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Midday News Round-Up: Re-Imagining L.A. Theatre

A group of artists are calling for changes to business as usual in L.A. theatre, gender problems are duly noted on both sides of the pond, and more.

It’s 3pm (EST) and you should take a break. Here are some stories we’ve gathered from around the Internet to help you pass the time.

  • There’s a stir brewing in Los Angeles about proposed changes to its predominant 99-Seat Theatre plan. This week, a group of 200 local artists and producers launched “Re-Imagine LA Theatre: A Call for Action,” a website demanding changes to that and other working conditions in the L.A. market. “Currently, most L.A. theatre artists find themselves with significant obstacles to climbing the ladder of a professional theatre career, and the great work being done by L.A. theatre artists goes mostly unnoticed both in Los Angeles and in the national theatre conversation,” the site says. One short-term effort: getting funding to hire an impartial arts consultant to evaluate the scene. Supporters can sign the Call for Action petition here.
  • The response has included a series of HowlRound posts, including one by one of the “Re-Imagine” architects, Douglas Clayton, titled, “Why Are Theatre Artists Afraid to Speak?” One of the more trenchant and informed commentaries comes from longtime observer Don Shirley, and as always, Colin Mitchell’s Bitter Lemons site is all over it. In (probably) related news, Actors Equity has announced a new focus on L.A. theatre, and the Intimate Producers League has announced that it will negotiate directly the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.
  • Columnist Tad Simons of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine questions the credibility the Minneapolis-area Ivey Awards.
  • We like free things: the Public Theater is giving away free tickets to the first performance of every show this season. Get ready for some long lines.
  • The Royal Shakespeare Company is coming back to Broadway, this time with Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, two plays about Henry VIII. They will be housed in the Winter Garden Theatre.
  • Suzy Evans’ piece for AT on gender parity is gaining traction on Twitter. And in a similar vein, Lyn Gardner notes some hopeful signs for the future but laments the current lack of equity on UK stages in the Guardian: “During my theatregoing career, which spans the early 1980s to the present day, there have been long periods when the only play solely written by a woman in the West End has been Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. That is the case at this very moment.”
  • If you have some spare cash and have a love for marathon/durational theatre, artist Shaun Irons is looking for backers for his documentary film Standing By: Gatz Backstage, about the backstage life of the performers in Gatz, the eight-hour read-through/performance of The Great Gatsby from Elevator Repair Service. Donate here and get a free ticket to the Oct. 13 screening of the film.
  • Finally, on this day in 1979, the Broadway production of Evita opened at the Broadway Theatre. With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Tim Rice, this musical rendition of the life of former Argentine first lady Eva Perón would win seven Tonys, including best musical. Take a walk down Broadway lane with Patti LuPone’s Tony performance of “Buenos Aires” with (some lovingly amusing) subtitles.

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