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A STATEMENT CONCERNING THE PROPOSED EQUITY CHANGES TO LOS ANGELES THEATER

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle views the impending changes of policy concerning the small theaters of the greater Los Angeles area with alarm. We are concerned that the inevitable result of such changes will be a drastic reduction in the amount and quality of local theater. Indeed, we foresee what could be the virtual demise of Los Angeles as a leading incubator of plays and theater of innovation and diversity.

As critics, we are the front lines of the audience. Thus, we are keenly aware of the importance of small theaters and the actors who perform at them to the cultural ecosystem of Los Angeles as a major metropolitan center for the arts. Our institutional theaters and touring roadshows provide a valuable and popular service, but they alone do not and cannot provide the vast spectrum of forms of expression which a great city requires. Within that spectrum, live theater plays an essential role.

Under current proposals, nearly all of the winners of our Margaret Harford Award for sustained excellence over the past dozen years – our highest honor – would be threatened with closure or, at best, severely curtailed activities. A majority of the shows recognized in our annual nominations and awards would likely have never been produced. Worse, the future would promise a vastly constricted, less diverse, less venturesome, less exciting theater scene.

The cultural loss would be incalculable, affecting the hundreds of productions staged annually in Los Angeles. The economic loss of all the businesses interdependent on that production output is calculable, but even without the numbers being run, we believe the net impact on the city could be catastrophic. If not of the order of magnitude of the recent threatened port closure, it is analogous in import and effect.

The inner workings of an artists’ association, like the management of a corporation, are not the public’s business unless or until the impact of those actions has a material adverse effect on civic life, the general welfare, the region’s economic well-being, or a city’s core identity. At that point, an association’s practices become an appropriate matter for intense public concern. In the current situation, it is of critical importance that discussion and debate concerning these developments take place openly and extensively in the public sphere by all affected stakeholders. The goal is a healthier, more diverse society that provides greater opportunity for all, including the freedom of artists to develop their talents as they believe themselves to be best served.

The current situation is urgent and dire. When an historic piece of eminent architecture is destroyed, a natural resource despoiled, or a species goes extinct, the loss is irreplaceable. Once the infrastructure that undergirds the best of Los Angeles small theater is destroyed, it cannot, realistically, be resurrected. By the time the pain is finally felt and the general outcry heard, the possibility of effective action will have already been long foreclosed.

The Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle urges all stakeholders in the cultural, civic and economic health of the region to involve themselves in learning about the issues and consequences of the proposals currently on the table. The Mayor, the City Council and the Board of Supervisors need to consider the economic ramifications. Foundations and opinion leaders must consider the changes’ potential impact on their missions. Major media must contribute to the disciplined and thoughtful public discourse, even as social media air opinions on all sides. All of these stakeholders have a role to play in a civic crisis, and make no mistake, a crisis is what we are facing. Moreover, it is a crisis whose quiet and parochial buildup has served to sidestep public attention and debate. Very soon, it may be too late.

THE THREEPENNY OPERA at A NOISE WITHIN

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Photo by Craig Schwartz

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

There are two things that doom A Noise Within’s production of The Threepenny Opera. The first is enunciation. The cast seems so concerned with keeping up their British accents throughout the proceedings, they don’t go a good job actually putting the dialogue and lyrics across. At intermission and after the show, the most common comment I overheard was that the audience could not make out the words that were being said. Read more…

Hoyt Hilsman  -  Huffington Post

A Noise Within, one of the nation’s premier classical repertory companies, has mounted an ambitious, if somewhat tame, revival of the Brecht/Weill classic. With a solid ensemble cast under the direction of Artistic Directors Geoff Elliot and Julia Rodriguez-Elliot, the company mounts a faithful and spirited rendition of the timeless Threepenny Opera. Read more…

 

AMERICAN BUFFALO at the State Playhouse

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Photo by Noel Bass

Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

Al Pacino and Robert Duvall are among the performers who have played Teach, the deluded, out-of-control conman who spurs much of the seamy shenanigans in David Mamet’s American Buffalo.

While I’ve never been privileged to see either in the role, I’d put money on the competitive excellence of Troy Kotsur, a signing performer whose sizzling portrayal dominates the current Deaf West production at Cal State L.A.’s State Playhouse. Read more...

Margaret Gray – LA Times

David Mamet’s “American Buffalo,” which premiered in Chicago in 1975, startled and delighted the theater world with its dialogue: broken, overlapping sentence fragments, studded with expletives, at once highly mannered and faithful to the rhythms of everyday conversation. Read more…

Sharon Perlmutter  -  Talkin’ Broadway

Troy Kotsur leaves it all on the stage. Playing Teach in the Deaf West/Cal State L.A. co-production of American Buffalo, he’s a force to be reckoned with. Kotsur’s Teach is attitude, anger, and simmering aggression. You know he’s going to lose control of his barely suppressed rage, and you worry for the health of anyone who might be nearby when the inevitable explosion occurs. Read more…

Now playing through March 8.

