Culver City Observer -

By Sandra Coopersmith
Features Writer 

An Eye-Opening Experience

 

October 10, 2019

Readers, you are in for an exceptional afternoon thanks to CRE Outreach's presentation of Point of Extinction, a science fiction political thriller that is sure to enthrall and inspire its audience on Sunday, October 6 at 3 PM at Culver City High School's Robert Frost Auditorium, 4401 Elenda Street, Culver City. This revelatory, entertaining and most unusual production is made possible in part by the City of Culver City in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Performing Arts Grant Program, with support from Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The show premiered at The Blue Door in Culver City in June 2019. I had the pleasure of seeing it there and was smitten. I have attended a diverse array of productions at many locales over the years. This is one I'll never forget for its emotional impact.

Set to the backdrop of original songs by Laurie Grant, this production, the biggest in CRE's history, features illusions created by Magic Castle magician Dominik Krzanowski. It was written by Cosette Ruesga and David Shecter, and directed by Greg Shane. The time is 100 years from now after a super volcano destroys more than a third of Earth's population, leaving many of the survivors disabled.

With the world in turmoil and resources severely depleted, the new US government tries to rebuild. The president proposes a law forcing the disabled to take an experimental serum she claims will cure them, but this raises suspicions regarding her true intentions. The drama accelerates, challenging conventional expectations about the capabilities of those who live without sight, struggle with movement, or have difficulty understanding the complexities of social interactions.

Distinguishing this remarkable production are performances by Theatre by the Blind, the only blind theater company in the country producing original works featuring actors who are blind (but possess powerful theatrical vision), together with performances by the gifted musicians with autism from Rex & Friends.

Fittingly, the "CRE" in CRE Outreach stands for Create, Reflect, Empower. CRE is committed to making the arts accessible to all and, in that spirit, this special October 6 performance is open to the public and free to the following groups: all Culver City USD students and their families; people with disabilities; and any military personnel/veterans and their families. Reservations for free tickets can be made by contacting House Manager Abby Hilden at (310) 425-8215 or ahilden@creoutreach.org.

General admission tickets are $20, and may be purchased in advance at https://creoutreach.org/frost/ or beginning one hour prior to the performance at the Frost box office, contingent on availability. The show's run time is approximately two hours with one 15-minute intermission. Parking is available at designated free parking lots surrounding the facility, and it is requested that attendees not park in the neighborhood.

Since 2007, CRE Outreach (https://creoutreach.org), a non-profit performing arts organization dedicated to empowering underserved youth, people with disabilities, and military veterans in greater Los Angeles, has utilized theatre, the performing arts, and educational programs as a means to enhance self-esteem, encourage self-expression, and empower individuals to overcome the challenges in their lives.

The Blue Door (https://www.bluedoorculver.com) fulfills CRE's goal of having its own studio and performance space. It was made possible by many generous private donors and a highly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2017, resulting in the complete renovation of the two-story building located at 9617 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232. It opened in 2018 and is CRE's theatrical home, with workshop, rehearsal, and 50-seat performance space serving CRE's signature programs: Theatre by the Blind, Rex & Friends, Film by the Blind, Veterans Empowerment Theatre, Creative Youth Theatre, and Outreach Through the Arts. For further information please go to CRE's website and click on Our Programs (and please consider clicking on Support Us as well).

Point of Extinction provides an exciting introduction to two of those programs, Theatre by the Blind and Rex & Friends.

Theatre by the Blind helps blind and visually impaired individuals become self-sufficient through a creative process. Theatre-based programs and original performances assist them to successfully navigate through today's society by confronting their challenges while informing the public, raising awareness, and thus changing perceptions about the capabilities of the blind. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Featured in the cast from Theatre by the Blind are Coco Atama, Arnett Coates, Willie Ruth Cooke, Melanie Hernandez, Julio Hoyos, Leela Kazerouni, Kenny Lee, Carlos Martinez, Maliaka Mitchell, Magally Ocampo, Ernest Pipoly, David Sandoval, Matthew Saracho and Sheila Walker.

Rex & Friends, named in honor of Rex Lewis-Clack, who was born blind and then diagnosed with autism as a toddler, is a program that provides support and training in musical abilities as well as performance opportunities for individuals in Southern California who are blind or autistic. Founded by Matt Wolf in 2012 and previously a standalone 501(c)(3) charity, Rex & Friends joined forces with CRE for a performance in October 2016 and swiftly became an official CRE program.

The gifted musicians and singers from Rex & Friends accompanying the cast are Rex Lewis-Clack, August McAdoo, Patrick Storey, Alan Davis, Jonetta Ward, Igor Zaninovich and Jennifer Bevans, extraordinary performers who have discovered the power of music to transcend any disability.

If this production opens your eyes to the grace, courage and determination embodied in those with challenges who connect with and enlighten us through creative expression, go to the CRE website and click on Buy Tickets for more information about two upcoming shows.

The 2019 Los Angeles Blind Film Festival, presented Nov. 15 – Nov. 17 by Film by the Blind, will screen an original film written by, directed by, produced by, and starring blind and visually impaired actors and filmmakers.

Blind Talent, Jan. 24 – Feb. 9, is a Theatre by the Blind presentation about an actress on the cusp of stardom who, upon learning that she has a degenerative eye disease, fears that this diagnosis could mean the end of her budding career.

Mark your calendars. Transforming lives, one show at a time . . .

 

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