Thomas Hampton Reviews MY PENIS – IN AND OUT OF TROUBLE

July 22, 2010

photo credits Charci Stinson, Dixie Sheridan

At the top of MY PENIS – IN AND OUT OF TROUBLE, the stage is nearly bare, but for a smattering of photos spread around a lone chair.  Antonio Sacre steps out, takes a seat, and picks up pictures one at a time in a seemingly random order.  He shares with the audience the age of his penis at the time of the photo, and the related memory/ story that the image evokes.

Originally produced in 1999 and 2000 at Fringe Festivals in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, MY PENIS – IN AND OUT OF TROUBLE was Sacre’s big step forward as a writer/ performer.  Working with director Jenny Magnus, he found a way to portray a character similar to, but not quite, his own persona.  Sacre purposefully tackled powerful topical material that he could not approach in his day job as a respected storyteller for children.  He created a show that used a lurid title to titillate and line ‘em up for a classic bait and switch; turning the tables on the audience to confront them as to their complicity in the rampant sexual abuse of children throughout our society.  Sacre points out in the show that by his own semi-scientific reasoning, 17,000 of the children he has performed for have been molested.  Seventeen thousand.

After this initial round of performances, Sacre transitioned back in to the world of children’s storytelling; and went on to perform new works for adults at Summer Fringe Festivals.  In 2007 he attended the Conference of World Affairs as a last minute sub for a friend with a broken leg.  Sacre took part in many panels, including one at a local high school whose topic was Sex, Teens, and Drugs.  During a slow news cycle this panel caused a stir, and for nearly a week a Fox News channel blowhard railed on against him using quotes out of context.  Obviously, a daily nationally televised rant about you, your penis, and your day job speaking to hundreds of youngsters at a time is not the best thing for business.  However, Sacre has taken his experiences and allowed them to simmer on the back burner.

The new MY PENIS, directed by Paul Stein, has folded the story of this culture wars battle back in to the original piece, creating an updated show that moves beyond its ‘sex sells’ genesis, and connects personal incidents to larger questions of import.  Sacre walks us between his separate public lives as a boundary pushing solo performer and a storyteller for children.  In the process he asks how one’s honesty, and desire to teach and connect effects one’s ability to communicate at all.  Does communication necessitate taking sides in the culture wars; and whose fault is that?  Would sound bite culture exist if we did not condone it?

It is evident that Sacre begins his writing process by asking what conversation he wants to start, not merely as a way to work though personal issues.  Sacre’s command of the stage is second nature, and it was especially enjoyable to watch him deal with late arrivals to the show.  Employing a favorite clowning technique, he quickly recapped the beginning of the show after greeting the late comers.  When they informed him of the rest of their party still on their way in, he began to do the show en Español, until the entire group was seated.

For fans of the one person memoir, MY PENIS – IN AND OUT OF TROUBLE is a breezy hour that touches on issues of import to us all- without getting preachy or mired in a self help, tell all, work through my issues trap that many solo performers face.  Sacre has given himself the distance and perspective necessary to re-craft his experiences in to a meditation on how we connect with the rest of the world, and our responsibility to do right by our fellow man.

Thematic content includes:  Redemption, Love, Sex, Violence, Self Destruction, Highbrow, Lowbrow, Humor.

MY PENIS- In and Out of Trouble $15
Adults only!
7/15 to 8/5
Th 8pm
Purchase tickets
Map of Theatre Asylum
Visit Antonio Sacre’s web site

THEATRE ASYLUM’S BEST OF THE FRINGE Extensions of the best from the inaugural Hollywood Fringe Festival play through August

July 21, 2010

The first annual Hollywood Fringe Festival has ended, but thanks to Theatre Asylum/Combined Artform you do not have to miss the best that the festival had to offer.  As is tradition with most fringe festivals, they are presenting Theatre Asylum’s Best of the Fringe.  See the shows with the best reviews, awards, and audience raves that you may have missed.
Shows, times, and dates may be added, more up to date information may be available here.


