With the current theatre world on hiatus, I have created a Spotlight Series of interviews with some of am the many talented artists who make our Los Angeles theatre community so exciting and vibrant thanks to their ongoing contribution to keeping the arts alive in the City of the Angels. And like all of us, how are they dealing with the abrupt end of productions in which they were involved?
I also penned & starred in an all-original musical called Dear John, Why Yoko? which garnered my first Best Actress nomination at the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival for my role as “Yoko Ono.”
(SB): And I am happy to share links to my reviews of both your shows during which you absolutely amazed me with your authentic portrayal of a woman so erroneous hated the world over for her involvement with John Lennon.
(SB): Were you involved with any production(s) when word went out that you needed to immediately postpone/cancel a show?
(Anzu): I was playing the role of YEN opposite Al Pacino with a huge, talented cast in a Benefit Staged Reading for Al Pacino’s charity in the David Rabe play called “The Basic Training Of Pavlo Hummel” that garnered Al his first Tony Award on Broadway in 1977. Al Pacino and director Robert Allan Ackerman revived it on stage to help raise funds and awareness for one of Al’s charities to help war veterans. We performed it Sunday, March 8th at The Wallis Annenberg in association with The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles. There were talks of doing it again, but the very next day the Wallis Annenberg closed its doors due to the Corona Pandemic. Here’s a link to a Broadway World article about that amazing production
(SB): How has the shutdown affected your current and future production plans?
(Anzu): I had to make some hard decisions. This has been an extremely unforeseeable event affecting every single human on this planet and not knowing how long we will be quarantined, has many artists unsure if they can even afford to do their show, even with rescheduled dates. I feel bad, but I am canceling all my show commitments until there is a vaccine.
I heard the remaining solo artists involved in the 2020 SOLOFEST dates at The Whitefire Theatre, in which I have participated, have been offered to have their performances streamed online. Personally, as good a solution as that may sound, performing to an empty theatre is not the ideal situation when a) audience interaction and response is a huge part of the experience as a solo performer and b) the main world focus is on live coronavirus news updates. I appreciate everyone trying to rally together to find a solution but I think people everywhere will need more time. Every person is processing what is happening very differently.
As for my future plans, I was about to fly to Chicago’s Cinespace Studios to film another episode of Chicago Med on which I have a recurring role, and I was counting on that money to pay for my 2020 Fringe solo show dates. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my entire participation in the 2020 Hollywood Fringe and am trying my very best to get my invested monies and deposits back. Even though 2020 Hollywood Fringe has been moved to October (much like Stage Coach and Coachella) at this time, I do not have the heart to ask my friends to hurry and get over their Coronavirus/social distancing fear by October to buy tickets and sit in a crowded theater while there is no income coming in for most, nor a readily available vaccine on the horizon.
(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?
(Anzu): Thank God for the internet and the free classes being offered by so many teachers and studios. I am also grateful for the funny memes on social media keeping me light-hearted and smiling through all this uncertainty. This pandemic has given all of us a “pause button” to reassess our beliefs, our tribes, our creative visions for ourselves as well as for the world. We are being forced to look at our individual contribution to humanity, not only as humans but as artists. This will forever change us as a society, hopefully for the best.
Personally, I’m in research mode. I started revisiting scripts and thinking deeply about what I want to say as an artist from here on out. I am forced to sit still, get grounded and put pen to paper.
(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?
(Anzu): Never forget there is always a silver lining and now more than ever, we artists are being called upon to be the beacon for a new humanity. We will get through this but only together and only by thinking of each other. Feed your soul now and get ready to create! Inspire! And be daring with your artistic voice. We have a huge responsibility ahead of us to shine bigger light and tell new stories that will ever remind us there is nothing more valuable than our ability to care for each other. As Yoko Ono always said, “We are all connected together. We are all one.”
I invite everyone to follow me on IG/FB/Twitter @AnzuLawson and read more about my credits on my IMDB profile. I also want to give a shout out to my director Jessica Lynn Johnson who offers free Solo show creative writing classes now on ZOOM.
(SB): Thank you Anzu. I am hoping to focus a spotlight on Jessica Lynn Johnson in the near future so more people learn about her outstanding contributions to the L.A. Theatre world.
Better Lemons will now include all Online Live Events and Online Pre-recorded Events in our Calendar!
The first virtual event has registered on the Better Lemons! Be sure to registeryour virtual theater or performance events that are streaming at a specific time and date on our Event Registration page.
Better Lemons has over 75 shows NOW registered! If you have pre-recorded art since practicing social distancing, please send us the link and we will add your show to our Video page.
For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page!
We have been Homeschooling our kids, or, as we like to say “FUNschooling” so thankfully these closures don’t affect us. But I know that a lot of parents are now at a panic what they should do, how they should teach, and how they should spend the time together while everyone is somewhat housebound.
I hope that my words here can be of some encouragement and provide some calm during these uncertain times.
Remember, you are your child’s first teacher! You were their teacher when they were born. You taught them about your family values, rules at home, how to view the world, and how to behave. You were and are their first teacher. So you can do this and you will get through this!
Since today is the first no-school day, embrace it as what it is. It’s a NO school day!
Relax and let them relax. Let them sleep in every day of the week! Let them embrace boredom.
Turn off their electronics! Turn off the news! Seriously! Nothing is going to change for the next two weeks. So turn off the news because it’s only creating stress in you and in your kids. They need to decompress! They are children, not adults. Their brain is overloaded with worry and hormones and growing and all they need right now is to feel safe with their family. Regardless of age, turn it off even if they want it. Even we adults need to turn it off because it stresses us. Gets our heart rate up, our mind is racing and we make bad decisions like buying toilet paper in bulk. Imagine what it does to the undeveloped brain. So turn it off for the sake of all of you!
If they and you are curious about the virus, start some science experiments at home. Watch some educational science videos. Teach them and learn with them. Don’t teach them panic but teach them to be resourceful and curious and to be helpful not helpless.
Here are just a few free educational websites that teach science, if you need help:
This is also a great time to create art! Art will help you grow together as a family and it will create a safe space for your kids at any age!
Paint or draw together. My kids love a drawing contest, though it’s really not a contest. They just yell out what we all should draw and we all draw and then look at each others drawings when we are done and talk about it. Never judge!
Compliment the colors, the complexity, the details, the shapes. But never judge! And don’t assume you know what is what. Kids could have a meltdown if you misinterpret their art. Ask them questions about what is what, and why, and how does the art make them feel. And tell them how well they did. How thoughtful they were. How focused their art is, etc.
Make up stories to tell. At first it might be difficult to come up with things but be silly. Make up silly stories! Enact them. Tell them with different voices and don’t judge them. If they are silly and if they don’t make sense to you or the others, laugh about it but never judge! Creativity has no boundaries and we all see the world different.
Bake and cook together. Let them choose what to make and improvise ingredients if you don’t have it all. You can always google to find a substitute for something you don’t have.
Take out some puzzles and do them together. Or some building blocks.
Embrace this week together to grow and destress and to deschool. Kids need this because school is extremely demanding. They need to decompress, to destress, to deschool. And in the evening, sit down together and watch a family movie. Together, so the kids can ask questions, so they can share their emotions that the movie is bringing out in them.
Embrace this time together and look for my next column about more FUNschooling ideas and resources.