Short plays to be performed Saturday

DOWNEY - Downey's vibrant arts community is about to stage another coup.On Saturday, Dec. 8, at 7:30 pm, two short plays by local playwright Daniel Houston Davila will be presented in a staged reading by an outstanding cast of professional actors. The performance takes place at Stay Gallery, 11140 Downey Avenue (just north of Firestone), which continues to fulfill its mission of proving that those who love the arts don't need to leave Downey to experience creative excellence. The first play, "Penney's from Heaven", follows Nadia Valdez and her desperate hours waiting for her husband to come home from what she fears is a night out gambling away their last hope for Christmas presents for the kids. The second play, "Price Tags", finds Sammy Gallardo, a struggling freshman at Cerritos College, caught in a dilemma-either protect his hemophiliac friend Remi from recklessly damaging his fragile body on a roller coaster at the Pike or allow him to enjoy his life, despite the risks. Many will remember Davila from two plays of his, "La Vida Lucky" and "El Bobo Bruto", presented last May at Granata's to a large and very appreciative audience. All these works belong to a 15-play cycle that tells the story of Carmelas, an isolated Mexican-American barrio in Norwalk, over the hundred years from its inception in 1900 when eight itinerant workers laid down roots through 2000, when the lines demarcating the barrio from the wider society have faded. Each play focuses on some aspect of the wider culture-the Depression, World War II, movies, credit cards, issues of assimilation-that impact the Carmelas, where streets were unpaved until the 1960s, few graduated from high school, most married by eighteen, and houses overflowed with children. Through these plays, voiceless people find their identity and discover the value of their everyday lives. These plays are being developed through workshops and collaborations with companies of actors. Alastair Hunter, a Downey resident who has been a leader in Southern California theatre for 50 years, has worked closely with Davila since his first play was produced in 1999 at El Camino College. The plays grow out of the stories in Davila's collection, Malinche's Children, published in 2003. The presentation will include a question period between the two plays, in which the artists will share with the audience the process through a new play is developed. The audience response may well help the collaborators continue to shape, revise, and improve the plays. The audience will not only experience a memorable performance but can participate in the creative process itself and interact directly with the actors, director, and playwright. Hunter is active in the Downey Arts Coalition, which is sponsoring the performance. The Coalition also organizes a monthly exhibit of art and a poetry reading, both at Mari's Wine Bar in Downey, and a second monthly poetry reading at Number 34 Barber Shop in Downey, and has sponsored many other local arts events.

********** Published: December 6, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 34