The line up:

Kimleigh Smith takes the audience through a journey that is totally uplifting, totally heartbreaking, and totally powerful.
7/10 8:00 PM, 7/18 7:00 PM, 7/24 8:00 PM, 7/31 8:00 PM
Tickets $16

Writer-performer Jeff Gardner’s dialogue- free solo comedy with a hilarious and insightful look at the insidious nature of television.
7/17 8:00pm, 7/23 8:00PM, 7/31 6:30PM, and  8/14  6:00PM
Tickets $12

An uproarious one-woman antidote to Riverdance by London-Irish dancer-performer Máire Clerkin.
7/24 6:30PM
Tickets $15

Filament Theatre Co. presents a workshop performance of The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot.
7/17 2:00pm, 7/24 10:00pm, 7/31 7:00pm, 8/7 8:00pm
Tickets $10

Smoke ‘em! Drink ’em! Shoot ’em up!  When the music stops one lucky audience member picks a topic from the fish bowl and joins us on stage as an active participant in the story. No holds barred! 7/29, 7/30, 7/31 9:30pm, 7/31 3:00pm
Tickets $15

A critically-acclaimed one-man show written by and starring Jack Fry and directed by Jeff Michalski
7/11 3:00pm, 7/24 3:00pm, 7/31 8:00pm, 8/7 3:00pm
Tickets $15

Bill O’Reilly calls him a sexual extremist, and Dennis Miller wants to punch him in the nose; Antonio Sacre performs a 60 minute solo performance piece directed by Paul Stein.
Thursdays 7/15 to 8/5 8:00pm

Tickets $15

ZOMBIÉNCE!  An Improvised Zombie Musical.
7/9, 7/16, 7/23, 7/30, 8/6, 8/13, 8/20, 8/27  8:00pm
Tickets $10

David O’Shea recounts stories from his seven year tenure as a NYC taxi driver during the 1970’s and early 80’s.
7/9 8:00pm, 7/16 8:00pm, 7/24 5:00pm, 8/14 8:00pm
Tickets $15

Poor Dog Group’s NANO NATION is an investigation of the American Myth dealing with the creation and dissolution of power.
7/9 9:30pm, 7/16 9:30pm, 7/24 10:00pm
Tickets $10

A Texan girl’s unconventional adventures in a British seaside town explores the idea that sometimes you have to pretend to be someone else to find out who you really are.
7/18, 8/1, 8/8, 8/15 7:00pm, 7/25 5:30pm
Tickets $10

Born human but raised deep in the woods by feral wolves, a pack of wild girls are thrust into a strict Catholic boarding school in order to be assimilated into “human society.”
7/30 8:00pm, 7/25, 8/1  9:00pm
Tickets $10

Hutchins Foster’s one man show depicts his own harrowing journey into the world of marriage, adoption, interracial kids, and dreaded potty time.
7/15, 7/29, 8/5 8:00pm, 7/22 9:30pm
Tickets $15

A Musical Comedy Drama About One Man’s Quest for Love by Andreas Beckett and the legendary Mitzie and Ken Welch, writers and composers for the Carol Burnett Show.
7/18 8:30pm, 8/1 3:00pm
Tickets $15

Theatre Asylum’s Best of the Fringe $10-$15
July/ August 2010
Multiple shows and times
Map of Theatre Asylum
All tickets available at brown paper tickets, please click the ‘tickets’ link under each show

Thomas Hampton Reviews SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS -Overtone Industries

July 9, 2010

“There is something about that real, hands-on, making it together art… that is so real.”  O-Lan Jones

Photo Credits:  Christina House and  lennyBruce Lee

You must see SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS.  Counting tonight’s performance at 8pm, you have nine more opportunities to be a part of this incredible new work, seven years in the making.

The show opens with Tom and Sue visiting the Social Services Office.  They have an appointment, but no ID.  They cannot recall their identities.  Our protagonists set forth on a journey through imaginary lands, taking part in their indigenous songs and dances, attempting to reawaken their sense of self; reclaiming their id, and then hopefully ego and super-ego.

The audience physically follows Tom and Sue as their adventure leads to new, distant lands, each a site specific set within the massive square footage of The Songs & Dances Warehouse, a re-purposed car dealership in Culver City.  Depending on your ticket, each participant rides in a train car(t) from location to location, or carries their own chair while following the action.

