Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble's production of Monkey Madness continues over the weekend at the Powerhouse Theatre in Santa Monica. Our review will appear here Monday afternoon. Photo by Melissa Snyder of Vibble.

Also being reviewed this weekend: Improvatorium's Death Lies & Alibis; My Three Sisters at the Actors Playpen; Doghouse Theatre and Action! Theatre Company's production of Sam Shepard's True West; Lev Lee Simon's one-acts The Stuttering Preacher and Dad, presented by Njoy Productions and The Lion's Den; Santa Monica Playhouse's production of Cinderella: the Musical; R. Ernie Silva's one-man show, Heavy Like The Weight of a Stone presented by Odyssey Theatre Ensemble; Joyce Sachs' play Eternal Equinox presented by GTC Burbank; and The Production Company's version of Peter Schaffer's Equus

For the headline story of The Moscow Times, plus more on Mr. Merkin, press the Continue Reading tab directly below


The Moscow Times theater critic John Freedman flew in to Wroclaw Poland last month to cover the “World as a Place of Truth” international theater festival, part of the UNESCO-supported Year of Grotowski, honoring the late Polish theater director Jerzy Grotowski.

In Poland, he met up with a group of American artists/journalists, invited and organized with the help of Arden 2, The Trust for Mutual Understanding, L.A.'s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw, among others.  The involvement of L.A.'s Cultural Affairs department explains the large presence of representatives from Southern California. Freedman interviewed two of us (including yours truly) for his Moscow Times theater blog.

His latest entry is on Olga Petrakova and Bryan Brown of ARTEL (American Russian Theater Ensemble Laboratory), based in the Art/Works Theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood.

I feel John is a cousin of sorts, doing in Moscow precisely what I've been attempting in Los Angeles — providing comprehensive information on the theater of one city in order to both validate the misunderstood activities there and provide an informed context.

Full disclosure: Freedman and I both attended Claremont High School at the same time, though we never knew each other in those years. We first met in 1990, when his wife Oksana Mysina, starred in the production of a play presented by a then-Soviet theater company (Theatre on Spartacus Square) that I brought to Cal State, Dominguez Hills. Freedman was already living and working in Moscow at the time as a respected journalist and translator. He used the opportunity of his wife's invitation to L.A. as a kind of vacation to visit his family.

As a result of that  tour, I was invited to Moscow by Theatre on Spartacus Square in 1991 as a playwright-in-residence. During that month, Freedman was source of boundless generosity. After that visit, we fell completely out of touch, until our reunion last month, almost 20 years later, at a hotel lobby in Wroclaw, Poland.

John's version of events can be found here.


Mr. Merkin hard at work.

Guest critic Mr. Merkin will present his debut column for Stage Raw on Monday afternoon, reviewing the Ahmanson's production of Spamalot.  Our hopes are very high.

LA Weekly