Faulty Memory

Anaheim Home Companion: Light-hearted storytelling? Or objectionable propaganda?

Consider this sentiment, repeated several times in the play: "Wherever you're from, you can find a home in Anaheim."

Really? My mother lived in Stanton in 1953. She remembers the entire north county as a quiet, peaceful area surrounded by miles of orange orchards and strawberry farms. But she also remembers harvest time, when hundreds of brown-skinned laborers pitched tents, slept in trucks and raised shacks on the side of the road. She saw them in the fields and orchards—but never once in a market or any other store.

Evidently, not everyone could find a home in Anaheim. Not then.

Jazz hands, Anaheim! Photo by Doug Cataller
Jazz hands, Anaheim! Photo by Doug Cataller

None of this is meant to condemn the Chance; theaters can produce whatever they want and invite whomever they want into their beds. Playwrights craft plays, not lectures, and a theater's primary job is to tell stories, not recite history.

But by scoring big points with city hall, has the Chance's artistic integrity been cheapened in any way? When the stories you choose to tell, and the way you tell them, makes a play feel less like art and more like Chamber of Commerce propaganda—even if it's cheerfully rosy propaganda—it's a question worth asking.

ANAHEIM HOME COMPANION, AT THE CHANCE THEATER, 5552 E. LA PALMA AVE., ANAHEIM, (714) 777-3033; WWW.CHANCETHEATER.COM. THURS.-SAT., 8 P.M.; SUN., 2 P.M. THROUGH DEC. 17. $22-$25.

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