WASHER/DRYER at East West Players

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

David C. Nichols – LA Times

The fluff and fold of old-school boulevard comedy typifies “Washer/Dryer” at East West Players. Indeed, playwright Nandita Shenoy’s study of intercultural newlyweds attempting to co-habit in a New York City co-op is an amiable throwback to the days when “Barefoot in the Park” played the Great White Way. Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

At its essence, Washer/Dryer is about a newlywed couple who need to clean up their lives. Playwright Nandita Shenoy gives us Sonya, of Indian extraction, and Michael, of Chinese. They apparently didn’t talk over their needs and goals thoroughly before marrying. Read more…

LIGATURE MARKS at Crown CIty Theatre

Photo by Alice Reyes

Photo by Alice Reyes

Deborah Klugman – Stage Raw

People who play virtual reality games might have a readier appreciation of the unanticipated twists in Mac Rogers’ play than those of us who don’t. It’s hard to say. Read more…

Now running through March 7.

SOUTH PACIFIC – Musical Theatre West at the Carpenter Center

 Photo by Caught in the Moment Photography

Photo by Caught in the Moment Photography

Jonas Schwartz -  Arts In LA

Musical Theatre West accentuates everything best about the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic South Pacific. Director Joe Langworth has acquired a talented cast, enhanced the naturalistic script so that the songs emerge from the actors conversationally, and made sure the Pulitzer Prize–winning book scenes are as enticing as the enchanting songs. Read more…

Now running through March 1.

 

CINEASTAS – Grupo Marea (Buenos Aires) at REDCAT

Photo by Stephen Gunther

Photo by Stephen Gunther

Myron Meisel – Stage Raw

Argentinian theater auteur Mariano Pensotti returns to REDCAT three years after his remarkable The Past is a Grotesque Animal  with an even more intricately woven tapestry of tales. Cineastas, which closes this weekend, is incontrovertibly one of the essential stage productions of 2015. Read more…

Now running through Feb. 21.

HOLLYWOOD AND BROADWAY – Teatro De La O at Hudson Guild Theatre

Photo by Naomi Torres

Photo by Naomi Torres

Neal Weaver  – Stage Raw

Last year, Teatro De La O and writer/director/couturier Octavio Carlin produced a show called Hollywood Party. It was set in Hollywood in the Silent Era, and featured campy, not very convincing impersonations of the famous divas and male stars of the era. There was a confusing and improbable plot, involving an assortment of jewel thieves, including a frantically overacting butler. Read more…

Now running through March 22.

LEAVING HOME

Photo by Ed Krieger

Photo by Ed Krieger

Margaret Gray – LA Times

Ruskin Group Theatre has revived the Canadian classic “Leaving Home,” David French’s heavily autobiographical first play. It’s in some ways an odd choice for the little Los Angeles theater.

Although its theme—intergenerational misunderstanding—is universal, the story is rooted in a specific and remote cultural context, the concerns of which seem unlikely to resonate with audiences here on a visceral level (not a lot of Catholic-hating Orangemen in Santa Monica these days). Read more…

Now running through March 14.

THE NIGHT ALIVE at the Geffen Playhouse

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

This Conor McPherson script fits squarely within his oeuvre—of poetic plays about souls seeking human connection in the midst of supernatural forces. However, unlike other Los Angeles productions of his works—including the Geffen Playhouse’s The Seafarer in 2009 and Geffen’s The Weir in 2000—this version lacks a feeling of something deeper and more mysterious going on. Read more…

Pauline Adamek  – Stage Raw

Conor McPherson’s The Night Alive feels like a study in randomness. The action, such that there is, happens in a nondescript Dublin bed-sitting room piled with assorted junk, fast food rubbish and old clothes.

Read more…

Now running through March 15.

 

FUGUE at Atwater Village Theatre

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Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly

A fugue, in music, is a melody repeated in complex patterns. In psychiatry, it’s a dissociative state of mind. Playwright Tommy Smith infuses both meanings into his ambitious new play, Fugue. Read more…

Dany Margolies  -  Arts In LA

This show has quite the pedigree. Its playwright, Tommy Smith, wrote last year’s insightful and inciting Firemen, featuring abandoned characters in abusive and rescuing relationships. Chris Fields directed that play to detailed perfection, cutting straight to the crux of human relationships. em>Read more…

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Now running through March 22.

 

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at the Met Theatre

Photo by Michael Lamont

Photo by Michael Lamont

Bob Verini -   Arts In LA

The singular feature of this vest-pocket staging by the DOMA Theatre Company—and the most compelling reason for attending—is the timeless score by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice. Read more…

Paul Birchall  – Stage Raw

A spirit of youthful rebellion suffuses director Marco Gomez’s delightfully earnest and powerful production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice tuner about the life of Christianity’s biggest star. Read more…

Now running through March 22.