the next service is in LA on March 12

About Chris Wells

Chris Wells

CHRIS WELLS is an Obie award-winning writer, actor, singer, cabaret performer, lyricist, teacher and arts activist who has made original theatre, music and performance for many years.

Food Offering | Diane Trunk

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For this Sunday’s gathering the theme is HAIR–it’s a challenge to curate around such a theme, the kind of challenge we love and that brings about really great surprises. However, for the food offering, it poses an even more acute challenge. I’m so glad we have Diane Trunk on the job–she presented caramels to us last December and will present something fitting for us this Sunday. Join us for the big surprise–Sunday, December 4th at noon at Bootleg Theater.

Here’s a little bio for Diane:

I live in in Los Angeles with 3 chickens, 2 cats, 2 kids, and 1 husband. I am an attorney who works on behalf of survivors of interpersonal violence. I love to cook.

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Featured Performer | Daniel Passer

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For this Sunday’s gathering in LA–Dec 4th at noon at Bootleg Theater–our theme is HAIR. What a fantastic theme, right? And who better to explore such a theme than a brilliant clown? Daniel Passer is a dear old pal who has performed all over the world with Cirque de Soleil and made all kinds of theater in the US and abroad. I’m thrilled he’s going to perform for us this Sunday. He brings a charm and a devilish humor to everything he does.

Here’s his bio:

Daniel Passer most recently wrote and directed “A Big Mess” – a French Farce set in an old Vaudeville House – at A.R.T. Institute at Harvard and “Back Door” – a comedic take on Rear Window – at CalArts. Recent acting credits include: The Government Inspector at The Pearl Theater, Steve Martin’s The Underpants at Syracuse Stage and Guild Hall, Cascabel with Lookingglass Ensemble at the Goodman Theatre. He has been the Lead Clown and Comedy Conceptor for Cirque du Soleil and Dragone Entertainment and was the U.S. representative at the International Commedia dell’Arte Festival in Italy directed by Ferruchio Soleri. He has played Arlecchino on the boards of such prestigious theaters as The American Repertory Theatre, The Teatro Olympico, The Actor’s Gang and many others. Daniel is co-founder of Darkstage Theatre Company, a company dedicated to touring the maximum-security prisons in California and is currently in rehearsals for “The Noir Project” with Sprung Creations which he co-founded with Bianca Sapetto. He has taught Commedia/Clown/Improvisation at Moscow Art Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Brown University, Harvard, Cornell, CalArts, Trinity College, The Second City, University of Redlands and University of Alaska and is the Master Acting Teacher for The Edward Albee Theatre Festival and the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts. A graduate of U.C. Berkeley (Phi Beta Kappa) and The A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard, Daniel currently serves on the Faculty at CalArts Theater Program.

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Featured Artist | Zilah Mendoza

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For this Sunday’s gathering in LA–noon, October 16th at Bootleg Theater–our theme is MAGIC. And, so, it’s fitting that we have one of the most magical performers coming to read for us. Zilah Mendoza is an Obie Award winning performer who’s worked on some of the best stages across the country on screens large and small. I’m thrilled she’s going to take part this Sunday and share some of her magic with us all.

Here’s her bio:

ZILAH MENDOZA is honored to be part of The Secret City. She is an Obie award winning actress who has originated several roles in contemporary American theatre including Ana in Lisa Loomer’s Living Out (The Mark Taper Forum and
2nd Stage); Matilde in Sara Ruhl’s Pulitzer nominated The Clean House (Yale Repertory Theatre); Electricidad in Luis Alfaro’s Electricidad (The Mark Taper Forum); and Perla in Juliette Carrillo’s Plumas Negras (Cornerstone Theater Company). She recently performed at the Getty Villa in Luis Alfaro’s Mojada and at Theatre Works in Quiara Alegria Hudes’ Water by the Spoonful. Zilah has had recurring and guest starring roles on such shows as The King of Queens, MAD
TV, Law & Order, Medium, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Grey’s Anatomy, 24, Nip/Tuck, The Closer and Modern Family. She is a community activist and is an associate artist for the Mentor Artists Playwrights Project.

