Puppet Regimes

During lulls inside Staples Center, DNC delegates who decide to check out local legit stages will discover that comedy is the overwhelming response of L.A. theater artists to the Gore-fest. And for a convention as tightly scripted as this one, the slightest move toward improvisation has the potential to be subversive.

ŽOn the Westside, sketch-comedy troupe Gross National Product performs Gore More Years or Son of a Bush at the Odyssey. Expect humor leaning toward the middle as both the GOP and the Demos come in for a good-natured drubbing.

ŽFor a more subversive look at the election process, Media Whores, Eric Diamond‘s comedy about the presidential campaign of the son of a former chief exec contains some sly satire of you-know-who and you-know-what. At Gallery SevenZeroSix in Hollywood.

ŽThe Actors’ Gang checks in with William F. Brown and Oscar Brand‘s How To Steal an Election. Director Brent Hinkley’s update of the 1968 classic promises an intentionally sugarcoated spin on the cynicism associated with election-year maneuvering.

ŽCloser to convention headquarters, Cornerstone Theater Company presents An Antigone Story (A Greek Tragedy Hijack), in the Subway Terminal Building. In Shishir Kurup‘s adaptation of Sophocles’ classic about political dissent, L.A. is under martial law and Polyneices‘ body lies rotting in Pershing Square as his sister contemplates civil disobedience.

ŽDowntown’s Side Street Live offers The Roman Forum, a live-theater event with a series of linked online performances that sets the events of the DNC in imperial Rome. Written by the geographically disbursed Plaintext Players, The Roman Forum uses the ongoing spectacle at Staples Center as the basis for a series of online improvs, which are then acted out live, with some segments broadcast on the Web.

ŽFor aficionados of old-fashioned street theater, there‘s Kevin Carr’s 108 Days (Waiting for Good Dough) in the convention‘s ”protest pit.“ Carr says that he’s using the streets to present ideas about the SAG strike.

Ž”Democratic Sex“ is an exhibit and series of performances at Dr. Susan Block‘s compound on Flower Street, located a ”cum shot away from Staples,“ according to Block associate Max Lobkowicz. On the sidewalk in front of 1358 Flower St., delegates can expect to encounter colorful commedia dell’arte--type characters such as Whores for Gore, a tattooed Marilyn Monroe singing ”Happy Birthday, Mr. President“ and improvised political comedy performed on the Bondage Cross.

Delegates might want to hop on the Red Line for Quantum Theater Company‘s Julius Caesar at the Whitmore-Lindley Theater in the NoHo Arts District. Director Tiger Reel updates Shakespeare’s timeless tale of political intrigue to the year 2000 and sets the action in the U.S. Senate, with the tag line ”Beware the Ides of March -- Film at Eleven.“

ŽOf course, the protest theater taking place in the streets around Staples Center has the potential for the most immediate effect. Direction Action Network‘s Arts and Action Committee plans to encourage community involvement in the protests through puppetry. David Solnit says, ”We’re planning a festival of resistance every day in the streets, with handmade puppets representing problems in the community.“ Solnit also feels that street theater has the potential to de-escalate police tensions -- a reversal on the idea that good art is often incendiary, it also speculates on the curious theory that the LAPD won‘t hit puppet-wielding protesters.

For more details on these and other DNC-related performances, see the asterisked (*) entries in Calendar theater listings.

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