L.A. Stage Alliance Approaches L.A. Weekly over job cut

News of L.A. Weekly's elimination of its Theatre Editor staff position, which I held until Wednesday — as well as that of film critic Ella

Taylor — spread across the city last Friday, in a swirl of arts staff

layoffs that also included The Daily News' theater critic Evan Henerson and The Daily Breeze's

arts critic, Jim Farber. On Monday, I received an email from Terence McFarland, Executive Director of Los Angeles Stage Alliance,

asking if I would lend my support to an effort by LASA to discuss with

the Weekly the ramifications of the job elimination on the

local theater community. I offered my support on the condition that I

not be involved with, or know about, the specifics of any community-generated lobbying effort to

restore to me aspects of my former job.

As this blog posts, McFarland and LASA's Programs Manager Doug Clayton should be completing a scheduled meeting with L.A. Weekly publisher Beth Sestanovich, Associate Publisher Jane Dalea-Kahn, and the display ad rep for theater and music, Chris Blake. The 10 a.m. meeting was to discuss the community's concerns over the elimination of the Theater Editor position.

(My new, non-staff position at the paper comes with the honorary title, Critic-at-Large.) 

The L.A. Stage Alliance is a membership organization representing 325 performing arts groups and over 500 individual members, across the Southern California region.

On Wednesday, Clayton posted a message on the Big Cheap Theatre list-serve that McFarland “has reached out” to the Weekly to discuss the matter.

Yesterday evening, I booked on last minute to see A Noise Within's production of Waiting for Godot, By a weird stroke of serendipity, my ticket landed me two seats away from McFarland, who informed me of the planned 10 a.m. Friday “exploratory meeting.”

McFarland noted that “several theater advertisers” had already pulled their ads from the L.A. Weekly to protest the job elimination, a circumstance that Sestanovich told me about in an earlier meeting. Among McFarland's concerns is how the job cut could represent a possible diffusion of editorial focus on the theater community he represents.

But the larger, related question is how we get our information about the arts, and where the legitimacy of that information may now lie:

Also at A Noise Within, I ran into one theater community member who had no idea what had transpired over the weekend, even though, after I posted the announcement on Friday, it was reported on by L.A. Observed and then on the L.A. Times Culture Monster blog, first by by Arts Editor, Lisa Fung; and then by Theater Critic, Charles McNulty; The O.C. Register's Theater Critic, Paul Hodgins also weighed in on that newspaper's blog. Curiously, with postings on numerous other blogs, from here to New York, the news traveled almost entirely on blogs and websites. (The one exception is Matthew Fleischer's expose in City Beat, out this week.)

This person whom I met at the theater, who admitted to being so out of the loop, said she just reads newspapers in print, a habit that left her clueless about swiftly moving local events of the past week. And that's the real point that we all have to grapple with for the future.

Check back here Monday after noon for New Theater Reviews of Waiting for Godot at A Noise Within; Bill Sterritt's new play set in  61 A.D. Rome, Boadicea, at Studio/Stage; Brit scribe Amelia Bullmore's Mammals at the Lost Studio; Jim Leonard's New Play, Battle Hymn, presented by Circle X Theatre Company at [Inside] the Ford; Christopher Moore's new musical, Pope Joan, at the Stella Adler; A.R. Gurney's The Dining Room presented by Interact Theatre Company, now in residence at the Victory Theater Center; Moss Hart's Depression-era comedy, Light Up the Sky, at Open Fist Theatre Company; a new comedy about the Nixon resignation Charles Pike, Resignation Day, at Sacred Fools Theatre Company; and the L.A. premiere of Chicago writer Keith Huff's The Bird and Mr. Banks, at the Road Theatre Company

At your fingertips, last week's New Theater Reviews, and this weekend's Comprehensive Theater Listings

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