Award-winning artists’ collective Rogue Artists Ensemble takes over West Hollywood’s Plummer Park through a commission from The City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division for a site-specific immersive theater experience with Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta, celebrating the life of Eugene Plummer, a champion of community in early Los Angeles and a prominent figure in what is now West Hollywood. Opening October 19, Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta stirs up a merry band of ghosts and shadows who sweep you into a past filled with wild west duels, pirates, land-grabs, violent mobs, shark-riding, romances, epic court battles, and, of course, fiestas!
Told through a patchwork of tall-tales, large-scale puppets, masks, and music, Rogue Artists Ensemble electrifies Señor Plummer’s whimsical tales of early Los Angeles in a memory map that reflects back to the communities of our modern city. Written by Diana Burbano, Tom Jacobson, and Chelsea Sutton with Rogue Artists Ensemble; directed by Rogue’s artistic director Sean T. Cawelti with assistant director Julia Garcia Combs; and features original music by Adrien Prévost, this immersive show pulls you into the middle of the late 19th century and early 20th century Los Angeles.
It’s 1942 and you receive an invitation to the book launch of Señor Plummer: The Life and Laughter of an Old Californian, Eugenio Plummer’s (mostly) true account of his life in early Los Angeles. You arrive in the newly dedicated Plummer Park, only steps away from where Plummer himself has lived since 1877. From Señor Plummer’s darkest nightmares, to his most luminous joys, you will be armed with only a treasure map of Señor Plummer’s mind. The adventures you encounter are not always friendly, not always logical, but always exist in the vibrant, mysteriously shifting ground at the very heart of Eugene Plummer, the original resident of West Hollywood.
“This is a once in a lifetime project where we get to tell the story about a real figure in our City’s history in the same place that he once lived so many years ago,” says West Hollywood Mayor John J. Duran. “Eugene’s story encapsulates so much of the change and challenges of this city that are still very much a part of our modern lives.”
The play takes place in the Great Hall and Long Hall and the connected rooms and courtyard at Plummer Park. Audiences will experience a multitude of stories from Eugene Plummer’s past and the history of Los Angeles – and they will be able to pick and choose which paths and characters they follow.
“Creating the experience as an immersive and interactive piece allows us to place the audience into the world of the play,” says director Sean T. Cawelti. “The audience will have the chance to interact one on one and learn from the characters and be a part of the story themselves. With so many possibilities and stories to explore there is no way you can see the entire show in one night. Everyone’s experience will be unique, helping to encourage community dialogue and hopefully do the very thing Eugene tried, bridging communities.”
Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta commemorates the 75th anniversary of the publication of the book ‘Señor Plummer: The Life and Laughter of an Old-Californian’ first published in 1942, which documents interviews with Eugene Plummer by John Preston Buschlen.
The ensemble cast features Richard Azurdia, Tyler Bremmer and Mariux Ibarra as Eugene Plummer at various points in his life, as well as Ricky Abilez, Kawika Aguilar, Magally Castellanos, McCristol Harris III, Amir Levi, Carene Rose Mekertichyan, Robert O’Hare, Sarah Kay Peters, Marta Portillo, Sheila of the Jungle, Tighe Skehan, Cary Thompson, John Wuchte.
The creative team includes scenic designer Matthew Hill, costume designer Elena Flores, sound designer Steve Swift, lighting designer Wesley Chew, choreographer Blanca Soto, and puppet and mask designers Jack Pullman, Morgan Rebane, Mark Royston and Brian White.
Rogue Artists Ensemble differs from other theater companies in that it’s run by a collective of multidisciplinary artists and designers rather than by actors, writers or directors. By combining ancient storytelling techniques (music, dance, masks, puppetry) with modern technology (digital media, special effects and theatrical illusions), the Rogues cultivate a unique style of live performance unlike any other. They define the combined use of these and other underrepresented art forms as Hyper-theater. Since 2002, the Rogues have created nearly twenty original new works and collaborated with hundreds of artists and community members. Past Rogue Artists Ensemble Hyper-theatrical productions include Zen Shorts, adapted from the book by Jon J. Muth, last seen in Tears of Joy Theatre and the Pasadena Playhouse; D is for Dog, produced at South Coast Repertory and designated one of the top-rated productions of 2011 by Bitter Lemons; Gogol Project, adapted by Kitty Felde from three Gogol short stories (Los Angeles Times “Critic’s Choice”; Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for adaptation and design; LA Weekly Award for design); and the acclaimed immersive site-specific theatrical experience based on Japanese ghost stories, Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin, produced in partnership with East West Players. In spring of 2018, the Rogues partnered with the Garry Marshall Theatre to remount their original reimaging of The Adventures of Pinocchio – Wood Boy Dog Fish – to critical acclaim. The original production won the Honorary Puppet Design Ovation Award for its 2015 production, as well as garnered Ovation Nominations for Costume Design and Video Design. In the fall of 2018, the Rogues are launching their first writers’ group and development lab – an incubator for new Hyper-theatrical works by LA-based writers.
The City of West Hollywood, a 1.9 square mile city of 35,000 residents, has a long history of support for the arts. The City established its first Fine Arts Board in 1987, three years after the City’s incorporation. Subsequently, it was reconstituted as the Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission and in conjunction with the City’s Arts Division provides guidance and oversight on the City’s urban art program, arts grant program, and other performing and visual arts projects. The City has made a significant investment in cultural facilities, including the award-winning West Hollywood Library which opened in 2011 and the purchase of the Coast Playhouse on Santa Monica Boulevard in 2017, which will undergo significant refurbishment before opening as a performance venue for intimate theatre, dance and music events. Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta is the City’s most ambitious theatrical project to date, employing the talents of more than 50 artists and technicians.
The City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division, part of the City’s Economic Development Department, delivers a broad array of arts programs including: Art on the Outside (temporary public art), Urban Art Program (permanent public art), Summer Sounds, Winter Sounds, WeHo Reads, Free Theatre in the Parks, Arts Grants, Library Exhibits, the City Poet Laureate Program, Human Rights Speaker Series and the One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival.
For more information on this project, please contact Andrew Campbell, Arts Manager, City of West Hollywood at (323) 848-6883 or [email protected]. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496. For more information about other arts programs presented by the City’s Arts Division, please visit www.weho.org/arts. For up-to-date news and events, follow the City of West Hollywood on social media @WeHoCity and sign up for news updates at www.weho.org/email.
Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta is a commission by the City of West Hollywood. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Puffin Foundation. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov. Sponsors include Angel City Brewery, Wells Fargo, MedMen, and the Leonis Adobe Museum.
Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta runs October 19 through November 4, with performances on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. Preview performances take place October 12–14. Tickets range from $35-$55, which include options for performance with drinks provided by Angel City Brewery. In addition, there are a minimum of two $20 community discount tickets available to each performance. In order to be considered, please fill out the ‘Community Ticket Survey’ on the Rogue Artists website. Plummer Park is located at 7377 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069. For reservations and information go to RogueArtists.org.
Please note: Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta is rated PG-13; it includes mature content and is not intended for young audiences.