Sunday, June 30, 2013

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay Tells Venus Williams' Story in New ESPN Documentary 'Venus vs.'


By Darlene Donloe

Venus Williams has already proven she’s a force to be reckoned with on the tennis court.  

When VenusWilliams emerged on the scene and turned pro in 1994, she literally changed the face and the game of tennis!

In the documentary, Venus vs., Williams proves she’s also a force to be reckoned with in life.   Not only is she a savvy businesswoman, she is also a women’s advocate who stepped up and fought for equality in the professional tennis world. For her efforts, Williams took the brunt of a backlash that initially cost her some popularity within her sport.

Venus Vs. is a part of ESPN’s “Nine for IX” series on female athletes and will be premiere on the channel on July 2nd.


Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, who in 2012 became the first African-American woman to win the Best Director Prize at the Sundance Film Festival - for her second feature film Middle of Nowhere, has directed a solid documentary on Williams that pulls back the curtain on a part of the tennis world that is not widely known. For instance: up until recently men and women players received a disproportionate amount of prize money for winning various tournaments. Apparently women only received a fraction of a male tennis player’s winnings. Williams, along with her friend, mentor and multiple Wimbledon champion Billie Jean King, took on the challenge of getting women equal pay in the male dominated world of tennis.  King had started the fight decades earlier, but didn’t get much support. In fact, she ran into a brick wall.

The story goes something like this: It all began 45 years in 1968 ago when Billie Jean King won Wimbledon and earned £750 in prize money while the men’s singles champion, Rod Laver won £2,000.  King began the fight for equal pay and eventually succeeded in persuading the U.S. Open to offer the same prize money to men and women.  But the other three Grand Slam tournaments—the French Open, the Australian Open, and the crown jewel of Wimbledon were slow to change and continued to pay women less.  Over the years women’s prize money rose, but it still wasn’t equal to that of the male stars.  In the interviews for the documentary King explains that it would require another strong-willed, highly visible woman to take the fight to the next level. 


Enter Compton native Venus Williams.

DuVernay, who kept the narrative sharp and focused, starts from the beginning, highlighting Williams’ meteoric rise in the tennis world, which started at the age of 14. 

In 2000, Williams won Wimbledon and received about 80% of what her male counterpart, Pete Sampras, would receive.

In what is an obvious futile attempt at rationalizing, some of the male players and officials actually tried to justify why men were paid higher prize money. Some pointed out that women only played three sets and men played five. Female players welcomed the opportunity to play five sets, but were denied.

Not surprisingly, during his interview bad boy tennis player John McEnroe admitted to sharing in sexist prejudices when he was a star player, but has since changed his view considering he’s the father of four daughters.

Eventually the French Open and the Australian Open equaled the pay of all players, leaving Wimbledon as the lone holdout.

Digging in her heels, Williams, using her power and influence, eventually made a personal appearance before the Wimbledon committee, wrote a persuasive article for the London Times, and even helped to persuade Parliament and Prime Minister Tony Blair to take up the issue.  Finally, in 2007 when she won her fourth Wimbledon championship, she finally got the same pay as her male counterpart, Roger Federer.

This is a 50-minute, awe-inspiring film. It’s a tribute to how perseverance and determination trumps tradition.

When asked why she decided to make her fourth documentary on a sports figure, DuVernay said, “ESPN asked me if there was anything I wanted to make. I wasn’t into sports, but I wanted to do this. I asked a lot of guy friends about possible subjects. One suggested Venus. I sent it to ESPN. They said yes quickly.”

She also admitted there was a bit of a homegirl connection. 

“I’ve always been taken by Venus,” said DuVernay. “She’s from Compton. I’m from Compton. I’ve always had an affinity and affection for her.  I’m just trying to tell a story the best I can."

DuVernay (I Will Follow, This Is The Life) should win a grand slam for this doc. With minimalist filmmaking that uses mostly headshots and relies on archival footage, she has presented a winning story.  Even though the audience knows the outcome of many of the games shown in tournament footage, it’s still edge of your seat excitement. You find yourself rooting for Williams even though you know she has already won.


