Tag Archives: Los Angeles

‘The Red Dress’ – Politics and Love in Germany Between the Wars

‘The Red Dress’ (Tania Wisbar)- Odyssey Theatre

‘The Red Dress’ – A World Premiere at The Odyssey Theatre In Los Angeles

Last weekend we were treated to a compelling and thought-provoking play at the Odyssey Theatre in LA. ‘The Red Dress’ by Tania Wisbar left us thinking and drawing parallels to the times we live in today.

‘The Red Dress’, a romantic drama set in Berlin, explores the intersection of politics and art during the years between the Treaty of Versailles and the rise of Fascism (1924-1936).

Alexandra Schiele (Laura Liguori) is a famous film actress from a prominent Jewish family who falls in love with a down-on-his-luck World War I vet, Franz Weitrek (J.B. Waterman). Franz is able to parlay his wife’s connections into work as a film director. But when his career takes off making Nazi propaganda films, his wife suddenly becomes a liability. Also in the cast are Rebecca Larsen, Shanti Reinhardt and Dylan Wittrock. Kiff Scholl directs.

The play intelligently taps into personal emotions and tensions caused by the political and social changes during the turbulent years before the rise of Nazism. It touches on the Eugenics Movement as well as some of the horrific actions the National Socialist Party of Hitler was known for. The excellent cast helps with the intensity of some scenes to create suspense throughout the whole play. The scenes spanning quite a few years in history are pulled together by sequences of historical movies and music from the particular eras.

The historical setting of ‘The Red Dress’ around the time of Hitler’s rising might imply a story we all know only too well. Yes, we have heard similar stories before, and, true, we learned about Hitler in school and watched this dark part of history on TV and the movies.

Yet, this play’s story is different! It explores and tries to make sense of why Germany lost its way. It’s different than anything you’ve read because experiencing the play unfold in front of your eyes in a small theatre setting, where one is intimately connected with the actors and their fate, brings about quite a different dimension to it all. The story, yet perhaps not entirely new, brings forth several new facets and lets us rediscover and see many ‘known’ facts from a different angle. Suddenly an ‘old’ story in many ways doesn’t feel outdated anymore.

In fact, the playwright Tania Wisbar leaves her audience with a message of urgency and relevance for today. One can’t shake off some of the lines just heard during the play. They seem to claim validation also in the period of history we are living in. Wisbar might want to remind us that something like we just saw on stage, could happen again if we are not vigilant enough.

Tania Wisbar, who was inspired by her own family history to write ‘The Red Dress’, succeeded in creating a very timely piece considering the uprising of recent nationalist right-wing movements all over the world.

Performances of ‘The Red Dress’, a world premiere presented by Argyle Road Productions, take place Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., from Oct. 28 through Nov. 19.

All tickets are $30 (reserved seating). The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, (323) 960-5521 or go to www.Plays411.com/reddress

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Photo Credit: Laura Liguori (Alexandra Schiele) and Dylan Wittrock (Officer Dieter Keller) – Photo by Ed Krieger                                                                        Image: Odyssey Theatre Los Angeles


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Halloween Horror Nights

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HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS

One of my favorite times of the year is finally back among us: Halloween. I love walking around my neighborhood looking at houses fully decked out with Halloween decorations. This year on the actual Halloween day I am going to do something I have never done before: passing out candy.  I am sorry if I gave you the intention that I would be doing something spectacular, but it is a first for me since I am usually the one who is out and about on this day.

One event I never miss during this time is the Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Hollywood.  This year marked my third year in a row that I went, and I love this event more every time I go.  One of my best friends laughed at me when I told him this since he remembers me all to well back in the day,  when I was too scared to even step foot into a haunted house.  Boy, times definitely have changed.

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The Horror Nights in Hollywood started twenty years ago and have become an established event. Each year, for about a month and a half, Universal Studios gives residence to various spooky characters from famous horror movies.  This attraction is definitely not for the faint-hearted, as the monsters walk freely around the park, trying to scare the masses of people.  The event also hosts several mazes, with each of them dedicated to specific horror films.

This year, the park hosts seven mazes in total with the following themes: Saw, The Shining, Ash vs. Evil Dead, American Horror Story, Insidious, The Horrors of Blumhouse, and Titans of Terror. In addition, visitors can ride on the Terror Tram, or take part in the Walking Dead attraction, which the park hosts year round.  Several rides are also open during the Halloween Horror Nights, including the Transformers ride, which is an amazing 4D experience you don’t want to miss.

