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Striking actors in New York City’s Columbus Circle in 1919. (Courtesy of Actor’s Equity Association)

Letters to the Editor for May/June 2013

Readers respond to our stories about Actors Equity Association, ensemble theatre, and Adrian Hall’s adaptation of ‘All The King’s Men.’

Yes and No
Robert Simonson’s “Equity’s First Act” (March ’13) was one of the most important articles I’ve ever read in your magazine. Issues, names, important dates and clarity about the dynamics—and the pros and cons of organizing for our work in theatre—were woven into an excellent short history of AEA, a keeper. Simonson makes me even more proud to be a union member—AEA, SAG-AFTRA.

On a not-so-positive note, I wish Noah Haidle (“A Fog of Smoke”) could trust his audience a bit more and have more respect for the people who pay to see his plays. He states he would be “priming an audience” if he were to tell us what his play means to him. Not this audience member. I would take Mr. Haidle’s comments as one person’s view, but for me a very important view and one that I deserve to know. I don’t think authors have as much power as they think—they should get down and dirty with the rest of us. We’ll make up our own minds—we’re bright, that’s why we go to plays. But, of course, Mr. Haidle will take comfort in that many of his colleagues agree with him—they put their work out into the public, depend on the public to support them financially, but then try to remain private and smug about the interpretation of their work.

William Killian
Tuscon, Ariz.

Oh, Pioneers
Before much of the work detailed in Steven Leigh Morris’s article “Group Think” (March ’13) took place, the seminal U.S. ensemble Cornerstone Theater was engaging in collaborations with regional theatres such as Arena Stage, Mark Taper Forum, George Street Playhouse, Long Wharf Theatre and others, bringing its unique model of making and presenting, deeply rooted in community arts practices, to large institutions and subscription audiences. And before the funding sources detailed in the piece began to support the work of companies and partnerships in recent years, many artists and companies—Roadside Theater, Fiji Company, Junebug Productions, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, Touchstone, Urban Bush Women, the Road Company, Dell’Arte International, Living Stage (in D.C., not NYC) and others—paved the way for practices that allow thoughtful intentional collaborations across differences of scale, aesthetics and mission. They walked the path before there was a path from Brooklyn to L.A., from Austin to NYC. Thanks, AT, for bringing the conversation onto your pages and online.

Michael Rohd, artistic director
Sojourn Theatre
Portland, Ore.

Ensembles Ascendant
When my writing partner David Storck and I set out on the venture to create Ensemble Theatre Making: A Practical Guide (published by Routledge Press in late November), we had great discussions about and hopes for a resurgence of ensemble-based work. So we thank you for dedicating so much of your March ’13 issue to ensemble companies deserving of support, and for focusing on the growing trends of regional theatres to feature ensemble-based work. Obviously, we hope the timeliness of these trends will resonate with readers and potential readers of our book.

Rose Burnett Bonczek,professor
Department of Theater, Brooklyn College
Brooklyn, NY

Fugard Redux
Jack Lyons of Desert Hot Springs, Calif., wrote (Letters, March ’13), “I look forward to attending a performance of The Train Driver when it hits the West Coast.” Perhaps he should have been looking backward, or in his own back yard—the American premiere of Athol Fugard’s The Train Driver occurred at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles in 2010.

Don Shirley
Los Angeles, Calif.

Hall in the Timing
Jim O’Quinn’s Editor’s Note (April ’13) refers to Adrian Hall’s adaptation of All The King’s Men having premiered at Trinity Repertory Company of Providence, R.I., in 2007. In fact, it premiered there in 1987, while Adrian was artistic director; the 2007 production was a 20th-anniversary revival. It was pretty impressive, although it was a stretch to call it a musical, at least as I recall the first production, even though it memorably interpolated perhaps a half-dozen Randy Newman songs to great effect.

Howard Sherman
New York City

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