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Watts Village Theater Company takes on riots in new play

September 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Watts Village Theater Company is known for taking on social issues that shed light on Los Angeles history. Its latest original work involves a still painful moment from 48 years ago - the Watts Riots.

The theater company has started rehearsals of the play "Riot Rebellion" at the Mafundi Auditorium. The project is two years in the making.

"It is a piece of L.A. history that we should look at and take into account and embrace and understand and not forget," said Barbara Roberts, the director.

"It is breathing life into a piece of history that has gone almost into obscurity," said actress Ursaline Bryant.

To help fund the production, they're hoping to raise $5,000 through a campaign on the website indiegogo.com.

"If we make more, it allows us the opportunity to broaden our educational outreach. We do artist residencies in some of the schools out here," said Lynn Manning, the theater company's artistic director.

Bruce Lemon went to school in Watts before studying the arts in New York. But now he's back.

"So coming here is like a homecoming, really, and I wanted to come home and do some work for my people that I grew up with and, like, bring that to Watts because it's missing. We need it here," Lemon said.

"You learn about what Watts was before the riots, what we had here, the hope that we had here, the pride that we had in Watts," Lemon added.

Roberts said the play will touch on whether Watts is a better place today.