I’m Jessica, the new development intern for the Fountain Theatre. During the academic year, I’m a student at UC San Diego and major in Literature/Writing, but this summer I get the pleasure of being back home in Los Angeles and working at the Fountain.
Though my focus at college is primarily writing and reading, I have always been involved with theatre, since so far, it is the great love of my life. Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, I was part of a children’s theatre company, called CARA productions, and saw as many stage shows as I could afford all throughout Los Angeles. Now residing in La Jolla, not much has changed. I have a lot more reading to do, but I am still able to see some of the great performance art San Diego has to offer, and even have the privilege of being a script reader at the San Diego Repertory Theatre. I also spend my time going to the beach, checking out the amazing galleries of downtown, and have become very familiar with the UC San Diego Library.
When I found out I was going to be interning for The Fountain this summer, words cannot describe how excited I was to be part of such an amazing team. Working with a theatre that puts out thought-provoking and unique work would have been exciting no matter what I was doing, but being their development intern is probably the best job I could have asked for. As an arts major at a public university, I have always felt that this area does not get the kind of attention it deserves. In this way, having the opportunity to help The Fountain with fundraising, grant writing, and whatever else is needed, really sparked my interests. I know I will learn a lot from working at this theatre and cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer holds!
During the holiday season, the LA Times (aka LAT) demonstrated anew its curiously constricted view of the importance of the other LAT — LA theater.
Times theater critic Charles McNulty’s year-in-review roundup included a Top 11 list of theatrical productions, of which only two (Blackbird and Peace in Our Time) were LA-originated. Two other shows on his list, The Cripple of Inishmaan and Let Me Down Easy, were imported by LA area theaters. One Orange County production, Circle Mirror Transformation, also made McNulty’s list.
The other six shows on the list – more than half of the total – included a Canadian import McNulty saw in La Jolla (Jesus Christ Superstar), three shows he saw in New York (The Book of Mormon, The Motherfucker with the Hat and The Normal Heart), and two he saw in London (Luise Miller and One Man, Two Guvnors). McNulty also wrote a separate year-end essay that mentioned other shows, including four LA-originated productions, but they didn’t appear on his Top 11 list.
Whenever a critic tries to cover more than one geographical area in a year-end theater assessment, especially if traveling among the areas involves crossing not only continents but also oceans, I wonder how the critic could possibly have seen enough of the contenders in any one of the areas to make reasonably comprehensive judgments. To be fair to McNulty, it’s true that he wrote that these were the shows that “had me clapping loudest at home and abroad” – not that these were necessarily the best shows in the 2011 theatrical world or even in these particular cities.
Even so, a lot of readers probably assume that the chief LA Times critic reviews or at least sees most of the better LA shows. But it ain’t necessarily so.
I looked up the record of what McNulty wrote about in 2011, courtesy of one of the databases at the LA Public Library. I found 52 reviews of individual theater productions within LA and Orange counties (plus one review at Long Beach Opera and a RADAR L.A. commentary that included brief comments on several shows).
It’s no surprise that he reviewed Center Theatre Group shows more often than those of any other company – a total of 13 in 2011. The surprise about his CTG coverage is that only two of those 13 were at CTG’s flagship venue, the Mark Taper Forum. Four were at CTG’s largest theater, the Ahmanson, while seven were at CTG’s smallest venue, the Kirk Douglas. McNulty wrote about eight productions at Geffen Playhouse and seven at South Coast Repertory. He covered five shows at Broad Stage (all of them imports).
So 33 of his 52 individual theater reviews in Los Angeles and Orange counties took place at those four companies, which are more or less regarded as the “1%” of LA theater by many of the “99%” who work elsewhere in the vast LA theater terrain.
McNulty also spent time in the major San Diego theaters, reviewing five shows at La Jolla Playhouse and four at the Old Globe (plus one at San Diego Rep, which he later re-reviewed when it came to LA).
Oddly enough, McNulty largely avoided one of our major theaters, the Pasadena Playhouse, even though 2011 was the year when it rebounded from bankruptcy. McNulty reviewed only one of the playhouse’s productions, Dangerous Beauty. He ignored the return of the playhouse’s Sheldon Epps as a director in Blues for an Alabama Sky (it opened the same night as the Mark Taper Forum’s Vigil – but McNulty didn’t review Vigil either).
Although 2011 was the year when A Noise Within moved from Glendale to larger digs in Pasadena, McNulty wrote only about the company’s opening show (Twelfth Night) in the new theater, not about the final season of three (better) productions in the former space or the new theater’s second show.
"Small Engine Repair" at Rogue Machine
He didn’t write about any of the four 2011 shows that won the top production honors at last year’s Ovation Awards ceremony (A Raisin in the Sun, Kiss Me Kate, Small Engine Repair, Jerry Springer: the Opera), nor has he has ever written (in his six years at the Times) about Troubadour Theater Company, which won the “best season” Ovation for the second time in three years.
He reviewed no 2011 shows at most of the companies that make up the middle tier of Equity-contracted LA theaters – the Colony, International City Theatre, East West Players, Theatricum Botanicum, Independent Shakespeare, the Falcon, Ebony Rep, Theatre West, Native Voices – nor did he write about anything at the larger musicals-only companies such as Musical Theatre West. He reviewed one production each at Reprise, REDCAT and the Skirball, plus the only Getty Villa production that was open for review in 2011. He wrote about one show each at the larger Pantages and Montalban theaters and at the Hollywood Bowl, as well as Cirque du Soleil’s Iris.
On the small theater (99-Seat Plan) level, he reviewed eight productions, including two at Boston Court and one each at six other venues. That’s eight out of the 371 productions that used the 99-Seat Plan in LA County in 2011, according to tentative figures from Actors’ Equity. Continue reading →