Our Story

FIRST SEASON

     Alive Theatre was founded in January 2008 by CSULB theatre grads Jeremy Aluma and Danielle Dauphinee, with considerable help from their peers. Its inaugural production, the Cherry Poppin’ Play Festival, was mounted at The Garage Theatre, a venue graciously provided by another Long Beach company founded by CSULB alumni. The festival consisted each night of two different one-act plays, seven original plays in all, and a rockin’ musical interlude.  A collection of over 70 artists were involved in creating the festival, all able to experience the birth of Alive Theatre.  The raw energy of the productions prompted one local critic to write, “Judging by the chemistry of this galvanized group, along with their professionalism and talent, I predict a rash of breakout stars … as well as a thriving future for the company" (Marchelle Hammack, Beachcomber Newspaper).

   Alive's second production, Cabaret: Rock the Boat 2008 took place on Duke’s Riverboat, a true sternwheeler moored at Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach. The show gave audiences a chance to take a short cruise while enjoying satirical sketch comedy and an eclectic musical program. The group's production led James Scarborough to write, “This charismatic company continues to mature. Venue-less like Wandering Dutchmen (adrift, metaphorically and, aboard here, literally) they’re branding themselves as a must-see experience of what live theatre in a cabaret setting can do: entertain you in umpteen iterations as they continue to reinvent themselves in new, startling, and delightful ways.”


   This spirit of reinvention fueled the search for yet another venue, which led to the historic Lafayette Ballroom in downtown Long Beach. The 'dome room', built in 1928, proved to be the ideal setting for American playwright Don Nigro's Lucia Mad, a sensuous comic drama about James Joyce’s daughter, her obsession with Samuel Beckett, and the sometimes tragic consequences of artistic genius. The peripatetic company by now had caught the attention of David C. Nichols of the Los Angeles Times, who wrote: “Literary history swarms with accounts of fragile psyches undone by love, and Lucia Mad undoes with the best of them … Lucia Mad announces a company well worth watching.”

   Koos Art Center was the site for Alive's fourth offering, 28 Plays Later, a rapid-fire revue of 28 short original plays crammed together into a single bill. This artistic experiment was ‘filled with vibrant explosions of uncensored thought and noise, exploiting the X-generation's proclivity for escapist indulgence while satirizing ourselves and everyone else, holus-bolus.'  Greggory Moore of The District Weekly said, “What Alive Theatre is doing is simple: it’s vaudeville for the 21st century… there can be no doubt that Alive sells every moment, expending enough energy to qualify as a workout.” 

   In the fall of 2008, Alive began looking beyond Generation-X to the future theatergoers of the world. Grimm’s Fairy Tales, an interactive retelling of four lesser-known tales from the Brothers Grimm, premiered at the auditorium of the Long Beach Main Public Library, and then toured to local schools. The library’s main branch recently had been in the news due to a suggested (then retracted) threat of closure by the economically-strapped municipal government. That Alive chose this venue to kick off its educational mission resonated with at least one local critic. “In itself an itinerant theatre company doing outreach is delicious. Doing it in a saved-in-the-nick-of-time library is downright spectacular.”

   
But that wasn't enough for the company's first full year, so an experimental branch, Alive Theatrevolution, was established to test the boundaries of audience expectation. City streets, nightclubs, public libraries, Alive's projects were everywhere.

   “The Alive Theatre finds these sites (band shells, riverboats, hotel ballrooms) and animates them, alive and kicking. They create the same anticipation that Apple creates just before a new product release. They make us wonder, what will they do next?” James Scarborough, Grunion Gazette
SECOND SEASON

      For the company's second season they reprized the frenetic event that started it all.  The 2nd annual Cherry Poppin’ Play Festival was housed in the often overlooked gem that is the Royal Theatre aboard the Queen Mary, testing their luck on the water yet again! The festival was supported in part by a grant from Arts Council Long Beach. Alive Theatre packed the Queen Mary’s theatre almost every night of its 9-night run with its 6 world premieres.  Nine different local Long Beach bands opened each night (featuring such bands as Avi Buffalo and Free Moral Agents), five local visual artists showcased their work in the ship’s lobby and the festival was chosen to be part of Long Beach’s Visions~Voices (Smithsonian Week Affiliate). The multitude of collaborations and partnerships forged with 2009’s festival aided significantly in furthering Alive Theatre’s mission to reach out and to strengthen the bonds amongst artists in the Long Beach community.  The company also published its very first book… a collection of all the new plays in the festival!

    References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot by José Rivera at the internationally renowned Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA) was another groundbreaker for Alive Theatre by being MoLAA’s first ever theatrical production.  Playwright José Rivera was present at its closing and received MOLAA’s prestigious ‘Black Sun’ award in honor of his contributions to Latin American culture. “I was very moved by the generosity of the award and by the excellent performance of my play… I see a lot of my work produced and you have no idea how refreshing it is to honestly tell you that was great!” (Academy Award nominated screenwriter, José Rivera).

    Alive Theatre looked, yet again, to the future theatre-goers of the world, with its children’s summer camp.  The company was honored to be invited to join CSULB’s ‘Young Artist Camp’ for the camp’s first offering of theatre classes and performances. This lead one parent to write: “The week before (the camp) James didn’t want to go- he thought it was gonna be stupid and un-cool.  From the 1st day forward he came home raving about how great it was every day.”

