STAGE FEATURE on Poland, where theater is hip


Had a wonky night in Hollywood on Thursday. Was booked that day into one show that I learned, upon my arrival, had been canceled. A gaggle of similarly stranded patrons was annoyed that as of a few hours earlier, the theater's website had mentioned nothing of the cancellation.

Still had time to make an 8 p.m. show down Santa Monica Boulevard, for a performance under consideration for some L.A. Weekly Theater Awards nominations. I showed up by myself right at 8, gave the box office person my name, explained that I was a critic with the L.A. Weekly, that I was on the voting committee for the newspaper's theater awards, and that I'd like, if possible, to “talk my way in.”

She referred me to the house manager, who was very skeptical, perhaps

understandably. “Those awards have all been wrapped up” he sneered, as

though I'd just been caught trying to shoplift a pair of socks from

K-Mart. “No,” I explained, “You're confusing the L.A. Weekly Awards

with the Ovation Awards, which have just been wrapped up. I know the L.A. Weekly Awards are still in play because I run them.”


me call the producer,” he said, while the box office manager asked me

to repeat the spelling of my name. The house manager maintained a terse

expression during that phone conversation with the producer, who

instructed the house manager to find me a seat.

“We're almost sold out,” he then said to me, “but if you'd booked on earlier, the producer could have gotten you a better seat.”


could have offered a detailed explanation of why I was showing up on

the spur, but figured it was a waste of breath at this point. “I don't

care where I sit,” I demurred. “Just grateful to get in and do my job.”

The house manager escorted me to a a nice seat perched near an

aisle, and I settled in. That's when I overheard an annoyed

conversation among staff at the back of the theater, culminating with

the house manager blurting out for half the audience to hear, “I don't

know who he is!”

Thanks. That's classy.

I could have been somebody with a far greater potential

impact on the show's future than a local drama critic. I could, for

instance, have been the investor the show needed to get to New York. Or

a scout from Paramount. It's true, I could also have been a freeloader

with false credentials, or with some website that I was trying to convert

into an entitlement for free tickets. Yet the show's very good cast deserve better protection.

I guess

that story doesn't compare to the one about the stage manager on

another Santa Monica Boulevard theater who tromped across the stage and

into an attic cubbyhole, speaking loudly throughout into her cell phone

during a play reading with a full house, in order to address a

technical glitch with the lights. These are symptoms of our theater

being a hobby rather than a profession, and why our theater continues

to be ridiculed in other cities.

Ticket prices are high in our business of veneer. That veneer starts in the front of the house.


Antaeus Company presents a reading of Ionesco's royal farce Monday night, 7:30 p.m. (potluck 6:30 p.m.) at Deaf West Theatre, 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. The reading — of an adaptation by Michael Murray — features company members John Achorn, Ann Gee Byrd, Apollo Dukakis, Rebecca Mozo, Janellen Steininger, among others. More info here. RSVP here

Check back on Monday afternoon for New Theater Reviews of Manfred Karge's The Conquest of the South Pole at Elephant Theater Lab; NeedTheater's production of Lucy Thurber's Scarcity; Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus' adaptation of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment at A Noise Within; George F. Walker's The End of Civilization, presented by SkyPilot Theatre Company at the Toluca Lake's Sidewalk Studio Theatre; Henry Jaglom's Just 45 Minutes From Broadway,

presented by Rainbow Theatre Company at the Edgmar Theatre in Santa

Monica; West Coast Jewish Theatre's production of Jeffrey Sweet's The Value of Names, at the Pico Playhouse in West L.A.; Sweeney Todd, presented by The Production Company at North Hollywood's the Chandler Studio Theatre Center; Charles Marowitz's Sherlock's Last Case at Actors' Co-op, in Hollywood; and an evening of EM Lewis' one-acts, Flight, presented by Moving Arts at Son of Semele Theatre in Westlake Village; and Vinnie: The Death and After-Life of Vincent van Gogh, at the Pan Andreas Theater in east Hollywood

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