Duckler’s ‘The Groundskeepers’ in historic Boyle Heights

Architecture & Design · Dance

The Groundskeepers, a multi-scene, walk-thru performance taking place at Linda Vista Hospital in East Los Angeles’s historic Boyle Heights neighborhood, reverses viewer expectations. Choreographer/director Heidi Duckler and her artistic collaborators identify unseen, intriguing spaces in the hospital, and transform them into artistic installations. The performance begins on an external fire escape (anticipate gymnastic dangling); then the audience enters the sprawling structure to be divvied up into touring groups. A rotating three-scene circuit then comes alive. “Groundskeepers” culminates in the hospital chapel where, ostensibly, we can all pray for our lives.

This kind of guided-tour mischief is something at which Duckler has grown truly expert. It’s a lot of fun for the audience, and Duckler, a junior Cecil B. DeMille, hews to the big picture, devilishly keeping everyone and everything in motion.

green halls

Built in 1904 (that’s waaaay back by L.A. standards), this unique building symbolizes the past, present, and future of East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights. Initially a place of healing for railroad workers, the hospital has changed management multiple times and most recently, like much of L.A.’s neglected but unique period architecture stock, it’s been used as a film location. It’s unclear where Hollywood ends and the original hospital begins, therefore the identity of the building has evolved to reflect its inhabitants. Linda Vista Hospital will soon be repurposed as affordable housing for local residents.

Duckler’s creative team: choreography/direction Heidi Duckler, scenario, George Moreno; performance: Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre; music: Lu Kunene; media artist/designer: Refik Anadol, lighting design: Grant Dunn; graphic design: Andrew Byrom. It must be fun, and you can hang in the ‘hood after the show …

Dance company photos: courtesy Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, credit: Andrei Andreev

The Groundskeepers | Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre | Linda Vista Hospital, Boyle Heights | November 7, 8, 9 | info here

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