By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
The legendary Guerrilla Girls, activists against sexism in the art world who may be best known for the gorilla masks they wear to preserve their anonymity, mark their first foray into the world of theater at the Common Ground Festival with History of Women in American Theater. Derived from and adopting the style of their myriad lectures on seminal female artists, History pulls the development of female play writing out from under the shadow of male domination. (History of Women in American Theater plays Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m.)
Closing out the festival is writer Alice Tuan and director Dan Bonnell’s work in progress The Coastline Project, which attempts to transpose the notion of hypertext to a theatrical setting. The project‘s narrative loosely follows a cross-country road trip that can derail and fragment in countless ways. ”The audience is a big part of the action,“ notes Bonnell. ”The order of the scenes is decided by the audience.“ He and Tuan attempt to pull a narrative out of randomness, much as a computer pulls information randomly from a hard drive until it eventually arrives at some kind of whole -- a whole image, a whole program, a whole document. Bonnell says that he’d even like to include ”windows“ in which aspects of different scenes play out simultaneously, somewhat in the manner of Cubist painting: ”Instead of seeing a straightforward portrait, you‘d see four angles at the same time.“ (The Coastline Project plays Friday at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 p.m.)
Providing entr’acte entertainment on Saturday, the grossly satirical Burglars of Hamm will hand out short-wave-radio headsets to theatergoers, through which they may listen in on actors engaged in conversations situated around UCLA‘s north-campus sculpture garden. And on Sunday, the festival hosts representatives from over 50 local theaters for Theater Fair, where attendees can gather information on the burgeoning L.A. theater community. Also on Sunday, the Playwrights Slam spotlights 15-minute segments of new scripts from Lynn Manning, Bridget Carpenter, Monica Palacios, Paula Cizmar, Padraic T. Duffy, Velina Hasu Houston, Joy Gregory and others, to be read by the authors.
Common Ground, which has grown considerably in scope and budget over its seven-year history, demonstrates that as developments in television, the Internet, filmmaking and video games have changed the way we experience entertainment, theater has kept pace and -- under less pressure to turn over obscene levels of profit -- in some cases moved ahead of the pack.
All performances take place at UCLA’s Macgowen Hall, and all are free. Call (310) 478-9ASK for reservations and information.