Why cARTel's 'Family Forest' Theatrical Event Is L.A.'s Best Third Date Idea

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Fri, Jul 6, 2012 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge cARTel's "Family Forest" at the Hayworth Theater - RAYMOND LIU
  • Raymond Liu
  • cARTel's "Family Forest" at the Hayworth Theater

So you've been on a couple dates and you're digging this chick/dude's vibe. You've done drinks. You've done dinner. Now it's time to impress them with your knowledge of the L.A. indie art scene, and get a little more personal while you're at it.

Lucky for you, the multimedia arts ensemble cARTel has engineered the perfect third date for you: "Family Forest," a interactive theater and performance art event that explores "the families we are born into and the families we choose."

Here are five reasons why it's a great third date.

click to enlarge Amanda Wallace creates a new painting every night. - RAYMOND LIU
  • Raymond Liu
  • Amanda Wallace creates a new painting every night.

5. Show some emotion

You've been projecting the cool and confident façade, but now there's trust forming. You can take a risk on a tear in the eye. Show your sensitive side.

The hourlong stage segment of "Family Forest" is a series of performance art pieces created by the ensemble and curated by co-founder Negin Singh and cARTel member Sean Lewellyn. The poignant, often shocking sketches portray stories and secrets from the ensemble's own family histories. One piece that may evoke a tear or two is Amanda Wallace singing a haunting rendition of "Que Sera Sera" while creating an impromptu painting exploring, as she puts it, "the excitement and terror of chance."

click to enlarge Family jewels - RAYMOND LIU
  • Raymond Liu
  • Family jewels

4. Lots of wrists touching (while learning intimate details)

Before the performance segment of "Family Forest," take a few minutes to explore the interactive art pieces created by skilled set designer Myriad Slits. At the Family Jewels Table, choose from the labeled bead baskets to create a bracelet that represent your past and present. Born in a different country? Add a bright orange square bead. Have any siblings? Add a star-shaped green bead for each. Married? Add a red one. And try to get your date to stop crying in the bathroom.

click to enlarge DIY peanut butter and jelly station - RAYMOND LIU
  • Raymond Liu
  • DIY peanut butter and jelly station

3. Cheap, chic eats

A peanut butter and jelly sandwich may be ho-hum in a sack lunch, but at a low-budget art show, it's hipster heaven. Impress your date with your sandwich-making skills at the DIY Peanut Butter and Jelly Station at the front of the theater. Reminisce about your childhood memories of the dish. "Did you grow up eating peanut butter and jelly?" you can ask, "or were your parents anti-gluten?" A different homemade treat baked by an audience member is also available each night as well as a bar onstage hosted by Whim Kitchen.

click to enlarge Amanda Wallace as The Geracott - RAYMOND LIU
  • Raymond Liu
  • Amanda Wallace as The Geracott

2. Use your heritage as a segue to getting naked.

Wallace shines in another performance piece called The Geracott where she explores her fractured cultural identity as a mostly German/Cherokee/Scottish mutt. During the course of the piece she strips, taking off about 12 layers of clothing as she wades through her many identities. Use this as inspiration for a fun, post-third-date strip tease/introduction to each other's cultural identities!

click to enlarge Which side are you on? - RAYMOND LIU
  • Raymond Liu
  • Which side are you on?

1. Face some deal-breakers

If you've gotten past the "crunchy or creamy" peanut butter debate, you're ready to take on deeper questions. When you enter the Forest, you are given a small, sparkling stone. Take your potentially beloved's hand and head over to the scales on the wall. A different question is hidden inside the drawer at the bottom of the scale every night. Place your bead on the left if your answer is yes, the right if your answer is no. Later in the night, admire which side the majority of the audience chose and interrogate your date about their answer.

There is also an audience-generated question bowl at the bar. People don't hold back, so this is an exciting way to ask your date provocative questions without getting in trouble. "It wasn't me that asked if you ever had fantasies about sleeping with a cousin, it was the bowl!"

click to enlarge To marry or not to marry? Negin Singh and BJ Allman in a piece inspired by Singh's family history - RAYMOND LIU
  • Raymond Liu
  • To marry or not to marry? Negin Singh and BJ Allman in a piece inspired by Singh's family history

cARTel co-founder Singh recently was recognized by the White House as part of its Women Working to Do Good series. Pull this article up on your phone before the show to seal the deal with your date with a display of your world awareness and cultural sensitivity.

Family Forest will be playing Friday, July 6, and Saturday, July 7, at the Hayworth Theater. Visit www.wearecARTel.org for tickets.

Stephanie Carrie blogs at Los Angeles Comedy Travel Guide. Follow her on twitter at @StephCarrie and for more arts news follow @LAWeeklyArts and like us on Facebook.

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