LA playwrights create audio fiction along the Expo Line

By Kathryn Barnes

The series Chalk Lines includes five short plays written by LA playwrights, using immersive audio storytelling to bring to life unsung landmarks in West Adams, Leimert Park, Exposition Park, and Union Station.

“The hope is that people venture out and take a ride on the Expo Line … to check out some of these locations,” says Jennifer Chang, the co-founder of Chalk Repertory Theater. Her company was founded in 2008 and focuses on telling site-specific stories about people and communities in LA.

The project’s technical staff visited each location and recorded environmental sounds to bring the stories to life. Photo courtesy of Susan Gordon.

“March of Time – Time Warp” by Luis Alfaro follows an unusually frank tour guide through 150 years of Los Angeles history, centering around Union Station, Chinatown, and the Coliseum. It was inspired by Alfaro’s experience as a kid, watching celebrity tour buses drive by his neighborhood of Pico Union.

“I grew up in abject poverty and violence, basically, and I thought, ‘I wonder what they're saying about us?’”

In his 10-minute play, he tries to bring the listener into an LA that’s always shifting. “For those of us who are natives here, we see the shifts. We see the way a city can change and gentrify.”

Playwright Luis Alfaro loves writing in public. “That’s what’s so exciting about writing this kind of a piece. LA is a character that speaks to you.” Photo courtesy of Susan Gordon.

Chang recommends people wear earphones to experience the show the way the sound designers intended. She also recommends going to the places where the stories are set, so people can experience the richness of LA.

You can stream the stories June 19 through December 19, 2021 at