A former World No. 1 player, Williams is currently ranked 35 in singles. However, she has been ranked No. 1 in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association on three separate occasions. She became the first African American woman to achieve that honor in 2002. Her seven Grand Slam singles titles tie her for twelfth on the all time list. Her 22 overall Grand Slam titles consist of seven in singles, 13 in women’s doubles and two in mixed doubles. Her five Wimbledon singles titles tie her with two other women for eighth place on the all-time list. She is one of only four women in the open era to have won five or more Wimbledon singles titles. 

Tennis greats John McEnroe and Maria Sharapova were great additions to the documentary. 

"I got everyone I wanted for the documentary," says DuVernay. "It took some time, but I got Maria Sharapova. We caught her in Malibu.  McEnroe was grouchy. But, by the second question, he was comfortable."

Venus vs., which was part of the recent Los Angeles Film Festival is the second documentary this year to feature Venus Williams. The first, Venus and Serena, came out last spring and centered on her relationship with her sister and fellow competitor, Serena Williams

This time Venus takes the spotlight – alone. It’s a fascinating look at a fascinating woman and elite athlete.

Kudos to everyone involved. Venus vs. is a winner!

Venus vs. is directed and written by Ava DuVernay, produced by Howard Barish and DuVernay. Arthur Jafa, Kate Reid and Hans Charles are directors of photography and Spencer Averick is the editor.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), Venus vs. gets an E (excellent).

**photos courtesy of ESPN

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Foxx and Tatum Star in 'White House Down'

By Darlene Donloe

For the second time this year, the White House has fallen into the hands of bad guys. First was Antoine Fuqua’s successful Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler. 

This weekend it’s Roland Emmerich’s White House Down, starring Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum.

Ok, to be honest, it’s not that much different from Olympus.  The story is familiar, the destruction is almost as equal and the outcome is no surprise.

Still, White House Down is an entertaining, fast-paced, shoot ‘em up that is the perfect popcorn movie for the summer.

Jamie Foxx brings his quick repartee and comedic-timing while Channing Tatum brings his good looks, boyish charm and leading man status.  The combination is electric. The chemistry between two of the hottest male actors in Hollywood is palpable.  It’s a welcomed addition to the movie -  giving its enormous amount of gregarious, over-the-top violence, which plays right into the hands of the boys/men club.

In Columbia Pictures’ White House Down, Capitol Policeman John Cale (Tatum) has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service of protecting President James Sawyer (Foxx).  Not wanting to let down his little girl, Emily (Joey King) with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House. During the course of the tour, President James Sawyer (Foxx), an idealistic former academic who chomps on Nicorette to keep from smoking  - stops by to greet the visitors and grants Emily a brief interview for her video blog.
Moments later the iconic, historic symbol of America is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group.  

A Capitol Hill policeman and Afghanistan War vet, it’s Cale to the rescue. The only thing standing between the overthrow of the government and world peace is Cale, who is presented with the monumental task of saving his daughter, the POTUS and the country.


There are several scenes where the bad guys are crack shots. However, for some reason when they aimed their big automatic weapons at the POTUS and Cale, they miss horribly.  There shooting is actually comical. But, that and several of the throw away one-liners in the film, make it a FUN-tastic film.

For instance, after POTUS loses a shoe, he goes to his closet and picks out some Jordan’s to don instead of his standard POTUS lace ups. However, when one of the bad guys grabs him by the ankles, Foxx kicks him repeatedly while saying, “don’t ever touch my Jordans.”


Columbia Pictures presents a Mythology Entertainment / Centropolis Entertainment production, White House Down.  The film, directed by blockbuster guru Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow” and “2012”), stars Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins and James Woods.  Written by James Vanderbilt.  Produced by Bradley J. Fischer, Harald Kloser, James Vanderbilt, Larry Franco, and Laeta Kalogridis.  Executive Producers are Ute Emmerich, Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin. 

White House Down, which opens June 28, has been rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for prolonged sequences of action and violence including intense gunfire and explosions, some language and a brief sexual image.  Running time: 2 hrs. 17 min.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), White House Down gets an OK.

Center Theatre Group Announces 10th Season

2013-2014 Douglas Season Includes the World Premiere Musical “The Black Suits”
Barry McGovern in his Critically Acclaimed Beckett Piece “I’ll Go On”
The World Premiere Drama “different words for the same thing”
A Re-Twisting of The Second City’s “A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens”
And DouglasPlus Programming of Three L.A. Solo Performers:
Luis Alfaro’s “St. Jude” in its World Premiere Production,
Trieu Tran’s “Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam”
and Roger Guenveur Smith’s “Rodney King”

The New Season Begins September 14, 2013, and Runs Through June 1, 2014.
[For complete listing of plays and performance dates, please see final page of release.]

