30 YEARS of INNOVATIVE THEATERWORKS and COMMUNITY SERVICE
In 1988, four collaborators — all fresh out of school at CalArts — endeavored to form a professional creative partnership that would give voice to unique, untold stories and cultural perspectives. Over the next 30 years, About...Productions has built a reputation for innovative, award-winning theatrical productions and educational programs.
A FEW HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PAST 30 YEARS:
Our CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED interdisciplinary theaterworks have been seen extensively in Greater Los Angeles and North America, and on national television. Our original production of By The Hand of the Father (2000-2006), is a dramatization of the unique 20th century journey of the Mexican-American father. With original music by the illustrious Alejandro Escovedo, it has played numerous venues and festivals throughout North America, and was notably featured in the 2002-03 season of Austin City Limits -- the only time the long-running PBS music show has presented a theatrical work.
In recent years, we’ve actively expanded COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT via our Young Theaterworks educational program. Founded by Rose Portillo, this successful 18-year program serves L.A. area high school students who are highest risk or educationally challenged — introducing them to the power of writing. In concert with our teaching artists, we provide these students with the opportunity to write their own scripts and participate in presenting their work with professional actors. Through the process, they improve their literacy, communication and collaboration skills as they explore personal identity, family, community history, and social issues.
Locally, we’ve UNEARTHED L.A. HISTORY for new generations. They Shoot Mexicans, Don’t They? (2005 and 2017) inventively explored 1920's Los Angeles when the “Latin” cultural landscape was ripe for export (and exploitation) by West Coast playwrights and East Coast filmmakers. Collaboratively created by a team of Los Angeles-based artists, it was recently remounted in a site-specific version at the San Gabriel Mission Playhouse, and was the centerpiece of a multi-arts event series, “The Latin Wave: Exploring Myth, Illusion and Cultural Appropriation,” created in collaboration with the Playhouse.
Throughout, we’ve been CULTURAL FIRST RESPONDERS producing resonant stories and myriad opportunities for community dialogue. Most recently, our original presentation of Evangeline, the Queen of Make-Believe (2012 and 2018) provided a timely retelling of the East L.A. Walkouts, offering opportunities for learning and reflection by adults and students alike on the 50th anniversary of the historic event. The piece was remounted in 2018 just as Stoneman Douglas High School students and youth nationwide flooded the streets in protest of gun violence, once again highlighting the power of a unified youth movement. We’ll be sharing Evangeline once again in 2019 with added in depth workshops at five L.A.-area high schools.
The dynamism of our work is due in large part to COLLABORATION. For 30 years, we’ve partnered with leading Los Angeles-based musicians, writers, directors, designers, and performers -- all of whom have shared their artistic hearts with us, and have worked with us to create unique and vibrant works of theater. With special focus on injecting live music into our productions, we’ve shared the stage with Grammy-winning band Quetzal, showcased Grammy-winning singer Gaby Moreno, and we’ve been the first theater company to incorporate the famed Los Lobos songbook into an original theatrical production, thanks to the partnership of Grammy-winners Louie Pérez and David Hidalgo.
What’s Next for Us? Our latest endeavor is to engage the next generation of theater artists within the framework of our mission. With this, we’re currently developing our newest original work: Adobe Punk.
A work of historical fiction set in the early 1980s in working-class Bell Gardens, Adobe Punk will tell the story of three young punk music fans who find refuge in what turns out to be one of the oldest adobe homes in Los Angeles County (built by the Lugo family in 1850). Based on an idea by Gabriel Garza, the play will be written and directed by Garza and Producing Artistic Director Theresa Chavez, a mother and son team and 7th & 8th generation Lugos, who share a passion for exploring L.A. history. It will take cues from a set of L.A.-based punk songs that will be reimagined for solo piano and analog equipment by arranger/musician Sage Lewis. Set designer Dorothy Hoover will join the team to envision the house at the center of the story. This primarily young collaborative will create new perspectives on theater with our support. This original production is slated to appear in our 31st season.
If you'd like to support our three decades of work by becoming a 30th Anniversary Angel, please make a gift today.