By David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited
In the wake of a recent leadership change, LAByrinth Theater Company, now under the direction of Company Founder and Former Artistic Director John Ortiz, makes exciting plans for LAB’s upcoming 25th Anniversary Season in 2017-2018.
In celebration of 25 years of creating vital new works of American Theater, LAByrinth kicks off the season with LAB25: FULL CIRCLE, a collection of FREE readings of plays from LAByrinth’s repertoire, as well as new works written by both emerging and professional playwrights.
Founded in 1992 as the Latino Actors Base, LAByrinth Theater Company was created to deliberately interrupt the racial status quo by giving voice to artists of color and reflecting a world where color is the norm and not the exception. In this spirit, LAB25: FULL CIRCLE will span of six evenings, featuring excerpts of thirty past plays, including a full-length presentation of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings, twenty-five original Ten Minute Plays, and daily symposiums that highlight specific themes and artists tied to the work represented in that particular evening.
“LAB25: FULL CIRCLE promises to be a highly energetic, jam-packed exploration of what we did, who we are, and what lies ahead,” said Artisitc Director John Ortiz. While LAB Member and actress Portia added “After 25 years we are still here, we are still relevant and our voices are as fresh as they have always been. This is a celebration of LAByrinth’s past, present and future – with a twist!”
LAB25: FULL CIRCLE will take place Tuesday, September 19 through Sunday, September 24 at the historic Cherry Lane Theater (38 Commerce Street), where LAByrinth has accepted a generous invitation to be the Company in Residence for the next two years (through Summer 2019). LAByrinth is grateful to Cherry Lane Founder Angelina Fiordelisi and her associates Seri Lawrence and Janio Marrero for this invitation, which provides LAB with the time and space to continue creating new plays by way of the company’s unique play development process, including 1) a Summer Intensive ensemble-style retreat during which new works written and/or directed by LAByrinth Company members are workshopped; 2) The Barn Series – a public reading series, which allows for further development of promising new works; and 3) Fully-staged production/s of new works.
Lastly, LAByrinth is privileged to announce that actor/producer Jimmy Smits (Broadway: Anna in the Tropics, Film: Rogue One, Star Wars, Television: “24,” “The West Wing,” “The Get Down,” “NYPD Blue”) will join LAB’s Board of Directors, in support of the company’s ongoing mission to produce vital new American plays. Smits has supported the company for many years, both off and on stage (often participating as a featured player in the company’s famed Celebrity Charades events), and has long-time professional ties with many ensemble members, including John Ortiz, with whom he starred in Steppenwolf Theater Company’s production of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ award-winning play Motherf**Cker with the Hat and Daphne Rubin Vega in the Broadway production of Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz.
“I’m beyond thrilled that Jimmy Smits will be joining LAByrinth’s Board of Directors,” said Artistic Director John Ortiz. “In addition to being an accomplished actor and producer, he represents so much of what LAB has been about: his New York City roots, his longevity as an artist, and his risk-taking in a variety of roles in many different mediums. Through the years, I’ve admired and deeply respected how Jimmy has successfully maintained a balance of high profile, mainstream projects and personal community-driven projects without sacrificing an ounce of artistic integrity. We all feel fortunate and grateful to have Jimmy’s wisdom and experience on board.”