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Odyssey’s 2019-20 50th Anniversary ‘Circa ’69’ Season kicks off with Joe Orton’s shocking and hilarious black comedy.
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble kicks off its “Circa ’69” season of significant and adventurous plays that premiered around the time of the Odyssey’s 1969 inception with Joe Orton’s darkly comic masterpiece Loot. Bart DeLorenzo directs this tour de force of corrosive wit, dizzying intrigue and classic farce for a June 8 opening, with performances continuing through Aug. 10.
When Loot was first performed in the ‘60s, it shocked audiences with its merciless mockery of conventional propriety and frank depictions of police brutality and religious hypocrisy.
According to DeLorenzo, Orton’s plays haven’t aged — and neither have his targets.
“Loot is such a subversive play,” he says. “I love the opening line: ‘Wake up. Stop dreaming.’ It’s Joe Orton giving us all a jolt. Asking us to wipe the fluff from our eyes and see society the way he sees it, as a sort of rigged system that benefits bullies and oppressors and controls anyone stupid enough to go along with the lies. Loot suggests that the only acceptable alternative is to become a criminal — the only way to ever get what you want — and Orton shows us just how much fun that can be.”
In Loot, Two young friends, Hal and Dennis, rob a bank next to a funeral parlor… and what safer place to hide the money than in the coffin of Hal’s recently deceased Mum? But with the coffin full up, there’s no room for the corpse, which keeps reappearing at the most inopportune times — especially when the police inspector comes calling.
Joe Orton (1933-1967) was a British playwright, born in Leicester, whose outrageous dark comedies and macabre farces scandalized theater audiences in the 1960s. After winning an acting scholarship to RADA in 1951, he met Kenneth Halliwell, an actor and writer who became his life-long mentor, lover, roommate and collaborator. Orton and Halliwell first came to public attention not as writers, but through an elaborate prank played out at their local library, altering book covers and adding new provocative blurbs to dust jackets. In 1962, they were sentenced to six months in prison for this crime, an unusually harsh sentence “because we were queers,” Orton later commented. Prison proved transformative: “It affected my attitude towards society. Before I had been vaguely conscious of something rotten somewhere, prison crystallized this. The old whore society really lifted up her skirts and the stench was pretty foul.” In his rapid-fire writing that followed, Orton contributed to an exciting working class youth culture that swept through the nation. His first success, the radio play Ruffian on the Stair, broadcast in 1964, ushered in a run of successes — Entertaining Mr. Sloane in 1964, Loot in 1965 and What the Butler Saw, written in 1967 — shocking and unconventional entertainments that examined moral corruption, authoritarian abuse and hypocrisy. Orton’s career was cut tragically short when Halliwell bludgeoned Orton to death with a hammer, before overdosing on Nembutal in the 16’ x 12’ one-room flat that had been their home.
Founded in 1969 when Ron Sossi decided to demonstrate that experiment-oriented theater could have populist appeal and be fiscally solvent while maintaining the highest artistic standards, the Odyssey continues to explore, produce and present works on the forefront of contemporary theater art in its three-theater complex in West Los Angeles. The 2019-20, 50th anniversary “Circa ’69” season is an exciting retrospective of seminal theater works that inspired the Odyssey at the time of its inception, a rich time of experimentation and exploration when the theatrical soil was fertile both here and abroad.
Performances of Loot take place on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. from June 8 through Aug. 10 (dark July 19-21). Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesday, July 10 Wednesday, July 31 and Thursday, Aug. 8, all at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $32 to $37 there will be three “Tix for $10” performances, on Friday, June 14 Wednesday, July 10 and Friday, July 26. Friday, June 14 is “Wine Night”: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show. Friday, July 12 is “College Night” and includes a pre-performance student reception with themed catering as well as a post-performance discussion: $10 with valid student ID (use promo code COLLEGE).Additional discounts are available at select performances for seniors, students and patrons under 30 call theater for details.
The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.
Presenter / Producer: Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
Theater > Theatrical Comedy
Event Phone: 310-477-2055 x2
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025
LA - Hollywood / Westside
Performance Dates: 6/8/2019 - 8/10/2019
Fri., Sat. 8:00 pm Sun. 2:00 pm Wed. 7/10 and 7/31 Thurs. 8/8
$32 to $37 Tix for $10 Fri. 6/14 Wed. 7/10 Fri. 7/26 Wine Night Fri. 6/14 College Night 7/12
Web Link for ticketing
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