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“Neighbors” extends at Matrix; talkback planned Oct. 17

October 12, 2010

Julia Campbell and Leith Burke

I wrote about this controversial work near its opening. It’s continued to pull in audiences and has been extended at the Matrix Theatre through November 7. More to the point, playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, who lives in Germany, will be in town to  discuss the play after the matinee on October 17.

From the release: Neighbors, about an upwardly mobile African-American academic whose comfortable life is turned upside down when a family of black minstrel performers moves in next door, has been generating intense conversation as well as controversy.

“The play’s been extensively reviewed, so it’s not a secret that I perform the entire play in blackface as does the rest of my ‘family’,” says actor Leith Burke. “It takes quite a while to get out of that make-up every night, but often I’ll come out and there will still be people in the theater discussing the play. There’s a restaurant next door, and when I walk by, people will wave me in – ‘I’ve gotta talk about what I just saw – I have so many questions.’ I’m trying to get home, but I end up sitting down and spending an hour.”

In his review on LAist, Terry Morgan summed up Neighbors as “the kind of play that makes you want to talk about it in the lobby for an hour afterward and think about it for days after that. It’s a theatrical firebomb, a genuine event.” Other reviewers have called it “messy, bold, desperately funny and deeply felt” (Los Angeles Times); “shockingly subversive… thrillingly original” (Back Stage); and “one of the most talked about and controversial shows this season.” (

Performances of Neighbors continue Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm through November 7. All tickets are $25.00. The Matrix Theatre is located at 7657 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046. For reservations and information, call 323.960.7774 or go to

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