• MASA Playwrights: A Slice of Life, Served Family Style

    Tania Thompson
     | Aug 06, 2020

    The works of four playwrights featured in MASA celebrate the historical and cultural importance of masa, dough made from corn flour used to make tortillas, tamales and a variety of dishes. This free event will be livestreamed on Monday, Aug. 17, at 5:30 p.m.

    RSVP to Watch MASA

    Playwright Juliette Carrillo, who’s directing the online reading, points out that masa recipes have lineage and stories behind them; those family traditions are what MASA will explore through these playwright' voices.

    Luis AlfaroLuis Alfaro

    The Gardens of Aztlan (An Acto Hecho A Mano)

    Playwright Luis Alfaro found inspiration for The Gardens of Atzlan during a meal at El Torito Grill in Costa Mesa, Calif., where he ​cooked up an existential crisis for one of the tortilla makers. The story follows a woman who ​leaves her dead-end tortilla-making job ​to find a place where her skills will be appreciated. She connects with other women tortilla makers in search of their lost heritage.

    Alfaro is a director and an SCR-commissioned playwright; his current commission is the third for the theatre. He is an associate professor of dramatic writing at the University of Southern California’s School of Dramatic Arts. Among his honors are a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, PEN/America/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theatre Award, Joyce Foundation Fellow and a two-time recipient of a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Play Awards. He was Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s inaugural playwright-in-residence from 2013 to 2019.

    Lisa LoomerLisa Loomer

    “El Maiz” from Café Vida

    Actor, playwright and screenwriter Lisa Loomer wrote Café Vida as the inaugural play in Cornerstone Theatre Company’s Hunger Cycle (2012). She interviewed dozens of people who were part of Homeboy Industries, lauded for its programs for at-risk young people and former gang members, and Homegirl Café, a division of Homeboy Industries. The café transforms young people through culinary training. In full, the play is about two women from rival communities who, after serving time in prison, find a fresh start through growing, cooking and serving food. At the heart of the story is the hunger for community. MASA will feature a section of Café Vida, about the character “El Maiz.”

    Loomer’s first play, Birds, was produced at SCR in 1986. Her plays—including Roe, Living Out, The Waiting Room, Distracted, Café Vida, Homefree, Expecting Isabel, Two Things You Don’t Talk About at Dinner, Maria, Maria, Maria! and Bocón!—have been  produced at such theatres as The Mark Taper Forum, Arena Stage, South Coast Repertory, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Seattle Rep, Denver Theatre Center,  Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Trinity Repertory Company, The Williamstown Theatre Festival; and, in New York, at The Roundabout Theatre Company, The Vineyard Theatre, Second Stage, INTAR Theatre and the Public Theater. Her work has also been produced in Mexico, the Middle East and Europe.  She’s a two-time winner of the American Theatre Critics Award and has also received awards from the Kennedy Center, the Pen Center, the Imagen Foundation, (Norman Lear Award), the Jane Chambers Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, among others. Her film credits include Girl, Interrupted, and she also writes for television.

    Amilcar JaureguiAmilcar Jauregui

    “Tejuino” from Tejuino

    Actor and playwright Amilcar Jauregui is from Orange County, Calif., and a recent graduate of the University of California, Irvine. Tejuino is his most recent work that tells stories that are important to him and to empower the Latinx community. The sweet and tart cold beverage, tejuino, is made from fermented masa.

    Diane RodriguezDiane Rodriguez

    The Path to Divadom, or How To Make Fat-free Tamales in G minor

    Playwright Diane Rodriguez helmed Center Theatre Group’s new play production program from 2005-19, part of her nearly quarter-century of work for CTG. Her Path to Divadom is the story of Rachel who decides to make masa from scratch and take her place as a keeper of the tradition.

    Among her other work, Rodriguez directed at readings and plays at SCR including The Beauty of the Father by Nilo Cruz (2002, readings, Pacific Playwrights Festival and Hispanic Playwrights Project); Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams by Nilo Cruz (2000, reading, PPF); and the production La Posada Mágica by Octavio Solis and Marcos Loya (2001-03). ​She passed away in 2020.

    Learn more about MASA and reserve your free “ticket” by Aug. 16, 2020, to watch the live event.

