“When the plot line for ‘Heaven on the Loose’ first introduced itself about five years ago, I thought it was a funny notion,” muses Idyllwild resident Ken Luber, who adds, “Living and being barraged by ‘our global reality’ challenges hopefulness.”
“In our story, God expresses as two energies: the Almighty Creator, aka Izzy, and His Holy Consort Lady Gina, equal in every aspect of power and dimension,” he said.
The male energy Izzy, sweeping a close eye over the planet, proclaims, “It’s over on Earth. I want a do-over.” Gina doesn’t agree. His retort: “Find me three good people, and I’ll keep the world going.”
Marcos, who died saving a bunch of people and was the greatest most loving gardener ever, is deployed to Earth on this vital task and gets lost. Izzy then sends his main man, Raj, a beneficent spirit from Mumbai, to find Marcos … and the rest is a hilarious play reflective of the age and inspired by hope.
Chic Fojtick, who plays one of the play’s central characters, said, “I like the play because it strikes just the right balance between irreverence and recognition of the serious challenges facing the world. Quite naturally, I play God-as-creator, who wound up the world and let it run, but doesn’t know how to clean up the mess mankind has become. It’s the tension of choosing to save or destroy the world that appealed to me.”
Raj Panchal, cast in the enviable role of God’s “favorite” person, muse and examiner of new souls, confides, “I was always behind the scenes in Mumbai as an editor, producer of commercials and TV series’ for Disney and Nickelodeon. When Ken offered me this role, I thought, ‘This is a relevant question. Does individual goodness still exist?’”
Luber’s penchant for storytelling surfaced young. Compelled to find his voice, he attended writing courses while in high school, developing the bones for what would become his life work. Captivated by theater arts during his college years at Ripon, the role of writer-editor of “The Scribbler,” the school’s literary magazine, provided a forum.
After graduation, he applied and was accepted into a renown writer’s workshop at the University of Iowa. “And that experience derailed my course. My professor of 16th century poets … sent me out to feel the world; I toured globally for two years and it deepened me. It was in India where I transformed from an orthodox Jew to a student of theosophy,” Luber recalls. “Upon return, my ship literally landed in Los Angeles, where I briefly worked for a PR firm, but quit because I didn’t want to walk around in a suit. Virtually by accident, I entered the world of acting in sitcoms, improv, stand up and even had a small role in ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’”
Marriage 11 years to actress Bonnie Bedelia produced two sons, and, while working for CBS as a writer-producer on promo pieces and directing commercials, Luber was invited into the American Film Institute after a play he was working on was submitted by a friend. Boldly stating to the AFI, “I want to direct my own work … changed my life; I was cocky, but it worked,” smiles Luber.
He entered the film industry writing and directing his own scripts and began writing novels. One of his films, “Howzer,” was screened at the U.S. Film Festival and at the New American Director Series at the Whitney Museum in New York City, and written up in multiple film publications.
Luber recently wrote “The Musical of Hope … Esperanza.” This story, about three “has-been” injured athletes and their journey to wholeness, staged to sell-out audiences in Palm Springs for four seasons.
He has published two books, “Match to the Heart” and “Sun Jumpers,” which won the coveted “Award of Literary Excellence,” and “Everybody’s Shadow,” a book of poetry.
What’s next for Ken Luber? “Last year, I blogged a novel, uploading a chapter every two weeks for a year. I now plan to polish the work. I also teach basic adult education GED and ESL four days a week in Hemet.”
“… [A]s a writer,” says Luber “I want my work to catch fire. I must say, from Idyllwild, it’s tough to get projects going and yet I’ve experienced amazing plays staged here. Idyllwild Actors Theatre productions always knock me out and there are others, but it’s hard to get legs on an original production performed on the Hill. Hopefully, that will one day change.”
“Heaven on the Loose” performs at the Rainbow Inn at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 1 and 2, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 3. One general admission ticket is $16. Get two tickets for a special price of $30.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., respectively. No children under age 12 are allowed.
Ticket are available at www.kenluber.com. You may include a pre-show dinner at Café Aroma for a special price of $23 per person (tax and gratuity included.). Dinner reservation instructions are at www.kenluber.com.