LOS ANGELES — Honor! Madness! Blood! Obie Award-winner Jo Bonney directs the world premiere of an edgy, intense and darkly comic new play by John Pollono (Small Engine Repair, Lost Girls) in a Latino Theater Company production presented in association with The Temblors, a unique new collective of seven Los Angeles-based playwrights. Rules of Seconds opens March 23 at The Los Angeles Theater Center, with low-priced previews beginning March 16.
Amy Brenneman (The Leftovers, Judging Amy), Jamie Harris (AMC’s Turn, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Josh Helman (X-Men:Apocalypse, Mad Max:Fury Road) head the cast of Pollono’s highly dramatic and very funny play set in 1855 Boston, where the local citizenry mingle, love — and fight with regularity.
“I’m fascinated by the idea that daily life in the 19th century was governed by an archaic code of dueling,” says Pollono. “The idea that the slightest infraction between gentlemen was grounds for a challenge to be resolved with pistols, a fight to the death. That ridiculousness of sticking to rules at all costs in order to be a man seems the perfect way to comment on modern culture and politics.”
According to Bonney, “It’s a period piece, but John’s take on it is very 2017 — quick, smart, funny and socially responsible. The mix of characters comes from all strata of society: the privileged elite, the working class, and immigrants from many cultures. It’s interesting to look at American class structure through the eyes of the 19th century and see how it remains relevant today, with the power and money still concentrated with the few who get to set the rules for the many.”
In Rules of Seconds, Matthew Elkins (Cock, A Permanent Image, Pocatello at Rogue Machine) stars as mild-mannered Nathanial “Wings” Leeds, who suffers from what we would now call OCD. When Wings is challenged to a duel by the most dangerous man in Boston (Harris), he enlists the aid of a renowned duelist, who just happens to be his estranged brother (Helman) — to the consternation of their mother (Brenneman) who harbors secrets from the past. Deep family tensions and old rivalries resurface. Blood is spilled.
Also in the cast are Joshua Bitton (HBO’s The Night Of and The Pacific), Ron Bottitta (Superior Donuts at the Geffen, Honky and Penelope at Rogue Machine), Leandro Cano (Colony Collapse at Boston Court, American Falls at Echo Theater Company), Feodor Chin (TV Land’s Lopez, Macbeth at A Noise Within), Kevin Daniels (One Night in Miami and Bull at Rogue Machine) and Jennifer Pollono (Dirty Filthy Love Story, Lost Girls, Pocatello at Rogue Machine).
The Temblors is a collective of seven diverse and acclaimed Los Angeles-based playwrights dedicated to shaking up local theater by debuting original world-premiere plays at the Los Angeles Theatre Center and supporting local voices. The goal of the collective is to produce seven world premiere plays, one from each member, over a four-year period. At the end of that four-year cycle, the founding members will hand over the initiative to another seven local playwrights, thus creating the city’s first true new play “factory,” by and for the people of Los Angeles. The founding members of The Temblors are Meghan Brown, Nate Rufus Edelman, Oliver Mayer, John Pollono, Kemp Powers, Vasanti Saxena and t. tara turk-haynes.
“It’s a rare and powerful thing to be a playwright-driven collective,” Saxena explains. “Many of us have been and are involved with theater companies that are actor and/or director-driven, which are essentially different in intention and focus. The Temblors are playwrights empowering ourselves by taking the reins in guiding our members’ work from inception to production, which is a gift we’re giving each other…and ultimately the Los Angeles theater community.”
John Pollono is an actor, playwright and screenwriter from New England who currently lives in Los Angeles. He won the LA Ovation and Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards for Best Play for the 2011 L.A. production of Small Engine Repair, for which he also received the LADCC Award for Best Writing. That play had a smash hit run at MCC in NYC in 2013, and his play Lost Girls opened there in fall 2015. As an actor, John has appeared in This is Us, Grey’s Anatomy, How I Met Your Mother, Masters of Sex and Mob City. He is a founding member of Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles and has produced the hit underground storytelling series “Rant and Rave” there to sold-out crowds for the last nine years. His screenplay Stronger, based on the story of Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman and directed by David Gordon Green, will be released in theaters this fall. He is currently developing the dark comedy My First Black Friend with Kemp Powers at FX.
Jo Bonney had directed premieres of plays by Alan Ball, Eric Bogosian, Culture Clash, Eve Ensler, Jessica Goldberg, Danny Hoch, Neil LaBute, Warren Leight, Martyna Majok, Lynn Nottage, Dael Orlandersmith, Suzan-Lori Parks, Darci Picoult, John Pollono, Will Power, David Rabe, Jose Rivera, Seth Zvi Rosenfeld, Christopher Shinn, Diana Son, Universes, Naomi Wallace and Michael Weller, as well as productions by Caryl Churchill, Nilo Cruz, Anna Deavere Smith, Charles Fuller, Lisa Loomer, John Osborne, Carey Perloff and Lanford Wilson. She has directed at: ART, Boston; PS 122; The Public Theater, NYC; New York Theater Workshop; Second Stage; Goodman Theatre; La Jolla Playhouse; MCC, NY; Geffen Playhouse; Williamstown Theater Festival; McCarter Theater; Playwrights Horizons; Arena Stage; Mark Taper Forum, LA; Signature Theater, NY; Long Wharf; The New Group; Classic Stage Company, NY; Humana Festival; The Royal Court, London; Almeida, London; Edinburgh Festival; The Market Theatre, Johannesburg SA; The Baxter, Cape Town SA, Cine 13, Paris. Jo is the recipient of Lucille Lortel Best Musical and Lucille Lortel Best Revival awards, a Drama Desk nomination for her direction of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, an Audelco Award for her direction of Father Comes Home from the Wars, an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence of Direction and a Lilly Award. She is the editor of “Extreme Exposure: An Anthology of Solo Performance Texts from the Twentieth Century” (TCG).
The Latino Theater Company is dedicated to providing a world-class arts center for those pursuing artistic excellence; a laboratory where both tradition and innovation are honored and honed; and a place where the convergence of people, cultures and ideas contribute to the future. Each production in its 2017 season was selected to explore themes of identity and its relationship to history. Now in its 31st year, LTC has operated The Los Angeles Theatre Center, a facility of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and a landmark building in Downtown’s Historic Core, since 2006.
Performances of Rules of Seconds take place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. from March 23 through April 15. There will be four preview performances, March 16 through March 19, on the same schedule. Tickets range from $22 – $52. The Los Angeles Theatre Center is located at 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (866) 811-4111 or go to http://thelatc.org/.