I was out of town for the weekend, so excuse me for being a few days late to this story. The new artistic director of the Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum is Michael Ritchie. And he’s cleaned house. No more development of new works for the sake of development. Things have to be in development with a place on the new season.
While from a business point of view this makes sense, why invent a bunch of stuff you’re never going to bring to market? But then again, they’re a not-for-profit and it’s in the interest of arts as a whole to provide these resources even if they never make it to the mainstage. There are plenty of plays that were developed in these programs that went on to be produced at regional theatres and off-off Broadway.
The LA Times not only covered this story but gave five playwrights the opportunity to give their voice to this development. Lisa Loomer, Jon Robin Baitz, Alice Tuan, Anna Deveare Smith and John Belluso. None of them seem to think it’s a good move but perhaps are holding out hope that some new sort of develoment model will be designed that will aid writers even more.
Combine this with the loss of ASK’s direct development programs a few years back and Los Angeles is looking like a less hospitable place for new works than ever. Of course this just brings to mind all the wonderful 99-seat waiver houses that do it, not because of the business model or the obligation, but for the love of it.
So, Los Angeles theatre afficianados where do you go to see the best original work? Who is making great new theatre?