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Theatrical Sabbatical

January 24, 1988

L.A. Theatre Center Artistic Director Bill Bushnell's curious suggestion that theater critic Dan Sullivan "take a month off" was most instructive (Calendar Letters, Jan. 10).

He goes on to pronounce Sullivan "totally out of touch with the modern theater" and defends "every director of quality (who) attacks the classics in a highly individualistic and totally contemporary style." The operative word here, of course, is attacks.

I saw the 1985 "Three Sisters" in question. It certainly was, in Bushnell's words, "startling and post-modern." Unfortunately, it wasn't even remotely close, fair, sensitive, reflective of or true to the playwright's modest intentions.

As a playwright and director, I, too, have been the subject of several of Sullivan's critical appraisals. And while I often disagreed, I was honestly impressed by his theatrical insight and critical reasoning.

He has become much more than a reviewer: He's an 18-year chronicler of L.A.'s theatrical development and, as such, has great value to local theater artists and audiences alike.

Could it be that Bushnell's call for early retirement is really a defense against Sullivan's disturbingly long memory of Los Angeles theater--good and bad?

Now that Bushnell fancies himself a spokesman for "every director of quality," I believe he, too, would benefit from some contemplative time for reappraisal.

Starting and operating LATC, hiring all those brilliant directors and speaking out for the modern theater must be very tiring. While on the mountain, he could even have time to read "The Three Sisters" and perhaps discuss it with Mr. Chekhov.

WARREN J. DEACON

Costa Mesa

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