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Featured Contributors, Oct. 2018

A look at a radical pricing program, and the history of an undersung female theatre pioneer.

Ashley Lee.

Ashley Lee, who was on staff at The Hollywood Reporter for five years and now freelances from Los Angeles, said she usually finds herself “interviewing famous actors and other celebrities about their latest moneymaking projects.” So it was something of a departure for her to write about Ubuntu Theater Project in Oakland, Calif., where last season the company gambled on a “pay as you can” subscription model, with surprising success. “I loved writing about Ubuntu’s admirable efforts to make their programming more accessible,” Lee said. “I sincerely enjoyed speaking with people who are trying their best to do a good thing. A lot of us can learn from them, whether we work in the theatre space or otherwise.”

Deb Clapp. (Photo by Kimmy Noonen)

Deb Clapp first saw Mary John’s name while reading about another female theatre pioneer, Margo Jones, and was “astonished that I hadn’t heard of a woman who had founded a great regional theatre so close to where I live in Chicago.” Indeed, in 1955 John had started the theatre that later became the Milwaukee Rep, and Clapp soon learned that not only was John still alive, but the Rep still had many of her papers. Clapp’s research led her to be inspired anew by both John and by “a lot of other women who during this time either founded, raised the money for, or otherwise brought to life many of the regional theatres still in operation.”

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