  • SCR commUNITY: Stories to Connect Us

    Tania Thompson
     | Jul 27, 2020

    How to Watch the Reading

    The online reading of MASA is free, but RSVPs are required in order to receive the link to view the live event. Make your reservation here.

    Online Food Drive

    Between now and mid-September, we’re holding an online food drive in partnership with Second Harvest Foodbank of Orange County. Please consider a donation to the drive to provide help to those having trouble accessing nutritious food during the pandemic. Read more about this on the foodbank’s website.

    Our Relationship to Food Takes Center Stage

    SCR commUNITY is a new online series of free readings, events, interviews and community-centered stories to engage Southern California with the power of live theatre during the COVID-19 pandemic. The series kicks off on Aug. 17, at 5:30 p.m., with MASA, a live, online fiesta with readings of four short pieces relating to the historical and cultural importance of masa (corn meal).

    MASA, curated and directed by Juliette Carrillo, includes selections from​ these works.

    • “The Gardens of Aztlan” (An Acto Hecho A Mano) by Luis Alfaro (from California Scenarios, a 2001 SCR-commissioned work)
    • “El Maiz” from Café Vida by Lisa Loomer
    • “Tejuino” from Tejuino by Amilcar Jauregui
    • The Path to Divadom, or How to Make Fat-free Tamales in G minor by Diane Rodriguez

    “I’m thrilled by the launch of SCR ​commUNITY, utilizing our digital platform to celebrate stories that help shape the rich tapestry of Orange County,” says Artistic Director David Ivers. “​Our playwrights, directors and actors—many of whom have a long history with SCR—are thrilled to be a part of the creative process once again and so are we! Tune in.”

    Adds Managing Director Paula Tomei: “SCR has always been strongly engaged with the Orange County community. ​During these times, when we’re unable to gather in-person, it becomes even more important that we continue to celebrate our connections to each other. SCR CommUNITY provides us with the perfect venue for this—a virtual gathering spot.”

    MASA is the first of three events curated by Carrillo in SCR Comm​UNITY; the trio is collectively titled El Teatro de la Comida (Theatre of Food). The next two events will take place on Aug. 31 and Sept. 14.

    El Teatro de la Comida explores how food brings us together, even when we’re forced to stay apart,” says Carrillo. “Our relationship to food in this pandemic demands a different kind of attention and many of us have had to embrace cooking—'slow food’—and the art of preparing a meal. I’m interested in how recipes, smells and tastes live in our DNA; more specifically, in the Latinx community. Since every recipe has a lineage and a story, how do we reach back into the past and embrace the traditions of our ancestors?”

    Who’s Who in MASA

    Juliette Carrillo (Director, Playwright) has had a long relationship with SCR including both as a staff member and as a director. Among the SCR works she directed were Sidney Bechet Killed a Man by Stuart Flack (1998); References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot by José Rivera (2000); The Countess by Gregory Murphy (2000); Nostalgia by Lucinda Coxon (2001); California Scenarios (2001, site-specific work); Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz (2004); and Jane of the Jungle by Karen Zacarías (2012).

    Luis Alfaro (Playwright) is a director and an SCR-commissioned playwright; his current commission is the third for the theatre. He is an associate professor of dramatic writing at the University of Southern California’s School of Dramatic Arts. Among his honors are a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, PEN/America/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theatre Award, Joyce Foundation Fellow and a two-time recipient of a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Play Awards. He was Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s inaugural playwright-in-residence from 2013 to 2019.

    Lisa Loomer (Playwright) is an actor, playwright and screenwriter whose first play, Birds, was produced at SCR in 1986. Her works for stage and screen include The Waiting Room, Roe, Living Out, Girl Interrupted and Happily Ever After. She has written the long-awaited musical adaptation of Lisa Esquivel’s novel, Like Water for Chocolate. Loomer is the recipient of numerous honors including the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics New Play Award, Ovation Award and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

    Amilcar Jauregui (Playwright) is an actor and playwright from Orange County, Calif., and a recent graduate of the University of California, Irvine. Tejuino is his most recent work that tells stories that are important to him and to empower the Latinx community.

