Something is happening in L.A.
A transition. A filling of a void. An emergence of enthusiastic Asian Pacific Islander visionaries.
First spotted and coming out of nowhere is Actors at Play. They are a young collective who have been working for eight months on their project, Beware of Cupid.
They were frustrated. Like many of us, they didn't see their stories being told, not as artists, not as individuals, and not as Asian Pacific Islanders. They set on a mission to reinvent the rules of how art gets produced -- or the story of how art meets its public. And so they got together and chose the theme of love and Valentine's Day.
But hey, stop the "love" train! What's so innovative in that?
Distrust romance all you want. Disdain the heart-shaped chocolates and red and white delicacies. But it’s hard not to yearn for fairy-tale love just a little. It is this bifurcating banality within us all that Actors at Play seeks to exploit and cherish.
Walk behind the scenes, though, to see where love -- and inventiveness -- really lives. The performers are not just performers. Each one is a producer, each one has a stake in the project’s success.
They rehearsed in people’s apartments and in workplace rehearsal rooms. They used the internet and social media for grassroots funding. Their chutzpah struck a chord with over 100 financial supporters, and in a month, the production was infused with cash. Like Hilary Clinton in the Democratic primary, the major players in the API artistic community were left wondering, mostly in admiration, who these upstarts were. How did they succeed in an environment so fiscally hostile?
Gumption. And heart.
Now less than three weeks before opening, they rehearse almost every day for 4-5 hours. The rest of the time they hit the pavement. They pass out flyers. They pull all-nighters. They are absorbed by this project.
And yet one wouldn’t suspect fatigue by looking at the performers. At rehearsal, their energy is palpable. Their focus on collaboration harkens back to the days where people just got together to put up shows -- no board of directors needed. There is something both old-fashioned and fresh about this. And they are still having fun.
The production will riff on a feeling that everyone has felt in some form or another. But instead of waiting for others to shape and define them, or throwing a tantrum to demand that someone help, they have daringly stepped up, taken the reins, and produced themselves.
Beware of Cupid opens Feb 5 and runs through Feb 21 at the Actor’s Playpen 1514 N Gardner; Los Angeles. More info at bewareofcupid.com.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!