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THEATER NOTES

A Timely Revival for 'August 29'

August 27, 1995|Don Shirley | Don Shirley is a Times staff writer.

Latino Theatre Co., formerly known as Latino Theatre Lab, makes its official debut as L.A.'s newest mid-sized theater company this week with a revival of their "August 29."

Jose Luis Valenzuela's troupe created "August 29" for a 1990 production at Los Angeles Theatre Center. At that time, Latino Theatre Lab was a branch of the resident LATC company, which folded a year later. The Lab then immigrated to the Mark Taper Forum, but it declared independence last year and moved to Plaza de la Raza, in a Lincoln Heights location closer to the symbolic heart of the Chicano community.

The first preview of this latest production will take place on Tuesday--the date mentioned in the title. August 29 is the 25th anniversary of the violent death of journalist Ruben Salazar during the 1970 Chicano Moratorium, a key event in the script.

However, parts of the script have changed to reflect developments over the past five years, Valenzuela said. The current debate over affirmative action will be mentioned, and Valenzuela will use footage from the aftermath of the July 29 incident in which Antonio Gutierrez, 14, was shot to death by a police officer a few blocks from the theater.

Valenzuela said the script also will mention the 1993 controversy over the abolition of the UCLA Chicano Studies department, which may make the play especially provocative when it moves to UCLA's Freud Theatre for an Oct. 6-15 run, sponsored by UCLA as part of a series of Latino-themed programs.

The Sept. 1-Oct. 1 run of the play at the Margo Albert Theatre of Plaza de la Raza, which will be configured for 170 seats, will use Actors' Equity's Hollywood Area Theatre contract. The budget of "August 29" is about $100,000, Valenzuela said. The group's only previous production at the Plaza, a brief run of "La Victima" last fall, was a benefit for the anti-Proposition 187 campaign and was presented in a smaller seat ing configuration, Valenzuela said. Additional seats will be added to the Albert Theatre after "August 29" closes, bringing capacity up to 220. Then Valenzuela hopes to launch a full subscription season of shows in January, including a Latino-oriented "Of Mice and Men," an L.A. adaptation of Dario Fo's "We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay!," a new piece by Culture Clash and a dramatization of the book "Latinos."

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AT HORTON PLAZA: San Diego Repertory Theatre has announced its 20th-anniversary season, which also marks the 10th anniversary of its move to downtown San Diego's Horton Plaza. The lineup:

* The return of the nostalgic musical comedy "Suds" (Sept. 30-Oct. 29).

* The West Coast premiere of the two-man "The True History of Coca-Cola in Mexico" (Oct. 27-Nov. 26), by Patrick Scott and Aldo Velasco, a satirical look at American documentarians who tackle Mexican history.

* "A Christmas Carol" (Nov. 25-Dec. 24).

* "A Streetcar Named Desire" (Jan. 27-Feb. 18).

* The West Coast premiere of Bob Eaton's "Lennon," about the late Beatle (March 1-31).

* "The Whole World Is Watching," Sophocles' Oedipus saga reimagined as a tabloid TV talk show, as adapted by two San Diego artistic directors: Douglas Jacobs of the Rep and Scott Feldsher of Sledgehammer Theatre (April 27-May 26).

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LLOYD WEBBER WATCH: Last week's official announcement that Andrew Lloyd Webber's next project will be a film musical, "Whistle Down the Wind," added this note for the stage faithful: "A private workshop of a theatre version of the musical will take place in London in November, after which Andrew Lloyd Webber will consider whether the project has a future on the stage."

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