Any seat is a good one, but allow me to recommend the train for those of you who have difficulty walking, and the chairs if you like to sit close to the action, or want to see all of the tremendous details of the sets and costumes.  Bringing a pillow or cushion is also a good call; only the ‘luxury trains’ have cushioned seating.

The first act takes Tom and Sue to Jam, where the denizens don western wear, the daddies are drunk, everyone is over-consuming and drowning in debt, and the dance is a variation on the Virginia Reel.

We also visit the University of Alaska, where academia is skewered as nothing more than a 12 step rehabilitation program, where submission is mandatory, and signals one’s abandonment of the personal ability to actively participate in life’s outcome.  The student body is encouraged to settle for a zombified state of semi-frozen consciousness by their counselor/ instructor.

By the end of the first act, Tom and Sue enter in to their marriage contract, allowing Sue to escape the mundane rituals of office drudgery, setting off a kinetic dance of office desks and revelers.  Tom and Sue’s union transforms their denim duds in to the sparkle of satin-y finery as they transition form their workweeks in to a private familial bliss.

O-Lan Jones coordinated over twenty writers, scores of musicians and performers, impeccably skilled production teams of designers and builders, as well as the input and efforts of countless local community volunteers.  So many people had a hand in the creation of the show that they could not fit in the program.  As an addendum, an enormous chalkboard stretches across the lobby inscribed with the names of all of the contributors.

So many ideas- both big and small- are awakened by the unique collaboration that is SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS.  Does socialization and engagement in society force us to strip away one’s sense of self?  Is our coming water crisis to be worsened by the disappearance of fish and dance instructors?  Are modern wars fought for the good of those engaging in the battle?  Do our personal relationships merely provide us with escape from our daily grind, and how do we reconnect to the cosmic/ divine spark within us to reclaim our own sense of spiritual completion?  How do we prepare for our departure from this existence; how do we let go when it is our time to die?

A conversation in the lobby after the performance juxtaposed the public monies spent on LA Opera’s recent Ring Cycle, and how many SONGS AND DANCES could have been funded for the same cost, even including living expenses for O-Lan Jones for the last seven years.  How many other cities could get their hands on the magic that is this show?  How many empty retail stores and economically devastated communities could come together to create this wondrous project in this time of need?

The retort was that there is not enough money or interest in experimental theater.  But what does that moniker mean?  This show is in many ways a grown up theme park attraction, full of moving people and parts, high tech trickery, stunning sets and costumes, and top notch musicianship and vocal prowess.  It explores themes relevant to all people who live in our modern times.  That sounds suspiciously like regular ‘old’ opera.

Of note are the performances of MJ Silva as Curf on Oldie Mountain, Michael Harris as the University of Alaska counselor, and Silvie Zamora, whose intense physicality throughout the show was a pleasure to behold.  You will certainly walk out of the show dazed by its transformative ability, with your own precious favorites lingering in your head, haunting your return to the industrial Culver City streets that await you.

Thematic Content includes:  Bring Kids, Redemption, Love, Violence, Puppets, Singing, Live Music, Dance/ Movement, Highbrow, Humor.



7/8 to 7/25 $25-$50
Th,F,Sa,Sn 8pm, Sn 2pm
Map of The Songs & Dances Warehouse 
Purchase tickets online or by phone: 323-655-2410
Visit the event’s web page


July 9, 2010

The interdisciplinary and cross genre contemporary opera SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS opens tonight, Th July 8, 2010 and continues through Sn July 18, 2010.

Dress rehearsal photo from the scene “Change.”

singers (l-r): Cesili Williams, Deon Sams, Matthew McCray, Patty Cornell, Silvie Zamora, Alan Jay House, Jamey Hood

Photo credit: Michael Tullberg.

Excerpt – Stones Dance  
Download now or listen on posterous

EXCERPT-Stones-Dance-SD2010.mp3 (802 KB)

Audio excerpt from the scene “Stones Dance.”
Music by Bart Hopkin, The Songs & Dances Orchestra.
Groaner: Dory Shultz

SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS was developed and cultivated by Director O-Lan Jones in an extensive guided collaboration that involves twenty one librettists, eleven composers, Costume and Scenic Designer Snezana Petrovic, Musical Director David O, Instrument Inventor Bart Hopkin, Choreographer Nina Winthrop, twenty performers, a nine-piece live orchestra, dozens of crew members, scores of community volunteers, and many others.


