Gender Studies 2002

IN YOUR CLOSET, YOU HAVE CLOTHES THAT TELL A STORY

We wear clothes all our lives. They protect against cold and heat, they are loved and thrown away, replaced and gifted, swapped and collected. Clothes carry memories of people and places, define economic conditions, have historically dictated gender, reflect our manner of thinking about society and make life more enjoyable.

Please join us in an online workshop as we explore our relationship to clothes, their histories, limitations, the bodies they hold and wrap.

Workshop space is limited to 15 participants. Stories about our clothes will be shared and movements explored.

August 8th, 2021 from 11am to 1pm.

Register @ [email protected]

ABOUT deufert & plischke
https://www.spinnereischwelm.net/

Visit their website
https://www.spinnereischwelm.net/deufert-plischke

This project is sponsored in part by the Goethe-Institut Internationale Fund, deufert & plischke and the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble. To be continued LIVE in June/July of 2022 with workshops and a final performance celebration.

TRACERS – A Vietnam Veteran’s Odyssey

July 2, 2021 | John DiFusco
Cast of Tracers

It was 1974. I’d completed four years in the USAF (including a year in Vietnam) as a security policeman and four years of college as a theatre major. I was ready to follow my dream wherever it took me. I hit the streets of LA in search of a theatre company. I auditioned for the prestigious Company Theatre. The director gave me an address and suggested I meet Ron Sossi, who had just rented a building in West LA. I was new to LA and it took me an entire afternoon to find the address (no GPS in the 70’s). A big square rundown structure with a faded sign that said, ”Used Office Furniture.” I walked into the gutted cavernous building and found Ron Sossi seated behind a desk with a lamp, a phone and some books scattered about. We had a lively chat about spirituality, theatre and his grand plans for the transformation of the space. It was to become the westside alternative to the downtown commercial theatres. All of us who’ve been involved with the Odyssey over the years would agree “Mission Accomplished.”

I joined the company and fervently threw myself into Ron’s workshops. I loved his whole concept of risk-taking and physicality in theatre. I made my professional debut in Ron’s sprawling, multi-cast production of PEER GYNT, and continued to appear in plays at the Odyssey over the next several years.

I was inspired by groups like The Open Theatre and The Living Theatre. Groups that created their own original work. In the mid-70’s Michael and Andy Griggs, from the PEER GYNT cast, formed a group called The Bear Republic Theatre. Through the group process, they created the play SIGNALS — a piece about the changing roles of men in a changing society. I joined the second cast and went on tour with them. This was the seed of TRACERS.

My Vietnam experience was always close to the surface, but I never talked about it. It was not a popular subject and I felt ‘different’ around my fellow actors because of it. I studied the creative process and began to think, “What if I could find a group of actors who were Vietnam vets? What a treasure trove of stories might come of it!”

In the Odyssey production of THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE, I met the very talented Vincent (Vinnie) Caristi. In a backstage chat I told him my idea. He got excited. “I was drafted. I was in Vietnam. I’m in, man!” He was the first actor/Vietnam vet I met and the first actor in the original group. This gave me confidence in the idea and confidence that there might be more of us out there. The idea would not go away. In 1980, after losing my younger brother in a motorcycle accident, I had this flash about the fragility of life.

I ran an ad in the Drama-Logue (Backstage-West) for actors who were Vietnam vets to participate in a workshop leading to the creation of a play. I got about thirty pictures and resumes. Auditions were held and I selected six actors: Vincent Caristi, Richard Chaves, Rick Gallavan, Harry Stephens, Merlin Marston and Eric Emerson. Sheldon Lettich, a Vietnam vet writer, was also a member of the group. I conducted workshops in an abandoned dining hall at the old Sepulveda Veterans Administration. Material came fast. We did a work-in-progress performance at the Odyssey on July 4, 1980. I didn’t know if anyone would even be interested. Turns out, there was a rousing standing ovation and lots of positive feed-back. We went back into workshops , and three months later I directed the opening at the new Odyssey three-theatre space on Santa Monica Blvd and Bundy. The first few weeks we had to paper the house with Vietnam vet groups. Then we got LA Weekly’s ‘Pick of the Week’ and some really good reviews. The show caught on, and we ran for almost a year.

During that year a U.S. Vietnam vet movement sprang up and we found ourselves in the middle of it. Demonstrations were taking place all over, bringing more interest in TRACERS. Media coverage, stories in the press, and awards.

I met a lot of important people. There were promises made about the future. Eventually after we closed those promises waned except for one. Gary Sinise of the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago doggedly pursued me for about a year. I kept saying no because I wanted the cast to be veterans. I finally decided to give him the rights after he flew me in to see their production of BALM IN GILEAD. I agreed and was kept on board as the writer. I did re-writes with Gary’s cast. They were a hit and got a great deal of support from the local vets. Gary says the experience was what sparked his interest in veterans’ issues. He wanted to take the show to New York, but I said no, again citing the fact the I wanted the cast to be veterans.

I’d been communicating with Vietnam vet Tom Bird, who had a veterans’ theatre group in New York, VETCO. Vinnie and Richard from the original cast had moved to New York. I had a list of producers who’d said, ‘Look me up if you’re ever in New York.” I went to New York and started going through my list. When I contacted Tom Bird, he said he could try and get a meeting with Joseph Papp at The Public Theatre. We met and made a deal. Vinnie and Richard were in the production and the rest of the cast came from VETCO and open auditions.

I directed, re-wrote and re-structured, and in January 1984 we opened to rave reviews. The play ran for six months, garnered more awards, and was published in Ten Best Plays of 1984-1985. Subsequently I staged it in London, Australia and on numerous tours.

TRACERS continues to be produced nationally and internationally. It is the idea that took over my life and the lives of those who do it and those who experience it. I am ever grateful to Ron Sossi and the Odyssey Theatre for giving us our first shot.
I recently signed a deal to make a documentary about the whole TRACERS experience. Stay tuned.

We’re Back

June 30, 2021
We're Back!

We’re thrilled to welcome you back!

Dear Odyssey audiences,

After an extensive period of deep cleaning, painting and rebuilding, along with other Covid safety actions (some required and others as an optional extra measure of safety) we have reopened our doors and are ready to welcome you back to our beloved theatre. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has continued to support us during these challenging times.

Immediately, there will be live events: a music festival and a new John Fleck play, directed by his longtime collaborator David Schweizer, preceding the newly re-imagined THE SERPENT on September 4. (As you might remember, due to Covid, THE SERPENT was halted after its second performance in March 2020, despite receiving rave reviews. Consequently, we’re thrilled to get it back on the boards.)

Additionally we’ll present a 3-day online streaming event: a specially filmed version of Olivier award-winning SILENT by Pat Kinevane. SILENT was first seen at the Odyssey in 2016 in a co-production with Dublin’s Fishamble theatre company, when it was described in the Los Angeles Times as ‘Krapp’s Last Tape as re-imagined by Madonna.’

Then, before the year is over, we’ll see a new project by Odyssey favorite director Bart DeLorenzo and a January opening of William Inge’s PICNIC, in a loving reimagining set in the tumultuous 1960’s with an all-Black cast. Directed by John Farmanesh-Bocca.

Our box office and lobby will be open starting July 6, Wednesday – Friday, 12-5 pm. And of course, on show nights! You can feel confident and safe knowing that we are COVID-secure and following the latest local requirements and CDC recommendations that pertain to areas of public assembly.

So, check out our website for specifics, make some reservations, put on your theatre shoes and let’s get on with the show!!

With gratitude,

Ron, Beth, Sally, Mark, and the Odyssey gang