PushPush & Padua Partner for an ‘Early Look’ at the final installment of Murray Mednick’s “Gary Plays” cycle

FROM THE ARCHIVES

2015/2016

http://www.broadwayworld.com/los-angeles/article/CHARLES-STORY-to-Play-Attic-Theatre-324-25-20150226#

Padua Playwrights, in association with Atlanta’s PushPush Film & Theater, presents an ‘Early Look’ at the final installment of Murray Mednick‘s eight-play “Gary Plays” cycle. Mednick will direct two performances of Charles’ Story on Tuesday, March 24 at 8 p.m. and Wednesday, March 25 at 2 p.m at the Attic Theatre in Los Angeles, paving the way for a full production of the entire octet in 2015/16.
“We began this project last August when we traveled with a company of actors to Atlanta to work with Tim Habeger and Shelby Hofer of PushPush to read through the entire text of The Gary Plays — all 8 of them — and begin the process of imagining what it would mean to present the cycle as one coherent, epic whole,” explains Padua artistic director Guy Zimmerman. “Now we’re getting ready for the next phase of this marathon project — three intensive labs in L.A. to get the entire text up on its feet. The first of these will focus on the final play in the cycle, Charles’ Story.”

The Gary Plays are an octet of loosely-connected plays portraying economic and spiritual distress in the contemporary urban wilderness of Los Angeles. Unemployed actor Gary Bean is Mednick’s everyman/anti-hero, hailed by KCRW as “a sort of L.A. Leopold Bloom.” In Charles’ Story, Gary undergoes rehab for a drug addiction he doesn’t actually have. Veteran stage and screen actor John Diehl reprises the role of Gary he created in Tirade for Three and Gary’s Walk over a decade ago. Diehl is joined onstage by longtime Padua actors Peggy Ann Blow, Christopher Rivas and Norbert Weisser; Pacific Resident Theatre member Laura Liguori; and PushPush co-founders Tim Habeger and Shelby Hofer.

L.A. audiences were first introduced to Gary in 2003, when Padua presented the first three plays in the cycle, Tirade for Three, Gary’s Walk and Girl on a Bed, in repertory (“one of the most engaging and ambitious local theater events of the past few seasons” – KCRW). The fourth play, Out of the Blue, premiered three years later (“Critic’s Pick” – Back Stage), and DaddyO Dies Well ran in 2011 (“full of vitality and truth”-EyeSpyLA). In 2012, The Nightmare Audition and The Fool and The Red Queen were combined into a single evening (“Critic’s Choice” – Los Angeles Times). The entire octet is published by TCG (Theatre Communications Group).

Mednick, a pioneer of the Off and Off-Off Broadway movements in the ’60s and ’70s and playwright-in-residence for Theater Genesis, wrote such ground-breaking works as The Hawk, The Hunter, Sand, Are You Lookin’ and The Deer Kill (1970 OBIE Award for Outstanding Play), and was the founder/artistic director of the Padua Hills Playwrights Workshop/Festival in Los Angeles from 1978 to 1995. He is the recipient of two Rockefeller Foundation grants and a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Theatre Critics Association Best New Play citation (for Joe and Betty), a Career Achievement Award from the LA Weekly, an Ovation Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions to Los Angeles Theater from the L.A. Stage Alliance, a Local Hero Award from Back Stage West, and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle’s Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence in Theater. “As Murray Mednick experiments with language… he is emblematic of a Los Angeles dramatic tradition in much the same way that Clifford Odets is identifiable with Gotham or David Mamet with Chicago,” wrote Bob Verini in Variety.

Padua Playwrights continues a writing, performance and teaching tradition that began Off-Off Broadway, was sustained and refined at the Padua Hills Playwrights Workshop and Festival, and which prospered on the right balance between teaching a serious workshop and producing a serious festival of new work. Moving indoors a decade ago, Padua traded the immediacy of site-specific outdoor performances for the focus and finesse of an actual theater space. Continued though, is the exploration of the spoken word and its myriad connections to the possibility of real meaning.

Since 1997, award-winning PushPush Film & Theater has incubated, produced and created innovative productions while pioneering contemporary film and performance programs like Dailies Filmmakers, CultivEight and The Portal International Exchange Project. Hundreds of independent artists participate in these programs annually, resulting in a wide variety of groundbreaking film, theater and multidisciplinary works. Through an integrative and process-driven approach, the PushPush mission is to expand cultural progress by fostering unique development opportunities and artistic partnerships, and to continuously connect the dots between projects, ideas and individuals. PushPush offers systems, space, materials, mentorships, collaborators and other resources to support risk-taking and exploration – nationally and abroad. Focused on provocative new theatrical and narrative forms, PushPush productions gravitate toward the immersive and interactive, ranging from large-scale to the extremely intimate.

Two ‘Early Look’ performances of Charles’ Story take place on Tuesday, March 24 at 8 p.m. and Wednesday, March 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15. The Attic Theatre is located at 5429 West Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016. Ample street parking is available. To purchase tickets, call (323) 960-4451 or go to www.plays411.com/charlesstory.

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