For this Angeleno, the biggest kick of D.C. theater right now is the recent expansion of some of the capital city’s most adventurous companies, operating on Actors’ Equity contracts within gorgeous new post-industrial spaces that seat between 200 and 500.He's not without criticism of the D.C. scene, though. I liked this last bit too:
In L.A., many of the more cutting-edge companies seem to be permanently trapped in low-profile spaces that seat fewer than 100, where the actors are paid chicken feed ... er, the token fees allowed under Equity’s L.A.-based 99-Seat Theater Plan.
It might be easy to conclude that Washingtonians must be more adventurous theatergoers than Angelenos, but I say the problem is rooted in L.A.’s excessive supply of actors.
Too many actors think of theater as something they might do on the side, in between screen jobs – and after a few such excursions, they burn out. Too many of these theaters are so tiny that they hardly make a dent in public consciousness, no matter how good their offerings – especially when there are so many of them competing with each other for theatergoers.
In Washington, by contrast, there is no 99-Seat Theater Plan. Companies that want to use professional actors have to hire them on some form of an Equity contract. In order to pay for it, they want to be able to sell more than 99 seats per performance.
Of course, the cohesion also stems in part from D.C.’s smaller size, and smaller isn’t always better. It was jarring to see a play populated by Mexican characters cast with no Spanish-surnamed actors. And it was notable that a playwright from L.A.’s 99-seat arena, EM Lewis, won a prize at the conference, for Heads.Okay, so there's an excuse for a theater post for you; I haven't really attempted one of those in a while. Although half the reason I posted that was to give an excuse to congratulate my friend EM Lewis for winning the Primus Prize for Heads. Go L.A. playwrights!