Puppeteer, director and CalArts School of Theater faculty member Susan Simpson’s new play Exhibit A premieres at Automata in Chinatown’s Arts District Thursday night (April 25) at 8 pm.
Based loosely on the archival letters, manifestos and journal entries of gay rights pioneer and Communist Party member Harry Hay and architect John Lautner, Exhibit A is set on a hot 1950s summer day in Los Angeles while the Silver Lake reservoir is drained for repairs. It explores the overlap of gay rights organizing and science fiction fandom as restless aliens wander the Silver Lake hills amid secret society initiation rites. Directed by Simpson, Exhibit A uses model replicas, topographical maps and green-screen video effects to generate a moody, disorienting vision featuring performers both human and puppet. It blends historical narrative and speculative fiction to explore the convergence of radical visionaries who populated Silver Lake.
A work-in-progress excerpt of the play was performed in 2012 at REDCAT’s New Original Works Festival. The production was hailed by Stage and Cinema‘s Tony Frankel as “the most successful and exciting piece of the night… Exhibit A remained true to avant-garde roots… Simpson seems to understand that storytelling, regardless of its form, is the one thing audiences are craving.”
Automata is dedicated to nurturing new work that is engaged in cutting-edge art practices. It creates, incubates and presents experimental puppet theater, experimental film, and other contemporary art practices centered on artifice and and performing objects.