“Education of Lala Girl” greeted with ovations!

Last weekend’s run of “The Education of Lala Girl” reverberated the Pacific Cultural Center with laughter, cheering, and standing ovations. The Q & A with cookies evolved into a transformational sharing between all audience members, production team, and me (Rivera) as tears mingled and sentiment poured out.  This profound sharing has become a favorite feature of the shows as it brings an element of old-world theater experience into the twenty-first century and encourages everyone to look around and deeply appreciate the experience of sharing a live performance with each other.

Our deepest thanks also go out to the staff of the Pacific Cultural Center who have been beyond welcoming and accommodating in their “selfless service” and heartfelt dedication to these shows.  Performing Lala’s transcendent stories in this church-turned-yoga-center is a match made in heaven, nirvana, or whatever you would like to call it.

And the goosepimples of excitement are running up everyone’s arms for the DEBUT of Lala’s third story, “The Emancipation of Lala.”  I can tell you it is a breath-taking, stunning show, and leave it at that until you come and see it.

AND. . .we are officially, happily, and wonderfully announcing our extended run!  “A Star Called Love; The Freedom Stories of Lala” will play an extra two weekends in June in the following schedule:

8pm Fridays “The Imagine-a-nation of Lala Child”

2pm Saturdays “The Education of Lala Girl”

8pm Saturdays “The Emancipation of Lala”

So tell the world and come yourselves.  We look forward to seeing you!  Rivera

Tix online http://www.risingsundancetheater.com or (831) 421-9160

“Imagine-a-nation” opens beautifully. . .”Education” stands poised for this Friday’s Opening!

Last weekend’s Mother’s Day “Imagine-a-nation of Lalachild” premier opened with intense beauty and love.  The incredibly warm reception to the play brought me to tears, and I felt especially blessed by the Santa Cruz Community Choir’s rendition of “Go Down, Moses” which echoed through the Pacific Cultural Center like an invocation for this series.

Performing all three shows deepened, enlivened, and enriched the characters, as the magic of this solo form painted the scenes before the viewers (and my) eyes yet again.  Long Shoe found his comedic edge, Mamalou stood her strong ground, and Lala danced with eyes wider than ever.  My thanks to everyone who brought them to life and being-ness in our times.

We are all eagerly anticipating sharing “The Education of Lala Girl” with our ever widening circle of Lala enthusiasts.  This love story of life and learning has always touched us all deeply, and it is an honor to share it with more and more.  Please join us!

Rivera Sun

She’s here!!! Lala arrives at Pacific Cultural Center!

Two years, a thousand people, the blessings of many angels, and an ocean of tea later, Lala arrives on the shore of her official opening night!  Friday, May 6th, at 8pm, this incredible spirit launches her story into the wonderful, open arms of our Santa Cruz Community.  Be there to catch her and her “Imagine-a-nation”, along with the production team, the Santa Cruz Community Choir, and the sweet and fabulous staff of the Pacific Cultural Center.

The buzz is spreading.  Three radio stations, two feature articles, a video documentor, hundreds of ‘words of mouth’ reviews and comments, emails, facebook, U-tube. . .people are calling this ‘a movement’.  I pray that it does, indeed become one.  We need Lala’s messages, her beauty, hope, inspiration and sheer spark of life in all our lives.  As the headlines read gloom and doom, and fear begins to corrode the edges of our lives, Lala brings the antidote.   She shines her ‘Star Called Love’ into our hearts and ignites a ‘passion fire’ in each of us that can transform our world.

I am honored to be the vessel that brings the story to your hearts.  I am so deeply moved by the unending support of this talented, brilliant Santa Cruz Community, and for each person who has received Lala’s stories with their open ears and hearts so far.  Come be part of the next chapter, the official, full-run of the trilogy. Tell all your friends, invite them to be a part of it too!

We are in for a great adventure! All of us, together, now! Rivera Sun

Students Eyes Open with Wonder

Pacific Collegiate School’s Tuesday night preview of “The Education of Lala Girl” brought the students and parents to their feet.  These serious, attentive, wonderfully alive students listened with an intensity unmatched by any students I have ever worked with, and their Q & A questions reflected this.

Asking technical acting and performance questions, we opened a serious discussion on the natural of the self, the being, and the ever-shifting and changing nature of reality.   This knowledge allows the performer to ‘switch’ characters instantly.