            Center Theatre Group is celebrating its 10th anniversary at the Kirk Douglas Theatre with a season that encapsulates the variety and artistry that has filled the first nine seasons.
Since the theatre’s birth in late 2004, over 70 productions, workshops and readings have been presented – new, edgy, boundary-pushing pieces along with the best of American classics and of international fare. Twenty of these productions were world premieres. Three works moved to Broadway:  the world premieres of Alex Timbers’ and Michael Friedman’s musical “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and Rajiv Joseph’s dark comedy (and Pulitzer Prize finalist) “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” and the revival of William Inge’s “Come Back, Little Sheba.”  Other works were produced off-Broadway and at regional theatres throughout the country.
“We stated early on that the Douglas would offer as broad a scope of theatre as possible,” said CTG Artistic Director Michael Ritchie. “With the announcement of the 2013-2014 season, we are definitely continuing that commitment.”
Three world premieres, seven productions in all, are scheduled for the 10th season at the Douglas. The works range from a new rock musical to a sweeping new drama to a masterful interpretation of the works of Beckett, plus the bonus option of The Second City’s one-of-a-kind Christmas show. In addition, three Los Angeles solo artists will be presented in the popular DouglasPlus program, and will represent CTG in the Radar L.A. festival.
“I’m really looking forward to the premiere of the rock musical ‘The Black Suits,’” said Ritchie. “Joe Iconis is a young musical theatre artist to watch, and his and Robert Maddock’s story of a suburban garage band takes us all back to younger days and the powerful effect that music has on our lives.
Kimber Lee’s story in the premiere of her “different words for the same thing” is a beautiful, haunting homage to sweeping, multi-generational tales of families and communities, and I welcome the work of this important, rising young playwright.”
“We are also very lucky to have Barry McGovern with us again,” said Ritchie.  “His poignant Vladimir in Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ last year at the Mark Taper Forum was unforgettable.  This season, Ireland’s beloved son returns with his celebrated one-man show, ‘I’ll Go On,’ based on three Beckett novels. I can’t wait to see this talented actor at the Douglas.
“The best holiday gift we can give is the happy return of The Second City’s ‘A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!’ by Second City alums Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort. The audiences loved this show in its world premiere last year, and for good reason.  It’ll be fun to see what is meant by this year’s promise of ‘re-loaded and re-twisted.’
“An important part of the Kirk Douglas Theatre experience is our DouglasPlus programming. We often feature works that have shorter runs but have maximum effect.  This season we will be presenting three important solo artists from Los Angeles: Luis Alfaro and the world premiere of his ‘St. Jude,’ Trieu Tran and his ‘Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam’ and Roger Guenveur Smith and his ‘Rodney King.’ One-person shows cut to the heart of theatre: a performer, a stage and a story that needs to be told.”
“As we planned this special 10th anniversary season at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, many happy memories popped into my mind,” said Ritchie.  “Memories of exciting plays and musicals created on the Douglas stage, of emerging theatre artists spreading their wings, and of audiences enjoying live theatre in that special intimate space.  Over the last nine years artists and audiences together have brought life, light and magic back to our  transformed movie house.  It has been a wonderful adventure.  Here’s to the new season and to the all seasons (and decades) to follow.”

 “The Black Suits”
Music and Lyrics by Joe Iconis
Book by Joe Iconis and Robert Maddock
Directed by John Simpkins
World Premiere
October 27 – November 24, 2013

