Rehearsing Touch the Water – A River Play

May 12, 2009 § 1 Comment

Touch the Water postcard

Touch the Water postcard

I bet you didn’t know that some of your favorite creek freaks are learning to be actors?!?  Well… I am in the thick of rehearsals for the new play Touch the Water which is being created by the Cornerstone Theater Company.

Cornerstone is a very community-based theater company.  They commission a playwright, in this case Julie Hébert, to go into a community and interview folks.  The playwright then comes up with an original play that incorporates the stories, issues, settings and characters.   At that point, Cornerstone encourages community folks to audition for parts in the play… then the next phase of work begins. From the Cornerstone mission: “By making theater with and for people of many ages, cultures and levels of theatrical experience, Cornerstone builds bridges between and within diverse communities in our home city of Los Angeles and nationwide.”  This is very true – the cast comes in all colors, ages, shapes and sizes, kinda like the communities along the river.  Touch the Water is directed by Juliette Carrillo, who also directed Lydia which is on-stage right now through May 17th at the Mark Taper Forum (and phenomenal – go see it!)

I play a character named Joe Swift, who is  a US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) biologist who really wants to make a difference – “to work with nature instead of trying to control it.” I think of Joe Swift as a kind of mix of Carol Armstrong, Heather Wylie, Carvell Bass, and Sabrina Drill (these are real people who work for, respectively, the LA City Bureau of Engineering, formerly USACE, USACE, and University of California Extension.)  The character in the play who I think most resembles me is an activist named Jade Kenton-Denton Green – an architect who leads tours of the river.  River activists Lewis MacAdams, Terry Young and Lane Barden also have roles, as well as folks I’ve met from the Glendale Narrows community of Frogtown, including Cecilia Dominguez, Ricky Dominguez, and Joel Jimenez.  Rounding out the cast are many excellent actors and musicians who’ve worked with Cornerstone on past productions.

It has already been a great experience for me.  As I learn some of the craft of acting, I feel like I am stretching muscles that I didn’t know I had.  Just when I think I have a scene memorized, I find myself thinking about which way I am moving or facing, and then forgetting my line.  I promise I will get all those lines and movements down before we open, though!

I am not going to give away much of the storyline here, so you’ll still have to come and see the play.  It does involve plenty of magic, rain, pocket parks that filter stormwater, gentrification, Tongva, an architect, a biologist, a performance artist, fishermen, a community garden, a sledgehammer, a speargun, a sketchbook, a shopping cart, carp, a crow, a raccoon, a heron, an egret, ducks, and even a sea turtle.

Touch the Water performances are Wednesday through Sunday from May 28th through June 21st 2009.  All performances are at 8pm.  All tickets are pay-what-you-can, with a suggested donation/price of $20.  You can reserve tickets right now – online at Cornerstone’s website.

Performances take place along the northeast side of the Los Angeles River across from Frogtown (adjacent to Atwater Village and Glassell Park – by the 2 Freeway.)  The site is called the “bowtie parcel” of Taylor Yard (which was purchased by California State Parks as part of the Rio de Los Angeles State Park – but is not contiguous with the existing Rio de Los Angeles park!)  The address there is 2800 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90039.  Like many spots along the L.A. River it’s kinda tough to get to, but it’s quite nice once you’re there – it’s in the Glendale Narrows, where the bottom of the river isn’t paved, so there’s lots of birds and trees and flowing waters.

To get to the bowtie parcel, you can either walk or bike along the northeast bank (the Atwater side) of the river from Fletcher Drive.  It’s walkable from the Metro 603 bus on Fletcher or the 96 on Riverside Drive.    If you drive, you enter from Casitas Avenue, which runs along the railroad tracks in Atwater.  From the map, it would seem like you could take Fletcher to Casitas, but they don’t actually intersect, because Fletcher goes below Casitas when it’s going under the railroad tracks.  Follow the driving directions on the Cornerstone website and you can’t miss it.  There is plenty of parking at the site.

We’re also working on putting together a series of walks and talks before and after many performances.  L.A. Creek Freak will let you know when the schedule is finalized for these – keep your RSS tuned here!

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