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Featured Performer | French Stewart

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For this Sunday’s gathering, the theme is MAGIC and we have a magical line-up of performers and artists. Our musical guests are a magical married couple–Vanessa Claire Stewart and French Stewart. They’ll be doing a number from Vanessa’s award winning show about Keely Smith and Louis Prima. I’m delighted that her hubby, French, will be joining her–French is a beloved fixture of the LA theater scene (Pot Mom, Stoneface, Voice Lessons, etc) and has appeared on all kinds of TV and film, including the classic TV sitcom: Third Rock from the Sun. Join us Sunday for a taste of old school Vegas entertainment in the charming guise of French and Vanessa–Sunday, October 16th at 12noon at Bootleg Theater.

Here’s his bio:

For the past 30 years, Mr Stewart has been a proud participant in L.A. theatre: both as a member of Justin Tanner’s legendary Cast Theatre (Zombie Attack, Pot Mom, Party Mix, Teen Girl and Happy Time X mas) as well a current member of The Sacred Fools. Recent stage credits include: Mathew Modine Saves The Alpacas (Geffen Playhouse), Watson (Sacred Fools Theater Company), Voice Lessons (with Laurie Metcalf) Off Broadway at Theatre Row and Steppenwolf Theatre. Most recently, he portrayed Buster Keaton in Stoneface at The Pasadena Playhouse.

French is best known for his work on the classic T.V. series Third Rock From The Sun. He has also appeared on Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, Just Shoot Me, The Drew Carey Show and News Radio. Recent credits include Community, Psych, Bones, The Closer, Castle, Pushing Daisies, Private Practice, The Birthday Boys, Comedy Bang Bang, recurring roles on The Middle and Secrets and Lies. Also known for Chuck Lorre’s hit comedy Mom.

Film credits include: Stargate, Leaving Las Vegas, Surveillance, The Flock and cult favorite Love Stinks.

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Featured Visual Artist | Pamela Gregory

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This Sunday in LA, we kick off our 10th season with a service on MAGIC. When thinking about the visual art portion, we were wondering–“what is MAGIC in terms of visual arts?” And the answer was PRINTING! How magical it is to see a print come to life–and so I reached out to my dear old pal, Pamela Gregory, who’s been making wonderful prints in her studio in Napa, California. For MAGIC, she’s going to present a large sampling of recent work as well as demonstrate how she’s been making prints lately. Join us this Sunday, October 16th at noon at Bootleg Theater for MAGIC.

Here’s Pamela’s bio:

Pamela spent her childhood getting pats on the head for her artistic abilities. Her father once told her she made lime jello better than anyone else in the world. With this support behind her, she’s gone on to pursue a life devoted to making things. A life-long and self taught crafter, cook, actress, knitter, seamstress, gardener…she took a break to earn a degree in Sociology and shop for a husband at UCSB. Pamela’s day job is directing youth theater for kids 2nd- 5th grades. She and her husband Sean have three children and live in Napa, CA.

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Food Offering | Adrien Schmitt

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This Sunday in LA we kick off our 10th Season. The theme is MAGIC–obviously, or maybe not?, when thinking of the food offering, I thought of baking. How do flour, sugar, eggs, milk, etc become breads and cakes and cookies and pies? Surely, it’s a kind of magic. I remembered that I heard about a young French American baker who had discovered his passion and was embarking on his own baking business. I’m thrilled–I mean, I say that a LOT, but this time I mean it–that Adrien Schmitt is going to provide the food offering for us this Sunday. He’s baking something special. He just turned 12. Join us Sunday for magic! And what is sure to be a tasty treat.