    Diane Rodriguez (Playwright) helmed Center Theatre Group’s new​-play production program from 2005-19, part of her nearly quarter-century of work for CTG. Among the works she directed at SCR included two readings of The Beauty of the Father by Nilo Cruz (2002, Pacific Playwrights Festival and Hispanic Playwrights Project); a reading of Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams by Nilo Cruz (2000, PPF); and the production La Posada Mágica by Octavio Solis and Marcos Loya (2001-03). Rodriguez passed away in 2020.

    Learn more about MASA and reserve your spot by Aug. 16, 2020.

  • Nike Doukas: Her Favorite Roles

    SCR Staff
     | Jul 23, 2020
    Nike Doukas
    ​Nike Doukas

    With some 20 productions at South Coast Repertory to her credit, actor Nike Doukas admits that it’s hard to narrow down specific favorites. Three things make a role memorable for her: it teaches her something about herself; teaches her something artistically; and reveals something about the playwright.

    “When you do a play, you immerse yourself in a piece of literature, you share the experience with some incredible artists, and then the audience comes in adds to that experience,” she says. “Each time I worked on one of these plays, I fell in love with the role and the playwright and what the playwright could do for, and with, an audience. It’s fabulous life.”

    Eric Woodall, Doukas and Mikael Salazar in Loot.

    Loot by Joe Orton (1993)
    Role: Fay
    This was my first show at SCR, and directed by the late, great Mark Rucker. I’ve always been a pretty bad liar, but this role taught me how to lie convincingly. I had to be brazen because the character of Fay is a compulsive, brazen liar. Creatively, I had never really done a farce before, which requires split-second timing, utter conviction and a straight face—this last part is the hardest. Orton himself is so brazen: he dares to pay tribute to Oscar Wilde, Coward, the whole tradition of British comic playwrights, while making the play utterly singular and contemporary.

    Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward (1995)
    Role: Elvira
    This is an extremely funny play, in which I played a ghost, and I thought I understood where all the laughs came. Coward wrote Blithe Spirit during World War II, and many of the jokes had a deep resonance for people who had relatives away fighting in the war. I found the jokes about ghosts for some of our older, matinee audiences were quieter, more reflective moments. So, what I learned about myself and my artistry was to be humble: to let an audience teach me about the play and let go of my own assumptions. That if you listen there may be sorrow in the joy and vice versa. All while a third of my body was covered in grey make-up.

    ​Lynn Milgrim, Doukas, Anne Gee Byrd, David Byrd and Nicholas Hormann in ​Pygmalion.

    Pygmalion by George Bernard
    Shaw (1997)
    Role: Eliza Doolittle

    I love accents, I even coach accents, and this play is all about how accents do and don’t define a person. How the way we express ourselves makes us unique and shapes who we are. How if our unique voice is robbed, we are left with something less than what we were, despite the fact that we’ve found something more within that new accent/voice. Also, my father, who was a huge theatre fan and who saw me in almost every play I did, was dying while I rehearsed this play. There’s a lot about fathers and daughters here, too, that Shaw addresses. And it’s also about our ability to love. Neither of the two main characters can take responsibility for their feelings, though Eliza is better at it than Henry Higgins. It required a lot of exploration, and it was a deep, deep experience.

    Much Ado about Nothing
    Doukas and Douglas Sills in ​Much Ado About Nothing.

    Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (2001)
    Role: Beatrice
    This was a part I had always wanted to play, and the fact that I got to do it with one of my best friends, Douglas Sills, playing Benedick, was magical. The two smartest people in the room aren’t emotionally smart enough to understand that they love each other, until their friends and family trick them into discovering their feelings—it takes a village! Finding Beatrice’s journey was tricky; it’s hard to see beyond the wit and into her heart. I had to work hard to find her emotional journey, and when I did, I was so moved by what a sensitive, understanding character Shakespeare had created and how complex our hearts and minds are. Plus, our choreographer, Art Manke taught me to tap dance!

    Everett Beekiin
    Adam Scott, Doukas and Kandis Chappell in Everett Beekin.
    Major Barbara
    Leo Marks and Doukas in Major Barbara.

    Everett Beekin by Richard Greenberg (2000)
    Roles: Anna / Nell
    I am the second generation of an immigrant family and I really love how, in the first act, Greenberg (or Richard, as I call him), captures that tension between first and second generation and, in the second act, how the third generation gets even farther away from the familial roots, but still, there are echoes and reverberations from the past. And he does it all in an incredibly elegant, almost invisible way. The range of things you get to do in this play is thrilling.