            The high energy, soaring dreams and emotional intensity of being in a high school garage band are captured in the world premiere of the engaging “The Black Suits,” a new rock musical presented at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, October 27 through November 24.  Opening is set for November 3.
            With music and lyrics by Joe Iconis, and book by Iconis and Robert Maddock, “The Black Suits,” directed by John Simpkins, is set in a garage in suburban Long Island where four boys (lead singer, guitar, bass and drums) are preparing for stardom by way of the St. Anne’s Battle of the Bands.
             The band and the music give focus and sustenance to the boys whose lives are filled with teenage angst and longing, struggles with friends and girlfriends, and the need to make choices. For one brief summer they find escape in the camaraderie of the band, the sheer fun of creating and playing music and the core belief in the “transformative coolness of rock ‘n’ roll.”
            Joe Iconis is a musical theatre writer and concert performer.  He has been nominated for two Drama Desk Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award, and is the recipient of an Ed Kleban Award, a Jonathan Larson Award, an ASCAP Harold Adamson Lyric Award, and a MAC John Wallowitch Songwriting Award.  Joe’s songs appeared on the second season of NBC’s “Smash.” He is the author of “Bloodsong of Love” (directed by John Simpkins; Ars Nova and NAMT Festival of New Musicals), “ReWrite” (Urban Stages, Goodspeed Opera House Festival of New Artists), Theaterworks USA’s “The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks” and “We The People” (The Lortel, national tour). The original cast recording of his theatrical rock concert “Things To Ruin” and his pop/rock album “The Joe Iconis Rock and Roll Jamboree” are both available on Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records.  He is currently working on a musical adaptation of Ned Vizzini’s “Be More Chill” (with Joe Tracz) and a musical about Hunter S. Thompson (with Gregory S. Moss).
            Robert Emmett Maddock is a Jonathan Larson award-winning lyricist and a graduate of the Tisch program at NYU. He is the lyricist of the Nightlife award-winning cabaret/concert “Triumphant Baby” (music by Joe Iconis) and the Daryl Lee Roth award-winning musical “Plastic! The Musical” (music by Iconis and Reza Jacobs). Maddock’s writing has been featured in NYMF, NAMT and SPF events, as well as the Bound For Broadway concert series at Lincoln Center. The Dramatist magazine included Maddock on their list of “writers to watch.”

Gate Theatre production of
Barry McGovern in
I’ll Go On”
by Samuel Beckett
From “Molloy,” “Malone Dies” and “The Unnamable”
Texts Selected by Gerry Dukes and Barry McGovern
Directed by Colm Ó Briain
January 10 – February 9, 2014

Celebrated Beckett interpreter Barry McGovern returns to Center Theatre Group following his memorable performance last year as Vladimir in the acclaimed production of “Waiting for Godot” at the Mark Taper Forum. 
This season, for the first time in Los Angeles, McGovern performs in his tour-de-force, one-man show, “I’ll Go On” by Samuel Beckett in the Gate Theatre production presented at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, January 10 through February 9, 2014. The opening is set for January 12.
“I’ll Go On,” which is based on three of Beckett’s novels – “Molloy,” “Malone Dies” and “The Unnamable,” is directed by Colm Ó Briain. Texts from the works have been selected by Gerry Dukes and McGovern.
            First performed at the Gate Theatre in Dublin in 1985, “I’ll Go On” has toured worldwide to great critical acclaim.
            Charles Isherwood of The New York Times said, “Certainly language turns plenty of somersaults in the skilled interpretations by Mr. McGovern … [McGovern] embodies these variously abject, embittered and infuriated story spinners with an intensity that both tickles and stings.” “… An outright triumph … arrestingly funny,” remarked William A. Henry III of Time magazine.  Adam Perlman of Backstage said, “… McGovern – technically flawless, emotionally dazzling – is the consummate Beckett clown. His entire performance is an instinctive shriek of pain that, on second thought, he converts to a belly laugh.”
            Barry McGovern, a leading figure in Irish theatre for many years, has performed at the   Gate Theatre in Dublin in “Waiting for Godot,” “Endgame,” “Happy Days” and two one-man Beckett shows, “I’ll Go On” and “Watt,” which have played worldwide, most recently at the Perth and Edinburgh festivals.  He has appeared in a number of films including “Joe Versus the Volcano,” “The General” and “Far and Away.”  Recent theatre work includes “An Enemy of the People” and “Glengarry Glen Ross.” On TV he has appeared in “Gift of the Magi,” “The Tudors” and “Game of Thrones.”
            The Gate Theatre has been, artistically and architecturally, a landmark for over 250 years. Established as a theatre company in 1928, the Gate offered Dublin audiences an introduction to the world of European and American theatre as well as classics from the modern and Irish repertoire. It was with the Gate that Orson Welles, James Mason and Michael Gambon began their prodigious acting careers. Michael Colgan has been the Director of the Gate Theatre for 30 years and in that time he has produced a great many award-winning productions and festivals. Notably, these included five Pinter Festivals and six Beckett Festivals.  Many of the productions have been seen throughout the world from Beijing to New York, Sydney to Toronto and London to Melbourne. Most recently, the Gate produced B.P.M. – a Beckett Pinter Mamet Festival, which comprised a season of works dedicated to the writings of these great writers.

