Downtown L.A. has long been marketed as a nightlife destination. Los Angeles Poverty Department’s The New Compassionate Downtown dares to imagine a downtown that attracts people who value the wisdom and compassionate practice exemplified by Skid Row workers and residents. In The New Compassionate Downtown, an alternative marketing approach touts downtown as “a place you can live guilt and resentment free. No longer will the subterranean guilt of ignoring privilege haunt you and through psychological displacement manifest itself as anger.”
Work on the performance began pre-pandemic and explores themes that have gained resonance in the past year. The performance is set at a meeting of The New Compassionate Downtown, a diverse group of people living and working in all parts of downtown, who embrace building a community of compassion. The performance cuts from the meeting to scenes that concretely explore compassion, in action, as life unfolds daily. The performance, staged in a socially distant manner by a cast of eleven performers, is live streamed and recorded.
Los Angeles Poverty Department is a performance group of people who live and work in Skid Row. All the cast members have contributed to this script. The performance is directed by John Malpede and Henriëtte Brouwers.