Hollywood Hills

02.22.13

Jenn Swirtz and T. Lynn Mikeska in "Hollywood Hills" by Stephanie Alison Walker - Photo via The Huffington Post

Jenn Swirtz and T. Lynn Mikeska in “Hollywood Hills” by Stephanie Alison Walker – Photo via The Huffington Post


Dialogue Sample

MISSY

I am pretty, right? I mean, I’m not fishing for complements, I just want to confirm that my perspective is accurate. That I’m pretty, because I’m pretty sure I am. I’m hot, right? I am. I mean, I’m a size two, I’ve got a perfectly symmetrical face and great tits.

Mark always talked about my tits. And they’re real! Not like that stupid bimbo’s. What’s her name, anyway? Cherry? Cherish? You know, just because you book a guest spot on One Tree Hill doesn’t make you a star.

I hate that attitude. I mean, how many people actually watch that show anyway? And did you see her? She was all like expecting everyone at the club to recognize her. So sad.
Drinking Red Bull vodka as if that were still cool.
It’s sad. Someone should really tell her.
I have no idea how Mark could be into her.

And she can’t act. She’s horrible! I can’t even look at her she’s so fucking embarrassingly bad.
How the fuck did she get that part?! It’s not like she’s hot. She’s all soft and puffy and… round.

(crying)
What does Mark see in her?!


Synopsis

Missy, a Hollywood starlet in the making, and D, a stand-in for Hilary Duff, are drunk, high and lost on their way to an after-party in the Hollywood Hills. Will Missy ever get a satisfying answer to the question, “Am I hot?” Will D ever get to smoke her cigarette? Was that speed bump really just a speed bump?

 

2 Characters, 2W, 10 minutes

 

Productions

2011_CarPlays

 

This is one of three “car plays” that playwright Stephanie Alison Walker has written and was originally produced inside an actual car at Los Angeles’ Moving Arts Theatre Company’s critically acclaimed production of The Car Plays.

 

[The Car Plays: L.A. Stories at Radar L.A. – Moving Arts – June 2011]

[The Car Plays – Los Angeles – Moving Arts – September 2006]

 

Press

Called “Intense!” and “Morbid” by Reviewplays.com and “Hilariously dark” by the LA Weekly.

 

Publication Info

*Published in Best Ten Minute Plays 2008: 2 Actors by Smith & Kraus

 
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Michael Shutt (left) and Sara Wagner in Trey Nichols' PCH, directed by Kim Glann (The Car Plays at Segerstrom Center for the Arts). Credit: Doug Gifford.

Moving Arts’ production of The Car Plays: San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse closed on Sunday after a sold-out run and extension. This production may be over, but the promise of a future Car Plays production lives on. Right? At least in my mind it does. Anywho…

Because I love this production and just can’t stop spreading the word about it, I have yet another story to share with you. This piece is a particularly exciting and insightful article written by Actor/Director/Writer/Producer Michael Shutt for Bitter Lemons about the experience from an actor’s perspective and everything that he has learned in having to repeat a performance over and over and over again. The man has performed 375 times as part of this unique production. 375 times! He kind of knows what he’s talking about.

If you want the real inside view of The Car Plays, then you should read this article. Go on. Read it. Now! Here it is:

DRIVER’S EDUCATION by Michael Shutt – via Bitter Lemons

Did you read it? Now you want to see The Car Plays, don’t you? I don’t blame you.

Well, you may not be able to see it right now. But, you can read more about it. And then send Moving Arts lots of money so that they can bring it to your favorite parking lot. Why not?

A round-up of reviews from The Car Plays: San Diego

The Cars Have Left the Lot – San Diego Reader

La Jolla Playhouse Parks the Plays in San Diego – Broadway World

The Car’s the Thing in “The Car Plays” – KPBS.ORG

‘Car Plays’ A Voyeuristic Thrill Ride at Playhouse – North County Times

Theater at the Speed of ‘Wheee!’ – UT San Diego *

“The Car Plays: San Diego” is Theater Up Close and Personal – San Diego Gay and Lesbian News

An Intimate Stage – San Diego Reader

*Winner of my favorite review headline

 
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The Car Plays are back again!

This time in San Diego at the La Jolla Playhouse… in the parking lot, of course. The production is a co-production between Moving Arts and the La Jolla Playhouse and is part of the WOW Series at the playhouse. I’m psyched that my play “It’s Not About the Car” is a part of this production and even more psyched that I get to see it on Friday. It runs from February 23 – March 4.

The Car Plays: San Diego opens tomorrow!