7/8 to 7/18 $25-$50
Th,F,Sa,Sn 8pm + Sn 2pm
Map of The Songs & Dances Warehouse 
Purchase tickets online or by phone: 323-655-2410
Visit the event’s web page



MY PENIS is Extended 7/15 to 8/5

July 8, 2010

“The good news is true, my penis has been extended.”  Antonio Sacre

photo credit Charci Stinson

Antonio Sacre’s MY PENIS- IN AND OUT OF TROUBLE, has been extended as a part of Theatre Asylum’s Best in Fringe addendum to the inaugural Hollywood Fringe.  Thursdays only, through 8/5.

Directed by Paul Stein, MY PENIS explores sex and sexuality in humorous and unexpected ways.  Surprising in his manner, Sacre is self-effacing, with his humor coming from his bedrock honesty about situations each person has faced.  Join him on a journey that is raw in his willingness to revisit each painful and wonderful moment.

Thomas Hampton Reviews highly recommends Antonio Sacre’s work.  While we have not seen this newest production, we know it will live up to the impeccable standards of all of his previous work.  This show won a Best in Fringe award for Solo performance at the New York International Fringe Theater Festival.

Thematic content includes:  Redemption, Love, Sex, Violence, Self Destruction, Highbrow, Lowbrow, Humor.

MY PENIS- In and Out of Trouble $15
Adults only!
7/15 to 8/5
Th 8pm
Purchase tickets
Map of Theatre Asylum
Visit Antonio Sacre’s web site

Thomas Hampton Reviews TOHUBOHU! WITH GEORGE HERMS -Rachel Rosenthal Company

July 7, 2010

This review is of a performance of TOHUBOHU! with guest artist George Herms that took place on Sunday, June 11.

Photo credits: Martin Cohen, Joanna Grasso, Michael Childers.

In a terrific move forward, TOHUBOHU! the current monthly show by the Rachel Rosenthal Company at Espace DbD, incorporated the art of beat collage artist/ sculptor George Herms in to the mix.  This review will focus specifically on aspects of the collaboration with Mr. Herms; for a better overview of what TOHUBOHU! is, please read my original review.  This weekend, July 9,10,11, brings a collaboration between the TOHUBOHU! ensemble and Amy Knoles and Eric Clark of the EAR Unit.

The style and tenor of the evening remains the same (a free improvisation sans language; incorporating dance, vocalization, and touching on bits of theatrical styles like mime, contact improvisation, and commedia,) but as the company brings in new guest artists for special weekends of TOHUBOHU! you may decide to take a second visit to Espace DbD, and see the company collaborate with a guest artist who piques your interest.

In the case of this collaboration with George Herms, the company included him in their rehearsals for a number of weeks leading up to the show, and he brought some of his sculptural art pieces for the company to play with.  In a very interesting discussion post show, both the company and Mr. Herms spoke to the intriguing dilemmas that the rational brain concocted, and the artists had to overcome.

For Mr. Herms, the idea of working collaboratively in any way, let alone performance, was a constant lesson in the difficulty of ‘letting go’ in to the communal nature of the troupe, and trusting that the company is there to push the performance along, and that all choices are good ones.  I must say, for a novice performer, George Herms was definitely in the best of hands.  There was no noticeable dichotomy between the ‘actual’ ensemble of the Rachel Rosenthal Company and their newest temporary member as he concocted sets for improvisations, and joined in the performance.

One of the most magical experiences for Herms was the ability to see his sculptural pieces (which were utilized as set pieces, props, and costumes) again as living, soulful creatures.  When collectors get their hands on them, they wind up hung on walls, or placed on pedestals, distanced from the chaos of the world around them, cut off from real life in a sanitized surreality of what ‘art’ is as a commodity, not a living piece of his soul, or active reflection of society.

On the flip side of this coin, several company members, most notably Doug Hammett, spoke to the difficulty of treating the art like any other prop.  All of the company members were well aware of Herms’ status as an artist of significance.  They knew that each piece he brought in to play with, if hung on a gallery wall, would be priced in the thousands.  It took time to disconnect the ‘value’ from these props so the company could freely incorporate them in to performance- and that they did.

