L.A Theatre Works Presents TOOTH AND CLAW, 7/9 - 7/22


 L.A. Theatre Works winds up its 2011-12 season with a 'natural selection': Michael Hollinger's thrilling evolutionary drama, Tooth and Claw. (Calendar editors please note: Tooth and Claw replaces the previously announced production of Ionesco's Rhinoceros.) Directed by Jessica Kubzansky and starring Stephanie Beatriz, Daniel Chacón, Daniel Guzman, Justin Huen, Jay Montalvo, W. Morgan Sheppard, Jos Viramontes and Cynthia Watros (Lost), five performances of Tooth and Claw are at the James Bridges Theater on the campus of UCLA. All performances will be recorded for broadcast on L.A. Theatre Works' nationally syndicated radio theater series, airing locally in Southern California on 90.7 KPFK every Sunday from 8-10 pm (98.7 FM in Santa Barbara and 93.7 FM in San Diego) and streaming on demand at www.latw.org.

Based on actual events, Tooth and Claw is a compelling exploration of evolution, extinction and the ever-present nature of Darwin's "struggle for life." Biologist Schuyler Baines (Watros) arrives, full of ideas and the best intentions, in the Galapagos Islands to run the Darwin Research Center. When she becomes aware of an exploding black market in sea cucumbers that threatens to destroy the islands' fragile ecosystem, Schuyler shuts the industry down, sparking a deadly, survival-of-the-fittest conflict with native fishermen.

In the 1990s, the indigenous fisherman (pepineros) of the Galapagos Islands were pitted against environmentalists over the issue of harvesting sea cucumbers, both the primary source of income for the pepineros and an essential part of the food chain for sea tortoises. The fisherman subsequently revolted and slaughtered the endangered tortoises in protest. Even now, the conflict continues with the fisherman in search of shark fins and sea cucumbers for Asian markets, unmindful of conservation efforts. Hollinger wrote Tooth and Claw after hearing an NPR broadcast in 1995 about the Galapagos uprising. He later traveled to the islands to interview the scientists, fisherman and politicians involved in the conflict. His research served as the basis for a story that looks not just at the survival of the fittest-whether human, animal or flora-but at the less obvious clash between science and conservation.

" 'Tooth and Claw' may be a play about tortoises, but it sweeps along at a bracing pace more often seen in hares, bringing the momentum of a thriller to the sometimes dry arena of science plays," wrote The New York Times.

Tooth and Claw is part of "Relativity," a series of science-themed plays recorded by L.A. Theatre Works with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Performances take place on Thursday, July 19 @ 8 pm; Friday, July 20 @ 8 pm; Saturday, July 21 @ 3 pm & 8 pm; and Sunday, July 22 @ 2 pm. The James Bridges Theater is located in Melnitz Hall on the campus of the UCLA School of Theater, Film, Television at 235 Charles E. Young Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (enter UCLA from Hilgard just south of Sunset Blvd. and park in Lot 3 on the lower level). Tickets are $49; student tickets are $15 at the door. To purchase tickets, call L.A. Theatre Works at 310-827-0889 or got to www.latw.org.

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