New plays at Latino Theater Company tackle racism, poverty and cultural authenticity

Two women sitting next to each other.
Julia Cho, left, and Zandi De Jesus star in “This Is Not a True Story,” a play that tackles fetishization and anti-Asian racism.
(Grettel Cortes Photography)

I got some good rest and relaxation this weekend and here are the highlights I must share: sweater weather is upon us, Sergio Reis and Mauro van de Kerkhof’s choreography for Troye Sivan’sGot Me Started” is phenomenal and (*shouts from the rooftops*) the WGA and Hollywood studios reached a tentative deal to end the writers’ strike. I’m Steven Vargas, your L.A. Goes Out host, and here are the top events for the upcoming weekend recommended by the crew (sign up here for the newsletter):

Weekly countdown

A man sitting in a tub and pointing beside a monk perched on the edge of the tub
Ogie Zulueta, left, and Juan Amador in Luis Alfaro’s “The Travelers” presented by Latino Theater Company in association with San Francisco’s Magic Theatre.
(Jay Yamada)

1. Latino Theater Company Shows
Latino Theater Company has three shows playing at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in downtown L.A.: “This Is Not a True Story” by Preston Choi, “The Travelers” by Luis Alfaro and “Tacos La Brooklyn” by Joel Ulloa. The plays center on Latino and Asian communities. “This Is Not a True Story,” presented by Artists at Play in association with LTC, follows CioCio from Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly” as she wakes up trapped in a never-ending loop alongside Kim from “Miss Saigon” and a mysterious office woman. Each Asian heroine pushes to take control of her own story. “The Travelers,” produced in association with San Francisco’s Magic Theatre with resident home company Campo Santo, follows monks who nurse a stranger who stumbles into their monastery with a gunshot wound. Over the course of his recovery, the play examines the struggles of poverty in Grangeville. “Tacos La Brooklyn,” presented in association with East West Players, follows Chino, a young Korean American who grew up in a foster family on the Eastside. When he opens a taco stand, he is accused of cultural appropriation and begins a journey to convince the community of his cultural authenticity. “This Is Not a True Story” and “The Travelers” run until Oct. 15, and “Tacos La Brooklyn” closes on Oct. 29. Tickets to each show range from $5 to $38 and more information can be found on LTC’s website.

A man standing at the center of a stage surrounded by an audience.
Daniel K. Isaac stars in “Every Brilliant Thing,” directed by Colm Summers, at Geffen Playhouse.
(Isaak Berliner)

2. ‘Every Brilliant Thing’
What brings you joy? Head to Geffen Playhouse to contemplate that while watching “Every Brilliant Thing,” an interactive performance piece written by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe. It tells the story of a young man’s quest to compile a list of all the joys of life, in an effort to cheer up his mother and combat both of their daunting suicidal thoughts. “Every Brilliant Thing” comes recommended by Times theater critic Charles McNulty (you can check out his review for all the details). The production got extended to Oct. 29 at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater in Westwood and tickets range from $49 to $129. More information can be found on the Geffen Playhouse website.

A woman playing the violin.
Margaret Batjer, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s concertmaster and director of chamber music, curated the upcoming “Lineage” program at the Wallis and Zipper Hall.
(Brian Feinzimer)

3. ‘Lineage’
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra traces the familial and musical lineage of Afro British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and his daughter, pianist and composer Avril Coleridge-Taylor, in their latest “Lineage” series performance. The show is curated by Margaret Batjer, LACO concertmaster and director of chamber music, and features a performance led by pianist Anne-Marie McDermott. Times classical music critic Mark Swed recommends “Lineage,” calling it a rare opportunity to hear the clarinet quintet by the elder Coleridge-Taylor. The program will be presented at the Wallis in Beverly Hills at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at Zipper Hall in downtown L.A. at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $19 to $69 and more details can be found on LACO’s website.

