Playful CRABS IN A BUCKET By Bernardo Cubría Gets World Premiere At The Echo, July 15 - August 21

Jordan Hull, Anna LaMadrid, Xochitl Romero and Michael Sturgis star as — you guessed it — four crabs living in a shucking bucket.

By: May. 30, 2023
Playful CRABS IN A BUCKET By Bernardo Cubría Gets World Premiere At The Echo, July 15 - August 21

The Echo Theater Company presents an outrageous, smart and very funny satire about the impact of “crab mentality” on oppressed communities whose members work against one another instead of together. Alana Dietze (Dry Land, Poor Clare) directs the world premiere of Crabs in a Bucket by Bernardo Cubría (The Play You Want, The Giant Void In My Soul) for a six-week run at the Echo's home at Atwater Village Theatre. Performances take place July 15 through August 21, with three previews set for July 12, 13 and 14.

Jordan Hull, Anna Lamadrid, Xochitl Romero and Michael Sturgis star as — you guessed it — four crabs living in a shucking bucket. Amargo and Pootz are bitter crabs who spend their days talking chit about the crabs that got out, the ones who couldn't take it, and the losers who still live among them. Young Beb is the newcomer who arrives filled with optimism and hope for change. Can Beb help Amargo and Pootz achieve their life-long dream of getting the shuck out? Or will they prove to be their own worst enemies and continue to hold each other and everyone else back?

The “crabs in a bucket” trope comes from the observation that if a single crab is placed in a bucket, it can easily climb to freedom. But if there are multiple crabs, each one that tries to climb up will be pulled back down by the others, ensuring that no crab will ever make it out.

“What happens when we can't be happy for the success of others?” asks Cubría. “Sometimes, in communities where there are limited opportunities, we think, 'if he gets a slot, there won't be one left for me,' and we get down on each other. Why can't we support one another? Whenever oppressed groups come together, we win.”

The play was inspired by Cubría's personal experience in the Latinx theater community, but the themes are so universal that it could refer to just about any group. Dietze, for one, was convinced when she read it that it had been written about actors.

“I love how relatable this play is, how the bucket is its own world that's everywhere and nowhere all at once, and how clever and witty and funny the dialogue is,” she says. “For me, the metaphor is about being an artist, and how competition, ambition and petty jealousies create an environment in which people tear each other down when we should be lifting each other up.”

The creative team behind the Echo Theater's “bucket world” includes scenic designer Amanda Knehans; lighting designer Azra King-Abadi; sound designer Jeff Gardner; costume designer Lou Cranch; composer Arian Saleh; fight choreographer Ahmed Best; movement coach Tristan Waldron; and clowning consultant Julia Davis. The production stage manager is Irene Lee and Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson is associate producer. Chris Fields and Kelly Beech produce for the Echo Theater Company.

A Mexican-born playwright and screenwriter, Cubría's The Play You Want was the recipient of the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's 2020 Generation Award as well as Portland Oregon's Milagro Theatre's 2020 Ingenio Award for New Play by a Latinx Playwright; it premiered at L.A.'s Road Theatre in 2022, garnering Cubría both a Stage Raw Award and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle nomination for Playwriting. In 2019, Cubría was nominated for a trifecta of Ovation, Stage Raw and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Best Playwright awards for his play The Giant Void In My Soul. Other playwriting awards include the Smith Prize for Political Theater and the BETC Generations Award. For film, he penned the feature screenplay Like It Used to Be, which Gina Rodriguez is attached to direct, star in, and produce with her company I Can And I Will Productions, and he's currently in development on a feature based on boxer Ryan Garcia, which Gina Rodriguez is set to star in and produce alongside Endeavor Content and, One Community.

Founded in 1997, the Echo Theater Company has gained a reputation for producing and developing exciting new work. Under the artistic leadership of Chris Fields, the company has championed playwrights for a quarter century, producing and commissioning numerous world premieres and introducing Los Angeles to playwrights David Lindsay-Abaire, Adam Rapp and Sarah Ruhl among others. The Echo has won countless Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly and Stage Raw awards, and is frequently cited on end-of-the-year “Best of Lists” including by the Los Angeles Times, LA Observed and NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9 FM, among others. The company was anointed “Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays” by the LA Weekly and was a recipient of a “Kilroy Cake Drop” to honor its efforts to produce women and trans writers. KCRW declared that “Echo Theater Company is on a fierce journey,” and Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, “Artistic directors of theaters of all sizes would be wise to follow the [lead] of the Echo's Chris Fields, who [is] building audience communities eager for the challenge of path-breaking plays.”

Crabs in a Bucket opens on Saturday, July 15, with performances continuing on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 4 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. through August 21. Three preview performances are set for Wednesday, July 12; Thursday, July 13; and Friday, July 14, each at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. All Monday night performances, as well as previews, are pay-what-you-want.

Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039.

Crabs in a Bucket is family friendly; appropriate for ages 10 and up. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (310) 307-3753 or go to


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