May 26, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

AMERYKA – The History of the World in 2 ½ Hours

Thomas Jefferson, Tadeusz Kościuszko, King George, William J. Casey, John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Native Americans, CIA, American Revolution, Poland’s underground, Slavery, Civil War, Civil rights, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., war on terror, fight against Communism, Catholicism, martyred priests, CIA covert operations, the film “High Noon,” and the influence of jazz in our international relations. This will give you an idea of the scope of the people, places, and events depicted in the Critical Mass Performance Group’s production of “Ameryka,” recently on stage at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.  You might think doing a play encompassing all those historic characters and world events is an impossible task and you would be right as under the direction of Nancy Keystone, playwright and Founder/Artistic Director of Critical Mass Performance Group, what we have is a rather sophomoric example of biting off much more than you can professionally chew.

Richard Gallegos (center) and Liza Seneca (in background, other actors obscured). Photo by Lawrence K. Ho.

The play is a 2 ½ hour rambling rant, which basically moves back and forth through the centuries with historic characters deliberately appearing in the wrong era to quote from a famous speech such as Thomas Jefferson’s “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all Men are created equal” or to discuss the current problems at hand.  At its core, the story attempts to depict America and Poland’s struggle for freedom and with it’s complicated narrative and sprawling scope, one can’t help recognizing the enormous amount of effort that went into the six years devoted to the development of this piece which, for some reason, was presented as part of Center Theatre’s Group Block Party, which is a celebration of theatre.

L-R: Jeff Lorch, Ray Ford and Curt Bonnem. Photo by Lawrence K. Ho.

To her credit, Keystone assembled a talented ensemble and despite the unwieldy narrative, there are outstanding performances by a few cast members including: Ray Ford (Gene Jefferson) and Lorne Green (Curtis Brown), who light up the stage with their characterizations of jazz musicians who are about to embark on a goodwill tour to Poland.  Valerie Spencer (Anna Walentynowicz) and Liza Seneca (Ewa), each of whom deliver excellent performances in their multiple roles.  Along with other “characters,” they take turns breaking the fourth wall to deliver exposition of the events we’ve just seen or historic events about to unfold. Other members of the ensemble are: Curt Bonnem, (Thomas Jefferson,) Russell Edge (William J. Casey,) Richard Gallegos, (Chief Little Turtle,) Jeff Lorch, (Tadeisz Kościuszko,) and Nick Santoro (Agent Weller).

The limited production values technical crew: Scenic Design, Nancy Keystone;  Sound Design & Original Music, Randall Robert Tico; Costume Design, Lena Sands; Projection Design, Hsuan-Kuang Hsieh; Lighting Design, Adam J. Frank; and Center Theatre Group Associate Producer, Lindsay Allbaugh.

Clockwise from left: Liza Seneca, Nick Santoro, Ray Ford, Curt Bonnem, Valerie Spencer and Richard Gallegos. Photo by Lawrence K. Ho.

When one-quarter of the audience leaves following intermission, that speaks volumes to the failure of this production’s overreach in trying to depict centuries of what is basically the parallel fight for freedom through the centuries in both Poland and America.

AMERYKA

Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre

9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232

Closed:  April 29, 2018

 

 

 

 

in News
Related Posts

John Adams Middle School Student Selected to Perform at Carnegie Hall

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

JAMS Student Grayson Fitzgerald named junior finalist for the 2022 middle school honors performance series at Carnegie Hall By Staff...

SMC Student Film “The War Within” Accepted into 2022 American Pavilion at Cannes

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Three Santa Monica College Films Will Screen at In-Person Festival, including 2021 Best Student Film Winner “Broken Layers” and 2020’s...

Santa Monica City Council Looks to Shorten Meetings

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Council to consider changes at Tuesday meeting By Dolores Quintana Santa Monica lawmakers are considering taking steps to shorten City...

Landmark Theater Official Closes on Pico

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Pico Boulevard location closes Sunday By Sam Catanzaro The Landmark Theater on Pico Boulevard in Westwood has officially closed.  The...

Road Closures Expected During Demolition Of Parking Structure Three: Santa Monica Beat – May 23rd, 2022

May 23, 2022

May 23, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* Free Donuts At Randy’s Donuts For National Doughnut Day* Road Closures Expected...

Los Angeles Metro Sees 15.9 Percent Increase in Median Rent

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Median rent of $2,258, according to recent report By Dolores Quintana The ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the issues of housing...

New Renderings for Frank Gehry Hotel Development in Santa Monica

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Project would include hotel, apartments, retail and a museum By Dolores Quintana Slowly but surely, plans for a  Frank Gehry-designed...

Shared Mobility Plummets in Santa Monica

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Recent report also shows that nearly half of riders make over $100,000 By Sam Catanzaro Shared mobility use in Santa...

Christopher Dishlip Selected as Santa Monica’s New Assistant Director of Public Works

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Public Works Director Rick Valte announced the selection of Christopher Dishlip as Santa Monica’s new Assistant Director of Public Works....

Letter to Editor: Response to Himmelrich’s “We Walk the Talk” Column

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

By Beau Marks As a Santa Monica resident, I am dismayed by Sue Himmelrich’s response (“We Walk the Talk,” Santa...

Motional And UberEats Launch Autonomous Deliveries In Santa Monica

May 18, 2022

May 18, 2022

There Are Plans For Expansion Into The Rest Of Los Angeles Motional, a global driverless technology leader, and Uber Technologies...

Winston Pies Opening Third Location In Santa Monica

May 18, 2022

May 18, 2022

The restaurant used to be known as ButterCrust Pies Winston Pies is staying in Santa Monica when opening their third...

Only 10 Vaquita Porpoises Survive, But The Species May Not Be Doomed

May 17, 2022

May 17, 2022

Hope remains for the porpoise species not only survive but thrive with human help. By Stuart Wolpert The vaquita porpoise,...

The American Cinematheque Brings “Bleak Week” To Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre And The Los Feliz Three Theatre

May 17, 2022

May 17, 2022

33 Films From 18 Countries In One Week. By Dolores Quintana Sometimes when things are tough and you’re feeling down,...

Man Who Murdered His Family Members Pleads Guilty To Five Other Killings

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

Escobar injured an additional seven other people as well.  By Dolores Quintana A man, Ramon Escobar, has pleaded guilty to...