Here's a quote from McNulty--
To start, I brought up a recent Arts & Books feature in which Reed Johnson noted that there were no Southern California productions planned of Quiara Alegría Hudes' "A Spoonful of Water," winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for drama. I've been wondering the same thing about new works by Annie Baker, Will Eno, Christopher Shinn, Lisa D'Amour, Young Jean Lee and Amy Herzog that have yet to reach our area.Listen, if a small theater in L.A. manages to nab a premiere by one of those playwrights, more power to it, but this article really focuses on the problem with second productions of plays already seen in New York and London taking so long to get here. Rogue Machine chased the rights to Blackbird for years; The Fountain chased the rights to Opus; Rogue Machine's still chasing the rights to The Pillowman. McNulty's assembled some of the best 99-seat folks in the city, many of whom do premieres (Boston Court increasingly seems like a place with a national profile for such things), and he spends over half of his article talking about the difficulty they have in doing stuff other people did first?
Critically esteemed yet commercially challenging, these playwrights have been underserved by Los Angeles. One problem is that the marquee nonprofit houses have been reluctant to take chances on dramatists carving their own paths, while the city's few midsize theaters, which would be the logical venue for emerging writers who aren't pandering to established tastes, haven't seemed eager to fill this gap.
I suppose we should be appreciative that McNulty is offering such big exposure to these theaters in the Sunday Times, and he is generous about their work, saying this--
I selected these individuals because they have been doing the most interesting work in town regardless of venue size. Disparate in their aesthetic vision, they are united in their possession of a fine-textured sensibility. If I were a playwright, I'd entrust my new play to any one of them — in fact, I think I might prefer it to a production at a regional theater where the audience sometimes seems to be visibly wondering whether the subscription is really worth the time and expense.But he still focuses on it being "embarrassing" that L.A. doesn't have productions of hit plays by playwrights established elsewhere and uses this to call into question L.A.'s clout as a "cultural capital." Would L.A. truly have a theater worthy of its status as a "cultural capital" by treating its audience as if it's in the dark and needs the lights turned on by its more sophisticated counterparts? If so, it already does that. Is the solution doing more of it? Or just cherry-picking the imports so they're edgier?
Rather than showcasing solid work that doesn't get enough attention, this reinforces old New York/L.A. and big regional/99-seat dichotomies. Not that I'm surprised, but the hierarchies are maintained in L.A.'s paper of record, folks.
I have more to say on this. Stay tuned.