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FROM THIS EPISODE

This is Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA Theater for KCRW.

You park south of downtown, around the corner from Bestia on 7th Street. You marvel how much the neighborhood is changing. All those cranes looming downtown. All those workers just trying to make a buck. There are a couple of folks milling around an old 1920's warehouse. That's where you're headed judging by the title of the play painted on the wall: The Day Shall Declare It. That's what you signed up for. They check your name off a list and you slip inside and it seems like you've crossed a threshold not just of space . . . but time.

It's beautifully lit: dim, cozy. There are old wooden slat crates surrounding what looks like a kitchen out of the 1920's. There's a mostly eaten plate of beans on a wooden table. Farther on you see a glowing chandelier, hear the clinking of an ice cube hitting bottom in a low ball glass. You mosey back and the bartender makes you a stiff bourbon drink with an orange peel. You feel like you, and the folks around you, might have slipped back to a forgotten speakeasy. Then you notice among the other patrons a guy with a broom. You'd swear he's dressed exactly like that old photo of your grandpa, the sepia tone one from the depression -- high pleated pants and waffled long sleeve undershirt. It's distant but familiar.

He leans in to you and almost whispers, "I begin at eight in the morning. I have to have a smile on my face. Some mornings that's a little difficult."

Then a beautiful woman in a red dress slinks into the bar and talks about how she "woke up . . . in a bathtub full of melting ice-cubes and Miller's High Life beer."

The play's barely begun and you're already thoroughly enchanted and transported.

What unfolds across the rest of the warehouse and the next roughly 80 minutes of The Day Shall Declare It is a site-specific immersive pastiche of work and love and struggle brought to life by a breathtakingly fluid and talented three-person ensemble. The intimate audience of roughly 30 people follows the actors through the space as we jump between characters and story lines while enveloped by a lush and layered soundscape.

The text is woven from alternating excerpts of Tennessee Williams and Studs Terkel. If you know their writing you'll recognize the passionate longing and gritty struggle. If you don't, don't worry. The piece stands on it's own because the text is as much a point of departure as a grounding force. Very quickly, the actors transcend the words and carry the story into their bodies and the space. The duet of a marital argument seamlessly transforms into a danced trio with a symbolic suitcase playing the role of false freedom.

It's a play where the bodies tell as much of a story as the words.

You need to go see this play. You need to take your friends who don't like theater to this play because not only do they open the bar back up after the show, they invite you to hang out and have a bite to eat. Trust me, it's an evening you're going to talk about.

The Day Shall Declare It plays downtown off 7th and Santa Fe through June 19.

If you want to see it with KCRW friends sign up for the KCRW Drama Club at kcrw.com/theater.

This is Anthony Byrnes Opening the Curtain on LA Theater for KCRW.


Running time 80 minutes without an intermission

Photo: Annie Saunders (Jonathan Potter)

To sign up for the KCRW Drama Club, click here.

 

The Day Shall Declare It, created by WILDERNESS. Produced in partnership with HeLo.
Co-Director, Wilderness Artistic Director: Annie Saunders
Co-Director, Choreographer: Sophie Bortolussi
Performance, and additional devising and dramaturgy: Anthony Nikolchev, Chris Polick and Annie Saunders
Producer Jana Diaz Juhl

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