Critique of the Week – Runner Runner Up

This is a review from a Boston University student whose name I believe is something like E. Tamaki. What I like most about it is not really the writing or the insights into the production, it’s his observations on the Los Angeles Theater Community. His innocence and naivete, those fresh outsider eyes, provide much illumination as to how we are perceived by “everyone else” and the potential that still lies in our own hands as to how we decide to shape our own image.

E. Tamaki – DramaLit

I had the pleasure of seeing the West Coast premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s award-winning new play, A Bright New Boise at a small but influential theatre company called Rogue Machine in Los Angeles over Thanksgiving break. This play won an OBIE Award in 2011 and deals with themes of religion and family. It is, at its very core, the story of five misfits trying desperately to find something to believe in, to hold onto, to ground them. Essentially, the play revolves around the story of a father trying to connect with his son, but it is done in a beautiful, heartbreaking, gripping manner. The main character, Will, moves from rural upstate Idaho down to the state’s capital, Boise, to flee from a scandal that occurred at the Evangelical church he attended. Although it was not a play where large “events” occurred, it was absolutely riveting. The idea of rapture has been such a hot topic since the terrors of Y2K and 2012.

It brought up an interesting conversation about what the Los Angeles theatre scene is like. Rogue Machine is a small, hole-in-the-wall theatre and the space where A Bright New Boise was held couldn’t have had more than 100 seats. In fact, there is a specific Actor’s Equity Agreement in Los Angeles based on 99-seat theatres. In Los Angeles, theatres are in tight competition with film, but in this agreement, it solidifies an actor’s pay in a theatre under 100 seats. Due to this, LA is full of these small theatres that produce award-winning plays and house equity actors. It was really interesting to note that the audience, though small, was a regular theatre-going audience that had either sought out this play or this theatre. Because I have not been exposed to any of the “scenes” in LA at all, I thought it was surprising that some of the most successful theatres are the experimental, small ones. Of course there is commercial theatre, as is in any big city, but knowing that this small scene exists and is producing new, successful plays, is awesome to see.

It was also fantastic to be supporting live theatre in such a film-based town, especially a new, fantastic play. This story touches on the down-home nature of small towns in America. The setting of a break room gave the play an intimacy, but at the same time, water-cooler gossipy feel that was only amplified by the honesty and desperation displayed in all five of the characters.

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Colin Mitchell 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.

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