The Westmont Corridor of South Central Los Angeles is notorious for having the reputation of a war zone. The media coverage of the area and the residents living there have all shared and experienced some type of gang related violence and community trauma. In case you’re unfamiliar with the Westmont district, it covers the square space from Imperial Highway to Manchester and Vermont to Western. This is also the same area where “100 days 100 nights” was a real deal community murder spree in 2015 that gained national attention. Leon Anderson created a chilling experience for those familiar and unfamiliar with the culture and lifestyle of the Westmont District.
The Live Stage Play was delivered at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood, on Hollywood Blvd. The weekend of February 19th -21st belonged to the cast of DEAR WESTMONT. The play will be in Atlanta later this year and then back to The Stella Adler Theatre in November 2016. Consider this an early warning; you want to see this play. You want to bring anybody you know that grew up exposed to gang violence. You might want to also invite some co-workers that need a reality check about the lifestyle of the underprivileged. DEAR WESTMONT highlights a very pivotal time in the life of a recent HBCU graduate, JJ. JJ and his younger brother Ethan recently lost their older brother to gang violence. Rocket is the childhood friend of the family that grew up to be a gang member and he’s ready to avenge his fallen comrade, while influencing little brother Ethan to continue the cycle. The story is multi-layered because you have a two-parent household that strives to maintain some family values amongst the chaos. Great music, hilarious family friends, and a twist to the story make this emotional roller coaster of a play something that will be very hard to forget.
The themes in this play are so important for the growth and redevelopment of our community. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t take this time to watch this play and heal from some of the community trauma that you might have faced if you were raised in a concrete jungle of a community. Characters in this story like Willie, Jean and Pastor Dawns will all seem familiar. In some moments, the stage play made me feel like I was watching a family home movie. At other times, it felt like I was outside on the block in the middle of gangland. The emotions shared by the strong lead roles will overwhelm you. It’s something about a man expressing real emotional pain that just moves you. The whole crowd definitely felt it at the opening night show. All three shows sold out by the way. Just thought I should mention that.
Be on the lookout for the return of DEAR WESTMONT. The play will be in Atlanta this summer, Back in Hollywood November 2016. Support the black arts.
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