Here’s his bio:

Adrien Schmitt was born in Paris and moved to LA at the age of 2. Formerly a student at the French Lycee, Adrien now is in 7th grade at Culver City Middle School. He discovered his passion for baking at the age of 10, baking for birthdays, then started taking the recipes and improvising and making his own variations. This year, Adrien started his own baking business specializing in French style baked goods, cakes and pies. He just celebrated his twelfth birthday. His favorite birthday gift was an apple green Kitchen Aid mixer.

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Featured Performer | David Kovac

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This Sunday for our LA kick off to our 10th season, the theme is MAGIC–and, well, that means we need to have some actual magic in the line-up. I’m thrilled to announce that we have a wonderful magician to thrill us with hijinx and slight of hand and prestidigitation. David Kovac is originally from Chicago and has made his home in LA for the past few years. He appears regularly at Magic Castle and is one of the most charming performers you’ll ever meet. Join us Sunday, October 16th at noon at Bootleg Theater for MAGIC. And enjoy a mini-set of magic from David.

Here’s David’s bio:

The Chicago Tribune named David Kovac one of their Top Five Trickster Heroes, referring to him as “a Wizard of Odd who places art before effect, turning simple tricks into theatrical presentations.” His deft, dapper performance style is drawn from the best traditions of vaudeville and refined variety theatre, and he has become a popular emcee at the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood. Mr. Kovac was critically acclaimed as Applegate the Devil in the musical DAMN YANKEES!, and has toured five continents as a guest entertainer with Crystal Cruises. In 2016, First Folio Theatre produced FOOLING BUDDHA as part of their 20th Anniversary Season. In this original, full-length solo play, Mr. Kovac portrayed a total of 10 different characters, including a conjuror. He is also honored to have participated in several Buddhist mentoring programs which paired elementary school children with adult working professionals in the arts and humanities; these endeavors resulted in an exhibition titled The Living Museum. David currently resides in Studio City.

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Featured Performer | Vanessa Claire Stewart

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This Sunday is our first LA service of the season. The theme is MAGIC–so exciting! When thinking about the musical guest I kept thinking of that great cover of Old Black Magic by Keely Smith and Louis Prima–a truly magical number. I remembered that there was a much celebrated show about them in LA last year and I reached out to the star of the show, Vanessa Stewart, who played Keely Smith, asking if she’d be willing to come and perform the song. She said YES!! More magic. She’s asked her hubby, the wonderful French Stewart to join her. Join us for what’s promises to be a magical day–Sunday, October, 16th at noon at Bootleg Theater.

Here’s Vanessa’s bio:

VANESSA CLAIRE STEWART

Vanessa recently finished her tenure as co-artistic director for Sacred Fools Theater in Los Angeles. In 2008, she co-wrote and starred as Keely Smith in Louis and Keely: Live at the Sahara for Sacred Fools (Ovation Award for best actress and best Musical, LA Weekly Award for best musical). Louis and Keely has since moved to Geffen Playhouse, Laguna Playhouse and the Royal George theatre in Chicago with Tony award winning actor Anthony Crivello as Louis. Vanessa has also recently co-hosted the LA Weekly Awards, the Ovation Awards and opened the Newport Beach Jazz Festival. In 2011, Vanessa penned a play about Buster Keaton called Stoneface which got its start at Sacred Fools before moving to Pasadena Playhouse and receiving the 2012 Stage Raw award for Best Production. Currently, Vanessa is writing book and lyrics for an original musical entitled Deadly about serial killer HH Holmes, which was recently workshopped at Sacred Fools and the Chance Theater. FILM/TV Credits include: THE LIST with Jennifer Morrison, GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS with Octavia Spencer, and appearances on RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, THE WANDA SYKES SHOW and the upcoming show SENSITIVE MEN

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Featured Performer | Keli Garrett

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This Sunday we celebrate MAGIC in Los Angeles–Sunday, October 16th at noon at Bootleg Theater. And I’m thrilled to have a dear friend and one of the very earliest members of The Secret City coming to join in the fun. Keli Garrett is a playwright who is making her home in Los Angeles. Keli brings a fierce intelligence and a bright spirit to all she does and her work has been staged all over the country. I’m so pleased to welcome her back to The Secret City fold. Join us Sunday for MAGIC.

