Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Beach House welcomes incoming Writer in Residence, Laurie Horowitz!

Welcome Laurie Horowitz, the sixth Annenberg Community Beach House Writer-in-Residence!

She will be working from an office in the Marion Davies Guest House from January 13 to February 17, 2015. The Beach House will present two literary events hosted by Horowitz as part of the Beach=Culture series, and she will lead an ongoing free writing tutorial class throughout the six weeks. These sessions will be open to six participants who would like assistance in moving a piece of writing forward. The content of the meetings will be based on the needs of each writer, and participants will meet with her individually and as a group during her office hours. If interested please email for information.

All visitors can also take advantage of her expertise during her open office hours, on Saturdays and Mondays from 11am-1pm. The public is welcome to ask questions about her work, her experience of the Residency, or to ask for literary advice (inquire at Guest Services for directions.) She will also be chronicling her progress on the Beach House Resident blog. For more information, call Guest Services at 310-458-4904 or visit the Beach House website.

Laurie Horowitz is a Santa Monica writer who began her career as a lawyer in Boston, where she worked at Horowitz & Horowitz with her father in the town where she grew up. After practicing divorce law for five years, she ran away from home, traveling west like so many hopefuls before her. Before long, she became an assistant in the book department of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), where she remained for eleven years, selling creative properties to the film industry. Eventually the desire to devote her time to writing eventually won out. She had her first short story published in 1990 in Playgirl Magazine, and her next story, Alice’s Geometry, was published by New York City College's Fiction magazine (Vol.18, #1). 

When Laurie left CAA, she went to work on a novel with the intention of using Jane Austen’s Persuasion to teach her about structuring a book. The result of that exercise was The Family Fortune, published by William Morrow, which Meg Ryan optioned for a film. After the book, she wrote a movie for Lifetime called Abducted. She also provides consulting and editorial services in connection with literary and film projects. Laurie officiates at the Monday night Beyond Baroque fiction workshop in Venice, a volunteer opportunity that has enriched her life tenfold and taught her how much she enjoys teaching and offering back to the community. She believes that good writing is good writing in any genre and, though her last book was a comedy of manners, she now working on a mystery novel tentatively titled Hemlock Gorge. She hopes it, too, will have a comedic tone, and will be spending her tenure as ACBH 2015 Writer-in-Residence to complete it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Friday, September 12, 2014

Like water for justice...

Tomorrow is the big day - sharing what we have been working on and continuing to learn -but outside of the small collective of CONTRA-TIEMPO artists I've used for this specific residency - and bring in community members, people who are interested in being in conversation with in the work.... I don't think most folks coming know quite what they are in for -but I am putting it out there - that we have a willing group of people who are open to explore and therefore leave inspired and transformed! Sat 3-5 and Sun 5-7 -come to both! 

Today I had another day of exploring, thinking, creating, watching video - Jeremiah and I worked together on a solo that felt like it physicalized moving pain, hopelessness and being blocked in - transforming this into a space where we are 'here' and recognized as being... a space where we feel in control and alive and free... It is the experience of the Caliban character - the slave, the native, the betrayed -  in someway it is like existing in two spaces simultaneously - a space where you are fighting for your life constantly and a space where you are looking upon this fight in disbelief...  finding how to smooth the edges and find your own space... the owning of yourself and your experience... some beautiful and disturbing movement came out of it -I'm excited to share it with an audience. 

Last night in thinking about the passing of September 11th, I started remembering where I was that morning - in NYC - I actually saw the second tower be hit with what looked like from my vantage point on my roof in Brooklyn - a missile. It was a scary day and I am still affected each year that passes in remembering the feeling of not knowing where my husband was - thinking he was in the subway under the towers  - not being able to contact family and the fear of possible loss - the not knowing - and then that shift in the way I saw the world after those events. It then got me remembering Katrina -that happened a few years later right around the exact same time - late August into early Sept  - and the incredible aftermath and lack of action that devastated the trust of a nation - that again for me was a major moment of growing up and realizing that things weren't always as they seemed - I got the importance of seeking out the truth in order to fight for justice... I went back and forth btw sharing this video on my blog -but in creating a work about race and water - if feels like it isn't possible to not remember Katrina - and how important it is to remember it as it actually happened...  - although posted later - this video was taken almost exactly 9 years ago today.

