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Oakland Theater Project Will Stage Drive-In Production of THE WASTE LAND

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THE WASTE LAND could be the first theater production on the West Coast to get Equity approval in the wake of the pandemic

Oakland Theater Project Will Stage Drive-In Production of THE WASTE LAND

The first live, in-person public professional theater production on the West Coast since Covid struck earlier this year will take place September 11-October 4, 2020 when actress and playwright Lisa Ramirez performs a world-premiere adaptation of T.S. Eliot's THE WASTE LAND at Oakland Theater Project (1501 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in downtown Oakland, California.) T.S. Eliot's classic poem, THE WASTE LAND has been adapted for this production as a solo play by Lisa Ramirez, John Wilkins and Michael Moran, who directs.

Update: It has been determined that the Oakland Theater Project production of THE WASTE LAND is not yet fully approved by Actors' Equity Association, and is expected to be so in the coming days, pending the completion of the latest requirements.

A drive-in production - expected to be the first such professional drive-in theater work in the U.S. -- THE WASTE LAND will be performed by Lisa Ramirez in the parking lot adjacent to Oakland Theater Project. While remaining in their cars, audience members will view the play and have access to its vocals and soundscape via radio frequencies to their personal electronic devices. Ms. Ramirez will perform in a staging area with scenic and video elements as a backdrop.

Founded in 2012 and with its black box theater now located in a converted loading dock at the FLAX Arts and Supplies Center in downtown Oakland, Oakland Theater Project is the only year-round professional theater company in that city. THE WASTE LAND resumes the company's mission of presenting its works in site-specific locations around the Bay Area. Michael Moran is OTP's artistic director; Colin Mandlin is managing director. Among the company's numerous site-specific productions previously: OTHELLO at a Persian rug store in Berkeley, GROUNDED at the Oakland Aviation Museum, and Oscar-winner Tarell Alvin McCraney's BROTHERS SIZE in an auto body shop.

Published in 1922, T.S. Eliot began writing THE WASTE LAND in 1919 after the devastation of World War 1 and the Spanish flu epidemic. Considered one of the most important poems of the 20th century, it remains relevant in the 21st century, especially in light of the global pandemic, global warming, racial and all forms of inequality rampant in our world today.

Oakland Theater Project's THE WASTE LAND blends the spiritual, psychological, national and existential threads of Eliot's masterwork as it explores the ways in which life has been hollowed out by human hands, at the same time recognizing that human hands have the capacity to create a path of renewal. The production especially underscores the belief that the arts -- theater, dance, music, literature, poetry -- are essential tools for re-connecting and re-generating.

Lisa Ramirez is a veteran actress who has performed extensively Off-Broadway and in regional theaters from Vineyard Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, Cherry Lane Theatre, Rattlestick, Atlantic Theatre Company, Berkeley Rep, Magic Theatre and Oakland Theater Project, where she played Blanche in A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (staged at a period cafe). She is also an award winning playwright (NYCT Helen Merrill Emerging Playwright) whose works include EXIT CUCKOO (nanny in motherland), which debuted in New York and has subsequently been produced in theaters across the U.S. and in Ireland. Cherry Lane Theatre produced her play TO THE BONE, and Oakland Theater Project presented her play DOWN HERE BELOW, an adaptation of Maxim Gorky's THE LOWER DEPTHS.

THE WASTE LAND director Michael Moran is Oakland Theater Project's co-founder and co-artistic director, and has produced and directed a number of award-winning productions for OTP, including Marcus Gardley's DANCE OF THE HOLY GHOSTS, Philip Kan Gotanda's RASHOMON and POOL OF UNKNOWN WONDERS, along with productions of DEATH OF A SALESMAN, GRAPES OF WRATH, OTHELLO, HAMLET and MACBETH.

Formerly known as the Ubuntu Theater Project, Oakland Theater Project is the only year-round professional theater company in Oakland and is dedicated to working to heal the polarization and de facto segregation in its community. The company was founded in 2012 by Michael Socrates Moran, William Hodgson and Colin Mandlin. The company is committed to creating compelling works of art that unearth the human condition and unite diverse audiences.

Since its very beginning, OTP has had a single ticket and subscription pay-what-you-can policy in order to build a model so nobody is turned away from a performance for lack of funds. This drive-in production of THE WASTE LAND is the company's first effort to continue that policy during the Covid Era.

Additionally, Oakland Theater Project is presently staffing its artistic team with a group artists in both returning and expanded leadership roles: William Hodgson returns as Co-Artistic Director; Lisa Ramirez returns as Associate Artistic Director; Colin Mandlin is returning as Managing Director; Marco Sheng is returning as Marketing and Development Associate; and J Jha is Company Manager and Dawn L. Troupe is expanding her teaching role into Director of Education, while John Wilkins becomes Literary Manager.

In order to provide audiences with a safe environment to view THE WASTE LAND, in accordance with Alameda County regulations, each audience member is required to remain in a fully enclosed motorized vehicle and all vehicle occupants must be members of a single household. Social distancing practices, face masks and disinfecting protocols will be in place for those needing to visit the bathroom.

With previews scheduled for September 11 and 12, THE WASTE LAND's opening night is set for September 13. Performances September 11-October 4 are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. The show's running time is one hour, no intermission.

Tickets are $20-$50 (depending on the number of people in the vehicle), and are sold exclusively online until 2 p.m. each performance day. No tickets will be sold at the venue due to Covid-related restrictions. For ticket and additional information, call 510-646-1126 or visit

Photo Credit: David Green

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