Monday, June 04, 2007


Three particularly good nights in June

Not a ton of time today to re-hash, speculate and wax poetic, so I'll get right to it.

FREEDOM BOUND - the City at Peace-L.A. performance directed by none other than Our Woman in LA - had its run this weekend at the Nate Holden Theater. There's not much that I could say to quantify how great the show was. Take 100 Tuesday Top 5's, multiply by 1,000, and you're maybe within spitting distance.

There we were - all of us in the audience - watching 45 teens from all over LA, from really diverse backgrounds racially, culturally, economically. Listening to them tell us about the issues that concern them, the monsters (both real and theoretical) that haunt them. Learning about how a generation of teens - none of whom are old enough to remember the Rodney King riots - are preparing themselves to deal with racism, sexual identity, violence, media saturation, and the repercussions of all manner of abuses.

Heavy stuff, but delivered with charm, energy, and even occasional humor. And great songs.

It hasn't been an easy year for City at Peace - L.A. Right after Our Woman in L.A. was hired as artistic director there, the company considered shutting down for lack of funding. City at Peace backers, including my bride, fought that. They argued that Los Angeles needed City at Peace, that the kids who benefit from it couldn't be left behind.

So the program held on, but Steph would be required to put together their show in six months instead of 10. So what'd she do? First, she did extensive outreach, expanded the cast from 20 to 45. Then she brought on extraordinary support - a music director and choreographer from the Debbie Allen Theater, an assistant director with a bunch of credits to his name.

It wasn't always easy. Try getting 45 adults to do something. Hard, right? OK, now try with kids between the ages of 13 and 19. You know, the ones with the hormones and the righteous anger, but also the belief that maybe - just maybe - they can take control of their own worlds and make a change.

The result? Three great shows, 45 kids learning to work together, and some 800+ audience members getting a sense of what it's like to be a teen today.

I know I've posted this site before, but if you'd like to learn more about City at Peace, or check out stills and whatnot from the show (they should be posted relatively soon), check out their website:

Beyond that, I'll leave you with one last thing. The in-laws are in town, you see, and Our Man in LA's got work to do. There are a million touching things to tell you about the weekend, and a million funny things (including the First Official Our Woman in LA Imitation Contest, but I digress).

The night of the premiere show - Friday - Our Man in LA worked backstage and watched the kids at work. I heard my wife tell them before the curtains opened that she was honored to learn from each and every one of them, and that although this had been the hardest year of her life as a director, it had been worth every moment.

On Sunday, as the show closed and artistic staff were invited onstage with the kids, I heard the teens chanting Our Woman in LA's name. "Steph-a-nie! Steph-a-nie! Steph-a-nie!"

Calling her Our Woman in LA was a bit unwieldy, I guess.

This way seemed better, anyhow.

Later . . .

congrats to our woman in LA! we'll give our standing ovation when you hit chicago in july. ;)

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