I share this to create a context -that I am not claiming to solve any major national, societal or world issue through this piece or through my work - all I can do is hope to touch on something that moves someone -that sparks conversation - that makes it more realistic to push back - that gives space for alternate ways of thinking and questioning. All I hope to do is create art that is in conversation with the world around me - to participate in a discourse for a more just tomorrow... that's all I want really - and dance is my medium - it is what I love to do - it is how I think about the world - in movement quality - 

Here is another few 'work videos from the week' to give a little flavor of what you might see on Sat/Sun!

                                      Isis/Jeremiah - like water for justice 

Jeremiah - we need we need 


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Trusting the flow...

Ahh! Today was such a pleasure - I've been in a vacuum - of my own mind, body and this vast space - grappling with these big questions:

What does it mean to make work about race? Who am I in this conversation? Where do I come from and why does it matter so much to me? What experience, privilege, oppression, opinions do I bring to the table? How is another murder of a young black man killing a piece of all of us? When does it become enough? What will it take to really 'break'?  Who are we as individuals in this ‘play’ and how do we use our character/our role to move this conversation to a new space? To a different space? Or is it about existing and being in this space - and no longer denying that this space begins?

I have been working with sabela - our sound designer - being in conversation with other folks about the work -but today I finally had the opportunity to put some of the ideas on bodies. Isis, Sarah and Jeremiah showed up at 10am and we worked straight until 3pm - moving, talking, sharing, feeling embodying struggle and fluidity - collapse and recovery - in this amazing space together. The time flew by - I could have kept working for hours! sabela sent me a track the night before that I took and connected to the movement idea I had - and it worked well - still feels very open and sparse but is moving in the right direction. I keep needing to remind myself that this is the beginning of a process and to be open. My personality is that I love to set/plan and solidify -but I am doing my best to enjoy this unknown -the exploration of it all... knowing that if I am open and accept this process - great things will continue to come. 

In thinking through how the participants on Saturday (3pm-5pm) and Sunday (5pm-7pm) will be working with us on this - I've decided it will be like a journey: we will start by the beach house and talk a bit about the piece and where we are in the process - then move them around the fountain/falling water wall where we will do a section of movement we've been working on, then into the splash pad and back to the chair installation. Then after the  'performing' element  - I will guide the participants through a participatory part - the audience will move with us - we will 'practice' then 'perform'  all as a group - then we will all move into the sand and sea room and hold a council - this council will be a space where participants can share around some of the themes/ideas we are grappling with- we will pose questions and people will share their own unique perspectives, stories and experiences. After the council if it feels appropriate (depending on the crowd we have - I know for our regular CONTRA-TIEMPO community this would be fine) we will all run to the ocean (possibly repeating some of the movement work we were doing) at the ocean for a final cleansing - completing and punctuating the experience. 

If you are planning and able to come:

- make sure you show up with comfortable clothes on 
- bring sun block/hat/sun glasses etc
- be prepared to be wet (you don't have to but you can be more free in your movement and participation if you are willing
- be ready to share yourselves, to learn something from someone else, to be fully involved in the work!  
- remember it is two hours - committing to the entire two hours will make a difference for us all. Think of it more as a workshop than a performance - there will be no passive audience members involved here! 

I will be working with Isis and Jeremiah on a duet this Wed 10-3pm so feel free if you want to stop by to check out the process - and then Friday I will continue working in the space.
Saturday we will also all be in the space at 12 noon. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

reflections from this oasis...

