A panel of very smart and talented theater professionals asked — and very quickly answered — the question, “Is LA a theater town?” last night. The very idea of this panel apparently spurred an insistent murmur of discontent among the great unwashed of the LA theater world, sentiments that didn’t raise to the surface at the actual event itself. The discussion last night unfolded more like an incestuous lovefest with an undercurrent of self-congratulation.
Seriously pondering this kind of a question would be considered indulgent navel-gazing by many theater professionals in cities like Washington, Minneapolis, Detroit, and Dallas. Does anyone in Cincinnati give two hoots whether “Hollywood” also wants to be “Broadway?” And has anyone is the LA theater world given a millisecond of thought to wondering whether Jacksonville is a theater town?
I’m from Richmond, VA, a town known for being the capital of the Confederacy and a center of tobacco production. It is neither anymore and yet the tension between those desperately holding on to that legacy and those working their darndest to rid the city of those stains drags on. So, as someone who’s seen a battle like this at the tail-end of a 150-year old struggle, I would kindly assert: “Let it go.”
Even if more and more movie production is done in Vancouver these days, LA will always be Hollywood to those east of California. And, for better or worse, there will always be only one Big Apple. The folks in the trenches making theater, damn good theater, in LA or Des Moines or Richmond, should leave the big questions to the philosophers.