    Major Barbara by George Bernard Shaw (2002)
    Role: Barbara Undershaft
    This play is a sentimental favorite because it’s where I got to know my future husband, Leo Marks. AND, it’s another Shaw! I love that Shaw never lets you figure out who’s right, because everyone is right or wrong, depending on what part of the argument you are engaged in. That is really fun for an actor, because you get to play both the dark and light sides of a person, so you’re never fully evil or fully angelic. And, all the while, you’re more passionately articulate than you could ever be in real life. And then you end up marrying the guy who played Bill!

    Yoga Play
    ​Doukas and Lorena Martinez in ​Yoga Play.

    Yoga Play by Dipika Guha (2017)
    Role: Joan
    This was one of the few times I got to play the absolute leader of the play—literally the boss—as well as the heart of the story. That’s rare for female actors and it’s really empowering. One of the things you discover when you act any role is that you’re capable of doing and saying and feeling more than you thought, because the playwright allows and forces you to live up to what the character needs, wants and does. Joan allowed me to take charge, give orders, think big. And yet, she was full of fear, so that made her human and funny and I hope, relatable. It’s a generous play to all the characters, it loves and makes fun of them all, and consequently, I think the audience is allowed to laugh at some of the absurdities of our moment.

  • A Special Message About Next Season

    Tania Thompson
     | Jul 23, 2020
    David Ivers and Paula Tomei
    ​David Ivers and Paula Tomei

    We hope that you are safe and well during these unprecedented times.

    In the video above, Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei share the latest news about:

    • The upcoming season
    • Updates on A Christmas Carol
    • A new online series called SCR ​comm​UNITY
    • Our annual Gala
    • Another exciting new initiative called Outside SCR
    • A reminder about your canceled performance ticket options

    We invite you to watch the video and then review the details below.

    2020-21 SEASON
    We were hoping to announce more about SCR’s upcoming season at this point, but due to the ever-shifting COVID-19 pandemic, which seems to be changing almost daily, it is difficult to move forward with complete details. Rest assured that SCR is firm in its commitment to produce theatre in the next calendar year and you will be the first to know our plans.

    UPDATE—A Christmas Carol 2020
    We don’t foresee that we’ll be able to gather safely by the coming holiday season. So, unfortunately, we won’t be producing A Christmas Carol this year. But, A Christmas Carol will return in 2021, in its original production with Richard Doyle as Scrooge. If you already purchased tickets, you may exchange them into the 2021 production now, request a credit on account for your ticket value, exchange your tickets for an SCR gift certificate or receive a refund. Get complete details here.

    NEW—SCR ​comm​UNITY
    In August, we’re launching a new community-based initiative consisting of a series of online readings, events, interviews and community-centered stories to keep you engaged and connected with SCR. We’re working with playwright and director Juliette Carrillo on the first 3 events, entitled as a group El Teatro de la Comida (The Theatre of Food). These free events explore the theatricality of a Mexican meal, with all its magnificent colors, textures and tastes and tap into the legacy, history and family lineage of food.

    UPDATE—The SCR Gala
    Our annual fundraising Gala also is moving online and the date is Thursday evening, Oct. 1​6. This event provides vitally important funds that enable us to serve tens of thousands of Orange County students through our education programs and it’s a wonderful opportunity to support SCR. Learn more.

    NEW—Outside SCR
    We’re taking some shows outside next year—two full productions under the stars—at one of our county’s great outdoor venues. We’ll update you as more information becomes available.

    If you were affected by our canceled performances last spring,
    and haven’t yet requested a credit on your account or a refund through our Box Office, you may still do so. If we don’t hear from you by Aug. 31, we’ll put your ticket money on account so you may use it in the future. Find all of your options here.

    F​irst Night Subscribers
    If you have questions about your First Nights tickets from last spring or about First Nights tickets for next season, please email [email protected]

    We are committed to keeping you informed about next season with updates as soon as we know them. Whether it’s online or in person, we will see you soon. Stay safe and know that you are in our thoughts.

  • Linda Gehringer: The Gift of Plays

    SCR Staff
     | Jul 09, 2020
    Linda Gehringer
    ​Linda Gehringer

    These days, actor Linda Gehringer says she gets this question most often: “What is your favorite role?”

