About

THE MISSION

Zoo District is an international multifarious theatre-arts entity based in Los Angeles. It is our mission to use language, space, movement, imagination, design and technology to produce high concept work in multiple fields and genres. Theatre Art and Technology have become the primary elements that define us in this our contemporary environment. Primarily a performance based group committed to sustained theatre training, we embrace distinctive artists: directors, writers, designers, choreographers, composers, musicians, filmmakers, visual artists, puppeteers, acrobats, clowns, technicians, and an ensemble of disciplined performing artists.

As an international organization, it is our belief that the sustenance and effectiveness of theatre in the 21st Century, relies on the global community’s potential to celebrate and contribute their distinctive histories, social and political experiences and cultures. We create long-term relationships with local and international artists and theatre companies, to engage in mutual training and collaboration and to share and enhance our pedagogy and our aesthetic.

THE NAME

Zoo District is an area in Berlin featured in Bertolt Brecht’s DRUMS IN THE NIGHT.  It’s the seedy, downtrodden, low-rent section of town inhabited largely by artists and free thinkers and where revolution first erupts in Brecht’s play.

Zoo District is also a proud member of the Network of Ensemble Theatres, a national organization dedicated to the support of ensemble theatre as a genre. Visit ensembletheaters.net

THE HISTORY

Born in the Downtown Arts District of Los Angeles in 1997, Zoo District began as a collective of writers, musicians, designers, and performers who forged a pathway for vital, irreverent storytelling that challenged expectations and engaged the imagination

We are proud to be an active part of the Los Angeles theatre community.  Zoo is the recipient of numerous Garland, Ovation, and LA Weekly Awards and built its foundation on size-able collaborations involving the talents of many.

1997

THE DESCENT

The First Annual Festival of Horror

They say some things are better left unknown. We think otherwise.

Written by The Ensemble

Directed by Gleason Bauer

Produced for Zoo District by Gleason Bauer

“Imagine that Samuel Beckett had written Nightmare on Elm Street…

absurdism meets horror… the evening captures the proverbial descent

into Hades… both comical and genuinely disturbing.” –LA WEEKLY

“Hell comes to an artist’s loft…  Zoo District… again proves that there

are interesting and twisted minds in the Downtown arts scene…”

–LA DOWNTOWN NEWS

Spring 1998

TOP GIRLS

What price does a woman have to pay to be on top?

Written by Caryl Churchill

Directed by Patrick Towne

Produced for Zoo District by Bernadette Sullivan

“The new Zoo District Theatre brings the ambitious 1982 comedy back to vigorous life in downtown…” —LA TIMES

“A wonderful and important work…a strong ensemble…outstanding…engrossing. —LA WEEKLY  Pick of the Week

“Some of the strongest performances  I’ve seen on the Los Angeles stages…”

—BACK STAGE WEST

Fall 1997

THE FACE OF EVIL

The Second Annual Festival of Horror

A bloody little play for Halloween

Written by The Ensemble • Directed by Patrick Towne

Produced for Zoo District by Jon Kellam and Rob Farrior

“Flashes of brilliance… always stylish, highly talented troupe.” —LA WEEKLY

“Exciting physical work and scenic elements at which these artists excel…”

“Zoo District has the talent” —BACK STAGE WEST

Summer 1998

METALUNA AND THE AMAZING SCIENCE OF THE MIND REVUE

What would happen if the Dada movement of post WWI Europe met American Vaudeville, and what if the meeting took place in a small town in Indiana?

Written by Joe Janes

Directed by Kate Hendrickson

Produced for Zoo District by Loren Rubin

“Zestfully played with great over-the-top style… wild whirlwind pacing…”

“It’s vaudeville with an avant-garde warping, and intellectual sexual innuendoes galore.” —LA TIMES

Winter 1999

SCENES FROM AN EXECUTION

A Woman’s brush with history…

In the twilight of the Renaissance, a battle is being waged between an artist and the state.

Whose truth will History tell?

Written by Howard Barker

Directed by Gleason Bauer

Produced for Zoo District by Rick Paladino

Musical Composition by Jek Bek

WINNER OF 2 LA WEEKLY AWARDS!

