“South of the 8,” a Ping Chong + Company Undesirable Elements production was performed at the LaJolla Playhouse Saturday night, and Scott, Sandra and I were there. It was a special evening for me in a couple of ways. First of all, these productions dreamed up by Ping, Bruce, and Sara, the Ping Chong + Company long-time crew, are always moving, informing, and infused with humor and pathos. Each Undesirable Elements production is a small play, mostly written and always performed by a small group of individuals representing a subset of American life. “South of the 8” shares tales of young lives from San Diego neighborhoods south of the 8 freeway; black and Latino territory for the most part; all outside of white, Asian SoCal. The coming-of-age stories of these kids of color and/or poverty and/or gay and/or abused, all talented creative activists and survivors, are mesmerizing.
The big event of the evening for me however was seeing Bruce Allardice, executive director of the company, making it all come together all these years, and Sara Zatz, who directs and co-writes many of the Undesirable Elements productions. I don’t know Bruce and Sara so very well, but I have known them for a long time—since we had the pleasure of working together, along with Ping, to produce an Undesirable Elements story in Albuquerque a few years ago. What I keep realizing in greater depth every time I connect with the wonderful people from my past presenting life is how much I miss them. That world and those larger-than-life artists, producers, creators, administrators, friends meant more to me than I realized. We brought Global DanceFest to an end about four years ago, and I’m actually missing it all now more than at any time in the past.
Just to say…I am so proud of and grateful for my years of being a presenter. Of course, for all of the productions and creations I saw, and those we managed to bring to Albuquerque. More than anything I am so very happy for the friends I made—whose work I can continue to share here and there around the world. Thank you for an inspiring and enjoyable evening, Bruce and Sara—and you too Ping. Wish we were dreaming up an Undesirable Elements for our North Fourth artists right now.