Here’s her bio:

Keli Garrett’s plays and adaptations have been produced and developed at One Coast Collaboration Festival in Seattle, Mixed Blood, Penumbra Theatre, Playwrights Center, Dixon Place in New York City, The Women’s Project, the Zoo District in Los Angeles, Penumbra Theatre, The LAByrinth Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, 24 Hour Plays, Playwrights Horizon in New York, Rites and Reason Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, City Lit Theater Company, Chicago Theater Company, Organic Theater, The Providence Black Repertory Company and The California College of Arts and Crafts. The Rhode Island Arts Council, The Joyce Foundation, City Lit Theatre and the Rhode Island School of Design Museum have commissioned her work. Keli is a 2011 McKnight Fellow with Playwrights’ Center where she is also a Core Member Alumna and she is a Dramatists Guild member, where in 2004 she was a fellow. In 2004-2006 Keli was a resident member of The Women’s Project Playwrights’ Lab, and in 2006 a LaNapoule Artist in Residence sponsored by the Clews Foundation; and a Walter E. Dakin Fellow in Playwriting at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference 2007. In summer 2010 she held a Residential Study in Provence, France at the Fondation des Treilles for her new play, Zebra. She holds an M.F.A.1999 in Creative Writing from Brown University, where in 1997 she was a Beinecke Foundation fellow and a B.A. from Columbia College.

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FEATURED ARTIST | Saidah Arrika Ekulona

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This Sunday, Sept. 25th we kick off our TENTH SEASON with our final gathering at Dixon Place. The theme is FLIGHT! Perfect for this next season where we will be going new places and growing in new ways. And, to help us move it forward, we have the glorious talents of Saidah Arrika Ekulona who, in addition to being a fantastic, award winning actor, is also one of our newest board members. I’m always thrilled when Saidah’s in the house–and can’t wait to have her with is this Sunday, back in NYC following a stint on the other coast. Join us for FLIGHT this Sunday, Sept 25th at 11:30 at Dixon Place.

Here’s Saidah’s bio:

Saidah Arrika Ekulona is an award-winning theatre, television and film actress. She’s originated roles on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in regional theatres and international theatres, and originated the role of Mama Nadi in the Pulitzer Prize winning play RUINED, for which she won an Obie Award, Lucille Lortel Award, Jeff Award, Audelco Award and the Black Theatre Alliance Award. Theatre credits include BROADWAY: Well OFF-BROADWAY: An American Daughter (Williamstown Theatre Festival); Othello; Unconditional; Well; The Square; Romeo and Juliet (Public Theatre/NYSF); The Thugs (Soho Rep); Fabulation (Playwrights Horizons); A Streetcar Named Desire (NYTW), among others. Saidah’s television appearances include IMPASTOR; WHEN WE RISE; MIKE & MOLLY; GUIDANCE; SCANDAL; NCIS; SHAMELESS; THE 100; NEWSROOM; A GIFTED MAN; NURSE JACKIE; AUSTIN& ALLY; BLUE BLOODS; ROYAL PAINS; LAW & ORDER; LAW & ORDER SVU; THE SOPRANOS; HOPE & FAITH; QUEENS SUPREME; SEX & THE CITY; ALL MY CHILDREN and GENERAL HOSPITAL. Her film work includes HONEYGLUE; CHRISTIAN MINGLE; SAVING LINCOLN; THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID; RIGHTEOUS KILL; THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123; TWO LOVERS; THE REBOUND; THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS; UNCERTAINTY; HAPPY ACCIDENTS. Saidah received her BA from Albright College and her MFA from University of Minnesota. Member of SAG-AFTRA, Actor’s Equity Association, NYTW Usual Suspect.

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