Friday, April 22, 2016
Location: Ramo Auditorium, South of Beckman Auditorium. Find us here.
Earth Day Week Events at Caltech.
Free Pre-show Interactive Artist Event
Lawn and patio of Caltech's Ramo Auditorium, 6:00 p.m.
Artist Kim Stringfellow discusses her sound art project about the social, political, and environmental history of the Owens Valley and the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Join us on the lawn for food trucks, free coffee from Rose City Coffee, and an interactive artist event!
Staged Reading of The Chisera (aka Lost Borders)
Caltech's Ramo Auditorium, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: Suggested donation of $5–$20 to support Theater Arts at Caltech
by Paula Cizmar
A drama about water—or the lack of it. In a parched lake bed in the High Sierra, a geologist and her daughter come to terms with their failing relationship, the loss of their husband/father, and the spirit of Mary Austin, a woman who once struggled to save the area from destruction.
The play is set in both 1903 and the present. In the past: Mary Hunter Austin, a real-life California nature writer, wages a campaign against Mulholland and his land-developer cronies as they try to steal water from the Owens Valley to create the modern city of Los Angeles. Austin was a woman ahead of her time, who understood the fragility of the desert, and learned from the Paiutes about the cycles of drought and the potential for devastation of the land. In the present, Alice, a geologist, is on assignment to do a field study for a project in the Owens Valley that may threaten the already tenuous ecosystem. As an added complication, she is now raising her estranged daughter Lily after the death of her ex-husband.
As Mary Austin takes on the struggle to save the Sierra water, she goes up against Fred Eaton, an engineer working for Mulholland (but who also is falling under Mary’s spell) and her mother Susanna, who has been left to take care of Mary’s disabled child. In the present, Alice finds herself challenged by her teenaged daughter—and also by a lawyer from the local band of Paiute whose land will be threatened if the company she works for is successful in their planned project.
The borders of the desert and the boundaries of past and present blur as the characters come to terms with love, memory, and a connection to the earth.
Playwright Paula Cizmar is an award-winning playwright whose work combines poetry and politics and is concerned with the way stories get told in a culture — and with who gets left out of the discussion. Cizmar is one of the writers of the documentary play Seven, which has been translated into 20+ languages and has been produced internationally including in Turkey, Lithuania, Argentina, Nigeria, and Serbia to generate dialogue about human rights. Two of her plays, January and The Chisera, were nominated for The Kilroy List.
Cizmar is a Profesor of Playwriting at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. At USC, she founded the Deep Map Theatre Project, which allows her undergraduate playwrights the opportunity to write and perform pop-up plays about current events issues in a street-theatre style.
Director Arden Thomas is the Associate Artistic Director of Mach 33: The Festival of New Science-Driven Plays at Caltech, which is under the direction of Brian Brophy, Theater Arts Caltech.