The COVID-19 pandemic has deprived local audiences of live theater for more than six months. But that will change beginning October 17 with the inaugural production of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s innovative new live theater series, Garage Theatre.
MARCH, an original political drama of peril and liberation, will be performed in the unique, experimental space of an underground parking structure located below the Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus in Hollywood.
“This is something everyone is hungry to do. We thought we wouldn’t see live theater until 2021, but here we are in the fall with live theater,” says director Jon Lawrence Rivera. “We are doing a play that people have to drive to see. They never step out of their cars, but it’s the act of going somewhere else. It’s live actors performing in front of you.”
MARCH takes place some 25 years in the future where an authoritarian society is in the grips of a pandemic. In this world of mortal danger, three Trans/Gender Non-Conforming people are seeking a safe place to hide from the military.
The play is conceived by Rivera, the award-winning director and founder of Playwrights’ Arena. The cast includes Miss Barbie Q (MJ), Amir Levi, Coretta Monk, Chad Christopher, Roland Ruiz, Marcelino Mendoza, and Matthew Clark.
“I know we are setting the play 25 years in the future but a lot of it is really happening today: pandemic, wearing masks, people concerned about the world,” Rivera says. “It’s about oppressing these people who have their choices in life, and yet, there is a group of people who are saying you cannot make those choices. Everyone has to conform. They are trying to just be true to who they are.”
How It Came Together
Although Rivera had previously directed two plays at the Center, this latest collaboration began with a happy coincidence when he had posted on Facebook that he was going to go looking for garages to maybe try to do some live theater.
Among those who saw the post was Matt Richter, the Center’s Technical and Events Coordinator and lighting designer who had read an article about people doing ‘protest theater’ in abandoned buildings so they would not be caught.
“I asked (Rivera) to come meet us because we were on the same path,” recalls Jon Imparato, the Center’s Director of Cultural Arts & Education. “I wanted something that’s in your face, that’s protest, that’s police brutality, that’s people of color, that’s trans people. I wanted something very political and said, ‘Don’t hold back.’ He came back with an outline of MARCH.”
The socially distanced production combines the immediacy of live theater with the security of a drive-in theatre. There are minimal sets, creative lighting used, and a private FM radio system to broadcast directly into people’s cars.
To secure the safety of the actors, all rehearsals and performances require daily temperature readings, minimum six-foot distancing, and face masks and face shields worn at all times.
Attendance at Garage Theatre is limited to 15 cars, with tickets priced at $20 per car. Boxed meals will be available for pre-order from the Center’s new Liberation Coffee House.
There will be two performances, at 7:30 and 9 p.m., every Saturday and Sunday night from October 17 to November 15. Each performance lasts 40 minutes.
To purchase tickets, visit lalgbtcenter.org/theatre.