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Cornerstone Theater Company's New Play is Close to Home

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Sunday, August 03, 2008, at 05:29AM
set piece Ed Fuentes

Traction Theater: Director Michael John Garces on stage with Rachel Jendrzejewski.

Cornerstone Theater Company’s new play “atTraction” is using the Arts District street as a stage and the buildings between East 3rd and Hewitt as the set. Now, in the final week of rehearsals, the lines between reality and storytelling are getting blurry.

A man riding a scooter darted through the closed-off street after a motorcyclist rehearsed riding past an actor. Then there was a homeless man pushing a cart who started a conversation with an actor portraying a homeless man pushing a cart. A few nights ago, diners walking out of Zip joined an assembled crowd, only to realize they were standing behind locals playing actors and actors playing locals.

It may be a testament that the character of the neighborhood has been captured by playwright Page Leong, who interviewed Traction Ave residents and woved them into the story about a private security guard, Ripley (played by Andres Munar) who meets a new American Hotel resident, Iris (played by alejandro navarro). Together, they learn about the Arts District from its longtime residents.

As for who plays the spirit of Joel Bloom, the casting choice was on hold until Alena––a loyal employee of Bloom’s General Store––showed Leong and director Michael John Garces a small sculpture of Bloom. Alena suggested that Cornerstone use their puppetry skills and the outcome is a larger than life Bloom voiced (on tape) by his longtime friend, actor George Wendt.

By the end of next week, Cornerstone Theater Company's challenge of mounting a play on and about the residents of Traction Ave will become another story to file under the Arts District, specifically Joel Bloom Square.

Cornerstone Theater Company presents “atTraction” / Written by PAGE LEONG / Directed by MICHAEL JOHN GARCÉS / August 7, 8 & 9, 2008, 8:30 PM / Outdoors on Traction Avenue /Downtown Los Angeles / Running time: approximately 80 minutes / The performance is outdoors on Traction between East 3rd and Hewitt / General admission seating on bleachers / Tickets are Pay-What-You-Can with suggested donation of $20 / For Pay-What-You-Can reservations or more Information call 213-613-1700 x 814

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