LIFE AS A WOMAN ON STAGE AT UCLA

Here is something for the weekend at UCLA’s Royce Rehearsal Hall that a woman might find recognizable and riveting, and a man mystifying and perplexing.

But there is no question that both genders will find the theatrical offering of “Mouthpiece” a challenge, which if anything is the hallmark of UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, a  fount of the imaginative avant-garde in the ever expanding Los Angeles cultural scene,.

The production by the Center in association with Toronto’s Quote Unquote Collective  indeed was a challenge, certainly for me, a male veteran combat correspondent in the war of the sexes that has been raging since the beginning of time, and it seems as of late to be more intense, more confessional and in your face.

Therefore this review for The Local and select websites is offered with a dash of salted caution, and peppered with prejudice, and should be taken knowing that the perspective is that of my gender, which frankly has had decidedly conflicted feelings about females,

At times this has made it particularly hard for men to fathom what women are saying or meaning.  Not surprisingly as displayed in the of the play,  it has been scientifically proven that they think differently than men.

But you have to love them, or die trying.  If the circumstances are right, honorable and honest, they really can become true, sharing companions and forever engaging, for life. So you better try to pay attention to them.

If so, the madcap yet compelling “Mouthpiece” can be revealing and instructive, even if you like me cannot identify with the principal character named Cassandra. She is played in brilliant and brash tandem by two actresses, Norah Sadava and Amy Nostbakken, who also are both credited as the plays authors. .

They are Cassandra’s conscious and sub-conscious in constant dialogue with each other, as life long female friends and family are apt to be, with one interrupting the other, talking in harmony, and disharmony., bodies writhing , limbs akimbo, hands fluttering, and faces contorted.

We find Cassandra entwined in a large Victorian bath tub, which also serves as the action progresses as a coffin,  at first inarticulate and suffering much angst on learning that her mother has just died, and she must make the funeral arrangements and also give the eulogy.

In rambling dialogue the mother is painfully revealed as both a compliant and a strong woman, representing womankind, and Cassandra the dutiful, yet a resentful and rebelling daughter who clearly loved and respected her mother. ,

Lots of conflict there, and lots of dialogue, about the mother, to be sure, but also quite personally confessional,  perhaps to a fault as wave after wave of words wash out over the audience . Divulged in bursts is the full range of a female’s life experiences, from birth to dressing up and dating, to contending with men in a man’s world, and death. ,

Being a male, and the occasional target of derision in the play, at best I only could presume the emotions uniquely borne of a woman’s body and mind, and the compelling relationship to a mother, female to female.  But bearing witness to the lives exposed in ”Mouthpiece” was  fascinating, and exhausting, an immersive theatrical evening.  

Friday, Saturday and Sunday,,8 PM, on the UCLA campus.

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hallkaplan

Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.

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