90% of the theater scene, but too small to be noticed

LA Times section cover - Monday June 13, 2011

As a journalist from out of town, I arrived in LA last weekend with hopes of boning up on previews of the upcoming theaterpalooza (four festivals in two weeks). But I found the newspaper of record was more interested in the Tonys (based in the town I’d just come from). Don Shirley of LAStageTimes.com says television is to blame: “Will the Times ever precede the Ovation Awards or LADCC events with a series of long feature stories about the contenders? Perhaps, but only when the Ovation or LADCC awards ceremony is broadcast (as opposed to cablecast or streamed) live.”

But Shirley says the Tonys coverage is just the most recent in a long line of offenses. The LA Times‘ arts blog Culture Monster sponsored a panel discussion Tuesday night, billed as a discussion of  The Role of L.A. in the National Theater Scene. Panelists included actor/Actors’ Gang AD Tim Robbins, Broadway producer Marc Platt, and Center Theatre Group’s Michael Ritchie.  (Engine 28‘s Ben Fulton captures the highlights of the panel here.)

But LA Bitter Lemons’ Colin Mitchell say the Times completely ignored the 99-seat house scene:

“If you leave out a representative (actually there should be more than one) from the part of the theatre community that produces 90% of the theatre in Los Angeles at an event that preposes to be asking the question whether Los Angeles is a “theatre town” then your event is invalid and irrelevant and is nothing more than what I’m sure will be a well-attended, well-documented, circle jerk.”


John Steppling (Gunfighter Nation) and others will be hosting a response panel — aptly called “The Uninvited” — next Sunday, June 19 from 1-4pm at The Lost Space — with Murray Mednick and Guy Zimmerman of Padua Playwrights, and Travis Preston of Cal Arts.

UPDATED: Rereading my post, I feel I should have noted Reed Johnson’s LA Times piece previewing the festivals.  Even several days into the action, it’s still a good resource.



  1. “…I found the newspaper of record was more interested in the Tonys (based in the town I’d just come from).”

    Welcome to LA. You’re better suited checking out Backstage or the LA Weekly for coverage of real LA theatre.

    • Jenny Lawton says:

      Thanks for the tips — is Backstage your industry publication of choice?

      • Actually, I’m a fan of bitter-lemons.com and a lot of the LA Theatre blogs. There’s a ton of them out here. Plus the LA Theatre Ninja (@lathtrninja). If we’re talking strictly print, I respect the LA Weekly most. Backstage is the only “industry” paper that covers 99-seat and under. Variety and (I think) THR will review theatre from time to time, but only major productions or ones with stars attached.

        • Jenny Lawton says:

          Agreed, Variety’s writing on legit productions is great — I just wish there was (space/staff for) more. Please feel free to give shout-outs to your favorite blogs — I’m hoping we can add a blogroll to this site.


  1. […] gave us a little blog love over here at the Lemon with a story by a Ms. Jenny Lawton called “90% of the Theatre Scene, but too small too be notice”. They were kind enough to quote me from the tirade I posted  – what seems like a year ago – […]