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Son Of Semele Leaves Home Of 18 Years


Since 2000, the company has been in residence at 3301 Beverly Boulevard in a black box theatre they created in 2003. 

Son Of Semele Leaves Home Of 18 Years

Award-winning theatre company Son of Semele Ensemble is announcing its departure from their Silver Lake home of 18 years. Led by Founding Artistic Director Matthew McCray since 2000, the company has been in residence at 3301 Beverly Boulevard in a black box theatre they created in 2003.

With a new landlord taking over the venue, McCray and the company are evaluating how this change can move Son of Semele Ensemble (SoSE) in a positive direction. Currently they are exploring civic partnerships, site-specific opportunities and performances in larger venues.

Due to the restrictions of COVID-19, the company has already been working creatively with new producing models and diverse forms of performance, recently completing their first feature film of a play, "The Hour of All Things," written by playwright Caridad Svich. The film is directed by a consortium of nine Los Angeles theatre directors and features performances by eight acclaimed L.A. theatre actors (*artists' names listed below). The company also produced a series of short art films, the "Chain Video Poetry Project," using online collaborations between artists around the United States and Europe. More details and a streaming date for "The Hour of All Things" will be announced at a later time.

McCray said of this upcoming shift for the company, "I'm proud of what we've accomplished over the last two decades while we have held the keys to our very own space. This is a sad moment for many of us who built and have loved this venue, but it's important to recognize that being a nomadic theatre company has its benefits too. As we start a new chapter, I'll be searching for projects that seemed impossible for us to undertake while managing our own venue. There is a lot I will miss about our time on Beverly Boulevard, but not surprisingly, the things that mean the most are the people and artists we met along the way."

Now in its 21st year, Son Semele Ensemble has produced and co-produced over 150 different performance pieces in Los Angeles, utilizing the talents of well over a thousand artists who have participated in productions, workshops, Creation Festivals (new works festivals), workshops and readings over the past two decades. SoSE is known for its bold contemporary aesthetic and fondness for complex and genre-defying pieces. The resident ensemble has presented regional premieres of many notable playwrights including Caryl Churchill, Wallace Shawn, Martin Crimp, Sheila Callaghan, Mac Wellman, Suzan-Lori Parks and Richard Foreman.

In the years leading up to the pandemic, the company had developed a year-long season that consisted of three SoSE productions, three co-productions with local companies, and three Creation Festivals, each focused on a specific genre of work including devised work, solo work and short-form plays. By 2019, the venue was hosting 20-30 projects annually. The combination of all this activity over the last 18 years transformed the black box space into a community arts hub that was rooted in the spirit of resource sharing and amplifying diverse, bold and brave voices.

The following are a few historical highlights from two decades of Son of Semele work:

First Regional Award for Animal Farm, 2002 - Nominated in many categories, SoSE wins multiple Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, including "Best Musical Production" for Animal Farm adapted by Peter Hall from George Orwell.

Venue Launch with Avant-Gardist Richard Foreman, 2003 - SoSE opens the Beverly Boulevard black box with a West Coast premiere of Richard Foreman's "Film is Evil: Radio is Good."

Cover of American Theatre, 2004 - SoSE receives a company profile in the nation's premiere theatre magazine with their production photo on the magazine cover.

Five-Hour Epic The Mysteries, 2005 - SoSE produces a five-hour, two-part epic play staged in an immersive manner, featuring cross-gender and diverse casting.

In Residence at Center Theatre Group, 2007 - Son of Semele receives a two week residency at Center Theatre Group to develop a devised work "Fencerow to Fencerow."

Verbatim Play Presented at Deaf Festival, 2009 - Written by Deaf West Theatre Artistic Director David Kurs, SoSE develops a new verbatim play based on interviews with deaf senior citizens and presents it bilingually at Deaf Festival.

Creation Festivals Begin, 2010 - SoSE produces its first Creation Festival, taking on a new role within the Los Angeles theatre landscape as a presenter and curator.

Creation Festival Musical Receives Pulitzer Prize Nomination, 2012 - "Cyclops: A Rock Opera," a project of Psittacus Productions that was presented at Company Creation Festival and co-produced in the Beverly Boulevard black box theatre, receives a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

"Our Class" Wins Multiple LADCC Awards, 2014 - Nominated in many categories, Son of Semele wins multiple Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle awards for the West Coast premiere of "Our Class," including Best Production.

In addition to the hundreds of writers who have been presented through the Creation Festival series, the following list of playwrights have been produced by Son of Semele Ensemble over the last two decades: Joan Ackermann, Jaclyn Backhaus, Samuel Beckett, Agnes Borinsky, Kristen Brennan, Paul Broks, Sheila Callaghan (multiple productions), Christopher Chen, Scott Christian, Caryl Churchill, Martin Crimp, Graham Dodge, Ross Dungan, Will Eno, Pamela Ezell, Stephanie Fleischmann, Richard Foreman (multiple productions), John Glore, Mick Gordon, Richard Greenberg, Jason Grote, Peter Hall, Trish Harnetiaux, Aaron Henne, Maureen Huskey, Henrik Ibsen, Tom Jacobson, Sarah Kane, Wolfram Lotz, Matthew Maguire (multiple productions), Oliver Mayer, Matthew McCray, Linda McLean, Carlos Murillo, Sibyl O'Malley (multiple productions), Suzan-Lori Parks, Nick Payne, Sarah Ruhl, Wallace Shawn, Tadeusz Słobodzianek, Caridad Svich (multiple productions), Naomi Wallace, Mac Wellman, Robert Anton Wilson.

* The consortium of directors for the film of "The Hour of All Things" is comprised of Martha Demson, Erith Jaffe-Berg, Barbara Kallir, Edgar Landa, Bruce A. Lemon, Jr., Jeff Liu, Matthew McCray, Armando Molina and Jon Lawrence Rivera. The principal cast includes Tony Abatemarco, Richard Azurdia, Melina Bielefelt, Hannah Priscilla Craig, Donna Simone Johnson, Bruce A. Lemon, Jr., Julianna Stephanie Ojeda and Ryun Yu.

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