“different words for the same thing”
by Kimber Lee
Directed by Neel Keller
World Premiere
May 4 through June 1, 2014

            The world premiere of Kimber Lee’s remarkable new play, “different words for the same thing,” directed by CTG Associate Artistic Director Neel Keller, will be presented May 4 through June 1, 2014, at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.  The opening is set for May 11.
            Set in the small town in southwestern Idaho, and the vast spaces that surround it, “different words for the same thing” depicts the intersecting lives of the townspeople as they deal with the web of love, tradition, religion, politics and heartbreak that connect them all.
            In a series of intimate, deeply felt scenes, Lee introduces Marta and Henry, three generations of their family, and many of their friends and neighbors, including a Mexican-American restaurant owner and his teenage daughter, a funeral director, a hairdresser’s assistant, a donut shop owner, a priest, and the town busybody.  All are linked to the heartbeat and daily life of the community in ways reminiscent of Thornton Wilder’s classic “Our Town.”
Alice, the Korean American woman adopted by Marta and Henry as a child, no longer lives in Idaho. She has not been home for years but compelling family news is now calling her back.  Her return will unearth secrets and smoldering conflicts but it will also heal wounds, bring happiness and help her find her true home.
With a subtle, sometimes mysterious mixture of the present and the past, “different words for the same thing” wrestles with the joys and compromises of love, family and being an American in the 21st century.
            Kimber Lee’s other plays include “fight,” tokyo fish story” and “brownsville song (b-side for tray).”  Her work has been presented by: Lark Play Development Center, Page 73 Productions, Hedgebrook Women Playwrights Festival, Seven Devils Playwrights Conference, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Dramatists Guild Fellows, Represent Playwrights Festival at ACT/Seattle, The Playwrights’ Center, Theatre of the 1st Amendment/1st Light, Great Plains Theatre Conference (mainstage), Southern Rep, and Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company.  She received the 2010 Holland New Voices Award, and has been a finalist for the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, Ruby Prize, Soho Writer/Director Lab, and Premiere Stages Play Festival. Kimber is a 2012-2013 Lark Playwrights’ Workshop Fellow, member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab, and the 2013-2014 recipient of the PoNY Fellowship.  She has her MFA from the University of Texas, Austin.

Bonus Option
The Second City’s
“A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!”
by Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort
Directed by Marc Warzecha
December 8 through 29, 2013

            The genius of The Second City will once again take over the Kirk Douglas Theatre as the legendary comedy theatre group gleefully delivers its special brand of holiday cheer with “A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!” for three weeks only as a special season bonus option, December 8 through 29, 2013. The opening is set for December 12.
            Last year’s world premiere of “Twist Your Dickens!” was an audience favorite, broke all box office records, and according to Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times, “… brought me the gift of laughter.” 
The creative team describes this year’s offering as “reloaded and re-twisted – the same show you loved last year, just better.” “Twist Your Dickens!” is written by a team of Second City alums, Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort, directed by Second City alum Marc Warzecha, and performed by a cast of talented Second City performers yet to be announced.
            Created in collaboration with CTG, The Second City’s satirical twist on Dickens, features Scrooge, the Cratchits and all the time-traveling ghosts normally found in this uplifting holiday fare. “Twist Your Dickens!” also breathes new life into the classic tale of hope and redemption with celebrity guests, audience-interactive improvisation, a few new characters, and a festive party atmosphere in the lobby – complete with the cocktails Tiny Timtinis and Scroogedrivers.
            As McNulty noted last year, “… this twist on Dickens is good medicine for a harried season. …” CTG is thrilled that the yuletide comedy pharmacy will be open and dispensing liberally again this year.
            The Second City, which specializes in sketch comedy and improvisation, has delighted audiences for over 50 years. With resident stages in Chicago and Toronto and touring ensembles, The Second City entertains over a million guests each year. It is also the largest training center in the world for improvisation, sketch and acting, with schools in Los Angeles, Chicago and Toronto, and 20,000 registrations per year. The Second City served as a training ground for a host of famous alumni, including Mike Myers, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, John Candy, John Belushi, Catherine O’Hara, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and more. Colbert said, “The Second City was everything to me,” and Murray said, “Second City is the best job anybody in the American theatre can get.  It’s incomparable.” The New York Times reported that “The entire recent tradition of America satire can be summed up in three words: The Second City.”
            Peter Gwinn is one of the original writers for “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central, for which he won two Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards and three Writers Guild Awards.  He has performed and taught improv and sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York, the iO Theater in Chicago, as well as with the Second City National Touring Company, where he got into trouble because back then, his bio was Roddy McDowell’s bio with his name on it. 
Bobby Mort is an actor and comedian living in Los Angeles. He's written for “The Colbert Report” and is the writer behind several action movies involving people punching each other. Bobby grew up in South Carolina before moving to Chicago where he trained at iO and performed for a number of years with the improv group People of Earth and sketch comedy trio Maximum Party Zone.  He is extremely excited to be working with Peter Gwinn and the fine folks of The Second City. 