Here we are - a week and a half after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO - and since I started working here at the Beach House - the racial tension in our country has continued to escalate and rightly so - as the repeated and recorded police brutality seems to be spreading, and a disregard for and cracking down on people's right to assemble and protest has become common place - it feels in some ways surreal to find myself in this place surrounded by such beauty - open expansion of space and possibility - while the world around me feels like it is on fire. The Beach House feels like an oasis of space that I have been gifted to think about some pretty complex and difficult ideas - but this space is proving to be exactly what I need to get clarity before launching a year of creating, conversing and engaging those around me to think, dance, talk, move through all of what we and generations before us have carried and continue to pass on around race, color and privilege... 

I have spent some of this week so far moving, but a lot of the week has been spent in a space of reflection, thinking, writing, engaging in conversations with other artists - questioning... what does it mean to be making work right now about race? Who am I and what role can I play to help facilitate honest, open and compassionate conversations about race - as a Cuban American, as a woman, as a person of color that has in my life learned to slide in and out of 'passing as white' how can I acknowledge the privilege from where I come and use that as a way to impact and move this conversation forward - to change the narrative and bring new empowering narratives and counter narratives that will help to build a world of not just racial tolerance but better than that - a future where my own son won't have to fear for his life when walking down the street with his friends...  As the swell of 'ain't gunna take it no more' - 'no justice no peace' is palpable - I am becoming more excited to create and scared to create this work - which I imagine is a good thing. I always tell my students and dancers to run towards the fear - now I get to practice what I am preachin'.  As someone who grew up in a family (I am the child of two labor union activists) that taught me to never stand by and be complacent when I see or experience personally injustice - this piece has feels urgent but also extremely uncomfortable - good. That means I am moving in the right direction. 

This week we taught a Salsa class of over 50 people at the beach house and I am excited to have one of dancers come out and 'play' with me and explore some of these ideas via movement on Friday. If we were all able to live and be who we are in the dance - if we could take those principals of compassionate partnership, listening, pushing back, engaging, patience and persistence - into our everyday lives - I know we could build a more beautiful and just world... I know it. I feel it. 

No, no we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. - Martin Luther King 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Let the 'flow' begin....on your mark, get set - GO!

I am excited to say this week I will officially begin working on site - This fall CONTRA-TIEMPO and I will launch a series of site specific community choreographic laboratories. Part performance, part engagement of community in art making & story sharing, these choreography laboratories will take place in four distinct bodies of water all over Los Angeles, starting at the Pacific, at Santa Monica's Annenberg Beach House. These labs will happen while we are continuing to develop a full evening length work for the concert stage that will debut late Fall 2015 and be ready to tour in the Spring of 2016.  

I am creating a framework inspired by the Tempest, challenging notions of race, gender & upheaval, and I am interested in Sycorax: the only female character of color, the indigenous witch, with a referenced origin of Africa. She is seen as monstrous, evil and vindictive and her maternal power undermines the dominating force of white male privilege. Much has been written about her character’s role that threatens to blur the boundaries of the emerging binaries of home/away, colonizer/colonized, white/black, & chaos/order. My own work and interest in existing and creating in the ‘in between’ has drawn me to her and her clear connection to Oya, the Afro-Cuban deity of the wind/storms. Oya, the most volatile and unruly of the female orishas, is feared among most. As I physically uncover multiple narratives connected to that of the Tempest I am constantly brought back to agua: waves of family betrayal, the relentless current of absent fathers, raining down of persecution based citizenship/color lines, drowning of exile & the Africanist past washed ashore. Creating in a public space where all are welcome, that was once a space where people of color were not allowed - unless serving - I am excited to connect this larger framework of race and agua to the local and specific history of this space... stay tuned as I start delving into imagining, creating and allowing this all to 'flow'...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Welcome to Ana Maria Alvarez, Choreographer in Residence!

Ana Maria Alvarez has soft-started her project here at the Beach House. Titled "Agua Furioso," the new piece combines public inquiry within the structure of a dance performance, and deals with water’s connection to family, migration, scarcity and abundance. Free Community Choreographic Laboratories that liberally mix dance performance and public participation are offered as the culmination of her work here on Saturday September 13 from 3-4pm and Sunday September 14 from 5-6pm along with a free rueda salsa dance workshop at 6:30pm on August 19 and an open rehearsal from 10am-3pm on Friday September 12. Check back here weekly for updates! 