“And then Rivera ‘popped’ a physical impression of six students who were sitting next to each other. . .you should have seen their eyes!  Rivera became each of them in about six seconds flat.” -Dariel Garner, Company Manager

The students left inspired, blown away, and filled with possibility.  I left feeling the exact same way.  With students like these in the world, there is always hope!  Teacher Cindy Gorski deserves the ‘teacher of the year’ award for the rest of her life.  She is an amazing beacon in the educational system, lighting the way of exploratory learning, and igniting a passion for life in her students. I  am so grateful to her for bringing me into the classroom last January to share this work while it was still in progress, and then making it so easy to return with the full production!

These previews have been blessings.  Don’t miss our last one at the Broadway Playhouse, a benefit for WEST Performing Arts.  Sunday, May 1st, 2pm.

Much gratitude, Rivera

Debut of ‘Education’ sings its love song into our souls.

Lala’s second story came rolling into reality with another full house, standing ovation.  At last night’s preview of “The Education of Lala Girl”, the full house rose to their feet, tears springing in their eyes, laughter dancing from their throats.  This sweet, sincere, wonderful crowd blessed me by staying (each and every one of them!) for the Q & A afterwards, enjoying the cookies, and story sharing, and exchanges.

My favorite comment came from twelve year old Sumaya who came with her mom and her brother from the Bay Area and stayed to greet me after the Q & A.  This beautiful young girl looks exactly like the Lala on our posters and programs, and I told her so, then suggesting, ‘You should be Lala!”  To which her eyes widened like saucers and she exclaimed, “Me? But YOU’RE Lala!”

What a compliment to this white-skinned, red-dreaded actress!  I told her we could both be Lala along with many, many other young women someday.  Or young men for that matter.

Divinitree Yoga Studio rose beautifully to the occasion of housing this theater show, with beautiful white chairs, curtains hanging to prevent sound echoing, simple lighting, and that amazing bamboo floor under my feet.  The audience seemed cozy and content, as if watching a private home performance.  And the murals of Shiva and Lakshmi looked on Lala benevolently as she ‘opened a window unto God’ and saw all of creation as God’s being and body.  Ann & Sky, the co-owners, are inspired shapers of community, and our thanks go out to them for making this wonderful experience possible.

Later that evening, just before falling asleep, the eyes of all the people watching came back to me.  Seeing them shining made me reflect that the success of the evening lay not in my performance, but in the hearts, eyes, and minds of you who were there, receiving.  What ‘I’ accomplish is nothing beside what ‘WE’ experience, together, as the story unfolds like a flower inside our hearts.  Thank you.  Rivera Sun

Theater at your feet. . .Divinitree brings magic to its studio!

Two young women on cushions, with blankets, in tears.  A couple holding hands, sitting in chairs, sighing over every line of Mamalou’s love for Long Shoe.  A row of gung-ho gentlemen enthusiastically clapping each resounding ending of an Imagine-a-nation scene.  Rivera cross-legged on a box, at the end, drinking water from her mason jar while answering questions about diversity and inspiration, spirituality and determination, as vegan cookies were passed around to the incredibly appreciative audience on Sat night at Divinitree.

“The venue is magic.  It’s like my living room.  Several people said they came to ‘witness’ this event. . .like seeing these previews of A Star Called Love is something you might tell your kids about one day!”  -Rivera Sun

It is magic.  Two magical previews in a row.  And a third one rolling toward you faster than lightening!  Next Saturday, the much anticipated, long-awaited, guaranteed to spill tears and laughter “Education of Lala Girl” premiers at Divinitree.  Don’t miss it.  And don’t delay getting your tickets.  It’s filling up.  The venue is intimate and tiny. Rivera literally lays the story out at your feet.  See you at 8pm at Divinitree!

Standing Ovation, Full House, Sneak Preview greets Lala with Love!

A resounding, heart-opening, breath-taking send-off! Lala’s Sneak Preview of “Imagine-a-nation” at the 418 Project soared!  The full house of enthusiastic, laughing, listening viewers brought Lala onto the world of stage with tender open-hearts, allowing her magic to captivate them all. In the audience Q & A, Director Robin Aronson kindly brought Rivera water while Company Manager Dariel Garner passed vegan cookies through the audience, and people poured out there hearts, asked about the writing and rehearsing process, where the stories came from, and celebrated, together, the beauty of this evening.