“St. Jude”
Written and Performed by Luis Alfaro
Directed by Robert Egan
“Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam”
by Trieu Tran with Robert Egan
Directed by Robert Egan
“Rodney King”
Created and Performed by Roger Guenveur Smith

September 14 – October 6, 2013

            An exciting repertory of performances by some of the hottest solo theatre artists in Los Angeles will open the Kirk Douglas Theatre’s new season, September 14 through October 6, 2013, with the DouglasPlus presentations of Luis Alfaro’s “St. Jude,” Trieu Tran’s “Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam” and Roger Guenveur Smith’s “Rodney King.”
            The opening for “St. Jude” is September 20, and the openings for “Rodney King” and “Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam” will take place on September 22.
            The DouglasPlus trio of solo performances will be part of the Radar L.A. festival, the international contemporary theatre festival presented this fall by REDCAT and CalArts in association with Center Theatre Group.
            In “St. Jude,” written by Luis Alfaro and directed by Robert Egan, Alfaro faces his father’s stroke and a flood of family memories with poignant clarity and gentle humor. “St. Jude” was nurtured at the Ojai Playwrights Conference in 2012 and will have its world premiere at the Douglas.
            In “Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam,” written by Trieu Tran with Robert Egan, and directed by Egan, Tran recalls the harrowing journey he took from Vietnam to Canada to  the United States, and his quest to find some place to belong. The piece had its premiere last year at ACT Seattle.
            In “Rodney King,” created by Roger Guenveur Smith, new light is shed on the man whose famous question “Can’t we all get along?” continues to resonate 21 years after it was first posed to a riot-torn Los Angeles in 1992.
            Luis Alfaro is a Chicano writer/performer known for his work in poetry, theatre, short stories, performance and journalism. He is also a producer/director who spent 10  years at the CTG/Mark Taper Forum as Associate Producer, Director of New Play Development and Co-Director of the Latino Theatre Initiative. His plays and performances include “Oedipus El Rey,” “Bruja,” “Electricidad,” “Downtown,” “No Holds Barrio,” “Body of Faith,” “Straight as a Line,” “Bitter Homes and Gardens” and “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner,” among others. He wrote the film script for “From Prada to Nada,” and wrote and directed the short film “Chicanismo,” for which he was nominated for a local Emmy. He is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship, popularly known as a “genius grant.”
            Trieu Tran earned his B.A. in Performing Arts from American University. He has appeared in numerous theatrical productions including the role of Alan Strang in “Equus”  (LADCC nomination) with George Takei, the title role in “Oedipus The King, The Legacy Codes” (Dean Goodman Award) with TheatreWorks,  “Rashomon,” “As You Like It,” “Henry IV, Part One” (Hotspur), and the title role in “Richard III.”  He is also a frequent participant at the Ojai Playwrights Conference. His film work includes “Trade Of Innocents,” “Tropic Thunder,” “The Chaos Factor,” “Desperation,” “How High,”  “Hancock” and “Last Call,” and he has a recurring role on the HBO series “The Newsroom.”
            Actor, writer, and director Roger Guenveur Smith adapted his Obie Award-winning solo performance of “A Huey P. Newton Story” into a Peabody Award-winning telefilm.  For CTG he has created and performed “Juan and John,” “The Watts Towers Project,” “Iceland” and “Christopher Columbus 1992.” At Bootleg Theater, Roger has presented “Rodney King,” “Who Killed Bob Marley?,” “In Honor of Jean-Michel  Basquiat,” “Frederick Douglass Now,” “Patriot Act” and, with Mark Broyard, “Inside the  Creole  Mafia” (LA Weekly Production of the Year). He directed “Radio Mambo: Culture Clash Invades Miami” (Ovation Award) and the acclaimed “The Mountaintop.” He has appeared in eight films with Spike Lee, the HBO series “K Street,” and “American Gangster,” for which he was nominated for the Screen Actors' Guild Award.