Here’s the line-up:

BOULEVARD

Before We Go Home by Richard Martin Hirsch | Directed by Darin Anthony
A couple (Michael Shutt & D.J. Harner) finds the prospect of a short drive home unexpectedly daunting after circumstances lead them to make a painful decision.

Selkies by Lila Rose Kaplan | Directed by Casey Stangl
A secret is revealed when two old friends (Wendy Elizabeth Abraham and Rebecca Davis) visit the seals off the coast of California.

The Audience by Kiff Scholl | Directed by Matt Bretz
What is supposed to be a compelling night of site-specific theater, comically devolves, as the play never starts and the audience is forced to fend for themselves. With: David Youse and Ron Morehouse.

Alright by Alex Lewin | Directed by Robert Castro
After a family spat, a sullen teenager (Matthew Bohrer) decides to spend the night in his car. But his father (Eddie Yaroch) won’t let him simply stomp away anymore.

One for the Road by Michael Shutt | Directed by Matt Thompson
One last drink, one last kiss, one last choice: One For The Road. With: Thomas Hall and Kevane La’Marr Coleman

ROUTE

Reveille by EM Lewis | Directed by Sam Woodhouse
Leonard’s only son has signed up for the military. He leaves for boot camp this morning. With Will Tulin and Michael Zlotnik.

The Duo by Jessica Smith | Directed by Jason Duplissea
On the fateful day of the Comic Con costume contest, two friends (Peter James Smith and Tony DeCarlo) confront the future of their dynamic duo.

Dead Battery by Lee Wochner | Directed by Paul Stein
A bereft mother (Sara Wagner) searches for clues to her son’s death as she cleans out his car and struggles to cope with her loss.

It’s Not About the Car by Stephanie Alison Walker | Directed by Claudio Raygoza
Vic (John Polak) surprises Marla (Rhianna Basore) with a car for her birthday, but all she really wants is a divorce.

The Carpool by Jennifer Barclay| Directed by Delicia Turner-Sonnenberg
Mr. Blackwell (Charles Maze) has been doing lots of naughty, naughty downsizing around the office. The members of the carpool (Samantha Ginn and Reed Willard) are out to set him straight.

LANE

Disneyland by Paul Stein | Directed by Dana Schwartz
On their freeway-congested drive to Disneyland, Dad (Trey Nichols) pulls the car over to scold his two misbehaving kids. No Matterhorn ride and the long trip home might be the resulting possibility.

Outside, Looking In by Michael David | Directed by Sara Wagner
A lonely, middle-aged woman of privilege finds unexpected compassion on the streets of San Diego. With: Lisa Goodman and Sean Tweedale.

Skipped by David Myers | Directed by Seema Sueko
A drunken teenager (Zachary Martens) tries to dodge the cab fare.  But this cabbie (Albert Park) is onto him. And he’s not taking it anymore.

We Wait by Steve Lozier | Directed by Lisa Berger
Two loyal dogs wait in a hot car for their owners, wondering if they will ever come back… With: Wendy Waddell and Judy Bauerlein

The Love of Make-Believe by JJ Strong | Directed by Kiff Scholl
A maid-of-honor and a best man (Laura Buckles and Donald Rizzo) indulge in a post-reception tryst that leaves them both hopelessly caught between their pasts and futures.

For tickets and more information, click here.

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Jenn Swirtz and T. Lynn Mikeska in "Hollywood Hills" by Stephanie Alison Walker in Moving Arts' production of The Car Plays at RADAR LA - Photo via The Huffington Post

I’ve been trying to live vicariously through everyone involved in The Car Plays this year since I can’t be there in person. Since I can’t be Skyped in to the performances (too bad) I have been settling for looking at everyone’s pictures from the event.

However, I haven’t been able to get my hands on a picture of my play Hollywood Hills – directed by Zeke Rettman and starring Jenn Swirtz and T. Lynn Mikeska.

Perhaps it had something to do with last night’s full moon, but somehow Wyatt Closs of The Huffington Post heard my plea. Not only did he call Hollywood Hills a “favorite” (!!) he also included this A-MAZING photo from last night in his story about The Car Plays.

Hipsters by Jason Duplissea was Wyatt’s other favorite.

This is the kind of press I love!

My only complaint? The playwrights were not credited in the piece. Ugh. Is it just me or does that happen a lot? I guess we’ll just have to credit the playwrights here and now. (again… for good measure.)

As you know, Hollywood Hills was written by me (Stephanie Alison Walker) and Hipsters was written by Jason Duplissea who is a Moving Arts company member. Hipsters is directed by Miles Feld and stars Terrence Colby Clemons &  Melanie Minichino.