CONTRA-TIEMPO, a bold and multilingual Los Angeles based dance company, is dedicated to transforming the world through dance. Founded and directed by Ana Maria Alvarez in 2005, their unique form of Urban Latin Dance Theater brings to life voices that are not traditionally heard on the concert stage, while building community, facilitating dialogue, and moving audiences to imagine what is possible. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

BEHOLD: The Official NOAH Trailer

The Old Testament story of Noah and his Ark.  As told by clowns.  Opens July 9.  FREE.  Reservations now open.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Four Clowns: Noah- Mass Murderer? (Blog Post #6 by Don Colliver)

Incendiary title, I know.  Bear with me.  Four Clowns is getting closer to our opening- just 10 days away!  Our troupe is busily going through the nuts and bolts of putting up a production: learning lines, figuring out blocking, finding props, creating costumes, etc.  

Puppetry on the Beach

I've been reading and rereading and rereading these scripts, particularly Noah, as I'll be playing his character. I can't help but be struck by the way this Bible story deals with the issue of faith, and how the conclusion is just not wrapped up in a nice little bow (like most blockbuster films these days).

Current Noah beard status.  10 days to go!

Noah is a man with faith.  That's a good thing, right?  His God tells him to do something, which he does, unquestioningly.  But, then, he is seemingly complicit in a mass 'cleansing' of humanity, maybe even genocide, depending on how you define the term.  So, where does that leave Noah? Just following orders?  And what about God?  What's his deal, anyway?

So, at what point does faith become a bad thing?  When is it okay to question authority?  When is it okay to trust that which we don't understand? I'm vacillating day-to-day about how I feel about Noah. He'd been told his entire life to obey God, so he does.  And then what?

Lighthearted rehearsal fun

So, in addition to fart jokes and general zany-ness, this production will definitely raise some big questions.  If you figure out the answers, let me (and Noah) know.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Four Clowns: Noah and Jonah (Blog Post #5 by Lis Vizcarra)

Life's A Beach

This is my first ever blog entry.  I'm going to write from the heart and hopefully coherently.  First off, if you haven't yet visited the Annenberg Beach Community House, you must, immediately.  It is an oasis and such a beautiful place to visit and even more welcoming as it is a public beach house.  That is very cool.
I relish the time I've spent rehearsing here.  Nothing beats having the ocean as an audience and as a source of inspiration.  I can literally stare off into the distance whilst trying to remember my line and I imagine it looks as if I am deep in spiritual thought.   To a certain degree I am.
For the past five years, spirituality and a connection to the Great Creator as I like to call it, have been a daily practice for me.  Clowning and the Pacific Ocean are two of the main sources through which I tap into that divine source.  It is so thrilling to have these two entities come together at the Marion Davies Beach House and to be telling such epic tales.
Telling the tales of Noah's Ark and Jonah and the Whale has felt very epic.  Four Clowns and all of its amazing creatives I am blessed to work with ask me to dig deep down into the heart of myself for the funny, the poignant, the human.  I have been mining for these for the past 10 years through my education in theatrical clowning.
Clowning to me is all about bringing to the surface those basic human turmoils and triumphs that penetrate through language and culture and are universally human.  What better material to test this out on than The Old Testament and what better setting than the beach?
I am so looking forward to the next weeks of rehearsal and then 6 performances we have.  I hope to see all of you there and please stop by and watch us rehearse.  It's a hoot and a half. See you at the beach!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Four Clowns: Noah & Jonah (Blog #4 by Jamie Ann Hultgren)

Living in LA can be a real goat rodeo. 

Maintaining a (functional) life as a performing artist here means a constant juggle of day jobs and family responsibilities while carving out the time and space in your head/heart to expand instead of holing up in bed after an epic car battle on the 405. I suppose every career and geographic choice poses its challenges, but coming from the MidWest several years ago, I find myself having to work much harder to stay sane and grow.

