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Culture Clash takes on Aristophanes at the Getty

June 18, 2009 | 10:15 am

Culture Clash at the Getty Villa

Amy Hill doesn't go west of La Brea for just anyone. Sure, the veteran character actress has frequently appeared with East West Players, but the Getty Villa in Malibu ... well, that's really west.

But Hill -- who lives in Silverlake and says she's "not a driver" -- has decided to brave the traffic six days a week to be part of the cast of "Peace," a ribald comedy by the Greek playwright Aristophanes first presented in 421 BC and being given a new reinterpretation by the irreverent local Chicano-Latino performance troupe Culture Clash. The show opens Sept. 10 for a four-week run at the Getty Villa's outdoor Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater.

You think Culture Clash is irreverent? Then check out the original Aristophanes play, says Hill, who found a translation on Wikipedia: "It is crazier than what they've written,"  she says, referring to the three members of Culture Clash, Richard Montoya, Richard Salinas and Herbert Siguenza. Hill joins them in the cast, along with Los Angeles actor and performance artist John Fleck. "It's so ... Culture Clash-like."

The show's creative team -- which includes director Bill Rauch, artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and co-founder and former artistic director of L.A.'s Cornerstone Theater Company -- schmoozed with the press at a Wednesday luncheon at the Getty Villa before sitting down for the first table reading of the script, which Montoya says has been in gestation for about six months.  "The fun is definitely starting today," he says.

Amy Hill at Getty Villa "We just love Aristophanes and his audacity," Montoya says of why Culture Clash chose "Peace." "We want to take the lid off this, dance and sing and maybe get naked. ... This is arguably Aristophanes' filthiest play."

Montoya says Culture Clash developed a taste for Aristophanes in 2007, when the troupe presented an updated version of another Aristophanes work, "The Birds," written with John Glore, at the Villa's indoor auditorium.

Culture Monster is not sure whether Montoya's reference to nakedness in "Peace" is literal or figurative -- but we did learn that the Getty is planning to discourage playgoers from bringing their children. Offers Norman Frisch, administrator of the Getty's theater program: "You could really screw up a kid with this play."  

Actress Hill brought her then-6-year-old daughter to see Culture Clash in "The Birds" and says her daughter loved it. But she is not bringing the girl, now 8, to see "Peace." She won't have to -- her daughter is in the show. "It's just a cameo role," Hill says proudly.

-- Diane Haithman

Photo (top): Richard Montoya, from left, Richard Salinas and Herbert Siguenza of Culture Clash at the Getty Villa's outdoor theater. Credit: Diane Haithman / Los Angeles Times.

Photo (bottom): Amy Hill at the Getty Villa. Credit: Diane Haithman / Los Angeles Times