Retake LIVE - Culture Clash’s “Chavez Ravine: In Nine Innings”
From Richard Montoya of Culture Clash:
At the height of the global pandemic, Center Theatre Group asked Culture Clash to consider what our theater might look like in a time when audiences could no longer gather. We'd seen enough zoom script readings to realize that was not the answer. But how to get theater to displaced audiences — and where did our audiences go? — was a mystery like the Corona itself!
Two things became clear. The audience was decentralized, with no plan to return to where they normally gathered, and the City of Angels was empty at night! Perhaps we could own — or borrow — the streets, and play out selected scenes of our play about LA that were more filmic? We thought in terms of cinema, or digital video — not theater. Chavez Ravine seemed ripe and ready for episodic storytelling.
What emerged was Chavez Ravine: In Nine Innings, a cinematic reinterpretation of the beloved 2003 play. Using existing footage, newly filmed scenes, original music, and spoken word, the result was a fresh look at the story, with a city in the grips of a pandemic as the backdrop. On February 25, in partnership with San Pedro Waterfront Arts District Culture TALKS!, Culture Clash’s Richard Montoya (he/him) will talk with Retake host John Horn (he/him) about how the filming came to be and why this story continues to resonate almost twenty years after its premiere. We’ll also get a chance to see a few innings on the big screen and get a live performance from a member of the cast.
More from Richard Montoya:
We set out to film Chavez Ravine in 9 Innings. But how to film with theater money was a quandary. We tapped into the same gumption it takes to hit the boards nightly on small or big stages across the Southland: grab a few costumes from the trunk, a few lights from the boys in electrical, our trusted stage collaborators and we armed ourselves with Iphones 7 and 8 (not even 12!). To be nimble like the empty night, which meant no additional sound equipment.
So we hit the barren streets with a few LORT D, non-profit theater bucks and the brazen audacity that we were making Chinatown! All the elements that made early LA storytelling so compelling are here, like tried and true stock characters: wild growth of a hungry city, developers, city hall corruption, the poor, the Greater Good, eminent domain and those earnest citizens who dare to fight ambitious progress in the name of social justice.
We've curated selected innings especially for this evening, grateful to hit the silver screen in Old Pasadena tonight by way of San Pedro and East LA! Like an old Thomas Guide we traversed the Southland streets with glee and that weary knowledge that nothing is concrete in LA, except the river... Batter up!
Written & Created by Culture Clash. Produced by Center Theatre Group.
Listen to more episodes of Retake from LAist Studios here.
Presented in partnership with San Pedro Waterfront Arts District's Culture TALKS!
ABOUT CULTURE CLASH
Since 1984, Culture Clash (Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza) has been creating adventurous works for the national stage. Born in an art gallery in the heart of the Mission District of San Francisco that no longer exists, the performance trio knows about adversity and the need to evolve and find new ways to reach new audiences, especially in these pandemic times.
Other commissioned and produced works for Center Theatre Group include Water & Power, Bordertown Now, American Night, Carpa Clash and Palestine, New Mexico as well as a revival of Chavez Ravine at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. The troupe has also created new works for La Jolla Playhouse, Pasadena Playhouse, The Huntington, Arena Stage, Yale Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and The Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Other films from Culture Clash as well as solo works include: Water & Power, Playing with Fire: The Art of Carlos Almaraz (Netflix) and The Other Barrio. Culture Clash members have appeared in and consulted on films such as Coco and Nacho Libre. New works include Suicide on Telegraph for Berkeley Rep.
ABOUT SAN PEDRO WATERFRONT ARTS DISTRICT
In San Pedro, the arts and the waterfront are primary resources of the revitalization of the area and provide physical, social, cultural and economic benefits to strengthen and sustain the community.
Over time, many artists and arts and cultural organizations have found a home in San Pedro and have become vital to the community. The San Pedro Waterfront Arts District is home to over 30 studios and galleries, many unique/non-chain restaurants and at least a dozen world class artists who own property in and around San Pedro.
The Arts District's arts appreciation series was begun in 2018 on Mexico’s Independence Day, as an expression of our commitment to community arts education.
Now called Culture TALKS!, these programs will seek common ground by engaging participants in conversations about culture and how the arts inspire empathy, understanding and identity.
This series is conceived to further establish the Arts District as a thought leader, inform the public of cultural equity issues and demonstrate the power of art to promulgate change.
As we celebrate our diversity, we seek to enrich our collective sense of place, to unite us as a community. Speakers are selected based on their art and activism and will discuss how Los Angeles residents are rising to challenges, affecting not only artists, but the existence of healthy, sustainable, diverse communities.
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