Michael Ritchie, the current Artistic Director of Center Theatre Group, will be stepping down on December 31st. World premieres during his tenure include the musical Soft Power, with book and lyrics by David Henry Hwang and music and additional lyrics by Jeanine Tesori, and plays Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo by Rajiv Joseph, Water & Power by Richard Montoya, and Marjorie Prime by Jordan Harrison. One of Ritchie’s first acts after assuming the AD role was eliminating theatre labs for BIPOC and disabled writers, which makes Luis Alfaro’s (the ousted leader of the Latinx Lab) recent appointment as an Associate Artistic Director both bittersweet and refreshing. Alfaro’s focus is on developing Los Angeles-centered work. Is it possible that our flagship Los Angeles theatre will actually produce and develop homegrown work in the way the playwrights of the region deserve?
Despite COVID, the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights (ALAP) has been busy. On the second Wednesday of each month at 8 PM (PST), ALAP hosts “Happy Hours” via Zoom. These are free and open to ALAP members and guests. People discuss a variety of set topics (these have included food and drink on stage, how to submit one’s work, and genre theatre). ALAP mounts panel discussions via Zoom. In June, leaders of The Robey, Antaeus, The Fountain, and The Victory talked about their approaches to using online technology during the pandemic. In August, ALAP presented a panel on playwrights transitioning into TV and film writing. The Gay Pride Reading Festival, in partnership with the City of West Hollywood, went forward via Zoom in June, with the winning multiple short plays read one day and the winning full-length play read the following day. ALAP’s first in-person event since early 2020 was a party on July 25. ALAP welcomes new members. Please visit www.laplaywrights.org.
The Tag Project is a multipart theatre experience centered around the San Diego River Mouth. The interactive production was in August by San Diego’s Playwrights Project, now in its 36th year of teaching playwriting in schools and to underserved populations, including people who have experienced homelessness or poverty. This new piece is part of the Playwrights Project’s Mosaic Program. The playwrights were Thelma de Castro, Tony Curtis, Shawn Khalifa, Isabella Quevedo, Ruben Radillo, and Robert Wood. The plays are available on the Playwrights Project YouTube channel.
The only annual new play festival devoted to playwrights from Orange County, CA, the OC-centric New Play Festival returned in August for its tenth anniversary season. This year’s plays were Kvetcher in the Wry by Jordan R. Young, LOL, a one-act by Craig Holland, and Marcello and Musetta Break Up for Good, a one-act by Gillian Gonzales. Founded and led by Tamiko Washington, we are happy to see the festival thrive. Their new website is ocnewplays.com.