Venue Details

Ruskin Group Theatre
3000 Airport Ave. Santa Monica, CA 90405
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4.6 / 5 Rated by 93 members
Review from Gadabout
99 events 87 reviews

An astonishingly honest performance by a very courageous woman. I was in awe of her willingness to share such a tragedy and provide both humor and hope. Bravo!

reviewed Feb 19 2005 report as inappropriate
Review from Goldstar Member
28 events 18 reviews

This was a super performance - dramatic, funny, sad, inspirational and empowering. The theater was small, and packed since it was the final show, so some folks sat on the floor on pillows, just a couple of feet away from the wheelchair-bound...continued

reviewed Apr 30 2005 report as inappropriate
More Information


Lyena Strelkoff had it all. She was strikingly beautiful, prodigiously talented in several artistic disciplines, a member of a critically acclaimed performing ensemble, and she had a new love in her life. One fine day, she was pursuing outdoor adventure in the forest when she fell out of a tree, plunged some 25 feet, and crushed her spinal cord on impact. She was immediately paralyzed. Her life had changed in an instant.

“Caterpillar Soup” takes its title from the fact that a caterpillar inside a cocoon dissolves into liquid before it morphs into a butterfly.

The show deals in great detail about Lyena’s life since that fall just over two years ago. A professional dancer who could no longer feel her legs, she now had to adjust to life in a wheelchair. Painful rehabilitation and adjustment to the new conditions of her body were imposed on her in the ensuing months.

Her life changed, but one thing did not: The unshakable devotion of her loving boyfriend, Dean. This remarkable love story is a central part of her narrative. There have been other solo shows involving people who have overcome physical challenges or other adversities and nobly triumphed. What sets “Caterpillar Soup” apart from the others is that the story of Lyena and Dean just might be the most romantic tale you will see on a stage this year.

It’s also educational. You’ll get most any question you may have had about folks in wheelchairs answered. How do your family and friends relate to you? How much of a professional life do I get to keep? Can a wheelchair person have an erotic life? (Answer to that last one: You betcha, but it requires significant adjustments.)

Lyena Strelkoff graduated from UC Irvine, where she studied acting and dance. She subsequently studied at Jerzy Grotowski’s WorkCenter in Italy. She then became a member of Presences en Regard, a multilingual theatre company in Paris. Returning to the U.S.A., she was a founding member of Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble, playing the Goddess Guan Yin in its acclaimed “Red Thread,” as well as leading roles in their productions “Cult Of Isis” and “The Cure.” She has created performance art works (“And I Shall Call Me….Bliss” and “She”), had a book of poetry published (by Mother Tongue Ink), created visual art which has been exhibited (at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry), and conducts workshops for adults and children (including Act One, a workshop in the skills of make-believe for kids).

Ms. Strelkoff may have taken a great fall, but she’s nobody’s victim.

Solo performance maven Paul Linke directs “Caterpillar Soup.” A professional actor for over 30 years, Linke starred in the feature films “Motel Hell,” “Grand Theft Auto,” “Parenthoood,” and is best known for his regular role on the NBC-TV series “ChiPs.” He was the founder and original artistic director of the Powerhouse Theatre. Paul recently directed Ben Gazzara in the one-man play “Nobody Don’t Like Yogi” off-Broadway at The Lambs Theatre. Linke’s acclaimed show “Time Files When You’re Alive” has been the October 2004 attraction at Ruskin Group Theatre. Later in the fall, he will direct “Capture Now” at Moving Arts at Los Angeles Theatre Center.

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