Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

WITH THE KIDS

An unlikely balm for Malibu's fire victims

January 03, 2008|Mindy Farabee

Think of it as a belated Christmas gift, complete with little drummer boys. Saturday at the Malibu Methodist Church, a select group of incarcerated adolescents from the Los Angeles County Probation Department's Camp Vernon Kilpatrick (the location of 2006's "Gridiron Gang," starring Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson) will present "A Chat and a Cup of Tea," an evening of improvisational theater, spoken-word poetry and rhythmic percussion that explores the experience and aftermath of the conflagration that recently ravaged the Corral Canyon area. And while that may not sound like typical children's fare, "this is a totally family-friendly show," promises director Susie Duff.

Designed to be both hysterically funny and poignantly dramatic, the evening was organized by Duff and her improv troupe Locked Up in Malibu. After a modest pre-show dinner, the performance begins with local residents, firefighters and emergency personnel taking the stage to relate their experiences. Then the youth launch a three-pronged response: First, a drum circle trained in West African rhythms pounds out a musical reply while a group of young poets transforms the stories into verse. Then, after the troupe gives voice to its freshly minted poems, the improvisational contingent of the group provides some levity, riffing off audience suggestions in classic improv theater style. And that's when things can become gloriously absurd, says Duff, with nuns bowling on Mars or truck drivers flossing their teeth in a back pew.

But there's more than entertainment at stake here, says Duff. "This event is about a lot of things, like being careful about all stereotypes. Malibu isn't all rich people. And the audience will see these boys in their brilliance and beauty." Improv plays an important role in the youths' rehabilitation, she says, because it's positive and constructive, not Pollyannaism. "Improv is about saying, 'Yes, and . . .' It's your responsibility to move the story forward."

Soldiering on is something Malibu residents have probably had a little too much of lately. But with the community gathered around and these youth translating pain into art, moving forward could be less daunting.

"These kids have been hurt and torn, like the victims have been," says Alan Irie Reyes, the leader of the poetry portion of the evening. "There's a connection there that can't be denied."

--

Mindy.Farabee@latimes.com

--

A CHAT AND A CUP OF TEA

WHERE: Malibu Methodist Church, 30218 Morning View Drive, Malibu

WHEN: 8 p.m. Sat.

PRICE: Free (donations accepted for fire victims)

INFO: (562) 940-2859

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|