The Town's the Thing: Theater Snobbery, From New York to L.A.
Roast of the TownThe articles in your “East Coast, West Toast” cover story [April 4–10] remind me of my own experience in the 1980s. NYC-area born, bred, educated and trained, I had spent several years on the West Coast (Bay Area and L.A.) and decided to test the waters in NYC again. I was shocked at the contempt that my professional acting experience received — including a notable production at the L.A. Actor’s Theatre. “They were on Theatre in America with their production of Waiting for Godot,” I cried. But appearing there in Pinter still didn’t equate with working in Connecticut! Thought things had changed for the better. So sorry that I am wrong. Sometimes this culture really shoots itself in the foot.
There is great theater being done all over the country, especially in regional and stock. I moved to L.A. recently and have to say that I find L.A. theater to be vibrant and thriving. N.Y. theater is just as packaged as any television show or film, out of commercial necessity, so I caution anyone trying to glorify it.
There is a greater focus on new works in L.A. In some ways it is a safer environment for experimentation. A great entrepreneurial spirit permeates the city. There are many artists who make their home here, and there seems to be more of a repertory or company focus. I also find that physically, the smaller theaters are much nicer. I have been fortunate to have worked more in theater since moving to L.A. than I did in N.Y., so I guess I’m biased.
Posted on April 5 by James Babbin
Several of the “originated in L.A.” shows you cite in your articles actually were written by people in the New York community trying out their stuff out of town. More interesting would be to see the record of shows that were actually developed by artists who make their home in Los Angeles. Is New York receptive to stuff from outside New York? The biggest straight play hit of the season is August: Osage County, which came from Chicago with most of its cast intact. One of the best-reviewed musicals of the season is an adaptation of Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine, which came from Chicago, cast intact. So there doesn’t seem to be an anti-Chicago bias; quite the opposite, in fact. There are wonderful people working in L.A. theater, but at any given moment someone playing a lead in a play here will take a film or TV gig. In New York, the actors aren''t distracted as much by such temptations, so they tend to stay in their shows. In Chicago, there is very little movie and TV work comparatively, so actors are in Chicago to do theater. But then I think Chicago has been the best theater town in America since Mamet, Steppenwolf, the revitalized Goodman and Victory Gardens made their marks in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I’m slightly prejudiced — I open my 16th play there next spring.
Posted on April 4 by Jeffrey Sweet
Critical NoticesThanks for the very cool article on our musical, Passing Strange [“The L.A. Problem,” April 4–10]. I just wanted to
make a correction: I did not attend Crenshaw High. I went to Fairfax and Hamilton High, respectively.
Posted on April 3 by Stew
Exceptional article on Stanton Kaye [“Father of Re-Invention,” March 7–13]. One note: Jay Silverheels was a Mohawk, not a Mohican (more properly, Mahican). Different tribes entirely.
Jim BeaverStudio City
This quote is from Scott Foundas’ review of Shine a Light [April 4–10]: “Are we seeing the real ‘Marty’ here or a canny extension of the live-TV director he memorably played in Robert Redford’s Quiz Show?” His memory must not be very good because Martin Scorsese did not play a TV director in Quiz Show. He played a sponsor’s rep.
Eric SnodgrassLos Angeles
Foundas replies: I had the right job, wrong movie. Scorsese plays a TV director in his own film The King of Comedy.
Rave ReviewsJesus, that was a long-overdue and beautiful thing John Payne wrote on Carla Bozulich. I was starting to wonder how it was possible that no L.A. journalists could be aware of the singular work she’s doing. She may be (sadly) virtually unknown, but she is certainly one of the greats. Thank you for taking the time to articulate many of the finer things I like about her and her new band. The articles I’ve read on Voyager often paint it as simply gloomy or too confrontational. Payne has tapped into the nuances that make this grand effort a real call from the heart. Nice one.
Curtis WestLos Angeles
CorrectionDue to an editing error, last week’s article “Singleton’s Small-Town L.A. Newspapers Nosedive” stated that the Daily Bulletin is located in Pomona. It is located in the Pomona Valley in Ontario. Also, the story erred in stating that the Long Beach Press-Telegram editor’s duties are being taken over by the Daily Breeze. The Press-Telegram’s managing-editor duties are being taken over by the Breeze. The editor’s job, held by Rich Archbold, is being preserved at the Press-Telegram.
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