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LOS ANGELES POVERTY DEPARTMENT (LAPD) – Red Beard / Red Beard
January 23, 2015 @ 8:30 pm - 10:00 pm PDT$15 – $20
RED BEARD / RED BEARD, directed by John Malpede, is a duet for the Akira Kurosawa film, Red Beard, and live performers. The film is shown in Japanese without subtitles. To create the right scale between live performers and the film image, the film is not projected but shown on a monitor and the players sit in on either of the screen and perform the text “oratorio” style. They sometimes enact scenes and at other points they perform as a chorus, and use gesture to foreshadow, refer back to and otherwise amplify emotionally significant moments in the film. The story is set in a public hospital serving the indigent in rural, feudal Japan. The 1965 film tries to offer a way out of the dispiriting circle in which suffering and victimization become the justification for further victimization and suffering. The film’s harsh depiction of the dynamics of extreme poverty resonates today in urban America.
“The film makes me think of Simone Weil,” says Malpede, “who wrote a one-line history of the world when she said something like, ‘when my headaches were raging, I wanted to punch someone else in the head —just to let them know how I was feeling.’ In Red Beard, Kurosawa envisions a dynamic in which degradation is transformed into something positive, rather than becoming frozen as bitterness. In our production we try to answer the question: How to reverse the cycle of hurt and victimization.”
Based in LA’s Skid Row, Los Angeles Poverty Department is a theater company comprised primarily of low income, formerly homeless people living in those blocks of downtown Los Angeles known as Skid Row. Founded in 1985 by John Malpede, LAPD creates performances and multidisciplinary artworks that connect the experience of people living in poverty to the social forces that shape their lives and communities. LAPD’s works express the realities, hopes, dreams and rights of people who live and work in L.A.’s Skid Row.
For more information visit www.lapovertydept.org
HISTORY OF THE PRODUCTION
Red Beard/Red Beard was first performed at the Courtland Hotel on Skid Row in 1999. In 2008 Red Beard/Red Beard was nominated by Le Prix du Souffleur for best ensemble work in Paris, France where a new version of the production was presented at Théâtre de Gennevilliers, Centre Dramatique National de Creation Contemporaine in the Paris suburb of Gennevilliers. Five members of LAPD along with 35 residents of Gennevilliers comprised four casts (three French-speaking; one in English), who performed simultaneously for intimate audiences with three casts performing in French and one in English, creating moments in which the four simultaneous performances merged and then diverged. On January 23 and 24, 2015 Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica will present the US premiere of the 2008 production of Red Beard/Red Beard with a cast of 10 Los Angeles Poverty Department’s performers.
Fri + Sat, January 23 + 24 @ 8:30pm
$20 general admission / $15 members, students, seniors