A large tree branch installation
Installation view of “Ana Maria Devis: Proliferation,” 2023, FOYER-LA.
(CCYOUNG / Christopher Young / FOYER-LA)

4. ‘Ana Maria Devis: Proliferation’
Ana Maria Devis will debut her first U.S. solo show, “Proliferation, at FOYER-LA in Chinatown. Devis’ sculptures and drawings are site-specific, connecting nature-inspired large-scale sculptures with drawings on the wall, thereby transforming the space into a Colombian ecosystem. For example, large tree branches are covered in makeup remover pads and stitched strands of hair to create a mesmerizing depiction of nature. Meanwhile, her drawings create patterns and print using branches collected from Colombian rivers. Times art and design columnist Carolina A. Miranda recommends the free exhibition running until Oct. 28. The gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more information on “Proliferation,” check out FOYER-LA’s website.

A male and female dancer are intertwined.
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago will perform at Ahmanson Theatre as part of Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center.
(Michelle Reid)

5. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago heads to the Ahmanson Theatre this weekend, as part of Glorya Kaufman presents Dance at the Music Center, to share new work and fan favorites. The program includes “Busk” by Aszure Barton, a tribute to DJ and producer Frankie Knuckles titled “Dear Frankie” and “Coltrane’s Favorite Things” by Lar Lubovitch. “Dear Frankie,” choreographed by Rennie Harris, pays homage to house music and the genre’s contributions to the LGBTQ+ community. It begins with a letter written by Harris to Knuckles that is recited by various people, and continues with house music and audio clips about the value of the Warehouse dance club and Knuckles’ music. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $34 to $138 and more information can be found on the Music Center’s website.

Bonus round: Ethiocolor and ‘Counterpoint’

A woman dances while a man plays an instrument behind her.
The nine-member Ethiopian ensemble Ethiocolor will perform at the Nimoy on Friday, followed by “Counterpoint,” a collaboration from pianist-composer Conrad Tao and dancer-choreographer Caleb Teicher.
(Miki Mac)

UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance presents two performances at the Nimoy in Westwood. At 8 p.m. Friday, the nine-member ensemble Ethiocolor will perform dance and music that draws from Ethiopia’s 2,000-year-old Azmari culture. At 8 p.m. Saturday, composer and pianist Conrad Tao will join choreographer and dancer Caleb Teicher for “Counterpoint,” a duet that weaves classical music and jazz with unexpected and exciting movement. Tickets to each show cost $32 and more information can be found on CAP UCLA’s website.

On my mind

A sculpture of a ballerina sitting on a pile of pink pointe shoes.
A preview of Karon Davis’ upcoming exhibition, “Beauty Must Suffer,” opening in New York City on Oct. 12.
(Ashleigh Parsons)

Earlier this month, I attended a preview of Karon Davis’Beauty Must Suffer,” which heads to Salon 94 in New York City on Oct. 12. The exhibition is inspired by the Roman myth and tragic love story of Echo and Narcissus. Davis’ signature cavernous plaster mold castings complement the balletic poses of the subjects, showcasing the complicated positions dancers must hold. Viewers are forced to peer inside and acknowledge the strength it takes to lift a leg or bend the body. Alongside the depiction of physical strength was a parallel story of social and emotional power. Davis’ depiction of Black ballerinas reflected on the racial disparities within the art form. It was most vividly displayed in the act of “pancaking” pointe shoes, — painting shoes with makeup to match the skin tone of Black ballet dancers. In 2017, Gaynor Minden became the first pointe shoe manufacturer to introduce darker shades, followed by Freed of London in 2018. Many more followed suit in June 2020 amid nationwide Black Lives Matter protests. Ballet dancer Misty Copeland recently launched a petition asking Apple to introduce a spectrum of shades for their pointe shoe emoji.

One of the pieces depicted a young ballerina hunched over a bouquet of flowers in front of a pile of pointe shoes. The shoes appear beaten but only a few are painted brown. As I slipped through the Underground Museum in Arlington Heights, where the preview took place, I came across Davis’ work area. A bin of empty concealer bottles sat on a table with sponges covered in the brown makeup used to paint the shoes. Although it wasn’t part of the exhibition, it heightened the narrative about racial struggles within ballet and was just as profound as the few painted shoes in the pile.

