Emerging from under the forbidding
shadows of TV and movies, L.A. Theatre Works has played a major
role in the revival of a nearly lost art form: radio drama. Since
including two full-length novels, 200-plus plays and numerous
short stories. Backed by the National Endowment for the Arts,
California Arts Council, L.A. Cultural Affairs Department, L.A.
County Music & Performing Arts Commission and many private
foundations, corporations and individuals, the arts organization
has adapted major works from America's regional theatres, making
them accessible to millions of Americans via National Public
Radio - and locally on KCRW 89.9 FM. The plays are also broadcast
internationally through NPR, BBC Radio and BBC World Service.
According to founder and producing director Susan Albert Loewenberg,
radio. Part of that challenge
is to translate the visual effects of a stage production into
"We spend a lot of time and energy making that translation,"
Loewenberg said. "A set evokes a certain mood. An interesting
example of that is Athol Fugard's "The Road to Mecca,"
where the central image of the play is when the stage goes dark,
illuminated only by dozens of candles. To help the listening
audience understand this potent visual image and its meaning
for the play, we used music that had a swirling, spiritual quality,
which perfectly evoked the moment."
Actors accustomed to communicating with the help of gestures
and facial expressions must follow BBC Radio director Martin
Jenkins' famous dictum about using their voices: "half the
volume, twice the intensity."
The American premiere of "Sheindele," a rare glimpse
into life in the ultra-orthodox Jewish Mea Shearim Quarter of
Jerusalem, will be performed March 4, 5, 6 and 7 at the Doubletree
Guest Suites in Santa Monica. The play coincides with Israel's
"Time Flies," an evening of six comic one-acts by David
Ives, starring Ed Begley, Jr. and Christopher McDonald, launches
the spring-summer season to be performed at the group's new venue
at the end of March: the Skirball Cultural Center.
Recent past productions include: "M. Butterfly" by
David Henry Hwang with John Lithgow and B.D. Wong from the original
Broadway production, Athol Fugard's "The Road to Mecca"
featuring Julie Harris, Amy Irving and Harris Yulin; and Annette
Bening in "Fallen Angels."
L.A. Theatre Works boasts the participation of many stars from
TV and film, including: Julie Harris, Richard Dreyfuss, Hector
Elizondo, Paul Winfield, Amy Irving, Charles During, Annette
Bening, Walter Mathau, Ed Asner, Jason Robards, John Lithgow,
Marsha Mason, Tyne Daly, JoBeth Williams and Kelsey Grammer.
For ticket purchase information, call the LA. Theatre Works box
office at (310) 827-0889.