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On Riding the Subway Before & After Culture

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I call it Performance Row. That stretch downtown along Grand Avenue between Temple St. and the California Plaza. You can easily walk between 9 performance spaces in 5 minutes.

Starting at the Music Center Plaza at Temple and heading South, you first are at the Ahmanson, Center Theatre Group's (CTG) proscenium stage that is used for dance, musicals and other traditional performances. Next is the Mark Taper Forum, a theatre used for newer theatrical works, built in the a semi-round circle and also owned and operated by CTG.

Still on the plaza and splitting away from the theatre genre is the Los Angeles Philharmonic's old space, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Now mainly used for the LA Opera, it's also used for major speaking events and touring dance companies.

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Crossing 1st Street, you find yourself at LA's newest icon by Frank Gehry, the Walt Disney Concert Hall where the LA Phil and LA Master Chorale now reside. In the gardens on the roof is the W.M. Keck Foundation Children's Amphitheatre that seats 220 people. And below at the corner of 2nd and Hope is REDCAT. As they say, if Disney Hall is the living room for music in Los Angeles, REDCAT is the experimental basement laboratory.

Head across Grand and you find yourself at the Colburn School of Music which has Zipper Hall, an excellent performance hall. Next to that is MOCA, which it's known as a museum, but their small theatre has hosted interesting performances now and then. Lastly, but not least, is a seasonal experience, but an important one at that. Grand Performances lets you hear free outdoor concerts in the summer in the California Plaza.

If you've ever taken the subway to any of the major venues, you know that you're traveling with fellow patrons. On the way back, you see them carrying the same program as you and talking among themselves about the show. For sure, this is a different subway crowd that your nine to fivers.

It's truly a fulfilling experience to approach these strangers and start up a conversation about what you just saw. It can last you all the way to the NoHo Arts District. So, the next time you go to Performance Row, try taking the Red Line with the rest of the audience.

Photo at Disney Hall by Nadia Kovacs via Flickr