A couch and bed installation
Installation view of “Kristen Wentrcek & Andrew Zebulon: No Life,” 2023, at Marta until Oct. 28.
(Erik Benjamins)

On Sept. 14, I visited Marta in Silver Lake to check out “No Life” by New York-based artists Kristen Wentrcek and Andrew Zebulon. The exhibition’s title refers to the tolls of ambition: As we push for fulfillment — whether creatively or financially — our personal lives suffer. The duo created set and furniture pieces made of foam, starboard and two-way glass. The pieces were minimalistic and offered excitement in the smaller things: the toggle switch on the lights and the colors, the feeling of the foam conforming to your body. In the exhibition’s attempt to strip away the extravagant, there was a newfound joy in the essential. The free exhibition runs until Oct. 28 and the gallery is open from noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. More details can be found on Marta’s website.

Colorful paintings on white gallery walls
“Sean Scully: LA Deep,” exhibition view. 1037 N. Sycamore Ave., Los Angeles. Sept. 23 to Nov. 4.
(Mark Waldhauser / Sean Scully / Lisson Gallery)

On Wednesday I went to Lisson Gallery in Hollywood to see Sean Scully’s solo exhibition “LA Deep.” The show contrasted his paintings from the 1970s with his latest work. When I walked into the gallery space, “Blaze” immediately caught my attention. The piece consisted of vibrant colors layered atop each other in a grid pattern. In between the grid lines, there were hints of soft curves and blended shades. Scully told me at the gallery that it was the first painting he ever sold. Through a series of events, it returned to his possession just in time for him to realize its significance. His new works were much less vibrant and the hues were more subdued. However, the brush strokes conveyed more passion than his paintings from the 1970s. Back then, Scully didn’t think viewers wanted to see his emotions. He found freedom in his recent paintings, which share abstract interpretations of nature. “LA Deep” runs until Nov. 4 and the free gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More details on the exhibition can be found on Lisson Gallery’s website.

Insights: Your guide to ‘Made in L.A.’ live events

A woman pulling clothes away and moving through the fabric
Miller Robinson, “Nipahootih kuuk Tanivaana (Aama)”/ “(Returning to Myself (Salmon),” 2022-present. Performance still. Two-channel video, edition of 2.
(Miller Robinson)

The Hammer Museum’s biennial exhibition “Made in L.A. 2023: Acts of Living” opens Sunday. This year’s theme references a quote by Noah Purifoy inscribed on the Watts Towers that reads: “One does not have to be a visual artist to utilize creative potential. Creativity can be an act of living, a way of life, and a formula for doing the right thing.” Alongside the expansive exhibition is a series of free live events you won’t want to miss. Here are a few of the top ones to get your plans started:

  • Weirdo Night with Dynasty Handbag: This “freak forward” variety show hosted and curated by Dynasty Handbag (Jibz Cameron) features performances by Marcel Alcalá, Pippa Garner (in absentia), Page Person and more. The show is at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 14. Check out the event page for more information.
  • Cumbia Sin Reglas: Films “Yo No Soy Guapo” by Joyce Garcia and “Kumbia Net: Un Estilo Bien Diferente” by Alvaro Parra will screen starting at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 26. A panel discussion and dance party with DJs Lengua, Ganas, Turbo Sonidero and MC Mextape will follow the screenings. More details can be found on the event page.
  • Technotitlan: In a performance by Mas Exitos, artist Gary “Ganas” Garay combines techno and house records with Latin-based samples. The performance takes place on the museum’s Annenberg Terrace at 8 p.m. on Nov. 9. More details are available on the event page.
  • “How I Became a Person” by Page Person: In honor of Trans Awareness Week, Person will perform a one-person show that confronts anti-trans and anti-drag sentiment with humor. The performance is at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 and more information can be found on the event page.

For a full list of happenings associated with the biennial exhibition, check out the Hammer Museum’s website.

