A representative from the 99 Seat Theatre Community.
I’m serious. They got nada.
Here’s the announcement with the lineup for the June 14th roundtable event being sponsored by Culture Monster:
“Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty will moderate a panel that features Michael Ritchie, artistic director of Center Theatre Group; Tim Robbins, Oscar-winning actor and artistic director of the Actors’ Gang; Broadway producer Marc Platt (“Wicked,” “Three Days of Rain,” “Pal Joey”); Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Beth Henley; and Sheldon Epps, artistic director of Pasadena Playhouse and Broadway director (“Baby It’s You!”).”
And please don’t try and convince me that Tim Robbins fulfills that role. Nope. He’s there because he’s a movie star, a celebrity, and happens to run a theatre called the Actors Gang. A good and valid company, yes, but he absolutely does not qualify as a true representative of the 99 Seat Theatre Community. I have no quibble with the listed panelists, I really don’t, it’s simply the lack of any genuine representative from the actual community that gives LA its theatre identity that pisses me off. Give me a Michael Seel or a David Fofi or a Daniel Henning or a Gates McFadden or a Stephen Sachs or a Tim Wright, a REAL representative of the 99 Seat Theatre Community. A community that makes at least 90% of the theatre that is produced in this town.
Think I’m making that number up?
By many estimations there are anywhere from 1000 to 1200 plays produced in LA each year. Let’s just say there are 1000 so we have a nice round number. Now let’s add up all the shows that are produced by the larger companies, you know, the Geffen, the Taper, the Ahmanson, the Kirk Douglas, Pasadena Playhouse, South Coast Rep, heck, let’s even throw in those mid-size theatres that our pal Don Shirley is always touting – rightly so – and let’s say there are about 10 of these theaters that can’t be categorized in the 99 Seat Theatre Community. Let’s say each of these companies do 5 shows a year. That’s probably an overestimation, but what the hey, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. 10 x 5 =
20 (50). 20 (50) shows. So of the 1000 shows produced in LA 20 (50) of them come from organizations other than the 99 Seat Theatre Community. 20 (50) divided by 1000 = 2% (5%). 2% (5%)!
Too low? Okay, let’s say there are 20 theaters that qualify for this “upper echelon” tier. 20 x 5 = 100. 100 divided by 1000 = 10%.
That’s right. 10%. What about the other 90% of the theatre in Los Angeles? Well, apparently the LA Times and Culture Monster don’t give a shit about them.
And that’s why this panel is a fucking joke.
And look, I realize this is more of a “high-exposure” event meant to compete with the TCG Convention – as the article puts it their panel “coincides” with the Convention – and I understand they are trying to feed off the TCG attendees and show how hip they can be by putting on such a sophisticated event – but it’s a fucking joke.
If you leave out a representative (actually there should be more than one) from the part of the theatre community that produces 90% of the theatre in Los Angeles at an event that preposes to be asking the question whether Los Angeles is a “theatre town” then your event is invalid and irrelevant and is nothing more than what I’m sure will be a well-attended, well-documented, circle jerk.
Or as I like to put it, a fucking joke.
And yet they’ve actually allowed us peons an opportunity to send in questions we’d like to be posed to the panel. You can either go to their Facebook page here or you can just go to the article and offer your question in the comment section. Which is what I did. Here’s me:
Yes, Colin Mitchell, Editor for Bitter Lemons here. I have a simple question for the panel and for the organization that organized the event: why is there no representative from the 99 Seat Theatre Community? And please don’t tell me that Tim Robbins’ presence fulfills that vacuum. He’s clearly there because he’s a celebrity. Yes, his theatre the Actors Gang might be considered a part of that community, but it’s a poor offering in my opinion. A lack of any real representative from the smaller theatre community that represents about 75% of the theatre that is produced in Los Angeles just makes this panel a complete joke. And you can quote me. Many thanks.
I made the percentage much smaller than the true number just in case they decided to challenge me on that point.
And of course if you’re a masochist you can actually go here and make reservations to attend the circle jerk in person.
I was actually considering attending the event and asking this exact question, but to be honest, I’d rather be attending one of the previews at the Fringe.
About the Author: COLIN MITCHELL: Actor/Writer/Director/Producer/Father, award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Broadway veteran, Marvel comics scribe, Van Morrison disciple, Zen-Catholic, a proud U.S. Army Brat conceived in Scotland and born in Frankfurt, Germany, currently living in Los Angeles and doing his best to piss off as many people as possible.