Seven Hours

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

Okay, summer's over. Everyone out of the ocean. It's theater season!

Just kidding -- not about the ocean, it's too chilly -- but about a theater season. LA doesn't really have one. Now, depending on your viewpoint, that's either because LA theater is simply too productive to be crammed into a neat little comprehensible pre-announced calendar or, more likely, it just isn't organized enough.

That said, for the past decade, fall has been the season of international and avante-garde imports in LA's theaters. That was largely due to David Sefton and UCLA Live's International Theater Festival. Each year, Mr. Sefton would present a handful of wonderfully bizarre shows: some great, some not. But each year there would be at least one transcendent moment and more importantly it was a chance for a niche of the community to come together, mill around in the sculpture garden in front of the Freud, and be inspired.

In 2010, the economy got the better of Mr. Sefton and UCLA. He resigned and theater was pulled from UCLA Live's schedule.

Last year UCLA appointed Kristy Edmunds to head up the renamed Center for the Art of Performance and, thank goodness, theater is back on the schedule. But what are you to do if you need more of an avante-garde theater fix than a couple of shows?

Well, the good news for LA is that the landscape has gotten richer. Led chiefly by Mark Murphy at RedCat, more theaters are presenting exciting imports. We can now rely on RedCat, UCLA, the Broad Stage and even Center Theater Group is getting into the act at the Kirk Douglas.

So here's a short list of what not to miss this fall:

First up in September, at UCLA: Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros. Maybe it's me, but I think there's something perfect about an Absurdist masterpiece in an election year. This one's a French import directed by Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota with English subtitles.

In October, Ireland's Gate Theater production of Krapp's Last Tape is coming to the Kirk Douglas Theater. I'm a sucker for Beckett and the actor John Hurt is playing the crotchety anti-hero Krapp. A man, who each year, on his birthday records a tape to catalog the year. It's a duet between a man and his past.

In November, the Broad Stage is presenting the Shakepeare's Globe Theater production of Hamlet which, I imagine, will deliver exactly what you'd expect. Depending on your taste, that's either a great thing or ... not. The Broad show I'm looking forward to is Fiasco Theater Company's Cymbeline. I know, Cymbeline is a mess of a play but this is a production by a young six member ensemble that got three successful productions in New York. I have no idea what to expect which is what has me excited.

And last, what may or may not be the best but certainly will be the longest. In December, Elevator Repair Service is bringing their stage adaptation of The Great Gatsby to the RedCat. It's seven hours long, yes you heard me right - seven hours and it's called Gatz. I can't wait!

Now all of these are short runs so plan ahead and get your tickets now.

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

Banner image: (L-R) Laurena Allan, Gary Wilmes, Scott Shepherd, Annie McNamara, Kate Scelsa and Vin Knight in Elevator Repair Service's Gatz. Photo by Mark Barton