In one sequence, Hammett had wedged a sculpture around his neck.  Throughout the scene, he continued to struggle with it physically; bending and stretching out what seemed to be a clock spring further and further, invoking humanity’s constant struggle against time.  Mortality.  Our collective and simultaneously individual, yet absolutely futile attempts to unburden ourselves; force off this yoke.

Worthy of mention is the participation of Kate Noonan, Managing Director of the Rachel Rosenthal Company, who incorporates light and sound in to the mix.  Because this week’s guest was not a musician, all of the audio was Kate’s contribution.  Over and over throughout the course of the evening, Kate found just the right accompaniment to action on stage, and tracks that propelled and instigated performance opportunities.

Thematic content includes:  All performances will differ, but expect Dance/ Movement, Highbrow, Humor, Live Music, Violence, Love.

TOHUBOHU! runs July 9,10,11, Sept 24,25,26, Oct 15,16,17, Nov 5,6,7, Dec 3,4,5
F,S 8:30pm Sn 7:30pm $20
Map of Espace DbD/ Rachel Rosenthal Co.
Buy Tickets online or by phone 310-839-0661
Visit the DbD/ Rachel Rosenthal website
Contact the production/ producers
View a Charlie Rose interview with Allen Ginsberg, Steven Watson and George Herms from Nov 29, 1995
Please note:  interview begins at 22:30




July 3, 2010
The production team from SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS has given us a glimpse of their creative process, from concept to execution.

Compare/ contrast this photo (credit:  Michael Tullberg) from the scene: “How People Get From Here To There” with the original conceptual graphic as illustrated by costume and set designer Snezana Petrovic.


Three preview performances remain for SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS.

Tonight, 7/2 and tomorrow, 7/3 at 8pm, and Sunday, 7/4 2pm matinee.
SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS opens Thursday, July 7, and runs for two weekends, closing on July 18th.

PREVIEW PERFORMANCES 7/1 to 7/4 $15-$40
Th,F,Sa 8pm Sn 2pm
PERFORMANCES 7/8 to 7/18 $25-$50
Th,F,Sa,Sn 8pm, Sn 2pm
Map of The Songs & Dances Warehouse 
Purchase tickets online or by phone: 323-655-2410
Visit the event’s web page



July 2, 2010




Hosted by: Marquita Thomas

Featuring poetry from Damnyo, Judy Holiday, Sho King, Cyn the Poet, and more! 

Wednesday, July 7 $5
8pm at the Greenway Court Theatre
Visit the inkSlam site


inkSlam 2010 Presents: STORYTELLERS

July 2, 2010

inkSlam 2010 Presents: STORYTELLERS


A night of poetry featuring Mayda Del Valle with Salida
Salida is a work in progress that explores culture, traditions, memory and the wounds and stories women inherit from their mothers.  While trying to break free from her mother’s expectations and restrictions, a daughter uncovers their shared longing for a way out, and establishes a healing connection to the grandmother she never met.

Wednesday, July 7 $5
10:30pm at the Greenway Court Theatre
Visit the inkSlam site


Preview Performances of SONGS AND DANCES OF IMAGINARY LANDS 7/1 to 7/4

June 30, 2010

Lead actress Jamey Hood in Paper Dress.  Photo credit:  Michael Tullberg

After 7 years in development, months of rehearsals, and weeks of community art-making workshops to create the sets & costumes (out of mostly recycled & reclaimed materials), Overtone Industries is set to open:


Previews begin this weekend (7/1 to 7/4).  Prices range from $15 – $40.

Check out this excerpt from the number, “The Land Before Language.”  Music by David O.  The Songs & Dances Orchestra Singers: Melody Butiu, Patty Cornell, Arsene Delay, Cesili Williams, Dory Shultz, MJ Silva, Matthew McCray, Alan Jay House, Michael Harris. 

Excerpt – The Land Before Language  
Download now or listen on posterous

EXCERPT-The-Land-Before-Language-SD2010.mp3 (1032 KB)

PREVIEW PERFORMANCES 7/1 to 7/4 $15-$40
Th,F,Sa 8pm Sn 2pm
Map of The Songs & Dances Warehouse
Purchase tickets online or by phone: 323-655-2410
Visit the event’s web page