    She smiles: “And I freeze!” she relates. “In that moment, I can’t remember anything I have been in!”

    But, given a little time for reflection, she does remember the wonderful times she has had in plays at South Coast Repertory. “The roles that I have been able to play here have almost all been gifts—real gifts,” she says.

    Here are a few of her favorite plays and roles.

    Good As New
    Gehringer, Robin Mary Florence and Stephen Rowe in Good as New.
    Hold Please
    Kimberly K. King, Gehringer and Tessa Auberjonois in Hold Please.

    Good as New by Peter Hedges (1997)
    directed by Martin Benson
    Role: Jan
    “The story takes place on the day a woman comes home from getting a facelift. My head was totally bandaged and my face was painted in bruises because it was all done in real time. It was so, so funny and yet heartbreaking and I felt so free. This show is when I started to realize what new plays do to me as an actor: they free me and my imagination and my sense of humor to run wild.”

    Hold Please by Annie Weisman (2001)
    directed by Mark Rucker
    Role: Grace
    “This wonderful comedy is about four secretaries. Then, during rehearsal, the 9/11 attacks happened. When we came back to work, the play seemed so lightweight. But once we had an audience they were so happy to laugh! You could feel the gift of theatre.”

    The Piano Teacher
    Gehringer​ and Kevin Carroll in The Piano Teacher.
    The Language Archive
    Laura Heisler and Gehringer in The Language Archive.

    The Piano Teacher by Julia Cho (2007)
    directed by Kate Whoriskey
    Role: Mrs. K.
    “I was alone on stage talking to the audience for a good deal of the play and then had to play the piano, which I hadn’t done since I was a child. A wonderful memory!”

    The Language Archive by Julia Cho (2010)
    directed by Mark Brokaw
    Role: Alta
    “There were so many dialects and characters, and speaking in a made-up language in this play. There’s nothing like working hard, though. Another wonderful memory!”

    Getting Frankie Married and Afterwards
    by Horton Foote (2002)
    directed by Martin Benson
    Role: Georgia Dale
    “This play was the first time I was married to Hal Landon Jr. onstage—it was crazy colorful comedy and we loved it!”

    Going to a Place
    Hal Landon Jr. and Gehringer in Going to a Place where you Already Are.
    The Roommate
    Tessa Auberjonois and Gehringer in The​ Roommate.

    Going to a Place where you Already Are
    by Bekah Brunstetter (2016)
    directed by Marc Masterson
    Role: Roberta
    “This was the next time that Hal [Landon Jr.] and I played husband and wife on stage. The story life, love and religion in the most imaginative, colorful and funny ways. It was a great play for our audience—we could feel that.”

    The Roommate by Jen Silverman (2017)
    directed by Martin Benson
    Role: Sharon
    “I learned something about myself in that play. It was a role where I got to do everything: be funny, tragic, dance, smoke pot, scream, cry, love—so much. And when it was over, I realized I missed it because my own life is not that colorful and it was so great to use every inch of myself.”

    The Canadians
    Gehringer, Kyle T. Hester and Corey Dorris in The Canadians.

    The Canadians by Adam Bock (2019)
    directed by Jaime Castañeda
    Roles: Johnny, Mayor Claudette, Oliver, Indian Princess, Man on Deck Nine
    “Thinking about this experience—my most recent play at SCR—cracks me up! [What the audience couldn’t see was] me, backstage, running quickly to change costumes (and genders) for the 5 characters I portrayed. And grabbing hockey gear! This was an extraordinary experience that I won’t soon forget.”

    Here are a few more:

    • All My Sons by Arthur Miller (2000, directed by David Emmes). “One word: Remarkable!”
    • Relatively Speaking by Alan Ayckbourn (2003, directed by David Emmes) “Richard Doyle and I tried desperately not to laugh—and I love being that tickled by a play!”
    • The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow by Rolin Jones (2003, directed by David Chambers). “This story was so unique and cool…and it made me feel young.”
    • Retreat from Moscow by William Nicholson (2004, directed by Martin Benson) “Martin (director Martin Benson) told me to make it my Hamlet and gave me so much power on the stage.”

    “There are so many more plays that I love,” Gehringer says. “But I should stop for now. But, thank you, SCR, for all of it!”