I recently attended the American Premiere of "The Imaginary Life of the Street Sweeper, August G." at Casa 0101's new state-of-the art, 99-seat theater and cultural center in Boyle Heights. The play was written by renowned French author Armand Gatti and was translated into English and directed by Emmanuel Deleague, Casa 0101's Executive Director.
The title in itself foreshadows the whimsical nature of the play's storytelling of revolution, strive for a better life, and questioning if one's own contributions to a cause actually made any significant impact. The play opens with the play's central figure "August G., 46" (played incredibly well by Seraf?¡n Falc??n) dragged into a hospital by police after suffering a serious head wound. As a nun tends to his wounds, she claims she is not certain if August will survive.
And from that point forward, audiences are thrust into a powerful, imagination-filled, kaleidoscope glimpse into the critical stages of August's life. In total, we are introduced to four (five including August G., 46) very different, yet similar Augusts: August at age 9 (played by Nahum Ponce), August at age 21 (played by Jaime Zevallos), August at age 30 (played by Mario Martinez), and August without age (played by Alistair Hunter). In a play that includes a cast of 31 actors, it is these five versions of August G's self that act as literal and artistic anchors to the play's non-linear storytelling format.
A major highlight of the play is the dance marathon that culminates at the end of Act One. Exceptional choreography was composed by Choreographer Lindsey Stakoe and Emmanuel Deleague makes excellent directing choices to showcase crucial moments between characters among a sea of 31 actors. The female leads in the play, Claudia Dur?ín ("Laurence") and Verona Masongsong ("Pauline") give noteworthy performances and have great chemistry with the multiple Augusts. The antagonist of the play, the "White Baron" played by Patrick Riviere also gave an excellent performance holding his own against five versions of the lead character.
In the end, audiences discover whether August G's life journey as a revolutionary fighting for a better life for himself and his community was worth it. With one weekend left, I highly recommend you go see "The Imaginary Life of the Street Sweeper, August G." to experience this larger-than-life, theatrical voyage to find out first-hand yourself.
"The Imaginary Life of the Street Sweeper, August G.," Casa 0101 Theater, 2102 E. 1st St., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays. Ends May 13. $20. (323) 263-7684 or www.casa0101.org. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.