Photo Flash: Chalk Rep's World Premiere DEATH AND COCKROACHES By Eric Loo
Meet Eric. He's an aspiring playwright who's trying to break into TV writing when his Dad interrupts his plans by suddenly getting sick with a terminal illness. Instead of stepping up to his familial duties, Eric runs away from his sadness straight into a 'Wall of Dicks'. Fortunately, there's a hot, imaginary Cockroach who's there to help him to confront his grief and his family's disappointment. Death and Cockroaches, a brand new theatrical experience presented by Chalk Repertory Theatre, opens November 9 for four weeks at Atwater Village Theatre. Written by Chalk Rep Artistic Circle member Eric Reyes Loo and directed by Chalk Rep Founding Member Jennifer Chang, in an innovative, immersive production featuring a full sensory experience.
Chalk Rep, known as a leader in site-specific theatre, is taking its latest production to an actual theatre, utilizing technology and projections to transport the audience into the inside of Eric, the main character's head. A departure for Chalk Rep, where a site-specific theatre moves inside, but still creates an intimate, inclusive world. Death and Cockroaches, features a 'Chexican' family, part Chinese, part Mexican and is loosely based on Loo's own cross-cultural upbringing, an irreverently honest story told from the point-of-view of a playwright in his own play.
"Grief is individual - it's different from person to person. And so are families. Having the opportunity to bring this very unique family's reaction to the impending loss of their patriarch validates that we all experience sadness and loss differently. My father's death broke me open. When he died, I told myself that I was going to experience the grief head on and not run away from it. Writing this play has also broken me open as a writer. I no longer run away from my emotions on the page," exclaims Reyes Loo. "I really want people to laugh when they come see this play. Not because I think I'm a comedic genius. But because laughter helps us heal from grief. I wrote this play to help me heal, not just to relive the pain."
Chalk Repertory Theatre, founded in 2008, is dedicated to producing classical and contemporary plays in unconventional spaces. Working with a diverse group of artists, Chalk Rep creates work that is designed to reach non-traditional audiences, stimulate community discussion and aims to transform the ideas that non-theatregoers have about what theatre can be - to create work that is intimate, relevant, and accessible to all. Death and Cockroaches stars Sunil Malhotra (A Widow of No Importance, Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as Eric; Kelvin Han Yee (GLOW, performed with American Conservatory Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, East West Players) as Dad; Eileen Galindo (The Alamo, Love Loss and What I Wore, Tickled Pink, The Clean House) as Mom; Justin Huen (Best Lead Actor Ovation Award nominee in Oedipus El Rey, Farragut North, Electricidad, Stones) as Pat; Chalk Rep Artistic Circle member Claudia de Vasco (San Diego Rep, MixedBlood, Independent Shakespeare Co.) as Vera and The Doctor; andWalter Belenky (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike on Broadway) as the Cockroach.
Death and Cockroaches' creative team includes Sarah Krainin (set designer), Anna Robinson (projection designer), Rebecca Bonebrake (lighting designer), Colin Wambsgans (sound designer), Halei Parker (costume designer), and Bryan Clements (production stage manager).
Eric Reyes Loo (playwright) developed Death and Cockroaches in the Chalk Rep Writers Group and his work was performed by the company in the 2016 FLASH Festival, Aesthesia, and for Art Works/Art Words at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts. His plays have been produced and developed by such theatres as Moving Arts, The Blank Theatre, Rogue Machine Theatre, Rattlestick, Manhattan Theatre Source, and Celebration Theatre. He was most recently a Co-Producer on the teen series GUIDANCE for AwesomenessTV/Hulu and is developing several projects for television inclusive of communities of color and the LGBTQA+ family.
Jennifer Chang (director) is a 2018 New York Drama League Directing Fellow and the Assistant Director on the Broadway World Premiere of Theresa Rebeck's Bernhardt/Hamlet (Roundabout). Selected directing credits includeVietgone by Qui Nguyen (East West Players), 53% Of by Steph Del Rosso (WNPF), Animals Out of Paper (LA Times Critic's Pick), Lady Windermere's Fan (LA Weekly Pick of the Week). Chang is a faculty member at the UCSD Department of Theatre and Dance and serves as the current Head of Undergraduate Acting. She is also a professional actor.
Chalk Repertory Theatre is dedicated to producing classical and contemporary plays in unconventional spaces. Working with a diverse group of artists, Chalk Rep creates work that is designed to reach non-traditional audiences, stimulate community discussion and aims to transform the ideas that non-theatregoers have about what theatre can be - to create work that is intimate, relevant, and accessible to all.
Founded in the fall of 2008 by five graduates of the MFA Theatre program at the University of California, San Diego, who were living and working in Los Angeles. Actor/director Jennifer Chang, actor Amy Ellenberger, director Larissa Kokernot, playwright Ruth McKee and actor Hilary Ward formed Chalk Rep's first "Artistic Circle," shortly to be joined by Teri Reeves. The first season kicked off in January 2009 with Anton Chekhov's THREE SISTERS in the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. That first season saw four full productions, including Julia Edwards' FAMILY PLANNING, which earned the company two Ovation Awards: Best Production, Intimate Theatre, and a directing award for Larissa Kokernot.
Performances of Death and Cockroaches take place Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.,November 8 through December 1 (opening November 9). All tickets are $35 - $50 (dynamic pricing - ticket prices increase each weekend). Performances take place at Atwater Village Theatre located at 3269 Casitas Avenue, Los Angeles 90039. For reservations and information, please visit www.chalkrep.com.