October: An El Niño of Theater

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

If you're a theater lover, one of the frustrating things about Los Angeles is there is no "season,” no agreed upon time for our theater companies’ seasons to start or end. It's a little like waiting for an el niño. We never know how much we’re going to get.

That's what makes the next month so unexpected and so exciting. Now usually I do a fall preview across three or four months but October is so jam packed with interesting theater across the city it deserves its own preview. So here's a quick guide for what to see each week.

Let's start with something already running. The Object Lesson at the Kirk Douglas Theater is a bit like having a magical clown help you unpack your storage space. It's a charming piece about all the stuff we accumulate and how time changes meaning. It plays through October 4 in Culver City.

Shifting downtown, Appropriate opens October 4 at the Mark Taper Forum. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, a young African-American playwright, chronicles a white Southern family returning to their ancestral home and grappling with their family's dark past. This is one where you want to make the dinner reservation for after the show and bring some friends for a good argument about what it all means. It opens October 4 and plays through November 1 downtown.

Next a trip to Westwood to see Peter Sellar's Desdemona at UCLA Center for the Art of Performance. You heard me talk about this show as one of my picks for the fall: Mr. Sellar's and Toni Morrison take on Shakespeare's Othello from the women's point of view. One weekend only: October 8 to 11.

The next week you've got your pick of three openings.

The first, in the Geffen's smaller theater, is Rajiv Joseph's Guards at the Taj. Mr. Joseph wrote A Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo that made it all the way from Culver City to Broadway. Guards at the Taj is a brutal but beautiful play about two men guarding the construction of the Taj Mahal. It opens October 14 and plays through November 15 in Westwood.

The next night, Antaeus Theater Company opens Annie Baker's adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. Ms. Baker is a quirky playwright who’s got wonderful insight into the little silent details that make up everyday drama. Perfect for Chekhov, right? It plays in NoHo through December 6.

Back at the Kirk Douglas Theater, Todd Almond and Courtney Love open Kansas City Choir Boy, an elegy to a lost love. Given Ms. Love, I'm guessing this'll be a hot ticket regardless of how well the story hangs together. It plays for three weeks through November 8.

Okay, stick with me, we're almost there.

At the end of the month, go see the SITI Company's Steel Hammer at UCLA.

Then, as if this month needed a finale, round it all off with the Industry's Hopscotch: A Mobile Opera for 24 Cars. The title says it all. It opens November 1.

If you've been looking for an excuse to see more exciting theater, October is it.

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

Photo: Michael Brosilow