use their words, and when push comes to shove we often have the most difficulty using those very skills to express important life details to our spawn.
Fabulously this wasn’t your typical average children play where the grown-ups are numbed to the core with sugar coated gobble-dee-gook. My heart broke with the memories of losing my own Abuela and I felt for the experience that this young woman held deep in her heart. It struck chords with all my heart strings. Directed with all of us in mind, this ridiculously stunning piece of artwork is a part of the playhouse’s path during their 15th Year to expand their productions to audiences of all ages. Not just kiddos, not just adults but transcending the lines of age barriers and bringing simply the best quality cutting edge art to the stage every single time. Ugh. Love it. Simply adore.
The 24th Street Theater has stolen our hearts. Not simply because they put wicked good art in front of my eyes and given me some place I feel I can return to for more of the same…nope, not just cause of that. The atmosphere pre-show was a mix of casual comfort and authentic artist co-operative with local tamales from a neighborhood vendor, artwork everywhere from local events and seriously the nicest folks I’ve ever encountered parking a car and picking up tickets at Will Call in the City of Angles. I’m serious the guy at the pay lot smiled and said ‘thank you’. No joke.
There truly is no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon or evening than supporting the local arts and getting the chance to feel connected to the children in the room, even if the one you connect with is simply your inner Monkey. You’ve got until March 30th my friends. Go now. Buy tickets. Take your kids, take your wife…or just take yourself. Heck I might go again. No seriously. I might.
p.s. I was indeed invited and treated to this show but my opinions are totes my own.