By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Funding cutbacks only adds to the commercial pressures at all three CTG theaters. To what extent are your decisions audience-driven, and to what extent do they stem from your commitment to the vision of a play, or a playwright, regardless of their potential to fill houses?
Every theater is facing cutbacks, it’s not just in California. Both individual and foundation donations are down because of the stock market. Corporations have neither the discretionary income nor the will to give like they used to. How do you continue to program and maintain standards? Do you make a deal with the devil? I don’t know.
If your budget were to be cut in half tomorrow, what would be your priorities? What programs would you keep and what would you let go?
I saw Chavez Ravine, and I do know that the people involved in that were extremely proud of the process and the product, and should have been. The primary mission of this institution is to develop new artists and new audiences. Priorities? I’d say outreach to youth, to kids — some of my proudest work has been outreach to kids, not necessarily disadvantaged kids, but kids, all kids, not defined by race or neighborhood. As for the rest, I don’t know yet. In a crisis, I’d say let’s not define ourselves by the venues we’ve been producing in, let’s produce on the street, let’s pick political rallies and put our theater into action. I hope these are questions I can ask myself over time.
What are your five favorite plays?
In my family there’s been one play that stuck out for all of us — from my wife to my 15-year-old son: Bring in ’da Noise, Bring in ’da Funk.For all the different places that me, my wife and my son came from, we had this explosive love for where this play came from. There’s another shared experience. We were about to put on a show in New York, September 11 struck, we were home and all we did was watch the TV reports over and over, and that sense of almost being disassociated from what was happening in the world — Broadway shut down. Finally, because the mayor decided it was important to get the theater started again, we went to see Stones in His Pocket. I was sitting there watching my son laugh and I forgot about the world outside. We went home that night, and my wife and I had gotten into bed, my son repeated a line from the show, we all broke into laughter, and I thought about the power of theater.
I produced a production of Dead End — which was in someway a rediscovery of that play, not that it had been languishing, but it was so large that theaters couldn’t do it. I read it and fell in love with its range, its scale, and I produced that play — the first play that I had my stamp on it. Then there’s that moment in The Cruciblewhen you want to shout out, “Don’t answer that question!” Our Townis one of the two perfectly written plays in the 20th century — that and Streetcar. For my money, neither is missing a single word. Well, there’s six out of 50.