Best Musical Score: Jef Bek

Best Actress: Bernadette Sullivan

“The passionate cast imbues this period drama with raw vitality.” —LA TIMES

“Dramatically explosive examination of the timelessly relevant conflict between honest art and a corrupt establishment.” —LA WEEKLY – Recommended

“Passionate, atmospheric…this ambitious production of a highly challenging play is a praiseworthy effort by a risk-taking company.” —BACK STAGE WEST

Spring 1999

THE HOSTAGE

Pimps, whores, thieves, lunatics, IRA members and plenty of stout…

Oh, and one young British soldier held hostage.

Written by Brendan Behan

Directed By Patrick Towne

Produced for Zoo District by Brett Paesal

“A handsome Zoo District revival captures Behan’s affection for his Irish compatriots.” —LA TIMES

“The production’s sheer vitality is infectious… opens the floodgates to parody on the most subversive levels… nothing is sacred.”

“The cast is strong… The production never stops dancing.” —LA WEEKLY – Recommended

“Zoo District is wonderful theatre…one is instantly swept into a bawdy, funny, amazing world of a Dublin brothel…” —TDRL

Summer 1999

THE TWO-CHARACTER PLAY

In a state theater of a state unknown, the psyche of America’s greatest playwright hangs in the balance.

Written by Tennessee Williams

Directed by Gleason Bauer

Produced for Zoo District by Tamar Fortgang, Ashley Osler, and Ricardo Zeger

“Gifted  work…  Zoo District provides magnificent settings for all its plays, creating memorable environments that transcend traditional theatrical space.” —BACK STAGE WEST

“Zoo District renders a loving and innovative interpretation.” —LA DOWNTOWN NEWS

BROWN AND BLACK AND WHITE ALL OVER

A Cuban-American storyteller shares his insights on racism, abuse and what it is to be a man in this society.

Written and performed by Antonio Sacre

Directed by Paula Killen

Produced for Zoo District by Michael Franco

Fall 1999 & Winter 2001

NOSFERATU

Angel of the Final Hour

The Third Annual Festival of Horror

A dreamlike exploration of the haunted past and personal mythology of the great film director F. W. Murnau

Created by Jon Kellam, K.J. Luker and Bernadette Sullivan

Written by K.J. Luker (additional dialogue by the ensemble)

Directed by Jon Kellam

Produced by Bernadette Sullivan, Michael Franco and Darcine Wdowczak Thomas

Original Music by Jef Bek

WINNER OF 7 GARLAND AWARDS!

Best Production

Best New Play

Jef Bek for Musical Score

Brian Frette for Choreography

Jef Bek for Musical Direction

Michael Franco for Lighting

Christine Deaver for Best Performance

OVATION AWARD WINNER!

Musical Direction, and Score

“Entertainingly undead… head-snapping, dead on timing… fascinating….” —LA TIMES

“Astutely juxtaposes slapstick comedy with the darkest of human impulses.” —LA WEEKLY – Recommended

“Zoo District members have pooled their artistic blood to course life into a tightly crafted dreamworld… warm, elegant… a percussive, balletic feel that is slick and striking.”

“What makes this production so exquisite is the extreme sensitivity to detail.” —BACK STAGE WEST – Critic’s Choice

Spring 2000

THE MASTER AND MARGARITA

A new stage adaptation of the Russian Masterpiece

by Mikhail Bulgakov

Adapted for the stage by Richard Helweg and Michael Franco

Directed by Loren Rubin

Produced for Zoo District by

Michael Franco, Lorenzo Gonzalez and Joe Seely

Original Music by Jef Bek

WINNER OF 2 GARLAND AWARDS!

Michael Franco & Richard Helweg for Best Adaptation

Jef Bek for Original Music

OVATION AWARD WINNER!

Jef Bek for Best Original Score

FIVE LA WEEKLY AWARDS!

Loren Rubin for Direction

Eric Snodgrass for Production Design

Jef Bek for Original Music

Michael Franco & Richard Helweg for Adaptation

Maro Parian & Sofi Kachmanian for Costume Design

LA DRAMA CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD NOMINATIONS

Production of the Year

Maro Parian & Sofi Kachmanian for Costumes

Fall 2000

PATHE X

A Play About A Lost Dream About A Lost Play or The Laughter From The Room Next Door

Inspired by the art and lives of Salvador Dali, Remedios Varo & Leonora Carrington