Hello, HuffPo writer Wyatt Closs. I’m so glad you liked my play! And thanks for fulfilling my wish to see a production pic… and an awesome one at that!

Here’s the story:

The Car Plays: Real Drive-In Theater in Downtown LA?Huffington Post story by Wyatt Closs

 
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Yes, another post about The Car Plays! They begin TODAY. I just wanted to post the complete line-up to give a sense of just how many people and cars it takes to produce The Car Plays.

SERIES A

Wednesday/Friday
June 15 & 17, 2011
6:00 / 7:30 / 9:00

Producers: Paul Stein, Steve Lozier, Kim Glann, Cece Tio
Assistant Producer: Lem Thornton
Stage Managers: Cirby Hatano, Bradley McCoy, Dylan Gardner
Carhops: Terence Anthony, Kiff Scholl
Walking Tour Guide: Rebecca Davis
Runner: Tara Thomas
Dressing Room: Donna Peacher-Hall

Row: STREET

Disneyland by Paul Stein
Director:   Dana Schwartz
Starring:   Madelynn Fattibene

Flooding by Jami Brandli
Director:   Kiff Scholl
Starring:   Peter James Smith & John Copeland

Cruising Con La Virgen by Joe Luis Cedillio
Director:   Dino Dinco
Starring:   Edward E Cohen & Abel Soto

Am I Losin’ by Ron Klier
Director:   Ross Kramer
Starring:   Derrick LeMont*  & Andrew Miller

The Love of Make-Believe by JJ Strong
Director:   Kiff Scholl
Starring:   Laura Buckles^  & Donald Rizzo

Row: AVENUE

Drop-Off Day by  EM Lewis^
Director:   Michael Shutt^
Starring:    VyVy Nguyen &  Porter Kelly

Sunday in the Hood by Terence Anthony^
Director:   Jason Duplissea^
Starring:   Larry Powell*, Jenny Gillett^  & Jason Duplissea^

Prom: Time Out by Meghan Gambling
Director:   Jenifer Yeuroukis*
Starring:   Sarah Greyson &  Katie Malia

The Audience by Kiff Scholl
Director:   Matt Bretz
Starring:   Kim Ward  & Casey Nelson

Abraham & Isaac by Allain Rochel
Director:   Nataki Garrett
Starring:   Alex Morris & Edward Rowley

Row: ROAD

We Wait by Steve Lozier^
Director:   Armina LaManna*
Starring:   Corey Klemow* & Herb Hall*

Hipsters by Jason Duplissea^
Director:   Miles Feld
Starring:   Terrence Colby Clemons &  Melanie Minichino

Dragon Compact by Cindy Marie Jenkins
Director:   Kelly Lohman
Starring:   Amanda Troop* & Richard Miraan

Tommy Got His Gun by Sara Israel
Director:   Reena Dutt
Starring:   Wilson Bethel  &  Grace Eboigbe

Hollywood Hills by Stephanie Alison Walker
Director:   Zeke Rettman
Starring:   Jenn Swirtz &  T. Lynn Mikeska

SERIES B

Thursday / Saturday
June 16 & 18, 2011
6:00 / 7:30 / 9:00

Producers: Paul Stein, Steve Lozier, Kim Glann, Cece Tio
Assistant Producer: Lem Thornton
Stage Managers: Cirby Hatano, Bradley McCoy, Vesna Hocevar
Carhops: Michael David, Kiff Scholl, JJ Strong, Sandra Vahtel
Volunteers: Jackie Moses
Walking Tour Guide: Rebecca Davis
Check-In: Julie Briggs

Row: BLVD

Before We Go Home by Richard Martin Hirsch
Director:   Darin Anthony
Starring:   Michael Shutt^ & D.J. Harner*

Todd’s Hollywood Tours by Trey Nichols^
Director:   Julie Briggs
Starring:   Brent Popolizio & Mary Beth Pape*

Choke Chain by Jennifer Maisel
Director:   Sara Wagner^
Assistant Director:   Terence Anthony^
Starring:   Lauri Hendler  &  Tammy Klein

Chasm by Lee Wochner^
Director:   Patrick Varon
Starring:   Nick Cernoch*  & Jennie Kwan*

Two Fellas, One Fella by  Paul Stein
Director:   Michael David
Starring:   Jon Amirkhan^  & Dan Wingard*

Row: ROUTE

Custody by  Morgan Krantz^
Director:   Steve Lozier^
Starring:   Tony DeCarlo  & Sean Eaton

