*Towne Street Theatre’s successful multi-author production, “In Response” returned to a packed house at the Stella Adler in Hollywood on Saturday, April 9. The production, billed as a response to systematic racism throughout American history, does not fall short (there are 22 different moving parts represented in the form of either a poem, playlet, song or video) and enlists a group of very capable actors who portray multiple characters in various scenes.
The audience was transported to times and places in recent and past history; where painful, yet powerful reminders included five mournful mothers reliving the death of their sons in Vincent Terrell Durham’s “A Mother’s Cry,” a father and grandfather to a boy lying dead in the coroners office agonizing over having to identify the body in William Warren’s “Bloodline Interrupted,” and a young woman sporting a poor disguise as a male in an attempt to escape a life of slavery while her weary mother begs her to reconsider in Veronica Thompson’s, “The Escape.”
Towne Street Theatre was born from such pain. Following the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict in 1992 Los Angeles, it’s founders, Nancy Renee, Nancy Cheryll Davis and Nathaniel Bellamy — actors and visual artists themselves — realized the acting community was in need of a collective voice to unburden its own angst, and “In Response” now shows itself as another branch on this tree bearing strange fruit.
On video in this multimedia production, as well as on stage, we are reminded of the deaths that came too soon for Black men and boys; women and girls, including Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray; and a scene played out on stage in “Two Sandras” puts the blatant difference in treatment by police of Caucasian “Sandra W.” and African American “Sandra B.” — for the same offense, so far out front even the Caucasian Sandra’s mouth is left agape upon realizing the others’ death.
A most powerful piece was also presented by the trio in Jonathan Harrison’s “I Am Ashamed.” The audience also gets to revisit the indelible mark made by Dr. Martin Luther King through the impassioned reading of Candace Nicholas-Lippman’s “The Mountain Top.”
Nice performances in many of the aforementioned pieces came from Joahn Webb, Nancy Cheryll Davis, Candace Nicholas-Lippman, Shannon Foster, Jackie Marriott, Jason C. Daniels and William Warren; with directing nods to Nancy Renee for “Two Sandras” and “A Mother’s Cry.”
The show is too long though. Clocking 2 hrs. and 45 minutes there are several pieces that could have been shorter, or otherwise eliminated. And although “70’s Time Trippin'” — which paid homage to afros, bellbottoms and certain dances and slang — brought us a bright spot in the dark package, it is one that could’ve been left out or at least shortened.
IN RESPONSE runs April 9-24 at The Stella Adler Theatre, located at the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Ave. at 6773 Hollywood Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90028.
Days/Times: Friday/Saturday, 8 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m.
Park at Hollywood & Highland Center – $2 for 2 hours – $1.50 every 15 min after. You can validate your parking at one of the many retail stores or restaurants within the complex or at the Hollywood & Highland Information Booth. Kelly’s Coffee and Fudge located on Level 1 is a great place to validate your parking. They will only validate with a purchase but they have a nice assortment of low prices coffees, teas and deserts.
Be warned that many of the restaurants that validate in the Hollywood/Highland Center may be closed if you attend the 8 p.m. shows
Public Parking Lots are located at:
Cherokee and Selma Ave. ($7-$10)
Selma Ave. and Las Palmas ($7-$10)
Learn more about Towne Street Theatre or to PURCHASE TICKETS to IN RESPONSE, visit their website here or at townestreetla.org.
Learn more about the Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre by visiting their website here or at stellaadler.la.