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(Part of the outside of the Saw maze)

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(Outside of the Ash vs. Evil Dead maze)

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(Part of The Walking Dead Attraction)

I personally got very excited when I heard about the Saw maze. I really can’t watch such graphic movies anymore without having to puke and facing terrible nightmares the following night.  For some reason though, the mazes don’t freak me out as much. I am mostly amazed at how detail oriented and lifelike Universal builds them every single year.  You really do feel like you are at the scene of the particular movie.

The Saw maze was pretty good, but not my favorite one this year.  I have to admit that I had never heard of Ash vs. Evil Dead before, but the attraction was amazing! It was pretty scary, and I jumped and screamed several times when the horrific characters came out of nowhere.  Bless my sweet friends who bore with me while I was jumping all over the place out of fear. Especially my one friend hasn’t had it easy the past two years she attended the event with me.

Last year, I accidentally hit her in the nose with my elbow when I jumped backwards after being scared by an American Horror Story character.  We were already exhausted from having to wait more than two hours to get into this attraction, and then I had to top it off by actually hurting her.  I felt horrible, to say the least.  But you’d think I would have been better at getting it together this year.  Nah, I am embarrassed to say so, but unfortunately, you are wrong.

We had agreed that this year, I would be the one walking behind my girlfriends, so I wouldn’t be able to hit anyone of them with my elbow by accident.  Well, I was successful at not hitting my friends.  But unfortunately, I still wasn’t able to control my body.  When we bravely made our way through the Titans of Terror maze, one of the spooky characters came at me out of the dark. I started screaming and jumped forward, my arms circling in the air and getting a hold of my friend’s net sweater she was wearing and pulling it down.

She first thought that one of the characters had touched her, which is actually not allowed due to one of the park’s regulations.  She turned around and looked into my apologetic face, realizing that it was me yet again who hurt her.  Gosh, I really can’t control my body when I am freaked out.  From that point out, I was holding my hands whenever we walked through a maze and made sure to keep a distance.  I really can’t say if she would go a third time with me to the Horror Nights.

All in all, it was a night full of fun, my friend forgave me, and I am already looking forward to next year’s event.  If you would like to check it out yourself this year or at some point in the future, I have some tips that might be helpful:

  • Try to go early. The wait for mazes can go up to more than two hours during peak times.  Universal offers early entry at 5p.m.  My friends and I went at 5:30p.m. the first weekend the event was open in mid September, and the longest we had to wait one time was 55 minutes.  Other than that, we never waited longer than 30 minutes.
  • If you can, go ahead and purchase a front of the line pass. This gives you mostly instant access to the attractions without having to wait in the main lines.
  • Don’t bring any liquids when you go. Universal Studios Hollywood has a security checkpoint, and they will make you throw out any liquid items you posses. One year, I had to throw out my body mist spray because it wasn’t allowed.
  • Check the wait times for attractions online on the Halloween Horror Nights side. That way, you are always up to date and can see which mazes might have shorter waiting times than others.

I hope you all are going to have a spooky Halloween, no matter how you celebrate!

Images: Anne-Kathrin Schulte, pixabay.com
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Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.

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Old Masters, Modern or Contemporary Art – Visit LACMA for Free

Old Masters, Modern or Contemporary Art – You can have it all at LACMA

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Nothing is more refreshing on a scorching hot summer day than walking the air-conditioned aisles of LACMA!

Well, …nothing except for cooling off at the beach perhaps.

But, hey, you can’t let the beach monopolize you, right? There is so much more to do and see in LA! Like visiting the Los Angeles County Museum of Art – LACMA, the western United States’ largest art museum.  

And….LACMA is making it sooo easy for you to visit! Especially if you have children.

LACMA has a special membership program for children called NexGen. My kids have been members ever since this program existed. It makes visiting LACMA a fun and enjoyable family outing, that doesn’t overstretch your budget, because … it’s FREE!

Every child 17 years and younger can become a member ! You just sign up at the museum or online. Your kids are then presented with a cool orange lanyard that allows them free entry every time they visit. Plus they can invite one adult guest for free as well! So, guess what? You, as the parent can enjoy LACMA for free, too? 

Still missing the beach? …Because, it’s just a must during summer? Well, with the NexGen membership it’s easy to divide the day and do both in a day! After all, this awesome  kids’ membership makes it possible for you and your child to visit the main galleries and all temporary exhibitions any day, any time, all year! So it doesn’t matter if you stay for 2 hours or 5.