Shampooed by  Fielding Edlow
Director:   Ron Klier
Starring:   Jennifer Christopher*  &  Kieren van den Blink

Bunker Hill by Michael David
Director:   Paul Stein
Assistant Dir:   Jonathan Josephson
Starring:   Jack Sundmacher*, Rick Kent, Tania Getty

The Audience by Kiff Scholl
Director:   Matt Bretz
Starring:   David Youse* &   Ron Morehouse

Warriors by Will Hackner
Director:   Vesna Hocevar^
Starring:   Morgan Krantz^  &   Darren Capozzi

Row: LANE

Disneyland by Paul Stein
Director:   Dana Schwartz
Starring:   Trey Nichols^

The P.T.A. by Dana Schwartz
Director:   Julie Briggs
Starring:   Evie Hammer^ & Krista Conti

What Happened to Us  by Bryan Davidson
Director:   Aaron Henne
Starring:   Paul Vroom &  Maya Parish

Waiting for the Tow by Herman Poppe*
Director:   Kimberley Browning
Starring:   Lauren Letherer &  David Lee Garver*

The Love of Make-Believe by JJ Strong
Director:   Kiff Scholl
Starring:   McCready Baker* &  David Bertolami

 
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Because it’s so hard to explain how the car plays works, here’s a video that will show you exactly give you an idea of how it all happens…

To experience it fully, you’ve got to be there in person. If you’ve been before, please share your experience in the comments below. Thanks!

 
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I’m sitting in a theater on Santa Monica Blvd. with a bunch of people I’ve never met before. I’m nervous. And a bit intimidated. Why? Because I will be hearing my new short car play read aloud in front of this room full of artists. Actors. Directors. Playwrights. Will it read well? Will they like it? Will they like me?

I was invited to be here by Lee Wochner– playwright and facilitator of my Saturday playwriting workshop. His theater company, he tells us one Saturday, is doing this thing called The Car Plays. Plays in actual cars. He suggest we try our hand at writing one.

Writing a car play

The play had to be set IN a car. The car had to be central to the play. Without a car, the play could not exist. The play couldn’t conceivably take place anywhere else. These were the rules. The car couldn’t start. The audience had to be IN the car with the actors, but the actors couldn’t touch the audience. Again, no touching the audience.

We were encouraged by Paul Stein- then Artistic Director of Moving Arts- to think about the range of experiences that happen in cars. Especially in Los Angeles.

So here we are in this theater… the intimidation quickly melts away leaving the truest form of collaboration imaginable. We playwrights hand our plays over to actors and they read them cold. After each read Paul asks, “Is this a car play?” And we say why it is or why it isn’t. We get feedback. We give feedback. We laugh. A lot. We play. We go back and rewrite. It’s bliss.

Plays in cars on Hollywood Blvd.

A parking lot on Hollywood Blvd. Four rows of five cars. At least I think there were four rows that first time around. The audience buys a ticket to a ROW. They are guided to their row by car hops.

I am one of those car hops. I tell the audience that each person will have a partner. There will be two audience members per car. In one car you might be in the front and another in the back. Depends on the car. And, audience members are not allowed to open or close the doors. That’s my job. Got it? Car hops will close and open the doors for you. The door opening and/or closing, you see, is a cue to the actors.

Confused yet? Imagine having to explain this to Actors Equity.

Each car is a different play. Each one is ten minutes. Once the audience is loaded into each car and all of the doors are closed, the plays begin. Noises emerge from the cars. Screams. Laughter. Dialogue. Actors get in and out. Props are thrown onto roofs of cars. We carhops watch the parking lot filled with cars with 15 different plays happening simultaneously.

We watch Paul Stein to give us our cue that the ten-minutes is up. Once the ten minutes pass, we begin opening doors whether or not the play is finished. The logistical nightmare of The Car Plays requires this ten-minute rule to work.

The play is done when the ten-minutes is up. Period.

My favorite part of car hopping was opening the doors to let the audience out. The look on their faces. Would it be exhilaration? Relief? Horror? Happiness? Each car was different. And each audience member had their own reaction.

Part of Paul’s job was to choose the perfect balance of plays ranging from drama to comedy to the utter bizarre and confrontational. Each row had a mix of everything. Some were interactive, most were voyeuristic.

Would the audiences like it? Would they come?

Well, come they did. In droves. With only two seats available per play, they sold out so fast.

Did I mention that the actors had to perform their play a total of fifteen times per night?

