CULTURE WATCH:  The big news of the week is the return of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, something of an annual tradition at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica. I’m sad to be missing them, but I have to stay off my feet for a while following knee surgery.

The Globe’s “King Lear” stars Joseph Marcell, he of the resoundingly deep voice who appeared alongside Will Smith as Geoffrey on TV’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air;” in 2011, Marcell also appeared in the Globe’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Eight actors take on 11 roles, delivering what’s described as a “thrilling physicality,” in the setting of an Elizabethan style booth stage, inspired by paintings and etchings made during Shakespeare’s time. The production has been touring across the U.S., U.K., Europe and Asia, and in Istanbul, Turkey it will be performed in one of the city’s most famous churches, the Aya Irini, which dates from 548 A.D.

Here in Santa Monica you can take in either the lower-cost preview performance on Tuesday, Nov. 4 or enjoy the pomp and circumstance of opening night, Wednesday, Nov. 5. There are 13 performances through November 16, and you’re invited to come early and stay late on Nov. 7 and Nov. 11, for a post-show Q&A with cast members moderated by Broad Stage Dramaturg Jonathan Redding.

For more information and tickets call the Box Office at (310) 434-3200 or visit www.TheBroadStage.com.

Walking the Camino

If you’re in need of a spiritual lift, look down at your feet and imagine what it would be like to have them take you on a 500-mile walk across some of the most beautiful terrain in the world with nothing but a backpack and a stick. Your soles could lead your soul to self-discovery.

For one week only, Laemmle’s Royal Theatre in West Los Angeles plays host to “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago,” a quietly uplifting, multi-award winning documentary by Lydia B. Smith. After sold-out runs at various sized film festivals, the film now stands on its own theatrically at The Royal.

This particular 500-mile stretch of the famed Camino de Santiago in Spain has welcomed countless pilgrimages over hundreds of years, with people searching for answers or even for the right questions to ask. Emilio Estevez and his father Martin Sheen made the feature film “The Way” about the Camino but this is a far more personal and real journey along “the way” with six seekers, who were strangers when they started but became deeply connected to themselves and one another by the time they reached Santiago de Compostela, the cathedral endpoint of the pilgrimage, where the bones of St. James are believed to be buried.

After traveling the road herself in 2008, Smith set out to film a group of people from across the gamut of ages and nationalities who decide to take the powerful, challenging but ultimately transformative trek. She focuses on six people in varying spiritual and emotional states on this beautiful and literally blistering journey.

Tatiana, a religious single mother from France, brings her young son and her party boy brother along. The handsome and athletic Portuguese Tomas bears the pain of blisters developed while prepping himself for walking the Camino. Annie, from Los Angeles, attempts to overcome her searing pain and competitive instincts. Wayne and Jack, two retirees from Canada, walk to honor the passing of Wayne’s wife. Misa from Denmark ends up meeting William, ten years her junior, and sharing an unbreakable bond with him. Punky Sam from Brazil is attempting to overcome depression, a breakup, a messed up life and to find some meaning moving forward.

Rain and sun, pain and sorrow, profoundly beautiful but often tough terrain through valleys and mountains where a path can narrow to the width of one body, the kindness of strangers-volunteers who serve to honor pilgrims with food and shelter along the way—all these elements combine to offer a meditative experience about what is truly important in our lives.

Although we travel the road with them and feel the majestic and magical landscape, what one priest says sums up their transcendent goal: “It’s an internal Camino, a process toward opening the heart as we discover the expanded universe within all of us.”

To bring the Camino into daily life, Annie O’Neil has created a self-published, back pocket-sized book called “Everyday Camino With Annie,” with deeper reflections on her personal Camino experience, designed to inspire the journey within others. Find it at www.everydaycaminowithannie.com.

“Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago” screens for one week only at Laemmle’s Royal. DVDs are available, and a Q&A with the filmmakers will follow selected screenings. Get details at www.caminodocumentary.org.

The Overnighters

A darker documentary about the hazards of hospitality, “The Overnighters” is described as the movie that divided a town.

Kicking off the national theatrical release of this critically acclaimed film, the producers are offering an advance screening tonight in the town where it was filmed, Williston, North Dakota. It opens at Landmark’s Nuart Theatre in West L.A. for a weeklong run tomorrow (October 31).

The feature documentary – which won the Special Jury Prize for Intuitive Filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival (among other festival awards) – is an intimate portrait of job-seekers desperately chasing the American Dream to this oil boom town. Lacking the infrastructure to house the overflow of migrants, a local pastor starts a simple but controversial “overnighters” program, allowing down-and-out workers a place to sleep at his church. His well-meaning project immediately runs into resistance with his community, forcing the clergyman to make a decision leading to profound consequences that he never imagined.

Director Jesse Moss will make select appearances with a Q&A on opening weekend. Find out more at www.landmarktheatres.com.

Sarah A. Spitz spent her career as a producer at public radio station KCRW-Santa Monica and produced freelance arts reports for NPR. She has also reviewed theatre for LAOpeningNights.com.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.