This year it’s starting to hit me. That by “industry standards” I’ve been in LA for a “long time.” I’m coping, trying to see the light and not get my hopes down, but at the same time, I’m starting to realize the people and places that have been good to me. The places that feel like home. The Skylight Theatre is one of those places.
“For me, the political is personal.”
Opening night of Wendy Kout’s revamped, Never Is Now maintained the Skylight’s standard warm and welcoming atmosphere. Even with some turbulence and adjusting of the space over the years, the Skylight holds up. The staff is always gracious, accommodating and kind and it’s clear that everyone wants to be there, patrons and staff alike. It’s kind of thee place to be in Los Feliz on opening night. The space has a cozy, tucked away feeling where you’d want to hide away on a rainy evening, hidden between the epic Skylight Bookstore and the new luminous Atrium bar and restaurant. I gave a break-a-leg hug to co-directors of the piece, Tony Abatemarco (Co-Artistic Director of Skylight) and Celia Mandela Rivera, artists and people that I care about and have worked with over these years in LA. I trust that whatever they have created will be true to their beliefs and artistic integrity. And that is how I know I’m in a great place.
In this iteration of Never Is Now, a journey through a multitude of Holocaust survivor testimonies, the cast and creative team has worked with the playwright to parallel their own stories of struggle in light (or dark) of the present administration. What a way to kick off the High Holidays in LA. In this design, everyone in the ensemble kind of has their own little featured moment to shine. I was especially moved by Sarah Tubert’s monologue which had me in tears, as she voiced discrimination in the deaf community in both the present and past. That’s just one example, but this show is full of tear-jerking truths so pack your Kleenex.
“Some news may be fake but my fear is real.”
“Anger is killing me. It’s killing my joy.”
After the performance I had a few minutes to chat with the enthusiastic, impassioned playwright, Ms. Wendy Kout. She mentioned how the team hopes to bring the production to schools, which seems like a fabulous idea, especially with the modern parallels and youthful energy of the cast. As a theatre lover, I agreed that seeing this production at museums like the Skirball and the Museum of Tolerance would be an incredible enhancement to the museum experience. The minimalist set design also allows for easy transport in that case. This is one of those shows that only needs a little, by way of costumes and set, to pack a big punch in the text. I LOVE shows where less is more and this is definitely one of those.
“With hope we keep fighting and change the world.”
This is not a pick-me-up show. A few times while watching I wrote down, “emotionally painful.” However, we do close out on a ray of hope. These people are survivors, and we can be survivors too, as long as we can prevent history from repeating itself. Thank you again Skylight for bringing this piece of theatre history to our community, and hopefully to our schools. I’ve been late in getting the word out, as I’ve been traveling through NY and Chi Town this fall, but you still have a few more chances to catch and support Never is Now at the Skylight Theatre until Oct 27th. The content is not an easy pill to swallow, but this is history we can’t ignore. And the welcoming, accepting, progressive Skylight Theatre is the perfect place to be for a show like this.