Theatre Ensemble Devoted to Asian-American Themes Closes

After 10 years, the Lodestone Theatre Ensemble begins its last production before closing its doors for good in December

By Julie Brayton
|  Tuesday, Oct 27, 2009  |  Updated 12:19 PM PDT
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Lodestone Theatre Company Takes Its Final Bow

The play "Grace Kim & the Spiders" in rehearsal.

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Lodestone Theatre Company Takes Its Final Bow

Young Asian-American actors, writers, producers and directors have been re-defining what appropriate Asian theatre means for 10 years now, and have decided their mission has been accomplished, and it's time to move on.
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It was born out of the LA Riots, and now it faces the end of its existence.

The Lodestone Theatre Ensemble was built on the idea that Asian actors, directors and producers should embrace their heritage, rather than be limited by it.

After 10 years of blending Asian-American themes within the framework of American culture, the Lodestone company is getting ready to tell its final tale, before shutting the doors for good.

The theater isn't closing because of the bad economy; rather it was a conscious choice made a few years ago.

The last production, "Grace Kim & the Spiders from Mars" opens Nov. 14 and ends Dec. 20.

Inspired by classic screwball comedies, "Grace Kim & The Spiders From Mars" tells the story of Grace, a young Korean American woman, who has withdrawn from the world after the death of her mother 10 years ago. But Grace's life is thrown upside down when she meets her sister's fiancé and falls in love with him, according to the Lodestone website.

"For our final show, I wanted to write something that would be accessible and funny," says Co-Artistic Director Philip W. Chung. "But I also wanted the play to reflect our history. Whether you've been coming to our plays from the start or this is your first time, I hope you walk away with a sense of what Lodestone meant to my colleagues and me."

Lodestone Theatre Ensemble began as the Society of Heritage Performer (SHP) in 1995, following the Los Angeles riots, according to its website.

Veteran film and television actor, Soon-Tek Oh feared media coverage of the 1994 Los Angeles Riots only defined Asian Americans as immigrant store owners who fell victim to violence.

He wanted to counter this image on America's media landscape, so he founded the Society of Heritage Performers.

In 1999, SHP evolved into the company now known as Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, an independent not-for-profit group.

The Lodestone Ensemble itself was founded by Alexandra Bokyun Chun, Philip W. Chung, Chil Kong and Tim Lounibos. Their goal was to focus on embracing a broader pan-Asian Pacific American identity within America's multicultural society.

Since 1999, Lodestone has presented over 80 main-stage productions, special events and Yellow Box readings/workshops of both new and established works.

Also the Lodestone company has performed in venues all across the country, and has won several awards.

Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. (no show on Thanksgiving, Nov. 26), Sundays at 2 p.m., Nov. 14-Dec. 20, with low-priced previews on Nov. 12 and 13 at 8 p.m.

Tickets have been lowered to the same price as the first show in 1999: $12 for general admission and $10 each for reserved groups of 10 or more.

Tickets for the Nov. 14 opening night gala, including a post-show reception, are $25. All Sunday matinees (except Dec. 20) will be pay-what-you-can admission with a $1 minimum.

For more information, call the Lodestone Theatre Ensemble hotline at 323-993-7245 or visit www.lodestonetheatre.org, www.facebook.com/lodestonetheatre.

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