Written by Ricardo Zeger, Directed by Antony Sandoval

Produced for Zoo District by Michael Franco, Ben Simonetti,

Lorenzo Gonzalez and Tracy Hudak

Original Music by Jef Bek

2000 OVATION AWARDS:

Kara Feely & Paule Lemasson for Costume Design

Jef Bek for Sound Design

OVATION AWARD NOMINATIONS

Ensemble Performance, Best Director

NOMINATED FOR 5 LA WEEKLY AWARDS

Supporting Female, Production Design, Costumes, Props, Masks

“A strikingly new original production from Zoo District”

“Stunning visual images”

“As presentational art this production is a masterpiece.” —LA TIMES

“A sprawling tale of subconscious adventure”

“Soaring flights of inventiveness”

“A free-form through-the-looking-glass journey.” —LA WEEKLY

“A bucket of wonders”

“The atmospheric pleasures keep coming.” —LA TIMES – Critic’s Choice

“Bold, gutsy theatre fueled by charismatic performers who dive into this work with gusto.” —LA WEEKLY – Pick of The Week

“The courage and daring of this company is awe-inspiring.” —BACK STAGE WEST

Fall 2000

THE DOMINANT 7th

Light Attracts the Lonely Late at Night

Written by Paula Killen

Directed by Theresa Larkin

Produced for Zoo District by Paula Killen, Patrick Towne, Brett Paesal, Brian Leahy and Tim O’ Shea

Summer 2001

THE SLOW AND PAINFUL DEATH OF SAM SHEPARD

The Slow and Painful Death of Sam Shepard imaginatively reinvents playwright/actor Sam Shepard’s dizzying ascent from man to myth. Threading themes from H. P. Lovecraft, Tennessee Williams, Al Capp, John Steinbeck, Patti Smith, Tom Wolfe and Sam Shepard, Dorchen’s play careens from moment to cartoon moment exploring the destructive nature of fame. To answer the question, “Can a billion year old monster turn Sam Shepard into a God?”

Written By Jeffrey Dorchen

Directed by Bill Cusack

Musical Composition by Jef Bek & Jeffrey Dorchen

Musical Direction by Jef Bek

Produced by Michael Franco and Ben Simonetti

GARLAND AWARD WINNER!

Tamar Fortgang for Best Performance

LA WEEKLY AWARD WINNER!

Jef Bek for Musical Direction

The Mysterious Cecil Schmidt for Set Design

OVATION AWARD NOMINEE

The Mysterious Cecil Schmidt for Set Design

Jef Bek & Eric Snodgrass for Sound Design

Fall  2001

UPPA CREEK

A West Coast Premiere!

The play takes place in the antebellum south representing several eras of our past and present. Hepthesput, (Young Negress) is the new wet nurse to the way-too-old-to-be-breast- feeding, Lil Massa. In a misfired attempt to poison him to death, she instead poisons Miss Anne, (Mistress of the House) and her daughter, Lil Annie with a madness potion.

Written by Keli Garret

Directed by Patrice Pitman Quinn

Musical Composition & Direction by Graham Jackson

Produced by Michael Franco and Loren Rubin

“Rather than dramatize the ugly history of American slavery with guilt-drenched yanks at the heartstrings, this edgy staging tackles the subject with nonstop, full-throttle parody.” —LA TIMES

STARDUST & STRIPES

Using found texts, pictures and songs of Los Angeles during World War II, Stardust & Stripes is a collage of resonant images and events from 1941 to 1945 that profoundly and irrevocably altered the people and landscape of our city.

This original piece was created using Tadashi Suzuki’s actor training method and Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints as developed by the SITI company.

Commissioned by The L.A. History Project

Performed at L.A.T.C.

Written by the Ensemble

Directed by Gleason Bauer & Melina Bielefelt

Musical Composition & Direction by Nina Rolle

Produced by Gleason Bauer & Lee Bradley

Winter  2001

HELLCAB

Driving a cab through Chicago’s mean streets is a helluva way to spend Christmas Eve.

Presented by Soul for Hire,

in association with Zoo District

Written by Will Kern

Directed by David Razowsky

Produced by Michael Franco and Charles Wilson

Winter 2001

IN ABSENTIA

A one man show

Written and Performed by Ben Davis

Directed by Loren Rubin

“A raw, powerful, poignant narrative of a young man’s coming of age. This brilliant one man show is alternately devastating and funny, grounded and elusive, tough and tender. Ben Davis is luminous.” —Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, Professor of Sociology, Harvard University

Fall 2002

HEART OF A DOG

The story of a dog that is turned into a man by science, with less than stellar results, and was the first work of Bulgakov’s to be banned in the former Soviet Union for its scathing satire.

