Monthly Archives: April 2014

I've been very interested in immersive theater lately. New York and San Francisco have had shows where you can walk around but I've had more trouble finding experiences in Los Angeles. Cue "The Industry" who put on "Invisible Cities" last year. It is exciting because it happened in a public and not an enclosed, private space. They put on a full opera with a symphony at the beautiful Union Station where you walked around with bluetooth Sennheiser headphones and followed wherever your attention went as the singers wandered through the real life drama of the station. Sadly it was sold out by the time I heard about it. I managed to find out they were running a free show at the Hammer Museum in April and was very excited to catch it. They performed Terry Riley's In C in the main courtyard with inflatable tube men, a symphony, singers, and dancers. The Hammer Museum went completely free this year so this made it even more of an easy and delightful activity on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The Hammer Museum courtyard is a lush two story open air space that is beautiful to walk around in without a show going on. I walked in during intermission and there were only two xylophone players and a drummer. It seemed more magical that new elements appeared out of what felt like nowhere. The music was minimalist in a way where I could have sat the entire afternoon listening to it meditatively. We walked around both floors to get different views on what was going on and were pleasantly surprised as performers appeared in every direction around us. 20140412_163039I was too enthralled to take pictures of the dancers as they wove their way into the audience individually and started dancing. People didn't always realize there was stuff occurring behind them. The dancers would wander in and out of spots in the audience to perform. When they were separate, each dancer had their own style as they mimicked the tube men. When they congregated they would follow each others leads and do some synchronized scenes. StageThe singers in the middle were making some fun sounds that felt like beatboxing. That certainly is not something I expected in a form like opera, which I always thought of as stodgy. This performance turned all of that on its head. They all looked like they were genuinely having fun, laughing and smiling throughout the show. People would approach performers when they were on short breaks to talk to them. I even saw friends and family approach with hugs. I like how casual and friendly this felt. 20140412_165548To heighten the whimsical nature, there was a guy on what appears to be a toy piano. At the end of the show, I realized that this is probably the director of The Industry, Yuval Sharon.  I liked that there was a general uniform but everyone looked like they just grabbed what they had in their closets. It really made them blend in to the audience when they chose to.

20140412_164418At some point while standing on the second floor I thought I heard someone belting out loudly behind me.  It turns out some of the singers were sent walking around.  Soon we realized the performers were all wearing white or cream shaded shirts.  I chased around various performers but most people seemed to completely ignore the performers in their area. IMG_0802I was impressed with how clear and loud these singers were. I thought her popped collar hid a microphone. No, she just has some crazy lungs. It is an interesting sound to hear these wandering singers come in and out of your range and echo off the courtyard.


I loved that the dancers were around the audience all the time but it made me wonder two things. One, why didn't any kids get involved as they were running around and dancing? Two, did they hit anyone ever? Turns out both things happened! You can see a little kid joining the group in the video.

20140412_155551Take a bow, inflatable tube men. It was really fun to see so many different elements drawing my attention in so many directions. At one point I stood around trying to grab inflatable tubes as they whipped around unpredictably hitting the second floor. I'm really glad I caught this show and I'm looking forward to what this group puts out next. I can't say I've watched an opera before this but if they are more like this, I would watch more.

One of the first things I did when I got back in the country was try to find a low commitment hands on volunteering opportunity. Much like how I handle everything else, I wouldn’t shut up about it to everyone I talked to until someone had a great suggestion. I’ve been volunteering monthly with Days For Girls’ Los Angeles chapter for a while now. They make reusable and washable sanitary pads for women in developing countries where girls are often kept home from school whenever they have their period.  Imagine having to skip school for days a month!  That’s a serious disadvantage for half the population.  I am excited to hear that they may be aiming a little closer to home and delivering kits to Los Angeles’s own skid row.

Easy to use serger machines that just require you to hold some fabric straight.  I can handle that.

Easy to use serger machines that just require you to hold some fabric straight. I can handle that. I didn’t want to bother anyone so I avoided taking pictures of faces, but everyone is really friendly.

My complete lack of sewing skills and anything related is not a hindrance at all as everything is prepared so well that anyone can contribute. I’m constantly amazed at how much people prepare at home so that those of us without sewing skills can feel like we’re helpful.

Shields are made of colorful patterns and have pockets to hold one or two liners, depending on what kind of day it is.

Shields are made of colorful patterns, snap onto underwear, and have pockets to hold one or two liners, depending on what kind of day it is.

I kind of wonder if people on Etsy sell similar things for those living lifestyles that want to not use disposable products.  I doubt those are made with the sweatshop force of volunteer labor same love.

A complete kit involves multiple liners, shields to hold liners, a bar of soap, instructions, and a drawstring bag to hold everything.

A complete kit involves multiple liners, shields to hold liners and button onto underwear, a bar of soap, instructions, and a drawstring bag to hold everything. Everything is placed into the kit so that you understand how to use it if you for some reason don’t read instructions, like everyone does.

The fabric is a mixture of donations and things the organizers buy with money they fundraise. A lot of these kits go to young teenage girls so there’s an emphasis on bright and fun colors and patterns. I really enjoy seeing how vibrant and different all the kits are. There are designer fabrics tucked in there which is always fun to keep an eye out for.

The finished kits are packed inside the drawstring bags.  The bags are so girls have something discreet to carry their pads around in.

The finished kits are packed inside the drawstring bags. The bags are so girls have something discreet to carry their pads around in.

It’s an easy two hours on the first Thursday of every month at Grace Lutheran Church in Culver City.  There’s always people around to chat with and some tea and snacks on a side table.  I’ve missed a few for various classes and because Etsy craft night is the same schedule at CAFAM, but I always try to come when I can.  I wish this was around and I had found it when I lived in LA before.

The unofficial mascot, because breast cancer awareness shouldn't get all the fun slogans.

The unofficial mascot, because breast cancer awareness shouldn’t get all the fun slogans.

I can’t say this is making me go home and rush to sew anything else, but it does feel fulfilling to go and feel like you’re helping out immediately.  Their Facebook page is updated with where the kits are going and it is very rewarding to see girls from all over the world holding their new kits.  I struggled to find ways to volunteer meaningfully while traveling so I’m glad I am able to do so here.