“I am so happy.  That’s all the words this verbose playwright has for this.  What an incredible reception for this play!”  Rivera Sun

The 418 Project graciously welcomed the return of their 2006 Artist In Residence.  Mark Schneider, on the board of directors, commented on how inspiring it was to see the effect this community dance center has had on a young artist’s life.  Executive Director, Ana Marden, who managed the house and the lobby during the show said as viewers left the theater,

“I don’t know what you did to those folks, but they’re all leaving amazed!”

Viewers left speechless, inspired, excited for the other two plays, and the tech crew themselves said it was a magical night.  Many thanks to all who helped it be so!



Unveiling the “Imagine-a-nation” April 10th

Polished, smooth, flowing, and beautiful, “The Imagine-a-nation of Lalachild”  is READY for you!  The 418 Project Sneak Preview ramps up towards an unforgettable evening, with many of the musicians and production crew present to see the unveiling of the ‘Lalachild’, we’ve all been working so hard for!  Friends and colleagues getting their tickets now, and its seems everybody and his brother wants to come to this rare opportunity in Santa Cruz to see a sneak preview of a live theater show!

All day, everyday, Rivera’s red hair whirls, Lala’s words reverberate, the landscape of Lovely, Kansas hangs on the air of the rehearsal studio.  From morning meditation onwards, the studio is swirling with Rivera choreographing dances for “Education” and “Emancipation, running through a well-polished “Imagine-a-nation”, and working with our ‘next Lala’, Alana Duvernay!

“I’m seeing the imagine-a-nation at work. . .somebody sat down and imagined these shows, and then ‘with a little wind, water, sun, and time’ (not to mention everyone’s help!) they really came to be! So many thanks are deserved all around!”  Rivera Sun





Ready, Set, Go! -to LALA’s SNEAK PREVIEW!

Rising Sun’s “Star Called Love” Production Team is a furiously joyous ferment of artistic output working magic behind the scenes in preparation for the Sneak Preview of “The Imagine-a-nation of Lalachild” at the 418 Project on April 10th.  Part benefit fundraiser for the wonderful community dance studio & theater that gave Rivera Sun Cook her start as its first Artist-In-Residence in 2006, and part celebratory kick-off for the April Previews and Benefit Performances of “A Star Called Love”, the entire production team seems to be jumping up and down excited to share this show (and the next two!) with the larger audience.

“When the plays are this good, we just can’t wait for people to see them!” DG

Rehearsed, ready, inspiringly polished, director Robin Aronson has been laughing and crying over every run-through lately.  Rivera Sun says, “Robin is the mid-wife to these shows, guiding them out of the inner realms into the world of audience and listeners.  I couldn’t do it without her!”

And we can’t do it without you!  Come to the previews, review them, send us comments, be interviewed for the documentary, get involved!   Can’t wait to see you at the shows!

Buy tickets now for Previews & for the full-run in May at the Pacific Cultural Center.  Visit http://www.risingsundancetheater.com

Lala mesmerizes the crowds. . .

A rambunctious, joyous crowd of party goers sat stock-still, spellbound by a two scene excerpt of “The Education of Lala Girl” on Sunday night.  You could hear a pin drop, a hundred breaths held, an awed hush, and then. . .”what a rockstar performance!”  And the buzz has started.  Join it.  Share it.  Spread the word with us.  An amazing adventure is unfolding right here in Santa Cruz.

On another note, rehearsals begin early at The Equal! Equal! House, before breakfast and tea, emails, phone calls, etc.  They roll into the afternoon, with “The Imagine-a-nation” and “The Education” delivering full run throughs, strengthening line by line into incredible nuance and detail.  The much beloved and anticipated “Emancipation” rehearses in two sections, one per evening.  It’s an in-depth, intense, and incredible process that brings these shows to you!

Bonny Doon’s Bear Creek Studio houses an organized artistic furry that is David Rhodes at work.  Precise and punctual, creative and clever, he is a mastermind of East/West musical blends and capture the Chinese cowboy essence of Long Shoe in “The Imagine-a-nation” in musical compositions that literally defy the imagination! His team of musicians graciously and skillfully accommodates the inarticulate requests of this playwright/performer and translates them into soul-stirring melodies and rhythms.  And if you could only see the magic of Justin, the sound recording wizard of Bear Creek Studio!  It’s more dazzling than Hogwarts to watch him work miracles and wonders in the sonic realm.