I’ve been very fortunate to find an artistic home in the Four Clowns company and the associated Clown School (where many of us train). When I first moved to LA I tried a slew of different acting classes and found most of them to be a bunch of networky bull. So almost defiantly, I decided to delve into clown work and found a sanctuary where the work I was first drawn to as a performer (emotional, physical, spiritual, et all) was getting done. The work of the clown is being ever present, ever true- and if you avoid the work, you are slaughtered by the searing wit of an instructor or colleague. So in an effort to not get slaughtered, you prepare and scare yourself silly, making a complete fool of yourself while exposing your vulnerabilities on a regular basis. And at the end of the day, you're relieved because you’ve been through the good, the bad and the ugly- you’re no longer carrying it with you.

But Four Clowns has the challenges of any young theater troupe- securing rehearsal space, funding, and selling enough tickets to keep the company alive are near constant concerns. So having the opportunity to be in residence at Annenberg for the summer is a really a dream for us, because the support of the City of Santa Monica and The Annenberg Foundation takes so much of the drudgery out of the equation, allowing us to focus more on the work itself- and not only that, but it is an awesome excuse to get out to the beach everyday.

So many company members keep saying what a relief being at the Beach House is. Exiting off the 10, heading through the tunnel onto the PCH, the ocean comes into view and suddenly my anxieties dissolve and brain expands, the frustrating jungle of LA ceasing to exist, only sun and water now. At last, I am free- to play and be a part of a community. Every care disappears and the creative work just sort of happens.

Both of our shows, Noah & Jonah, obviously have strong water themes, and performing against the facade of the Marion Davies Guest House, I don’t have to imagine all that hard to find myself in the shoes of the characters we play. I just look out on the ocean, already in awe of its beauty, power, and magnitude, swiftly delivered to a frame of mind where reflections on humanity and our place relative to all creation is uniquely available- thoughts that can feel so far from my little head when I’m squeezed into my Corolla on the 101.

Jamie Ann Hultgren
Performer, Noah & Jonah
Company Manager, Four Clowns

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Four Clowns: Noah & Jonah (Blog #3 by Courtney Buchan)

Rehearsals for Noah & Jonah are now in full swing! David Bridel has a solid skeleton structure of what the scripts will look like, which means our next step has been to fill in the holes. This past week, we specifically were focusing on how each scene might play out. We know what key elements the scene needs to contain, but we still need to discover who these characters are and what their relationships look like. For example, we know that God put Noah through a test before he was told to build the ark. What we get to fill in and explore through improvisation scenes, is what those tests might look like, Noah's relationship with God, and how successful Noah actually was at completing God's instructions. It's been incredibly fun this past week to explore within our skeleton structure the limitless possibilities we have in telling these stories.

As a director, improvisation has been amazingly helpful for me in this process. The amount of incredible, hysterical ideas our ensemble of 7+ company members have developed, far outshines anything I could have come up with on my own. Creating a piece from the ground up as ensemble, makes for a rich well of ideas to pull from. We spent this past week working on creating substance- improvising scenes that David had roughly structured, and then we'll see which idea gems want to make their way into the final script. By the end of the week we had filled in almost all of the gaps that David had wanted to fill, and we had some amazing comic bits that I hope we can find a way to incorporate in the production.

Now that we've had our week of intense improv, David will go back through all of the videos we've taken, notes we've written, and jokes he couldn't forget if he tried, and start creating dialogue and plugging in ideas. On Tuesday, we'll have a read-thru of the script, and then start working with it. The next step in the process will be to play within the confines of a scripted piece, and see what we can find. It's been such a fun process so far, and the amazing location that we get to work in just adds to everyone's enthusiasm. There's nothing like creating two shows that deal with the ocean, and having the ocean RIGHT THERE. Everyone is exhausted on arriving to rehearsals- exhausted from traffic, from work, receiving a bad haircut, etc. But once everyone has arrived and we take a moment to look at the ocean, breath in the salty air, and play a silly school yard game, we are all ready and exited to work. That's the amazing thing about theatre, by its very nature it brings people together, and forms community instantly. This is good for my soul. I'm excited to get crackin' on this new script David will have! Scripts ahoy!

