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Echo’s ‘Underneath the Freeways of Los Angeles’ by Matthew Paul
Olmos is interactive, murder mystery experience set in East L.A.
LOS ANGELES (REVISED March 25, 2021) — ‘Clue’ meets Chinatown in a live-streamed, interactive murder mystery experience inspired by historical events. Set in 1960 in East L.A.’s Hollenbeck Park — newly divided by the Los Angeles Freeway Interchange that famously displaced over 15,000 residents in Boyle Heights — Underneath the Freeways of Los Angeles, commissioned by The Echo Theater Company, written by Matthew Paul Olmos and directed by Michael Alvarez, calls upon the audience to help solve a baffling murder. Sixteen virtual performances are set to take place over Zoom April 2 through April 26, on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. ET; Sundays at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET; and Mondays at 7:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. ET. Each performance is live. Every performance is different. Tickets range from $15-$25 at www.EchoTheaterCompany.com/underneath.
In Underneath the Freeways of Los Angeles, two bodies have been discovered in the lake at Hollenbeck Park, right below the newly-built section of the Golden State Freeway that runs directly overhead. You, the audience, will question the witnesses and persons of interest. Who is the guilty party?
TV Reporter Elie Kovner (Amy K. Harmon) will introduce you to five “persons of interest”: Boyle Heights resident and artist Dee Dee Echevarria (Gloria Ines); Japanese-American local resident Mrs. Kay Shimo (Mia Ando); “Kill the Freeway Now” protest organizer Lucretia “Lu” Jacobs (Morgan Danielle Day); drifter Efren (Roland Ruiz); and California Division of Highways administrator James Rouser (Darrett Sanders). The audience will then split into groups, each of which will rotate between five “holding cells” (breakout rooms). Everyone will have a chance to listen to and question each potential suspect.
Is this case about race, power, displacement or community?
“My family is originally from East Los Angeles and lived in Boyle Heights,” explains Olmos. “I’ve spent a lot of time during the pandemic reconnecting with East L.A. and researching its history. This piece is a way for me to infuse socio, political and economic issues within the confines of a criminal investigation story.”
Six different freeways converge at the East Los Angeles Interchange in Boyle Heights, including the I-5 (Golden State and Santa Ana Freeways), I-10 (San Bernardino and Santa Monica Freeways), SR 60 east (Pomona Freeway) and US 101 north (Hollywood Freeway). According to Wikipedia, it is the busiest freeway interchange in the world, with its southern portion handling over 550,000 vehicles per day. It was considered a civil engineering marvel at the time of its construction, with each intersecting freeway shifting alignments and directions.
“The imposing complex of 30 bridges occupies 135 acres of land — including part of once-idyllic Hollenbeck Park,” notes author Nathan Masters in They Moved Mountains (And People) To Build L.A.’s Freeways. “Residents did fight back, flooding public meetings and picketing construction sites. But unlike the mostly white and politically powerful neighborhoods that killed plans for a Beverly Hills Freeway, L.A.’s Eastside couldn’t stop the bulldozer.”
Olmos’ work is produced nationally and internationally, published by Samuel French and No Passport Press, and is taught in university. He is a three-time Sundance Institute Fellowship/Residency recipient; Actors’ Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival commissioned playwright; New Dramatists Resident Playwright; Center Theatre Group LA Playwright Workshop writer; Geffen Playhouse Writers Room playwright; Oregon Shakespeare Festival Black Swan Lab playwright; Humanitas Play LA Workshop playwright; Princess Grace Awardee in playwriting; National Latino Playwriting awardee; Repertorio Español Miranda Family Nuestra Voces Playwriting awardee; Cherry Lane Mentor Project playwright, as chosen by Taylor Mac and La MaMa e.t.c.’s Ellen Stewart; and Emerging Playwright awardee, as selected by Sam Shepard. He is currently finishing a three-play cycle about our tumultuous relationship with U.S. presidents, developed through New Dramatists Creativity Fund, and he is writing a piece inspired by Samantha Power’s “The Education of an Idealist” as part of the Geffen Playhouse Writers Room. He has developed a feature with Andrew Lauren Productions, and is working on a screenplay inspired by his play That Drive Thru Monterey.
Underneath the Freeways of Los Angeles is produced by Alana Dietze and Chris Fields for the Echo Theater Company.
Tickets range from $15 – $25. To reserve your spot and for more information, go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com/underneath.
Details for Calendar Listings
‘Underneath the Freeways of Los Angeles’
‘Clue’ meets Chinatown in Underneath the Freeways of Los Angeles, a live-streamed, interactive murder mystery experience inspired by historical events. It’s 1960, and two bodies have been discovered in the lake at East L.A.’s Hollenbeck Park, right below the newly-built section of the Golden State Freeway that runs directly overhead. You, the audience, will question the witnesses and persons of interest. Who is the guilty party? Each virtual performance is live. Every performance is different.
• Written by Matthew Paul Olmos
• Directed by Michael Alvarez
• Starring Mia Ando, Morgan Danielle Day, Amy K. Harmon, Gloria Ines, Roland Ruiz, Darrett Sanders
• Produced by Alana Dietze and Chris Fields for The Echo Theater Company
• Commissioned by The Echo Theater Company
April 2 – April 26, 2021
• Fridays at 7:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. ET: April 2, April 9, April 16, April 23
• Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. ET: April 3, April 10, April 17, April 24
• Sundays at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET April 4, April 11, April 18, April 25
• Mondays at 7:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. ET: April 5, April 12, April 19, April 26