The Season of Reemergence cover of The Dramatist includes an illustration of a chrysalis hanging from a budding branch and emerging monarch butterfly
Southern California: Institutional Changes
Geffen Playhouse exterior photo.
Geffen Playhouse. Photo by Hunter Kerhart.

Arts Orange County, which monitored the health of cultural groups during the pandemic and helped organize financial aid in Orange County, CA, surveyed the local arts community. In April 2021, it reported financial losses of more than $121 million and about 2,700 staff reductions.

Martha Demson, board president of the Theatrical Producers League of Los Angeles, says that for the smallest theatres in Los Angeles, the cost of payroll under AB 5, the bill which extends employee classification status to gig workers, including actors and other performing artists, has gone up several hundred percent. Her group, along with Actors’ Equity Association, is co-sponsoring California Senate Bill 1116, or the Performing Arts Equitable Payroll Fund, which seeks to establish a grant program to support small nonprofit performing arts organizations by substantially reimbursing payroll expenses.

San Diego Repertory Theatre recently announced that Sam Woodhouse will step down as Artistic Director in September 2022 after leading the company for 46 years. At the end of this season, San Diego REP will have produced 333 productions under Woodhouse’s leadership; more than 50 of them were world premieres. For decades, Woodhouse has positioned the REP as a national leader in areas of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, with over 50% of the artists onstage being BIPOC artists. His replacement has not yet been named. [Ed. Note: at press time, San Diego REP has suspended operations.]

The BLKLST is currently collecting data from theatre companies in Los Angeles to provide Safety and Equity for BIPOC creatives. BLKLST tracks safety and value based on publicly available information, as well as by asking institutions to share data that relates to anti-racism and equity progress. BLKLST is curated and updated by the BLKLST Oversight Council: a coalition of theatremakers from diverse intersections and backgrounds.

At Sacred Fools Theater, Vanessa Stewart resigned as Artistic Director and wrote a Facebook post detailing her reasons. She had chosen a season that was to include DG members Sarah Tuft’s play Abigail and Audrey Cefaly’s Alabaster. The theatre leadership initially approved the choices only to later pull Tuft’s Abigail. According to Stewart’s post, the reason given was “Oleanna is better.” In the resulting uproar, Cefaly pulled her play from the season in solidarity with Tuft.

Geffen Playhouse selected eight local writers to participate in the 2021/2022 cycle of The Writers’ Room, a forum for engagement and collaboration between Los Angeles playwrights. The writers are Vivian Barnes, Lisa Sanaye Dring, Weston Gaylord, Nicholas Pilapil, Michael Shayan, and the musical team of Alexandra Kalinowski, Tova Katz, and Katie Lindsay. The forum was to be facilitated by Geffen Playhouse Director of New Play Development Rachel Wiegardt-Egel, but she left the position recently and her successor has not yet been named.  

World Premieres: California – South

A Hit Dog Will Holler by INDA CRAIG-GALVÁN. Playwrights’ Arena and Skylight Theatre Company, Los Angeles, CA

American Woman by PAUL K. SMITH. The Griff @ Underground Annex, Los Angeles, CA

Broken Mirror - A Frankenstein Odyssey by G. BRUCE SMITH. Studio Stage, Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, CA

Bruce & Lee by ELISSA C. HUANG. Chapman University, Orange, CA

Desert Rock Garden by ROY SEKIGAHAMA. New Village Arts, San Diego, CA

Detained by FRANCE-LUCE BENSON. Fountain Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

Eyeless in Colonus by BRUCE BONAFEDE. Wind Walkers Medicine Wheel, Joshua Tree, CA

Girls Kill Nazis by CHRISTINE E. PETRINI. The Empty Space, Bakersfield, CA

Hello, World: An Evening of One Acts by THOMAS MISURACA. The Brickhouse, Write Act Repertory, North Hollywood, CA

Here Seamus! Here America! Get in! Let’s go for a ride!/A monologue for Mitt Romney by DEANNE STILLMAN. Vimeo - filmed performance, Luis Reyes, Griffin Davis, MeeRa Kim with Butcher Bird Studios

Mile 999 by LORENZO MARINO. CSULB Player’s Theater, Theater Threshold, CSULB, Long Beach, CA

My (unauthorized) Hallmark Movie Musical book and lyrics by ELOISE COOPERSMITH, music by Roxanne Ward. Broadwater Main Stage Theater, Hollywood, CA

Roosevelt: Charge The Bear by PHIL JOHNSON and Marni Freedman. The Roustabouts Theatre Company, San Diego, CA

Sapience by DIANA BURBANO. Moxie Theatre, San Diego, CA

She by MARLOW WYATT. Latino Theater Company, Los Angeles, CA

This We’ll Defend by ANITA SIMONS. American History Theater, San Diego, CA

Waiting by DANIEL A. OLIVAS. Atwater Village Theatre, Playwrights’ Arena, Los Angeles, CA

When the Tiger Smoked a Pipe by KENT BRISBY. Asian Story Theater, San Diego, CA

Witchland by TIM MULLIGAN. Tenth Avenue Arts Center, Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company, San Diego, CA

Holmes and Watson at Breakfast by ROM WATSON. City of West Hollywood & The Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights (ALAP), Los Angeles, CA

Diana Burbano
Diana Burbano

is a Colombian immigrant, playwright, and teaching artist at South Coast Repertory and Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble. She was in Center Theatre Group’s 2018-19 Writers Workshop cohort and a member of the 20-21 Geffen Writers Lab.