Performed in Kiev, Ukraine for First Annual Bulkgakov Festival

Funded in part by a grant from

THE TRUST FOR MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING

Produced for Zoo District by Michael Franco

Written by Mikhail Bulgakov

Adapted for the stage by Michael Franco

Directed by Antony Sandoval

Winter 2003

Angela Carter’s THE BLOODY CHAMBER

A dark and sensuous tangle of stories emerges from the heart of Bluebeard’s Castle

Adapted for the stage and directed by Kara Feely

March 2003

THE LIVELY LAD

Hilarity erupts when little Eva and the secret cult of Xerxes struggle to preserve their cherished institution of eunuch servitude.

Part of Hot Properties at [Inside] the Ford, a collaboration of Los Angeles County Arts Commission and A.S.K. Theater Projects.

Supported, in part, by a generous grant from the James Irvine Foundation.

Written by Quincy Long

Produced by Lorenzo Gonzales

Directed by Joe Seely

August 2003

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW

Performed in the opulent, grand lobby of the restored ORPHEUM movie palace in Downtown Los Angeles.

Written  William Shakespeare

Produced by Tamar Fortgang and Steve Needleman

In association with Zoo District and the LA Conservancy

Directed by Alec Wild

Spring 2004

HOME

The Quest for the Lost Tablet of Ur

By Steven Haworth

Conceived by: Gleason Bauer, Bernadette Sullivan, Jon Kellam

Developed by the Ensemble

LA WEEKLY AWARD WINNER

Production Design, Gleason Bauer & Barry Wyatt

Mask/Makeup Design – Joe Seely

OVATION AWARD WINNER

Sound Design, Bill Levine

LA WEEKLY AWARD NOMINEE

Best Ensemble Performance

Winter 2005

DOGMA: 1.5

10 vows, 10 obstructions, 13 theatre artists comprise the formula for BONE 1.5, a performative exploration based on the film making manifesto DOGME 95 drafted by Lars von Trier with the sole purpose of countering ‘certain tendencies’ of today’s cinema.  In 2005, less equals more, and these Orwellian times have inspired Zoo District to take drastic measures.

THE BOY KING

Zoo District was commissioned to create a new work for children by Los Angeles’ EdgeFest Future Project, a program created to develop new plays for audiences of the future.

Written and Directed by Brian Frette’

‘This production would make a grand partnership for the touring King Tut exhibit. The renowned company could not only quite capably expand into the youth market but also could do so smartly, creatively, and with its signature sense of adventure intact.” —Backstage West

2006

THE SUBMISSION and THE FUTURE IS IN EGGS

Horses on fire, eggs in incubation, superheroes, and the pressures of familial expectation combine to make a daring ride through Astroturf filled absurdity.  The Submission is the final performance of the Ensemble Theatre Collective’s inaugural season at [Inside] the Ford.

By Eugene Ionesco

March 2006, Inside the Ford, part of the Ensemble Theatre Collective

Produced by: Cody Nickell and Kristi Schultz

Directed by: Kristi Schultz

‘Schultz’s direction is brilliant, artfully balancing the physical comedy with stylish directorial touches’ —LA WEEKLY ‘GO!

‘Zoo District’s Kristi Schultz and a top-notch cast have given an old absurdist a new, decidedly retro infusion of hipster chic and manic energy. They’ve created one swell piece of consistently high style.’

LA CITY BEAT   ‘This inventive revival rejects the surface realism that dominates Hollywood and much of mainstream theater. Hipsters want their theater skewed, shaken, stirred. This production shows us how it’s done. —BACKSTAGE WEST

Summer 2006

JOUR DE BOSSE CABARET

Inside the Ford

Cabaret performance that brings together the weird and the wonderful of LA’s theatre community.  Annual Cabaret brings together the weird and the wonderful of LA’s theatre community. Solo performing artists and theatre companies from around Los Angeles share and experiment with new work in a supportive and creative environment.

THIS IS NOT A PIPE DREAM

2006, ISC Barnsdall Park – in a association with Gifted Crow and Independent Shakespeare Company’s outdoor summer reading series.

PIPE DREAM  brings the work of surrealist painter Rene’ Magritte to young audiences.