    The company then staged one of its largest shows to date, Stephen Adly Guirgis’ gritty, urban New York drama, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings.  Always breaking new ground, Alive had the good fortune to be one of the first companies to produce its large scale play in the – over 10,000 square foot – old Expo Furniture Warehouse in Bixby Knolls, Long Beach.  The “Expo” as it is now known has since become one of Long Beach’s most active multi-disciplinary art centers.  The company also received a Connected Corridor grant from the Long Beach Foundation to support the show. Playwright Guirgis was able to attend the production and had this to say, "The Alive Theatre is a young, dynamic, multi-cultural company producing vibrant work on a shoe string.  They are straight up ‘of the people, for the people’.  Strength, commitment, talent and heart abound"!


   While at the Expo, Alive Theatre became intrigued with the idea of finding a creative way to utilize the entire 2-story warehouse for a unique artistic experience.  A fellow artist and thriving dance choreographer, Bahareh Ebrahimzadeh, took the opportunity – and danced with it – to create an evening of visual and installation art, multimedia and movement in her production Playhouse. Audiences were given the chance to witness and engage in a distinctive artistic collaboration as both dancers and artists pulled patrons from room to room while a variety of live musicians played in complex harmony around them.  Spectators became both audience and participant.  LA dance reviewer Anna Reed said this of the event, “Play House demonstrates an understanding of audience engagement that gives me renewed hope in a future for dance… (it)  conveys the complexity of human relationships with a veracity rarely achieved in movement.”

    The company then took a more dramatic turn with its next production of the Tony award-winning play Frozen by Bryony Lavery. Frozen unflinchingly examined the highs and lows of the human condition, exploring the intertwined relationship between a brain-damaged psychopath, the grieving mother of one of his victims, and an American psychiatrist who has been studying the criminal mind for the past 10 years.  The group produced the show in a seldom-used basement of an old church, then, appropriately enough, the home of the Immanuel Center for Conscious Living.  Shirle Gottlieb, Grunion Gazette said of Alive Theatre, “it courageously chooses provocative projects, then presents them in different locations throughout Long Beach.”

    For the company’s last show of the season they gave a West Coast premiere to an obscure Eugene Ionesco play. “Alive Theatre is an itinerant troupe, but every space they’ve inhabited during their three-year existence has worked for them—they’ve made them work. The empty whatever-it-was at 3838 Atlantic Avenue  in Bixby Knolls that they’ve transformed into a theater for their current show, Eugene Ionesco’s A Hell of a Mess, or Oh, What a Bloody Circus, is merely their latest success. The set-up is ideal.” Greggory Moore, Redistricted.  This was Alive Theatre’s first attempt at absurdism (despite its original plays in the festival, many of which one could assume were inspired by Ionesco).  The company also went back to its roots, with a majority of the cast comprised of its talented company of actors, reminiscent of its 2008 play days.

CURRENT SEASON 2010/2011

    For Alive Theatre’s 3rd annual new works festival, the company decided to go in an entirely new direction.  For one they changed the name from Cherry Poppin’ to a much more city inclusive title… The Long Beach Poppin’ Play Festival.  The group also changed the format from 2 different plays a night over one weekend to 4-5 a night for each weekend, ranging in length from  5 minutes to an hour.  The festival had 13 productions in all with 13 casts and 12 directors, providing an abundance of opportunity to local southern California artists.  The festival this year was housed in the ballroom of the Lafayette Hotel, a venue Alive Theatre had used 2 years prior (and the first the company had used twice).
  
   The plays chosen spanned the theatrical spectrum of genres and motivated one local critic to write, “And so it goes, Festival-wise: each evening offers productions of interest, stories that reverberate. Each one sticks with you, gets you thinking about what you’ve just seen, how it relates to you, to the world and, most important, how you relate to the world. You marvel ‘Live theatre can do all that?’” James Scarborough, Grunion Gazette.


   “Alive Theatre has never been afraid to take chances. That willingness to put themselves out there makes them the type of folk who can successfully mount a new-play festival…That’s just about as alive as theatre can get. If the spirit of the artists involved is willing and the flesh is not weak, that makes for theatre that gives us a compelling and intimate take on the creative process. We’re getting that from Alive right now. And it’s nice to have.” Greggory Moore, Redistricted.

   For its last play of 2010 Alive Theatre chose Tom Stoppard’s modern classic Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead which opened at the brand new Naples Fine Art Center in Naples, Long Beach.  This was a first for both Naples and Belmont Shore, as according to our research, the area had never had theatre before. John Farrell or Random Lengths magazine called the production, “Another in a long line of first rate plays produced by Alive Theatre…”  The play, whose story follows two of Shakespeare’s  minor characters from Hamlet, was a success playing to sold out audiences for almost every night of its run.  Alive Theatre was able to “bring us both the funny and the depth that Stoppard so skillfully infuses into R & G” Greggory Moore, Redistricted.


   Now on to its next production slated for early 2011…. Entropy General by one of Alive Theatre’s own company playwright, Ryan McClary.  This is both McClary’s first full-length play and the first new, full-length play Alive Theatre has produced, written by one of  its resident playwrights.


   A bit of teaser to give you a taste… Entropy General: Have you ever wondered why we die? Why the good die young? Why hot dogs come in packs of eight and hot dog buns come in packs of twelve? Then you need treatment. But never fear! Entropy General is open for business. Not just another hospital, here we treat the human condition. Terminal childhood illness? At Entropy General, we call that camping! Suicidal thoughts plaguing your every thought and action? Our doctors are now licensed to prescribe murder! In our state of the art facilities, we employ only the finest medicine, through means of chaos, anarchy, and good old fashioned lunacy! Come witness the collapse! Only, at Entropy General…
See you at the theatre!!!!


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