Southern California

Theatrical Works Challenge, Question, Inspire

"Citizen: An American Lyric," an adaption of the acclaimed Claudia Rankine book, is at The Fountain Theatre.

Theater goers have ventured to the amphitheater, the music hall, the indie stage, and the local playhouse for thousands of years, the better to be informed, challenged, and led to a new place of thinking and approaching life.

This connection, between viewer and thought-provoking theatrical works, doesn't take a vacation in the summertime, in order to make way for so-called less intense fare. Live productions that leave the audience member with more to ponder and more to work on and more to pursue, beyond the theater doors, can affirm and inspire, all year long.

Look to the host of riveting, question-asking plays and presentations on now around Southern California, including...

"Citizen: An American Lyric": Claudia Rankine is one of the most accoladed scribes around -- she recently received a National Book Critics Circle Award -- and her work of "Citizen: An American Lyric" as adapted by Stephen Sachs, is gaining plenty of notice. Taking on "the insidious and pervasiveness of little everyday acts of racism in our culture," the presentation, directed by Shirley Jo Finney, finds its inspiration in Ms. Rankine's poetry and vision. It runs through the middle of September at The Fountain Theatre.

New Original Works Festival: REDCAT is at the forefront for envelope-pushing ideas and envelope-opening notions and the revealing of fresh contents inside, so it makes sense that the downtown institution serves up a host of short pieces each summer of a truly gripping nature. The fest, on through Aug. 15, takes on "the fleeting nature of success," "the silence around violence," and other topics sure to provoke after-the-curtain conversation for days (and months) to come.

"Bent": A number of plays that premiered in the 1970s still resonate in both theme and urgency via new stagings, new casts, new audiences. This love story by playwright Martin Sherman, which delves into "the deepest, darkest moments of one man's fight to survive gay persecution in 1930s Germany," has continued to make its moving mark since its 1979 premiere on Broadway. The Moisés Kaufman-directed work is on at the Mark Taper Forum through Aug. 23. 

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