E a s t Los Angeles C o l l e g e Farley Herzek
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez /;
Monterey Park, California 91754
323 265 8650
To: Frank Mancuso Chairman of the Board
Geffen Playhouse 10886 Le Conte Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024 July 25,2013
Dear Mr. Mancuso:
I must start by expressing the profound gratitude we at East Los Angeles College feel for the opportunity that the Geffen Playhouse has afforded our students. It is a sad fact that many of the young people in our area have never been further out of our neighborhood than to Dodger Stadium. In fact, we have students who have never seen the Pacific Ocean! Some students are
very nervous when we are organizing carpooling to get them to the Geffen, fearing that something will happen and they won't know how to get back. The opportunity to see productions at the Geffen Playhouse has been, for many of them, a once in a lifetime experience. It has expanded the world for them and allowed them to feel a part of the greater world beyond their insular neighborhoods.
Many of our students are really only interested in movies, that is until they experience what theatre can be through attending productions at the Geffen Playhouse. During our postshow discussions students have commented over and over again about how much they now want to see more plays and attend a wider range of theatres. Something they had never considered before. As a truer believer in the power of theatre to change lives, witnessing this transformation in my own students has been extremely gratifying for me as a teacher.
Our student population is a diverse one. We have many students from foreign countries (China, Russia, South and Central Asia, South and Central America) as well as local students from the Monterey Park, Montebello and the Boyle Heights area. Many of our exchange students have poor English skills and are in this country to improve their English. Many of our local students are bi-lingual but with limited reading or writing skills in their second language. Below are a few of the moving and inspirational comments I have received from some of the beneficiaries of the Lights Up program. I have left their grammar and spelling intact and have highlighted a few key phrases.
"I was never the person to attend live theatre. I grew up with people around me saying theatre was boring and that it was nothing but tights and Shakespeare; if I told them I wanted to be an actress they would say you are not pretty enough or you are too skinny, obviously I hung around the wrong people. However, I always had my own thoughts about theatre as an art form. I had dreams of becoming an actress since I was 7, but I was too embarrassed to admit it because
E a s t Los Angeles C o l l e g e Farley Herzek
ijoi Avenida Cesar Chavez
Moiuerey Park, California 91754
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of all the negative people around me, especially my mother. Growing up, I was the shy, quiet kid who did everything humanly possible to go unnoticed. After getting tickets to 3 Geffen shows 1 have to say I was right about theatre and myself and now I am a Theatre major and I have my first role in a play. The Geffen made it real, made it seem possible and inspired me. I could say changed my life. Thank-you, Cassandra Gutierrez"
'"I feel like going to Geffen Playhouse has made me understand America. I am from Siberia in Russia and always enjoy theatre performances, its my favourite theatre in LA! The stories are always interteining and I learn about so many things; the acting is always amaizing! It is the best place to get unique theatre experience." - Polina Matveeva "My father thinks my love of theatre is so weak. He always yells at me to stop taking acting classes and get a real job. He is from Chihuahua and doesn't understand that I want to be a director and writer and that I am a creative person. He wants me to work at my uncles' car repair! 1 was always under so much stress about this until you gave me two tickets to see American Buffalo and 1 got my Dad to go with me. He is still not sure I can make a living but he loved the play (even though he didn't understand very well). But he saw Freddy Rodriguez and maybe understands a little better. He still wants me to work at the repair shop but says its ok to take the classes 1want to, and that's a HUGE change! THANK-YOU!" Miguel Carachure "Miss Kelley, I hate my job, I hate my family, I have anger a lot because I want to act. You always tell me I can do it but I have to tell you its hard. You asked me to write about going to the Geffen Theatre and I want to tell you that the two shows I got to see with the raffle were so good, I felt like I was in another world and I laughed and cried and the acting was so good and I have not been so angry -1 know that it is what I must do because it pulls on my heart and the plays were so good â€”I am stil thinking about them. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you" Elizabeth Flores
I will close by expressing my gratitude to all those that make the Lights Up! program at the Geffen Playhouse possible. It has been a stellar experience for our students and we are extremely grateful. Very Sincerely,
V/. KetleyHc Artistic Director/Faculty (310) 265-8941 hogankm@,eIac.edu