Yom Ha’Shoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, took place this past weekend.
Here in Los Angeles we’re most familiar with the work of architect Moshe Safdie as the architect of Skirball Cultural Center. But one of his most dramatic designs, The Holocaust History Museum at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, may have been part of the inspiration for his son, playwright Oren Safdie’s “False Solution” now onstage at Santa Monica Playhouse for a limited run.
This is the third in a series of Safdie’s architecture-themed plays, and for this production, he is both playwright and director.
Former “Hill Street Blues” star Daniel Travanti portrays renowned architect Anton Seligman, who’s designing a new Holocaust museum for Poland. He encounters Linda Johansson (Amanda Saunders), a beautiful young intern and first-year architecture grad student, who challenges his conceptions.
The tensions created by their differing ideas are complicated by their mutual attraction: The lovely young woman is drawn to this man by his accomplishments and influential position in addition to his considerable personal charm. He, in his turn, is stimulated by her beauty, vitality, and probing intellect. Given the subject matter of the project, identity politics are also part of the mix.
The notion of a Holocaust museum on Polish soil would be controversial enough. The addition of generational divides, sexual politics, and strong opposing wills make for an incendiary mix.
Santa Monica Playhouse is located at 1211 Fourth St. Performances run Thursdays through Saturdays until May 11. Reservations at (800) 838-3006.
The ever-impressive local artist Jean Edelstein is offering three open studio events in Venice this month, celebrating her latest line of accordion artbooks.
Edelstein began drawing and painting in small silk-covered accordion books while traveling in China in 1977, composing small artworks in flowing series that she made on the go, inspired by her surroundings. Since then, she’s created 200 of these artbooks, each a single fold-out treasure, expressing her love of nature, music, dance and motion in line, color and gesture.
On Saturday, May 3 as part of the long-running and popular Venice Garden Tour (a ticketed event), Edelstein will put her accordion artbooks on display and up for sale, alongside her “Book of Books,” which catalogs five of her series: China, The Huntington Gardens, Central Park and Trees, Performances and Orchids.
Her studio is open again free of charge on Sunday, May 4 during Venice ArtBlock, an open studio tour throughout Venice, information here: veniceartblock.com/events/. And she’ll welcome guests again on Sunday, May 18, as part of the venerable and beloved Venice Art Walk, also a ticketed event.
Find out more at jeanedelstein.com; her studio is located at 48 Brooks Avenue in Venice.
Art in the arthouse
Need to get out of the hot sun? Stop by Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles to cool off and view Taylor Negron’s “Snow Paintings,” the latest in a new exhibition series, “Art in the Arthouse.” It runs through July 25.
Known primarily as an actor and comedian, Negron is a Glendale native who studied at Art Center in Pasadena, The Academy of Fine Arts in San Francisco, and the Art Students League in New York, and is well known for his television work.
Spending four particularly brutal winters in Manhattan, he responded artistically with this series. He felt that the inclement weather robbed cold city citizens of their “game faces” and that, stripped of their urban armor, they could be reexamined and freshly revealed. “Snow Paintings” features portraits of people unmasked and at ease within their interior habitats.
Visit laemmle.com/taylor for a quick look and more information.
Ajax in Iraq
Described as a “futuristic theatre company,” Not Man Apart Physical Theatre Ensemble will occupy the Miles Playhouse in Santa Monica for a four-week run the Los Angeles premiere production, “Ajax in Iraq.” It starts next Thursday, May 8, Thursdays through Sundays till June 1.
Written by award-winning playwright Ellen Mclaughlin, “Ajax in Iraq” intertwines the important and timely issue of sexual abuse against women in the military with the parable of the great warrior Ajax, which is said to be one of the first and oldest stories to openly portray the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Miles Memorial Playhouse is located at 1130 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, just north of Wilshire Blvd. For reservations and information, visit NotManApart.com or call (818) 618-4772.
Westside Ballet’s Spring Performance at the Broad Stage takes place Sunday, May 19 at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. with receptions at noon and 4 p.m. The program highlights works by 20th century choreographers George Balanchine and Ben Stevenson, with excerpts from “The Sleeping Beauty.”
The receptions are fundraisers that support Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation Vision for Student Success, the Westside School of Ballet, and the SMC Foundation. Tickets are only $35 at westsideballet.tix.com. The Broad Stage, SMC Performing Arts Center, is located at 1310 11th St., Santa Monica.
I cannot recommend this film highly enough. “Fed Up,” which opens on May 9 at the Landmark Theatres, is rightly described as the movie the food industry doesn’t want you to see. It blows the lid off everything we thought we knew about food and weight loss, revealing a 30-year campaign by the food industry, aided by the U.S. government, to mislead and confuse the American public, resulting in one of the largest health epidemics in history.
With narration by co-producer Katie Couric, co-producer Laurie David (Oscar-winning producer of “An Inconvenient Truth”) and director Stephanie Soechtig, “Fed Up” will change the way you eat forever. Watch the trailer and find out more here: http://radiustwc.com/releases/fed-up.
Sarah A. Spitz is a former freelance arts producer for NPR and former staff producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica. She has also reviewed theatre for LAOpeningNights.com.