From an urban Cafe to Botswana's Kalahari -- sounds like a long trek. But audiences can do it in one night. That is, if they visit the two one-act plays, Untitled Scene In A Cafe and Kalahari, currently playing at the Complex on Santa Monica Blvd. In Hollywood, CA.
The evening is presented by a brand new theatre group: Hard Hat Company, whose artistic director, JD Roberto, is also the author of the plays and director of Cafe. Keith Adams, a company member, directs Kalahari.
Starring in the plays are company members Adams, Roberto, Josie DiVincenzo, Mark Hadley, Hilaire Lockwood, Rick Marcus, Lanell Pena, Jim Round and Matt Boatright-Simon.
The troupe has gained some attention thanks to some names on their Board of Directors, including Ted Lange (pronounced Lanj), author and director of Four Queens No Trump and best known for his work on TV's "The Love Boat;" and Ernie Sabella (currently starring in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum and soon to go into Chicago). Screenwriters Jim Cash and Jack Epps are also on the Board; their works include Top Gun and Turner & Hooch.
Said Roberto of the Board members, "They're not really hands-on advisors, but they lend us their names and professional support and input. We've been getting our funding through donations and have applied for non-profit status. We're still waiting for Federal approval, but the paperwork is done." Roberto had been involved with the Off-Off-Broadway theatre company, Zombie Mambo, and served as a writer for the website, Theatre Central (now part of Playbill On-Line).
How did the idea for a new West Coast theatre company come about? "Six to eight months ago," Roberto told Playbill On-Line (Sept. 25), "a group of us originally from New York were bemoaning that all we were doing was television work. So we said, `hey, let's do our own work. It grew, as it always does, from a couple of people sitting around a table saying we're sick of auditioning for `Baywatch!'".
The commpany hopes "to develop new and original works that express the human condition in innovative ways." An outreach program is planned to bring theatre to schools, community centers and children's hospitals.
For tickets and information on Untitled Scene In A Cafe and Kalahari, which opened Sept. 19 and runs to Oct. 19, call (213) 658 4000.
--By David Lefkowitz