Witness a story of identity, transformation, and loss in the early 2000s in John Guerra’s (Theater MFA 15) The Last, Best Small Town, now playing at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, Calif. The play had its world premiere on July 31 and runs through Nov. 6, 2021.
Written by Guerra and directed by Ellen Geer, the play depicts neighboring households—the Millers and the Gonzalezes—in Fillmore, Calif., a Ventura County city proclaimed to be the “Last, Best Small Town in Southern California.” From the Theatricum Botanicum’s website:
The Last, Best Small Town tells the story of two neighboring families—one Latine and one white—who live in the small Southern California town of Fillmore. As the first decade of the 21st century unfolds, the children of these families come of age, fall in love, and suffer loss, as they continually hunt for their place in a world that can no longer promise them a better life than their parents.
“I grew up in a big road trip family, and Fillmore featured prominently in many of them,” Guerra was quoted in BroadwayWorld. “I remember watching from the backseat as Fillmore grew and grew. But by the time I was an adult, that growth seemed to have slowed considerably. It felt like a metaphor for what we, as a nation, were facing in the years following the financial crisis of 2008. So I decided to write this play.”
Guerra continued to note that the play enabled him to “reckon with [his] own identity,” as the issues with which the characters struggle relate to his own as a child straddling the worlds of his mother’s side (from Mexico via Boyle Heights) and his father’s (from the American Midwest).
Originally from Carpinteria, Calif., Guerra is a writer and dramaturge who has worked with numerous theater companies, including the Blank Theatre, Coin & Ghost Theatre Company, the Fountain Theatre, Rogue Artists Ensemble, the T. Schreiber Studio, and the Vagrancy Theatre Company. He is a 2019 Sundance Institute LA Theatre Intensive fellow, and a member of the Ghost Road Theatre Ensemble.