Courtney Buchan
Co-Director- Noah and Jonah

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Four Clowns: Noah & Jonah (Blog #2 by David Bridel)

The process of building our script has well and truly begun.

On Saturday May 17th, our troupe of clowns spent the day at the Annenberg Beach House developing improvisations around the Jonah and the Whale story. I'm not inclined to give too much away, but audiences can expect a delicious contemporary twist on this classic tale of a man and a whale! (Actually, it's a fish that swallows Jonah whole. Not sure when or how the whale pushed her way into it...)

At this stage rehearsals follow a fairly simple pattern. After a warm-up that energizes the group, we choose small sections of our source material - this past rehearsal, I simply read verses aloud from my iPad, an Old Testament King James version app (!) - and then divide the cohort into groups of 3 or 4, who each spend about 15 minutes cooking up scenes that tell the story of that particular section. Our clowns, well-skilled at interpreting texts in uniquely creative ways, then demonstrate what they have come up with to the rest of the group in a kind of "show and tell" moment. Usually I find a way to record these demos - either by filming them or by rapidly scratching down bits of dialogue and action, even while they are happening - and then we briefly discuss the pros and cons of what we have seen, before moving on to the next section. It's often fast, sometimes furious, and always fun.

Later, at home or on an airplane (I just flew long-haul to Shanghai and back), I will mull over the various opportunities that the improvs have created, and start to figure out what works best with what, pulling disparate pieces together and imagining them into a tighter structure. At the time of writing, I have a reasonably organized "skeleton", pieced together from many rehearsals; when we return to rehearsal next week, the improvs will continue, but in a more targeted fashion.

This is my favorite way of working on making plays. It's not conventional authorship, nor is it exactly groupthink - it's a wonderful amalgam of ideas funneled into a rough vision, which I hope is both cohesive and expansive by the time it reaches its creative form.

It sure beats sitting in a room.

David Bridel
Writer, Co-Director, Noah & Jonah
Associate Director, Four Clowns

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Four Clowns: Noah & Jonah (Blog #1 by Jeremy Aluma)

The journey of bringing adaptations of Noah & Jonah with our company Four Clowns to the Annenberg Beach Community House started many years ago. As a young Jewish boy, I was taught the Old Testament as a book of lessons or parables. They were guiding stories of humanity and man's relationship to God. What I appreciated most about them is the same kernel of wisdom scholars love about Shakespeare; no one is purely good or purely evil, and the key to a person's character is their motivation. I've been struck by these types of stories my whole life, stories of good people making hard choices, or stories of what makes us perceive people as evil. 

As a theater director, I've been wanting to work on these stories for over a decade, they've been rolling around in my head waiting to come to fruition. About 6 years ago, I started discussing it with another theater company I founded in Long Beach, but we felt we weren't ready for the undertaking. Then about 2 years ago, one of the members of Four Clowns made the suggestion of doing the stories with our company. I actually hadn't previously thought of them as ripe for clowning, I thought they were too epic and too sacred for the shenanigans of our company.

But when I brought it up with the rest of our company, and specifically David Bridel, we realized what a fantastic creation it could be. What better way to tell the earliest stories of humanity than through the heart of a clown. A clown is in touch with exactly how he is feeling, but is free to share it with the audience. A clown is not bogged down in philosophy, she is reactionary. And a clown can make anything funny.

So about 1.5 years ago, David Bridel and I started working with our company on stories from the Old Testament. About twice a month we would get the company together and just play with the stories. It was some of the funniest and poignant material we ever worked on. We continued to play with it for about a year and then felt ready to start pitching it to programs around the country.

The Annenberg Beach Community House seemed a perfect fit for two of the stories we most enjoyed dabbling in, Noah & Jonah. They both have such a strong relationship to the ocean, and both are such full and vivid tales. This is the first opportunity we have to present our adaptations of the Old Testament but future collaborations include going to Brazil to work on Abraham & Isaac at the Stanislavsky Institute, and we're waiting to hear back from a few more applications.

