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COMPANY OF ANGELS’ “L.A. VIEWS” ~ April 10th-27th ~ Downtown LA

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Flor de Maria Chahua and Art McDermott in "Legit" by Henry Ong.

"L.A. Views: Ten Minutes At A Time" by the Company of Angels @ The Alexandria Hotel, 501 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. April 10th-26th, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8pm. $20. Reservations recommended: (323) 883-1717. Due to the overwhelming response, CofA added a performance on Sunday, APRIL 27TH at 7PM and a TALK BACK WITH THE AUTHORS will take place after the Thursday, April 24th 8pm show.

I discovered the Company of Angels last year when they performed one of Suzan Lori-Parks' 365 days/365 plays (Taco review) and left exhilarated by their synergy, undeniable talent and dedication to the City of Angels. In their new production, "L.A. Views: Ten Minutes at a Time", "with laughter, tears, hope, sorrow (and even 70's music,) the eight playwrights involved in LA Views bring you 10-minute stories that leave you questioning your own understanding of community and all it encompasses."

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Protestors against anti-immigraton laws march by the Alexandria Hotel, March 2006.

Another treat is that the Company of Angels' new black box is located inside one of our City's landmarks, the Alexandria Hotel in Downtown L.A. Last Sunday I met with one of L.A. Views' directors, Karen Anzoategui, and asked her about the Ghost Building and her involvement in the production:

KA: Our theater is on the third floor overlooking this beautiful ballroom where they used to have dances and parties. Mae West used to stay at the Alexandria Hotel. Charlie Chaplin and Al Capone were also frequent visitors. The room that has become our theater used to be the V.I.P. room for the ballroom where all these celebrities gathered. We moved everything out, cleaned it, we scraped it, painted it. We found a lot of interesting things like all these encrypted words on the wall. Why would people write "cheat" and "rat"? It's so intriguing and mysterious. You wonder where it all comes from.

A lot of older residents still live at the hotel, the Hotel does things for them like movie nights. We want to get them involved with the theater. Some of them are excited about us being there. This old lady's been coming by just to sit and watch. It's been great also for us to come together as a company, because we had to build the theater from the ground up. We also have a great technical director, Justin Huen.

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Alexandria Hotel circa 1919.

TACO: I've met Justin, he's also an actor.

KA: He's a man of many talents. With him on board, I knew we were going to have a great damn show. We wanted to ask "What is community in Los Angeles?" So the Company of Angels' Playwrights Group came together and started writing around that theme. I really wanted to be part of something that is about LA because that's where I want to be.

TACO: Tell me about the play you directed for LA Views, "Turning Around Mercy" by Jamison Newlander.

KA: I started reading the plays and one of them was about this hospital and at the time I was doing HIV work, I was drawing blood and maybe interested in getting certified as a Phlebotomist. So I was in the vibe of hospital settings and also finding out about what happened in the emergency room at King Drew Hospital. I talked with my peers who worked there and learned that it shut down and wondered why? Why did they let it get to that point? That's exactly what the play "Turning Around Mercy" is exploring. It's these women administrators trying to hold a hospital together so that it doesn't fall apart. That's why I wanted to direct it and Jamison Newlander is a great writer.

For descriptions of the plays and a list of cast and crew, go to www.companyofangels.org/laviews.php.

For more fascinating stories on the Alexandria Hotel, check out Damon Chua's blog, The Ghost Building. Damon Chua is one of the playwrigts involved in LA Views. His play is called "Stuffed Grape Leaves."

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L.A. Views' "Mass Transit" by Evangeline Ordaz. Pictured from left to right: July Evans, Nicole Ortega (back), Oscar Basulto, Richard Azuurdia (back)

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