Give your mind and soul a well-deserved break from the fast-paced life around you. I tell you, it’s relaxing and invigorating at the same time to walk LACMA’s various galleries. And, you will be amazed how much children actually like it as well. Check out the modern and contemporary art galleries to visit the oversized billiard pool set, blown-out-of-proportion- comb, and ask your child what he thinks of a Pollock painting! Kids especially enjoy the installation of Chris Burden’s Metropolis II.

We often start out at LACMA by roaming the galleries to our heart’s content and then stop by the museum’s store. It used to be an all time favorite for my children, and even now with only our youngest one in tow it hasn’t lost much of its attraction. You can always find something there that is cool, inspire or else. Sometimes it’s just something small like an all graphite pencil, which turned out to be a hit at my son’s school a few years ago.

Occasionally we stay for lunch or a light snack at the museum’s restaurant, bar or cafeteria before we hit the road to the beach in the summer. 

If you do it the other way around and visit the beach first, then you might catch some of LACMA’s cool outdoor summer concerts later in the afternoon; or choose to attend a talk at the museum’s theater. LACMA is not only about art and design. It’s an overall cultural experience !

I have to say for us the “LACMA outing” has never been boring. Ever! We always find new things to look at, new installations to marvel at, and discover new art installed in some of the galleries; galleries, that we thought we knew already inside out. 


Images: “Art At LACMA” ©CaliforniaGermans


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Body Worlds: PULSE – Getting to Know Your Body Inside Out

 

Gunther von hagens’ Body Worlds: ‘Pulse’ – Getting to Know Your Body Inside Out

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Feeling somewhat uneasy we were standing in front of the California Science Center recently, ready to enter Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds exhibition “PULSE”. We have prepared ourselves well and read almost anything available out there about the show, about Gunther von Hagens, his plastination process and about the process of putting the show together here at the CaliforniaScienceCenter.

Since we had our teenage son with us we wanted to make sure that he as well as us completely understood what we were about to experience. My husband in fact was very hesitant at first about bringing him along since the show’s displays contain bodies of deceased humans that went through Gunther von Hagens invented preservation process called plastination.

All our worries however were put to rest very quickly upon entering this amazing show.

Gunther von Hagen’s Body Worlds PULSE – an incredible journey through your body

Right at the beginning of the show you are greeted by a movie that totally hit home with us.It demonstrates how our busy lives have a profound effect on the quality of our lives, making us receptive to all kinds of modern diseases: high blood pressure, obesity, depression, you name it. Too much stimulation and an overload of information that we modern human beings are constantly exposed to puts our modern life under a lot of stress and finally at risk. The speed that forces us to do more, better and faster becomes increasingly more inhuman.

This movie is the preamble to a rewarding show that explains in detail what is essential for us to keep our bodies healthy and functional.  Ultimately it encourages us to think about how we can develop a healthier pace of life for ourselves.

Impressive displays, exceptional information and in-depth videos guide you along the journey through your body.

The entrance to the various displays starts with one of Gunther von Hagens plastinated bodies holding his skin folded over his arm like an overcoat. Info boards teach you about the skin being our heaviest and largest organ that has vital functions. Next the visitor learns about the skeleton and sees first hand how fractures, implants and prostheses look like. As you move along “through the body” you’ll learn about the central nervous system and see stunning displays.

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In one von Hagen isolated a whole body’s central and peripheral nervous system and instead of a traditional skeleton one sees a “skeleton of nerves”. Amazing!

The various muscles in our bodies are a topic of one section, other sections are dedicated to each of our organs, to nutrition and to the demonstration of what certain diseases do to our body. From heart to intestines to liver and lung and more… you get to know your body inside out!

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A big section is dedicated to the heart explaining its difficult and intensive job. With the help of videos and informational boards we learn how a heart attack builds up within our body far before it actually happens.

The impact of smoking is impressively presented with a shockingly pitch black smokers lung on display that looks like a lava rock. This particular display like so many others certainly make you think about how you are treating your own body and how it may look like if exposed like these displays.

Speaking about the displays. Our initial worry was about our reaction to the plastinated bodies. Gunther van Hagens’ invention of preserving the human body and his quite artistic displays have been quite controversial for years. Many were initially appalled just by the pure fact that these displays were actually showing deceased humans.