Spring 2007

THE DEFENDERS

Two intrepid spies from opposite sides who save the world as a matter of course…

March 2007 — Inside the Ford, part of the Ensemble Theatre Collective

April 2007 — San Francisco FURY FACTORY supported by the Association of Performing Arts Presenters

Written and Directed by Brian Frette’

Produced by Kristi Schultz

5 GARLAND AWARD HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Choreography, Brian Frette

Original Score, Buddy Habig

Costume Design, Johnny Apollo

Set Design, Katrina Coulourides and Brian Frette’

Lighting Design, Rachel Myles

“Witty, disciplined and a pleasure to watch, ‘The Defenders’ deserves a smart audience and a long run.” —LA TIMES – CRITIC’S CHOICE

“A tongue-in-cheek salute to all things cheeky, witty, and unapologetically eccentric.” —LA WEEKLY

“Brian Fretté’s hilariously choreographed battles are fantastic from concept to execution by this skilled and committed cast” —BACKSTAGE WEST – CRITIC’S PICK

Winter  2007

365 DAYS/ 365 PLAYS

Pulitzer prize-winning Suzan-Lori Parks sat down and committed to writing a play a day for 365 days.  This play cycle is a yearlong national festival simultaneously in major cities and communities around the country. Over 600 theaters in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Washington D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis, the Carolinas, Mississippi River towns, and university campuses created the largest theater collaboration in U.S. History.

SHOT IN THE DARK: A Winter Salon

Watch your back….

WEEK 30 June 2007,  John Anson Ford Amphitheatre

Written by Suzan-Lori Parks

Produced by Michael Franco

Directed by Michael Franco, Jon Kellam, Joe Fria, and Paul Plunkett

The spirit of the unafraid began Zoo District history, uniting artists of all backgrounds to explore and ignite the ideas of a new live art.

Zoo District is embarking on an adventure, plotting 4 short original works that throw caution to the wind and humility to the wolves.

Featuring:

MS. FURR & MS. SKEENE by Gertrude Stein

Adapted and performed by Laura James

SOTTO VOCE

Created and performed by Brian Frette’ and Kristi Schultz

WORKSHOP CONFIDENTIAL

Created and performed by Shirley Anderson

DARK HUMOURS

Directed by Joe Seely, Created by Joe Seely and Ensemble

March 2009

DESTRUCTION OF THE 4th WORLD

As the Hopi prophecy of Koyaanisqatsi (a world out of balance) unfolds, a dysfunctional Jewish family comes to terms with their own existence.  The ancient Native American trickster, Coyote, makes ready for the end of this world with his only accomplice – a 13-year-old boy.   A part of Padua Playwrights Masters Series’ Tribute to author Murray Mednick,  Zoo District has developed this World Premiere of Mr. Mednick’s to be a wild ride through the psyche of humanity on the precipice.

MARCH 2009, Artshare LA

By Murray Mednick

Directed by Kristi Schultz and Brian Frette’

Commissioned by Padua Playwrights

‘Masterfully directed… seamless….experimental theatre at its best’ —EYESPY LA

‘Laudable… expansive, free-wheeling staging’ —BACKSTAGE WEST

‘Bristles with raw urgency’ —LA TIMES

Zoo’s development would not have been possible without:

FOUNDING MEMBERS

Gleason Bauer, Jef Bek, Rob Farrior, Tamar Fortgang, Tracy Hudak, Jon Kellam, KJ Luker, D Morris, Loren Rubin, Joe Seely, Bernadette Sullivan, Pat Towne

Other contributing artists and past members of Zoo District include:

Brian Frette, Kristi Shultz, Joe Fria, Debbie Falb, Ben Simonetti, Ben Davis, Christine Deaver, Graham Jackson, Steve Sennet, Barry Wyatt, Lorenzo Gonzales, Michael Franco, Charlie Wilson, Kelly Morris, Jenna Fischer, Becky Wahlstrom, Peter Alton, Mami Arizono, Antony Sandoval, Marius Mazmanian, Kara Feely, Michael Childers, Ashley Osler, Yana Shukman, John McCarthy, Matt Aston, Paul Mackley, Rick Paladino, Millie Epstein, Kim Fitzgerald, Tod Yenowen, Jon Schofield, Jerri Tubbs, Bosco Flanagan and Laura Harring

BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

Debbie Falb – President, John McCarthy, Yana Shukman