Go out speed round

Two women talk inside their home while a man peers in through the sliding glass door.
Ben Messmer, left, Jenny Soo and Tasha Ames in Skylight Theatre’s “Hungry Ghost.”
(Grettel Cortes)

Go out before it closes: Skylight Theatre’s production of “Hungry Ghost” by Lisa Sanaye Dring comes to a close on Sunday. The show follows a couple who settles in a house inherited by one of their estranged mothers. Things take a turn for the worse when a mysterious hermit who haunts the forest invades their home. The show, about identity and isolation, mixes thrills with humor. Tickets range from $20 to $38 and more details can be found on Skylight Theatre’s website.

Go out for free: David Kordansky Gallery presents Deana Lawson’sMind’s Eye.” The exhibition, running until Oct. 21, features photography that centers on familial relationships and memory. The free gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More information can be found on David Kordansky Gallery’s website.

Go out and learn: Learn more about climate change and its effects on different communities with “Climates of Inequality,” a weeklong pop-up exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum. The show focuses on environmental justice in the U.S., Mexico and Colombia, taking you to the front lines with interactive displays. There will also be a free symposium from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, which features a screening of “Manzanar Diverted.” The free exhibition runs until Sunday at the museum in downtown L.A. and more details can be found on JANM’s website. And if you can’t make it, no worries! The exhibition heads to the Riverside Art Museum on Oct. 14.

Go out with the kids: KUSC Classical Kids’ Discovery Day, hosted at Plaza de la Raza in Lincoln Heights, lets the little ones get a closer look at classical music and folklórico dance through activity tables with orchestral instruments and a special “be a DJ” booth. It’s the perfect event for your musically inclined kiddos and includes live performances from the L.A. Opera, YOLA, Neighborhood Music School of East Los Angeles and USC Thornton School of Music. The free event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and more details can be found on KUSC’s website.

Two men standing at an observatory
Malik Gaines, left, and Alexandro Segade inside the vaulted dome of the 100-inch telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory, where they are going to present “Star Choir.”
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Go out on a date: Take your date for a night under the stars. The Industry presents “Star Choir,” an opera co-directed by Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade, at the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory. The show leads audiences alongside a starship crew seeking refuge on the hostile Planet 85K: Aurora. Throughout the opera, the colonists meet intelligent life on the new planet, and navigate the challenges and pleasures of mutual coexistence. To learn more about the out-of-this-world show, check out our article on the interstellar chamber opera. Performances are at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and tickets range from $20 to $70. More information can be found on the Industry’s website.

Go out all day: Cinephiles, get ready for a week filled with cinematic fun at the Glendale International Film Festival. The festival begins Thursday and offers eight days of screenings at Laemmle Theatres, an opening night party at the Glenmark and an awards night at Glen Arden Club. Tickets to the screenings are $15 and weekend day passes cost $75. The opening night party on Thursday is $60 and the awards night on Sunday costs $100. For more information, check out the festival’s website.

Go out and wander: Immerse yourself in the world of “Little Women” with this fall festival special event at Heritage Square Museum in Montecito Heights. The immersive ballet tour guides you through Louisa May Alcott’s classic story across the museum grounds. In between dance performances, enjoy complimentary goodie bags, beverages and photos with the cast. The show runs from Friday to Sunday and tickets cost $60. More details can be found on the performance’s website.

Go out for a cause: Can you help crown the best drag performer? Best in Drag Show 2023 is a long-running beauty pageant that supports Alliance for Housing and Healing, which provides assistance to people struggling with homelessness and HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County. The extravaganza includes magnificent outfits and celebrity judges. Tickets to the fundraising event at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown L.A. range from $50 to $500 and more information can be found on Eventbrite.

Go out and celebrate: Bisexual Awareness Week may be over, but that doesn’t mean the bisexual celebration should end. The Road Theatre Company presents “Bisexual Sadness,” a play by India Kotis about a bisexual woman who struggles with bi-erasure as she prepares to marry a man. “Bisexual Sadness” opens Friday (with a preview performance Thursday) and shows are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday until Nov. 5. Tickets range from $15 to $39 and more details can be found on the Road Theatre Company’s website.

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I’m all ears!

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Follow our feed of recommendations and itineraries on Instagram and Twitter, and if you have recs of your own, send them to