We couldn't be more proud and excited to offer these first two stories in what will ultimately be a many yeared journey for our company.
- Jeremy Aluma
Four Clowns Artistic Director
Co-Director of Jonah


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Four Clowns surveying their new domain....

Fresh from a stint at New York's La Mama theater, Four Clowns is creating original adaptations of the stories of "Jonah & the Whale" and "Noah's Ark" for the Beach House site. As our summer Theater Company in Residence, they'll be working from May 27 through July 18th, so if you see them rehearsing stop by and check them out! Free public performances in the afternoons of July 9-11 & 16-18, with reservations posted in June at
Noah, inveterate dreamer and eternal optimist, is faced with the most fantastic of tasks as the floods begin to rise. Despite the warnings of his oh-so-practical wife, he begins to build - and build - and build... Meanwhile Jonah - lazy, fitful, argumentative Jonah - is charged with a mission he doesn’t want, and escapes as a stowaway on a boat bound for nowhere. Before he knows it, he is deep in the belly of a sea monster, and in big trouble!
Four Clowns is a Los Angeles based nationally touring clown troupe. Dedicated to entertaining all ages and experimenting with the relationship between actors and audience, they create new works that utilize physical theater to shine a light on our shared humanity.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Farewell to Helen Lessick - next up, Four Clowns!

What a thought-provoking and enjoyable time we had with writer Helen Lessick these past ten weeks! Helen opened up great new avenues of dialogue about place and creative incubation both here at the Beach House and in general. We especially enjoyed her concluding talk with architect Frederick Fisher and LA River activist Lewis MacAdams on March 11, 2014!

Helen addressing workshop participants, February 2014

We have a few weeks break now through May and then we invite you to come by the Beach House and see clowns in action... our summer Theater Ensemble Residency begins May 27 with the physical theater company Four Clowns. Stay tuned for updates and some teaser info on their upcoming show (free outdoor performances in mid-July).

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sand and Stones

Beach culture is a complex thing. There is sand of course but stones and seaweed within the sand.

The recent rainstorms have revealed a rainbow-colored treasure of stones at low tide. These stones that will, in millennia, make the sand.

My morning walk took me by two fishermen, standing in the surf, side by side. I asked them what they were fishing for. Halibut the one man answered. They were friendly, so I asked what they caught. Smelt.

We may come to the ocean’s edge with one goal in mind but end with unexpected gains.

The fishermen were done for the day, but would come back and try again, the persistence of beach culture.

-Helen Lessick

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Interference and Crosscurrents

A Saturday morning drive to the Beach House is typically easier than workweek sojourns. My old car has an antenna to capture AM radio and the news is often good, though the reception changes with signal strength, tall buildings and concrete canyons. When broadcast signals can’t get through it is called interference. Something is interfering with the one signal we want to capture through the air.


In the water the phenomena is visible in the waves. It is called crosscurrents, and creates pretty patterns of crossing arcs close to the shore.


At Beach = Culture, the public use of the natural amenities embodies the spirit of crosscurrents. The policies and regulations that keep fire pits off the beach and the Guest House free and open are responsive to crosscurrents of preservation and access, private rentals and public use. 


Complaints about the City requiring pedestrian access or parking permits or public art arise from the perspective of interference. Is there one signal or many? The creative placemaker sees crosscurrents and repurposes them with style.

-Helen Lessick

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Relief of Exterior Space

It’s a quiet day at the beach. Mid-week, overcast, an on-shore breeze.  I’m drawn to it today, even though it is not my official office hours, to get distance from and reflect on my neighborhood.
The police were called to my neighboring fourplex early this morning.  The argument in the lower front unit woke me up when she opened their door. It was just dawn, but two other neighbors were in the street, awakened by the downstairs neighbor and waiting. 
‘I’ve called the cops’ said one ‘Where are they?’ The other held a bat as prevention if the scene came outdoors.
Domestic violence. The woman in the lower unit would walk outside, lightly clad, and then turn back. The man inside would close the door, then open it to yell. She went back in, then came back out.   At length she sat on the curb in pajama top and panties though it was 50 degrees.  The police arrived, though no one was taken away.
We go outside to spend time with ourselves. Sometimes it is to heal, to rest, or reflect on our sorrows.  The best public places have activities and also spaces to be alone; spaces for privacy in the midst of the public. Because sometimes it is safer to be in public than to be at home.

