John Fleck’s ‘It’s Alive, It’s Alive’ at The Odyssey — Unfortunately, it Isn’t…

By Ernest Kearney — John Fleck is an imposing figure in the history of Los Angeles theatre and beyond.

Along with Karen Finley, Holly Hughes and Tim Miller, Fleck was one of the “NEA Four” at the center of a fire storm between the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and Congress over funding for artists. Fleck was viewed as too vulgar, too obscene, and too homosexual. All of which, he was, gleefully, to the point of causing the likes of Jesse Helms and Pat Buchanan to be thrown into paroxysms.

Fleck and his three fellow artists were ground zero in the culture wars. Their case would go all the way to the United States Supreme Court before the artists would win their grants, but the outrage would lead the NEA to stop funding individual artists.

In the past his shows, such as Mad Women, Johnny’s Got a Gun, Blacktop Highway, Blessed Are All the Little Fishes, and Mud in Your Eye, have shocked, repulsed, enticed and entertained audiences across the nation and the world.

Fleck has even been called “legendary,” and he was, and is.

But the past is the past.

In It’s Alive, It’s Alive now at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, Fleck assumes a number of characters from the “QAnon Shaman” to the COVID-19 virus. He sings and dances with Kyle G. Fuller and Tomoko Karina. But it’s all for naught. For those interested in knowing what was “legendary” about John Fleck, there is the documentary John Fleck Is Who You Want Him to Be.

Sadly, that legend is not on stage at the Odyssey.

(Featured Image: John Fleck / Photo by Cooper Bates)

(Click HERE to learn more about the “NEA Four”)

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It’s Alive, It’s Alive

Conceived, Written and Performed by John Fleck
Directed by David Schweizer
Music Direction by John Snow

On Stage
Now thru March 20

Odyssey Theatre
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025


Saturdays at 8 p.m.:
March 5, March 12, March 19

Sundays at 5 p.m.:
February 27, March 6, March 13, March 20


For Tickets and Additional Information:

(310) 477-2055 ext. 2 or

Proof of vaccination required for admission.
Masks, covering both mouth and nose, must be worn throughout the performance


Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at and Follow him on Facebook.

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