Los Angeles: A politically-charged World Premiere at Odyssey Theatre Ensemble


Damascus, Syria: 2014. Four friends gather to watch their favorite soap opera on TV — but are all the unspoken passions on the screen? Is anything really what it seems to be? Odyssey Theatre Ensemble presents a politically charged and emotionally urgent new play by acclaimed Chilean playwright Guillermo Calderón. Bart DeLorenzo directs the West Coast premiere of Kiss for an April 29 opening at the Odyssey Theatre.

Newcomers Kristin Couture (Rocket to the Moon at the Harold Clurman Lab), Max Lloyd-Jones (Switched at Birth), Natali Anna Ortiz (El Festival de Teatro Clásico de Olmedo in Spain) and Kevin Matthew Reyes (Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf) star as two couples who meet for dinner to take their minds off the war raging around them. An unexpected profession of love, an untimely proposal and one kiss later, one of the foursome lies dead on the floor. What starts out as a Syrian melodrama quickly takes an unexpected turn. Intersecting the personal, political and theatrical,Kiss breaks open cultural barriers, challenging us to confront the limits of our own understanding and exposing the suffocating effect of an oppressive, omnipresent regime.

Kiss is a unique piece of theater,” says DeLorenzo. “It’s a thrilling entertainment as twisty and surprising as the best melodrama, but also a striking political play — and, above all, a fascinating examination of the very nature of political theater.”

Kiss had its European premiere at Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus in Spring, 2014. The North American premiere was presented by Woolly Mammoth in Washington D.C. in 2016, and it is being produced at Canadian Stage Company in 2017.

War and political upheaval have deeply informed the award-winning work of New York-based Chilean playwright/director/screenwriter Guillermo Calderón, hailed as “Chile’s most acclaimed playwright-director of the last two decades” by the Los Angeles Times. Born in 1971 at the height of Salvador Allende’s left-wing Popular Unity alliance, Calderón came of age under the brutal dictatorial regime of Augusto Pinochet (Calderón’s uncle was killed by Pinochet’s security police). Reaching far beyond the borders of his homeland, his plays, written in both English and Spanish, include Neva, Diciembre, Clase, Villa, Speech, Quake, Escuela, Kiss, Mateluna and Goldrausch. Calderón’s productions have toured extensively through South America, North America and Europe. He has been commissioned to write and direct by the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Theater Basel, HAU Hebbel am Ufer, the Royal Court Theater, Center Theater Group, and the Public Theater in New York City, where he also directedNeva. His co-written screenplay Violeta Went to Heaven won the World Cinema Jury Prize for Drama at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He co-wrote The Club, directed by Pablo Larrain, winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival 2015, and nominated for the Golden Globes in the Foreign Language category. The script won the Silver plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival. He wrote the script forNeruda, directed by Pablo Larraín, presented at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (The Director’s Fortnight) during Cannes Film Festival 2016. He recently directed his play Villa in New York City, produced by The Play Company. His new play, B, will be produced at the Royal Court Theater in September 2017.

Bart DeLorenzo is the founding artistic director of the Evidence Room Theater. He has previously directed Go Back to Where You Are, Day Drinkers and A Number for Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, as well as The False Servant, Passion Play, Annapurna, Ivanov, Margo Veil and The Receptionist, which were co-productions between the Odyssey and the Evidence Room. Other credits: Stage Kiss, Death of the Author andConey Island Christmas at the Geffen Playhouse; Women in Jeopardy! at the Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara; Need to Know at Rogue Machine; I See You Made an Effort at the Skylight Theatre; tokyo fish story and Fast Company at South Coast Rep; Cymbeline at A Noise Within; and The Night Watcher at Washington’s Studio Theatre. He is on the faculty at CalArts. He is the recipient of Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle awards (including the Milton Katselas Award for Career Achievement), LA Weekly awards, Backstage Garlands and the Alan Schneider Director Award.

The creative team for Kiss includes scenic designer Nina Caussa, lighting designer Katelan Braymer and costume designer Raquel Barreto.Beth Hogan produces for Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.

Performances of Kiss take place April 29 through June 18 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesday, May 17; Thursday, May 25; and Wednesday, June 7, all at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Saturdays and Sundays; $30 on Fridays; and $25 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with discounted tickets available for students and members of SAG/AFTRA/AEA. There will be two “Tix for $10” performances on Friday, May 5 and Friday, May 26. The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show.

The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.

Submitted by Lucy Pollak


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