2013-2014 Season is Currently Available by Season Ticket Memberships Only

            The 2013-2014 season at the Douglas is currently available by season ticket memberships only. Season members can also purchase in advance discounted tickets to The Second City’s “A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!” and also the DouglasPlus solo performances.
            A popular feature of the Kirk Douglas Theatre is The Lounge, where patrons can enjoy a cocktail before and after the show in the comfortable lobby of the theatre, and chat with the well-informed and engaging staff.  A new policy of the theatre is that drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic – can be taken into the seating area.
            Patrons are encouraged to come early and explore the interactive displays and activities in The Lounge that are specially crafted for each production. Past productions have included experiences as diverse as a punching bag in the historic ticket booth outside the theatre (for “The Royale”), a recording and listening station where patrons can record memories of pivotal moments in their lives (for “Krapp’s Last Tape”) and a series of citizenship tests which patrons could take to win prizes (for “American Night: The Ballad of Juan José”).
            In addition, certain productions feature post-show conversations in The Lounge facilitated by CTG’s knowledgeable and specially trained staff. Each production features Stage Talks (post-play discussions in the theatre) for two of the performances. Also available for each production is AfterWords, which takes place a week after the show has closed; audience members are encouraged to come back to the theatre for a fun, social hour of refreshments and a discussion of the play.
            Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre is located at 9820 Washington Blvd. in Culver City.  Parking is free in the nearby Culver City’s City Hall garage, and a number of the restaurants within steps of the theatre offer exclusive discounts to Douglas Theatre ticket holders.
            For information and to charge season tickets by phone, call the Exclusive Season Ticket Membership Hotline at (213) 972-4444. For more information about season tickets visit
            Center Theatre Group, a non-profit organization, is one of the largest and most active theatre companies in the nation, programming subscription seasons year-round at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and the 1,600 to 2,000-seat Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center of Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to providing theatre of the highest caliber to the rich, diverse communities of Southern California and beyond, CTG supports a significant number of play development and arts education initiatives.

Center Theatre Group’s 2013-2014 Season at the Kirk Douglas Theatre
(In chronological order.)
Three Solo Shows in Repertory -                                                                       
September 14 – October 6, 2013                        “St. Jude”
(Opens September 20 and 22.)             Written and Performed by
Part of Radar L.A. Festival,            Luis Alfaro
presented by REDCAT            Directed by Robert Egan
and CalArts in association with CTG.             World premiere.
Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam”
by Trieu Tran with Robert Egan
Directed by Robert Egan.
“Rodney King”
Created and Performed by
Roger Guenveur Smith.

First Season Production:
October 27 – November 24, 2013                        “The Black Suits”
(Opens November 3.)                                                Music and Lyrics by Joe Iconis
Book by Joe Iconis and Robert Maddock
Directed by John Simpkins
World premiere.

Season Bonus Option:
December 8 – 29, 2013                                    The Second City’s
(Opens December 12.)                                    “A Christmas Carol:
Twist Your Dickens!”
by Peter Gwinn and Bobby Mort           
Directed by Marc Warzecha.

Second Season Production:
January 10 – February 9, 2014                         Gate Theatre production of
(Opens January 12.)                                                 Barry McGovern in
“I’ll Go On”
By Samuel Beckett
From “Molloy,” “Malone Dies” and
“The Unnamable”
Texts selected by Gerry Dukes
and Barry McGovern
Directed by Colm Ó Briain.

Third Season Production:
May 4 – June 1, 2014                                                 different words for the same thing”
(Opens May 11.)                                                 by Kimber Lee
Directed by Neel Keller
World premiere.