-Helen Lessick

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Waves and Valentines

This morning's beach had a pink glow, with a high haze from an impeding minor storm. Afterglow or ante-glow of weather? Glare hugged the shoreline, but the horizon vanished haze into nirvana. Tiny waves made a lace border on the giant heart of the Pacific. Santa Monica. The Community Beach House opens at 8am and by 9 the beach was crowded. Tween volleyball players; yoga enthusiasts; fishermen, always men, and tots with hovering parents cluster in small communities. The beach is living. Past the halfway point in my writing residency, I am just getting the cadence of this place. We go into nature and stand by the shore, spending time getting to know ourselves.

-Helen Lessick

Monday, February 10, 2014

Beauty and the Beach

February breaks cold in Santa Monica. Not east coast cold, but cold for the region.
The Monday morning crowd is not on the beach, but on bicycles, roller blades and in running shoes along the paved pedestrian path. Not so much inside.

The Monday morning docents at the Marion Davis Guest House had time to discuss their work, this place, and the reasons why people come to ACBH. Santa Monica’s public places are alluring: attractive, safe, clean, with pedestrian amenities and options for activity.

The docents, volunteers with the Santa Monica Conservancy, are the secret spice for the Guest House. Lively, outgoing, informed and just a touch of quirky, the women and men are eager to engage the public. But if you want to walk around yourself, you can do that too.  Well trained, with a touch of sass, they want to share the beauty of the beach.

- Helen

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ocean Menagerie

Rain at the beach attracts new user groups. This morning a pair of dolphins came close for shore patrol.  Under a grey sky, few people came to the ocean’s side and their absence drew in birds. The dolphins, arcing in tandem, swam up the shore then down, catching a late breakfast.

The Community Beach House is a menagerie, a site of exotica and luxury for wild life of all kinds.

Today a Congresswoman is holding a private meeting in one facility; a university alumni group is in another, upstairs; a wealth investment seminar complete with a white board is being held in the open air in front of the guest house, and a dozen meditators are sitting in a circle near the waters’ edge.

Public space is what the public makes of it. Smart cities balance the needs of the public with commercial interests.

-Helen Lessick

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cars, stars and parsing art (looking back on 1/25)

Saturday morning was going to be great; my drive across LA to the Santa Monica Beach House offers light traffic and a good parking spot. But my old Mustang had other plans; an unscheduled stop at the auto mechanic for an emergency repair.


I arrived late for my public office hours, shared this weekend with Star Tourz, a truck-based solo art exhibit with public questionnaires. Corrine Siegel parked her art vehicle at the Community Beach House and set up her display.


My Artist in Residence efforts, were outdoors on Saturday. I was sitting under a canopy with a table and sign, paired with Star Tourz. The weather was beautiful and the crowds were milling on the beach especially outside the cafĂ©.  This helped my public office hours a bit; some of her visitors would speak to me.  The young woman gyrating with a hula hoop attracted some attention outside the van, as did the moving lift on the art truck.


But the Artist in Residence is a quieter form. The individuals who engaged me actively sought me out; the Austrian artists in residence from the MAK Center/Schindler House, and the 2013 Beach House Writer in Residence, coming in from Antelope Valley to meet this year’s creative. 


Form impacts function, when art and site are faceted. When we parse,dividing a sentence, artwork, or experience into parts, we identify their relations to each other sometimes with a loss of meaning. According to E. M. Forster, our human impulse toward understanding and sympathy may be aptly summed up in the coda of his 1910 novel Howard’s End: "Only connect.”

-Helen Lessick