Ricky Jammz performs at Festival For All Skid Row Artists (photo by Reva Santo)

Founded in 1985 by activist and performer John Malpede, the Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) was the first arts program of any kind for homeless people in Los Angeles. Based in LA’s Skid Row neighborhood, the LAPD uses theater and other arts to address issues that face underserved communities: gentrification and displacement, drug recovery and policy reform, and the “criminalization of poverty.”

This weekend, REDCAT will be hosting the debut performances of I Fly! or How to Keep the Devil Down in the Holea new production created through months of workshops with the 13 core members of LAPD’s troupe. Told through a series of vignettes, the theatrical work deals with the ways in which the neighborhood bands together to create a safe and healthy environment for its members. Featuring 25 performers, including percussion group The SkidRoPlayaz, and funk/soul band The LA Playmakers, as well as other participants in the LAPD’s annual Festival for All Skid Row Artists, I Fly! exuberantly captures the empathy, resilience, and generosity that have defined this community.

When: Thursday, April 4–Saturday, April 6, 8:30pm nightly (tickets: $9–$20)
Where: Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (631 West 2nd Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)

More info at Los Angeles Poverty Department.

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.