The Braid Art and Performance Space is no longer temporary and “Not That Jewish” is no longer considered a workshop performance. Like the Levy’s Real Jewish Rye bread ad used to say, “You don’t have to be Jewish” to enjoy what’s happening at this new Santa Monica community cultural center.
The Braid, located off Colorado Avenue between Le Petit Caf√© and the soon-to-be-overdeveloped Village Trailer Park, is now home to the formerly nomadic Jewish Women’s Theatre. They’re launching with their original one-woman show, “Not That Jewish,” created for the company by Emmy Award-winning comedic writer/performer Monica Piper (“Rugrats”).
Previously presented as a work-in-progress, “Not That Jewish” is a humorous and poignant homage to Piper’s Jewish roots, her family’s influence on her comedy career, and the love, values and guidance she received particularly from her father, mother, grandmother and aunt that she’s passed down to her adopted son, who was not born Jewish.
In the gallery adjacent to the performance space is a wall of paintings and hats, the second exhibition in a series themed “Things We Pass Down,” about what we take willingly or unwillingly and pass down to our children. The splendid hats are designed by celebrity milliner Louise Green and the paintings are by her daughter, Israel-based painter Lucy Sharf. On view through May 3, all are for sale and help support the work of the center.
In keeping with the role that Jewish women’s salons had in the development of arts, literature, philosophy and politics from the late 1700s through the 1940s, JWT’s Artistic Director Ronda Spinak began convening “home story salons” in the backyard of a Pacific Palisades home and the series caught on. After 7 years, the search for a permanent home has come finally to rest at The Braid.
The written word is at the core of JWT’s development of original works for the stage. The company was founded to give voice to Jewish women, sharing stories of their lives and heritage. Sometimes, as in the case of Piper, they invite accomplished writers to explore their Jewish identities and create a new work from the heart.
When Spinak invited Piper to do this, she replied, “But I’m not that Jewish.” Spinak said, “That’s the perfect title! Now write it!” So she did and now performs it.
This tightly written, perfectly performed 90-minute one-woman autobiographical show feels inhabited by many characters, is constantly entertaining, laced with many laugh-out-loud as well as tear-inducing moments.
Scheduled to run through May 17, performances take place Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
On Sunday, April 19, there’s an artist talk in the hat gallery from 4 to 7 p.m., and on Saturday, April 25, from 1:30 to 4 p.m., designer Susan Ryza leads a jewelry-making workshop. Starting today at 10 a.m., the three-week series “Acting for Storytellers,” led by Ellen Gersh Lerner, begins. And the “At Home Salons” start up again on May 10 at homes and other venues, with a focus on “Reckoning with Dad.”
Keep up with all the current and upcoming events at The Braid Art and Performance Space at www.atthebraid.org or call (310) 315-1400.
Santa Monica College’s Santa Monica Review is the only nationally distributed literary magazine published by a U.S. community college, and has been included in the prestigious “Best American Short Stories” series and other anthologies.
This weekend and next, celebrate the launch of the semi-annual literary magazine’s Spring 2015 edition.
On April 18 and 19, stop by Booth 72 at the 20th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC for a free copy.
And on Sunday, April 26, at 5 p.m. “Santa Monica Review Presents” will feature a party, author readings and refreshments at the Edye, the smaller space behind The Broad Stage.
Acclaimed novelist and storywriter Jerry Stahl introduces readings by Dwight Yates (“Bring Everybody”), Janice Shapiro (“Bummer”), David Hernandez (“Hoodwinked”), and frequent contributor and SMC instructor Dawna Kemper.
Edited by Andrew Tonkovich, the latest issue presents 18 new original short stories, including work by Stephen Cooper (biographer of John Fante), a chapter from her novel by award-winning nonfiction writer Vicki Forman (“This Lovely Life”), ribald hilarity from L.A. favorite Benjamin Weissman (“Dear Dead Person”), and a new installment in her wild animal-occupied apocalyptic series from Alisa Slaughter (“Bad Habitats”). Two SMC creative writing workshop students, English instructor Kemper and Grace Singh Smith, are also featured.
Tickets cost $10 at Brownpapertickets.com. For more information, visit www.smc.edu/sm_review or call (714) 649-9051.
‘THE OUT CROWD’
Two performances of “The Out Crowd” by Australian playwright David Koutsouridis will benefit nonprofit youth agency My Friend’s Place, which helps homeless young people establish self-sufficient lives.
This night of comedic one-act plays is set at fictional Fairview High, an offbeat public high school, exploring the lives of students who live on the fringes and the everyday issues they encounter, including cyber-bullying, weight struggles and finding their place in the world.
Koutsouridis, the Australian best-selling author of “Life’s Too Short to Be Fat,” based the plays on his own experiences of overcoming childhood obesity and high school bullying. He says he knows how it feels to be part of the out crowd.
In Australia, he’s helped get teens off the street and into jobs, housing and better lives. “With almost 10,000 homeless youths in Los Angeles, I feel it’s my duty as a 22-year-old young person to help get these kids back on their feet,” he says. “I am hoping these plays not only shine light on the forgotten outcasts, but also on L.A.’s homeless youth, who all deserve a chance to live out their potential.”
“The Out Crowd: Tales of High School” takes the stage Friday and Saturday, April 24-25, at 7:30 p.m. at Santa Monica Playhouse. Tickets are $10 and available at www.brownpapertickets.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 theater for LAOpeningNights.com.