By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
In addition to the losses, we’ve also made gains on all fronts, even if those gains don’t add up to a net advance. Shirley’s column has been restored on the L.A. Stage Blog. That blog’s parent organization, L.A. Stage Alliance, is actively seeking a model to restore and centralize the arts criticism that has been lost, possibly with a nonprofit model, while addressing the new information technologies that have sprung up since 2001. Numerous independent theater-review and aggregation blogs have also sprung up, with varying standards and asking provocative questions about the nature and purpose of theater criticism.
We’ve gained UCLA Live and REDCAT, curators for some of the best international programming around (see accompanying article, “Recession Be Damned”). If UCLA can work harder on making both its parking and its programming more affordable for the artists here who create theater, those gains will be even richer.
Under Sheldon Epps’ artistic direction, the midsize Pasadena Playhouse has emerged from its fog of antiquity and artistic confusion — it still has financial struggles — but it also has a much clearer sense of what it’s about: new musicals and a focus on the African-American experience.
The midsize Geffen Playhouse remains star-driven but has shown a promising interest in serious, new plays. This could be significant if the theater stops trying to please all the people all the time, and can figure out with greater specificity what it actually believes in.
The Los Angeles Theatre Center now knows exactly what it believes in but doesn’t seem to be doing much about it.
A big plus for the decade came from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, whose funding of various companies at [Inside] the Ford, including Circle X Theatre Company and Ghost Road Theatre Company, has given us some of the richest programming of the seasons.
Here’s a short list of our best companies for the decade: Sacred Fools in Hollywood: a lucid, goofy, populist aesthetic, its work has, in flashes, been transcendent; City Garage in Santa Monica: Expressionism and farce under the same roof — hit or miss, Frederique Michel and Charles Duncombe know exactly what they’re doing, and why; TheFountain Theatre in Hollywood: continued excellence in the conservative but meticulous staging of modern classics; A Noise Withinin Glendale:classical repertory theater with standards that will never disappoint, sometimes stodgy and actorly, but when they cut loose, as with Ubu the King, with beautifully deranged performances by Alan Blumenfeld and Deborah Strang, the sky’s the limit; they also did a nice Noises Off this year; Open Fist Theatre Company in Hollywood: dicey acting, but they’ll surprise you with a charm offensive; Furious Theatre Company in Pasadena: taut and well-acted productions from the dark side; Road Theatre Company in North Hollywood: atmospherically rich theater, also very well-acted, on occasion does very interesting new plays; Zombie Joe’s Underground in North Hollywood: Gothic horror shows in 90-minutes or less; Pacific Resident Theatre in Venice: a sustained excellence of acting, specializes in lesser-known modern classics; if they were braver, the hair color of their audiences would be something other than silver; Rogue Machine, in residence at Theatre/Theater near Pico and La Brea: relative newcomers committed to poetical and difficult new plays. Also noteworthy: NeedTheater and VS. Theater Company, both in Hollywood; NoHo Arts Center; Alive Theatre in Long Beach; Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon, and countless others I apologize in advance for failing to mention.
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