cARTel's 'Sound/Stage' Brings Back Old Hollywood Glamour at El Cid

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Lisa Bierman and Shishir Kurup in 'Sound/Stage Session 1: "Unplugged in the Amazon" ' (photo by Justin Baker).

Within the history-ripened walls of El Cid, the live radio play event Sound/Stage resurrects all of the allure and sultry romanticism of Old Hollywood. The cARTel Collaborative Arts LA series strives to build a link between today's creative community of local artists and those yesteryear Hollywood hopefuls that came eras before. This homage to L.A.'s art ancestors blends modern aesthetic sensibilities with classic charm for a night of (in the words of the director Negin Singh) "sustainable story-telling with a little bit of glamour." Sound/Stage presents a narrative-driven, lightly staged radio play delivered by charismatic performers, engrossing live music, a special cocktail and tapas menu, and a red-carpet style garden party with tuxedoed musicians and a photographer on hand to capture attendees in their vintage best. The inaugural radio play of the series is the cute and funny "Unplugged in the Amazon" by Kit Steinkellner. It can be heard here.

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Maggie Hasspacher and Sean Pawling at 'Sound/Stage' (photo by Justin Baker).

On March 14, LAist attended the one-act "Unplugged in the Amazon." The performers simply and effectively craft a colorful, reminiscent story of the surrealist emotions and cultural revelations that emerge during a woman's trip to the Amazon rainforest. Lisa Bierman leads the cast as Kit, a silly, neurotic, and self-depreciating narrator. Bierman is energizing and engaging with lively comedic timing. Jack De Sena is a cheery companion to Bierman as Brian, Kit's boyfriend and travel companion. The thoughtful and non-cliché Shishir Kurup stands out as rainforest guide, Washington.

Under the direction of Singh, "Unplugged in the Amazon" feels like a dreamy elixir for the ears. Singh induces an atmosphere within an atmosphere, culling a jungle out of the context of a retrospective art-form. LAist loves the live, on-stage music by Dakaboom. Hunched over a little table bearing their instruments, Ben McLain and Paul Peglar are magical, dynamic, and utterly hypnotic as they make the Amazon come alive with a couple of microphones.

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'Sound/Stage' guests and their 'staches (photo by Justin Baker).

The next Sound/Stage event takes place in May at El Cid. While anyone can listen to the production online, the by-donation live recording session of Sound/Stage is by invitation only. To get on the guest list, email cARTel.