Women of the Plains, Downtown

sb2Because we publish the LA Progressive, folks send us announcements of all kinds of events, ones supporting every imaginable progressive cause taking place throughout Greater Los Angeles. It’s more than any three couples could attend even if they were half again as crazy as us to jump in the car and go someplace.

While we can’t get to everything, we do our best to maintain a representative calendar of these liberal-minded events, filtering ones that are too far afield or cost an arm and a leg — figuring that if you’re charging $500 a head to get in the door, you should pay for your own free advertising. Sometimes we include a cultural event if there’s a political twist to it or it tickles our fancy enough that we might attend ourselves.

Last month, our friend Ruby Medrano forwarded an announcement for a reading of “Just Old Men Talking” at the KSLG Playhouse Theatre. We hadn’t heard of the place and couldn’t imagine that there would be a theatre in that part of Los Angeles amid the breweries, warehouses, and rail yards. But on a whim, we stuffed Nea in the back seat and made the quick drive downtown. We were delightfully surprised, as Sharon reported.

Indeed, we were delighted enough that we came back for a second dose this past weekend, to view the world premiere of Shelli Boone’s one-woman play “Out West: Women of the Plains.” As with the earlier performance we attended at this theatre, we can do nothing but recommend that you follow in our footsteps—but you’ll need to move fast as the play runs only through this Saturday.

A young veteran of stage, screen, and the tube, as they say, Boone demonstrated great versatility and appeal in portraying seven women of color of various ages who played groundbreaking roles in settling the American West. There’s Juliet, a newly freed slave fighting to have her children freed as well in Kansas in 1836. Then there’s Maria Rita Valdez, an Afro-Latina who was the first owner of what is now Beverly Hills and who had to fight to maintain her hold on the land

Other personas included a mail order bride whose beau didn’t quite match his picture; the first African American, man or woman, to become an aviator; and a Spanish-English whore living our her last days in a squalid boarding house in New York City.

We especially liked Boone’s portrayal of Cathay Williams, who as William Cathay served in the Buffalo Soldiers as a man for two years shortly after the Civil War before being found out—and who made a convincing case by singing Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy” to great effect.

dick-price.gifOkay, I’ll stop pretending to be a theatre critic. It was a lot of fun. Nea would have loved the signing and cutting up. It made our weekend. Don’t miss it. Shelli Boone is really good. It would be a shame if people don’t see how good.

About the only problem was that we were most of the audience at the performance we attended. Afterwards, Shelli said the opening night the night before had been a big success, but we made a mighty lonely and self-conscious audience the afternoon we attended. The final performances are this Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m. KSLG Playhouse is at 600 Moulton Street, Los Angeles — 323.227.5410. Tickets cost $20 at the door, $15 prepaid

Dick Price
Editor, LA Progressive

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