The Echo Theater Company Stages Underneath the Freeways of Los Angeles by Matthew Paul Olmos An Interactive Murder Mystery Experience Set In East L.A.
‘Clue’ meets Chinatown in a live-streamed, interactive murder mystery experience inspired by historical events. Set in 1960 in East L.A.’s Hollenbeck Park — newly divided by the Los Angeles Freeway Interchange that famously displaced over 15,000 residents in Boyle Heights — Underneath the Freeways of Los Angeles, commissioned by The Echo Theater Company, written by Matthew Paul Olmos and directed by Michael Alvarez, calls upon the audience to help solve a baffling murder.
Sixteen virtual performances are set to take place over Zoom April 2 through April 26, on
Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. ET;
Sundays at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET;
Mondays at 7:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. ET.
Each performance is live. Every performance is different.
Tickets range from $15-$25 at www.EchoTheaterCompany.com/underneath.
In Underneath the Freeways of Los Angeles, two bodies have been discovered in the lake at Hollenbeck Park, right below the newly-built section of the Golden State Freeway that runs directly overhead. You, the audience, will speak directly to the officer in charge of the investigation. You will question the witnesses and persons of interest. Who is the guilty party?
Officer Banham (played by Tim Wright) and TV Reporter Elie Kovner (Amy K. Harmon) will introduce you to five “persons of interest”: Boyle Heights resident and artist Dee Dee Echevarria (Gloria Ines); Japanese-American local resident Mrs. Kay Shimo (Mia Ando); “Kill the Freeway Now” protest organizer Lucretia “Lu” Jacobs (Morgan Danielle Day); drifter Efren (Roland Ruiz); and California Division of Highways administrator James Rouser (Darrett Sanders). The audience will then split into groups, each of which will rotate between five “holding cells” (breakout rooms). Everyone will have a chance to listen to and question each potential suspect.
Is this case about race, power, displacement or community?
– Writer Matthew Paul Olmos Explains
My family is originally from East Los Angeles and lived in Boyle Heights, I’ve spent a lot of time during the pandemic reconnecting with East L.A. and researching its history. This piece is a way for me to infuse socio, political and economic issues within the confines of a criminal investigation story.
Six different freeways converge at the East Los Angeles Interchange in Boyle Heights, including the I-5 (Golden State and Santa Ana Freeways), I-10 (San Bernardino and Santa Monica Freeways), SR 60 east (Pomona Freeway) and US 101 north (Hollywood Freeway). According to Wikipedia, it is the busiest freeway interchange in the world, with its southern portion handling over 550,000 vehicles per day. It was considered a civil engineering marvel at the time of its construction, with each intersecting freeway shifting alignments and directions.
“The imposing complex of 30 bridges occupies 135 acres of land — including part of once-idyllic Hollenbeck Park,” notes author Nathan Masters in They Moved Mountains (And People) To Build L.A.’s Freeways. “Residents did fight back, flooding public meetings and picketing construction sites. But unlike the mostly white and politically powerful neighborhoods that killed plans for a Beverly Hills Freeway, L.A.’s Eastside couldn’t stop the bulldozer.”
Underneath the Freeways of Los Angeles is produced by Alana Dietze and Chris Fields for the Echo Theater Company.