Center Theatre Group supported 16 students from the Academy of Visual Arts at Culver City High School as they constructed models of the homes that were demolished in the historic neighborhoods now known as Chavez Ravine to make way for Dodger Stadium. The students created these models, which were displayed at the home adjacent to Center Theatre Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, for the run of Culture Clash's Chavez Ravine revival.
Center Theatre Group teaching artist Janne Larsen worked with these students to create their designs as part of Center Theatre Group's participation in the Front and Center Theatre Collaborative. In partnership with The Actors’ Gang, We Tell Stories, Young Storytellers Foundation and 24th Street Theatre, Center Theatre Group helps develop and implement this collaborative that supports the Culver City Unified School District in providing a comprehensive theatre education for all Culver City students from kindergarten through high school.
The expanded vision of arts education in Culver City Unified emerged out of their work as a Los Angeles County Arts for All Blueprint Vanguard District. Their desire to provide a quality district-wide theatre education program and their proximity to the Kirk Douglas Theatre created an opportunity for Center Theatre Group to offer relevant program solutions that meet the emerging needs of the school district.
Through the initiative this year students participated in a six-week residency around Chavez Ravine. They read the script and explored themes of home, family and community. Their models represented the eight homes referred to in the play as "ghost homes," those of the last families who refused to abandon their neighborhood and faced eventual eviction. To make the ghost homes, students learned from Larsen about electrical circuitry and lit their glass and wood frames from within.
Students reflected on the meaningful experience and the opportunity to improve their artistry:
“Being able to make art about Chavez Ravine is a unique experience that makes me feel emotionally connected to the culture of the people that used to live there.”
– Angie C., Student
“Center Theatre Group’s residency program has taught me how to combine different mediums to make a great art piece. It has expanded my abilities as an artist. By reading scripts, we are inspired to create artwork that is relevant and important.”
- Zoe L., Student
“It is an honor for us make art about the families of Chavez Ravine. It is important to remember the events that shaped the Los Angeles of today and especially for us not to forget what happened to this community.”
– Chris V., Student
Center Theatre Group is proud to have supported these students as emerging artists as they reflected upon the rich and troubling history of this neighborhood in their own Los Angeles hometown.