My three car plays

I ended up having three car plays produced throughout Moving Arts’ various productions of The Car Plays.

Back Roads is about an elderly woman and her daughter stranded on a deserted stretch of road without a cell phone. It was directed by Herman Poppe and starred Helen Slayton Hughes and Mary Beth Pape. Back Roads went up in the first and second installments of The Car Plays.

It’s Not About the Car is about a man who gives his wife a car for her birthday, but all she really wants is a divorce. That one was directed by Lee Wochner and starred Joe Ochman and Liz Harris. It went up in the second and third installments and is worth noting that in the 2009 production Liz broke her arm right before and still performed brilliantly. With a broken arm in a sling!

Hollywood Hills is my dark comedy about two Hollywood starlets in the making drunk, high and lost in the Hollywood Hills on the way to an after-party. It was first directed by Paul Stein and starred Kathi Chandler and Jennifer Kingsley and went on to be published by Smith & Kraus.

Producing The Car Plays

Imagine being a producer of this event. For just a second. As I said, just imagine having to explain to Equity what it is you want to do. You want to put the audience in a car with the actors and have the actors perform the play fifteen times, FIFTEEN TIMES in a row. And having them agree.

This is where I bow down to Paul Stein, Michael Shutt, Ronnie Clark, Christel Johnson and Lisa Marschall… the original producers of The Car Plays. They were the ones who had to figure all of this out. How to explain to audiences what they’d be seeing. How to arrange for all of the cars. How to time fifteen plays to start and stop at the exact same moment. And a million small details I’m overlooking, forgetting or just never knew about.

I became a producer of The Car Plays when I was the interim Managing Director of Moving Arts. So I have an idea of how difficult this show is to produce. But I was lucky because I was producing with the original producers and didn’t have to figure any of this out. They’d already done the hard work.

People would ask why Moving Arts didn’t produce it more often seeing how popular it was. Well, because it’s just not that easy to do.

Terence Anthony can attest to that. He was the artistic producer of The Car Plays in 2009 when they were done in Burbank with Steve Lozier as Managing Director of Moving Arts and Cece Tio as a producer. Am I missing anyone on that one? I might be. That one happened right as my husband and I were moving out of L.A. so I wasn’t as involved in that one. I did get to see it, though.

Plays in cars in downtown L.A.

The Car Plays are back! And Paul Stein returns as Artistic Producer of The Car Plays with Kim Glann, Steve Lozier and Cece Tio. Moving Arts was asked to bring The Car Plays to the upcoming RADAR L.A. Festival downtown Los Angeles. And yes, they are already sold out.

The theme of this production of The Car Plays is L.A. Stories. So it’s appropriate that my play Hollywood Hills is a part of it.

This time Hollywood Hills is being directed by Zeke Rettman and is starring Jenn Swirtz & Lynn Mikeska.

I’m immensely proud to be a part of The Car Plays once more. I only wish I could be there to car hop again.

If you want to check it out but didn’t snag a ticket, you could always offer to volunteer as a car hop.

You get to see a unique perspective that way.

Brave audience members get into cars. Doors slam shut. A beat of silence. Then… theater.

THE CAR PLAYS: L.A. STORIES

“This unique melding of site-specific theater and freeway crawl should be hailed as a local treasure… the production’s voyeuristic appeal is undeniable.” —LA Weekly

Responding to the vast landscape of Los Angeles, Moving Arts presents a series of intimate ten-minute plays in which audiences of two move from vehicle to vehicle, experiencing works by different playwrights in a dramatic setting familiar to all Angelenos—the car. After being ushered to a rear seat, the car doors close and the drama unfolds as people in the car break up, make up, make out or even deal with a dead body or two, just inches away. Ten minutes later, the doors open, a seat in a new car awaits, and a fresh story begins. In the course of about one hour, five evocative L.A. stories are revealed.

Conceived by Paul Stein

Produced by Paul Stein, Steve Lozier, Kim Glann and Cece Tio

RUN TIME: 70 minutes

LOCATION: REDCAT

Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater

631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 | Map

PARKING: $9 event parking in the Walt Disney Concert Hall parking garage off 2nd Street.

For more information, visit Moving Arts’ Website.

The genesis of The Car Plays

The Car Plays were conceived by former Moving Arts artistic director, Paul Stein. Moving Arts had recently lost their theater space downtown L.A. Paul grabbed the moment to try something he’d been thinking about for a long time. Paul talks about the inception of The Car Plays in his first person article “RADAR L.A.: The Car Plays: L.A. Stories for Moving Arts” in L.A. Stage Times.

 
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