We found that the whole show including the displays were put together and presented very esthetically. We were intrigued and captivated throughout. I can’t think of any other exhibit that brings you in such close encounter with your own body. We were awed and so were many other visitors we observed. From families with much younger children than our son, to a group of doctors, who were teaching their college class right on site.

In conclusion I can only say that we were absorbed by this exhibition and didn’t feel time going by. There was so much to see, explore and learn!

Body Worlds: PULSE is on display at the CaliforniaScienceCenter through February 20, 2018 .

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Images: ©CaliforniaGermans

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The Beauty of Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA)

Walking Through Downtown L.A.

– A Report in Pictures –
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Los Angeles, a fascinating city and a dream destination for many, has so much to offer. Beautiful beaches, legendary Hollywood, famous Universal Studios, iconic Muscle Beach at Venice, eclectic art, amazing museums, delectable restaurants…just to name a few highlights.

For sure L.A. is not only an exciting city for newcomers and tourists alike, but also for us expats living here it is worth dedicating a summer vacation to exploring Los Angles and beyond.

So here we go.

My family loves Downtown L.A. (DTLA). Be it Olvera Street the often called “birthplace of Los Angeles”, Chinatown , Little Tokyo, the contemporary art museum MOCA or THE BROAD museum and of course the Grand Central Market, which is always a must for us when we are in DTLA.

Needless to say our latest trip to DTLA started out right here and should end here as well with some delicious ice cream before heading back home.

Energized, after having had lunch at Wexler’s Deli indulging on their pastrami sandwich ‘The OG’, my son’s favorite, we make our way to the Grand Central Library.

Shortcut Along Angels Flight

There is a great short cut to South Grand Avenue by climbing the stairways alongside the Angels Flight funicular, which is right across from the Grand Central Market’s exit on Hill Street.

On South Grand Avenue we pay a short visit to MOCA, glance at The BROAD, (which is closed on Mondays) and take in the fabulous architecture of the Disney Music Hall before we continue our path to the library.

More art along the way!

Arriving at the corner of South Grand Ave / 5th Street we are finally met by one of Los Angeles architectural and historical landmarks, The Central Library!

The original library of 1926, the Goodhue Building, is an early example of Art Deco. The Tom Bradley Wing was added as a modern addition in 1993 and features most of the library’s collection today.

The Goodhue Building houses the Children’s and Teen department, which we always enjoy visiting.

Upon entering via the Rotunda with its Zodiac Chandelier one feels transported into a different time.

Have we entered Victorian era England or have we teleported into a Harry Potter movie?  Not sure, but it’s beautiful!

On our way out we make sure to walk through the atrium of the Tom Bradley Wing to get back into modern times.

Back outside on 5th Street we realize that we happen to stand right across of L.A.’s famous skyslide which is attached to the top of the US Bank skyscraper. Definitely nothing for the faint-hearted!! So I am quickly moving on pulling my mesmerized son with me down the street to The Last Bookstore on 453 S Spring Street.

The Last Bookstore, an eccentric book store that engages every book lover with tons of books, art galleries, hidden reading sanctuaries and a book labyrinth.

Even if you are not interested in books per se, this bookstore is a must! And if it’s only to inhale the L.A.vibe !

Enough books for today! We are heading back to the Grand Central Market and the Bradbury Building, which happens to be directly opposite of the market’s entrance on S. Broadway.

Not promising anything extraordinary from the outside the Bradbury Building fascinates once you walk through the narrow entrance lobby. Letting our eyes feast one more time on an L.A. architectural landmark, we are walking into the five-story building and are met with an amazing, light-filled atrium brimming with staircases in ornate ironwork and two wrought-iron ‘bird cage’ elevators. The Bradbury Building has been featured in many movies, the Blade Runner being one of them.

Together with the Central Library and the Union Station, the Bradbury Building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places .

For everyone still seeking adventure, you could move on to see much more here in Downtown L.A. – After all L.A.’s Union Station is not far away and famous theaters like the Theatre at the ACE Hotel are just down the road.

My son and I, however, called it a day and we went back to the Grand Central Market to reward ourselves with a delicious ice cream and an interesting coffee concoction. The drink called Business and Pleasure at G & B actually consists of three drinks! Iced almond-macademia milk cappuccino, carbonated iced tea and an espresso shot. Give it a try next time you visit Grand Central Market!

Prost! Cheers! À votre santé!

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Images: All Rights reserved ©CaliforniaGermans

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