“If you’re going to tell the truth, at least make it funny.”

The famous Billy Wilder quote serves as the backbone of a poignant, ambitious and disturbingly funny project from acclaimed local playwright Christian Levatino and his gangbusters theatre company. Now in their 15th season, gangbusters is partnering with the newly reorganized Complex Hollywood to launch a repertory run of three dark comedy plays from Levatino’s “Black Bag Pentalogy,” a series of works that holds a magnifying glass to five very distinct moments in American history between 1954 and 1972. Sunny Afternoon, King Dick and …meantime at HoJo’s will run in rep from Oct. 19 to Nov. 18 at The Complex Hollywood, including “The Big Event” on Sundays, which will feature all three shows performed back to back to back.

“It’s an exciting way to present this work,” says Producer Darrett Sanders, who also performs in all three pieces. “It’s the theatre equivalent of a triathlon.”

Sunny Afternoon: November 22nd, 1963. The kickoff of a 46-hour interrogation of Lee Harvey Oswald in the custody of Dallas Homicide Captain Will Fritz, where they discuss Baynes Barron, Russia, Coca-Cola, Jim Brown, a mysterious package, backyard photographs and Friday afternoon in Dealy Plaza.

King Dick: Christmastime, 1970. The King just spent 100G’s on gifts, and he’s on the run from Graceland. High on Demerol and liquid Ritalin, and with the help of his dead twin brother Jesse, Elvis concocts a scheme to offer the leader of the free world his influential voice in exchange for a new symbol of power. This was the last time anyone would be allowed to cold call the President of the United States.

…meantime at HoJo’s: Friday night June 16th, 1972. Across the street from the Watergate Complex, eight men sit inside a Howard Johnson‘s motel room and wait. What happens over the next five hours will set in action a series of events that will end the Presidency of Richard Nixon.

Along with Levatino’s writing, it was also the possibility of running these shows in rep that attracted Producer Monica Martin. Having recently taken over The Complex Hollywood and shifting its focus to be more involved in producing, it was Martin who approached Levatino. “Artistically and politically, these three shows speak to me and running them in rep just felt like the next appropriate step in their evolution,” she said.

The three plays premiered as fully staged workshop productions at Hollywood Fringe, where they won multiple awards and received critical acclaim as well as three playwriting nominations. “All of these pieces stand alone,” Levatino said, “But together they tell an absurd tale of greed, corruption, murder, mayhem and madness that takes place behind the curtain and in the corridors of power.”

A truly collaborative effort, the accomplished performers and crew taking part in this production hail from some of the city’s most celebrated theatre companies, including Rogue Machine, Antaeus, Open Fist, Sacred Fools, The Road, The Zoo District, Theatre Unleashed, The Robey Theatre Company and Theatre of Note.

Says Levatino of his commitment to bringing this work forward at this moment in time, “I’m excited to explore this country’s not-so-distant past and how it informs its present and future.”

Sunny Afternoon
Written and directed by Christian Levatino

The Complex Hollywood
The Flight Theatre
6476 Santa Monica Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

General Admission: $25
*$40 for tickets to this and either King Dick or …meantime at HoJo’s
*$50 for tickets to this and both King Dick and …meantime at HoJo’s

FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.thebigeventlive.com