The Pasadena Playhouse's second Discovery Series, unlike the first one, has been opened to the public.
According to artistic director Susan Dietz, this exploratory series of play readings, to be held on occasional Monday evenings, goes for "really good plays that we could possibly produce here at the Playhouse." And it comes with some heavy-duty readers and directors.
Plays on this year's list are "Tennessee Jar" by John Lewter, with Kathy Bates and Dirk Blocker headlining under Michael Cooper's direction (Dec. 19); Tom Cole's "The Eighties," as in 80 years old, with Audra Lindley and James Whitmore, directed by Lamont Johnson (Jan. 9); Richard Nelson's political drama, "Principium Scriptoriae," to be staged by Sam Weisman and featuring Jimmy Smits (Feb. 27); "Alfred Stieglitz Loves O'Keeffe," a chronicle of the unconventional romance between the photographer and the painter Georgia O'Keeffe, written by Lanie Robertson and featuring "Lies and Legends' " star Amanda McBroom (April 17); Vince McKewin's "Ad Wars," which takes a satiric jab at the advertising world (May 22); and Michael Michaelian's "Judge Sarah," a piece about the judge who swore in Lyndon Johnson as President aboard Air Force One. John Rubinstein will direct Kathleen Freeman as the judge (June 5).
"We're looking for new writers, young writers," Dietz emphasized, conceding, however, that not all of these plays are new. Nelson's "Scriptoriae" has not been done in the Southland, but it's been published and done elsewhere.
"We want to hear the 'Stieglitz' (currently in production at the San Diego Old Globe) because we're considering it for the Balcony Theatre," Dietz said. And a play reading in the first Discovery Series--Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey's adaptation of her novel "Joanna's Husband and David's Wife"--will be staged in the Balcony in the spring.
Subscriptions to the six-play series: $72 ($60 for regular season subscribers). Single tickets: $12.
Meanwhile, Dietz, who has done wonders revitalizing the old Playhouse in her three years there, is poised to do a concert version of that wildly popular show "Mail." Notwithstanding the New York critics' summary dismissal of this Jerry Colker-Michael Rupert musical, Dietz has plans to record it as an original Broadway cast album.
This will be done Jan. 19-21, with the first evening serving as a paid dress rehearsal, and the next two as galas with tickets at $50-$100 that will include a post-performance reception with the cast and an album or cassette.
Information on all of the above: (818) 356-PLAY.
EQUITY/ATLAS REDUX: Is it back to square one? In the latest go-around over the future of theaters of 99 seats or fewer, members of ATLAS (the Associated Theatres of Los Angeles) Saturday voted to reject Actors' Equity Assn.'s newest compromise. Equity's Los Angeles 99-Seat Theatre Plan--as it's now called--boasts 33 amendments made with the co-operation of the theater operators. ATLAS members welcome these amendments, but remain unhappy.
As they see it, there are still four major points of disagreement: on the matter of the plan's availability (Equity alone now determines who may use it); on the absence of provisions for coping with large-cast and/or small budget shows (the theaters want to be able to split a minimum pool of money among the actors for shows with more than a certain number of performers or less than a certain number of budgetary dollars); on the length of time productions can run (this has been extended from 12 weeks to 80 performances, but ATLAS wants no limits until a new contract is negotiated for productions to move up to--something Equity says it will negotiate) and on safeguards governing amendments to the plan.
"The way it is now," said ATLAS rep Laura Zucker, "Equity can change the rules on us any time."
According to Equity's western regional director Edward Weston, 35 producers are currently operating under the plan. "Now we need to see how it works," he said. "If (ATLAS producers) choose not to utilize it, they'll have to do without members of Equity (and its sister unions), SAG and AFTRA."
Zucker said that she's written to Equity executive secretary Alan Eisenberg in New York asking for his help in breaking the current deadlock. Meanwhile, members of ATLAS are meeting again Saturday to consider their options.
At the same time, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers has approached ATLAS with the notion, Zucker confirmed, "of codifying an agreement" that would govern the participation of directors and choreographers in the smaller theaters.
"I think it's a very good idea," Zucker said, "but we've asked them to wait (until the situation with Equity is settled)."